Part 2 of 5
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ—that is to say, the death of Jesus—is the essential foundation of Christian faith, life, and proclamation. This series explores various aspects that highlight the importance of Christ’s sacrifice for believers.
Belief in Jesus Christ
In the context of his remarks concerning the relationship between faith and works, between the gospel and the law, Paul speaks of the expiatory character* of Jesus’ death. Paul emphasizes the importance of belief in Jesus Christ in order to attain righteousness before God. Righteousness signifies the experience of God’s nearness and salvation.
The Apostle writes as follows: “… [Jesus was] set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3: 25–26).
The Key to Understanding
The expiatory character* of Jesus’ death can only be recognized by faith and can only be accepted in faith. As transgressors against the law themselves, it is impossible for human beings to overcome or erase sin on their own. It is here that Jesus Christ intercedes for the sinner by taking his sins upon Himself in a substitutionary capacity, and dying the death to which the sinner has actually been condemned.
Faith is thus the key to understanding, as well as an essential element of accepting the sacrifice of Christ, because it is only through faith that even the sacraments and the forgiveness of sins can develop their power and effect salvation.
* expiatory character: expiation can be understood as atonement / forgiveness from sinIntroduction Read part 1 of this series Holy Baptism with Water Read part 3 of this series