I try to imagine.
My paternal grandparents, affectionately known as ‘Pa’ and ‘Ma’, must have been exultant. In these war years they had been through the agony of saying goodbye to four (of their seven) boys who joined the US forces in World War II. Two of their sons were twins; one of those became my father. The world ‘powder keg’ had burst into flames. The Martin sons were at that age; serve their country they would! As the war dragged on, the platoon in which my Dad served was scheduled to move to the jungles of China; before they were deployed, the war ended. Relief—for Ma and Pa—and for the family!
A fascinating London photo that victory day in May 1945 portrayed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on the palace balcony along with Prime Minister Winston Churchill flashing the V-sign as they looked over a sea of exultant people. That photo was representative of scenes in numerous cities of the world where cheering shouts ‘rose to heaven’ that, incredibly, the nightmare of an incorrigible, aggressive evil regime had finally been defeated! Myriads of families in numerous countries had lost sons, grandsons, brothers, boyfriends, husbands; myriads more had been wounded, some for life. As has been said, “war is hell!”; on that day a world stood ready for heaven to intervene—for V-day!
To bring closure to my story on the Martin boys—God graciously allowed all of them to return home. I have particular reason to be grateful!
V-day 1945! This was only one of thousands of the blazing conflicts in the long history of human depravity.
The Christus Victor mission
“For what purpose did Christ come down from heaven?” asked Irenaeus, one of the Early Church fathers. “Answer: ‘That he might destroy sin, overcome death, and give life to man.’” This was His incredible mission!
Gustaf Aulen set forth ‘the classic idea of the Atonement,’ a Christ who conquers the powers and is in His very incarnation and life-giving atonement the Victor over the forces that bedevil humanity. “Surely the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil,” wrote William Greathouse.
Freedom of moral/spiritual choice placed upon the shoulders of the human family the responsibility of moving forward in relationship to the Creator, to His shalom plan. That design, of course, included relationships with one another. What followed? Wrong choice. Not forward; humanity moved backward—way backward! Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin . . . (Rom 5:12, NASB).
In a previous post, I have already considered from the Creator’s perspective this moral/spiritual problem—the impasse apart from an answer equal to the challenge. How could sin and evil, now the propensity of the human heart, be defeated? How could victory be attained? How could this come from any human ability? Well, . . . unquestionably, it would require an answer from somewhere beyond—beyond even the greatest—of the human family. It would require the in-breaking of the Almighty into humankind’s hopeless condition.
Happen it did! “The All-Present himself passed into the closed circle of the human family.” Van Rheenen placed this in the context of “a kingdom perspective—that God in Christ has broken into the world to establish his own sovereignty and defeat the powers of Satan.” Scripture’s history of salvation records this “in-breaking”!
As incarnate God-Man, He took on His earthly ministry, clear in His mission. From His earliest days when sinister forces set out to take His life, on through His temptation ordeal in the wilderness, and through His death, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven, the battle with the evil one was engaged. His confidence for taking on this conquering mission resounds in the announcement of His credentials: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matt. 28:18). This He knew well in spite of the evil one’s claim to the kingdoms of the world (see Matt. 4:8-9).
In the Pauline epistles and the Book of Revelation we catch interesting glimpses of Christus Victor in His role as cosmic Lord and Redeemer. He is . . . the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross (Col. 1:18-20). In Ephesians 1, God seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, . . . not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet. . . . (vv. 20-22). It is following this view of Christ in His cosmic role that the Apostle moves on to celebrate His work in bringing individuals to regenerate life in Him.
In Revelation 19 John wrote, I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True. . . . and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven . . . were following him. . . . On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, “King of kings and Lord of lords (vv. 11-16). And again in chapter 22, the revelator records his words, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (v. 13). “Christ has in principle freed the cosmos from its demonic oppression and thus freed all inhabitants of the cosmos who will simply submit to this new loving reign,” wrote Gregory Boyd.
Contemplation for Today
What does this mean for those who believe this Good News?
- He won! (1 Cor. 15:20-25; Rev. 11:15)
- Evil lost—and will ultimately be utterly defeated (Dan. 9:24).
- Through His resurrection power, we too rise to new life in Him! (Rom. 6:4).
- On the journey in today’s treacherous world, He empowers His believing ones to overcome temptation to sin and evil in the present (1 Cor. 10:13).
- Hope—our Conqueror is more powerful than the enemy—He is working out His redemptive design (Rom. 8:18-22; Rev. 21:1-5).
- Vision—The Sovereign will at last reign over a renewed creation. His Kingdom is BIG! It has come, is coming, and will prevail! (Rom. 8:18-22; Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20)
- Because He won, so can you; so can I—through His empowerment (Rom. 6:4).
Grip us with Your shalom vision. In a world gone astray, keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the mighty Conqueror. Hold us close to Your beating heart; help us see our broken world from Your perspective. Keep us in the victory You have provided for us, and help us to keep holding the Kingdom door open to all who will say ‘Yes’ to Your invitation to enter!
You won! You are winning! And we’re squinting our expectant eyes to see how this ‘win’ takes shape in Your Kingdom restored—Eden and far more!
V-Day—we’re shouting cheering praises! Allelujah! Amen!
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 Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, trans. Dominic J. Unger (New York: Paulist Press, 1992), 3.14.7. Quoted in William M. Greathouse, Love Made Perfect: Foundations for the Holy Life (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1997), 55.
 Ibid., 57.
 John V. Taylor, The Primal Vision: Christian Presence Amid African Religion (London: SCM Press, 1963), 125.
 Gailyn Van Rheenen, Communicating Christ in Animistic Contexts (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1991), 131.
 The first Adam, head of the human family, upon meeting the crafty serpent, yielded to his temptations, experienced spiritual defeat, and subjected the entire human family to depravity and death. This Second Adam encountered the serpent-enemy, resisted his temptations, emerged the Victor over evil, and became “the Head of a new humanity.” This last phrase from W. T. Purkiser, Richard S. Taylor, and Willard H. Taylor. God, Man, and Salvation (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1977), 390.
 Gregory Boyd, “Christus Victor View” in The Nature of the Atonement: Four Views, edited by James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2006), 35.