Christus Victor (The Victory of Christ) – Part 4

At about three in the afternoon, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (This means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Matthew 27.46Part 4

This week I’d like to wrap up our four-part miniseries on the Christus Victory paradigm of understanding the purpose of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. This has been an amazing journey for many of you. I can tell from the numerous paradigm shifts that have been expressed in the multitude of emails that have come in to the ministry over the last few weeks. I’m so happy for you. Truly, God is beautiful if we can only see Him as He really is.

This week, I want end by focusing on the Crucifixion narrative itself, especially the last three hours Jesus spent on the cross. We must remember that he was there for six hours. Most of what we know happened during the first three hours. When it comes to the last three hours, the Scriptures are strangely silent. I have a hypothesis about this, but it is far from being conclusive. I believe Jesus’ suffering on the cross had two dimensions; one was largely physical while the other was deeply psychological and emotional. It seems to me that during the first three hours on the cross, there was a concentration on the physical dimensions of His suffering. The disciples perceived and passed down to us what humanity was doing to Jesus on a physical level. But in the last three hours, something much more dark and sinister took place. This was suffering the disciples were not privy to because it took place in a realm beyond what they could perceive by merely observing externals. The only thing we know about these last three hours is that a haunting darkness enveloped Christ during that time. Then in the climax of this darkness, Christ cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He then whispered, “It is finished. Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.” And then He died. What are these last three sentences spoken by Jesus whispering to us? For me, this is the greatest and most meaningful revelation of the Christus Victor paradigm.

Closely follow the Crucifixion narrative concerning the last three hours:

From noon until three in the afternoon, darkness came over all the land (Matthew 27.45).

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon (Luke 23.44).

What was this darkness? John provides a hint:

The light shone in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1.5).

The personification of this darkness is striking. John adds that the darkness could not overcome Jesus. Luke’s record of the temptations of Jesus add another key element:

When the devil had finished every test, he departed from Him until an opportune time (Luke 4.13).

Jesus fully knew when this opportune time would occur. He saw the event on the cross as a time during which He and the strong man who claimed you and me as his possessions would meet again face to face, but this time, the controversy would be settled . . . forever. Notice, one final time, Jesus’ own interpretation of the purpose of His death:

“I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me . . .” (John 14.30).

“When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered” (Luke 11.21,22, The Message).

“. . . now the prince of this world will be driven out” (John 12.31).

Paul also understood that this was the purpose of the cross:

There [Calvary] he disarmed the cosmic powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Colossians 2.15).

This is what I believe these final three hours on the cross were all about. For three hours, Satan wrung the heart of Jesus with feelings of the Father’s disapproval, anger and abandonment. I want to be clear. I do not believe the Father Himself abandoned Jesus during these three hours for one moment. I do not believe the Father hid His face from His Son. But the Father’s reconciling face was hidden. I do believe the Father permitted this to be done, but this was done by the Enemy. The feelings of the Father’s disapproval, anger and abandonment were not the result of the Father’s activity, but that of the Enemy.

Imagine with me the amazement the angels felt as they witnessed the Savior’s struggle with the Enemy. Satan in these hours had only one goal: to break the will of Jesus at any cost. But why? Satan hoped he could force Jesus into a psychological corner where Jesus would choose to abandon you and me to him (our Accuser) in order to save Himself. In that thick darkness, the Accuser hid the Father’s presence from Jesus. And in that dreadful hour, Christ was made to feel as though He were completely alone without the comfort of knowing the Father was with Him. But it was to get even worse than this.

In this darkness, the agony and horror of His Father’s apparent abandonment, inflicted by the Enemy, wrung the heart of Jesus. No human eye could pierce the darkness that surrounded the cross, and none could penetrate the gloom that enshrouded the suffering soul of Christ. The angry lightning seemed to be hurled at Him as He hung upon the cross. Then “Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ or ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27.46). Jesus’ cry of abandonment is a direct quotation from Psalms 22 where the author of that Psalm himself also wrestles through feelings about the complete abandonment of God. As the outer gloom settled about the Savior, many voices exclaimed, “The vengeance of heaven is upon Him. The bolts of God’s wrath are hurled at Him because He claimed to be the Son of God” (cf. Matthew 27.43). He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for He said, ‘I am God’s Son.’”) Many who believed in Him heard His despairing cry. Hope left them. If God had forsaken Jesus, in what could His followers trust? Jesus heard all these words and their cruelty did it’s work.

The Father was there all along. However, Jesus had to face the Accuser alone. The Accuser must be given a chance to prove his accusations against God and us. The Father had to allow the Accuser to have his way with Jesus. And although the Father longed to break through with the assurance of His presence, acceptance, and love, Satan had to be permitted to pierce the soul of Jesus with feelings that the exact opposite was occurring. Again, why was it necessary that this be allowed to happen? The Accuser must be allowed to lead Jesus to a psychological and emotional place where Jesus would, according to the Accuser, choose to abandon us (to be the possession of our Accuser and with him, meet his fate) in order to save Himself(to escape an eternal death and separation from His Father.) The Accuser worked with all his might to break the will of Jesus and force Him to release His hold on us. Over and over the words had been repeated to Jesus through human voices that day; “Save Yourself!” (Matthew 27.40) Would the Accuser be proven right? If God is put into a corner, would He choose Himself over us? Selflessness is the very attribute the Accuser hates. He denies its very existence, both in God and in us. His claim from the beginning has always been that other-centeredness does not exist. And this was his chance to prove it!

How deep was this mental torment inflicted by the Accuser? Another Psalm provides this hint:

“. . I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength, forsaken among the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom You remember no more, and they are cut off from Your hand . . .” (Psalms 88.4-5).

The Enemy made sure that the Savior could not see through the portals of the tomb. The Enemy made sure that hope was not present for Jesus to foresee His coming forth from the grave a conqueror. The Enemy enveloped Jesus both physically and psychologically so that nothing would be permitted to tell Him of the Father’s acceptance. The Accuser made Jesus fear that sin was so offensive to a holy God that if He chose to stand in solidarity with us, Jesus would be “separated” from His Father forever. And although this was a lie, the Accuser must be allowed to make Jesus feel this separation would be eternal.

And what resulted from this three hours of darkness? Pay close attention, because this is the reason that I am a follower of Jesus today. In this moment, Jesus looked down from the Cross into the eyes of one of the soldiers, holding the very hammer that had been used to drive the nails into His broken body. But in the soldier, Jesus did not just see this man alone. Jesus perceived us all, each of us, every member of the human family, including . . . me. In the human voices that had cried out for Barabbas over Him, in the demanding shouts screaming, “Crucify Him, crucify Him, crucify Him,” in the exclamation, “We have no King but Caesar,” He heard not just their voices but mine. He heard me. And even seeing all of this, including my total state of rebellion and rejection of Him, He understood that I was deceived. He understood that I “did not know” what I was doing. (Luke 23.34) And in those final moments when He was faced with the choice of His apparent “eternal separation” from His Father or abandoning me to the claims of the Accuser, for a reason I will never comprehend, He looked down, saw me, with the hammer in hand, and noticed “me” more than the “hammer,” and His love for ME surged. He knew what He must do. He did the only thing His heart would allow Him to do for me. He cried out, “It Is Finished! Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He said those words with me in His heart. What do I believe He meant by those words? I believe He was saying:

“So be it. If it is to cost Me everything, even never seeing my Father’s reconciling face again, saying goodbye to life forever, even if I don’t come through the portal of the tomb in three days, even if it is to cost me my own eternal existence, I will not abandon you, Herb, to the Enemy. Even though on this day you have rejected me, I will NEVER reject you. I will never abandon YOU to him. You do not know what you are doing. And even if it costs me everything, I will not let go of my hold on you. You, Herb, could never quench what is in my heart for you (Song of Sol. 8.6,7). I love you, Herb; even with that very hammer in your hand, you matter more to me than that hammer in your hand. You cannot quench what is in my heart for you. Even if Heaven and Earth shall pass away, even Heaven itself is not a place that I desire to be if it requires abandoning you to your Accuser, leaving you to him. If I am faced with the decision of abandoning you to eternal ruin in order to save myself or saving myself by letting go of you, my decision is cast. It is done. It is finished. I will not, at any cost to myself, abandon you. If the enemy wants me, fine, let Him have ME, but I will not let Him have YOU!” And He bowed His head, for me, and died.

I have never, in all my years, seen such utter and complete self abandonment for me as I see revealed by this man on a Roman Cross. And if this man, hanging there is God? (John 14.9) I am left without words. Take heaven and hell away from me, these are motives far too small. Give me just one life to live, and, based on the beauty of His love for me that I see in Him hanging there, I would spend that life, with every waking moment, endlessly endeavoring to love Him back with the same reckless abandon that He so beautifully loved me.

We must remember that God did not die to spend eternity with you and me. He died to free us from the Enemy so that we could have eternity instead of Him. He bowed His head and died in the most extravagant, radical, other-centered, self-sacrificing act in all of universal history. God became us and did not see Himself as having greater importance than ourselves. And through this selfless act, He utterly and completely defeated the Enemy. The Enemy’s claims were undone. God received acquittal from the Accuser’s charges, and we were also acquitted of the Accuser’s charges (Romans 5.18, REB). The Enemy was disarmed and became a public spectacle in both facets of His work that we have entertained in this miniseries. (Colossians 2.15). Three days later, defeating even death itself, Christ was raised, incorruptible (Hebrews 2.14). The Devil’s power broken. The Kingdoms of this world were now the Kingdom of our God. And although the coronation was still yet future, Christ was raised, forever victorious. He is, to me, forever Christus Victor!

I love you, Jesus! Thank you, thank you, thank you for how You selflessly love me.

Whoever you are reading this right now, whatever you are or whatever you have done, you could not possibly be more loved than you are at this very moment. He loves you will everything He has. You have been ransomed my dear friend! You have been REDEEMED!

Let your excuses for not believing be crucified. Choose, right now, to live in the radical, other-centered, self-sacrificial love that dwells in God’s heart for you. Surrender to it, and surrender also to being a conduit of that love for others around you, and go build the Kingdom!

Long live Christ the Victorious! He is my Savior, my Redeemer, my God, the Lover of my soul, forever, my . . . Friend.

I am overwhelmed.

I love you guys.

I’ll see you next week.

Christus Victor (The Victory of Christ) – Part 3

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.—Hebrews 2.14.Part 3

This week, I thought I was going to be concluding a three-part series, but I’ve decided it needs at least one more eSight next week, so this is part three of what is now our four-part eSight series on the Christus Victor paradigm of interpreting the purpose of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. If you’ve been with me for the last two weeks and you’re still with me, let me first say thank you for taking an interest in this subject, and I pray that what I am about to share will “click” for you, the coin will drop into the slot, and your heart will grasp, on a deeply profound level, how radical, self-sacrificial, and other-centered God’s love for you truly is. Let’s begin.

First, I want to start with the purpose for what theologically is called the Incarnation. In-carne. It means “in the flesh”. What made God “become flesh” (John 1.14)? First and foremost, I believe the answer is given to us by the author of the book of Hebrews:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. Hebrews 2.14.

We must go all the way back the beginning, to the Genesis narrative. Here we find a man, a woman, a snake, and a tree. Now, I know the problems this story produces for my brothers and sisters out there with a post-modern, naturalist worldview (talking snakes and all), but whether you believe this story is to be taken literally or whether you believe it’s there simply to teach a spiritual lesson, all will agree that there is a truth within this story to be grasped. The snake says to Eve, “Can you not eat of the trees of the garden?” Eve then proceeds to explain, “No, we can eat of all the other trees; we are simply not to eat of just this one, for God has said we are not to eat from it or touch it or we will die.” The response of the snake to Eve’s explanation is where we pick up their conversation:

The serpent then says to the woman, “You won’t die. God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Him, knowing good and evil. . . . she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3.4-6.

Remember from the last two eSights that Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3.8). What exactly was the Devil up to in this story? As we said last week, the Devil’s work was two-faceted. The first facet was to corrupt our picture of God, our belief in what type of a being God was. Then, the second facet would be easy. Based on this underlying deception regarding God’s character, the Devil would lead us to rebel against this “God” and follow him instead. And it worked! Consider the claim that the Devil made to Jesus in the wilderness:

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me [by Adam and Eve long ago in the garden], and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Luke 4.5-7 (emphasis added).

Jesus does not dispute the Accuser’s claim over us here. Jesus himself repeatedly refers to the Devil as “the ruler of this world”:

“. . . now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” — John 12.31

“. . . the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” — John 14.30

“. . . because the ruler of this world has been judged.” — John 16.11

The apostle John calls him the Accuser, who accuses us before God day and night, accusing us of rebellion against God, of following him, and therefore, belonging to him.

Revelation 12.10, 11 — “. . . the Accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night. . .”

This is where we enter the subject. Once again, meditate on the following passage:

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2.14).

We shared last week how Christ death destroyed the first facet of the Devil’s work. But how did the Cross destroy this second facet of the Devil’s work (1 John 3.8)? What I am about to share with you I will freely admit has been abused by some when used within Anselm’s penal substitutionary paradigm. However, when we seek to understand these same realities from within the Christus Victor paradigm of first-century Christianity, they reveal that the Cross was a dramatic rescue mission which in turn shines bright with brilliant rays the beauty of the radical, other-centered, self-sacrificial love of our God in His Son, Jesus Christ.

The answer to our question is actually hidden right there within our passage. God would share in our flesh-and-blood humanity. But not just as another son (or daughter) of Adam. No, no, God would join us as a new, a second, the last “head” of our flesh-and-blood human race. God would become incarnate not just as one of us living among us. Our incarnate God would come to us as the “Last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15.45).

Follow carefully what this really means. There is a sense, within the culture of the Old Testament, that ancestors and their descendants were connected as one. Two Biblical examples will suffice to illustrate this:

“The children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If it is to be this way, why do I live?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples born of you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger’” (Genesis 25.22-23).

The Lord does not tell Rebekah that she has “twins” and that these two “twins” are wrestling within her womb. The Lord tells Rebekah that she has “two nations” in her womb. Forgive the crudeness of my illustration, but either this woman is the largest pregnant lady ever seen (literally two nations inside her womb?) or something else is at work here. Look closely at my second example:

“One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham” (Hebrews 7.9).

Levi is Abraham’s great grandson, but when Abraham gives tithes to the priest Melchizedek, Levi is considered as having paid tithe to him, too. This is how the author of Hebrews proves that the priesthood of Levi is subservient to the priesthood of Melchizedek (see Hebrews 7, where Christ, a priest of the Melchizedek priesthood, is shown to be of a greater priesthood than Levi’s, but this is a tangent to our present discussion).

But what does all of this mean when we apply it to God’s becoming incarnate and coming to us as the new head of the human race? It means that all of us are, in a sense, connected to God now, too, with him being our new “Adam.” Watch how Paul puts it and please keep in mind the two nations, represented by Esau and Jacob, as well as how Abraham represents even his great-grandson Levi.

“For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died” (2 Corinthians 5.14).

Whatever God incarnate as our “Adam” (Jesus Christ) did, please don’t miss this: you are seen as having done it, too. You see, just as Jesus Christ was a living revelation of God as a being of radical, other-centered, self-sacrificial love, Jesus Christ was also a living revelation of what you and I (the human race) would have been had we not been deceived in regard to our understanding of God in the garden long ago. The difference between Jesus and us was not that he wasn’t human but, rather, that he was a human with the right understanding of God’s character left intact. It was His understanding of His Father’s character that caused Him, even though He was human, to live a radically self-sacrificial, other-centered life, (John 5.19) even to the point of death, even death on a cross:

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be held on to, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human likeness, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2.6-8).

Note that Jesus did this not only as a revelation of God’s character but also as a revelation of what humanity would have been had they not been deceived regarding God’s character. “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13.1). Again, this not only shows how radically other-centered and selfless God really was but also how radically other-centered and selfless we too would have been had we not been lied to and deceived concerning “God.” The Cross reveals not only God but the truth about you and me as well. And what was the result?

“It follows, then, that, as a result of one misdeed (our original Adam’s) was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act (our new Adam’s) is acquittal and life for all” (Romans 5.18).

Did you catch that? The Cross resulted in acquittal for all. Acquittal and pardon are not the same. Pardon means you are guilty of rebellion but pardoned. THAT is not acquittal. If someone is acquitted of charges that have been brought against them, they are shown to be not guilty but innocent. They are shown to be not deserving of punishment. Our Accuser, who accuses us before God day and night, is accusing us of rebellion against “God” and of following him, thus deserving to share in the same fate. What Jesus proved is that, yes, humanity has rebelled, but humanity’s rebellion is different. It is one thing to know God truly and rebel. It is quite another matter to be deceived by the Accuser about the character of God and to rebel thinking that the lies you’ve been told about God are true. An example of this is modern atheism in the wake of the misrepresentation that Christianity has also given regarding what kind of a person God really is. What Calvary proved is that humanity’s rebellion against “God” and choice to follow Satan was rooted in deception and, therefore, cannot be proven to be legitimate or genuine. Remember, acquittal means that the charges have been dropped, accusations regarded as unfounded. Our rebellion has been shown to be based on deception rather than truth; therefore, it is invalid. The human race is to be forgiven its rebellion, not punished for it, for that rebellion has been, from the very beginning, based not on reality; rather, “they did not know what they were doing” (see Luke 23.34). Again, look carefully at Paul’s words in Colossians 2.14-15:

“He has canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross, having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2.14,15).

He “cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness.” He showed the charges against us by our Accuser to be false. He showed us to be deserving of acquittal rather than punishment. He proved the Accuser’s claim over this world, including us, to be invalid. Far from forcing us to suffer our penalty, He cancelled the legal charges that we were even deserving of a penalty to begin with, thereby disarming the Devil and making a public spectacle of him, triumphing over him by the Cross! What the Cross proved was that the “sale” of this world and its inhabitants by Adam to the Devil was based on a lie; therefore, the sale is seen to be invalid and, therefore, cancelled. The property will now be taken back from the Devil and returned to its rightful owner.

“When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered” (Luke 11.21-22, The Message).

“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down’” (Revelation 12.10).

Look closely at how the first-century church understood this:

“And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.9-10).

“Jesus Christ, who is now at the right hand of God, having entered heaven and received the submission of angels, authorities, and powers” (1 Peter 3.21-22, REB).

The prophecy had been foretold, “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3.15). In the narrative of the Cross, we see this prophecy come true. God, through the person of His Son Jesus Christ, “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves” (Colossians 1.13).

This facet of the Christus Victor paradigm, I believe, profoundly affects us in three very real ways. First and foremost, it dramatically affects what we begin to believe is really in God’s heart toward us. Notice Paul’s insight in the following passage. Up until the cross, God had left us, according to Paul, unpunished for our rebellion. God knew that our rebellion was not genuine, but this would not be proven until the Cross. Up until the Cross, you must picture the Accuser, face to face with God, claiming dominion over us and, therefore, deserving his same fate. These were the Accuser’s demands and yet God continually refused to punish. This would lead the Accuser to also then accuse God of being unjust in leaving us unpunished. Remember, “justification” or “to justify” is a legal term that means a declaration of innocence, not deserving of punishment, not guilty. Now read the following passage:

“God did this [the Cross] to demonstrate his justice [in leaving our sins unpunished], because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it [the Cross] to demonstrate his justice [He wasn’t ignoring our rebellion, rather He knew our rebellion was not founded on truth but deception] at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies [declares not guilty, innocent, and not deserving of punishment] those who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3.25,26).

God’s heart toward us has always been one of forgiveness, for He has known all along that we did not know what we were doing (Luke 23.34). For clarification’s sake, we must not go too far and say that the Cross proves that, if we all knew the truth, we would all love. If we all knew the truth, we would still be free to return God’s love or to refuse it. What the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus proved is that humanity is capable of emulating God’s radically other-centered love if we can only see what the truth concerning who and what our God really is. Again, the Cross demonstrated what humanity would have been had we not been deceived into rebellion in the garden long ago. Thus, it cancels all accusations of the Accuser.

Second, and this is truly life changing, it changes the way we look at everyone else around us, too:

“For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died . . . From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view.” (2 Corinthians 5.14-16, emphasis added).

We do not have the capacity to know how much others are really accountable for and what they are not. How much do others really understand and know about what they are doing? None of us asked to be born, much less to be born into the situations that many of us find ourselves in. Each one of us has a life story. It is not simply that God tells us not to judge one another; if the revelation of the Cross is true, then we don’t even have the ability to judge one another correctly. Society may need to put some of us away to keep us from hurting others and ourselves, but in the larger scheme, God only knows how much each person is really accountable for and how much they are not. This is the root of why he tells us not to judge but, rather, to love as indiscriminately as the sun shines and the rain falls (see Matthew 5.44-45).

Finally, a healthy interpretation of the Christus Victor paradigm, affects how we see ourselves, and this is where the truth concerning both God and you at the Cross has the ability to save you from the intrinsic death that sin produces. Listen to me carefully. If God can forgive you, can’t you forgive yourself, too? Let it go. Do not allow your guilt and shame to define you any longer. God isn’t defining you by your past mistakes, so why should you? He loves you. He forgives you. It’s time for you to forgive you, too. He knows that humanity’s rebellion is rooted and grounded in the reality that our picture of God has been corrupted and that we do not really know what we are doing. It’s time for you, too, to let go of your guilt and embrace His acquittal. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9.14, emphasis added.)

The God of this universe became us not simply to defend our innocence but to take on our Accuser face to face and prove it. He not only challenged the Accuser’s claim over us but won the challenge! We are no longer the claim of the Enemy. We have an Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous! He is our matchless Savior! He is Christus Victor! Christ, the Victorious! Christ our rightful King!

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power . . . His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7.13-14, emphasis added).

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies [declares innocent, not guilty, not deserving of punishment]. Who then can condemn? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us [against our Accuser]. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers [cf. Colossians 2.15, Ephesians 6.21], neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8.31-39, emphasis added).

He gave Himself as a ransom for you, dear reader. Go live in His radical self-sacrificial love this week, and GO BUILD THE KINGDOM!

I love you guys. We’ll wrap this up next week with one final facet.

Herb