Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Cross of Christ (Romans 5)

"… our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Romans 5:11).

Because the doctrine of the Cross is central to Christian teaching and to the whole message of redemption, we will spend the next week fleshing out the details of this essential doctrine. Without the Cross, salvation has no meaning. Yet, so many people try to find salvation without embracing the doctrine of Christ crucified. Like the strangers Christian met in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, many people think they are in the Way when they never entered through the gate of Christ. They have climbed in over the wall of formalism, hypocrisy, and ignorance, taking another route instead of the way God has ordained, which is through the Cross of Christ.

Often people in our culture, as in cultures of the past, deny the necessity of the Cross in salvation because they do not understand, or at least they deny, their need for an atonement. Sadly, many in the church cannot explain what an atonement is or why they need it, even though it is essential for salvation. It is absolutely essential because man has sinned against a holy and just God. We have wronged God and have transgressed His holy law.

For communion with God to be restored, for that wrong to be made right, we need to make an atonement. However, we do not have the capacity within ourselves, as sinful humans and as the party that has wronged God, to make that atonement. To atone for something means to amend or make reparation for an injury or a wrong, to reconcile. Because we cannot accomplish this, God has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Himself, for that blessed communion that our first parents enjoyed to be restored, for the wrong we have done against God to be made right again.

Because God is holy and just, He cannot simply overlook the sin we have committed against Him, anymore than the courts can overlook the crimes of a serial killer. To do so would be a perversion of justice even in the eyes of a lost world. The guilty must be punished, and the debt we owe to God must be paid. Because we are unable to pay that debt, it being infinite and we being finite, we need Christ. Only through His atoning work can our debt be paid, our guilt removed, and the enmity of sin that resides in our hearts destroyed.

Read John 3:36. What does this verse say about the seriousness of sin? Why does the wrath of God remain on the person who rejects Christ (Rom. 1:18–20)? If this is true, how do you respond to someone who says they do not need Christ? Think of an unbeliever you know. Pray today that he will come to see his need of Christ.