The Great Exchange

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·         When I was in 5th grade I traded w/ Chris. A G.I. Joe for a “Bombat” baseball bat. Not a bad trade.

·         Not as good as Kyle MacDonald. The guy who started w/ one red paper clip and 1 year and 14 trades later had a house. Pretty clever trading.

·         We’re also aware of bad trades, like when the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees for 100,000. OOPS.

·         Scripture records for us some bad trades:

1.      Jacob & Esau Gen 25:29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

2.      Ungodly & Unrighteous Men Rom 1: 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen

·         The title of my message “The Great Exchange” is stolen from a book I’m reading. This book emphasized the scriptures teaching on justification.

3.      Us & Jesus 2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

·         Understand context of passage. Preaching “Be reconciled to God” is not good news unless we are also told the means to that reconciliation.

1.   This trade is God’s idea.

·         The end of vs. 20 tells us who “he” is.

·         “He made”

·         Reconciliation is God’s plan!

·         The sinner surely cannot devise reconciliation because he is “dead in sin” Eph 2:1.

·         “Jesus therefore did not go to the cross because fickle people turned on Him, though they did. He did not go to the cross because demon-deceived false religious leaders plotted His death, though they did. He did not go to the cross because Judas betrayed Him, though he did. He did not die because an angry, unruly mob intimidated a Roman governor into sentencing Him to crucifixion, though they did. Jesus went to the cross as the outworking of God’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself. In the first Christian sermon ever preached, Peter declared to the nation of Israel that Jesus was ‘delivered over [to death] by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.’”[1]

·         Acts 2: 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

·         Acts 3:18 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.

·         Is 53:10a - Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief;

·         It was God’s plan for Jesus to take our sins upon him, and then to punish His own son in our place.

·         Man wasn’t/isn’t in the place to bargain. In the garden, Adam & Eve didn’t get together while hiding from God and say, “OK, we’ve blown it. Let’s ask God to kill His Son, so that we can live.”

·         In fact, Scripture is very clear that because of our sinfulness, we didn’t want reconciliation.

·         Rom 5: 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

2.   Jesus gets my sin.

·         “Him who knew no sin”

·         This is unimaginable.

·         1 Kings 8:46 - for there is no one who does not sin

·         Rom 3:23 –  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

·         Our inability to really struggle to understand this shows how finite our minds are. We cannot comprehend human perfection! Imagine . . . someone who doesn’t sin . . . EVER.

·         b/c he never sinned

·         I Pet 2:22 - He committed no sin,

·         I Jn 3:5 -  in him there is no sin.

·         The sacrifice needed to be perfect – Jesus was. The sacrifice needed to be a man – Jesus was.

·         “He made him to be sin”

·         Is 53:4-6 helps us understand in what sense Christ was a sin offering. He was not a sinner and He was not punished for any sins of his own. God imputed our sins to Christ.

·         Is 53: 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

·         Here God imputes our sin to Christ.

·         “He (God) thought of them as belonging to Christ, and, since God is the ultimate judge and definer of what really is in the universe, when God thought of sour sins as belonging to Christ then in fact they actually did belong to Christ. This does not mean that God thought that Christ had himself committed the sins, or that Christ himself actually had a sinful nature, but rather that the guilt for our sins (that is, the liability to punishment) was thought of by God as belonging to Christ rather than to  us.”[2]

·         Do we realize the gravity of this? Jesus suffered physically, was spiritually bearing sin, abandoned by friends & his heavenly Father, and then Jesus bore the wrath of God.

·         It wasn’t the scourging, or the cross, or the nails, or the nakedness, or the crown of thorns, or the plucked beard, or the taunting soldiers, or the mocking crowds that saved you from your sins. It was Jesus bearing the furious wrath of God against sin.

·         How can I describe this? Jesus (God) is bearing the unbridled wrath of God for sin.

·         Do you see your sin in this?

·         “It was MY SIN that held him there, until it was accomplished.”

·         Do you see your sin as bad as it is. You are so bad that God poured out his wrath of damnation on Jesus to “fix” you. Are you ever repulsed by your sin?

·         Not just when you commit a big sin, I mean when you came into church this morning and thought poorly of someone sitting on your aisle. When you spoke harshly to your wife yesterday. When you lusted while watching that movie or internet site. When you lied to your parents about where you were going yesterday evening. When you made a mean face at your  mom when she turned around after telling you to clean your room.

3.   I get Jesus’ righteousness.

·         “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”

·         Just as Jesus was perfect and w/out sin. There are none of us who don’t sin.

·         It is this aspect of salvation that we often forget about.

·         You see God makes it clear that not only is no sin allowed in heaven, but you need a positive righteousness to get into heaven.

·         Ill: (Conversation w/ Brad B.) Sitting in the Snack Shop & asking a friend about the “fad” of “the gospel.” He asked, “If Christ had come to earth just long enough to die for our sins – would that be sufficient? No, because Christ also lived a perfect life for us – on our behalf – for us!

·         The gospel is not just that Jesus died for us, but that Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life for us and then he died for us.

·         Consider Christ’s words in Matt 5: 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

·         How can I do this? I can’t. Yet Christ commands it . . . because He did it for us.

This truth is all throughout Scripture:

Key texts:

1.      2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

2.      Rom 4: 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

3.      1 Cor 1: 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

4.      1 Pet 2: 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

5.      Phil 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

6.      Col 1:21And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,


·         My positive sinfulness in like a bag of trash.

·         Christ’s positive righteousness is like a ticket.

·         I can’t get into heaven w/ a bag of trash.

·         Not only that, but I need a ticket.

·         You do need something to get into heaven. (not, you must do something , but you do need something. . . namely, a positive righteousness.

·         We typically think only of Christ’s taking our trash away & forget that we need the ticket.

·         My bad for God’s good. My sin for Christ’s righteousness. My failure for God’s perfection.

·         This is the great exchange.


·         “The gospel” is no fad.

·         16th century German theologian Zacharius Ursinus wrote: “God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been perfectly obedient as Christ was obedient for me.”[3]

·          The imputed righteousness of Christ is something I lived far too long understanding very little of.

·         Wayne Grudem - “It is essential to the heart of the gospel to insist that God declares us to be just or righteous not on the basis of our actual condition of righteousness or holiness, but rather on the basis of Christ’s perfect righteousness, which he thinks of as belonging to us.”

·         Again, this is imputation. (Please see the significance of understanding & studying theology.)

·         19th Century Scottish theologian/author George Smeaton “When Christ lived a perfect life, we believers lived a perfect life. And when Christ died on the cross, we believers died on the cross.”

·         Bridges & Bevington “We should always look first at what Jesus did as our representative before looking at him as our example.”

·         Much preaching today points us to Christ as our example, but doesn’t point out the fact that he was the “fulfiller.” This leads to great frustration & discouragement. I can lead to legalism &/or great bearing of guilt.

So What? What bearing does Christ imputed righteousness have?

1.      I’m given a robe of righteousness.

o    Is 61:10 - 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

2.      I’m loved by God as much as He loves His Son.

o   Jn 17:23 -  23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

3.      God delights in me.

o   What does God think of you? I always thought he was frustrated & disappointed.

4.      I fear no condemnation.

o    Rom 8: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit

o   “No condemnation now I dread – Jesus & all in Him is mine.”

5.      My position before God is secure.

o   Rom 8: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,  “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

o   We’re tempted to think things like, “ Boy, I really blew it. It’s going to take me several days of living right before God will be pleased with me again.”

o   We’re also tempted to think things like, “I’ve been faithful in my devotions, pure in my thought life & I even witnessed to someone today . . . boy, God must be pleased w/ me.”

o   In whose righteousness do you stand before God in? Yours or Christs? If it’s yours then you are in for a roller coaster Christianity. If it’s Christ’s your standing is secure.

6.      My prayers are heard.

o   Why do we pray in Jesus name? Because he is the only one who is righteous enough to approach God.

o   Rom 8:34 (above)

7.      My motivation for sanctification is biblical.

o   This is an area that we usually leave the gospel behind in order to press on into other “disciplines” of the Christian life. Let the great security and joy motivate you to discipline, not a seeking to earn favor with God.

o   Rom 12:1  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

o   Titus 2: 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

o   Bevington write, “It is essential that we keep foremost in our minds and hearts that none of this activity is to be pursued with the intene of earning God’s blessings or satisfying God’s justice by our own personal sacrifice, merit, or righteousness. Instead, our pursuits become motivated by overwhelming gratitude for the blessing and acceptance bought by the sacrifice and righteousness of our sinless sin bearer.”

o   Bridges & Bevington write, “Through the gospel we are to pursue a path of transformation, which includes serving, giving, good works, and the practice of spiritual disciplines. When these pursuits are rooted in gratitude, God gets the glory, and we get the joy!”


So, we must never grow cold to the wonderful truth of this great exchange. It is in the death of Christ on the cross that this wonderful  exchange happens. Some would consider it to be the worst trade in history, but God portrays it as the most glorious event in all of history. Those of us who have experience the perfect pardon of God and imputation of His Son’s righteousness, must see how unworthy we are.  We must see God’s initiation and sovereign work in this. While we were sinners and enemies, he initiated this trade – all for His glory. So let us thank God for sending the sinless sinbearer to take in himself our sins in exchange for His righteousness.


On Christ, The Solid Rock

My hope is built on nothing less,

Than Jesus blood and righteousness.

Arise, my soul, arise

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;

The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:

Before the throne my surety stands,

Before the throne my surety stands,

My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;

His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:

His blood atoned for all our race,

His blood atoned for all our race,

And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:

“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,

“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,

“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;

He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;

His Spirit answers to the blood,

His Spirit answers to the blood,

And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;

He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:

With confidence I now draw nigh,

With confidence I now draw nigh,

And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.


[1] MacArthur, John. 2 Corinthians. P 212.

[2] Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. P574.

[3] Kistemaker, S.J. 2 Corinthians. P 202

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