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SATISFACTION AND JUSTIFICATION –
OBTAINED BY CHRIST

(SERMON NUMBER 13 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, April 14, 2013

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).


This text is so full of meaning that every word in it deserves our attention. Therefore I will not stray far from the text, nor will I give many illustrations. It is enough in one sermon to lay down the marvelous truths in this text; to make the words so plain and simple that every visitor to our church this evening can go home knowing the simple, though profound, meaning of those words,

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

May God open your heart to receive the truth in that verse. For we say to you, when preaching upon this text, “Incline your ear, and come unto me. Hear, and your soul shall live.” 

The verse speaks of three things. First, there is Christ satisfying God’s justice. Second, there is the knowledge of Christ justifying many. Third, there is the sin-bearing of Christ, who brings full atonement to the believing sinner.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

I. First, the suffering of Christ satisfies God’s justice.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…”
      (Isaiah 53:11).

Dr. Jürgen Moltmann (1926-) is a German who was held as a prisoner of war in a British jail for three years after World War II. During his term in jail he began to study the Bible. Out of that experience of imprisonment and Bible reading, he wrote History and the Triune God: Contributions to Trinitarian Theology (Crossroad, 1992). Dr. Moltmann is a liberal theologian, and I certainly do not ascribe to most of what he wrote. Yet, he has some insights. For instance, Moltmann sees the Cross as the event in which God declares His solidarity with the “Godforsaken” human race. God manifests His love for sinners on the Cross, and God the Son suffers separation from the Father, allowing God to know pain and suffering “from the inside out.” Moltmann didn’t get most of it right, but he did bring out the suffering of the Persons in the Trinity at the crucifixion, and that, I think, is an important point. In my view, that is something worth thinking about – the suffering of the Persons of the Trinity during the crucifixion.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied”
       (Isaiah 53:11).

Spurgeon said,

In these words we have God the Father speaking concerning his Son, and declaring that, since he had endured a soul travail, he would guarantee to him a satisfactory reward. How delightful it is to observe the co-working of the various persons of the sacred Trinity in the matter of salvation! (C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1980 reprint, volume 61, p. 301).

“He,” that is, God the Father; “shall see of the travail of his soul,” that is, the travail of the Son’s soul; “and be satisfied.” As Spurgeon put it, “In these words we have God the Father speaking concerning his Son.”

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied”
      (Isaiah 53:11).

“The travail of his soul” refers to Christ’s inward pain and agony, which He experienced during His suffering for our sins. We should not undervalue the physical suffering of Christ. We should never think lightly of Christ being flogged half to death under Pontius Pilate. We should never underestimate the importance of Christ being spit upon and crowned with thorns. And we should certainly not underrate the importance of the piercing of His hands and feet, and the pain and thirst He experienced for us on the Cross. “Still,” said Spurgeon, “the travail of his soul was the chief matter, and it is that the text speaks about…Jesus Christ suffered so [greatly] that I despair of conceiving his sufferings, or of conveying them to you by any form of words” (Spurgeon, ibid., pp. 302-303). It has been said that “the soul-sufferings of Christ were the soul of his sufferings” (ibid., p. 302), the heart of His sufferings, the main part of His agony.

The word “travail” shows the grief, suffering and pain Christ experienced in “his soul” when the weight of human sin, and the judgment of God the Father, came down upon Him. This was clearly experienced by Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, before He was arrested, before He was flogged, before He was crucified. And it also includes the grief and pain of soul He continued to experience on the Cross. As Dr. Gill put it,

The travail of his soul is the toil and labour he endured, in working out the salvation of his people; his obedience and death, his sorrows and sufferings; particularly those birth-throes of his soul, under a sense of divine wrath, for the allusion is to a woman in travail [the pain of giving birth]; and all the agonies and pains of death which he went through (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume 5, p. 315).

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…”
       (Isaiah 53:11).

“And shall be satisfied” speaks of the propitiation of God’s wrath. God the Father is “satisfied,” or, we may say, propitiated,

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin”
       (II Corinthians 5:21).

“And he is the propitiation for our sins” (I John 2:2).

“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation”
       (Romans 3:25).

Dr. John MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood of Christ, correctly said,

The word [propitiation] means “appeasement” or “satisfaction.” The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied the demands of God’s holiness for the punishment of sin…So Jesus propitiated or satisfied God (John MacArthur, D.D., The MacArthur Study Bible, Word Publishing, 1997, note on I John 2:2).

It seems very strange to me that he is wrong on the Blood, but correct on propitiation! Thus, we see propitiation, the satisfaction of God’s wrath against sin, experienced by Jesus in His agony. The suffering of Jesus “satisfied” the justice of God, propitiating, appeasing, His wrath against sin.

“He [God the Father] hath made him [Christ the Son] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (II Corinthians 5:21).

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied…”
       (Isaiah 53:11).

The suffering of Christ satisfied God’s justice, making it possible for us to be saved.

II. Second, the knowledge of Christ brings justification to many.

Let us stand and read the text aloud, ending with the words, “justify many.”

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many…” (Isaiah 53:11).

You may be seated.

The prophet Isaiah refers to Christ as God’s “servant” in Isaiah 52:13. And here, in our text, Christ is called God’s “righteous servant.” Christ is righteous because He “knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21). He is the sinless Son of God, the “righteous servant” of God the Father.

Christ will “justify many” (v. 11). Here is the heart of the Gospel. We do not justify ourselves by obedience to God’s laws, for

“by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20).

We cannot justify ourselves because we are sinners by nature. We can only be counted just by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us. “Imputation” is a legal term. We are legally counted righteous by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us. God’s “righteous servant [shall] justify many” (Isaiah 53:11) by imputing His righteousness to them!

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many…” (Isaiah 53:11).

John Trapp reminded us that Cardinal Contarenus was executed by another Catholic Cardinal, Pighius. Because Contarenus believed this verse literally, he was called a “Protestant” and executed for his faith that “man’s justification [is] by the free mercies of God and merits of Christ” (John Trapp, A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, 1997 reprint, volume III, pp. 410-411, note on Isaiah 53:11). But Cardinal Contarenus was right! And the rest of those cardinals were wrong!

“My righteous servant [shall] justify many.” Were those words worth dying for? Indeed, they were! That is the very heart of our Baptist and Protestant faith! We do not justify ourselves, as the decisionist followers of Finney, and the Catholics teach! Oh, no!

“A man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16).

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).

It is Christ, God’s “righteous servant,” who justifies many!

But how does that happen? How does Christ “justify many”? Does He justify them by their own work of giving up some sins? No! That is Catholicism and decisionism! Does He justify them because they said a “sinner’s prayer” or “came forward” at the end of a sermon? No! That is Catholicism and decisionism! Does He justify them because they learned the “plan of salvation” and memorized John 3:16, and prayed a “sinner’s prayer”? No! That, too, is Catholicism and decisionism!

How, then, can you be justified? How can you be made clean and righteous in the sight of God? That is the eternal question! That is the great question of Bildad in the Book of Job! He said,

“How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” (Job 25:4).

And the answer comes ringing out to us in the words of our text,

“by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many”
       (Isaiah 53:11).

Or, as Spurgeon translated it, “by the knowledge of him shall my righteous servant justify many” (C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1980 reprint, volume 63, p. 117). And so Spurgeon said,

The whole way of my getting the result of Christ’s sacrifice is by knowing and believing – not by doing…”By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” “Grace and peace came by Jesus Christ,” and they come to us through believing or through knowing – by knowing Him…through Him...we are justified” (ibid.).

“To him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”
       (Acts 16:31).

“By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many”
       (Isaiah 53:11).

The suffering of Christ satisfies God’s justice. Knowing Christ Himself brings justification to many. And –

III. Third, the sin-bearing of Christ brings full atonement to sinners.

Please stand and read the text again, paying careful attention to the last six words.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

You may be seated.

Christ will “justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities.” That is, He shall bear their sins. The whole ground of our justification, the whole foundation of our atonement and salvation, is revealed in these words, “he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:5 says,

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Isaiah 53:6 says,

“And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all”
       (Isaiah 53:6).

Isaiah 53:8 says,

“For the transgression of my people was he stricken”
       (Isaiah 53:8).

And I Peter 2:24 says,

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree”
       (I Peter 2:24).

As Spurgeon translated our text, “...by the knowledge of him shall my righteous servant justify many.”

There you have the first point of the Gospel of Christ – clear and plain. The suffering of Christ satisfied the justice of God. Knowing Christ Himself brings with it justification. The sin-bearing of Christ brings full salvation to sinners who know Christ by faith. Wondrous Gospel! Wondrous redemption! Nothing like it has ever happened before or after, throughout history!

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

The other night Wesley and I were reading about the actor John Carradine on the Internet. He appeared in over 300 movies, more than any other actor. When he died in Milan, Italy, his body was put in a coffin and taken to the home of one of his sons. The son was drinking heavily. He opened the coffin and poured liquor into the mouth of his dead father.

Now, I ask you, Could the dead man taste that liquor? Of course not! And when I speak to you about all the wonderful things Christ has done to save us, you can’t taste it. Why not? Because you are spiritually dead. As the Bible puts it, you are “dead in sins” (Ephesians 2:5). That is the very nature of sin. You are dead to the things of Christ. You cannot taste them. You cannot feel them. Regarding the things of God, you are as dead as John Carradine’s body in that coffin. Christ is going to have to give you life or you will go out into eternity lost! You must be made to cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

When a man or woman cries out like that, from the depths of the heart, they are close to being saved. Have you cried out like that? Have you felt that you are dead to God, and that only Christ can save you? Are you converted to Christ? If not, will you look to Christ, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world? Will you look to Him, and trust Him now? Hear again the words Mr. Griffith sang a few moments ago.

If you from sin are longing to be free,
   Look to the Lamb of God;
He, to redeem you, died on Calvary,
   Look to the Lamb of God.
Look to the Lamb of God, Look to the Lamb of God,
   For He alone is able to save you,
Look to the Lamb of God.
   (“Look to the Lamb of God” by H. G. Jackson, 1838-1914).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here) – or you may
write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Isaiah 53:1-11.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Look to the Lamb of God” (by H. G. Jackson, 1838-1914).


THE OUTLINE OF

SATISFACTION AND JUSTIFICATION –
OBTAINED BY CHRIST

(SERMON NUMBER 13 ON ISAIAH 53)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).

I.   First, the suffering of Christ satisfies God’s justice, Isaiah 53:11a;
II Corinthians 5:21; I John 2:2; Romans 3:25.

II.  Second, the knowledge of Christ brings justification to many,
Isaiah 53:11b; 52:13; II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:20;
Galatians 2:16; 3:24; Job 25:4; Romans 4:5; Acts 16:31.

III. Third, the sin-bearing of Christ brings full atonement to sinners,
Isaiah 53:11c; Isaiah 53:5, 6, 8; I Peter 2:24; Ephesians 2:5;
Romans 7:24.