“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you THE GOSPEL which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES; And that HE WAS BURIED, and that HE ROSE AGAIN the third day ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.” (1st Corinthians 15:1-3)
Let us focus on the words “CHRIST DIED for our sins ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.”
The Death of Christ was foretold in the Old Testament by different prophets such as David, Isaiah, Daniel and Zechariah. Prophets who lived in different eras and came from different backgrounds. Here are some of the prophecies concerning the Death of Christ:
David : “…they pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalms 22:16)
Isaiah : “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was CUT OFF OUT OF THE LAND OF THE LIVING…” (Isaiah 53:8)
Isaiah : “…he hath poured out his soul unto death…” (Isaiah 53:12)
Daniel : “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off…” (Daniel 9:26)
Zechariah : “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of JERUSALEM, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon ME WHOM THEY HAVE PIERCED, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10; verse quoted in John 19:37)
“CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS”. The Death of Christ had not only been foretold in the Old Testament but the purpose of His death as well : “for our sins”. The sinless Messiah was destined to die for others. Why? Because of their sins.
Daniel : “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, BUT NOT FOR HIMSELF…” (Daniel 9:26)
Isaiah : “But he was wounded FOR OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, he was bruised FOR OUR INIQUITIES: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Isaiah : “…FOR THE TRANSGRESSION OF MY PEOPLE was he stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8 )
Isaiah : “…thou shalt make his soul an offering FOR SIN…” (Isaiah 53:10)
Isaiah : “…he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him…” (Isaiah 53:9-10)
Why did Christ have to die because of sins? “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23) The absolutely perfect and holy God of the Bible who abhors sin and who is perfectly just must punish each and every sin committed. Each sin requires punishment by death according to God’s perfect justice. First physical death for all sinners and then eternal death – eternal separation from the glorious presence of God in addition to continuous, eternal torments (soul and body) – for sinners who have not been reconciled to God.
“…death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned…” (Romans 5:12)
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalms 9:17)
“The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” (Psalms 5:5)
“And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:24)
A sinner has to suffer the punishment or a sinless person must suffer as a substitute the punishment (or judicial equivalent of the punishment to be meted out) that sinner deserved. Only Christ, the Incarnate God and Second Person of the Triune God, was sinless among men and could be such a substitute. Such a substitute also had to perfectly perform God’s Law in the place of a guilty sinner because God requires not only a sinless life (sin = 1) doing what God forbids and 2) not doing what He commands) but a life of positive righteousness (doing everything He commands without sin). Christ not only was sinless but also perfect in obedience. The Death of Christ could alone bring atonement. AT-ONE-MENT. At one with the Holy God. No sinner can save himself/herself from the condemnation he/she deserves.
“None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (For the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever: ) That he should still live for ever, and not see corruption.” (Psalms 49:7-9)
Only Christ could offer a perfect ransom.
Jesus Christ : “For even the Son of man* came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give HIS LIFE A RANSOM FOR MANY.” (Mark 10:45)
(* the term “Son of man” is found for example in Daniel chapter 7 and it is linked in that chapter to a prophecy of Christ’s Ascension and His receiving of God the Kingdom of Heaven)
Christ’s imputed righteousness was also required to justify a sinner before the Perfect and Holy God. His shed blood washed away sin for sinners chosen from among all nations while His imputed righteousness freely gives righteousness before God to the same sinners.
“…even so by THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ONE the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life… so by THE OBEDIENCE OF ONE shall MANY BE MADE RIGHTEOUS.” (Romans 5:18-19)
Man cannot justify himself BEFORE GOD through good works. For good works to be accepted by God they need to be perfect and without sin in action, speech and thought (motive).
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
Jesus Christ (the Incarnate God) : “…there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 9:18 )
“…there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:12)
Even Abraham, the father of believers, could not justify himself by works BEFORE GOD.
“For if Abraham were JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, he hath whereof to glory; but NOT BEFORE GOD.” (Romans 4:2)
Abraham justified his faith** BEFORE MEN by his works and he was justified by faith BEFORE GOD.
“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3)
(** that’s the justification James is referring to in James chapter 2; James does not contradict Paul; they are speaking of two aspects of justification; Paul is speaking of justification by faith BEFORE GOD; James is speaking of justification of one’s faith BEFORE MEN)
see also : Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled Part 2