The Salvation of the Christians: The Cross, Part 1 (What Changes with Christianity?)

Bible and crossSo, remarkably, we find that the Christian covenant is very much made up of the Abrahamic covenant. Reckoning faith as righteousness (Gen 15:16). Blessing the nations (Gen 18:18). Producing justice and righteousness within those in covenant relationship (Gen 18:19).

If you’ll recall the lesson taught here some time ago, God’s blood oath with Abraham also speaks to the Christian covenant. God symbolically promised to pay, with his own life, the price for the sins of Abraham (and his descendants) in blood (Gen 15).

It’s not all there, but a lot of it’s there.

Then in the Law of Moses, we find the promise of Deu 30:6 for God to circumcise the hearts of his people, a promise that the prophets later explained would be fulfilled through the outpouring of the Spirit.

So what was “new” in the new covenant? Why is the covenant of Christ better than the covenants that preceded? After all, the theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Christ and his covenant.

Well, let’s return to —

(Heb 11:39-40 ESV)  And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,  40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 

The saints of the First Covenant were saved by the same promises that save us. But there are very important differences. Let me name some. The readers will likely think of others.

1. We are saved by promises that have been much more fulfilled than the promises on which the Ancients relied. Jesus has already died on the cross. He’s already been resurrected. He’s already ascended.

Some of these things were partly, vaguely anticipated by the prophets, but only in part. No one expected the Messiah to be resurrected. There are OT passages that were read after the resurrection as promising a resurrected Messiah — but before the resurrection, no one read them that way.

We are blessed to live in an age when these things are not only revealed but testified to. They have happened! We therefore should have much greater confidence in the promises of God.

There remain promises not yet fulfilled — as the Revelation and many other passages make clear — but we enjoy the benefits of more promises kept and more mysteries revealed than the Ancients.

2. The blood of Jesus reaches back to Abel and ahead to the Second Coming, but we live in the age when the faith by which the saving power of the blood is accessed is faith in Jesus as well as faith in God. Jesus has been revealed as God the Son.

It’s tempting when studying covenant theology to conclude that the Jews remain saved by faith in YHWH even when they deny that Jesus is the Messiah and LORD. But the scriptures plainly teach to the contrary.

In each age, and under each covenant, we must believe in YHWH as he has revealed himself. The Israelites had to believe not only in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but also in the God who was present on Mt. Sinai and whose voice thundered across the  desert and whose finger carved the Ten Commandments. If they denied that the God they met in Sinai was the God of Abraham, they would not have been saved.

Just so, now that God has performed an even greater miracle — sending his Son, allowing him to die on the cross as a sacrifice, resurrecting him, and returning him to heaven — if the Jews deny that Jesus is the Messiah and God the Son, they do not have the faith of Abraham.

In fact, one of the truly surprising things about this study to me has been that Paul never seems to bother to defend that claim. Why is it that faith in the God of Abraham fails if the believer denies that Jesus is the Messiah? Why must the Jew believe both in God and Jesus? Paul never really says. (If I’m wrong, PLEASE correct me.) It’s obvious from Acts and all of Paul’s letters that faith in Jesus is absolutely essential, but why it’s true we have to surmise.

My surmise is that Jesus so perfectly reveals the nature of God that, if we can’t see God in Jesus, we can’t see God. If Jesus does not leap off the page as obviously Messiah and God the Son, then our hearts are stubborn and our eyes are blind. If we don’t see Jesus as God, we are, in effect, idolaters, because we’re worshiping a god who is not the true One God of Abraham and Moses.

(I’m open to better explanations.)

[to be continued]

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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9 Responses to The Salvation of the Christians: The Cross, Part 1 (What Changes with Christianity?)

  1. LETS AND REMEMBER remember peter….
    every one i hope will jump on in with an answer ….
    wrong answers so what….
    only become good questions ….
    i need to work this morning…
    RATS big time rats

  2. rich constant says:

    HERE ya go everyone
    something the Spirit of CHRIST, accomplishes if we are of the faith of Christ…

    16:18 For these are the kind who do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of the naive. 16:19 Your obedience is known to all and thus I rejoice over you. But I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 16:20 The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

  3. rich constant says:

    hear is the rest

    16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, 16:26 but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scrip-tures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith – 16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.

    then back to the start sorta kinda

    3:15 And I will put hostility between you and the woman
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
    her offspring will attack your head,
    and you will attack her offspring’s heel.”



    . 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – 3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who be-lieve. For there is no distinction,

    3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 3:25 God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteous-ness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. 3:26 This was also to demonstrate his right-eousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness


    8:31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 8:32 Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? 8:33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 8:34 Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or dan-ger, or sword? 8:36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaugh-tered.” 8:37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    pretty simple

    with this new pair of glasses

  4. rich constant says:

    although one more ….


    . 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. But they no longer have any excuse for their sin. 15:23 The one who hates me hates my Father too. 15:24 If I had not performed among them the miraculous deeds that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen the deeds and have hated both me and my Father. 15:25 Now this happened to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without reason.’ 15:26 When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me, 15:27 and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
    16:1 “I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away. 16:2 They will put you out of the synagogue, yet a time is coming when the one who kills you will think he is offering service to God. 16:3 They will do these things because they have not known the Father or me. 16:4 But I have told you these things so that when their time comes, you will remember that I told you about them.
    “I did not tell you these things from the beginning because I was with you. 16:5 But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you is asking me, ‘Where are you going?’ 16:6 Instead your hearts are filled with sadness because I have said these things to you. 16:7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away.

    For if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. 16:8 And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong concerning sin and righteousness and judgment – 16:9 con-cerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer;

    16:11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been con-demned.

    16:12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.

    For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. 16:14 He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.

    16:15 Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. 16:16 In a little while you will see me no longer; again after a little while, you will see me.”

  5. rich constant says:

    this becomes as we see the mystery reveled like an onion…through questions….
    don’t ask the right questions don’t see the answer properly.
    and so the forest for the tree…don’t’ see…
    don’t be deceived the Spirit…

    it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 2:10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 2:11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 2:12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. 2:13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. 2:14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 2:15 The one who is spiritual dis-cerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one. 2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.

  6. rich constant says:

    now what is this mind of Christ.
    but the goal of the spirit that the new man that the new creation aspires to…the likeness and image,of him whom the Spirit is giving glory to and that ONE GAVE GLORY TO THE FATHER…


  7. rich constant says:

    now Jay remember you asked…need less to say because of the fulfillment of scripture concerning Christ everything above is predicated,the blood of Jesus / Emanuel

    … 2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you your-selves know –
    2:23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God,
    you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles.

    whatttt…..THIS MAN??????

    2:31 David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did his body experience decay. 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. 2:33 So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. 2:34 For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says,

    ….2:31 David by foreseeing this spoke about the , that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did his body experience decay. 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it….
    DAVID through the Spirit of Christ…spoke about the resurrection of the Christ???
    but wait a second now the Spirit of God just said raised out of HADES…
    THE flesh of the man the blood of man is(life)borne under (subject to)the LAW….but wait a second…but also flesh anamaited by the SPIRIT OF THE TRINITY…GOD IN THE FLESH…

    I WILL POST THIS EXCERPT from john mark hicks

    1 Peter 3:18-22 — Suffering and the Meaning of the Christ Event
    August 10, 2015

    Because Christ also suffered…

    If one suffers for “doing good” as an expression of the will of God, Peter writes, it better to suffer for that than suffering for doing evil (1 Peter 2:17).

    Why is that? Because Christ also suffered…

    The Christ Narrative—the story of God in which Christ suffers for sins—is the reason why it is better to suffer for doing what is right than suffering for doing what is evil.

    The Christ Narrative

    Christ suffered for sin in order lead others to God,

    having been put to death in the realm of the flesh,

    having been made alive in the realm of the Spirit

    having gone [and preached]

    having gone into heaven

    having subjugated all powers to his rule,

    he announced his victory to imprisoned spirits.

    While there are many difficult exegetical and theological issues within this text, the basic point is clear.

    Just as righteous Christians suffer for doing good, so Christ also suffered for doing good, and just as Christ was raised and ascended to the right hand of God, so also Christians will be raised and exalted before God.

    I will not take the time to rehearse all the subtleties of the debates surrounding this text. However one reads it, Christ is victorious despite his suffering, and this encourages Christians in Peter’s time to endure their unjust suffering. Christ is not only the pattern or model for how we suffer, but the one whom we follow into the heavens as victors over suffering and death.

    My understanding of the text stresses the past tense participles (italicized above in the narrative) as a progressive movement of Jesus from death to resurrection to exaltation.

    Having been put to death in the realm of the flesh – death

    Having been made alive in the realm of the Spirit – resurrection

    Having gone – exaltation.

    Having gone into heaven — enthronement.

    “Having gone” occurs twice—once in 1 Peter 3:19 and once in 1 Peter 3:22. Clearly “having gone” (poreutheis) in the latter text refers to the ascension, exaltation, and enthronement of Jesus at the right hand of God. In the history of the reading of this text, the former text is read in various ways. For example, some believe Christ “went” to Hades in his death to proclaim his victory to the imprisoned angels and/or human dead. Others believe Christ “went,” by the Spirit and through the voice of Noah, to preach to disobedient people at the time of the flood. Both of these views are strongly represented in the history of the Christian tradition.

    However, I think it best to understand the second use of poreutheis (“having gone”) as resumptive, that is, he is continuing the story from which he digressed in verse 19. In other words, he uses poreutheis (“having gone”) in the same sense in verses 19 and 22. They both refer to the ascension, exaltation, and enthronement of Jesus at the right hand of God.

    From there, Peter says, Jesus heralded his victory to the “imprisoned spirits.” The Greek verb here is not “preach the gospel,” but to announce, herald, or proclaim. His proclamation was not a evangelistic (revivalistic) sermon, but a judicial proclamation. Their fate was sealed, and it could not have been sealed until Christ was raised from the dead. (For a full defense of this understanding, see William J. Dalton, Christ’s Proclamation to the Spirits: A Study of 1 Peter 3:18-4:6 [Roma: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1989]).

    Consequently, “made alive in the Spirit” is a reference to the resurrection of Jesus who entered into a new realm, a new existence. He became the standard of new humanity as the Spirit of God animates his resurrected body, just as Paul envisions in 1 Corinthians 15. Through death for sin and resurrection to life, Jesus becomes the pattern of new humanity, new creation.

    But who are the imprisoned, disobedient spirits from the time of Noah? Some think this may include or specify human beings, but the contrast between “spirits” in verse 19 and “souls” in verse 20 suggests that “spirits” refers more to “angels” (verse 22) while “souls” refers to human persons. Nowhere in Scripture are postmortem human beings called “spirits” without qualification (and only once with qualification in Hebrews 12:23). “Soul” is Peter’s word for a human person, and here “spirits” most likely refers to disobedient angels in the time of Noah.

    The backdrop is an ancient Jewish interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4. 1 Enoch elaborately describes this. There the “Watchers” (angelic beings) are sent by God to care for human beings but they rebel, marry women, and give birth to “giants.” This story was well known in Jewish circles in the first century. Imprisoned angels, who in 1 Enoch are assured of their eternal captivity, are also referenced in 2 Peter 2:4. The Watchers disobeyed God, and the work of Christ has sealed their fate.

    Through his victory, Christ subjugated “angels, authorities, and powers.” Enthroned at the right hand of God, all powers and rulers—both spiritual and imperial—bow before the authority of Christ. The enthroned Christ proclaims (announces) his victory to the imprisoned spirits.

    The Noah Typology

    Inserted into the Christological narrative, almost as a digression but importantly as a typology of the circumstances of Christians within Roman culture, is the story of Noah.

    Christ suffered for sin in order lead others to God,

    having been put to death in the realm of the flesh,

    having been made alive in the realm of the Spirit

    having gone [and preached]

    having gone into heaven

    having subjugated all powers to his rule,

    he announced his victory to imprisoned spirit

    because they were disobedient in the days of Noah

    when God waited patiently

    when God saved eight souls through water

    and now baptism saves you

    not by the removal of dirt from the flesh

    but by a pledge of a good conscience

    through the resurrection of Jesus Christ

    The story includes God’s patience, “disobedient spirits” now imprisoned, the building of the ark, Noah’s family (“few, that is, eight souls”), and their salvation through water.

    Noah’s circumstances parallel those whom Peter addresses. They both find themselves living amid a disobedient generation, and they were both minorities. They both suffer abuse from their contemporaries. They are both righteous sufferers. They both need deliverance/salvation. They both bear witness to the coming judgment of God and experience God’s patience toward their generation. They are both saved, and salvation happens in the context of or by means of “water.” In other words, Peter’s readers should see their own story in the story of Noah.

    Jobes (1 Peter), citing Elliott, 1 Peter (2000, p. 669) offers this parallel.

    Noah in 3:20 Readers in 3:21
    Few You
    Were Baptism now
    Saved Saves
    Through Through
    Water Resurrection of Jesus
    [The following is from John Mark Hicks and Greg Taylor, Down in the River to Pray, chapter 2.]

    The succinct statement that “baptism…now saves you” is astounding. Indeed, it is scandalous for some. Peter attributes to baptism some kind of soteriological function, and his exact meaning has been the subject of considerable debate.

    The Noahic Flood is typological of the saving function of baptism. The eight persons who found refuge in the ark from the destructive floodwaters were, in fact, “saved through water” (dieswthesan di’ hudatos), and this prefigured how Christians are also saved through water (that is, water baptism saves us). Baptism, just like the Flood, is a saving event. Just as God saved Noah through cleansing the old world with water, so God saves us from our old lives through baptism. In the Noahic Flood, water judged the old world and cleansed it, and baptism judges the old life and cleanses it. To use a Pauline metaphor, baptismal water (by the power of the Spirit, of course–not literally) kills the old person, buries it, and then renews it. Noah passed through the waters into a new world, just as Christians pass through baptism into a new life.

    Peter, however, quickly qualifies his meaning. He does not want to foster a misunderstanding or misapplication of his point. The power of this salvation is not inherent in the water. The water does not literally save, but God saves through the water by the power of Christ’s work. The death of Christ, where the righteous died for the unrighteous, is the power of salvation. The resurrection of Christ, where life overcomes death, is the power of salvation. Baptism saves us, not by the power of the water, but “through the resurrection of Jesus,” just as—as Peter wrote earlier—God gave us a “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus” (1 Peter 1:3).

    Peter’s qualification points us to the significance of baptism. It is no mere cleansing of the outer person. It is not a ritual bath that only cleansed the outer person from ceremonial impurities or like an ordinary bath that only removes the dirt from the body. On the contrary, it addresses the inner person. It is the “appeal to God for a good conscience.” Baptism has an inner dimension—it is a function of conscience.

    The exact nature of this function, however, is debated. The Greek term behind the word “appeal” (eperotema) is ambiguous. While the NRSV translates Peter’s phrase as an “appeal to God for a good conscience,” the NIV translates it “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” In other words, is baptism the appeal for a good conscience (thus, a cleansing of the inner person) or is it the pledge of a good conscience (thus, a commitment of loyalty to God). Is baptism a “prayer” (Moffatt’s translation) for a clean conscience or a pledge of allegiance? Or both, perhaps an intentional ambiguity? Both fit the inner/outer contrast in the text—baptism is not simply an outer act like removing dirt from the body, but it is an inner appeal or pledge of the inner person, the conscience. Both suppose baptismal candidates actively appeal or commit themselves to God through baptism. This would seem to exclude those who cannot make such an appeal or commitment.

    The term itself is problematic. It only appears here in the New Testament. In the second century the word commonly appeared in legal contractual documents. It referred to the practice of “answering” the question of whether one would keep the contract. Viewed in this way, baptism is the “answer of a good conscience” which pledges to keep the baptismal covenant. If, however, the noun is viewed through the lens of its verbal form (eperotao), which means “request,” then the word refers to the believers’ request through baptism for a good conscience. This may be a better fit with Peter’s contrast. Baptism is not the cleansing of the outer body, but rather it saves through the cleansing of the inner person as believers address God in that moment. Baptism is the sinner’s prayer for a good conscience; a prayer for the application of God’s saving act to cleanse the conscience.[i] As Colwell writes, “what is a sacrament if it is not a human prayer and promise in response to a promise of God and in anticipation of its fulfillment?”[ii] We go down in the river to pray for a good conscience. We go down in the river seeking transformation.

    What is the meaning of “now” in Peter’s statement? Some have thought that perhaps this was part of a baptismal liturgy so that at the moment of baptism this was the pronouncement over the candidate, that is, “baptism now saves you” as you are immersed. But it is better to see this “now” as a redemptive-historical term. It is an “eschatological” (or, apocalyptic) now where we experience the end-time salvation in the present. Just as the Flood was a cataclysmic event that destroyed the old world through cleansing, so the baptismal experience is a destruction of the old person through cleansing. Just as Noah and his family were “saved through water,” so we are saved through water. Just as Noah and his family transitioned from an old to a new world, so through baptism we move from an old world under judgment to a new beginning in a renewed life. The old passed away and everything became new—for Noah, and for us! Baptism is an apocalyptic, or eschatological, moment. We have been born anew (1 Peter 1:23).


    Whatever we do with the subtle difficulties of this text, the gist seems rather clear.

    Christ has suffered.

    Christ has been raised.

    Christ has ascended.

    Christ has been enthroned.

    Consequently, whatever “angels, authorities, and powers” might do to you–no matter how you suffer their abuse–Christ has won, and Christ will reign until, as Paul notes from Psalm 110, he has put all enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:26).

    [i] See the discussion by Wayne Grudem, The First Epistle of Peter, TNTC (Downers Grover, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), 163-64.

    [ii] John E. Colwell, “Baptism, Conscience and the Resurrection: A Reappraisal of 1 Peter 3:21,” in Baptism, the New Testament and the Church: Historical and Contemporary Studies in Honour of R. E. O. White, JSNTSup 171, ed. Stanley Porter and Anthony R. Cross (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), 227.

  8. rich constant says:

    what else….changed imputed righteousness


    4:12 And he is also the father of the cir-cumcised, who are not only circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham possessed when he was still uncircumcised.
    4:13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not fulfilled through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 4:14 For if they become heirs by the law, faith is empty and the promise is nulli-fied. 4:15 For the law brings wrath, because where there is no law there is no transgression either. 4:16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants – not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”). He is our father in the presence of God whom he believed – the God who makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do. 4:18 Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, “so will your descendants be.” 4:19 Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 4:20 He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 4:21 He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do. 4:22 So indeed it was credited to Abraham as righteousness.
    4:23 But the statement it was credited to him was not written only for Abraham’s sake, 4:24 but also for our sake, to whom it will be credited, those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 4:25 He was given over because of our trans-gressions
    and was raised for the sake of our justifica-tion.

  9. rich constant says:

    i have already spoken about poor ol peter…

    (after the death of what WE” now” know was the” son of god the CHRIST”)






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