Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Christ Died for Our Sins

The death of Jesus Christ is central to the Christian faith. Some have tried to downplay it, finding the key element of Christianity in moral teaching or the character that Jesus exemplified. But this leads to a version of Christianity that is foreign to the Bible and the Jesus of history. The message of the Christian faith is that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).

This early creedal summery not only recounts historical facts, but it also shows the significance of them by the little phrase, "for our sins." (It also communicates that these facts are to be explained "in accordance with the Scriptures.") It may sound simple, that Christ died for our sins, but since our sins have many ramifications, so does Christ's death. As John Murray explains,
"Jesus came to save and, therefore, dealt with the whole entail of sin. This is the significance of those diverse categories in terms of which the Bible interprets for us the atoning death of Christ. It views the death of Christ as sacrifice, as propitiation, as reconciliation, and as redemption. These are all conditioned in their precise character by the various ways in which the entail of sin is to be viewed.  
"Sin involves guilt and the death of Christ as sacrifice is the provision for our guilt. Sin evokes the wrath of God and propitiation is that which propitiates the wrath of God. Sin alienates us from God and reconciliation is directed to that exigency arising from sin. Sin consigns us to bondage, bondage to sin itself and too Satan. Redemption is the provision for this bondage, the death of Christ is our ransom." (Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 1, p. 38)
Murray goes on to also note that just as sin lead to death, so the death of Christ is the destruction of death. So Christ's death undoes the work of sin, which leads us to consider all that sin has done. This in turn leads us to consider how God made the world before we rebelled against Him. It is no wonder, then, that the death of Christ is central to the Christian faith, for it is the remedy for our fundamental problem.

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