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Particulars of Christianity:
304 Redemption

Introduction: How Jesus' Death Redeemed Us

Preliminary Study: Gentiles and the Law
Intro: How Jesus' Death Redeemed Us
The Removal of Condemnation (Part 1)
The Removal of Condemnation (Part 2)
The Introduction of Obedience and Regeneration
Deliverance from the Carnal Mind

How can we tell others about Jesus if we can't convincingly explain why they need him? How can we convince a skeptical generation that they need redemption from sin unless we can explain how redemption works?

This four part article is the product of years of conversation, thought, and study. It gets to the heart of exactly how our redemption was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, this is the central issue of all of Christianity. If we cannot adequately and clearly explain this then what else is the foundation of our faith? There is no greater responsibility for every believer than to understand what God did for us on the cross and how he did it.

Our struggle to understand this issue trails back into our days in college. At that time, we were away from the charasmatic church we attended during high school, but the influence of some of the sermons we heard there were still lingering in our doctrine, even on essential issues such as this one. We took it upon ourselves to become apologists for what some in the Christian community have termed "The Faith Movement." An essential part of our defense was bound up in the issue of how exactly Christ redeemed us by his death.

As usual, in the absence of a simple, logical, Biblical explanation, false doctrines will grow up and abound accompanied by all sorts of related false teaching. This is precisely what has happened on the issue of redemption and it is precisely why understanding the process of our redemption is so essential.

In time our persistent devotion to objective Bible study and logical analysis thankfully led us out of "The Faith Movement." Part of that process involved developing an accurate understanding of what no minister or teacher or Christian brother had undertaken to teach us in simple, logical terms - the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

In college we were involved in a large nonCharasmatic Christian ministry. There we had the opportunity to discuss and debate this and other issues with our fellow believers from time to time, but sadly an adequate explanation could not be found.

The fact is, the issue of Jesus Christ's whole being (ontology) is at stake in how we perceive the redemptive act. Shorthand explanations and fastfood understandings of this act inherently require a direct substitutionary process that creates a very impossible task.

Without going into detail, when we say that Jesus' death took the place of "my death" we invoke a direct substitutionary system wherein the death of one individual can substitute for the crimes of another. But if this is true, then how is it possible for Christ to atone for more than one individual while dying only one time?

Additionally, the act of sin has two effects on human beings. One, we will die physically. Two, we die spiritually and are cut off from fellowship with God which is eternal life and therefore condemned to eternal hell. Christians readily understand that Christ died physically for us, but did he die spiritually as well?

Orthodox scholarship unanimously and correctly answers with a solid "no." But as to why they say "no" we have found no adequate explanation. Most commentaries on this subject resort to complicating the issue rather than simplifying it. On this point, we have even found Hank Hanegraaff's apologetics greatly lacking. (Hank Hanegraaff is the host of a radio program called "The Bible Answer Man" and is president of the Christian Research Institute.)

Whether modern orthodox theologians actually recognize it or not, the problem is that in a nut shell Jesus cannot be both God and spiritually dead at the same time. This is the heart of the redemption debate. For Jesus to die spiritually in our place and redeem us from spiritual death, he must be separated from God and therefore (at least for a time) could not have been God.

In this study, we have taken a strictly Biblical approach to the issue that refutes the necessity of Jesus' spiritual death by explaining how the redemption process works in simple, easy-to-understand language. Citing chapter and verse step by step we demonstrate exactly how redemption works and how it was completed on by his death on the cross.

In the process we also demonstrate how the death of Christ is substitutionary only as a form of short hand. In other words, we will show that from the Biblical perspective, Jesus Christ does not substitute for each of us as individuals. That is not to say He would not have died if there was only one, however. We believe that Jesus would have died even if each of us were the only one and in that way his sacrifice is still personal for each one of us.

We should think of this in much the same way we think of short and long division. The principles involved are the same no matter which way express it. It is both expedient and accurate to say Jesus' died in our place, but the "long hand" shows there is more going on than that simple statement alone conveys.

Short division is simply an abbreviated expression of all the work involved in the process of long division. So, when we say, "Jesus' died for me," we are speaking in short division. If we were to look at exactly how his death redeems us, we are looking at the process of long division. Only as an abbreviated short hand can we say that Jesus' death is a substitute. Biblically, it does not work in such a way that Jesus undergoes the specific individual physical and spiritual death sentences assigned to each one of us for our sin. When we take a look at the Biblical language on the issue as a whole and the logic of the process, we see that such expressions are only short hand division. To be completely Biblically accurate, Jesus' death substitutes for us only in the sense that if he did not die, the redemptive process could not have taken place. So, either he could die physically, or each of us would die physically and spiritually.

We sincerely hope our study will clarify all these points and refute the faulty reasoning that has arisen in the absense of a clear, simple, Biblical explanation from modern Church leaders.

Our study is completely orthodox. It is also relatively short, 12 pages, not book length, not a month or two of sermons or Bible study classes. It can be read and understood in a single setting. We believe that in itself is a testimony to the simple accuracy of our explanation. And we are confident this study articulates how redemption was accomplished in a simple, concise manner relying on and taking into account all the relevant Bible passages.

When we get down to it, there's nothing complex or mysterious or groundbreaking about it. It was there for us in the Bible all along. Given all the books and sermons on this subject, perhaps the only remarkable, groundbreaking aspect of it is how briefly, simply, and logically it can be explained once we put our minds to it.

Please review it and decide for yourself. We think it will help our testimony to an unbelieving world.