How the sacrifice of Christ gives new life
Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? Well, naturally so that human beings could find their way back to God. But that is not the only significant aspect.
“The sacrifice of Christ”—that is the title of a doctrinal article written by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider which appears in community and Unsere Familie, the German Church magazine. A treatise on this subject in a Special Edition of the Divine Service Guide 1/2015 constitutes the basis for the article. .
The importance of the sacrifice of Christ is not immediately obvious. After all, the “message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing”, as Apostle Paul already wrote in his first epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 1: 18). And at first, everything really did look like a defeat: Jesus was mocked, beaten, and put to death in a shameful manner.
And despite this, in the same passage Apostle Paul goes on to say, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. After all, “the cross of Christ became the epitome of God’s reconciliatory actions toward sinful mankind”, as the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church explains.
Coming closer to God: making old things new
Only the sacrifice of Christ can make salvation—the gift that God desires to grant mankind out of His love—possible. It puts the relationship between God and humanity on a completely new foundation. It suspends the separation from God, and allows human beings to escape their state of remoteness from God.
The sacrificial death of Christ has reconciled man with God, as Apostle Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 5: 17–19).
Sharing in an experience with Christ: Holy Baptism
Every Christian is bound to the sacrifice of Christ, specifically through Holy Baptism. “The baptised shares in the death of Jesus Christ and in His new life. Seen in a spiritual sense, he partakes in the experience of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ died on the cross for the sins of mankind, so the baptised is to be ‘dead indeed to sin’ by renouncing it,” as the Catechism illustrates (CNAC 8.1.6). This puts an end to a human being’s initial remoteness from God—so that a new life with Jesus Christ can begin.
From baptism, the believer draws the strength required for the battle against sin. It is the first step in a person’s inner renewal—and the first step in the direction of becoming more like Jesus Christ.
A meal of profession: Holy Communion
The sacrifice of Christ also plays a central role in Holy Communion. This is already shown in the words of the consecration, which are taken from the first epistle to the Corinthians: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11: 26).
In the celebration of Holy Communion the congregation is reminded that Jesus Christ is true man, and that He thus had to suffer real death. Beyond that it professes that this death is unique and valid for all time periods.
The foundation for the forgiveness of sins
The sacrifice of Christ on the cross is the foundation for the forgiveness of sins—because it was with His death that Jesus Christ broke the power of the evil one. Since then it has been possible for sins to be forgiven (2 Corinthians 5: 21), and for the believer to be redeemed from eternal death (Hebrews 10: 18).
Jesus gave the Apostles the authority and commission to forgive sins in the name of the Lord.
Through the forgiveness of sins, believers gain the certainty that God accompanies them in all situations of life with His grace and mercy.
Of fundamental importance: faith
Faith is required in order to experience the proximity of God proceeding from the sacrifice of Christ, and in order to attain His salvation. This also applies to the expiatory effect of His sacrificial death.
Human beings have no way of erasing sins on their own. The only possibility open to them is to believe in Jesus Christ, that He has suffered in our place for our sins, and that He has died the death to which we as sinners had actually been condemned.
Faith is necessary in order to understand the sacrifice of Christ and accept the offer of salvation. Even the sacraments and the absolution can only take effect in their full power through faith.
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