The Need for Christ’s Atoning Work (“Erasing Hell” Conclusions part 2)

20120812-230532.jpgChan, Francis; Preston Sprinkle (2011). Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up. David C. Cook. ISBN 978-0-7814-0725-0

Article by Leif L.

This article is the second part of my thoughts after having read the book, and do not necessarily follow the beliefs of the author of Erasing Hell.

The Need for Christ’s Atoning Work

The doctrine of divine judgment is a difficult, but biblical, teaching. Corruption, condemnation, and hell are the problems and destiny of the human race. These articles of truth are the “bad news” that provide context for the “good news” of the grace of God, but they are not the point of the gospel. They serve as a diagnosis that points to the necessity of the the gospel cure. Those who do not understand their own condition before God do not recognize or value the work of Christ done on their behalf.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV

The cross of Christ is God’s complete solution to our spiritual predicament. It is the point of convergence that brings together condemnation and justification, wrath and love, justice and mercy. The message of the cross is the power of God for salvation.

Forgiveness through Christ’s Shed Blood

For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission [forgiveness] of sins. Matthew 26:28 NKJV

The record of our sins is erased when we trust in Christ for our salvation. This removes the threat of hell, and opens heaven’s gates.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14 ESV

Those who believe in Christ are forgiven, not because of anything that they have done, but because of what Christ has done for them. The work he accomplished benefits them when he is accepted by faith.

Through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. Acts 10:43 NKJV

Justification Saves from Wrath

In the last few articles, I have spoken of the “condemnation” that the human race is under because of sin. This is the guilty verdict pronounced on all sinners. The Bible calls the inverse of this, “justification”. Condemnation means “to declare someone guilty”, justification is “to declare a person innocent” (forgiven, set free of guilt or blame).

Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed. Romans 3:24-25 NKJV

Faith is not the source of justification, but a channel by which we receive it. The function of true, saving faith is to connect us to the Source of justification, through a living, covenant relationship. Then, all that Jesus has accomplished becomes ours, for our identity is in him. We are “in Christ”.

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. Romans 5:18 NKJV

Justification is the removal of the condemnation we have through Adam’s fall and our own sins. It is provided full and free through the blood of Christ, through his “one righteous act”. The innocent Christ suffered for the sins of the guilty, in order to bring us to God.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit. 1 Peter 3:18 NKJV

The effect of justification by Christ’s blood is to offer salvation from wrath. Thus, it provides the solution to the judgment that we are under because of sin.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:9-10 NKJV

That death alone provides the possibility of the relationship between God and man being restored.

… He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:6-7 NKJV

[Jesus] made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight. Colossians 1:19-22 NKJV

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