Q – I just read one of your posts and in it you said this – “There has been a long standing theological debate – begun the morning Christ resurrected, I suppose – over who exactly benefited from His atoning work. After all, Christ was personally innocent of any sin. So, He should not have been subject to decay and death as the rest of us Adam-like sinners are.”
That made me think. Does this mean there would have been no way for Christ to die a natural death, of old age or whatever, if he was innocent of sin? Instead of a natural death, he died at the hands of men, and in that, God put our sin on Him (which would naturally bring death).
Well, that is interesting. I keep going back to that bodily resurrection thing, lately. I guess you could sum up what I’m thinking about by saying that Christ took our sin bodily and spiritually and everything else so that when we live with Him, we will have glorious, redeemed, resurrected bodies. And there was even an actual physical parallel in a sinless Christ who would not see death from His own flesh taking my death upon Him in His own body so that I could live with Him. Neat.
Jim – Very good! That’s very consistent thinking. And, I believe it is Biblical thinking.
It is impossible to imagine that Christ would have decayed or died – there is certainly no record of Him ever being sick – as long as He lived in the perfect, sinless state. After all, death is the penalty for sin. And, you caught my point exactly. In order for Him to suffer the pains of death, our sin was put on Him and He died under the wrath of God in punishment for those sins. They were not His, personally. But, He took responsibility for them and died to pay the penalty for them.
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
And, yes, I agree with your “resurrection” thinking. I have been trying for years to get people to expand their thinking on the subject. The death of Christ redeemed much, much more than people normally give Him credit for. Adam’s fall did more than just make Adam less groovy than he once was. When sin entered into the world, the whole planet was changed. Weeds began to grow. The first animal had to die to cover their shame. Decay began. Originally, God gave herbs for every animal to eat, implying that there were no carnivores; no animal lived off the dead bodies of other animals before Adam’s sin. Even men became meat-eaters after the fall (Gen. 9:3). The whole planet starting winding down, and very quickly thereafter, the whole of earth was seen by God as wicked and depraved.
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5)
And, when He sent the flood, God not only destroyed the people, He destroyed every living thing that did not swim in the sea. It was utter destruction. The plants died, the animals died, the people died. The land was washed clean. Only fish were off the hook – so to speak.
The effects of sin are widespread and far-reaching. The whole planet is corrupt. The whole creation is in ruins.
But, when Jesus died, He did more than simply pay for our trespasses and sins. He did not simply set aside God’s anger so that we can live in Heaven when we die – although that’s certainly one aspect of what He accomplished. He rose from the grave to be the perfect man; the sinless, undying, never-to-be-corrupted man. And, we are predestined to follow our Elder Brother’s lead –
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29)
So, we will be – and are being – saved completely, body, soul and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23). Every part of who and what we are will be redeemed, remade, refashioned, rebuilt – in a word, resurrected. And, we will share the eternal form that Christ Himself established. We will be as comfortable in Heaven as we are on earth. We will move through galaxies with ease and eat fish by the Sea of Galilee.
But, there’s more. There’s so much more. Because of Christ’s work of atonement, the whole earth will be remade. Sin will be removed, and the very planet itself will be resurrected into the eternal form it is destined to have –
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Is. 65:17)
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Pet. 3:13)
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Rev. 21:1)
I think it’s interesting that there is no sea in the new earth. Even the fish get theirs in the end. But, you get my point. The redemption that Christ wrought extends beyond the sins of individual humans all the way to the very core of the planet, and outward into the stratosphere.
But, wait! There’s more! Even the animal kingdom is changed cataclysmically when our Redeemer sets up His throne on Earth.
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” (Isa. 11:1-10)
Are you getting the drift of this? The atoning work of Christ will restore the universe to the pristine state of utter, glorious righteousness that God always intended for it. When Satan fell, sin entered His universe. When Adam fell, sin entered His Earth. But, Satan will be bound and cast into the Lake of Fire, along with his angels and his followers (Rev. 19:20). Then, God will set about the task of reforming the whole of His creation, from the planets, to the skies, to the ground, to the plants, to the animals, to the people.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, He will plant His sanctuary in the midst of His people, and we will finally learn to worship in genuine “spirit and truth.” And, we will sing the song of the redeemed and give all glory to the Lamb who did such an incredible work.
By the way, I particularly liked this sentence of yours – “And there was even an actual physical parallel in a sinless Christ who would not see death from His own flesh taking my death upon Him in His own body so that I could live with Him.”
That’s the very essence of “vicarious,” or “substitutionary,” death. He died as one of us so that we can live as one of His.
Christ died, we live.
Glory to His name!
Have a grand day.