555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

449. How Does Christ Influence the Lives of Men?

It is one of the most definitely and positively attested facts of history and of present-day life that mul titudes of people have an experience of peace, power, purity and joy which grows out of their belief that God as manifested in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth died for their sins. This experience is real, is tangible, is witnessed to; it makes the lives of those who possess it altogether different from what they were before. When we ask if such an experience was possible before Christ died, the answer is very clear—No. Many Old Testament saints had a very beautiful and exalted spiritual experience, but they could not have the experience of knowing that God in the flesh had died for their sins. The question of the relation of these facts to sin and the deliverance from it presents some philosophical difficulties, but no really practical difficulties. We can be sure that if any persons found deliverance from sin before Christ came they were comparatively few; but now the deliverance is offered to all. A few saints may have looked forward and grasped the glories of the atonement by faith; we look back upon it as a historic fact and so appropriate its benefits. Again, it is undeniably true that since the incarnation men have been able to get a totally new and infinitely clearer idea of God than if he had not manifested himself in the flesh. He has been interpreted to them in terms of human life, so it is now easy for them to comprehend how God thinks and acts and speaks. It is a higher revelation than that which came through the prophets: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son" (Heb. I :i, 2). It must certainly be true that the experience of loving Christ as a divine-human friend is different from the experience of loving God as he was revealed in Old Testament times. And when, as has already been suggested, there is added the knowledge that he died to save us, there is a power and depth to the love that would otherwise have been impossible. The one who fully believes in Christ receives fully the benefits of his life, death and resurrection. The one who doubts must continue to miss them.