Ask Steve: The Meaning of Jesus’ Death







Question: Steve, I am still new to the Christian faith. Why did Christ have to die?

Answer: There are many historical and modern day answers to this question, but only one is correct. Christ died to bring about our eternal salvation. It was in accordance with God’s plan from before the creation of the world, in which this way of salvation was set in response to the anticipation of the Fall of Man so that God’s wrath against sin and injustice would be satisfied, and that He would have for Himself a redeemed people (His church) for all eternity. Christ’s death on the cross was absolutely necessary to satisfy God’s justice and to bring about our salvation from the penalty of sin, which is eternity in hell.

As mentioned in a previous question, men were made in the image of God. However, they have alienated themselves from God and incurred an eternal debt by breaking His law. Because God is righteous and just, He will punish the guilty. This is the purpose of the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). At this event, God will expose every evil deed to light (Romans 2:6), and if a sinner is guilty, he will be served justice and end up in the lake of fire for all eternity.

Through Christ’s crucifixion onCalvary, God was able to satisfy His justice so that He can show mercy to sinners. Christ lived a perfect and sinless life, and He offered Himself on the cross as the substitutionary (penal) sacrifice for our sins, satisfying God’s wrath against sin. God punished Christ instead of us. Christ suffered on our behalf. This is the essence of the atonement. Therefore, God can dismiss our case and declare us eternally innocent. We are presented as righteous before God because of Jesus’ imputed righteousness to us, which is Jesus’ perfect life that is credited to our account so that God can see the perfect life of Christ lived in us (2 Corinthians 5:21). That righteousness is credited to us on account of our faith in and union with Jesus. We abide in Christ by repenting and believing in Him as Lord and Savior (John 3:16, Romans 10:9).

In summation, Jesus’ death fulfilled the demands of God’s law (Matthew 5:17), fulfilled the types of the Old Testament that pointed to Him (Hebrews 9), and fulfilled the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). With Jesus’ death, we have the opportunity to have eternal life if we cash in on what Christ had finished on the cross. We are fit to come into God’s presence forever, and to be healed of sin and its effects when we are glorified. The cross is the place where God’s justice (against sin) and God’s love (for believing sinners) meet, so that the Son can purchase for Himself a bride for all eternity. Those who reject the finished work of Christ on the cross will die their own deaths on the cross by suffering for their sins in hell in the final judgment. This is why Christ came to die, and no other gospel message must be proclaimed, or else that person or institution is to be accursed (Gal 1:1-8). There is no other way, religion, or methods that can save a person from eternal damnation and reconcile a sinner onto God.