Theologians for centuries have argued over the many theories of atonement – Jesus dying a horrible death on the cross to account for the sin of the world…substitutionary atonement, moral influence theory, Christus Victor… Today’s HC Q/A’s place all of this in a more fundamental perspective I think. Remember…all of this is in a creed of the Church, The Apostles’ Creed, one which many can recite from memory…But, sometimes, our recitation can be rote – routine, mechanical, without thought of the meaning – in today’s 5 questions we see that what Jesus did for us is anything but routine – think about the “why” and then remember…“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Q40. Why did Christ have to go all the way to death?
A. Because God’s justice and truth demand it:1 only the death of God’s Son could pay for our sin.2
1 Gen. 2:17.
2 Rom 8:3, 4; Phil 2:8; Heb. 2:9.
Q41. Why was He “buried”?
A. His burial testifies that He really died.1
1 Isa. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4.
Q42. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?
A. Our death does not pay the debt of our sins.1 Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.2
1 Ps. 49:7.
2 John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Thess. 5:9, 10.
Q43. What further advantage do we receive from Christ’s sacrifice and death on the cross?
A. Through Christ’s death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with Him,1 so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer rule us,2 but that instead we may dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to Him.3
1 Rom. 6:5-11; Col. 2:11, 12.
2 Rom. 6:12-14.
3 Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1, 2.
Q44. Why does the creed add: “He descended into hell”?
A. To assure me in times of personal crisis and temptation that Christ my Lord, by suffering unspeakable anguish, pain, and terror of soul, especially on the cross but also earlier, has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.1
1 Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45, 46; Luke 22:44; Heb. 5:7-10.