The Descent Of Christ Into Hades (Twenty-Three)

It is written:

Revelation 5:1-14-And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2  Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” 3  And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. 4  So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. 5  But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” 6  And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7  Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. 8  Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9  And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10  And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” 11  Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, 12  saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!” 13  And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” 14  Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.

Having thoroughly studied the Descent of Christ into Hades, we now will examine the relevance of this doctrine. Sadly, the doctrine of the Descent is often unappreciated and neglected. In this article, we need to consider the importance of this teaching.

The Descent Reminds Us That God Fully Embraces Every Situation And Trauma That We Can Encounter In This Life

One author, describing the notion that Christ descended into Hades, describes some of the reasons why this doctrine is so important. Keeping in mind that he uses the word “Hell” in place of “Hades,” he tells us:

“Since He descended into hell was a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (e.g., Ps. 16), it assures us when we are in the midst of doubt. When we meditate upon these prophecies in the Word of God and come to understand that our Lord Jesus Christ not only suffered in His body but also suffered the extreme agonies of hell for us in His soul (Ps. 22), this helps to build an experiential sense of assurance in us when we doubt….This phrase also brings us comfort in our own physical, spiritual, and emotional sufferings. What a wonderful comfort to know that we are not alone in our struggles in this life because the Son of God suffered hell for us, as us….“Finally, the descent clause assures us that we have no reason to fear death. Because Christ suffered the darkness of hell, we can sing and pray with David: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Ps. 23: 4). Since Christ entered hell’s agony but came forth in triumph, we may recite the victory march of the apostolic church: “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15: 56–57). We are confident of victory because Christ has experienced all the emotions, pains, and torments of death for us. As Calvin said, “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 judgment. For this reason, he must also grapple hand to hand with the armies of hell and the dread of everlasting death.” (Daniel Hyde, In Defense of the Descent: A Response to Contemporary Critics, 992-1050 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Reformation Heritage Books)

In His life and death (and subsequent Descent), Christ can fully relate to all of our struggles. The writer of Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 4:15-16-For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

John Piper has well written:

“But it gets even better. On the way to the cross for thirty years, Christ was tempted like every human is tempted. True, he never sinned. But wise people have pointed out that this means his temptations were stronger than ours, not weaker. If a person gives in to temptation, it never reaches its fullest and longest assault. We capitulate while the pressure is still building. But Jesus never did. So he endured the full pressure to the end and never caved. He knows what it is to be tempted with fullest force. A lifetime of temptation climaxing in spectacular abuse and abandonment gave Jesus an unparalleled ability to sympathize with tempted and suffering people. No one has ever suffered more. No one has ever endured more abuse. And no one ever deserved it less or had a greater right to fight back. But the apostle Peter said, “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22-23). Therefore, the Bible says he is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). This is amazing. The risen Son of God in heaven at God’s right hand with all authority over the universe feels what we feel when we come to him in sorrow or pain—or cornered with the promises of sinful pleasure. What difference does this make? The Bible answers by making a connection between Jesus’ sympathy and our confidence in prayer. It says that since he is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses… [therefore we should] with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Evidently the thought goes like this: We are likely to feel unwelcome in the presence of God if we come with struggles. We feel God’s purity and perfection so keenly that everything about us seems unsuitable in his presence. But then we remember that Jesus is “sympathetic.” He feels with us, not against us. This awareness of Christ’s sympathy makes us bold to come. He knows our cry. He tasted our struggle. He bids us come with confidence when we feel our need.” (John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, 72-73 (Kindle Edition); Wheaton, Illinois; Crossway Books)

He Understands!

The Descent Reminds Us Of Our Obligation To Preach The Gospel To Every Part Of Creation

Jesus left the church in the world with these words:

Mark 16:15-16-And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

God has given to us the obligation to preach the Gospel to every creature.

The Descent Reminds Us That The Gospel Is For Every Sinner

Jesus went and preached to the souls in Hades-especially the most wicked (those who had lived in the which led up to the Great Flood). The message for us is clear: the Gospel is to be preached to every creature in the world. Jesus loves every sinner and wants each and every sinner to be saved.

1 Timothy 2:4-who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9-The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Our Calvinist friends tell us that God only wants a few to be saved, and that He predestined the vast majority of humans to Hell before they were every conceived. I have even been told that God hates most babies, and that Hell shall be filled with babies who deserve to be there!

They don’t know Jesus.

Matthew 18:14-Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The Gospel is for everyone, and it is our responsibility as the church of Christ to take that Gospel to everyone in Creation.

We are the body of Christ!

The Descent Answers Enough Of Our Questions To Show Us We Do Not Need To Have All Of Our Questions Answered To Trust And Obey God NOW

Just because we do not have all of our questions answered doesn’t mean that we can’t trust God.

Look at Jesus, and the amazing depths He has gone to in order to redeem us. We do not have all of our questions answered in this world:

Deuteronomy 29:29-The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

This does not mean we have to stop asking questions and learning. But we also need to learn that God has time after time shown Himself to be faithful. While we have questions, let us learn to trust and obey the Lord.

The Descent Reminds Us Again That Jesus Is Worthy

The Lord Jesus is worthy of our worship and our praise.

Did you notice in the passage quoted above (Revelation 5) that all of Creation honors Jesus?

The Lamb is worthy to be praised!

He went through the very depths of Hades to save you and I.

Let us honor Him with our very lives.

Romans 12:1-2- I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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