2006-11-17 - Basic Beliefs
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I would like to preface this devotional by asking you to bear with me here. I know that to some Christians - the next line of the Apostles' Creed is troubling to some Christians. But I think you might be glad if you prayerfully consider that instead, it can actually be comforting.
So we will move forward in this series - and in this installment will look for the Biblical background of the phrase (Christ) "...descended into Hell. On the third day He rose again."
To some people today, this is a revolutionary thought - but to the ancient church, it was a given. According to John Calvin in his "Institutes:"
"This much is certain: that it reflected the common belief of all the godly; for there is no one of the fathers who does not mention in his writings Christ's descent into hell, though their interpretations vary." He goes on to add "if it is left out, much of the benefit of Christ's death will be lost."
In order to provide a complete sacrifice for us - Christ had to take our place. And our place would have been in Hell if not for his free gift of salvation (see Ephesians 6:8-9).
But our ultimate source is of course God's word. And the Bible actually does say literally that Christ was temporarily in Hell for us. Most scholars agree that Psalm 16:10 refers to our Lord:
For thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (KJV)
In addition, Peter speaks of Christ preaching after He was put to death. The fact that He preached to spirits, and not to "men," indicates that the prison was Hell.
3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison. (KJV)
And after prayerfully studying this topic - another thought occurred to me: This is actually more validation and confirmation of Christ's sovereign Lordship. He alone was able to go to Hell - and then leave of His own volition. Because as 1 John 4 reminds us "...greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world." To borrow a popular slogan "you can't keep a good Man down."