Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Victorious People: John Stott on Christus Victor & the Vocabular of the First Christians

From John Stott, The Cross of Christ:

It is impossible to read the New Testament without being impressed by the atmosphere of joyful confidence which pervades it, and which stands out in relief against the rather jejune religion that often passes for Christianity today. There was no defeatism about the early Christians; they spoke rather of victory. For example, "thanks be to God! He gives us the victory." Again, "in all these things [that is, adversities and dangers] we are more than conquerors." Once more, "God . . . always leads us in triumphal procession." And each of Christ's letters to the seven churches of Asia ends with a special promise "to him who overcomes."* Victory, conquest, triumph, overcoming - this was the vocabulary of those first followers of the risen Lord. For if they spoke of victory, they knew they owed it to the victorious Jesus. They said so in the texts which I have so far quoted only in truncated form. What Paul actually wrote was: 'he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," "we are more than conquerors through him who loved us," and "God . . . leads us in triumphal procession in Christ." It is he who "overcame," "has triumphed" and moreover did it "by the cross."

Of course any contemporary observer who saw Christ die would have listened with astonished incredulity to the claim that the Crucified was a Conqueror. Had he not been rejected by his own nation, betrayed, denied and deserted by his own disciples, and executed by authority of the Roman procurator? Look at him, there, spread-eagled and skewered on his cross, robbed of all freedom of movement, strung up with nails or ropes or both, pinned there and powerless. It appears to be total defeat. It there is victory, it is the victory pride, prejudice, jealousy, hatred, cowardice and brutality. Yet the Christian claim is that the reality is the opposite of the appearance. What looks like (and indeed was) the defeat of goodness by evil is also, and more certainly, the defeat of evil by goodness. Overcome there, he was himself overcoming. Crushed by the ruthless power of Rome, he was himself crushing the serpents head (Gen. 3:15). The victim was the victor, and the cross is still the throne from which he rules the world. . . .

Here then is a further motif in the achievement of Christ's cross. In addition to the salvation of sinners. . . and the revelation of God, . . . the cross secured the conquest of evil. (223-224)


* 1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor 2:14; Rev 2; 3.
** Rev 3:21; 5:5; 12:11; Col 2:15.


For more:
"The Cross of Christ" by John Stott: A Review
Its Not Just a Theory: Stott on Penal Substitution
John Stott on the The Human Enigma 
Allison: A History of the Doctrine of the Atonement
"Salvation Brings Imitation": Piper on Christus Exemplar
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 1 - Introduction
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 2 - Christus Exemplar and the doctrine of sin and depravity
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 3 - The History of Christus Exemplar
Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 4 - Christus Exemplar and Humility
Sanctification Demands It: The Necessity of the Atonement
"Death by Love" by Mark Driscoll
"In My Place, Condemned He Stood"
"It is Well"
"Precious Blood": A Review  
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