(Photo: The Elephant Room/Alyssa Armour)
With the celebration of Easter less than two weeks away, megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll outlined what he called the eight truths about the reason for Jesus' death on the cross in a recent blog post.
Driscoll, who leads the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, points out that while it's uncommon for someone to sacrifice his or her life for a friend, "it would be nearly impossible to find examples of people sacrificing their life for an enemy."
Yet, Jesus made such a sacrifice nearly 2,000 years ago when he died "for the ungodly," as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans, Driscoll explained in his post, "Why Jesus Died on the Cross."
"Regardless if we admit it or not, as sinners, we're all enemies of God, deserving death and God's wrath," Driscoll wrote. "Yet, Jesus died for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice with his life for you and me."
There are eight truths that are "absolutely essential to understanding why Jesus died on the cross and what his death means for us," he stated.
Driscoll listed and explained the "8 Truths about Jesus and the Cross" by the following:
1. God is holy and without any sin.
God is holy, without sin, and altogether good. As such, he can't be in the presence of sin, and as a just God, must judge sin and sinners (Leviticus 11:44; Isaiah 6:3; 1 Peter 1:15–16).
2. God made the world and us as good.
Not only is God good, but also everything he made was originally good, including human beings, who were made in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:31; Ecclesiastes 7:29).
3. We rebelled against God.
Though God made the world and us as good, our first father and mother rebelled against God, bringing sin into the world. This first sin was trying to become the God of our own lives by doing the one thing we were asked not to do. Ever since, we have sought to remove God from his throne and place ourselves on the throne instead (Genesis 3:1–7; Romans 3:10–12; 5:12).
4. We are sinful.
Despite the fact that God made humans sinless, we're now sinners both by nature and by choice due to the actions of our first parents. Anyone who says they're not a sinner is in fact proud, and according to the church father Augustine, pride is the worst of sins and was the cause of Satan's fall from heaven. Even non-Christians tend to agree that everyone is sinful when they declare often, "Nobody is perfect," which agrees with Scripture (Psalm 53:3, 6; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8).
5. Sin results in death.
God is the source of all life, and our sin results in our separation from him and death. Just as a piece of technology unplugged from its power source continues to exist but is functionally dead, so are we dead in our sin. The Bible says that because of sin we are physically alive but spiritually dead (Genesis 2:16–17; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1;Colossians 2:13).
6. Jesus is sinless.
Jesus is the only person who has or will ever live without sin (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).
7. Jesus became our sin.
On the cross as our substitute, Jesus willfully became the worst of what we are. This does not mean that Jesus sinned. Rather, it means that he took our sins on as his responsibility and paid the price for them that we should have paid-death. Martin Luther is one of the few theologians who does not lessen the blow of this truth and calls it the "great exchange."
Scripture declares that on the cross Jesus exchanged his perfection for our imperfection, his obedience for our disobedience, his intimacy with God the Father for our distance from God the Father, his blessing for our cursing, and his life for our death (Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
8. Jesus died for us.
The Bible teaches that in perfect justice, because Jesus was made to be our sin, he died for us. The little word "for" has big implications. In theological terms, it means that Jesus' death was substitutionary. His death was in our place, solely for our benefit, and without benefit for himself. He took the penalty for our sins so that we don't have to suffer that penalty. The wrath of God that should've fallen on us and the death that our sins merit instead fell on Jesus.
Driscoll concluded his post by writing that Jesus has paid the penalty for everyone's sins regardless of what they've done.
"There's nothing more you have to do on top of what he has already done for you," he stressed. "Stop working to try and earn God's love, and start living out of thankfulness that God already loves you and paid the ultimate sacrifice to draw you near to him. Trust Jesus with your life."