14 Apr Correction From Our Good Friday Sermon
I wanted to correct the wording of one of my points on Sunday (our 2014 Good Friday service).
My sermon structure was the following:
1) He suffered injustice for you – 15:1-15
2) He suffered physical death for you – 15:16-32
3) He suffered spiritual death for you – 15:33-39
4) He was buried for you – 15:40-47
In trying to work out some sort of wording for my points which would flow and have some pattern I chose ‘He suffered spiritual death for you’ which was not a Biblical concept. I did not spend as much time and attention on the wording of my points as I should have.
In my mind was something I had believed for many years, that Jesus statement on the cross (Mark 15:34) ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’ meant that Jesus was separated from His Father and this was what spiritual death was.
However, I regret my wording in my sermon and want to be more clear since we always seek to be as Biblically accurate as possible.
We do not – at least I do not – fully understand what Jesus meant when He said ‘why have You forsaken Me?’ For certain Jesus understood what would happen on the cross. Numerous times He had prophesied this would happen. However, the experience of bearing sin and incurring wrath and judgment for those sins was such a new experience for Him that he cried out.
All of the physical suffering, which was the most extreme we could ever imagine, did not cause Him to cry out, but this did.
I do not believe that Jesus was literally separated from His Father during those three hours as our definition of the Trinity does not allow this – one God eternally existing in three Persons. And yet this bearing sin and judgment was so extreme it caused Him some massive trauma causing Him to cry out these very words.
Whatever was a part of what He was experiencing, I do not now believe, means He was ever literally separated from His Father, so the idea that this represented spiritual death is not accurate. I should not have used those words and that phrase.
Plus – just to be clear – for those who reject God and His truth and spend eternity in hell, suffering for their own sin, even they are not in truly separated from God. At least not in the sense that would allow us to use this concept to define ‘spiritual death’. Even in hell God is still present in some sense for He is empowering the eternal judgment of their sin forever. It is actually an active judgment and punishment which God Himself brings.
So the idea that hell is spiritual separation from God and thus spiritual death is not the best way to state the truth. Hell is judgment and God is the one judging so I don’t think it is best to define spiritual death as separation from God. For certain these people no longer enjoy the general blessing of God as they do while alive. Things like, sunshine, kindness of others, life and breath, laughter, relationships, etc. are all gone so in that sense there is a separation.
So again, I want to be clear that my wording that ‘Jesus suffered spiritual death for you’ was not wise. There were many better ways to say what I was trying to say like, ‘Jesus suffered wrath and judgment for you’. Sometimes preachers can get so locked in to trying to get points that all start with the same letter or at least that all use similar wording so they are more memorable, that we forget to make sure they are still Biblically accurate.
Folks, these things matter. We want to always be as accurate and careful with God’s Word as possible. I do not think I always have it right. I certainly do when I finish my sermon and get up to preach it else I could not preach that sermon if I did not think it was accurate and true to God’s Word. But I do not believe for a minute that I am infallible and so I seek to humbly seek God’s grace in all I do. And I desire to be quick to correct when I know I have something wrong. Hence this overly long note:) Thanks for your patience with my long-winded ways.
Love you all,