The cross was a superb victory which shook the foundations of Hell. By the physical death of Jesus Christ on the cross at one place and one time in human history,
- All creation is redeemed from the bondage of evil (Rom 8:20-22).
- The souls of all men are offered: redemption from the bondage of sin, forgiveness of sin, justification before God, adoption into the family of God, regeneration from the death of sin to a life of pursuing righteousness, progress along the path of sanctification, reconciliation with fellow believers, unification with all believers in the Church of Jesus Christ and glorification when our mission in this life is done.
Other ramifications of His physical death may be hidden in realms beyond our comprehension. This physical death, of the incarnate God the Son, is called the substitutionary atonement. It was defined in space and time by Jesus’ own words when He said: It is Finished (John 19:30). By these words and His simultaneous death, the substitutionary atonement was complete. The cross did not just happen to Jesus; He came on purpose for it. The cross is at the center of time and eternity. The cross is the point where God and man merge with a crash.
The crucifixion must be regarded not merely as an occurrence brought about by mere circumstances, but as the great end for which Jesus Christ came into the world; the motive for the atonement is found in the love of God. Scriptures regard the suffering and death of Christ as a propitiation (1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10; Rom 3:25), a redemption (Rom 3:24; Gal 3:13; Eph 1:7) and a reconciliation (Rom 5:10-11; 2 Cor 5:18-19; Col 1:20-22). Jesus was the propitiation which calmed the wrath of God and atoned for the sin of man. He redeemed or bought back each of our souls from the bondage of sin and He allowed God and man to reconcile.
The penalty of sin cannot be transferred to a third party. When we say that Christ died as our substitute, we do not imply that He was simply a third party who stepped in between God and man. Christ was not a third party in the affair at Calvary. He was God against whom every sin is committed. When God the Son said, at Calvary: “Father forgive them” instead of saying “Angelic hosts, destroy them,” He, as the victim, bore the guilt, penalty and pain rightfully due every person who will ever live. Jesus not only bore the guilt and penalty for your sins but he took a step further. Since your guilt is canceled and your punishment remitted, He said that you can be accepted before God as righteous. You can, therefore, stand before God as if you had never sinned; you are thereby justified.
A core beliefs of Christianity can be stated as:
Each person who responds to God's grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith and obedience receives the great gift of salvation. Each person who resists God's grace is condemned to everlasting punishment.
- Each person who responds to God's grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by
- confession of sin (Ps 32:3-5; 1 John 1:8-10),
- remorse (Ps 66:18; Luke 18:13),
- repentance (Mat 3:8; Rom 12:2, 13:14; Eph 4:23-24; Rev 2:5, 16, 3:3, 19),
- faith (John 6:29, 3:16-17; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-10) and
- obedience (Mat 28:20; Luke 11:28; John 14:15; Rom 1:5, 6:16; Heb 5:9)
- receives the great gift of salvation (Acts 4:12; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 7:10; 1 Thes 5:9; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:9, 18-19).
- Each person who resists God's grace is condemned to everlasting punishment (Mat 25:46; 2 Thes 1:8-9).
Christian belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Faith is not just an intellectual exercise (Jam 2:19) or an emotional experience (Jer 17:9).
Notice the first step in response to God’s grace and the Cross of Jesus Christ is confession of sin. You must confess your own sin nature and sinful behavior. You must confess that your heart, will and intellect are corrupt beyond measure. Only by acknowledging the poverty of your own soul can you enter the kingdom of God; those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit have a sense of absolute unworthiness. You cannot enter God’s kingdom as a good person who puffs out his chest and says, “I have made a decision for Christ over the many options available to me; I am to be admired!” God wants us to yield to Him, not make a self-aggrandizing decision for Him.
Without confession of sin, it is not possible to have true remorse in your heart. Without remorse, it is not possible to repent. Without repentance, there is no faith; belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Without faith, there can be no obedience.
Shortly before His arrest, Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives:
Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. (Luke 22:42)
Jesus did not fear death on the cross. He was incarnated as fully god and fully man to live a sinless life and die for crimes He did not commit. But the death had to follow a particular sequence of events known only to the three persons of the Trinity. Jesus was concerned that His human weakness might interfere with the proper execution of these events. But it did not! His death triumphantly met the self-imposed requirements of a substitutionary atonement.