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Doctrine of Jesus Christ Experience on the Cross

January 16, 2011

What Did Christ Experience on the Cross?
Matt 27:45-46, “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?’ that is, ‘MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?’”
Matthew records for us, what our Lord was experiencing on the cross. Our Lord spoke this at the Cross in order to tell us what He was experiencing, which was separation from His Father on the cross as the propitiation for our sins.
Isa 53:10-11, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.”
During the last 3 hours on the cross, God the Father imputed every sin in human history-past, present and future to the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union and as a result, Christ voluntarily suffered the penalty for this imputation as our Substitute, which was spiritual death and which spiritual death served as the propitiation for these sins, the reconciliation of the world to God, the redemption of the entire human race out of the slave market of sin and the basis for the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation.
Imputation is the function of the justice of God in crediting something to someone for cursing or for blessing.
There are 2 categories of imputations: (1) Real: “crediting to a person something which belongs to him” (2) Judicial: “crediting to a person something which does not belong to him”
A real imputation has a target or a home whereas as a judicial imputation has no target or home, and emphasizes the Source, the justice of God.
To complete a judicial imputation divine justice must immediately pronounce a verdict, cursing or blessing.
Judicial Imputations: (1) Imputation of Personal Sins to Christ (2) Imputation of Divine Righteousness.
Sin is any thought, word or action that is contrary to the will and holy character of God and is thus disobedience to the commands and prohibition of God.
The term hypostatic union means that Jesus Christ is “undiminished deity and true humanity in one Person forever.”
Impeccable means that the Lord Jesus kept Himself experientially “perfect” in His human nature.
Spiritual death is “separation from God.”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 1
Substitutionary means that the Lord suffered this spiritual death “in the place of” every person in human history-past, present and future.
Voluntary means that He “chose” to suffer this spiritual death as a Substitute for every person in human history-past, present and future.
During the last 3 hours on the cross, God the Father credited to the impeccable humanity of Christ something, which did not belong to Him, namely the sins of the entire world-past, present and future! When the sins of mankind were imputed to the impeccable humanity of Christ, the justice of God took action and pronounced a guilty verdict. Therefore, when Christ was receiving the imputation of the sins of the world, God was not projecting into the soul of the human nature of Christ the sins of the world, nor does imputation put Him into contact with sin.
This imputation made the Lord a curse for us and set Him up to receive the penalty for our sins, which is spiritual death.
Gal 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE.’”
When Christ cried “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” He was suffering the “consequences” for our sins, which was separation from the Father and was “not” coming into contact with our sins, nor was He becoming literal sin.
Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is (spiritual) death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Christ could not experience or come into contact with sin unless He Himself chose to sin. You cannot experience or come into contact with sin unless one chooses to sin. Therefore, there is no way possible that the Lord could come into contact with our sins or experience them.
Furthermore, the imputation of every sin in history to Christ does “not” mean that Christ became literal sin, which is a heretical statement.
2 Corinthians 5:21, “He (Christ) who never knew sin experientially (Christ was impeccable), on behalf of us (as our Substitute), was made (the representative of) sin in order that we might become the very righteousness of God in Him.”
If the Lord did become literal sin then He would no longer be qualified to be our perfect Substitute.
1 Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
Matthew 27:46, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?’ that is, ‘MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?’”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 2
This statement recorded in Matthew 27:46 is a figure of speech called epizeuxis or duplication, which means the repetition of the same word in the same sense. Epizeuxis or duplication is a common and powerful way of emphasizing a particular word, by thus marking it and calling attention to it.
In writing, one might accomplish this by putting the word in larger letters, or by underlining it two or three times. In speaking, it is easy to mark it by expressing it with increased emphasis or vehemence.
When the figure of duplication is employed it is calling special attention to the occasion or to the person and to some solemn moment of importance in the action or of significance in the words.
Examples of this figure are found in many passages. I will give you one of them.
Matt 23:37, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”
When our Lord says in Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me” He is calling special attention to the solemn moment when He was receiving the penalty for the imputation of the sins of the world and which penalty was separation from the Father on the cross those last 3 hours in darkness.
Hebrews 9:14 tells us that Christ offered Himself up “through the eternal Spirit.”
Heb 9:13-14, “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
“Through the eternal Spirit” is composed of the following: (1) Preposition dia (diaV), “through” (2) Genitive singular neuter form of the noun pneuma (pneu~ma), which is pneumatos (pneuvmato$), “Spirit” (3) Genitive neuter singular form of the adjective aionios (ai)wvnio$), which is aioniou (ai)wnivou), “eternal.”
The preposition dia is employed with the genitive case of the noun pneumatos as a marker of intermediate personal agency. The genitive substantive pneumatos, “Spirit” indicates the personal agent by whom the action (Christ offering Himself as the payment for the sins of the world) in view is accomplished.
The expression “eternal Spirit” is a reference to the 3rd Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit and does not refer to the Lord’s human spirit.
This interpretation that the Holy Spirit is in view here in Hebrews 9:14 has been disputed because the Holy Spirit is never described with the adjective “eternal” elsewhere in the Scripture. But this does not hold water since there are many phrases and descriptions of Christ and God that only appear once in Scripture. In
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Philippians 1:19 we have the expression dia tes humon deeseos kai epichoregias tou pneumatos Iesou Christou, “through your supportive prayer by means of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” which only appears once in Scripture, yet, not many would dispute that the Holy Spirit is being referred to in Philippians 1:19!
Also, this interpretation that the expression “eternal Spirit” is a reference to the Spirit, is disputed because of the anarthrous construction of the noun pneumatos, but this is ridiculous since the noun Christo, “Christ” in the prepositional phrase en Christo Iesou, “in Christ Jesus” also appears many times in Scripture without an article!
A prepositional phrase usually implies some idea of quality or kind, thus, the prepositional phrase dia pneumatos aioniou, “through the eternal Spirit” emphasizes the “character” of Christ’s voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross meaning that it was Spirit empowered since it was through the agency of the Spirit!
The Old Testament reveals that Christ would be in permanent possession of the Spirit.
Isa 42:1, “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”
Isa 11:2, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him.”
Isa 59:21, “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says the LORD: ‘My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,’ says the LORD, ‘from now and forever.’”
The appellative “Christ” indicates the fact that the Lord was perpetually filled with and empowered by the Spirit. The term Christos, “Christ” identifies that which has been thus smeared or anointed with oil and is applied in Scripture to Jesus of Nazareth meaning that the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union was perpetually guided and empowered by the Spirit, especially while on the Cross.
Christ offering Himself up through the Spirit did “not” bring the Holy Spirit into contact with sin nor for that matter did it bring the deity of Christ into contact with our sins, nor, did it bring the human nature of Christ into contact with sin since, the nature of Christ’s payment for our sins was “not” coming into contact with our sins but rather suffering the penalty for the imputation of every sin in human history and which penalty was separation from the Father, loss of fellowship with the Father in His human nature.
So if Christ’s spiritual death on the cross was “not” the coming into physical or mental contact with our sins but rather the separation from the Father as the propitiation for those sins, then the Holy Spirit is not brought into contact with sin
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and His integrity is not compromised nor is the integrity of the deity of Christ compromised for that matter.
Also, that Christ’s spiritual death in obedience to the Father’s will defeated Satan at the cross. The Lord was prohibited from using His “own” divine omnipotence, but never was He prohibited from depending upon the divine omnipotence of the Spirit and the Word. In fact, Satan was trying to prevent Christ from depending upon the Spirit and the Word and was trying to tempt Him to use His divine omnipotence inherent in His divine nature, which would then give Satan victory over God and vindicate Satan who seeks to live independently of God.
The Lord was constantly tempted by Satan to use His deity independently of the Father’s will in order to solve His “human” problems but instead He voluntarily denied Himself the independent function of His divine attributes in order to execute the Father’s salvation plan for mankind and to defeat Satan in the angelic conflict. This self-denial of Christ is called in theology the kenosis of Christ.
Philippians 2:7-8, “On the contrary, He denied Himself of the independent function of His divine attributes by having assumed the essence of a slave when He was born in the likeness of men. In fact, although He was discovered in outward appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by having entered into obedience to the point of spiritual death even death on a Cross.”
The rules for our Lord in this conflict with Satan, were that He could not employ His deity independently of the Father’s will and would have to defeat Satan with the Father’s provisions of the Word and the Spirit! The issue for the Lord was that He could not use His “own” deity independent of the Father’s will and not that He was prohibited from relying upon the omnipotence of the Word and the Spirit.
The concepts of Christ’s dependence vs. Satan’s independence and Christ’s obedience and Satan’s disobedience are important issues in the angelic conflict. Christ’s obedience and dependence upon the Father’s provisions as a human being rather than relying upon His own omnipotence defeated Satan on the cross.
We all need to understand a very important absolute spiritual principle that pertained to the human nature of our Lord, namely, that you are either depending upon God and His provisions or you are independent of God, like Satan, you are either obedient to God or you not, you are either depending upon God or you are not.
If the human nature of Christ did not depend upon the Father’s provisions of the Spirit, then He would have no other alternative as a human being but to solve His problems independently of the Father’s will and thus He would have sinned.
If Christ did not offer Himself up through the eternal Spirit as it says in Hebrews 9;14, then He would have sinned in His human nature and would have been disqualified to die as our Substitute.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 5
Satan constantly tempted the human nature of Christ to forsake the divine provisions of the Spirit and the Word and instead use the omnipotence that was an attribute of His divine nature since if he was successful he would defeat Christ.
The ultimate and perfect expression of Christ’s obedience to the Father’s will and dependence upon the Father’s provisions of the Spirit and the Word was on the Cross when He offered Himself up “through the eternal Spirit” and by doing so, He rebuked Satan’s independence and disobedience. Therefore, it was not a violation of the rules of the angelic conflict for the Lord to use the Spirit’s power while He suffered a substitutionary spiritual death on the cross since in actuality, it was the means that Christ used to defeat Satan and rebuke Satan’s independence and disobedience to the Father’s will.
Now, there is another question that arises, namely, if the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union lost fellowship with the Father those last 3 hours of darkness on the cross, did He also lose fellowship with the Spirit and the Son? The answer is no. Why?
First of all, we must go back to the doctrine of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity states that God is a unity of three co-equal, co-infinite and co-eternal persons with the same divine attributes that are identified in Scripture as the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
It also must be stated that although they all have the same divine attributes, they do “not” have the same identical roles and function in the plan of salvation for mankind. The Father has a certain unique role and function in relation to the plan of salvation, the Son has His certain unique role and function and the Spirit His.
We have already demonstrated in Hebrews 9:14 that the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union offered Himself up through the eternal Spirit meaning He was empowered by the Spirit as He was separated from the Father during those last 3 hours on the cross. So the humanity of Christ did not lose fellowship with the Spirit.
We also noted that Jesus Christ is undiminished deity and true humanity in one Person forever. He did not stop being God the Son while His human nature was losing fellowship with God the Father on the cross.
But Jesus Christ “did” lose fellowship with the Father during those last three hours in darkness on the cross because the Father has a different role and function than the Spirit and the Son in the plan of salvation for mankind.
It was God the Son’s unique role and function in the plan of salvation for mankind to become a human being in order that through His human nature He might propitiate the righteous demands of a holy God that the sins of human history-past, present and future might be judged.
It was God the Holy Spirit’s role and function in the plan of salvation for mankind to empower the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union while
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries 6
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He was separated from the Father during those last three hours of darkness on the cross.
But it was the Father’s unique role and function in the plan of salvation for mankind to be the member of the Trinity who would separate Himself from the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union on the cross.
Therefore, we can conclude that the Father was the only member of the Trinity that lost fellowship with the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union because it was the Father’s unique role and function in the plan of salvation for mankind to be the member of the Trinity to lose fellowship with the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union.
Each member of the Trinity was continuing to experience perfect fellowship with each other while the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union was suffering spiritual death on the cross. But the Father was the only member of the Trinity to lose fellowship with the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union while He suffered spiritual death on the cross.