Dear Guests of IDOTG:
One of our new contributors *Jan H. has written the following article. She is addressing an aspect of the reductionist interpretation of saving faith that is coming from the Grace Evangelical Society’s Crossless Gospel. I have divided the article into two sections. I trust you will be edified and encouraged by this series.
There are 3 key elements that must be preached in any gospel presentation: the deity of Christ, the cross of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ. This article will focus on the cross.
Concerning how one is saved, the question has been raised whether a person needs to have any further understanding of Jesus Christ than that He gives eternal life to anyone who trusts Him for it. Bob Wilkin has stated that some Free Grace adherents,
“...limit the essentials about the Person and work of Christ-arbitrarily-to three points: Jesus’ deity, His death on the cross for our sins, and His bodily resurrection from the dead.”1Is this true? Or is the traditional view correct, which says that the substitutionary atoning death of Christ on the cross is an essential, non-arbitrary component of a gospel presentation? Has the traditional view been requiring too much of people? Is God really glorified when anything other than simply trusting Jesus to give eternal life is expected? Have we gone too far? Or, worse, has the cross, as Wilkin states, been chosen arbitrarily among the myriad of truths unique to our Savior?
To answer these questions adequately we must examine just what the cross is about.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned,” (Romans 5:12).In Romans 5 we are told of our sinful position and condition by natural birth in Adam. Through Adam’s offense judgment came to all men (vs. 18). The consequences of being born in Adam are that we are born dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), strangers from God (Ephesians 2:12), and children of wrath by nature (Ephesians 2:3). We are told that in us (in our flesh/sin nature) is no good thing (Romans 7:18).
“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation...,” (Romans 5:18a).
God must deal with us according to the nature we possess. The nature we possess in Adam is the sin nature. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The sinful Adamic nature must therefore be judged accordingly. Being in Adam from birth, we are in his position of death before God. This positional truth works itself out in physical experience as one day the spirit separates from the body. It also works itself out in the spirit as eternal separation from God in hell. This is the position and pending condition of the one who is in Adam. Because the wages of sin is death and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, there is a death sentence for each person and it will be carried out with no exceptions.
Isaiah 59:2 tells us that our iniquities have separated us from God and our sins have hidden His face from us. Therefore, it is impossible to approach Him unless our sin issue is dealt with. Simply trusting Christ to give us eternal life without reference to the sin, which has caused our death is an unworkable proposition. It is like trusting the doctor to make us well without regard for and application of the treatment he prescribes. The fact that he can make us well is thus rendered irrelevant, for we will not deal with our desire for wellness on the terms of the one who knows what we need to make us well. So it is with eternal life. Christ can give us eternal life only in so far as His prescribed solution to our sin problem is accepted. If we do not accept His solution to the cause of our death, the fact that He gives eternal life is irrelevant.
With our sad condition of sin in mind, we may now examine God’s solution- the cross of Christ.
“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,” (Romans 8:3).What happened at the cross is revealed in Colossians chapter 2. The price of our sin was paid at the cross. The wages of sin were paid out in full. The handwriting of requirements was wiped out, taken out of the way, being nailed to the cross in the person of Christ. Sin was judged in the person of Christ, who became sin for us. The judgment of God is completely satisfied in this one righteous act (Romans 5:18). Because of the cross the sin debt no longer exists. Apart from the cross it exists in full measure with the full weight of condemnation still resting on our shoulders.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross...,” (Colossians 2:13-14).
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
One might think that because the cross is an established historical fact, we need not be concerned about the matter of our sin. Since it has been taken out of the way at the cross, why, then, can we not just come to Jesus as the giver of eternal life? Why must we go through the cross if the issue has been dealt with to God’s satisfaction?
If God’s acceptance of the cross work of Christ was the only variable in salvation, everyone would be saved. All would go to heaven. Salvation would be universal, irrespective of whether or not the gospel is believed by the sinner because God has accepted it as applicable and sufficient for every man. It is the man who must accept it for himself, which makes the difference.
The Bible gives many examples, which show our personal need to come to God on the terms, which deal with the sin which separates us personally from Him. The purpose of these examples is to show that His judgment against (our personal) sin is righteous and is met in the terms He dictates. In each example, we find the terms to be the shedding of blood and the death of a sacrifice. In the Old Testament, the sacrifice is an animal whose blood must be brought to God. In the New Testament the sacrifice is Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We will now examine some of these passages.
1. Bob Wilkin, Grace in Focus, Essential Truths About Our Savior, November/December 2008, p. 1.
*B. S. Psychology, University of Rhode Island, 1990. VBS skit writer/director. Authored and co-directed a missions inspired play for a missions conference and other dramas for other church functions. Served on the Missions committee of her local church, developed the teaching curriculum for the church’s VBS program. The lessons being delivered through the medium of puppets.