Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Weight of Divine Severity

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) - John Calvin
Book 2 - God the Redeemer
Chapter 16 - How Christ Accomplished our Redemption
His Death, Resurrection and Ascent into Heaven

Sections 8-12 - The Descent into Hell
Section 8 - "Descended into Hell"
This may have been added to the Apostles' Creed later, but it belongs.
It is not a repetition of "was buried," but adds to the benefit of His death.

Section 9 - Christ in the nether world?
Christ did not free souls from prison, or "Limbo."
But He brought greater awareness of grace to the godly and condemnation to the wicked "spirits in prison" - 1 Pet 3:19.

Section 10 - "Descent into hell" as an expression of the spiritual torment that Christ underwent for us.
Christ underwent God's vengeance for our sin on the cross.
He was in hell there, then died.
The chronological order of the Creed is reversed: descent, then death.

Section 11 - Defense of this explanation from Scripture
Acts 2:24 - Christ was laid hold of by death, but not overcome by it.
Jesus truly feared bearing God's punishment for our sin - Heb 5:7.
Ps 22:1; Matt 27:46 - My God, why have You forsaken Me? This was hell.
"He bore the weight of divine severity." Isa 53:5: "Stricken and afflicted."
Death is overcome - Heb 2:14-15.

Section 12 - Defense of the doctrine against misunderstandings and errors
Christ's soul was truly afflicted, or He redeemed our bodies alone.
John 13:21; Matt 26:37.
He was open to temptation and fear - Heb 4:15 - like us - Heb 2:17 - but didn't give in to wild emotion and sin in that.
Sweating drops of blood in Gethsemane shows that He fought more than normal death - Luke 22:43-44; Matt 26:39.
Note "how much our salvation cost the Son of God."
His suffering began in the Garden, where His soul was troubled.

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