"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
We had our usual singing and prayer and giving. The first song was "No Other Plea" translated into Spanish. A re-translation is:
My faith rests in Jesus and in His redemption.
Believing only in Him, I have salvation.
I need not do any work, nor observe any rite.
It is enough for me that Jesus died--died in my place.
It may have been that song, but the Lord used something in that service to stir my husband's heart. Before the message, I was blessed by the testimony of our friend. He has left for his country by now--that was his last Sunday. He was baptized last night and left immediately after. This man heard last week of the death of his sister and his nephew. His mother is critically injured, and he must go to be with her. His first words of testimony were, "I want to thank the Lord for what is happening in my life."
Then the sermon. Jon approached the front with usual seriousness. Then he said, "I'm struggling in my heart. I have prepared a sermon, but the Lord has brought to my mind this verse, and I can't ignore the fact that God wants me to urge you to consider the seriousness of what we've been talking about this morning. Please turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21."
I began praying. It's an unusual thing (rightly so) for someone to do in his native language. But Jon had never before preached in Spanish without a manuscript. He was now about to preach without an outline. But I knew he knew and loved this verse well, and I had heard him eloquently urge Spanish-speakers to accept the Gospel. This verse is Gospel. Good news for any sinner. Still. I prayed, and I knew he was praying, and God answered.
Picture a record stained and dirty, full of infractions of God's law. That's all you've got to present to a righteous Judge. It will never work. Nothing that filthy will be accepted. God demands better than that. All right. How about a record that looks fine? A smudge here or there, but it is covered in good things too? What is that going to look like to God? Actually, it's not up for debate. The answer is "Whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it" (James 2:10). The answer is, they look the same. You can't hold it up to God and say, "This is what I've got," and expect an entrance. It's got to be perfect.
So without Christ, we need to stop there. We really do. We need to stop there for a minute and think about the utter despair we should feel on our own.
Now the Scripture. There is Someone with a perfect record. But He was already in heaven. He didn't need an entrance. He never knew sin. But He left. And He lived. And He died. And He never knew sin. And for those moments on the cross when the Father abandoned Him, my record was right there. On Him. Being dealt the full weight of God's wrath. He never knew sin, but He was made to be sin right then. He was made to be my sin. He had my record right then. And He paid for it in full.
So what happens to me? I do know sin. I know it every day. Before Christ, it's all I knew. If you're still before Christ, it's all you know. Your record before Christ intervenes is unacceptable. But His is perfect. And I've got it.
And you can have it. God will make you "IN HIM the righteousness of God." In the sight of God, will you trade records with Christ?