As we have discussed, modern Christianity has tended to simplify and make more “comfortable” to the human flesh and mind the meaning and ramifications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. From early on, I (as many others) have not been satisfied with the pat answers and shallow doctrines I’ve been presented with in the church. As I’ve learned and gained understanding, I’ve had to do an equal amount of UN-learning and repenting (changing my mind and understanding). As I was hangsing up some coats in the closet a few days ago, the thought came to me: “why did Jesus Christ suffer and die on the cross?” I know that modern Christianity believes and teaches he did so to save us from hell and take us to heaven. But I also know it’s deeper than that. I believe the Spirit of God put this question in my mind to spur a deeper search.
First of all, without chasing a rabbit trail into a vast cavern, I’d like to simply say I don’t think the modern Christian concept of heaven and hell is accurate. I’m not saying the understanding is totally wrong, but I think it’s mistaken in many ways. I say this because studying the death of Christ and the scriptures that teach about it leads to many other issues, including heaven and hell, but it’s dangerous to assume Jesus meant the same thing that Christianity means when using certain phrases or discussing certain topics. It is VITAL to understand that when, like Christianity, you have a pre-conceived, wooden understanding, (which I sometimes refer to as a “lens” or “filter,”) then most pieces of information that come your way meet one of two fates: 1). It doesn’t get through and is rejected, or 2). It is reshaped to fit through the “filter.” This is what Christianity has done to many deeper truths. Keep this in mind and I will probably refer to this idea again.
I think the boiled-down, nutshell reason Christ died is summed up by the apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 3:18, ESV: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God… I think it’s really that simple, when you boil it all down. Christ suffered and died to bring us to God. Of course, what that all means, and how it’s all worked out, is a HUGE topic that I believe is still being revealed today. But at it’s core, it means just what it says. It’s not about heaven or hell, it’s not about changing our behavior, it’s about bringing us to God. It’s God making a way for fellowship with man, one Son bringing many other sons to glory and a knowledge of their Father. Hebrews 2, NKJV: 10 For it was fitting for Him (the Father), for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation (Jesus) perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (true believers) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren…
Christianity would like it to end there, with us becoming a son, being good and reclining in comfort for eternity, but it doesn’t. If adopted as sons, then we should act as sons and participate in the work of our Father, just as Jesus did. John 8, NKJV: 28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. 29 And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.”
Hebrews 2 mentions sanctification of you and I as an outworking or result of Jesus’ sufferings. Here is a good time to showcase my earlier warning about “filters.” Christianity has taught that sanctification is basically a process of eliminating bad things from one’s behavior, until one is “holy.” This concept is burned into the mind of millions, but IT’S DEEPER THAN THAT. Sanctification refers to being “set apart,” to God, which is a meaning of holiness. It’s a process of losing the influence of SELF and gaining the influence of GOD. It’s a process of coming into union with the Father, thinking like he thinks and growing into His image. John 17, NKJV: 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one… You can have impeccable behavior, but look NOTHING like God and be full of pride, falsehood, and false doctrine. Many are just that way. In saying Jesus suffered to “bring us to God,” a main aspect of this is to bring us to a place where we think and act like God – in a sense, to bring us to “god-hood,” although not equal to God ourselves. That only comes as we deny ourselves and the influence of SELF is removed and the spirit of Christ, the faithful Son, replaces it. 1 Corinthians 6, NKJV: 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
I hope to continue this post soon, and I have many more scriptures to share. I hope it has encouraged you to go DEEPER. Trust God to take you there, and simply be closed to your own voice, and open to His.