Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and Tom, I’ve been listening to a popular evangelical radio personality and although he has some beliefs I find biblically questionable, I thought I’d run the last one I heard by you. He said that we are not saved by the cross but by Christ’s resurrection. I think that’s more than a little off. What do you think?”
Tom: Well, Dave, Corinthians says He died according to the scriptures, and he rose again, so….
Dave: Well, in fact, that’s 1 Corinthians 15, and Paul begins—before he says that, he starts out saying, “This is the gospel that I have preached unto you…by which you are saved, wherein you stand” (chuckling). “If you remember what I told you,” he says, “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures. That he was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”
Now I don’t know what this radio evangelist or Bible teacher has in mind. Maybe he’s saying that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead you wouldn’t be saved, even if He died for you. Well, that would be true. He has to rise from the dead. But on the other hand, there’s no resurrection if He doesn’t die, is there?
But the Bible talks about we have redemption through His blood—the blood of the cross. So to take one aspect of this, this resurrection, and say, “Oh, you’re not saved by His death on the cross,” it simply isn’t true. Now maybe the man had something in mind that he didn’t fully explain. That I don’t know, but we have to be very careful that the gospel—“I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” Paul said, Romans:1:16, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,” okay? And what is the gospel? The gospel takes in everything. The gospel isn’t just that Jesus was resurrected. Resurrected after what? Well, after He died. Well, how did He die? “No man takes my life from me; I lay it down of myself.”
“Christ died for our sins,” Paul says “according to the scriptures.” This is the gospel, okay? So Tom, I don’t comprehend what was going on here.
Tom: Well, Dave, I heard a sermon recently in which the emphasis was on the resurrected life of Christ, and I was encouraged by it. It wasn’t denying that Christ paid for our sins on the cross, but sometimes, you know, I think there are people out there that can focus on that in presenting the gospel, but then forget about the resurrected life that we have in Christ. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” And that’s, you know, I hate to use this term, because it’s “empowerment,” but nevertheless, it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us the power to live the life that we need in Christ. So without the resurrected life if we don’t understand that, don’t comprehend that, and apply it to our lives by the Spirit, we’re just somebody hanging onto a doctrine.
Dave: Yeah, “If Christ be not raised from the dead, you are yet in your sins,” 1 Corinthians 15 also says that. And it goes on to argue the resurrection. That whole chapter is about the resurrection, and you know, you were raised a Catholic, and you’ve got Christ still hanging on the cross—the crucifix in distinction from a cross. You have Christ hanging on the cross. You know what the Mass is—that Christ is perpetually being immolated. He’s being offered over and over and over and over. Well, how can He still be suffering for our sins if He’s raised from the dead to die no more? But the Catholic Church still has Christ dying for our sins. You cannot perpetuate this sacrifice on the cross.
As you know, the Catholic Church says, “Oh, well, we’re not re-crucifying Him, we’re just perpetuating it. Well now wait a minute, Jesus…
Dave: Re-presenting, right, thank you. Jesus said, “It is finished. This is it. It’s done.” And Hebrews 9 and 10—such powerful passages where it says, “Once in the end of the age,” chapter 9, “Christ has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself as it appointed unto man once to die, after this the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” And chapter 10 begins talking about the Old Testament sacrifices that had to be repeated over and over. I think Paul wrote Hebrews, but anyway, the author says the very fact that they had to be repeated proves they couldn’t take away sin. If they could take away sin, you don’t have to keep repeating them. And then he says in contrast, “But Christ, this man, after he had offered ONE sacrifice for sins forever sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.” And he says, “There is no more sacrifice for sin.” But the Catholic Church is still sacrificing Christ.
Tom: Dave, and one of the fallouts of that, one of the real problems, is that if Christ didn’t really pay the full penalty, if He’s still on the cross, then we turn—we, meaning myself growing up as a Roman Catholic—we turn to Mary. Mary was the one who was going to mediate, who provided all the graces, and so on. Because in my mind, Christ was still on the cross.
Dave: Now is that right? Now tell us, as a Catholic, growing up, was that the way you saw it?
Tom: Absolutely, Dave. And I won’t even say that I thought it through, you know, the way I just articulated it, but that’s the way it worked out. Mary, Mary, Mary, because she was going to do for us what Christ, or at least get to Christ, you know, with the graces that only she could provide—because she held the treasury.
Dave: Tom, so in the Catholic Church, then, you have Jesus as still a little baby, appearing.
Tom: Another way that it takes place.
Dave: (talking over Tom) Apparitions, at Fatima, Jesus comes with Mary. He’s a little child. I remember seeing a beautiful stained glass window in France and it says “Le Pergatoire.” It’s going to tell you what purgatory is. Up above you’ve got Jesus and Mary in the clouds above. Down below in the flames of purgatory the poor souls crying out “Mère Marie, sauvez nous.” (Mother Mary, save us!) Well why are they crying out to Mary? You look up in heaven, there’s Mary, and Jesus is about a four-year-old child between her knees.
Tom: Mm-hmm. You see, Dave, this comes back to the resurrected life. We didn’t understand that as Catholics. In Christ, we have the resurrected life. It’s His life that He lives through us. We had Mary getting in the way.
Tom: Because Jesus was still on the cross.
Dave: A tragedy, as I’ve said several times on this program.