Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Meaning of Good Friday – Part 2

Christians recently commemorated what we call “Good Friday”, the day on which Jesus Christ died on a Roman cross. In these posts I’m explaining why Jesus came to earth specifically to die and why Christians believe it was in God’s plan for him to do so.

What Happened on the Cross (continued)
2. Forgiveness
The next thing that was accomplished on the cross was forgiveness. Because Jesus redeemed us and satisfied God’s justice, we can now be forgiven by God when we put our faith in Jesus.

3. Justification
Forgiveness then leads to another thing Jesus accomplished for us on the cross, which is what is called “justification.” Looking at the dictionary definition of “justify” we read: To pronounce free from guilt or blame. Because of what Jesus did on that Friday, we have been declared “not guilty” by God – so we’ve been made right with God. The Apostle Paul explained justification in Romans 3:22-25:

God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: All have sinned and are not good enough for God’s glory, and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ. God gave him as a way to forgive sin through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death. NCV

We are healed, or made free from sin, because of God’s love for us and our faith in what Jesus accomplished for us. Jesus may have done it, but we have to accept it – salvation is not automatic. Choose it or lose it.

4. Reconciliation
Following redemption, forgiveness, and justification, Jesus accomplished reconciliation on the cross. Because we have been redeemed, forgiven, and declared not guilty, we can now be reconciled to God, taking our rightful place in God’s kingdom. You and I were created to be in relationship with the Creator, yet our sinful nature kept us apart from God – we were estranged from God. We read about that estrangement in Colossians 1:21-22, and how we can now be in right relationship with a holy God:

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. NLT

5. Victory over Sin and Death
Lastly, Jesus achieved victory over sin and death by his own death and resurrection. That may seem strange since we still sin and we still die, so let me briefly explain.

a. Victory over Death
There is victory over death because we no longer have to fear it. We know that when we physically die we don’t go into oblivion, but we have eternal life in the presence of God. What’s there to fear in that? We also will experience our own bodily resurrection in the Last Days. So death for those who trust Christ is a doorway into a new life in heaven with the communion of saints who have gone before us.

b. Victory over Sin
There is victory over sin because we are better able to resist temptation, and so our unhealthy desires no longer control us. The Holy Spirit works in us to help us to become better people, not doing those destructive things that used to have such appeal to us. We are still tempted, of course, and we still might give in to temptation now and then, but we should be growing in the faith and sinning less and less. Moreover, the effects of our sins have been wiped away so that in God’s eyes we are “blameless, without a single fault.”

I hope this has helped you to understand the importance of the cross. While Jesus’ death may not make much sense, my desire is that these posts have helped to explain God’s plan as Christians understand it, and what we believe Jesus accomplished by suffering and dying.

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