Why Jesus Had to Die: An Interview with Randy Clark


Randy ClarkWhat does it mean when the Bible says Jesus died as a ransom? How do we benefit from his death? Why was it necessary for Jesus to die? Why did he have to die by tortuous crucifixion? How does understanding what happened on the cross provide a new way of living in a hurting world?

Bible Gateway interviewed Randy Clark (@randyclarkga) about his book, Destined for the Cross: 16 Reasons Jesus Had to Die (Emanate, 2020).

Why is it that Jesus had to die?

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Dr. Randy Clark This is the topic I’ve spent the last two years studying, and I discovered over 50 reasons. I narrowed it down to 16 of the most important reasons, and some of them include:

  • He died for the New Covenant Spirit to be poured out.
  • He had to die to bind the Strong Man and make a public spectacle of him, triumphing over him by the cross.
  • His death released the power of the Holy Spirit to advance the kingdom of God and provide gifts of the Holy Spirit to the church and the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher.
  • He died to become both the better sacrifice and the better High Priest.
  • He died to reveal the righteousness and justice of God.
  • He died to set the captives free.
  • He died to reconcile humans to the Father.

What would you say to someone who asks, “Who was Jesus”?

Dr. Randy Clark Jesus was the second person of the Trinity who became incarnate or human through the virgin Mary. He fulfilled many Old Testament types such as: prophet, priest, king, and apostle, and he was the only begotten son of God. He’s the baptizer in the Holy Spirit, the head of the church, the body.

He gave us an example of what our lives could be like in relation to accessing a divine power at work within us to do what he had done and even greater things. He believed that his kingdom would start like a mustard seed in his life but would grow into having a huge influence on the world. He was the most influential, spiritual, and holy person who ever lived.

By identifying himself with marginalized people he gave them great value. He was the greatest liberator of people in human history, breaking the traditional view of how to relate to women, sinners, children, and the sick and demonized.

Explain what crucifixion meant during the Roman Empire.

Dr. Randy Clark Jesus died by crucifixion, the most cruel and painfully slow form of death in the Roman Empire, typically reserved only for the worst of criminals. It would be terribly offensive to both the Jewish and the Gentile audiences who heard that Christ was crucified, which is perhaps why the powers and authorities did not understand the danger such an action would be to their continued dominion over humanity including the natural and the supernatural powers, authorities, and rulers.

The hierarchy of non-human evil noted in the Bible its influence upon the historical rulers such as Pharaoh and Pontius Pilot are examples of this perspective that can easily be seen in both the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement belief and emphasis upon the reality of demons and the belief in the powers as real entities that influence earthly rules of governments, corporations, movements, philosophies, ideologies. The Bible emphasizes both.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, What Does the Bible Say About Atonement?: An Interview with Joshua M. McNall]

How did Jesus’ death destroy captivity?

Dr. Randy Clark Colossians 2:15 says, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Romans 8:28-29 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And 2 Corinthians 2:14 goes on to say, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.”

How did Jesus’ death disarm spiritual authority?

Dr. Randy Clark You can look to multiple passages on this, including Colossians 2:13-15: “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Note that “powers and authorities” are translated “principalities and powers” in the NKJV. Some other passages that illustrate Jesus’ death disarming spiritual authority include 1 Cor. 2:8; 15:24, Eph. 1:21-23; 2:1-2; 6:12, Heb. 2:14, Col. 1:13, and 1 Peter 3:21c-22, which states: “Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him.”

What does it mean that Jesus ransomed people?

Dr. Randy Clark With the resurrection of Jesus as the act defeating the devil comes the Ransom Theory, which was the earliest theory of the cross. The Classic View of the atonement called Christus Victor was an understanding of the Ransom Theory, which moves from focusing on a transaction to focusing on an act of liberation, from payment as in a transaction to the price paid to destroy the power of the enemy and rescue those under his control. It involves paying the price to set the captives free, and it brings together the passages involving the word “ransom” (Mt. 20:28, Mk. 10:45, 1 Tim. 2:5-6, and Heb. 9:15) with the passage of the cross revealing the hidden mystery of God.

If the rulers of the age (principalities, powers, authorities, demons) had understood this hidden wisdom of God, they would not have crucified Jesus (1 Cor. 2:8 NIV). The devil thought it was his chance to defeat Jesus in his humanity, not realizing death could not hold Jesus, for the divine side of his life could not be destroyed by death, resulting in the resurrection and the ultimate releasing of the power of the Holy Spirit to defeat the devil’s deceptions through which he blinds the eyes (spiritually) of those who hear and do not respond to the gospel.

God’s grace and operation of the Holy Spirit enlightened them, opening their eyes to the gospel, revealing the truth. The cross destroys the devil’s hold on death, deception, demonization of people, destructive sinful behaviors, and ultimately damnation. The cross and the resurrection is what bound the Strong Man, a reference to the devil.

Illustrations of the fish hook by Origen of Alexandria (184-254) and the mousetrap, where Jesus is the cheese, by Augustine of Hippo (354-430) were metaphors used to try to explain the 1 Corinthians 2:8 passage of the cross being the means of destroying the work of the enemy—the hidden wisdom of God—the means of trapping or catching to destroy the enemy. I think a great modern day metaphor or illustration of the concept appears in Destined for the Cross.

What is Global Awakening Theological Seminary?

Dr. Randy Clark I truly believe that biblical theology is important to the advancement of the kingdom of God, the increase of the church, and to prevent visitations of God’s power. For this reason I started a CHEA accredited seminary called Global Awakening Theological Seminary in order to train many of the younger leaders in strong commitment to the Bible, attempting to highlight the emphasis of the Scriptures instead of the traditions of men. I emphasize a strong commitment to the ministry of the Holy Spirit to be the same today as it was in the early church, including all the gifts (charismata of 1 Cor. 12:8-10) of the Spirit, including the doma gifts of Ephesians 4:11-12.

A seminary that embraces the full authority of the Bible, an understanding of history that applies the same historical method to the history of the church as it does to the New Testament text, not one historical approach that rejects the anti-supernatural bias against the miracles in the Bible held by liberalism, but then uses this same historical approach to reject similar records of the miraculous in the history of the church, which was Warfield’s method. I want to have a seminary that uses the same approach to the miraculous in the history of the church as it does in the time of the Bible. I want to have a seminary that allows present day experiences of the power of God accompanying the gospel to work signs and wonders, healings and miracles to be helpful in interpreting the meaning of the biblical texts. I want a seminary that has as part of its hermeneutical method the recognition of the role of the experience within the church today to impact our understanding of the historical method.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Dr. Randy Clark My favorite Bible verse is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This passage reveals the love of God in the first part of the verse as a major focus on the why of the cross. It also helps fight against a division between the Father and the Son as the Father against us and the Son for us. It mitigates against the Father being an angry judge and the Son being the loving defense attorney, the advocate for us who loves us.

The first part of the verse reveals the motive for the coming of Christ was due to the love of the Father God, and the middle of the verse fights against universalism because not everyone will be saved by his death but those who believe in him. This middle part makes imperative the apostolic advance of the church, as well as the importance of the witness to those who do not know him, which is the motive for evangelism and need for evangelists. The day in which we live this middle part is so needed to fight against a growing teaching of universalism, even among Pentecostals and Charismatics as well as Evangelicals and Roman Catholics. Thankfully, the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches, as well as the Protestant denominations, have made a statement not accepting universalism as their official position.

The last part of the verse is the offer of eternal life instead of perishing. Which gives insight into the two alternatives in the afterlife.

What does it mean to be born again?

Dr. Randy Clark To be born again means to be born from above, to be born of the Spirit. It means to move from being dead in our sins to coming alive by the Spirit. It’s an act of God, not something we can bring about by our own efforts. It’s related to responding to the prevenient grace of God that awakens us to our need of salvation and which faith with which one can truly believe the gospel. It’s the result of God’s predestined plan that those who are in Christ shall be born again and counted righteous. This is a corporate election (those in Christ) predestination, as was the election of Israel a corporate predestination.

To be born again is another way of saying one has been saved by grace through faith. This grace is both unmerited favor and imputed righteousness, but also grace is an experience of God’s power, energy, life bringing about a new creation. Grace is both imputed and imparted. For some it’s a climactic experience which can be pointed to as a moment in the life of the one born again. Other times it’s not such a dramatic experience. But the fact that one has been born again is in the witness of the Holy Spirit in the person’s life resulting in their having a living relationship with God.

My other favorite passage, the one I write in books when I sign them, is 2 Corinthians 4:13: “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak.” This passage is one of my favorites because it brought about a major change in my understanding of the importance of speaking what we believe is the will of God in a particular situation. Faith isn’t activated by an expectation or even an understanding of what God desires to do, but in declaring what one believes God has revealed. This draws other people into believing God wants to do what he has revealed by a rhema word, revealed in that moment for that moment.

Why did you write this book?

Dr. Randy Clark I wrote this book to clarify in our times the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in so doing, I hope to bring greater clarity and understanding to the gospel and to the love and power of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to worship and honor him. Frequently while writing, I use the Bible Gateway software. I encourage people to download and use the App as I have found it so helpful.

Destined for the Cross: 16 Reasons Jesus Had to Die is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.

Bio: Dr. Randy Clark, author of Destined for the Cross: 16 Reasons Jesus Had to Die and Eyewitness to Miracles: Watching the Gospel Come to Life, is the founder of Global Awakening, a teaching, healing, and impartation ministry that crosses denominational lines. An in-demand international speaker, he leads the Apostolic Network of Global Awakening and travels extensively for conferences, international missions, leadership training, and humanitarian aid. Randy has a DDiv and DMin from United Theological Seminary, and he and his wife, DeAnne, live in Pennsylvania.

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