|"A GREAT RETURN TO THE BIBLE" |
by Dr Pence Dacus
(Church History Correspondence Course)
CHRIST CRUCIFIED -- THE THEME OF THE BIBLE
God's eternal purpose concerning Christ was that He should be an atonement for man's sin, thereby reconciling man unto Himself. Man needed to be reconciled to God because his sins had separated him from God. Thus, Christ came to the world to die for all men in order that his blood might remove their sins. (Read again John 3:16 and Rom. 5:8-11). It was, therefore, in keeping with God's "eternal purpose which he purposed in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Eph. 3:11)
It is the doctrine of a crucified Saviour which makes the Christian religion different from all others. Granted that there are many similarities in the philosophical and ethical concepts of Christianity and other world religions, but the distinctive feature of Christianity remains a crucified leader on a Roman cross. Herein lies its uniqueness and thus the pressing claim of Christianity that only CHRIST can show us the true way.
The Bible is often spoken of as the story of a Person; the Old Testament tells about ONE who is coming; the New Testament tells about ONE who came, and who will come again. But, the coming, going or returning of that ONE would have little meaning unless he did something for man which man was unable to do for himself -- especially when it was prophecied of Him that he would do so many wonderful things. What did man require that he could not provide for himself? The answer is blood. The Bible says, ".... without the shedding of blood is no remission" of sins (Heb. 9:22), and the blood of bulls and goats (or any other animal) could not remove sin. (Heb. 10:3-4). Neither could a human sacrifice be offered because God required a perfect creature. "Whosoever offereth a sacrifice ... unto the Lord ... it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein." (See Lev. 22:21). There are no sinless men (Rom. 3:23), consequently, the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ, fully human, fully Divine, was the only acceptable offering (I Peter 1:18-19). This is why Christ Crucified is the theme of the Bible. This is why Paul said, "But we preach Christ crucified" (I Cor. 1:23).
Consider: The world has had many religious leaders and so-called prophets who preached a message of deliverance testifying to the world that they knew the way and that men ought to follow them. These leaders being weak and fallible themselves, died providing nothing but advice; but the Bible teaches that the death of Jesus Christ, since He was the perfect Son of God, provided for something which the others could not match, that is, a sacrifice and atonement for the perennial dilemma of man -- sin. Man's need was NOT advice, BUT sacrifice. Thus, Christ was peculiar to all other religious instructors in that he came to the world for the purpose of dying. And, in that death he was able to show his great love for us -- for "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Is there another religious leader who, however sincere he may have been, was able to demonstrate his professed love and concern for his followers by dying FOR them?
Bible Lines Converge Toward a Crucified Christ
* In Gen. 3:15, it is prophecied that the "seed of woman" (Christ was the only one who could properly be referred to as the "seed of woman", inasmuch as he had no earthly father), is to bruise the head of the serpent (Satan). However, in the process, Satan will bruise his heel. When Jesus Christ was killed on the cross, he gave a mortal blow to the power of Satan by providing a remedy for sin, that is why it is called bruising the head of the serpent. But, since Jesus was killed in the process, we can understand why it was said that his heel was bruised.
* In a later prophecy (about 700 years before Christ), Isaiah says that it "pleased God to bruise him" (Isaiah 53:10). The word "bruise" in both passages (Genesis and Isaiah) refers to Christ's death on the cross.
* The same prophet (Isaiah) uses several expressions indicating the same. Read Isaiah 53:3-12
Rejected of men ..............
Smitten of God ..............
Wounded for our transgressions ..............
Bruised for our iniquities ..............
Chastisement of our peace upon him ..............
Brought as a lamb to the slaughter ..............
Cut off out of the land of the living ..............
Poured out his soul unto death ..............
Numbered with the transgressors ..............
Bore the sins of many ..............
* Zechariah says that his body (hands, feet and side) were to be pierced. (Zech. 12:10)
* The Psalmist says that no bone is to be broken. (Psalms 34:20 and Ex. 12:46).
Thus, the lines of the Old Testament all lead to a bleak hillside outside the city walls of Jerusalern where Christ poured out his blood for the salvation of sinful man. It is right to speak of the Bible as presenting God's plan for the redemption of man, and a crucified Christ is at the heart of that plan.
Typification of Mosaical System
One of the most noticeable features of the Jewish religion (as given in Moses' law) was that many things were types to which there would later be anti-types. In the New Testament, the writers often refer to something as having been presented "in type" in the Old Testament.
For example, the word "shadow" as used in the New Testament often means "a representation, a sample which gives an idea of what the thing is to be." Three illustrations of the word "shadow" being used in the sense of a sample, or type are given:
* Col. 2:16-17 -- Paul mentions some of the rites and ordinances under the Mosaical system (having to do with meat, drink holy days, new moons, sabbath days) and these are spoken of as "a shadow of things to come".
* Heb. 8:1-5 -- The writer speaks of the priestly system of gifts and sacrifices of the Old Testament and says that they "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things..." (verse 5).
* Heb. 10:1 -- The writer says that the law "having a shadow of good things to come and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect."
Thus, we see that many things in the Old Testament were not the "very image" of the thing, but simply shadows, examples, representations, samples, types of the genuine, or real, which was to come later. This being true it is easy to understand why Paul referred to the law as "our SCHOOLMASTER to bring us unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24).
Nowhere has this Type-Anti-type arrangement been more clearly illustrated than in the sacrificial system of the law.
|Type (Shadow)||Anti-type (True Image)|
|* Sacrificial lamb|
** Without spot, blemish - Ex. 12:5
** No broken bones - Ex. 12:46
* Blood of animals - Heb. 10:4
* Sacrifice of animals - Ex. 12
* Bodies of animal's burned without (outside) the camp - Ex. 29:14, Num. 19:3
* Scapegoat bears all the iniquities of the people - Lev. 16:20-22
|* Christ |
**I Peter 2:19
* Blood of Christ (Heb. 9:14)
* Sacrifice of Christ (Heb. 9:26; 10:10)
* Christ also suffered without the gate (outside the walls of Jerusalem) Heb. 13:12
* Christ bears the sins of many - Heb. 9:29
With these examples before us, we, can more readily understand the significance of John the Baptist's statement in John 1:29 -- "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." Likewise, it is noteworthy to realize that Christ was crucified during the festival of the passover at Jerusalem -- the same time the Jews had sacrificed a passover lamb for centuries.
Long centuries of animal sacrifices and altars darkly stained with the blood of countless beasts had indelibly stamped upon the Jewish mind the significance of sacrifice to God. It was the universal sense of sin expressed in human hearts, crying out for forgiveness, pardon and peace. The tragedy was that those who should have quickly and easily grasped the meaning of Christ's death on the cross (because of centuries of preparation for it) refused to accept and acknowledge it. Therefore, a crucified Christ became a stumbling block to them (I Cor. 1:23). But, alas, one of the paradoxes of man is that with all of his wisdom and ability he is often found to prefer the "shadows" and the synthetic to the genuine and the true. Thus, many of Jesus' own race still walk among the "shadows" and the "types" of the Old Testament. But, just as the "shadows" fade when the sunlight appears, even so the old law of Moses, (and all its ordinances) faded away forever when Christ, the light of the world, came on the scene. Later on in our study, we will note how some of those old shadows and practices were brought back in to corrupt and spoil even the church of Christ.
In the same way that the lines of the Old Testament point toward Christ, the Lines of the New Covenant run back to Him.
* "We preach Christ crucified" (I Cor. 1:23).
* Paul determined not to know anything among you, "save Jesus Christ and him crucified" (I Cor. 2:2).
* "I am crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20).
* "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14).
* They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24).
* Those who fall away from Christ are said to "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame" (Heb. 6:6).
Summary: The following points have been established: (1) Christ provided the blood for an atoning sacrifice when he died on the cross. (2) It is precisely at this point that Christianity differs from all other religions and Christ differs from all other leaders. (3) The Old Testament, by prophecy and typification, points forward to a crucified Christ. (4) The New Testament points back to Christ and him crucified.
Consider: Christ's death as a sacrifice was in substitution for ours -- we deserve death because we have sinned, but he took our place on the cross upon which we should have been crucified. However, we can, and must be crucified with him (even as Paul in Gal. 2:20) in living the Christian life.
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