Friday, March 05, 2021

Bible Study Resources: What Did the Cross Achieve?

 * The following is a handout I designed for a short sermon series at my church on theories of the atonement. I've always been of the view that a complementary perspective is best: that is, that Scripture shows us multiple different answers to the question of what Christ's death on the cross achieved for us, and we would do well to keep all of them in mind. Not all of the items listed below are usually given their own treatment as separate theories of the atonement, so some cover broader categories, and others more specific aspects.


Why Did Jesus Die? (What Does the Cross Achieve?)


To Take the Wrath of Divine Justice on Himself (“Propitiation”)

- “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” - Romans 3:23-25

- “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” - 1 John 4:10

To Defeat Death and Inaugurate the Resurrection (“Christus Victor”)

- “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” - Hebrews 2:14-15

- “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” - Hebrews 13:20-21

To Show the Depth of God’s Love and Grace (“Exemplary”)


- “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” - Romans 5:8

- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16

For the Forgiveness of Our Sins (“Expiation”)

- “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” - Matthew 26:28

To Cancel the Demands of the Law Toward Us (“Liberation”)


- “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross….Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” - Colossians 2:13-14, 16-17

To Make Us Righteous before God (“Justification”)

- “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” - Romans 5:9

To Make Us Holy (“Sanctification”)

- “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” - Hebrews 10:14

- “He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” - Colossians 1:22

To Bring Us into Union with God (“Reconciliation” / “Union” / “Theosis”)

- “For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” - Romans 5:10

- “He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.” - 2 Peter 1:4

To Break the Power of Satan and All Evil Authorities (“Christus Victor”)


- “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” - Colossians 2:15

To Reconcile Us to Each Other (“Reconciliation” / “Peace”)


- “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near….Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.” - Ephesians 2:14-17, 19

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