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Summary: Jesus Christ makes salvation possible because he became our substitute for sin’s punishment.

A VIOLENT ENEMY OF THE CROSS OF CHRIST. A DESPISER OF ALL CHRISTIANS AND ONE WHO ABHORRED EVERY SINGLE WORD OF THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE. A BITTER PERSECUTOR OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD AND ONE WHO ENJOYED REEKING HAVOC WITHIN THE CHURCH.

PROBABLY AS WICKED AND MEAN AS OSAMA BIN LADEN AND SADDAM HUSSEIN COMBINED, WAS A MAN NAMED SAUL. BUT THE MESSAGE HE TRIED TO OBSTRUCT WAS THE VERY MESSAGE THAT CHANGED HIS LIFE.

ACT 9:3, CAPTURED THE MOMENT. "AS HE WAS NEARING DAMASCUS ON [A] MISSION, A BRILLIANT LIGHT FROM HEAVEN SUDDENLY BEAMED DOWN UPON HIM!" SAUL ENCOUNTERED GOD AND HIS HEART, SOUL, AND LIFE’S AMBITION WERE CHANGED FOR GOOD AND FOR THE BETTER.

ONE EXPERIENCE FOR ONE MAN IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD WAS ENOUGH TO REALIZE THAT JESUS NOT ONLY DIED ON THE CROSS FOR HIM, BUT TOOK HIS PLACE UPON THAT CROSS.

LOVE COMPELLED JESUS TO DO THAT FOR SAUL. LOVE COMPELLED JESUS TO DO IT FOR US AND FOR ALL PEOPLE. BECAUSE LOVE COMPELLED JESUS TO GO TO THAT SHAMEFUL DEATH, SAUL, NOW PAUL, WAS COMPELLED BY HIS LOVE TO SERVE GOD UNTIL THE VERY END OF HIS DAYS.

PAUL FOUND HIS GREATEST JOY IN TRYING TO GIVE SOME EVIDENCE OF HIS LOVE FOR THE ONE TRUE GOD WHO HAS SHOWN SO MUCH LOVE FOR HIM. THAT "EVIDENCE" IS HOW PAUL SPOKE OF JESUS. "THE SON OF GOD, WHO LOVED ME, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME."

PAUL’S WORDS ARE THE VERY HEART OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE: CHRIST GAVE HIMSELF FOR US! CHRIST JESUS WAS OUR SUBSTITUTION. WE SHOULD HAVE GONE TO THE CROSS FOR OUR OWN SIN, BUT JESUS STEPPED IN AND ABSORBED ALL THE PUNISHMENT FOR US. JESUS WAS OUR SUBSTITUTE.

THE WORD "SUBSTITUTE" MEANS FOR US THAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, IN INFINITE GRACE, TOOK THE PLACE OF POOR, LOST, GUILTY SINNERS LIKE OURSELVES, AND MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR A HOLY GOD TO REACH OUT IN MERCY AND SAVE EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO WOULD COME TO HIM IN THE NAME OF HIS BELOVED SON. THE ONE WHO GAVE HIMSELF WAS OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.

THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT THE SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST IS AVAILABLE TO ALL OF US. EPHESIANS 5:20, "…LIVE IN LOVE, AS CHRIST LOVED US AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR US, A FRAGRANT OFFERING AND SACRIFICE TO GOD."

WHETHER WE ARE ALREADY "SAVED" OR HAVE NOT CALLED UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD, GOD "GAVE HIMSELF FOR US. WHETHER WE TURN AWAY FROM GOD OR WILL HARDEN OUR HEARTS AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM, LET ALONE BELIEVE IN HIM, GOD STILL GAVE HIMSELF FOR US!

GOD SAW HUMANITY IN ITS LOST CONDITION, AND HE WENT TO CALVARY’S CROSS TO REDEEM US. HE COULDN’T BEAR TO SEE US FUMBLING AROUND IN SIN AND TRYING TO GO AT IT ALONE ANY LONGER. HIS SON, JESUS, WAS THE ANSWER.

EVEN THE PROPHET ISAIAH FORETOLD THAT THIS WOULD BE GOD’S DIVINE PLAN FOR US IN ISAIAH 53:5, "BUT HE WAS WOUNDED FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, CRUSHED FOR OUR INIQUITIES; UPON HIM WAS THE PUNISHMENT THAT MADE US WHOLE, AND BY HIS BRUISES WE ARE HEALED."

WHAT A BLESSING AND GIFT IT IS FOR US TO KNOW THAT GOD DESIRES TO HAVE SUCH AN INTIMATE AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH US THAT HE WAS WILLING TO SACRIFICE HIS OWN SON IN ORDER TO MAKE IT HAPPEN!

WE NEED TO REALIZE NOT ONLY WHAT IT COST GOD TO RESTORE US BACK TO HIMSELF, BUT THAT IT WAS DONE TO DELIVER US FROM THE FUTURE JUDGMENT OF SIN AND TO DELIVER US FROM THE POWER OF SIN IN THIS LIFE.

THIS IS WHY OUR SCRIPTURE PASSAGE TODAY SAYS IN VERSE 20, "OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHO GAVE HIMSELF FOR OUR SINS, THAT HE MIGHT DELIVER US FROM THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD, ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD AND OUR FATHER."

JESUS GAVE HIMSELF FOR OUR SINS TO BREAK THE POWER OF SIN IN OUR LIVES THAT WE MIGHT NO LONGER BE SUBJECT TO SATAN’S AUTHORITY AND THAT WE MIGHT BE FREE MEN AND WOMEN, LIVING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. JESUS PUT AWAY SIN BY SACRIFICING HIMSELF UPON THE CROSS OF CALVARY.

ALTHOUGH WE SHOULD BE PENALIZED UPON THE CROSS FOR OUR OWN SINS, JESUS STEPPED IN AS OUR SUBSTITUTE AND TOOK THE PUNISHMENT FOR US.

JESUS FINISHED THE WORK OF GOD UPON THE CROSS BY SHEDDING HIS OWN BLOOD IN ORDER TO SATISFY EVERY RIGHTEOUS DEMAND OF THE THRONE OF GOD. EVERY STEP OF CHRIST’S SUBSTITUTION WAS ALL FOR US.

THE DEBT OF SIN HAS BEEN PAID. ALL WE MUST DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE IS TO RECOGNIZE THE PRICE JESUS PAID ON OUR BEHALF. THEN CONFESS THAT WE ARE SINNERS AND THAT IT WAS OUR SINS THAT HELPED PLACE JESUS UPON THE CROSS. THEN WE ASK JESUS CHRIST TO FORGIVE US OF ALL OF THESE VERY SINS AND TO COME INTO OUR HEART AS LORD AND PERSONAL SAVIOR.

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