God abhors evil and it is His nature not to overlook evil. However, we are set free from our evil nature through Jesus death. Jesus came as a ‘justification’ symbol. He took our sufferings in this world upon Him and brought victory over death by laying down His life.
Moreover, we can enter into God’s presence with confidence of being cleansed from our sins through Jesus’ death. Jesus’ death freed us from the bondages of death and devil’s power and made us atoned with God. Unlike Old Testament times, when sacrifices had to be made by the High Priests for people’s sins, Jesus through his death made it possible for all to enter His gates. Undoubtedly, his death showed the magnitude of love that he has towards us, though we are sinners deserving punishment.
Jesus death on the cross shows God’s personal responsibility for the ungodliness of the world and thus making us ‘new’.
Theories of Atonement
The following theories explain the nature and purpose of Jesus’ death and its implications for us (Holdsworth, 2014,p.98; Morrison,2014)
- Moral Influence Theory – Augustine (4th century) reasoned that Jesus acted as a ‘catalyst’ and died for bringing about positive change in humanity, to reform society (Morrision). God expressed his love through crucifixion. Therefore, we also need to act with grace and love
- Ransom Theory – Jesus Christ died a sacrificial death, paying
ransom to Satan
,in order to redeem us from our sins from Adam’s time. Simply stated, we are delivered from the clutches of Satan, because Jesus died paid the ransom
- Christus Theory – Similar to ransom theory, Christ died to defeat the power of evil over us, to free us from our bondage, but without paying ransom to the devil.
- Satisfaction Theory – Anselm proposed that Jesus’ death satisfies the justice of God. The injustice of sin had to be balanced and Jesus death paid back the injustice of sin, to satisfy God’s justice (Morrision). That is, Christ restored God’s honor through his death. (Holdsworth)
Substitutionary Theory – Calvin and
Luther modified the above theory
andsuggested that Jesus is punished (legal penalty) for our sins. Thereby he satisfies the legal demand of God to punish sin and satisfies the justice of God.
- Recapitulation Theory – Christ has recapitulated and restored all that Adam’s disobedience destroyed.
- Governmental Theory – Jesus died on the cross to display God’s wrath towards sin and thereby suffer the punishment we deserve. Jesus died for the church, and if people belong to the church, they receive God’s salvation.
- Scapegoat Theory – Girard and Allison suggest that Jesus died as a scapegoat of humanity, made a victim, killed by violent people, but proven innocent, as the true Son of God.
Holdsworth. J., (2014). Conversations With The New Testament. London: SCM Press
Morrison, S.D. 2014. Seven Theories of the Atonement. Stephen. D. Morrison Blog. [online]. October 2014. Available from: http://www.sdmorrison.org/7-theories-of-the-atonement-summarized/