The Person and Work of Christ Part VIII: Christ in His Suffering and Death -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:472 (Oct 1961)
Article: The Person and Work of Christ Part VIII: Christ in His Suffering and Death
Author: John F. Walvoord

The Person and Work of Christ
Part VIII:
Christ in His Suffering and Death

John F. Walvoord

[Editor’s Note : This article is the eighth in a series on “The Person and Work of Christ.”]


No event of time or eternity quite equals the transcending significance of the death of Christ on the cross. Though other important undertakings of God could be mentioned, such as the creation of the physical world, the incarnation of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, His second coming, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth, no one event is more far-reaching in its implications than the death of Christ. Accordingly, throughout the history of the church devout minds have found this subject worthy of deepest meditation.

A faithful student of Christology cannot escape the responsibility of a careful study of this doctrine. Its proper understanding is the heart of gospel preaching as well as systematic theology, and without it other doctrines of Christology have no relevance either to human needs or to a vital hope. Everything that is essential to salvation depends upon the suffering and death of Christ.

Like other important doctrines of Christian faith, the suffering and death of Christ can only be understood partially and surpasses ordinary human understanding. It requires a Spirit-taught mind to enter into the wonders of its meaning as it partakes of the infinity of the nature of Christ Himself. In the cross of Christ God is supremely revealed in His holiness and righteousness in their greatest historic revelation, set over against the love of God which prompted the sacrifice of Christ. The infinite wisdom of God revealed in the divine plan for the death of Christ is another evidence of the omniscience of God. No human mind would ever have devised such a way of salvation and only an infinite God would have been willing to give His Son to accomplish it.

The death of Christ has been disputed in two major areas by those who reject the Scriptural revelation: (1) Some

liberals affirm that Christ died but did not literally rise from the dead, thereby casting doubt upon the significance of His death. (2) Some few have held that Christ did not actually die and was merely revived. In this case both the death and resurrection of Christ are in question. Either of these two positions are destructive to Christian faith.

The Biblical record of the death, of Christ is a complete presentation both from the prophetic and the historic standpoints. Many passages in the Old Testament as well as in the Gospels predicted the death of Christ, such as Psalm 22

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