The Power of the Cross
Defending Christian doctrine can be a daunting task. Sometimes, as amateur apologists, we may be asked a very specific question about an esoteric topic. But many times we are asked, perhaps a bit sarcastically, to make sense of our core beliefs, and we may not have much time, or much space, to do it. Recently, I took a shot at answering this question, posted by an atheist on the Please Convince Me Facebook page.
"Ok, I'm wondering if you guys can answer this in a meaningful and intelligent manner. Just how exactly does Jesus getting nailed to a cross save us?"
I don't claim to have all the answers… or even most, for that matter. But since we are to "always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15), I tried summing it up like this:
"Understanding how Jesus Christ saves us first requires us to understand from what we are being saved. Christians believe that God, an eternal and perfect being, stands ready to punish us for our transgressions against his law. Punishment for transgressing the law is of course a requirement of justice. But God, as a perfect being, demands perfect justice. What does perfect justice entail? At minimum, it demands that all transgressions be appropriately punished. What, then, is the appropriate punishment for violating the law of a perfect and eternal being? Separation from him. Because he is eternal, our separation from him is also eternal. This place or status of eternal separation from the one perfect being is called Hell.
We can’t make sense of this “bad news” without first getting out of our mind the common notion that God will be impressed with our good deeds. We think somehow that we are good enough and that God will see that and reward it. Christians believe that he won’t. That indeed is bad news.
You ask how “Jesus getting nailed to a cross saves us.” I suppose the precise answer is “it doesn’t.” What saves us is Jesus taking in our place the punishment we deserve. Christians hold that Jesus is fully God and fully man. As a fully human being, he accomplishes something that no other human being has done: complete perfection…
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