Saturday, April 11, 2009

4/11- He Descended into Hell

Harrowing of Hell- Greek Orthodox Icon

and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.(Hebrews 2:15)

Calvin: If Christ had died only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual. No — it was expedient at the same time for him to undergo the severity of God’s vengeance, to appease his wrath and satisfy his just judgment. For this reason, he must also grapple hand to hand with the armies of hell and the dread of everlasting death… And surely, unless his soul shared in the punishment, he would have been the Redeemer of bodies alone. But he had to struggle to lift up those who lay prostrate. His goodness —never sufficiently praised — shines in this: he did not shrink from taking our weaknesses upon himself. Hence, it in nowise detracts from his heavenly glory. From this also arises the comfort for our anguish and sorrow that the apostle holds out to us: that this Mediator has experienced our weaknesses the better to succor us in our miseries (II.16.12)

Calvin said this phrase should not be omitted from the creed, because it is an important part of redemption. The phrase reflects the common belief of all believers. Calvin said that none of the church fathers omitted the phrase from their writing, but they did vary in their meaning.
For Calvin, this phrase is not a repetition of the phrase “died and buried.” The phrase also is not a shallow interpretation of going to hell to preach to the patriarchs or those Old Testament saints who had died before he came. There is a sense in which I Peter 3:19 points to Christ proclaiming his salvation in hell. This is condemning for those who do not believe in him who reside in that place.
For Calvin, this descent into hell is not a bodily thing as much as a spiritual thing. It is basically the idea that Jesus Christ went throgh hell for us on the cross- bearing our sins. Christ, as our sacrifice, bore our sins and the penalty of our sins (hell). This Esater eve, we can be glad that Jesus went through hell for us.

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for bearing our sins upon the cross. Thank you for going through hell for us.

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