He Was Numbered With The Transgressors

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12 ESV)

Debating the defenders of writers such as Brian McLaren is a very eye opening thing. I find it very interesting that they use the very same methods as Liberal Christians and atheists. The Straw Man fallacy is the most prevalent tool they use. They are the defenders of relativism and universalism. Our resistance to any compromise causes them to refer to us as “backward” and “legalistic.” They make the false assumption that all holders of relativism make, which is declaring absolute truth to be a myth. When proof is given in the Bible they declare that that is only our interpretation. We must learn from this to see the logical end of a debate fast approach when that argument is given. It is a total waste of time at that point to continue.

Another aspect of debates like this is the way it makes me examine myself and my faith, which is a good thing. These fellows are all about trying to sow seeds of doubt in the heart. Their parting shots can be quite disturbing. Of course these are simply fiery darts of deception intended to neutralize us. One such dart was that all that I was trusting in was, to him, just a house of cards and props. I know better, but it made me think about how this person could have conceived of such a thing. Then I understood or at least I think I did. It occurred to me that our trust in God, in His Sovereignty, to save and keep us is to them an unreality. They are trusting in their own work, their own decision, their own religiosity to hold them. Within that religiosity they have the mechanism of the sinner’s prayer in response to some sort of ‘time of decision.’ They have made the right decision so they ‘must be saved.’ Right?

I know that is not a complete synopsis of those folks and it may not even be how they conceive of themselves. However, it was how I conceived of my position in Kingdom of God before 2004. I used to look at the theology of Luther or Calvin or Sproul and see their total lack of dependence on the ‘mechanisms’ of salvation that I was used to. It just seemed impossible that anyone who believed like that could possibly be saved.

However, starting in 2004, God opened the eyes of my heart to the truth of the Gospel. It is the Gospel God uses to save people, not religion or religious acts. People are not saved because they ‘made the right decision’ or ‘feed the poor,’ but are saved by God by Grace through faith as His gift. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Also, after that and since then I have been studying the theology of those I used to view with eyes of skepticism. While some take that theology and make an idol of it, it is far closer to being Biblically correct than I had thought before. Also, those in the theological boat I came from have made their own theology into an idol and are just as guilty as everyone who worships their religion, the Religion of Do.

As I said, I studied theology constantly for the next couple of years, and still do to some degree. During that time I found a theologian that, I believe, had the most balanced and correct view of the Gospel. That man is C.H. Spurgeon. He was reformed in His theology, but one of the most evangelical people to have ever lived. He had the proper evangelistic viewpoint. Another contemporary of Spurgeon that I have come to admire very much is John A. Broadus. When I looked at these men’s theology I saw where they were totally submitted to the Sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They understood that our salvation is via God’s Sovereign Grace, however, they also understood that God works through evangelists preaching the genuine Gospel with the Law in the regeneration of those He saves. They understood that no one is save who does not see their sin as sinful and, therefore, they must repent. Therefore, they preached the same Gospel that Peter and Paul preached.

If you listen to or read the sermons that are prevalent these days in our ‘churches,’ you must agree that they, for the most part, do not fit this description. The offer of the Gospel they preach is to come to Jesus so He can make your life better. Numbers are all-important in these churches so the Gospel and the way church is done is geared to attract and entertain non-believers to the detriment of genuine worship and discipleship. They do not want to offend these people so they do not teach about the bloody cross and why it was necessary. They do not teach or preach about all people being born dead in their trespasses and sins and what God did to save His people out of this world.

Spurgeon did not preach like this and we must not either. The following short piece by Spurgeon is based in Isaiah 53:12, which I placed at the top of this post. He shows us the work of Christ on the Cross and how that is the basis of our salvation.

Why did Jesus suffer Himself to be enrolled amongst sinners? This wonderful condescension was justified by many powerful reasons. In such a character He could the better become their advocate. In some trials there is an identification of the counsellor with the client, nor can they be looked upon in the eye of the law as apart from one another. Now, when the sinner is brought to the bar, Jesus appears there Himself. He stands to answer the accusation. He points to His side, His hands, His feet, and challenges Justice to bring anything against the sinners whom He represents; He pleads His blood, and pleads so triumphantly, being numbered with them and having a part with them, that the Judge proclaims, “Let them go their way; deliver them from going down into the pit, for He hath found a ransom.” Our Lord Jesus was numbered with the transgressors in order that they might feel their hearts drawn towards Him. Who can be afraid of one who is written in the same list with us?

Surely we may come boldly to Him, and confess our guilt. He who is numbered with us cannot condemn us. Was He not put down in the transgressor’s list that we might be written in the red roll of the saints? He was holy, and written among the holy; we were guilty, and numbered among the guilty; He transfers His name from yonder list to this black indictment, and our names are taken from the indictment and written in the roll of acceptance, for there is a complete transfer made between Jesus and His people. All our estate of misery and sin Jesus has taken; and all that Jesus has comes to us. His righteousness, His blood, and everything that He hath He gives us as our dowry. Rejoice, believer, in your union to Him who was numbered among the transgressors; and prove that you are truly saved by being manifestly numbered with those who are new creatures in Him.

Our Lord became a man in order to judged as a man by God for the sins of His people. In order for this to ‘work,’ Jesus had to live a perfect, sinless life as a man. He became a brethren of all of God’s people. When the time came for God’s wrath to be poured out on the sins of His people, our Lord was given into the hands of sinful men to be cruelly used and killed. During His time on the cross, our Lord was numbered amongst the transgressors. Even though He was sinless, He became sin on behalf of His people. God’s wrath against their sin was satisfied in the death of Christ on the cross. Therefore, in Christ taking our place, God uses this sacrifice in the Gospel to draw sinners unto belief and repentance. Without the realization that one is a sinner who cannot do one thing to save himself or herself, how can they receive Christ as their Lord and saviour trusting in His righteousness to blot out their sins?

My brethren, take not lightly our Lord’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God through which we are saved. Also, reject relativism and universalism and compromise and works theology. The Gospel is not editable.


22 thoughts on “He Was Numbered With The Transgressors

  1. Pingback: VOX POPULI NEWS and OPINION - He Was Numbered With The Transgressors

  2. “My brethren, take not lightly our Lord’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God through which we are saved. ”

    Matthew 26:26-28
    And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
    And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
    For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

    Taking lightly or trivializing Christs sacrifice for our sins is a path unto eternal death and torment in a very real place called Hell.

    “The Gospel is not editable.”

    The multitude of paraphrases that permeate churches today opens the door wide for false teachers to slither in and take control.


  3. TOG,

    I constantly remind myself that it is actually God who is handing men over to strong delusion. This reminds me that he is sovereign in all affairs– both good and bad. Some men are handed over to their idolatry in order that he might save them, while others are handed over for their destruction.

    There is often a predictable response whenever you expose a heretic or a group of them. First, their followers will attack you with crass language in an attempt to shake you and ruin your witness. Second, the heretic will play the martyr. You will be seen as an antiChrist, and even treated like one. If beheading was legal, their supporters (the heretic’s supporters) would have your head on a plate.


  4. Mike,

    “Their parting shots can be quite disturbing.” And then they run off, refusing to search the scriptures to see if they are right or wrong. “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverb 28:1
    Loving their idolatry, their minds are darkened. They would rather flee and come to God on their own terms, than to repent.


  5. True, many people think that they got saved because of their own decision, so it is also their decision about how to view and interpret scripture, and how to live their lives.

    Many people also prefer to focus on “God has a good plan for your life” aspect, and ignore the narrow path concept.

    In total humility, we have to acknowledge what Jesus said, “without me, you can do nothing.”

    We only have power when we acknowledge we have none of our own.



  6. If MacLaren’s revolutionary views are correct, than the majority of the preachers in church history were significantly wrong. These men believe truth evolves due in part to the needs and culture of the the people, and so their truth changes in direct proportion to how culture changes.

    When a sinner get saved, his culture must bow to truth, not the reverse. MacLaren and others are not just changing methodology, they are changing truth itself. And when there is no immutable truth, there is only death.


  7. Rick,

    This is why we must stand against this in the power of God as long as He allows. I read in scripture, though, that there is point in history when God will allow these lies and those behind them to seem to conquer His people. Could we be nearing that time. 🙂 It makes no difference, we stand!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  8. MIke,

    I think that we are witnessing that time right now. According to scriptures, it will get exponentially worse. In Genesis chapter 11, you will see that man’s heart was lifted up because of advances in technology. In Genesis 11:6, the restrainer was removed in order that men could then achieve what he imagined. The same has occurred exponentially within the last 200 years or so. This could be evidence of the removal of the restrainer.
    “And the Lord said, Behold the people is one, and they all have one language: and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. ” Genesis 11:6

    Technology is not bad when it is used wisely. Unfortunately, men have spent more time and money on advancing their weapons and the love of pleasure over good. In Revelation, the Lord says that he will destroy those who have destroyed the earth (Sounds like the nukes fit that one).
    Sacrificing truth for the sake of unity produces a strange god. This appeals to the natural man, but it casts down absolute truth. Relativism has existed for a long time, and men will use it because they believe it will unite the world to bring peace. Global unity only destroys national sovereignty as well as local cultures. In the days of Nimrod, they strived to be as one (unity) on their own terms. This eventually provoked the Lord to anger and resulted in wrath. They were then scattered throughout the earth because of their rebellion.


  9. I still wonder if we are going to see the ‘man of sin’ appear in our time. I sure wouldn’t be a bit suprised if we do. Things are zoo-lu all over this world. Ripe for his entrance. I can’t remember a time in history where its been this crazy all over the world and not just certain areas. Personally, we are ready for Jesus to return. And the churches are full of ‘Halifax Nuts’ huh Mike. Yes its sad.


  10. This really fits in with something I was reading by Major W. Ian Thomas:

    “You will remember that we have seen sin defined in the Bible as independence: “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23), an attitude of “lawlessness” (I John 3:4); what then does repentance involve? It involves stepping out of independence back into dependence – and the measure of your repentance will be the measure of your dependence!

    Every area of your life, in which you have not learned to be dependent, is an area of your life in which you have not as yet repented.”

    From: The Mystery of Godliness. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. ©1964.


  11. Amen Carrie! Yes, this is exactly right and sometimes the battle to be dependent upon God is quite severe.

    Along with this, when we are in that independent mode, we are can become quite spiritually blind and deaf. That is why when we “come to ourselves” and repent that it can be such a sad and trying thing in which we abhor ourselves, etc.

    It is very easy to step away from dependence into independence when we become distracted.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff


  12. You are right with your observation of emergents creating straw men. They present the church as old-fashioned fundamentalists. I really don’t know many churches anymore like that. Therefore, the emergents are creating an impression of the church for their young followers that existed perhaps 30 years ago. Sadly, their followers usually aren’t old enough to have the life experiences to know that their leaders are lying to them.


  13. Thank you for this post, Mike. And thank you so much for including that Spurgeon quote.

    “Who can be afraid of one who is written in the same list with us?”

    How incredible that our Lord Jesus chose to be numbered among the transgressors that we may be numbered among the saints. All glory, laud, and honor to Thee, Redeemer King!


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