The Cross of Christ: Part VII

My, oh my. Part seven of ten. Part of me thought I’d be here sooner, and another part of me thought I’d never get here. If I had to describe this experience in one word, it would be humbling. And before I go off on a tangent, here’s chapter nine.

9. The Conquest of Evil

The New Testament contains a lot of language that conveys victory, conquest, triumph, overcoming. It is clear that this victory was owed to the Lord Jesus Christ. By his death Christ saved us not only from sin and guilt, but also from death, the devil and all evil powers.

The victory of Christ:

This can be said to have taken place in successive steps:

The question arises: Was Christ’s victory connected to his death or was it  achieved by his resurrection? In the Bible, Christ’s death and resurrection are almost always mentioned together (John 10:17-18, Revelation 1:18, Acts 2:23-24, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). By his death, our sins were dealt with: “Christ died for our sins”. Nowhere is it written, “Christ rose for our sins”. The resurrection vindicated Jesus as the Son of God. Had he not been raised, our faith and preaching would be futile, since his person and work wouldn’t have the divine endorsement.

Entering Into Christ’s Victory

The Christian’s victory consists of entering into Christ’s victory and enjoying its benefits. However, we should be careful, as there exists a tension between the already and the not yet. Although the devil has been defeated, he hasn’t conceded defeat. He has been overthrown, but not eliminated, and continues to exercise his influence and power. On one hand, we have the assurance that Christ keeps us safe and the evil one cannot harm us; on the other hand we are cautioned to be watchful because the same evil one prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. In Stott’s own words:

Already the kingdom of God has been inaugurated and is advancing; not yet has it been consummated… Already we  are God’s sons and daughters, and no longer slaves; not yet have we entered the glorious freedom of the children of God.

An overemphasis on the ‘already’ leads to triumphalism, the claim to perfection… which belongs only to the consummated kingdom, the ‘not yet’. An overemphasis on the ‘not yet’ leads to defeatism, an acquiescence in continuing evil which is incompatible with the ‘already’ of Christ’s victory.

The Son of God came to destroy the devil’s work. Stott surmises the devil’s work to be represented by the law, the flesh, the world and death.