“Christ Died for the Ungodly” (Romans 5:6-11)

Good Friday, Chief Service
April 22, 2011

“Christ Died for the Ungodly” (Romans 5:6-11)

“Christ Died for the Ungodly.” What an awesome, profound statement that is! The words come from Romans, the fifth chapter, reading as follows: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

“Christ died for the ungodly.” Every term here has great meaning. Let’s start with the term, “the ungodly.” That sounds pretty ugly, doesn’t it? “The ungodly,” people who are lacking everything good that God is. Ungodly people have turned away from God, their Creator. They are in open rebellion, although they may try to cover it up with a veneer of respectability. The ungodly have unhitched themselves from God; they are going it on their own. They think they don’t need God; they’d rather be the ones in charge. Ungodly people have no time for God; they have no ears to listen to his word. The ungodly do not worship God as he ought to be worshiped, with great reverence. The ungodly are impious, that is, they are not pious, they are not devout, far from it. The ungodly do not fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

Surely God would be entirely justified in condemning the ungodly, in pouring down his wrath upon them. That’s what they deserve. They’ve earned it by turning their whole being away from God, their thoughts, their words, their actions, all bearing witness against them.

But now who are these ungodly ones? Is it the roving gangs of thugs, roaming our streets, attacking innocent people? Yes, they are easy to identify as ungodly. Is it the greedy price-gouger, taking advantage of others, to extract every nickel from them, so he can have his yacht in the Bahamas? The greedy business owner, who doesn’t pay his employees what they’re worth and makes them work on holy days when they ought to be able to go to church? Yeah, I’d say those guys are ungodly, too. How about the crooked politician, the man who cheats on his wife, the couple shacking up outside of marriage, the proud homosexual, and the bloody “abortion provider”? Yep, all of them ungodly, no question about it.

But here’s the thing: Whom does our text identify as “the ungodly”? It might shock you. It might make you feel uncomfortable. Because the answer is . . . “us.” Hear it again: “For while we were still weak,”–note the “we”–“at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” And again: “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Christ died for the ungodly. Christ died for sinners. Christ died for us. That’s the only conclusion we can draw, that we are counted as, and ranked among, “the ungodly.” How does that make you feel? Repentant, I hope. Repentance is recognizing that you are that ungodly person for whom Christ died, that it was your sins for which he went to the cross. “What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain. Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.”

This is no light or laughing matter. If it takes the death of the Son of God–if that’s what it takes to rescue ungodly sinners like you and me, we can see how serious the sin problem is. “Ye who think of sin but lightly, nor suppose the evil great, here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.” God takes sin very seriously indeed. Here on the cross you can see the wrath of God being poured out on sinners.

Only, it does not fall on us. Instead, it falls on Christ, the sinless one, the most perfectly godly one of all. Christ, the Suffering Servant of the Lord: “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities . . . and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

“Christ died for the ungodly.” Think about that. Take it in. “Christ,” that is, Christ Jesus, the eternal, beloved Son of God, the Holy One, God in the flesh, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the long-promised deliverer sent to bring in the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

Christ “died”: Yes, he really died. That was a real man, Jesus of Nazareth, nailed to that cross, suffering and bleeding and finally breathing his last. Ponder that profound mystery, that God and man in one person, the person of Christ, could die. For that is what happened. And what’s more, that God’s Son could die under God’s judgment. But that too is what happened.

And this is because Christ died “for” the ungodly. Christ died “for” us. “For” us, that is, in our place, taking our place. Jesus is our substitute, when it comes to God’s judgment on sinners. That is what Jesus is doing there on the cross on Good Friday. That should be you, that should be me, hanging there on that cross.

Christ died “for” us, that is, on our behalf, for our benefit. And the benefit is that now our sins are forgiven. The price has been paid, with the holy precious blood of the Son of God, a cost great enough to cover the sins of the whole world, of all the ungodly everywhere, no matter how bad they may be. “For” us. The benefit is that “we have now been justified by his blood.” We are declared not guilty, righteous, because Christ has taken the punishment for our sins, and his righteousness has been transferred to our account.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Has there ever been love like this? Love divine, all loves excelling! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Our text says, “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” That right time was today, Good Friday, at this very hour, when Christ was hanging on the cross. When you view the cross before you, see the unfathomable love of God for sinners, his amazing love for you.

“Christ died for the ungodly.” “Christ died for us.” Dear sinner loved by God, know this: Christ died for you.

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Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 10:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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