I love, love, love this blog…it was originally posted by Caleb Flores at the link here. Feel free to join the conversation and add a comment below.
Most Christians have a ready-made response to the question, “Why did Jesus die?” The answers are usually something along the lines of, “Jesus died to save me from my sins.” Often, when I get answers like these, I feel like asking things like, “And…?”
Unfortunately, many Christians, if really pressed for a good logical argument for the atoning death of Christ, won’t have a good answer. I don’t ask follow-up questions just to be annoying. I do it because many professing believers genuinely have not thought through the reasons for, and the implications of, Jesus’ death on the Cross.
And, because of the lack of clarity regarding Jesus’ death, some really deceitful doctrines have crept into our churches. The truths of Scriptures have been twisted into cultural clichés and false teachings about why Christ died, and what was accomplished by his death.
However, before I attempt to explain what Jesus did die for, I thought it might be helpful to list four things he didn’t.
1) For your American Dream
He didn’t die to make you healthy, wealthy, secure, and comfortable. This may be your current state, but don’t let that lead you into thinking it’s a promise. God blesses those that belong to him, sometimes with temporal comfort but spiritual chastening, and sometimes with temporal suffering but spiritual flourishing.There is only one sure sign of God’s favor: the death of his Son.
However, there is a devastatingly harmful teaching present in churches across America, which claims that physical “blessings” are a sure sign of God’s favor. Not only does this fly in the face of the entire Bible, but it is also a grievous offense to those Christians going through immense persecution in countries all over the world, often in impoverished circumstances. There is only one sure sign of God’s favor: the death of his Son.
Christian, Jesus’ death means he has taken on your sin, in exchange for his righteousness. God has shown us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7) These are the only riches you are promised in this life; the joy and peace that comes with knowing that you have a good, loving God that has saved you at the infinite cost of his only begotten Son.
2) To be the poster boy for your cause
Liberal? Conservative? Environmentalist? Homophobe?
The name of Jesus has been used for all these “-isms” and more. It’s so easy to take our own traditions, worldviews, and causes, paste Jesus’ name on them and call it “Christian.”
Jesus isn’t a conservative republican. Jesus isn’t a progressive liberal. Jesus is God.
Jesus’ death was the glorious inauguration of his coming Kingdom, not an invitation to use his name to legitimize our own little kingdoms. Don’t get me wrong, I’m for causes, social and political, but we cannot forget that those things cannot save. They cannot change people’s sinful hearts, they cannot save people’s souls from eternal death, and in the end they cannot offer anything more than a better life in this world.
Christians have one message: the gospel of Jesus Christ’s atoning death, glorious resurrection, and coming Kingdom. Be defined by that; preach that and let everything else come second.
3) So you wouldn’t have to change
Jesus died so we could change. Without his death, there is no justification before God. There is no Holy Spirit coming to heal our rebellious souls and make our small acts of worship worthy. Without Jesus we’re trapped. We are slaves to our own sinful desires and couldn’t obey God even if we wanted to. And God had every right to leave us this way, but he didn’t. Out of the shear force of his loving will, because of grace alone, he sent Jesus to take on our sin. This encounter with such unimaginable grace will change you.
Will you still sin? Yes, until the day you die. But, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Christian will persevere. God will begin to grow your love for him and his people and begin to kill off your love for your sin and self. Salvation is both a radical recalibration as well as a slow, steady march, which allows us to be more and more like Christ each day.
Grace not only saves us, it trains us. It teaches us to take Jesus’ side against our sin rather than the other way around. It is this grace that brings you to repentance, not like a kid forced to eat his vegetables, but like a slave shedding his chains for the first time.
4) To raise your moral standard
Look around your church, how many people are there for morals rather than salvation?
How many want law rather than grace?
You know what the problem is with grace? It’s not useful. It’s not marketable. It’s also not too complicated, and oh yeah, it’s free. Can you think of anything less American?
And yet, grace is all we need. Our religious, pharisaical hearts scream for us to add our “Do” to Jesus’ “Done.” But he doesn’t need it. Somehow we’ve fooled ourselves into believing that it is our spiritual resumé that will make us acceptable to God.
We get comfortable with a moral standard to which we can attain, and then pass judgment on all those that can’t. Our pride and self-righteousness are just as offensive to God as the sins of the prostitute and the pimp.
A pastor’s sins are just as offensive as the addict in the front row. They have one thing in common: they need redemption and it’s found at the foot of the Cross. It’s found in the death of Jesus Christ.
Jesus didn’t die so we could achieve the American Dream, but so that we could inherit immeasurable riches in the presence of God for eternity.
Jesus didn’t die so we could create our own little social/political kingdoms in this age, but so that we would rejoice in the coming Kingdom of the next.
Jesus didn’t die so that we could keep on sinning but so that we would have the desire to stop sinning and glorify him with all we do.
Jesus didn’t die so we could amass a spiritual resumé of good works but so that we could rest in his righteousness as we obey out of love and humility.
Jesus died for things much, much greater.