Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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The Sacrifice of God's Son

Rev. Cornelius Hanko (7 May, 1944)


He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Rom. 8:32).

In this text, the apostle is proving to us beyond a shadow of doubt, that God is for us, and if that is the case, nothing can be against us.

He had said in the previous verse, "What shall we then say to these things?" He had in mind a number of things. On the one hand, he had in mind various things that seemingly are against us during this present time. Things that try to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

We could mention, even from our own experience, many things here. There is the suffering of this present time—pain, sickness and sorrow that seem to stand in our way from serving God; that become temptations to us to sin. There are the devil, the world and our own sinful flesh. Our own sinfulness, our daily sins and our guilt rise up against us, prevailing day by day. So easy it seems to say with Jacob that all these things are against us.

On the other hand, there are other things, which the apostle also has in mind, and which we spoke of throughout this chapter. There is the fact that we can triumphantly shout, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." There is the fact that the law of the Spirit of life has made us free from the law of sin and death.

Then there is the fact that we have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, "Abba, Father." We are sons and therefore heirs and joint heirs with Christ to be glorified with Him. Besides all the groaning of the creature, we, too, groan within ourselves, awaiting the adoption of sons, the deliverance from this body. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom. 8:28-29).

And so, weighing the two over against each other, looking at those things that seemingly are against us in the light of all God’s benefits in Christ Jesus, he says, "What shall we then say to these things?" What shall we answer? With a mighty challenge he adds, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Certainly nothing. God is for us, on our side, and no one and nothing can be against us!

But the question remains, How do we know? How do we know that God is for us? Seemingly His wrath is upon us day by day. There are my own sins, my own guilt, my heart always condemns me. How do I know, then, that God is for me?

The answer we find is in the words of our text. "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).

God spared not, but delivered up, His own Son for us all. It was an act of sovereign love. Hence it must follow that in that same love He will bless us with every good thing forever more.

The Sacrifice of God’s Son
I. An Amazing Sacrifice
II. A Gift of Love
III. A Blessed Assurance


I. An Amazing Sacrifice

In many ways this text reminds us of Abraham when he stood ready to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah according to the command of God. God had commanded of Abraham to give his son as a sacrifice on the altar to the Lord.

Then, too, God reminded Abraham that he well knew that it was his son, his only son, Isaac, whom he loved. And then, too, at least before his own consciousness, Abraham did not spare his son, but delivered him up as a sacrifice as God had commanded, so that the angel of the Lord says to him, "Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, even thy only son, surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thy seed after thee."

It would almost seem as if Paul was thinking of this history when he wrote concerning God, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." Yet there is a difference. God’s Son was after all the eternal Son of the living God, a much greater sacrifice, as God is higher than man.

Besides, God gave up His Son, not to a mere physical death, but to the accursed death of the cross. What is more, God went all the way. God did plunge the knife of His wrath into the heart of His Son. He did kindle the flames of His judgement to consume the sacrifice which He had laid on the altar of the cross. There was no ram to take the place of God’s sacrifice for sin.

For very really the death of Christ on the cross was God’s sacrifice for sin. The text says that God delivered up His own Son. That means more than that we merely say that Christ died as a sacrifice for sin on the cross.

The latter is, of course true. Christ did die as a sacrifice for sin. As a perfect sacrifice, He laid down His life, but only because He was God’s sacrifice for sin. It is often pictured as if Christ stood between an angry God and a sinful people, so that Christ had to appease God’s wrath even while He made atonement for our sins. Christ had to reconcile God with us, even while He was reconciling us with God. But Scripture teaches that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

Christ is God’s sacrifice for sin. God delivered up His Son. The idea is that the Triune God was busy delivering up His Son on the cross.

All three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, take part in that sacrifice that God brought for sin. The Father gives His only-begotten Son, who is the express image of His likeness; the Son whom the Father begets and generates from eternity to eternity. The Son gives Himself; lays down His life for His sheep. Active suffering and obedience! The Holy Spirit, who is always present in the Son, sustains Him in His suffering, helps in the giving of that one and only sacrifice for sin.

How true it is, as Paul says in the beginning of this chapter that, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh …" (Rom. 8:3).

God delivered up the Son. If we ask to what, there is but one answer. God delivered up His Son to His own divine wrath. It is true. God delivered up His Son to come into the likeness of sinful flesh. The Father sent His Son into this world to be born of woman, the Son took on our flesh and blood, and the Holy Spirit was busy even then preparing His human nature in the virgin Mary.

God sent Christ to be born in abject poverty in a cattle stall. He delivered Him up to a cruel and wicked world that sought to kill Him as soon as they knew He was born. God delivered Him up to spend 33 years among sinful people: among some who did not understand Him, as His own mother and brothers; among others who hated Him, mocked Him, scorned Him and made it their business to get rid of Him. God delivered Him up into the hands of sinners to suffer and die the accursed death of the cross.

Yet behind all this was the fact that God delivered Him up to divine wrath. He came into the state of humiliation, emptying himself and taking on the form of a servant. He who committed no robbery when He compared himself with God to be like unto Him, He became sin for us. God reckoned all our sin to His charge. All the sin of mankind, the sin of the world, was counted to Him. He was counted guilty for every bit of it.

Therefore God delivered Him up to divine wrath. Actually He bore that wrath all His life. Even His coming in the flesh and His teaching and preaching and walking among us was a part of the bearing of divine wrath. Always He was busy taking our sins upon Himself, and God was busy delivering Him up. Therefore it all led to the cross, where the fullness of divine wrath was poured out upon Him.

There on the cross God delivered Him up completely to the curse upon sin. There God poured out all the vials of His wrath and there the Son sank away in the anguish of hell under the burden of our sin and guilt. God spared not His own Son, but laid Him on the altar, a perfect sacrifice for sin to bear away all our sin and guilt and bring us to God. What an amazing sacrifice of God’s own Son, that we might be saved!


II. A Gift of Love

And what a love is manifested in that gift of God for our salvation! "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son" (John 3:16).

Romans 8:32 emphasizes this, first of all, by saying, that God delivered up His own Son. In the original this is expressed very emphatically—it was God’s own, God’s very own Son. In distinction from the Father, He was the Son, the second person of the Trinity. The Father generates Him, but He is the Generated One, the Son. He is the express image of the Father’s likeness.

In distinction from us, who are children by adoption, He is the Begotten One, the only-begotten Son of God. We are made children. He is the Son by His very essence. He is God of God, Life of Life, God Himself.

God delivered Him up, His own Son. His very own, yes, His only One, the Son who dwells in the bosom of the Father from eternity to eternity. God delivered Him up, who is God Himself. He gives Himself, His very own being, His very own Son.

True, this brings us before a mystery that we can never fathom. No more than we can fathom the infinite depths of the love of God, can we fathom this mystery. God delivers up His own Son to His divine wrath.

God’s anger is upon Him. He pours out vials of wrath upon Him. God makes Him so deeply conscious of that divine wrath that He is forsaken of God and cries out, "My God, my God, why?" And yet at the same time God loves Him intensely as His very own Self, His own Son, the only begotten One in whom He is always well pleased. Only when we stare into that mystery do we begin to understand the gift of God’s love for our salvation.

But there is more. The text also says that God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up. It places God, as it were, with the choice of sparing His Son and sending us into eternal condemnation of hell, or delivering up His Son to the wrath of hell and thereby delivering us unto eternal blessedness in glory.

It was, as it were, for God a matter of either/or. There was no other possibility. Either God would spare Himself the bitterness of sacrificing His own Son and then we would be eternally lost, or He would save us and that would cost Him the sacrifice of His Son on the accursed tree.

When God stood, as it were, before that choice He did not hesitate, no, not so much as for a moment. God was determined from all eternity to pay the greatest of all ransoms for sin, and to pay it with His own blood. And therefore when the time came, God never hesitated, not for a moment.

He delivered up His Son to the likeness of sinful flesh. He delivered Him up to a world of wickedness and rebellion. He sent Him to the husbandmen of the vineyard, who would surely kill Him, that the vineyard might be theirs. He gave Him up to the anguish of Gethsemane and to the agony of the cross, to be forsaken of God.

And all the while, the Son gave Himself in perfect obedience as a sacrifice for sin before the face of the Father. God did not spare Himself, but delivered up His Son for our sins. Thus we begin to see some of what it cost God to save us.

We should note, finally, that God delivered Him up for "us all." When Paul speaks of "us all" here, he of course does not mean all men. Christ did not die for all men. Paul is speaking for all the elect believers when he says us. He is speaking of them throughout the whole chapter and means them here. "Us all" is all the elect believers.

It is just as true that God delivered Him up for us today. Yes, for every last one of us who make this confession. For our sin, God paid the price on the cross. For us! Christ died to save us and bring us to glory. For us, the most unworthy of sinners! Christ died for us, even while we were sinners. Greater love has no man! God gave His own Son for us with a love that is higher than men, a love that is divine.


III. A Blessed Assurance

"How shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"

"All things" refers here undoubtedly to all the blessings of salvation which God has prepared for us in heaven. They include all the blessedness and glory of the life in the new heavens and the new earth. The things which God has prepared for those who fear Him—fellowship with Christ, communion with God, the blessedness of seeing face to face and knowing as we are known!

These things often seem so far from us, so far from our reach as if we will never receive them. There is the suffering of this present time. There are our sins, which make us so entirely unworthy. If God should mark transgressions, who could stand? Yet God will surely give us all things.

How can it be otherwise, seeing that He spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all? In the first place, His love was so great that He gave us the greatest of all gifts, His own Son. If He spared not the greatest gift, surely He will not withhold from us the gift that gives Him eternal joy in His people.

Besides, when He delivered up Christ for us, Christ merited our eternal salvation in our stead. He gave us Christ, surely now He will give us all the benefits which He has prepared for us in Christ. The firstfruits we have; the rest must follow. Finally, we have essentially all these things already in Christ. In Christ we are crucified, risen from the dead and taken into heaven. In Christ we are justified, sanctified and glorified. All our salvation we have already in Christ.

In one word, then, God is for us and nothing can be against us. God is on our side, and with God on our side we can challenge the whole world. God and I are always a majority. Note, God is for us, the God who loves us, the God who is supreme over all. He rules over all things. Who can separate us then from the love of God in Christ Jesus? He sends us all things and causes them all to work together for good. He sides with us to save us.

In God we have all things now and forever. This is assured to us in the Lord’s Supper. How plainly God is reconciling the world to Himself, taking us into His covenant life and giving us all things. Amen.

The life of Rev. Cornelius Hanko, the author of these devotional sermons on Romans 8, is covered in his memoirs, Less Than the Least.