In this presentation, we want to take another look at Jesus Christ. This time, we are going to consider the meaning of the atonement, the resurrection, the ascension and our union with Christ, based on the terms of the covenant(s) in the Bible.
Wayne Grudem says “we may define the atonement as follows: the atonement is the work Christ did in his life and death to earn our salvation.” We need the teachers that God has placed in your area to help people explore how the love of God and the justice or righteousness of God is connected to the atonement.
To state it simply, God is a Judge who overlooks his own legal standards. God has – under certain conditions – chosen not to hold people responsible for the things they do wrong. God offers grace; He gives freedom from the personal consequences of the choices we make during our lives on the earth.
This grace has been available to everyone who ever lived. However, it was not until Jesus Christ came during the first century that God decided to explain in great detail how He could not hold people responsible for the corruption in their own lives.
This is known as the mystery of redemption, which is something we will deal with when we get to the Fifth Task of the Teacher, for now I simply want to focus on Jesus Christ and the Fourth Task of the Teacher.
There are many people who will want to ask if there was another way, and I want to help you be prepared to answer that question when it comes up. The answer is that what God did in the life and death of Jesus Christ was the only way to resolve the conflict created by the corruption in human nature.
If you take the doctrines related to Scripture and add the attributes of God (his love, wisdom, and so on) to the terms of the covenant(s) and believe in God’s honesty, then there simply is no other way to resolve the conflict caused by the corruption in human nature.
The Atonement becomes the only solution, the only way to redeem us. Anyone who decided to trust what I am saying here is going to be tested by others who can be found inside and outside of our local Churches.
I known that because it happened to me and all I can offer you are the words found in Revelation 2:10 (ESV) as words of encouragement: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested…you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
That brings us to the next thing I want to talk about.
The hope of the Resurrection is presented in the Bible as God’s solution to the painful realities of pain, suffering and death in this world. To be more specific, I am referring here to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ which occurred nearly 2000 years ago in the first century.
The Fourth Task of the Teacher involves helping the people who are gathering around the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ understand what the Bible tells us happened to Jesus Christ when the Resurrection took place.
In addition to that, we also need to help people become familiar with the results of the Resurrection. In the Message of Christianity I said “the people who listen to the eye witness testimony we have in the Bible and believe the stories written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are true will experience a change of heart that transforms how they make choices in their lives.”
I mentioned that as a summary of what happens in a person’s life, but that was just a starting point. We need the teachers in your area to explain the exact nature of the change that happens in more detail.
These changes will not be obvious to the person who is being changed, which is why they need someone with more experience to help them recognize the consequences of the changes taking place in their lives.
There is another danger lurking here, especially among those who live in the English speaking world. The passage I shared earlier from Revelation 2:10 (ESV) said “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested…you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
The average “Christian” in the English speaking world is not “faithful unto death,” we are faithful up to the point which allows us to live in luxury, wealth and comfort, and when we are at that point where we have to make sacrifices to our lifestyle and freedom(s), we assume we are moving in the wrong direction and give up on following God the way Jesus did:
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who through he was in form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5-11 ESV)
Our understanding of the Ascension is one reason we can live as strangers and exiles on the earth.
The very last event that took place in Jesus’ time on earth during the first century is known as the Ascension. This is the moment when Jesus left so that he could sit down on God’s throne in Heaven and begin using His authority to build the Church.
The Bible makes it very clear that Jesus Christ is in a place where we will go when our time on earth is over, for he said “I go prepare a place for you” (John 14:2-3 ESV). The moment Jesus arrived in Heaven, the holy angels and the Old Testament era believers began celebrating His accomplishments because He has revealed to all of them how God can be a loving Father and a righteous Judge.
One day, Jesus Christ will return to bring human history to an end. While the Church is waiting for that moment, we can live our lives on earth with an awareness of our Union with Christ.
Our Union With Christ
In the Message of Christianity I said that the people who listen to the eye witness testimony we have in the Bible and believe the stories written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are true will experience a change of heart that transforms how they make choices in their lives.
Our union with Christ is the reason why the change of heart occurs in people’s lives. The basic idea here is that God could see us receiving the benefits of what Jesus Christ accomplished before the Universe was created. God could also see Jesus Christ’s life on earth in the first century as being enough to provide redemption for people living in the twenty first century, 2000 years later.
We have an opportunity to be a voice speaking on Jesus Christ’s behalf every day. We can live in agreement with Him, for the problems we face today are no different than the problems He faced when he was here. The same can also be said before Jesus Christ came.
The Bible has a lot to say about this, and I am sharing this in the hope that the Teachers in your area will unpack these ideas for the people who are gathering around the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Next time, we will begin looking at the Fifth Task of the Teacher.