I’m having trouble really understanding what his death on the cross did for us. This is a sincere question.
Here are the answers I’ve been given over the years.
He saved us from sin
But there were people who were sinless before he even died (Mary). And people still sin and go to hell even today. Everyone is still sinful by nature.
He opened the gates of Heaven
But there was a paradise in the OT and the people there seemed completely content to be there.
When I first got serious into Christianity I kind of fell into the Protestant theology that before Jesus, no one could get to Heaven. They would just cease to be after death or they would go to hell. Then Jesus took away all our sins and all we had to do was believe in him to get to Heaven. In theory, that sounds alot more heroic. (I fully support the Catholic Church’s stance on salvation)
Could anyone elaborate more on how Jesus is our savior?
He saved us from the consequences of sin, which is death (in its most profound sense, eternal separation from God).
He opened the gates of Heaven
But there was a paradise in the OT and the people there seemed completely content to be there.
Only in the ‘Garden of Eden’. Moreover, the ‘Bosom of Abraham’ – that is, I think, what you might be referring to as ‘paradise’ – only fits into the scheme of things inasmuch as God’s plan was for Jesus to come in the fullness of time and redeem those in the ‘Bosom of Abraham’ so that they might attain to heaven. Without Jesus, no heaven… and no ‘Bosom of Abraham’ as a ‘waiting room’… and therefore, no ‘paradise’.
When I first got serious into Christianity I kind of fell into the Protestant theology that before Jesus, no one could get to Heaven.
That’s not just Protestant theology.
They would just cease to be after death or they would go to hell.
That’s not what Catholics believe. There is no annihilation. On the other hand, without Christ, there would be no eternal reward.
Then Jesus took away all our sins and all we had to do was believe in him to get to Heaven.
More than that. After all, Jesus Himself noted that there will be those who cry out “Lord, Lord” who will not attain to heaven…
Jesus Christ is the Word, and he brought the truth, the mystery of redemption, and sent the Holy Spirit to make us holy, and instituted the sacraments, through which we may receive the Holy Spirit, and live a holy life, and have eternal life with the Beatific Vision. Since his death, we now have the New Covenant, and to the just who lived under the Old Covenant in the underworld, he brought the Gospel and they were freed.
605 At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."410 He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us.411 The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: "There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer."412
623 By his loving obedience to the Father, “unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfills the atoning mission (cf. Is 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will “make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19).
It’s complex because it takes a whole lot more than just saying “Jesus is my Lord, He Saved from my sins and I am saved.” It takes Fellowship. We must become part of His Body (the Church) and we must Obey His Commandments (hint: not just the Ten Commandments).
Here’s why it is simple:
If you love me, keep my commandments. (St. John 14:15)
Now, the fillers:
Adam and Eve sinned against God (disobedience) and believed a creature’s word instead of God’s word (Genesis 3:1-24); so through Satan’s machinations sin and death entered the world. Adam’s (Adam and Eve) sin brought him and his descendants death (the death that Yahweh God warned about was a spiritual death–Romans 5:12-19); so, by Adam’s sin all of humanity is born with what the Church termed “Original Sin.”
Here’s why you, and the rest of us need saving:
For the wages of sin is death, (Romans 6:23a)
14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (St. James 1:14-15)
Why the cross?:
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (St. John 3:14-15)
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
See also: Isaiah 53:1-12; St. Matthew 20:18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:17-31; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
So Christ died on the Cross for us and bought us with His Blood and brought us to His Father:
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
There were few people that were just in God’s eyes that remained so (outside of St. Mary); Enoch and Elijah are the only two people that we know for sure that were sinless as they were bodily assumed into Heaven (though there are many arguments on this issue); while there may have been many more, here’s a hint on the workings of God:
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (St. Matthew 27:51-53)
Clearly, Jesus had just died so these holy people were raised to life prior to Jesus’ Resurrection; still, they did not come out of their tombs until Jesus’ Resurrection making Him the First Resurrected. Hence, till Christ Ascended into Heaven no one who was resurrected was assumed into Heaven.
Paradise… yeah… not! We had it for a few days (a trial run, if you will) and Adam and Eve failed the test completely.
“What exactly did Jesus save us from?”
Well Ben that’s exactly what I often wanted to ask the priest at my former parish.
He would often refer to Jesus as our saviour but nary a mention as to what we can be saved from. Saving us from sin or just bad habits perhaps. But the real reason we need a saviour is to save us from hell.
Satin has been winning many souls over the past 50+ years via our priests and bishops not teaching us properly. They will not speak of hell or sexual sins. We need to hear the truth about modern society in all its ugliness in order to know what we need to do to gain heaven … to be saved from hell.
Our Lord paid dearly out of great love for all of us. Our response? We mock Him and His sacrifice.
Adam, by his free disobedience, shattered the original friendship relationship between humanity and Divinity. Jesus, True God and True Man, by His free obedience, restored the original friendship relationship between humanity and Divinity.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits* 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,*(“http://www.usccb.org/bible/1corinthians/15#54015022-i”)
The only one who was sinless was Mary. God could not come into a sinful person. The tabernacle (her womb) had to be pure. Makes sense to me.
Catholics say the same: before Christ, no one could get to Heaven. They were held in Purgatory. Christ rose from the dead and descended into hell. That hell is where the good souls were waiting. Then He took them into Heaven.
When Adam and Eve sinned, the gates of Heaven were closed to them and to their children (us). Abraham, the father of the Jews, was asked to sacrifice his son. He was willing to do it but God stopped him because He knew how much he loved his son. So God sent His own Son instead.
So basically, Jesus saved us from having to go to hell/made it possible for us to go to heaven?
And…all the millions or billions of people who lived good, honest, loving lives and died before Jesus arrived…they did not get to heaven? (at least, not until Jesus arrived?).
Why would God wait so long to do this? Why keep people in hell or purgatory for so long and wait so long before sending Jesus here to suffer, die, come back to life…so that people can then possibly get to heaven?
So…all this…just because Adam and Eve ate the fruit?
People here often say that a person can be saved at the last minute no matter what life they led before that, if they embrace/call out to God.
Yes, true. The millions stayed in purgatory until Christ came to release them.
Why so long? Because He is God. The pain they suffered was being removed from His Presence.
All because Adam and Eve ate the fruit? No. It is because they were disobedient to God. Wanted to do it their way. We still want to do it our way. God offered them EVERYTHING…health, good food, live in Paradise on earth, peaceful animals, not disease, no accidents…but one thing they couldn’t have was the fruit from one tree. Couldn’t do it. Had to have it all. And you know the rest of the story.
God is all merciful. Might be that someone on his death bed changes completely and accepts God and Christ. Doesn’t mean he’s going straight to heaven. Might have to spend some time in Purgatory.
Someone has made a serious mistake. Purgatory is not the correct description for the time between Adam and Jesus Christ.
The waiting place for those who followed God would be peaceful in the knowledge that Jesus would descend to them. (expansion of Genesis 3:15) Was this place outside of earthly time? Could be. The point is that God never abandons us. We are the ones who can abandon God.
Probably me. Well, it wasn’t hell and it wasn’t heaven. I don’t believe Christ descended into hell. Why would He? Once there, you don’t leave, right? And why would the good before Christ be doomed to hell until His Resurrection? Purgatory is mentioned in the Old Testament. I think they were waiting there for Him.
Since time as we experience it does not exist outside of our temporal world, we have no idea of how “long” these people had to wait, in our sense of “long”. We cannot say they experienced this wait as we would, in days, years, months, eons or whatever, before Jesus came to release the just. It is the same with Purgatory–no time as we know it there. Our minds are not capable of understanding this mystery fully.
You will see in the article that the “hell” Christ descended into is not the “hell” we normally think about as the place of eternal punishment. Read the short article.
I don’t have any more of a problem saying the creed than you obviously do considering you too believe it is not the hell of the damned He descended into but Abraham’s Bosom. So if you don’t have a problem, why should I.
Yes, I am aware that the gates were closed after the Fall.
Man was made for communion with God. Our integrity-our justice-is compromised without it. He’s the source of our life and our happiness. We’re now engaged in an experiment, set in motion by Adam, to see how we like life without God, for all practical purposes. But without Him we’re lost; we don’t even know where we came from, if anywhere, what we’re here for, if for anything, and where we’re going, if anywhere. Our lives are relatively empty, meaningless, and futile in the short or long run. “…you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors” 1 Peter 1:18 A life of chasing after things that never quite satisfy; “Vanity of vanities, everything is vanity”, Solomon exclaims, “There’s nothing new under the sun”.
Jesus came to reconcile man with the God Whom Adam scorned and rejected at the Fall. Jesus shows humanity the way back to the Father, so that, like Prodigals, we may run home again, when we’re ready, when we’re finally jaded with what the world has to offer.
An eternal life of sheer bliss is only possible with God because He is eternal life-He is the only thing that can make us happy. Otherwise we remain in sin, selfish coldness, separation from God who is love. Salvation is union with God.