Satan’s Defeat at the Cross – Christus Victor

From a purely human perspective, Jesus’ hours of agony upon the Cross appear to be the very inverse of victory. Rejected by His people, abused nearly to point of death, accused and convicted of crimes for which He is known to be innocent and then cruelly affixed to the tortuous tool of death, our senses struggle to see Jesus as being victorious in any context. Time—in this case a couple of days—proves that there is more than meets the eye however. Christ rises, and a new epoch of history follows in his wake.

Atonement has not been explained by a single theological position. At various times in this history of the Church, different theories have attempted to corral the revelation in the Scriptures and explain what was achieved by Calvary. Salvation is a constant, for certain, but humanity is also the beneficiary the multi-faceted view of God’s character that comes into sharp focus. Evil suffers defeat as well. Though often disregarded as the theory of atonement, Christ’s victory over  the powers of evil is an aspect of the cross that has far-reaching implications for the lives of Christians today.

The name of this view, Christus Victor, is often attributed to Gustav Aulen and his book of the same title. In this tome he challenged the legal and moral views of atonement as inadequate and proposed a restoration of the view he called ‘classic’, saying that it was “the ruling idea of the Atonement for the first thousand years of Christian history.” (Aulen)

God’s plan for the defeat of evil is a lengthy, multi-faceted process that will not be fully consummated until the parousia, but offering benefits attainable by believers today. The Father set to work immediately after evil entered the world, stating that it would be defeated at a time in the future:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. (Gen 3:15)

The Messiah is in view as the one who will defeat this enemy, crushing his head, foreshadowing the ministry of Jesus. The Wicked One knows that the arrival of Jesus predicts his end and, as the Conqueror begins His ministry, he makes every attempt to destroy Him. Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness, he leads Herod to murder the boys and deceives Peter into attempting to dissuade Christ from the completion of His objective (Get behind me, Satan! (Mt 16:23).

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and the authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Col 2:13-15)

Conquest is achieved on Golgotha, the strong man is overpowered and bound. As the passage in Colossians attests, Christ accomplishes the disarming of powers and authorities, triumphing over them on the Cross. While the Evil One may have wanted to continue in his deceit, victory is announced and confirmed at the Resurrection (Acts 2:24, Eph 1:20-23). The church on mission extends the conquest, preaching Christ crucified as Lord, summoning others out of bondage through repentance and renewal.

While we avoid the language of triumphalism, victory should be a part of the vocabulary of the believer. As John Stott says “The victory of Christians, therefore, consists of entering into the victory of Christ and enjoying its benefits.. We can thank God that ‘he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’” (1 Cor 15:57). Caution remains in order though, as the Deceiver continues his self-deceit. He is defeated but has not conceded and continues to seek out ways to derail the Christian treading the narrow path (1 Jn 5:18, 1 Pet 5: 8).

Grace and peace to you…

image shawn alyea designs

Learning to Kneel–Four Means War


A.W. Tozer wrote this about worship and the fact that we were created for that purpose: “If we do not honor this purpose our lives will degenerate into shallow, selfish, humanistic pursuits.” Oh, the prescience of brother Tozer.

One of the components of paradise was perfect worship. Before humankind elected to rebel against their Creator, they enjoyed perfect communion with God. They understood Him and were able to communicate directly with Him. They were in the perfect environment  and were able to live out the purpose for which they were created, worshipping God. None of the concerns that plague us today were present. Worship was uninhibited, unlimited, untimed, uninterrupted and the participants were unafraid and unblemished.

And then the wars came.

The theological history of worship begins long before Creation, in the heavens. More than our mundane battles over music style, instrumentation or volume, the wars began to be waged over the object of worship. The first worship battle was sparked by Lucifer, the Star of the Morning, being cast out of the presence of God. The Cherubim to which all others aspired desired for worship to be directed to Him rather than its proper object. God, whose name is Jealous, would not abide with this shared arrangement and the wars began.

Coming in the form of a serpent, a creature over which Man had dominion, Satan slithered into the second battle to interrupt the perfect communion of the Garden. A subtle twisting of the words of God bewitched and betrayed the inhabitants of the garden. Putting themselves above the place of God, they’re minds were opened to the worship of self. Redemptive history begins.

The first casualty of the second offensive was Abel. Differences in worship style start here even though God gives every opportunity for propriety in worship to be restored. Rather than do so, Cain becomes the first to divide fellowship with other men over the way in he decides to worship. Rather than seeking God’s desire for worship, the long, sad history of church division get’s its introduction here.

Grace and peace to you…

Hell, An Introduction


C.S. Lewis postulated a view of Hell that says human sin is a person’s way of telling God to go away throughout life. Hell then is God’s way of saying okay, have it your way.

Hell is the final destination of the unrepentant sinner—the wicked—in God’s economy. Sheol, Gehenna, or Hades, all name an eternal condition contrasted with heaven in the Bible. Countless horrific images have been developed to describe the location or conditions of Hell and, no surprise here, many different theological interpretations have arisen through the centuries regarding the idea of Hell. Also unsurprising is the lack of attention Hell receives on Sunday morning. Hell becomes more culturally unpopular as the insistence on tolerance and accommodation works its way into the Church and sermons and teaching shy away from any topic that threatens to bring on the stamp of intolerant.

There are four general views of Hell that persist within the Christian theological community. Some originate in exegetical interpretation while others are more theological in nature. The views are categorized as the Orthodox position (hell is eternal punishment), the Metaphorical view (diminishes the punishment aspect), Purgatory (a place where divine cleansing takes place), and an very open view named the Conditional position which can describe both Universalism and Annihilationism. Separate posts will discuss each of these positions.

The view that the Christian adopts regarding Hell has an effect on numerous other aspects of life. A universalist belief, for example, will remove any sense of urgency with regard to the Great Commission. Though the modern Church may choose to avoid it, Christians who take their faith and theology seriously should not succumb to that intellectual laziness. Join me as we explore the Scriptures.

Image Giampalo Macorig

Lent 2009 – 22 Steps to the Cross


From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23)

How fragile and tentative our faith!

No sooner has Jesus proclaimed Peter blessed than the capricious fisherman forgets his understanding and acts out of his own heart. Picture this, Peter grabs the Lord by the arm and takes a distance from the rest of the disciples to rebuke Him! Mere seconds after recognizing Jesus as the Messiah, Peter decides that he knows better than Creator of the Universe what needs to be done to put things right.

For Peter’s sake, Jesus does not simply smile and gently remind him that He, Jesus, must die for the restoration of right in the world. No, He gets angry and rises up in that weather worn face and puts him back with all of the others who seek to forestall His calling. Peter has committed the unthinkable in challenging the teacher and Jesus does not hesitate to grade his efforts…in love. Like every good teacher, Jesus clearly seeks to clearly point out the error in Peter’s thinking not to curse him, but to save him.

Who do you say He is? Who would Jesus say you are?

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