the gospel: God’s power for salvation–Christus Victor

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Yesterday’s post laid out a rudimentary understanding, in a pastoral sort of way I’m imagining of a theology of the cross. A striking omission which I noted later in the day, was my failure to mention how the cross of Christ defeats the satanic powers. Those spiritual powers of evil played right into the hands of their defeat, when they exposed their true colors through the human authorities, who unjustly condemned and executed the just one, Christ. Not only did they expose themselves, but they were conquered by that cross, because all their ground for the destruction of humanity was taken away. And their own doom was sealed. (See Colossians 2:13-15; Hebrews 2:14-15).

Theories of atonement formed by the church from scripture are an interesting study. Although I’m not in agreement with penal substitution in the way it’s often described (the Son bearing the Father’s wrath, although for most proponents, when you hear them out, their position is not that far removed from my own) there is no doubt that Christ ends up being our substitute in his death, a sin offering (or made to be “sin”) for us. So this view of the atonement from scripture remains one that is central to me.

But another one that should be front and center is what has been called “Christus Victor.” It is simply the truth that by Christ’s death, all the powers of evil are defeated. On the basis of Christ’s death that is achieved, and the resurrection is the reality which is proof of that. The gospel that Jesus is Lord is indeed the good news, because this gospel is the very power of God that brings salvation to all who believe. We need to be aware of the devil, and the devil’s schemes, but we need not be obsessed with that, nor should we be. Our focus necessarily must be on Christ and the power of God in him. Satan is not even mentioned in the book of Romans until the end: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (v 20).

And so we go on in Jesus, and the victory of God in him, in his way, the way of the cross as his resurrection people in and for the world.

yesterday’s post: (the) a theology of the cross