Benefits of Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection
Dr. C. T. Luiskutty
A bold statement of Jesus from the Cross of Calvary is, “It is finished!” We, humans, will take a long time to discover the purpose of our existence and usually we die only with partial assurance of our fulfilling the purpose. It was different in the case of Jesus Christ. He was the Son of God, one with God in essence, with all divine attributes. At the divinely appointed time He gave Himself to become a man, lived a purpose driven life and then offered Himself as a sacrifice for the remission of mankind’s sin. Then He declared, “It is finished.”
What was the mission Jesus completed on the cross? Quoting Prophet Isaiah, He declared in Nazareth, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).In incarnation, He was limited in space and time and the benefits of His life were enjoyed only by a few people, mostly Jews, in Judea, Galilee and Samaria. With crucifixion and resurrection, the benefits of the accomplished mission were extended to all people of all times. In this article we will look at some of the benefits of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.
A benefit of prime importance is the forgiveness of sin. Because of the disobedience of Adam, the whole mankind inherited sin. Here we refer not to the sins a person commits, but the innate sinful nature he inherited. This sin is against God, and it keeps each person at odds with God and under spiritual captivity. Only God can forgive it, and the good news is that God who became a man accomplished this in His death. Anybody who confesses that they are sinful in nature and expresses a desire to turn away from it and believes that Jesus’ death is the effective means for it will be forgiven.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we read, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” This is the manifestation of God’s grace to the mankind. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).Thus, salvation is a gift given by God to the believing sinner, made possible through the death of Jesus Christ. But it is not cheap; though it is free to the recipient, the Giver had to pay a great price. This is the meaning of redemption – paying a price by someone (here, Jesus Christ) to purchase us back and bring us into God’s fold. Now, we must always be conscious about the price that has been paid to redeem us from sin, and be thankful for the same. Adam, the crown of God’s creation, was God’s son (Luke 3:38) and he was made in the image of God after His likeness. As a result of succumbing to Satan’s temptation and committing the sin of disobedience, he lost the position of the son of God and the original divine image. Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection provided us with the opportunity to be restored to the position of God’s children. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). In addition, we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Thus, at the moment of our salvation, we are made the children of God and the process of the restoration of the lost image is started. The process continues as we grow spiritually (2 Corinthians 3:18) and come into conformity with the moral nature of Christ. Through the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we are continuously cleansed and thus conformed to His image by complete surrender to His authority.
Salvation of our soul is not an end, but the beginning of many more wonderful things to happen in the life of a Christian. The extent of ‘salvation’ is very wide and of great consequences. Commenting on Romans 1:16, C. I. Scofield wrote,
The Hebrew and Greek words for salvation imply the ideas of deliverance, safety, preservation, healing, and soundness. Salvation is the great inclusive word of the Gospel, gathering into itself all the redemptive acts and processes: as justification, redemption, grace, propitiation, imputation, forgiveness, sanctification, and glorification.
A theological discussion of all these topics is beyond the scope of this article.
Because of his sinful nature, man is in constant fear of God. He knows about the awesome nature of God, especially His holiness and sense of justice. In spite of all his efforts, prescribed by the religion he adheres to, he never feels confident to approach God. But the salvation experience changes everything. In Romans 5:1 we read, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because of our faith in Jesus Christ and profession that we are sinners in need of salvation, we are justified, i.e., God has declared us “not guilty” and the fear we lived with all our life is gone. We are reconciled to God and have established peace with Him. Those who have peace with God can have a fellowship with the God of peace (Philippians 4:9) and enjoy the peace of God (Philippians 4:7). On Calvary Jesus paid the penalty of mankind’s sin and we will not be punished for our sinful nature or for the sins we have committed until the profession of our faith. An added benefit of God’s forgiveness is that not only does He forgive our sins of the past, but He forgets them. What God has forgiven and forgotten, we should not hold it against ourselves, or allow the devil to torment us with memories of the past. This is the freedom and peace of life in Christ.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Another benefit of the finished work of Christ on the Cross is eternal life. It is part of the package of salvation. When we think of eternal life, it is natural that we refer to living forever. Yes, it is living eternally. But there is more to it. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Knowing, here, refers to an intimate relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ. This starts at the time of our salvation and continues for ever, even after our physical death. Jesus briefly stated the purpose of His coming: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Abundant living in Christ is a believer’s right. This is living in the kingdom of God, and it starts now, not after our death. While describing the greatness of God’s love and mercy, Paul wrote, (God) “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). This is the present condition of the true church. However, only a minority in the church is experiencing this abundant life, not because of any fault of God, but by their own choice. One reason for that is their ignorance of what abundant life is. Abundant living does not mean an abundance of material possessions, great fame and position, fruition of every project we undertake, or the unlimited expansion of our empire even if done in the name of Jesus. Abundant life is Holy Spirit led, in complete obedience to the Word of God, and full of righteousness (an assurance in one’s spirit that he is in right standing with God), peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, with no guilt and condemnation. Jesus suffered in His body so that we can have access to this privileged position, and enjoy this great blessing.
All people will be saved, regardless of what they believe. Other names for this doctrine are universal restoration, universal reconciliation, universal restitution, and universal salvation. While orthodox Christianity requires that a person must believe in Christ Jesus, confess his sin and profess his faith in Christ for receiving the benefits of the finished work of Christ, the universalist view is that such a personal faith and confession are not needed; salvation is the result of what Jesus Christ has already done and He did it for all. As a result, nobody will be condemned to eternal damnation. This teaching sounds good in the pluralistic context we live in and is in agreement with the views of eastern religions. However, this is contrary to the Biblical teaching which requires personal faith and commitment to please God all through our life. Whereas universalism misinterprets the Scripture to ignore the justice and holiness of God and appeals only to His love and mercy, the Bible declares that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved and others will be condemned. James Fowler, president of Christ in You Ministries, notes, "Desiring to focus on the rosy optimism of the universal perfection of man, sin is, for the most part, an irrelevancy... Sin is minimized and trivialized in all universalistic teaching."
Another erroneous application is in teaching that once a person is saved, he is secure for ever. No person or devil can take away a true believer from the fold of God. But if he forsakes his faith and does not continue as a believer, he nullifies the effect of what Christ did. This does not mean that Christ failed or what He accomplished on the Cross was insufficient. But just as exercise of the free will was essential for salvation, it is required for continuing to experience its benefits.
There are people who teach that Christ has finished the work of salvation and there is nothing we need to do. This is true because the Bible teaches us about justification by faith and not works. But if we overextend this thought it comes to the point that, after we believe and profess our faith, we become God’s children and it does not matter whether we continue in that relationship because grace covers everything. This leads to the danger of disobedience, unfaithfulness and sinful daily living. But remember that grace is not cheap or inactive. According to Paul the grace that brings salvation to us “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12).The epistles were addressed to churches and the apostles warned against lose living, immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. The believers are instructed to flee from immoral behavior and sanctify themselves.
Let us all be aware of the fact that misunderstanding or misapplication of great Biblical truths can result in the denial of the need for personal faith, repentance, confession and continuous sanctification, and eventually lead to the rejection of faith.
“It is finished!” is a statement that gives a believer great peace, joy and hope. What man could not do to meet the requirements of the Law, Jesus did. Our role is to believe this, accept this and live daily in obedience to the plan of God and please Him in everything we do. This is the life of Christ’s disciples and Holy Spirit-led abundant living on this earth, and eternal life in the presence of God and in fellowship with Christ is the result.