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The Atoning Death of Christ

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The Atoning Death of Christ

The death of Christ is central to the Christian faith.

The gospel is the good news of the Cross.

The proclamation of the heralds of the kingdom of God is a word of reconciliation.

The gospel is not in His birth; neither is it in His teaching, nor in His life, but in Him through His death and resurrection.

One of the wonders of the Christian Church is the unanimity with which the apostles came to regard the death of our Lord. The Cross scared and scattered them. It is impossible to sound the depth of their dismay in the interval between Good Friday and Easter morning. Who can imagine the dense darkness of that black Saturday? The Cross that scattered them rallied them, and held them. The Cross looked different from the Easter side. The risen Saviour had opened to them its meaning. They gazed in wonder when they saw Him alive, but the wonder of their eyes was as nothing to the wonder in their minds and hearts. In six weeks from the darkness and desolation, the apostles were glorying in the tragedy that imperiled their reason and shattered their faith.

A murder of malicious hate had become a sacrificial gift of love, and the Cross of shame had become a gospel of grace and a triumph of glory. With one mind and one heart they proclaimed the death of Christ as the one hope of salvation for sinful men. They differed acutely about many things, but to each and all the Cross was basal and essential in the gospel of redemption. The death of Christ in some vital way had made a difference in the universe. By His death Christ had done for men some great and vital thing that no man, nor all men, could do.

Why Did Christ Die?

The answer of the Scriptures is that "Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures."

That is the thing to be remembered, first, last, and all the time, in every approach to the subject of Christ's death.

There is no interpretation of Christ's death apart from the Scriptures.
It is made known only by revelation, and that revelation is in all the Scriptures. Revelation is progressive, and the gospel of the Cross is the culmination of a process.

That is why it is necessary to begin with the Old Testament.

The Scriptures to which St. Paul referred were the Scriptures of the Old Testament.

It was to these same Scriptures that the Risen Christ went for the Easter interpretation of Good Friday.

On the way to Emmaus and in the Upper Room, He took them to the Bible they had known from their youth.

"Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

"And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures"
Luke 24:25-27, 44-45

There was a preparation for the atonement in the Old Testament sacrifices, and a preparation for its interpretation in the symbols and rites of the offerings of the altar. Their efficacy was never in themselves. They implied and demanded moral and spiritual interpretations and implications. Whatever offering may be brought, the sacrifice acceptable to God has always been that of "a broken and a contrite heart." He has never required less than "truth in the inward parts," by which is understood sincerity and intelligence, as well as the offerings of contrition.

Salvation was not in the offering apart from the worshiper, any more than there is salvation in the fact of the Cross apart from personal and understanding faith.

The Gospel According to the Scriptures

There is an affectation of the old agnostic spirit that speaks its pride in terms of humility.

In the unbeliever it is a pose of wide intellectual spaces and high altitudes; it is a proof of ignorance to claim to know.

In the believer it is a pose of humility which rebukes the assurance of those who claim to know.

It declares all creeds to be a muddle of confused thinking and unintelligible subtleties.

Theology is the vanity of vain minds and shallow experience. It is only the ignorant that know! Religion is not a matter of understanding, but of adoration—as if adoration were void of intelligence! Faith is not superstition. Faith is an organ of understanding and a method of proof; but it is faith, and it is by faith we are saved.

Faith must not be spared the discipline of truth. Believers must think. It is impossible to say with how little intelligence faith may bring salvation; but it is safe to say that it always takes all there is, whether it be in the mentally defective, the colossal scholar, or the man of brilliant genius.

The amazing fact is that since the knowledge of revealed truth does not come along the ordinary channels of the wisdom of this world, "these things" are often hid from the learned and the wise and are revealed unto babes in knowledge and understanding.

Thomas Hardy, with all his gifts of genius and learning, confessed himself blind in the realm of spiritual and religious truth. He called himself an "impercipient," and declared that the spiritual verities over which others went into rhapsodies were nothing more than phantasies to him. But St. John declared of those who believe, that they know and they know that they know. It is not the man of faith who is captured by cunningly devised fables.

"What Saith the Scriptures?"

St. John and St. Paul often speak of the Scriptures in the singular number. They are a unit.

The Bible is not many books, though there are sixty-six of them bound in one volume. There are many writers, but there is only one Author. The Author is one, the Book is one, the truth is one.

There are some people to whom the Old Testament is a miscellaneous collection of ancient documents that have survived the wastage of time through the faith of the people of Israel, and nothing more. The New Testament is to them a haphazard collection of casual documents about the Christ and His Church. So blind can worldly wisdom be! The books are not many, except in the incidence of their history. By virtue of the truth they reveal they are a unit; and the truth is a unity, in which are made known the revelation of God, the record of Christ, and the interpretation of His life, death, and resurrection. Further, there is no controversy as to their teaching about the facts and faith of Christ and our salvation. The testimony of the Scriptures may be rejected, but as to their witness there is no controversy among them that believe.

Another thing to be remembered is that the Scriptures say what they have to say in their own way, and it is no use quarreling with the way they say it. God wrote His Book as He made His world. In both there are simplicities for all, and there are profundities that make Sir Oliver Lodge want a thousand years to explore a corner of our own little planet.

He who would know the Scriptures must search them, compare them, and obey them. Spiritual truth is scientifically investigated and spiritually discerned, which means that spiritual qualities are more essential than a scientific temper, and prayer is more important than grammar.

The Testimony of the Scriptures

The teaching of the Scriptures is never metaphysical, speculative, or academic.

The truth revealed is never formulated into a thesis or organized into a system of philosophy.

It is revealed living experience and organized to practical values.

The universal is revealed in the historical,
The eternal is expressed in the temporal,
The spiritual is symbolized in the experimental.

The death of Christ is never formulated into theological propositions.

The teaching of the Old Testament is perfected in the New, and the preparatory and symbolic find their reality in Christ and His work of redemption.

The Holy Spirit lays under tribute all the essential relationships of life to set forth the meaning of atoning sacrifice.
He likens it to the principles and procedure of the law courts; then He interprets it in the terms of the Temple, where purity is the first law; and finally He adopts the homelier life of the family.

No one aspect reveals the whole, and no interpretation can be true that does not take account of all three.

The truth of each belongs to all, and the truth of all belongs to each.

Sin is the fact that had to be dealt with in redemption, as it is still the fact and problem of salvation.
Sin affected every part of man's being and every relationship of his life.
Sin brought separation through guilt, alienation through defilement, and disorder through degradation.
The guilt must be expiated, the defilement must be cleansed, and the family home must be restored.

All the Scriptures insist upon a complete redemption, and in His death Jesus Christ has become the one and only Saviour of the world.

He has made expiation through His blood.
He has brought cleansing by His blood.
He has restored the kinship of the race in His blood.
The gospel is a proclamation of reconciliation.
God in Christ is just and the Justifier of sinners in the death of His Son.
He died for all, and each can say,

In my place condemned He stood.

The blood that atones cleanses and restores to acceptable communion with God, whose holiness is fundamental to His character.

Jesus brings sinners to a life of holy fellowship with God.

Love is the final and all-inclusive word.

God gave His Son to die for sinners because He loved.

He is our Father; but His only begotten Son addressed Him as holy Father and righteous Father.
It is sometimes said there is no Calvary in the parable of the Prodigal Son.
It would be just as true to say there is no Sinai in the twenty-third psalm; but neither Sinai nor Calvary is absent from either.

When faith comes to the Cross, love is satisfied; for in the death of Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God.

In the cross of Christ is our hope and glory.

The Gospel of the Cross by Samuel Chadwick

To conclude this wonderful message of Truth, we include the Link below to this well known hymn by Isaac Watts, dated 1707 A.D.

When I Survey the Wonderous Cross

John 3:16-17 (NKJV)
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 15:9-14 (NKJV)
9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.