The Wonderful Exchange
This Sunday is Mother’s Day!
To celebrate, we will be looking at what Revelation tells us about Jesus Christ.
And it says a lot — so we will have to focus. In fact, in Revelation 1:5-6, John packs truck loads of theology into each word.
For example, the phrase: “to him who…has freed us from our sins by his blood” unpacks all the glory of the substitutionary nature of the atonement and how our salvation comes through faith alone.
We often refer to this dynamic as “the wonderful exchange.”
The “wonderful exchange” has two parts, both of which are hinted at in this small section of Revelation.
The Wonderful Exchange, Part 1:
Part one of the wonderful exchange is that God transferred our penal liability to Christ on the cross. This is what John means by “he has freed us from our sins.“
Our guilt, which is the necessity of our bearing sin’s penalty, is the punishment for our transgression of God’s law. These sins constitute sins against knowledge and sins against conscience. This is the natural pattern of human life. And that’s the reason why we are now guilty before God. Romans 1, 2 and the first half of 3 spell all of this out in great and gritty detail.
Sin masters everyone.
No one is righteous, not one.
God’s law condemns us all.
God takes our penal liability and transfers it to his blameless Son, who is sinless and righteous in his sight, and takes our place on the cross. On the cross Jesus is bearing not just the judgment wrongly inflicted by Pilate under pressure from the Religious Authorities, but he is simultaneously and at a deeper level bearing the penal retribution that is rightly due to us.
Jesus bears it. He bears it in a way that no other human could. He is bearing it in his character as a sinless sacrifice. Sin has numbed and diminished our capacity to appreciate how bad sin really is in God’s sight. But Jesus, on the cross, fully bears the retribution that is due to us for our sins. Hallelujah!
The Wonderful Exchange, Part 2:
Well, that’s the first half of the wonderful exchange. And if that was all there was to this verse, it would be worthy of the praise at the end. But there is more.
The second half is that the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, unites us with himself when we put faith in him as our sin-bearing Savior. In so doing, Christ shares with us his status in the Father’s sight. He is still the perfectly righteous one for all eternity. He is the perfectly righteous one, who has done, does, and ever will do precisely what the Father wills that he should do. Now he is the risen Lord who has borne the penalty of our sin and we share his righteousness. The righteousness that we share is his status of full acceptance with the Father.
Therefore, what we receive by faith is a new status. The moment we come into Christ’s status through faith, our sins are cancelled, and His righteousness — that is, full acceptance with God — becomes our status for all eternity.
The wonderful exchange is complete.
Our destiny is forever secured.
This is our justification by faith, in its full significance.
All of that, and so much more, is packed into this handful of words: [He] has freed us from our sins by His blood
Here are some notes to follow along:
Jesus’ 7-fold identity:
- The Warrior
- The Restorer
- The Suffering Servant
- The Redeemer
- The Law-Giver
- The Lamb
- The Heir
Our 6-fold freedoms:
The 3-fold work of the Kingdom
- Proclaiming what is true
- Healing what is broken
- Defeating what is evil