Death, Resurrection and Atonement
45. How does the death
of Christ affect us?
a. Christ died under a judicial
sentence and was counted with the transgressors (Isa 53:12). By suffering
the Roman punishment of crucifixion, He died an accursed death, bearing
the curse for us (Dt 21:23; Gal 3:13). With this, He completed the
work of atonement.
b. Definition of atonement:
c. Necessity of atonement:
Atonement is the act of reconciliation
(making "at-one") that Jesus as mediator effected by His death for the
redemption of humanity, satisfactorily repairing the breach between God
and humanity caused by sin.
d. Nature of atonement:
Because of sin, man is separated from
God. The relationship between God and man is symbolized by a deep chasm
separting the two sides. God would like to build a bridge across the chasm.
But it is against the nature of a holy God to accept sinners. To satisfy
divine justice, God sent His only Son to sacrifice for us (1Jn 4:10; Jn
3:16). Through Jesusí death, atonement is possible. Thus, atonement is
like the building of the bridge across the chasm reconnecting God and man.
(1) Sacrificial: the sacrificial
act by which a covenant was ratified between God and a New Israel, just
as the old covenant was ratified in the blood of the sacrificial animals
on Sinai (Ex 24:8); Christ is decribed as the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29), or
the Passover Lamb (1Co 5:7)
The atonement is described in the Bible
as vicarious or substitutional. It is described as the "Penal substitution
theory" (held by Luther and Calvin).
Vacarious means taking place of another.
Christ died "for us", "on our behalf", or "in our stead" (Mk 10:45; Ro
8:32; Gal 3:13; Eph 5:2; 1Th 5:9).
Christ absorbed the punishment (penalty)
of Godís curse on sin in place of the sinner. God is satisfied and is reconciled
to man. Just like the sacrifices in the OT, the sacrifice of Jesus is an
expiatory offering to turn aside the wrath of an angry God.
(2) Universal: available to all
(3) Triumphal: proclaims Christís
victory over the evil spiritual powers in the cosmos (1Co 15:24-25; Col
(1) Ransom theory or Payment to
Satan theory: Christ redeemed man with His blood and exchanged His soul
for our souls. He gave His life to Satan as a ransom for those who were
in bondage to Satan. (held by some Church Fathers such as Origen, Augustine)
f. Mistaken theories of atonement:
(2) Satisfaction theory: Obedience
is the honour man owes to God, and disobedience detracts from God what
belongs to Him and it brings Him dishonour. The sinner owes to God a restoration
of obedience as well as a satisfaction or reparation for his disobedience.
Christís life is sinless; He owes God nothing and the righteousness of
His life outweighs the evil of all sin. The obedience of His life has merit
to offer to Godís honour to make amends for the dishonour perpetrated by
man. Godís honour is restored by Jesusí obedience, not by Jesusí suffering.
(held by Anselm)
(3) Moral influence theory: The
work of Christís suffering and death reveals Godís love for the unworthy
in such a way as to inspire a response of gratitude and bring the sinner
back to obedience to God. The work of Christ thus inspires moral renewal
of man as a result of feeling grateful. (held by Abelard, Ritschl, Bushnell)
(4) Governmental theory: Justice is
the need for orderly government and constitutional justice in a moral universe.
Sin is an offense against public order and punishment involves only the
restoration of order, not retributive compensation for injury. Punishment
serves a deterrent purpose in a moral government. Christ voluntarily accepts
the punishment deserved by all, and Godís hatred of sin is vindicated by
the example of Christís suffering, with the result that individual sinners
will be deterred from evil by this exhibition of Godís wrath. Thus the
moral influence of fear serves to maintain order. (held by Grotius)
g. Christ descent into Hades:
Christ was described as descending
into Hades after death. It is a figurative expression to denote that (1)
He suffered the pangs of hell in the garden and on the cross, and (2) He
entered the deepest humiliation of the state of death (Ps 16:8-10). However,
some believe that He went down to hell to preach and to celebrate His victory
over the powers of darkness (1Pe 3:19; Eph 4:9).
a. Importance of Christís resurrection:
Why is Christís resurrection important in our salvation? What is His resurrected
b. Body of Jesus after resurrection:
It assures victory over sin and death:
penalty paid, death conquered, redemption completed.
It is a declaration of the Father that
Christ met all the requirements of the Law (Php 2:9).
It symbolizes what would happen to
believers: justification, regeneration, and final resurrection (ultimate
full salvation) (Php 3:21; Ro 6:4,5,9; 1Co 6:14; 15:20-22)
It was the cause of our justification,
regeneration, and resurrection (Ro 4:25; 5:10; Php 3:10; 1Pe 1:3)
It constitutes our hope for the future.
c. Ascension of Jesus:
Similarities to the earthly body: (1)
similar physical traits, perhaps the voice, recognized by the disciples
(Jn 21:7) and Mary Magdalene (Jn 20:16); (2) with a physical presence:
can be touched, has bone and flesh (Mt 28:9, Lk 24:39), can eat (Lk 24:41-43);
can breathe (Jn 20:22)
Differences from the earthly body:
(1) appearance not entirely the same (Jn 21:12); (2) not restricted by
time and space: enter freely into locked places (Lk 24:36, Jn 20:19); appear
and disappear suddenly (Lk 24:31,36); (3) incorruptible (1Co 15:42), powerful
(1Co 15:43), glorious (Rev 1:12-16)
It is possible that our resurrected
body in end times will be similar.
a visible ascent of Christ from earth
to heaven (Lk 24:50-53; Ac 1:6-11; Eph 1:20; 4:8-10; 1Ti 3:16)
significance: (1) Jesus began His work
as intercessor at the throne (Ro 8:34; Heb 4:14), (2) He will prepare a
place for us (Jn 14:1-3), (3) His ascension is the assurance that we have
a place in heaven (Eph 2:6; Jn 17:24).
How can we summarize the work of Christ?
a. Prophet (Dt 18:15; Lk 13:33)
Christ has a threefold work as a prophet,
a priest, and a king.
b. Priest (Ps 110:4; Zec 6:13;
Christ represents God by bringing a
message from the Father (Jn 8:26-28; 12:49-50; 14:10,24), foretelling future
things (Mt 24:3-35; Lk 19:41-44), and speaking with authority.
c. King (Mt 28:18; Rev 19:16)
Christ represents man before God by
interceding for man (Heb 5:1-3; 7:25; 1Jn 2:1-2; Ro 8:34).
Christ offers a unique sacrifice of
Himself (Eph 5:2; Heb 9:11-15,24-28; 10:11-14,19-22; 12:24; 13:11-12).
Christ has a spiritual kingship as
the head of the Church (Eph 5:23,30; Col 1:18; 2:19) and the foundation
of unity among all believers.
Christ is also the King of the universe
(Mt 28:18; 1Co 15:27; Eph 1:20-22).