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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
But there is more. The text also says that God
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
"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
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
The life of Rev. Cornelius Hanko, the author of these
devotional sermons on Romans 8, is covered in his memoirs,
Less Than the Least.