MEMORIAL DAY is also called DECORATION DAY. It is a public legal holiday in the United States and its territories and among its armed forces, honoring U.S. citizens who have died in war. Originally commemorating soldiers killed in the American Civil War, the observance was later extended to all U.S. war dead. National observance is marked officially by the placing of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Not all who have fought in wars have died. Countless numbers have been wounded in battle and brought unconscious into a hospital. Consider the soldier who is suddenly wounded in battle. He drags himself to a sheltered spot and awaits help. He becomes unconscious, and the next thing he knows is the warm feeling of returning to life. Plasma is flowing into his veins and life is pulsing within him.
“How did all this come about?” he asks. The doctor answers, “Someone donated blood for you. In your weakened condition when you were still powerless to help yourself, we poured it into your veins.” That is what happens to the believer in Romans 5:5-6—
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
The poured out love of God by the Holy Spirit is the blood plasma that we need for spiritual and eternal life. Therefore, we have a strong hope because of the love of God that flows from the Cross of Calvary into our hearts.
Christ died for us— JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME or AT THE SET TIME. The apostle Paul is strongly impressed with the appropriateness of the moment in the world’s history, which God sent His Son to die for the ungodly. Years before the apostle wrote in Galatians 4:4-5—
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
WHEN THE TIME HAD FULLY COME Christ assumed a human nature at the exact time fixed from eternity for Revelation 13:8 identifies Jesus as—
The Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
When the world was created, God the Father looked into the future and marked a date on His calendar to sent forth His Son. He progressively revealed through the prophets and typical events, people, and things that the Son of God should assume human nature and then die for the ungodly on a specific date in history.
The prophecy of the “seventy weeks” recorded in Chapter 9 of Daniel revealed that the Anointed One (the Christ) would be cut off and have nothing after sixty-nine weeks (that is 483 years) from the decree to restore and rebuilt Jerusalem. According to Chapter 2 of Nehemiah, this decree was issued by King Artaxerxes in the month of Nisan 444 B.C.
To very day of Daniel’s prophecy 483 years later, Christ entered Jerusalem to the shouts of—”Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest!” By
Friday of that week, the crowd kept shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” The Anointed One was cut off—crucified on the Cross—and He died right on time.
For God had predicted this exact moment in the slaughter of the Passover Lambs. We read in Chapter 12 of Exodus that the Passover Lambs were selected on the tenth day of the month of Nisan. That was the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The people had selected Jesus as the Anointed One of God.
On the fourteenth day of Nisan, the Passover Lambs were slaughtered at twilight. The Temple priests began slaughtering the Passover Lambs at TWILIGHT—the ninth hour or 3 p.m. Mark 15:34 tells us—
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
At the appointed time in God’s redemptive plan of salvation, Christ died on behalf of the ungodly. Shortly, thereafter, He shouted, “It is finished,” and gave up His spirit. Neither too soon nor too late; but in that very point of time in the wisdom of God knew to be more proper than any other time. In Acts 2:22-23, the apostle Peter announced that Christ died according to God’s predetermined plan—
Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
When the fullness of the time came, Christ was sent forth from God the Father when the world needed him most.
Christ came when the powers of the human mind had been cultivated to the utmost both in Greece and Rome, and had made every possible effort, but all in vain, to find out some dynamic scheme of happiness.
When the Jews were in the lowest state of corruption, and had the greatest need of the promised Deliverer, God sent forth His Son.
Both Jews and Gentiles, the one from their jealousy, the other from their learning, were best qualified to detect a hoax and to ascertain fact, God sent forth His Son.
When the world hostility and hatred towards the Christ would climax in His death, God sent forth His Son according to John 3:19-20—
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
The Jewish religious leaders, filled with jealous rage, hated Anointed One because He revealed their evil deeds. So they turned the people against Jesus. No act of history shows the depths of lost condition of man more than the crucifixion of the Son of God.
In Romans 5:6-10, Paul’s fourfold describes the lost condition of every member of the human race and tells us why Christ died for us.
First, when Christ died for us, we were still POWERLESS. We were without strength in our weak and impotent, dying state—neither able to resist sin, nor do any good—utterly devoid of power to liberate ourselves from the misery of our situation. 1 Corinthians 2:14 says—
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Natural man is utterly helpless in spiritual things because they are spiritually discerned, and he cannot have spiritual discernment until he has the Spirit, and he cannot have the Spirit until he has been born of the Spirit.
We, therefore, are unable to do anything to save ourselves from the influence of the world, the flesh, and the Devil, or from our sinful nature as well as the impending wrath of God. Unregenerate man is powerless, impotent.
It is interesting to note that the word IMPOTENT comes from the Latin word IMPOSSIBLE. There are unconditional impossibilities. It is impossible for anything to be true and false at the same time. It is impossible for something to exist and not exist at the same time. It is impossible for man to help himself— to eradicate his wickedness and ungodliness—to remove sin—to make himself right with God.
Second, when Christ died for us, we were UNGODLY—without either the worship or knowledge of the true God. We did not have God in us; and, consequently, were not partakers of the Holy Spirit. Instead, Satan lived in, ruled, and enslaved our hearts.
Third, when Christ died for us, we were SINNERS—aiming at happiness, but constantly falling short of the glory of God. And in missing this mark, we deviated from the right way; walked in the wrong way. We transgressed the Law by breaking the commandments of God. We not only missed the mark of righteousness, but exposed ourselves to everlasting shame, contempt and misery.
Fourth, when Christ died for us were ENEMIES OF GOD. ENEMIES is a cold, hard word. It brings a chill to our hearts. Every soldier knows what it means. It is kill or be killed. The enemy wants his own way and you want your own way. That is the heart of enmity. That is why wanting one’s own way is the worst of sins; it is the root of all other sins.
The Greek word for ENEMIES denotes a continual HATRED and HOSTILITY—OPPOSING (GOD) IN THE MIND. Colossians 1:21 states—
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
When we put these four descriptions together, we get a picture of what man is in himself. They show the hopelessness of man’s lost condition.
In our fall from God, our first apparent state is, that we are without strength; have lost our axiom of spiritual power, by having lost the Spirit of God as well as righteousness and true holiness, in which we were created.
We are ungodly, having lost our strength to do good; we have also lost all power to worship God aright. The heart, mind and soul which was made for God is no longer His residence.
We are sinners—feeling we have lost our center of rest, and our happiness, we go about seeking rest, but find none! What we have lost in losing God, we seek in earthly things; and thus are continually missing the mark, and multiplying transgressions against our Maker.
We are enemies of God—our minds are poisoned with sin, which increases with every avoidance of the things of God, thereby producing enmity—a deep-seated dislike of God. Hatred and hostility towards God fills our minds. So we gratifying our sinful passions with all kinds of evil.
Man’s helplessness, his inability to do anything about his lost condition, is at the basis of the divine revelation concerning salvation.
Christ died for the powerless, the ungodly, sinners, who are enemies of God. That describes you and me before we were saved. Little wonder David asked in Psalm 8:4—
What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
Why would anyone die for such wretched creatures as the human race? Paul supplies the answer in verses 7-8—
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
GOD’S LOVE is the reason Christ died for us! Why did God love us? There is no answer to that question. If you seek to look beyond God, you are foolish, for beyond Him there is nothing—God is love!
It is difficult to die for a righteous man, someone might die for a good man, but to die for an ungodly sinners is unthinkable! Our Lord said in John 15:13—
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
By these words our Lord shows, how far love to another should extend, even to the laying down of our lives for the brethren; which is the highest instance of love among men. This is the utmost we can expect among men. Yet, the best of human love is surpassed by God’s love—while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We were neither righteous nor good; but godless and wicked—sinners and enemies of God!
Many men on the battlefield have laid down their life for their comrades, but who ever heard of a soldier laying down his life for his enemies? Well, that’s what Jesus did when He shed His blood for us! Romans 5:9—
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
On this Memorial Day weekend, we are reminded of wars and hostilities. Every war, every bomb, every bullet demonstrates unfriendliness, alienation, estrangement, dislike, hatred, and bitterness of humanity.
Yesteryear Germany, Japan, North Koreans and the North Vietnamese were our enemies. Today Yugoslavia and Iraq are our enemies, and conceivably in the near future we might be at war with China, Russia, or some other nation.
Although, Satan is the archenemy of the human race, most people act friendly towards him in attitudes and actions. The human race faces a greater enemy than Satan.
With one act of rebellion Adam made his Declaration of Independence and declared war with God— plunging mankind into a state of hostility with the Creator.
Like Adam, we desire full control of our own affairs—that is what man desires more than anything else, and so man is the enemy of God—hated of God. All other sins are the outgrowth of this one root sin. “
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
In the simplest terms, man’s own way is hostility to God’s way. Man is an enemy because he wants his own way instead of God’s way. So it can be said Christ died for us when we were hostile to God. Verse 10—
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!
FRIEND or FOE? A child of God or a child of the Devil? Neutrality is impossible. There are only two sides. I am on God’s side. I have peace with God because I have been justified by faith. I have placed my trust in God instead of myself. I have repented—I have changed my attitude towards God by coming to Christ in utter dependence rejecting my own independence of God. Christ is my Lord.
I know that I am free from wrath to come because I have been justified by faith and the blood of Christ. Therefore, I am no longer a foe, but God’s friend because I have been reconciled to Him.
RECONCILIATION is the same as PEACE WITH GOD in Romans 5:1. It is a change in the attitude of God towards man and man towards God. For this reconciliation to take place, not only must the mind of man undergo a change, but the mind of God as well.
RECONCILIATION is bringing a person again into friendly relations to or with oneself or another after an estrangement. That there has been estrangement between man and God has been made abundantly evident in the early chapters of Romans. Man sinned and fled from God and became His enemy.
To understand reconciliation, one must understand that God hates sin as well as the sinner. Some have taught that God loves the sinner but hates sin. His anger and wrath, however, is directed towards sinners according to Romans 2:5,8-9—
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil.
People do all kinds of detestable things the LORD hates according to Deuteronomy 12:31. Yet, David declares in Psalm 5:5—
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.
Psalm 11:5 teaches—
The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates.
David uses the Hebrew word for HATE that expresses the idea of HATING an enemy. The opposite of an enemy is a friend.
Unfortunately, everyone is born with Adam’s sinful and rebellious nature. Everyone does wrong; no one, not even one is righteous. And no one is good. So the entire human race is by nature an enemy of God.
So how can God become a friend of an ungodly sinner? God’s solution to the problem is simple—man must be made righteous. And since man cannot make himself righteous, there must be a righteousness from and of God. This righteousness is provided through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:25 says—
God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood.
The Greek term (ilasterion) translated SACRIFICE OF ATONEMENT refers to the ATONEMENT COVER of the Ark of the Covenant. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest sprinkled blood on and before it to cover the sins of himself and the nation for the past year. Here the sin and sinner were expiated—the blood of bulls and goats was satisfaction for wrong done. The sprinkled blood of animals combined with the Atonement Cover pointed to Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
Another word for SACRIFICE OF ATONEMENT is PROPITIATION. It denotes God’s anger and wrath towards the ungodly sinner being pacified, appeased, placated, and sweetened through the death of Christ. So when a person places their faith in the blood of Jesus, so to speak, it neutralizes sin.
Therefore, reconciliation comes to man from the side of God, and is not directly due to any act or work on man’s part. It’s God’s attitude towards man that changes—for God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Those God hates, He will love if they place their faith in the blood of Christ, which propitiates His wrath. There is no passage more profound in all of Scripture than 2 Corinthians 5:21—
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The first clause of this verse, “God made Christ sin who had no sin for us,” is explained by Isaiah 53:4- 6—
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
This is the heart of the Gospel and its logic. The sinless One was made sin that we might become righteous of God. This marvelous exchange of sin for righteousness made it possible for us to be reconciled—to have peace with God.
The Greek word translated RECONCILIATION comes from the world of the moneychanger. If you give two dimes and nickel in exchange for a quarter, or vice versa, you have made an equal exchange. God exchanged our sin for Christ’s righteousness on the Cross.
Reconciliation works like this. God is the Exchanger—we must come to Him and confess our sin—He takes in exchange the blood of His Son and give us righteousness. That’s 1 John 1:7, 9—
And the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin . . . If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness
That’s an even exchange! Now, what can you offer God in exchange for your soul? NOTHING but the blood of Jesus for your sins! Our passage is clear that the human race is powerless, ungodly, sinners and enemies of God. So God came in Christ and died for us—that satisfied every demand of His nature for righteousness and true holiness—and now His love may pour itself out on us by the Holy Spirit.
God sets Himself up as a Moneychanger in the market place and calls out to sinners—
Change your money here! Change your money here! I will give My power for your helplessness! I will give My godliness for your sinfulness! I will give My love your enmity!
That’s the message of reconciliation! Confess your sins and God will take the blood of Christ and exchange your sins for righteousness! Verse 11—
Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
This is the third time we are told in this fifth chapter to REJOICE.
In 5:2-3, we are told to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God and to rejoice in our sufferings. Now we are told to rejoice in God because of the the reconciliation He gave us in our Lord Jesus Christ.
RECONCILIATION is cause to rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Reconciliation brings again into unity, harmony, or agreement ungodly sinners who were alienated from God.
Reconciliation restores to friendship and fellowship God and man who were estranged. Reconciliation is a restoration of a good friendship between enemies.
Reconciliation is God taking in exchange Christ’s blood of our sins and giving us His righteousness.
Christ gave His life for us. We are justified by His blood and shall be saved from God’s wrath through Him.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
God’s love provided for our salvation. God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, CHRIST DIED FOR US!
Let us REJOICE !