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Why Christ Had to Die

Not until we fully understand our human condition—that of total depravity—can we fully appreciate what God did for us through Christ's death and resurrection.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said that preaching is like throwing a bucket of water at a row of bottles. Some of the water goes in some of the bottles. But by talking to people personally, you have the opportunity of topping off every bottle and making sure none of the water spills.

If I had the chance to go back over the 42 years that I've been preaching, I'd like to sit down with all the people I've ever preached to and ask them, "Do you really feel that Christ is your Savior and your Lord?"

I can't do that. But I want to explain to you in the simplest possible terms why Christ died for you, the significance of that, and what it should mean to you.

The Bible explains that the human condition is serious indeed.

The Bible explains carefully that the human condition is serious indeed. We could live our lives as reasonably happy people. We can get things reasonably well organized. We can get ourselves into a relatively comfortable situation and never really feel that life is all that serious, that the human condition before God is all that drastic.

Yet, if we are to take what the Scriptures say seriously, we have to come to terms with the fact that the human predicament is extreme.

What we are in ourselves is fundamentally at odds with God. That's the root problem. The technical term for it is total depravity. It's not a biblical term, but it's an accurate one, provided we understand it correctly.

Dr. J.I. Packer put it this way: "Total depravity means not that at every point man is as bad as he could be, but that at no point is he as good as he should be." That is the fundamental human condition in a nutshell, according to Scripture.

Some people try to persuade people they are totally rotten and despicable, utterly, thoroughly, ...

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Stuart Briscoe is minister-at-large of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and author of several books, including What Works When Life Doesn't (Howard Books).

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Sermon Outline:

Introduction: An explanation of why Christ died, and what it should mean to us.

I. The Bible explains that the human condition is serious indeed.

We are fundamentally at odds with God; the technical term is total depravity.

- "Total depravity means not that at every point man is as bad as he could be, but that at no point is he as good as he should be" (J.I. Packer).

Romans 5 includes words about our condition, like "powerless" and "sinners."

Sin has had a debilitating impact in our lives; we are powerless.

II. Do we see ourselves as totally depraved? Has that sunk in? Do we believe it?

What we do is a manifestation of who we are.

- We are guilty of sins of commission and sins of omission.

By holding us accountable, God regards us as creatures of significance.

God wants me to know three things

- I'm accountable to him; 2) he is just, holy; 3) he is indignant about our sin.

Because of these things, we are all under the wrath of God.

III. God's divine compassion is the antidote to our total depravity, to our sin.

"While we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6).

Compassion isn't just a feeling; compassion is demonstrated by action.

God loves us so much that he let his Son die on a cross for us.

IV. Where do these great truths leave us, then?

The eternal conclusion is that we have been justified by Christ's blood.

- All I have done has been blotted out, utterly forgiven, as if I'd never sinned.

We have been saved from wrath through Christ.

We have the Holy Spirit living within us.

- Illustration:

When Briscoe's children were young, Briscoe found an open field, covered in fresh snow. He ran in a big circle, taking long strides, then asked his kids to follow in his footsteps, putting their feet in his footprints. They couldn't do it; the strides were too long. He then picked up his youngest, and put his son's feet on his own feet, and retraced the steps. The point: "He was doing it because I was doing it… . In our powerlessness, we can't stride as wide as we should… . Something's got to be done."

Conclusion: The message of Easter is that that "something" has been done.

We have been justified, saved from wrath, saved by his life, saved by grace