I was recently involved in some online conversations where some people from a reformed background made statements that God cannot be hurt and doesn’t suffer pain. When it was mentioned to them that Christ fully felt the pain of the cross, they denied he did; and further more added that God didn’t die on the cross.
Wow! To say I was taken aback was an understatement. Yet, the sucker punch was to come. And one asked me to read the following article by R.C Sproul, posted on his Ligonier Ministry website.
We should shrink in horror from the idea that God actually died on the cross. The atonement was made by the human nature of Christ. Somehow people tend to think that this lessens the dignity or the value of the substitutionary act, as if we were somehow implicitly denying the deity of Christ. God forbid. It’s the God-man Who dies, but death is something that is experienced only by the human nature, because the divine nature isn’t capable of experiencing death.
Isn’t the whole point of the Gospel that God himself – he who knew no sin, became sin and took on himself the punishment of sin, which is death?
I’m sure Luther and John Calvin and a large number of Reformers who have since passed away, would be turning and squirming in their graves over this error. I have to say its more than error. It’s a distortion of the whole crux of the matter that God promised in Scripture that he himself would take on the punishment for our sins. If the divine nature of Christ, didn’t die with Christ on the cross – then God didn’t take on himself the full punishment for our sins. Christ didn’t fully die. Nor did he fully raise and fully ascend to sit on the right hand of the father.
I think I will leave this post with the end of the Athanasian Creed – which I found on the Christian Reformed Church Website.
Now this is the true faith:
That we believe and confess
that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
is both God and human, equally.
He is God from the essence of the Father,
begotten before time;
and he is human from the essence of his mother,
born in time;
completely God, completely human,
with a rational soul and human flesh;
equal to the Father as regards divinity,
less than the Father as regards humanity.
Although he is God and human,
yet Christ is not two, but one.
He is one, however,
not by his divinity being turned into flesh,
but by God’s taking humanity to himself.
He is one,
certainly not by the blending of his essence,
but by the unity of his person.
For just as one human is both rational soul and flesh,
so too the one Christ is both God and human.
He suffered for our salvation;
he descended to hell;
he arose from the dead;
he ascended to heaven;
he is seated at the Father’s right hand;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
At his coming all people will arise bodily
and give an accounting of their own deeds.
Those who have done good will enter eternal life,
and those who have done evil will enter eternal fire.
The awesome wonder of the Gospel is that God became one of us and experienced the fullness of what it is to be human, and became sin, so that he could take the full punishment of our sin onto himself and in doing – granted all who believe, the gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. For God to do that – his divine nature had to suffer in the process.