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The Doctrine of Christ

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    Section VII—THE ATONING DEATH OF CHRIST

    LESSON TWENTY The Death of Christ

    1. The death of Christ was a subject of prophecy. Isaiah 53:7-12; Daniel 9:26; Zechariah 12:10; 13:7; Psalm 22:16.TDOC 55.1

    2. During his earthly ministry, Christ spoke of his coming death. John 2:19; 3:14; 6:51; Matthew 16:21; 17:22, 23; 20:18; John 12:23, 24.TDOC 55.2

    3. His death and the events leading directly to it are made very prominent in the Gospels. Matthew 20:17 to 27:66; Mark 10:32 to 15:47; Luke 19:28 to 23:55; John 12:1 to 19:42.TDOC 55.3

    4. His death was a voluntary act. John 10:11, 15, 17, 18; 15:13; 1 John 3:16, Matthew 26:52-54.TDOC 55.4

    NOTES: An awful crisis

    “To Christ his death was not a mere martyrdom, but an awful and glorious crisis in his own history and in the history of the human race.”TDOC 55.5

    The supreme achievement

    “The laying down of his life was the supreme achievement of his self-sacrifice, his great and unique act of submission on behalf of the race to the justice of the evils which the race had deserved by sin. And if this is true, then, although no theory of the relations between his death and the forgiveness of sin may afford us intellectual satisfaction, and though there are times and moods in the life of most of us when the greatness and sacredness of the mystery seem to forbid as irreverent and profane all attempts to speculate on the manner in which his death accomplished its great redemptive purposes, we may still receive with awe and wonder, with faith and hope and immeasurable joy, the blessed assurance that he suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”TDOC 55.6

    Of supreme significance

    “We cannot help observing the prominence of the story of the last week of our Lord’s earthly life in the record of the Gospels. Taking an ordinary Bible, it is surprising to observe the space devoted to the last week of the life and ministry of Christ, those days which were spent in full expectation of and preparation for his imminent death. For example, out of thirty pages devoted to the first Gospel, no less than ten are given to the record of the last week. In the second Gospel, out of nineteen pages seven axe occupied with the story from Palm Sunday to Easter Day. In St. Luke’s Gospel no less than one fourth is taken up with the story of these days; and out of twenty-four pages in the fourth Gospel ten are actually concerned with the same period. This prominence given to the events of the last few days demands attention and calls for explanation. In view of the crowded three years of Christ’s ministry, is it not striking that there should be such fragmentariness in the story of those years until we come to the last few days! Surely the conspicuous place given to the death in the Gospels must mean that the writers regarded it as of supreme significance.”TDOC 55.7

    A different death

    “No mere man ever laid down his life for others in the sense in Which Christ laid down his life for the world. Every man must die at some time; ‘there is no discharge in that warfare.’ When a man sacrifices his life, he does but sacrifice a few days or years; he does but lay it down earlier instead of later. But Christ did not choose between dying at one time rather than at another; he chose between dying and not dying. Thus, viewed in any light whatever, the voluntary sufferings of Christ surpass our powers of thought and imagination, reaching infinitely beyond all human experience.”TDOC 56.1

    The great Sacrifice

    “Savior, I lift my trembling eyes To that bright seat, where, placed on high, The great, the atoning Sacrifice, For me, for all, is ever nigh.”TDOC 56.2

    A vicarious death

    “To cancel the curse, to lift the ban, to inoculate the antitoxin of grace, to restore life, to purchase pardon, to ransom the enslaved, to defeat Satan’s work; in one word, to reconcile and restore a lost race; for this, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of man, came into this world and offered up his divine-human person, body and soul. Christ’s death upon the cross, both as a substitute and as the federal representative of humanity, voluntary, altruistic, vicarious, sinless, sacrificial, purposed not accidental, from the standpoint of humanity unconsciously brutal, but from the standpoint of love indescribably glorious, not only satisfied all the demands of the divine righteousness, but offered the most powerful incentive to repentance, morality, and self-sacrifice.”TDOC 56.3

    The meaning of Christ’s death

    “St. Paul became, in the providence of God, the constructive genius of Christianity. His place in history, through the Spirit, was that of the elucidator of the salient facts of Christianity, and especially of that one great subject which Christ left in a measure unexplained, his own death. That great subject, its cause, its meaning, its result, became the very fundamental of his gospel. It was the commencement, center, and consummation of his theology. It was the elemental truth of his creed. He began with it. It pervaded his life. He gloried in it to the last. The sinner is dead, enslaved, guilty, and hopeless, without the atoning death of Jesus Christ. But Christ died for him, in his stead, became a curse for him, became sin for him, gave himself for him, was an offering and a sacrifice to God for him, redeemed him, justified him, saved him from wrath, purchased him by his blood, reconciled him by his death.”TDOC 56.4

    A propitiatory and substitutionary death

    “Christ’s death was a death for sin; Christ died for our sins; that is, on behalf of, instead of, our sins. There was something in sin that made his death a divine necessity. His death was a propitiatory, substitutionary, sacrificial, vicarious death. Its object was to annul sin; to propitiate divine justice, to procure for us God’s righteousness; to ransom us, and to reconcile us. Christ’s death was conciliating, in that by it men are reconciled to God, and sin’s curse and the sinner’s slavery and liability to death, and incapability of returning to God, are overcome by the death of the Lamb who was slaughtered as a victim and immolated as a sacrifice. 1 Corinthians 5:7. To Paul the life of the Christian emerged from the death of Christ. All love, all regeneration, all sanctification, all liberty, all, joy, all power, circles around the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, and did for us objectively something that man could never do, and who wrought that incredible, that impossible thing, salvation by the substitution of his life in the place of the guilty.”TDOC 57.1

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