In the passage read from Philippians 2, did you notice in
verse 16 how Paul said: “... holding fast the word of life,
so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not
run in vain or labored in vain”? The word “vain” is
literally associated with a vase that empty or hands that
don't hold anything. Metaphorically, Paul is saying
that he doesn't want, at the judgment, for his example and
his work with the church at Philippi to be prove to be
useless or without effect or to no purpose. All the
effort that he had given in converting others and in
teaching others would end up being worth nothing. A
leader prayed the following for his son: “Build me a son
whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son
who will master himself before he seeks to master other men;
one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep;
one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the
past. And after all these things are his, add, I pray,
enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be
serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give
him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity
of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the
meekness of true strength. Then I, his father, will
dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain’" (MacArthur).
“The New Testament assigns great importance to Jesus' death
for our sins. The fact of His death is mentioned more
than 175 times. His death is definitely connected with
our salvation. 'Christ died for our sins' (1
Corinthians 15:3). '... that He by the grace of God, might
taste death for everyone' (Hebrews 2:9). 'For Christ also
suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He
might bring us to God ...' (1 Peter 3:18). Many other
passages could be cited to show the close relationship
existing between Jesus' death and our salvation. The
vicarious death of God's Son has become a distasteful
subject to many of our day, and they have omitted mention of
the shedding of blood in sermons and hymns. But the
truth still remains that 'without shedding of blood, there
is no remission [or forgiveness]' (Hebrews 9:22)(Kelcy).”
“Did Jesus die in vain? Surely, the New Testament
teaches that it was necessary, that it was the only way
whereby mankind could be reconciled to God. Atheists
have made light of Jesus' death and have ridiculed the idea
of blood atonement. To make any statement which
minimizes the importance of Jesus' death is sinful.
And any teaching which makes Jesus' death non-essential must
necessarily be a false teaching. There are many
statements being made by people today which teach by
implication that the tragedy of Calvary was needless.
But let’s give attention to several answers to our question:
'Did Jesus die in vain?' (Kelcy).
“Jesus died in vain if He was not raised. 'And if
Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain, and your
faith is also vain' (1 Corinthians 15:14). And again at
verse 17: 'And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile;
you are still in your sins!' Paul is here showing the
futility of our efforts to be saved and to preach the Gospel
of Christ if the resurrection be not a fact. Indeed, all of
God's efforts toward us and all our efforts toward God are
vain if Jesus has not been raised from the dead. But
thanks be to God for another statement of Paul in this same
chapter: 'But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has
become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.'
His death, then, was not in vain for His resurrection is a
fact. His death has the power to accomplish all that
God intended for it to accomplish for He came forth
triumphant over death (Ibid)!
“That the body of Jesus was placed in the tomb and that the
tomb was empty on the third day is a fact not denied anyone
[who reads the text unbiased]. The enemies of
Christianity have felt compelled to explain the empty tomb,
but no rational explanation has ever been found apart from
the resurrection of the body of Jesus. That Christ has
been raised was the explanation offered by the first century
disciples, and they believed this to the extent that they
were willing to die for that faith. Here is something else
that the enemies have felt the need of explaining: the faith
of the early disciples. Why did they believe that
Jesus had been raised, and why were they willing to risk
their lives by preaching the message? There is no
conceivable explanation expect that given in the New
Testament. Jesus was raised from the dead and the
apostles and others saw Him after His resurrection. To say
that the apostles were deceivers or that they were all
deceived does not satisfy the mind that demands a rational
explanation. The empty tomb and the faith of the early
disciples are witnesses to a resurrection that cannot be
silenced. They raise their resounding voices and testify to
the fact that on the third day the body of Jesus was raised
from the dead” (Ibid.).
“Jesus died in vain if one can be saved by the law. In
the Galatian letter, in which Paul argues in a masterly way
that we are not under the law of Moses, he makes this
emphatic statement in 2:21: '... for if righteousness comes
through the law, then Christ died in vain.' This was a
problem with which Paul and the other apostles had to deal
constantly. Judaizing teachers were intent upon
binding the law of Moses upon the New Testament church.
Paul fought the battle over and over. We hear the
noise of the battle in the letter to the Galatians.
Paul accuses those who were giving heed to these teachers of
turning aside unto a different gospel, a perverted gospel
(1:6-7). He affirms that 'by works of the law, no
flesh shall be justified' (2:16). He denies that they
had received the Spirit by the works of the law (3:2).
He insists that 'Christ has redeemed us from the curse of
the law, having become a curse for us' (Galatians 3:13).
Paul then says that the law 'was added because of
transgressions, till the Seed should come,' and the Seed was
Jesus. Further, since faith in Jesus has come, ‘we are
no longer under’ the law, which was a tutor to ‘bring us to
Christ’ (3:24-25). In the famous allegory of the two
women, Paul insists that the children of the law are not the
heirs of God's promises (4:21-31). He pleads with the
Galatian brethren not to be 'entangled again with a yoke of
bondage,' and says that those who would be justified by law
have 'fallen from grace' (5:1 & 4). He calls the
Galatians 'foolish' for giving heed to teachers who would
bring them again under the yoke of bondage of the law of
Moses (3:1)” (Ibid.).
“But let's notice once again the passage with which we began
our discussion of this point in 2:21: 'for if righteousness
comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.' That
should settle the question of whether of not the law of
Moses is yet in force. We sometimes hear people today
say that they believe the Old Testament is sill binding, and
that they believe a person can be saved by keeping its
commandments. They must not realize that they are
making a statement which, if true, makes Jesus' death a
meaningless event! For that reason, the idea that
righteousness can be by the law must necessarily be wrong.
Any teaching which makes Jesus' death non-essential must be
branded a false teaching” (Ibid).
“Jesus died in van if one can be saved apart from His blood.
That eternal salvation is by Jesus' blood is a great New
Testament teaching stated in a multitude of passages. ‘In
Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of
our sins’ (Ephesians 1:7). ‘Knowing that you were not
redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from
your aimless conduct received by tradition from your
fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb
without spot’ (1 Peter 1:18-19). ‘To Him who loved us and
washed us from our sins in His own blood’ (Revelation 1:5).
Now, if one can be saved apart from the shed blood of
Christ, then Jesus died in vain. Salvation by blood is
a very distasteful subject to many modern theologians, and
it has long been an object of the attacks by those who are
atheists. But he who believes the Bible must hold it
as a very precious truth for the teaching is abundant that
Christ died in order that God might have a ground upon which
he could pardon humanity” (Kelcy).
“It is in order at this point to introduce another passage
which speaks of the washing away of sins. When Ananias came
to Saul to tell him what he 'must' do, he said, ‘Arise and
be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of
the Lord' (Acts 22:16). This definitely teaches that
our sins are washed away when we are baptized, but it does
not tell us what washes them away. We have already
heard passages which teach that sins are washed away by
Jesus' blood, but these do not tell us when Jesus' blood
washes sins away. When we put both of these ideas
together, we have the great truth that sins are washed away
by Jesus' blood when we are baptized into His name. It
is not the water that cleanses; it is the blood that does!
We are not to look to the water for salvation, but to Christ
and His death, burial, and resurrection that the water
symbolizes. We are to call on His name while being
baptized. We must be baptized in order to appropriate
the cleaning effect of His blood. If we can be saved apart
from the blood, Jesus died in vain” (Ibid.).
“Jesus died in vain if one can be saved outside the church.
In his address to the Ephesian elders, Paul made reference
to 'the church of God which He purchased with His own blood'
(Acts 20:28). In another passage, Paul declared that
'Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her'
(Ephesians 5:25). Through the cross, Jesus reconciles
people unto God 'in one body,' and that body is the church
(Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:16). From these passages, it can
be seen that the church is insolubly connected with the
Jesus' death. He died in order that the church might
exist. He purchased the church with His blood.
To say that the church is not essential to salvation is to
say that Jesus' death was not essential. His death was
in vain if one can be saved outside the church.
Remember, any teaching which belittles Jesus' death must be
a false teaching. Therefore, the teaching that
salvation can be enjoyed outside the church is false” (Kelcy).
“Jesus died in vain if one can be saved by their own
goodness. Another idea currently held that eliminates
the necessity of Jesus' death is that one can be saved by
living a good moral life. Is it not true that people
could live good moral lives before Jesus' death and that
they could do so without His dying? If they could,
then why did Jesus die? Can we not see that to
maintain that we can be saved by merely a good life makes
the transaction at Calvary an empty and meaningless
occurrence? No effort is here intended to minimize the
importance of a good life. A good moral life is
essential to one's being a Christian, but it, within itself,
is not sufficient for salvation. The Roman soldier
Cornelius was a perfect specimen of morality, but he was
told by an angel to send for Peter who would tell him what
to do to be saved (Acts 11:14). Other cases in the
book of Acts in which good men and women heard the Gospel
and were converted to Jesus by obedience to it illustrate
the truth that more than morality is required. We are
not saved by human works that would occasion boasting.
We do not earn salvation. Salvation is by God's grace,
and not by human merit. Those who say they can be
saved by their own moral goodness may not intend to minimize
the importance of Jesus' death, but this is exactly what
they do! If all people could only realize that this is
the implication of such statements, then they would surely
be more careful about their remarks. Let’s constantly
remember that any teaching which makes Jesus' death
unnecessary is a false teaching. We must teach people
to be morally good, but we must point them to Jesus as the
world's only Savior, and we must cause them to trust in Him
and not in themselves and their works” (Ibid.).
Jesus died in vain if you remain and die lost. “The cross'
very existence … is graphic evidence that He who died on it
… was no insignificant Jew. Only One who had the power of
life within himself could have so transformed defeat into
victory and personal death into life for millions! Only the
dynamic Son of God could have projected across the vast sea
of time such an humble symbol with such a wondrous meaning,
[a shaft of pure light and hope to penetrate a history
filled with darkness]" (Osborne). There was a young
man who gave his life to save another man during a fire.
After a year or two, the parents of the young man invited
the man who had been rescued over to their house for a
visit. The man showed up drunk and was rude throughout the
visit. The wife sighed to her husband after their
guest's departure: “How sad that our son died in vain.”
“In the day of judgment, you will stand before Him who died
for you. Will it be true in that day that His death
for you will be in vain? Will you stand before Him
having failed to do the things He asked you to do?
Think of the shame you will experience when you realize that
all He did for you was in vain. Will God feel like
that distraught mother? He gave His best for you, but
you did not give your best for Him. You kept ignoring
Jesus and living life on your own terms. You denied
invitation after invitation to have your sins washed away
and continued to live outside the church and very much
attached to this world and its goods. Yes, Jesus died in
vain if you remain and die lost. All His efforts on
that day will no longer have any effect. Please
prepare so that when you stand before Jesus in judgment you
shall not be put to shame. Believe in Him, trust Him,
obey Him, and serve Him faithfully every day of your life!
Live so that when life is over you shall have no cause for
serious regrets. Live so that Jesus' death will bring
about your eternal salvation and an eternal home in heaven.
May it be true that eternity will reveal that His death for
you was not in vain” (Kelcy)! Don't let God say, “How
sad that My Son died in vain!”