"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Christ’s Atoning Death and Redeeming Resurrection
In the Old Testament book of Genesis, we find a remarkable story. It begins with the foundation of the universe and the creation of our world. Little did Adam know the day He was created that soon He and Eve would make a really big mess of this new perfect life. When Adam and Eve took the fruit of the forbidden tree, knowledge of sin was exposed to them and curses were introduced into the world (Genesis 3). Among the consequences was the curse of death upon all the living creatures of the earth. God continued to care for His creation and so He introduced a way for Adam and Eve to make a way of covering for their sins. Many generations later, during the Exodus from Egypt, God gave the new nation of Israel through the prophet Moses a covenant in the wilderness. Attached to this covenant was a law requirement that the Israelites had to keep in order to seek God’s forgiveness and salvation. Unfortunately, man failed miserably at keeping their side of the covernant, so God had already made another way. His name was Jesus Christ and He came as the Messiah and blood sacrifice for all mankind whether Jew or Gentile. As He was prophesied regarding His will from the foundations of the Earth, Jesus’ predicted birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection was a successful plan for the salvation of mankind. This work will be an approach to connect the events of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection to the salvation of mankind through the acts of atonement and redemption. Without these events, man would still be in need of a Savior today.
Jesus’ Atoning Death:
Perhaps the most discussed, admired, and criticized moment in the life of Jesus Christ was not the events surrounding His birth and life, but rather His death. For as many scholars and theologians there are conversing about the topic of atonement, you can find just as many theories regarding the circumstances of the death of Christ and what it means for mankind. Under the faith and belief that the Scriptures regarding the details of Christ’s death are inerrant, they provide the details of a rather an inhumane, but prophetically accurate death. Every detail regarding Jesus’ suffering and death were necessary in order for not only the salvation of mankind, but the authority over death, Hell, and the grave. These authorities include, but are not limited to the healing of our bodies, protection, intercessory prayer, and salvation by faith.
Among the important details regarding the death of Christ, was the main method used in His death, the Cross. The Cross, which is now a symbol synonymous with the Christian faith, was not always such a relished symbol. During the days of the Roman Empire the Cross was viewed as a symbol of disgrace and dishonor. The Son of Man had to truly humble himself as a human being, not to mention His simultaneous deity. Regarding the importance of the cross as a part of Jesus’ death, Bakers Dictionary points out, “It is the means by which we finally and fully understand the work of Christ on our behalf”. What is all the more impressive and shocking is how Elwell explains, “The cross is also seen as God’s deliberate choice”. God brought shame upon Himself, in order that the common “foolish” man might be saved. Jesus knew that His purpose for being on Earth was to die for the transgressions of mankind. Revelation 13:8 tells us that He was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world”.
This process of dying for mankind as a sacrificial substitute, sinless, without spot or blemish is referred to as atoning. The term “atone” is the basis for many theories and explanations as to how Jesus is able to give us a “get out of jail free pass”, but the process may be as complicated to explain as many of the other great mysteries of God’s Word. What we do know is that, “Jesus’ death is spoken of as an example for humanity (Phil. 2:3; 1 Peter 2:21-23; Eph. 5:2), as the ransom paid” They go on to identify atonement by saying “Atonement refers to God’s act of dealing with the primary human problem of sin.” Atonement, supplied by the lifeblood offering of Jesus, sucks our sins away like a magnet and as Psalms 103:12 says, “removes it as far as the east is from the west”. Even as part of the three-God-head or Trinity, God allowed the Son to be hung on the tree of Calvary for our transgressions and atonement. No other God or religion can compare in this way as to offer so much to mankind. It could be said that like Abraham, God put His all on the altar. Regarding the method of death by the cross it is said in our lecture that, “God’s character is demonstrated in the cross: the love of God for the despised of the world”  Walter Elwell had this to say regarding the subject, “The NT does not put forward a theory of atonement, but there are several indications of the principle on which atonement is effected. Thus sacrifice must be offered-not the sacrifice of animals, which cannot avail for humans (Heb. 10:4), but the perfect sacrifice of Christ (9:26; 10:5-10). Christ paid sin’s due penalty (Rom. 3:25-26; 6:23; Gal. 3:13).” Much like the sacrificial ceremonies of the Old Testament one must consider his attitude towards the commitment, to receive this atonement properly. Elwell explains this by saying, “But to offer sacrifice as the expression of a repentant and trustful heart is to find atonement.”
Jesus’ Redeeming Resurrection:
Once Jesus was buried, only half of the process was complete. Jesus had fulfilled many of the foretold propecies concerning the circumstances of His death, but the most important event had yet to take place. Many were shocked and left in disbeleif regarding the circumstances and swift process of Jesus’ death, including His own disciples. How could the Messiah who was coming to redeem His people like a King lower himself to the humble presence of a man and God here on Earth? Why should the Son of Man endure such suffering and disrespect? God knew that many in the crowds lacked true understanding of the events that were about to take place. Even though Jesus forwarned them of His coming death and resurrection such as in Matthew 16:21, the disciples did not seem to fully comprehend what was about to unfold. Even after the resurrection of Lazarus and a couple of the other dead that were raised, the disciples were puzzled by the sayings of Jesus. In Matthew 27:46, we see the final words of Jesus as He hung upon the cross saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? Immediately the veil was torn in the Temple and the atonement of mankind was set in place. The relationship with God would no longer require a building, but the temple of God would now be our hearts.
Jesus’ death was about to be news not easily forgotten by the Pharisees who were responsible for placing Him upon that cross. With the veil in the Temple already torn, giving a heavy sign of their huge mistake, the religious authorities were nervous. They believed by putting guards by the access door of the tomb would prevent the fraudulant move of the disciples stealing Jesus’ body and saying that it had rose again, but they wrong. It wasn’t the disciples who would come for Jesus, it was an angel of heaven. This was an early symbolic gesture that shows us that no matter what stands in between us and God in this world, if we seek repentance and relationship with Jesus, He will hear our hearts. Just as the enemy could not stop the atoning power of Christ, the Roman soldiers could not prevent the Angel from rolling away the stone at the entrance of the tomb. Three days later and Jesus was alive. The process of the redemption of mankind was now complete. To understand redemption, it is best explained by Elwell saying, “includes the ideas of loosing from a bond, setting free from captivity or slavery, buying back something lost or sold, exchanging something in one's possession for something possessed by another, and ransoming.” It sounds a lot like atoning, but only this time Jesus had possession of the “keys to hell and death” (Rev. 1:18). No longer does the enemy have dominion over us due to our iniquities and short-comings. Jesus has paid the price in blood and then defeated the enemy with His resurrection, gaining the authority for us over the enemy. Redemption goes much deeper in meaning according to Elwell, “In the Old Testament, redemption involves deliverance from bondage based on the payment of a price by a redeemer.”
 Walter Elwell. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Cross, Crucifixion. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books. ed. 1997) Accessed May 28th, 2017. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/.
 Walter Elwell. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Cross, Crucifixion.
 The Holy Bible, King James Version
 Grand Canyon University, “The Doctrine of the Work of Christ.” (lecture, Christian Doctrines, Grand Canyon University, February 16th, 2017).
 Grand Canyon University, “The Doctrine of the Work of Christ.”
 The Holy Bible, King James Version
 Walter Elwell, Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Atonement (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 113-114.
 Walter Elwell, Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Atonement
 Walter Elwell. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Redeem, Redemption. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books. ed. 1997) Accessed May 28th, 2017. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/redeem-redemption.html
Walter Elwell. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Redeem, Redemption.
What does all this mean for me and you? This means that Jesus Christ truly has, “set the captives free” (Isaiah 61:1). We are no longer in bondage to our sins and iniquities once we have repented and proclaimed faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is only after we believe that we can receive salvation from the Lord. We simply cannot make it to Heaven by works or good deeds, but only through faith in Jesus. Jesus states himself in John 14:6, “6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This statement makes the decision very simple. While for some it may not be easy, it surely isn’t complicated. If you believe, you will be saved. If you reject the Gospel one day you will find out the true meaning of Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” I pray that we can all see the clear purpose of Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection on Earth as our Lord and Savior. Without the sacrificial death of Jesus we would lack an atoning for our lives and without His resurrection we would not have our ransom paid by His redeeming blood. Thank God for His sacrifice on Calvary.
Elwell, Walter, A. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Atonement, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.
Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Cross, Crucifixion. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997. Accessed May 28th, 2017. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/cross-crucifixion.html
Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Death of Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997. Accessed May 28th, 2017. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/death-of-christ.html
Elwell, Walter A., ed. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Jesus Christ. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997. Accessed May 28th, 2017.. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/jesus-christ.html
Grand Canyon University. “The Doctrine of the Work of Christ.” Lecture, Christian Doctrines, Grand Canyon University, February 16th, 2017.
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'JUSTIFICATION'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915. http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/justification.html