First off, I am perfectly aware of how Jesus’s execution was carried out. When I pose the question “How did Jesus save us?” a lot of people tend to just say, “…by dying on the cross”. I’m looking for a more in depth version of how we are saved not just how he was killed. I just do not seem to understand how (on a spiritual level) he saved us from death by being crucified on Calvary. I’ve struggled with this question for some time, and I am looking for a clear answer, seeing how this question encompasses all of Christianity. Thank you.
My short answer attempt:
- Sin causes us to be separated from God, meaning that we suffer a spiritual death.
- In the Old Covenant times, Sacrifices were made to atone for one’s sins, followed by some kind of penance, but none of those sacrifices were sufficient enough for all of humanity.
- Christ in the New Covenant died as the perfect sacrifice to be sufficient for all people humanity given that they accept and follow Christ. So, sacrifices are no longer needed. However, we must still confess our sins and seek penance to repair our relationship with God after our sin separates us.
Conclusion: By dying on the Cross, Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind to then allow people to enter into a state of grace so they can attain eternal life with God. Life, as opposed to death.
God is just. Every sin needs to be paid for either in this life or the next. When Adam and Eve sinned, it affected not only themselves, but all of mankind.
We all were born in “original sin” due to Adam’s fall. So, we have all been in debt insofar as sin is concerned. Compensation, reparation, atonement needed to be done for these sins.
Christ came to free us from this debt of sin.
However, I don’t think it’s correct to say that no more sacrifices are necessary. I think sacrifices, are STILL necessary, victim souls. Some saints have said as much.
Now, in the same way that ALL of us died due to the effects of original sin, due to Adam and Eve, all of us have…at least the potential…to live through Christ’s sacrifice.
But why did God punish all of humanity for Adam and Eve’s sins? I don’t get that.
Adam and Eve changed the very nature of humanity.
It would be like saying “hey dont go play in that nuclear reactor” And then we do and then the effects of that are passed on forever in genetic mutation.
Ok thats a poor example, because its not just physical but primarily spiritual with Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve were created without the “knowledge of Good and Evil” They were innocent and the perfect creature God wanted them to be. When Adam and Eve decided they wanted to be like God knowing both good and evil, it changed humanity. It changed the nature of the human soul. From that point on the human soul would know both good and evil and that struggle is carried on to all humans ever created.
God is not punishing us for their sins, in fact he set a path for us to be SAVED of our sins because he loves us!
Do you think Adam and Eve are in Heaven now?
I believe the Catholic Church teaches that they repented of their sin before death and after waiting in Abraham’s bosom (limbo of the fathers) for Christ’s death and resurrection.
In Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ott references several Fathers, most of whom are in agreement that our First Parents “did atonement and ‘through the Blood of the Lord’ were saved from eternal destruction.” He references Tertullian, Sts. Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Augustine of Hippo (Tatian dissents). He also mentions the seeming support of Wisdom 10:2: "She [Wisdom] brought him out of his sin. . .
It was not His crucifixion alone that saved us from death - it was His crucifixion combined with His resurrection. St. Paul states this himself in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, starting with verse 12-28, then from verses 50-58:
"But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no ressurection from the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty [too] is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable of all.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death, for “he subjected everything under his feet.” But when it says that everything has been subjected, it is clear that it excludes the one who subjected everything to him. When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.
This I declare, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will be all changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For what is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself in immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself in immortality, then the word that is written shall come about:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
In addition, Eucharistic Acclamation C: “Save us, savior of the world, for by your death and resurrection, you have set us free.”
Eucharistic Acclamation A: “We profess your death, O Lord, and proclaim your resurrection until you come again.”
Another good source is the Letter to the Hebrews. Pretty much the entire letter is a treatise on how salvation was able to come about through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.
CCC 635 Christ went down into the depths of death so that “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Jesus, “the Author of life”, by dying destroyed “him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and [delivered] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage.” Henceforth the risen Christ holds “the keys of Death and Hades”, so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead.”
I have a book " The Faith Explained" by Father Leo Trese. He made me understand the question your asking.
He compared the spiritual state of mankind after the Fall, to a man who finds himself in a deep pit and cannot get out on his own. He needs help from outside. Without that help he is doomed forever. Jesus is that help from the outside. He is the only one out there able to help; there is nobody else. He throws him a life line. His death is that life line.
Jesus was the only person on earth who was completely innocent (other than Our Lady) - from birth to death. Therefore it is only via his death and resurrection that we are able to follow. His innocence formed the link between God and man. He also had a Divine nature combining the human with the Divine.