1 Corinthians 15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Romans 4:25 [the Lord] who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
When considered from its most natural point of view we know that the death of Jesus cannot be separated from his resurrection. These two are linked; by definition there can be no resurrection without the death that precedes it. And for the average Christian they know that the resurrection was a day of victory, a day of hope, and a day of promise. And yet if you asked this same Christian that internally knows that the Resurrection was a moment of Joy they are challenged to express in words what their faith and their heart already know. Without the resurrection we are doomed. Without the resurrection we are hopeless. Without the resurrection we are fools.
We are not fools. We are not hopeless. We are not doomed. Let us then put reason to our faith. To do this we must be reminded of the reason for the death of Christ. Why did he die on the cross? He died for our sins because the Lord laid on him our sin (Isa 53:6). He became sin for us (2 Cor 5:17). Let us pull back to view the players in this courtroom a little more clearly. The Father stands as the just judge and before him stands Jesus, the God-man. Although intrinsically innocent, Christ pleads guilty to my sin—to all of the sins of all believers. The sentence is carried out as God the Father then with impartial vindication turns into the infinite punisher. This is no discipline, the Father will pour out divine retribution and anger on Christ. The goal is not to correct a wayward child. The goal of this punishment is pure, legalistic, exchange. The criminal must pay for his crimes. In this case, he paid for my crimes and, Christian, for your crimes. The penalty is no simple thing quickly accomplished. The crime was infinite in evil because it assaulted the infinite God, challenged his rule, and rejected him. The penalty is likewise infinite. This explains the justice of an eternal hell. No sinner can pay the price of infinite penalty so instead they will pay for their crimes of sins against God with an infinite amount of time. Their sentence is incarceration in Hell forever.
Here we have a surprising twist. Unlike normal men, Christ is the God-man. He is infinite. Unified God and man, he is unique. He is able to die as men, but he is also infinite as God. You have not understood the breathtaking scope of the cross just yet. Understand the character of God’s impartial justice. God is not a little boy torturing ants with a magnifying glass and the sun. He has no glee in the misery of the wicked. God will give a righteous retribution. God is just. No sinner spending an eternity in hell will suffer one second more than they deserve. No misery in hell will be unwarranted. No pain, no punishment, no torture was experienced by Christ beyond what was justly deserved. More importantly our Savior, the broken man upon the cross, suffered fully for sins. His deity insured that the penalty paid was infinite.
Consider what this means. It means that if you were to spend an eternity of torture in hell and we compared the suffering of Christ with your suffering, he suffered more than you. Why? Because, in all of your time in hell you would never fully paid for one sin. This is why hell is forever. Annihilation is too good for sinners. Christ however, fully paid for sin. Not one single sin, he fully paid for all of your sin so that the penalty was fully paid. God is just. Jesus paid infinite price of your sin. We can expand this even more. All of humanity who rejects the Lord will suffer forever. Billions of people suffering for endless years will collectively never pay for one single sin. Add the rebel angels. They too will never pay for one sin. They will spend an eternity paying for myriads of sins and yet they will have never fully paid for even one sin.
Christ paid for sins. Christ paid fully for the sins of all who come to him. This means that our Just and Righteous God poured out on Christ a magnitude of suffering whose bandwidth is immeasurable so that in a few hours Christ suffered more than all the inhabitants of hell can or ever will suffer. Jesus has suffered more than Satan will ever suffer. In many ways this feels unjust, but Christ said “I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (John 10:18).
I want you to imagine the suffering of Christ both spiritual, relational, and physical. As Christ hangs on the cross he is alone. The people he loves are suffering in pain as they watch him die. The people who hate him are cheering. Satan is probably doing a victory dance somewhere as he surveys the carnage. The Sovereign Father has robbed Jesus of the joys of close fellowship has he has turned into the executioner. For these few hours the Father is “pleased to crush him” because as the Judge the Father views Jesus as “sinner.” In undiluted measure God pours out wrath, hatred, anger, violence, punishment with an intensity that will never be reached ever again. This happens so rapidly that in a few short hours Jesus spent on the cross suffering at the hands of men and God (consider the irony as he reconciles men and God) has fully paid redemption’s price. Jesus screams out in anguish of soul and body—“It is finished!”
How do we know that Jesus paid it all? How can we believe that Jesus paid for every sin that I own? Let me remind you of two thoughts. (1) God is just. (2) Jesus is not dead. The connection may not be clear. God’s justice forbids him to pardon a guilty sinner. God will never let sin go unpunished. God relented in punishing Christ only when sin had fully been covered. The bible word is propitiation. Jesus took all of God’s wrath so that I get none of it. Amazing!
The resurrection is the spiritual proof that Jesus Christ had fully paid for all sins charged to his account. As he transferred my sin to his own account, my infinite punishment was fully satisfied by his precious death. His resurrection is the shout of justification. I am now righteous. He has been raised because of my justification. His resurrection proves and authenticates a fully paid penalty. God’s justice would not let him rise from death if the death penalty was still in effect. The resurrection declares a fully paid penalty. By his single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being made holy (Heb 10:14). There is no longer any offering for sin, since we have been made holy once for all through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Heb 10:10, 18).
Let me digress to a few modern day issues. There is arrogance in any person who either rejects the full satisfaction of Jesus’ payment for sins or believes they need to offer some addition to his sacrifice. To do this rejects the justice of God. Christ was made a sinner so that God could no more let him up from death’s hold than he can let anyone escape his eternal hell. Christ paid all or he paid none. Second, you cannot add anything to the work of Christ. For you to believe that you must earn your salvation is for you to reject Christ’s death completely. For you to believe that you must earn your salvation by good deeds that you accomplish is for you to reject the precious lamb’s death. You declare his resurrection unjust. Therefore you blaspheme God if you believe in purgatory where you will pay for some portion of your sin. Christ paid it all. The resurrection proves it!
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