The Holy Cross in our Salvation

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The Orthodox Christian Church's Teaching concern the Cross

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The Holy Cross in our Salvation:

The Holy Cross in our Salvation How different understandings of the death of Christ in Scripture and Tradition inform our proclamation and living out of the Gospel.

The Altar - Sacrifice:

The Altar - Sacrifice The Altar is the place where sacrifice is offered. Sacrifice has many functions in all religions but certain features are commonly in found and especially these in the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, (references especially in Leviticus and Hebrews):- Sacrifice is a costly offering to God by a person or the community. The costliness measures the genuineness of heart that, with the sacrifice, restores the relationship with God, broken or impaired by sin. Such grave sacrifices always involve the shedding of the blood of an animal. Which animal depended on the purpose of the offering and the wealth of those making the offering. In this category we find Burnt O fferings, Sin Offerings and T respass O fferings. Grain and Peace Offerings (which may also include animal offerings) were generally expressions of love and thanksgiving to God or the formed the basis for fellowship meals or were the freewill offerings of those who were making vows or personal tributes to God. The New Testament mainly uses SIN OFFERING as its explanation of the sacrifice of Christ.

The Sacrifice of Christ:

The Sacrifice of Christ It was voluntary . He laid down his own life. It was not taken from Him. (John 10:18) God remains in control. Christ was both Priest and Victim . (Hebrews 9:11-12) He took our sins upon him in his sufferings and death. (Isaiah 52:4-6) and being sinless entered the horror of our sin, reconciling the world to God . (2 Corinthians 5:19) Being God Christ made a perfect offering of Himself for all. Animal sacrifices therefore ceased on his death. Temple rituals were replaced by the Eucharist He instituted as an unbloody offering of His one perfect sacrifice for all. (Hebrews 9:25-26)

Is there more than Sacrifice?:

Is there more than Sacrifice? No sacrifice lives again. The resurrection plays no part in any sacrifice. An understanding of the death of Christ based solely on sacrifice is therefore incomplete. The New Testament uses many other practices, ideas and beliefs from the Old Testament to understand our salvation in Christ. Without the refinement of these other ideas sacrifice alone can distort the significance of the death of Christ by failing to address the tragic aspect of suffering and death itself.

The Law Court - Justification:

The Law Court - Justification St. Paul often uses (but NOT exclusively) the idea of the law court to understand salvation in relation to the death of Christ. This i s clearly connected to the idea of the sacrifice of Christ but with the belief that since we stand condemned on account of our sin we cannot become righteous unless the penalty of our sins is lifted . To be justified is not (as some Protestants suppose) simply to be declared righteous as Christ takes our place in the dock. * It is what God does through the forgiveness and reconciliation of Christ on the cross to give us the power to become blameless and indeed righteous by restoring us beyond the sorrow of sin to the joy of the saints. Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA)

Is there more than Justification?:

Is there more than Justification? Once again, justification does not go far enough in explaining why the resurrection is necessary to complete our understanding of salvation and there it is an incomplete notion of the cross. Here’s why:- Although justification explains how we can become righteous and not condemned by our sins, the power to do that is not fully accounted for . The experience of being forgiven must be matched by the power of God to set us free from our sins . That can only happen when death itself is destroyed . St. Paul declared: “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17) So, we need an understanding of the cross that both includes sacrifice and justification yet also points toward the breaking of the power of sin in the destruction of death itself in the resurrection .

Christ the Redeemer:

Christ the Redeemer LUTROW - To “redeem” as in to repay a debt OR to release from captivity OR to release from slavery (by payment of a ransom). So the debt of our sin is repaid by God Himself (sacrifice, justification) but the further release from captivity and slavery (our own brokenness, passions and the reign of Satan) is a redemption that can only secured by the resurrection, God’s undoing of death. AGORAZO – To “buy for oneself” shows that there is another side to redemption, namely what we must do through repentance and ascesis to open up our lives to God and therefore, freedom. Sometimes called “ Christus Victor” or the “classic theory” of the atonement, REDEMPTION embraces the fullness of the gospel by connecting the victory of the cross to the power of Christ’s resurrection in our own lives. two w ords in the New Testament, “ lutrow ” and “ agorazo ”

The Cross – Before and After:

The Cross – Before and After Metropolitan Kallistos rightly emphasises that what Christ did on the cross can never be considered in isolation. He has written:- “The mystery of Christ forms an undivided unity. Incarnation, baptism, transfiguration, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension; all the moments in Christ's incarnate dispensation constitute a single whole. We are saved through the total work of Christ, not just by one particular event in His life. The cross is central, but it can only be understood in the light of what goes before-of Christ's taking up into Himself of our entire human nature at His birth-and likewise in the light of what comes afterwards, the resurrection ascension and second coming. Any theology of salvation that concentrates narrowly on the cross, at the expense of the resurrection, is bound to seem unbalanced to Orthodoxy .”

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