“We believe in Jesus Christ, God the Son, the world’s only Savior; in His pre-incarnation, virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, burial, and bodily resurrection, and in His personal, visible return to earth;”
In a previous post we looked at the person of Christ, in this post we will meditate on the work of Christ. How does our belief in Christ’s “sinless life, vicarious death, burial, and bodily resurrection, and in His personal, visible return to earth” hold our thoughts, affections and will, and actions?
1. How does this statement hold our thinking?
The work of Christ described in these phrases shows how he is the “world’s only Savior”. Our salvation could only be accomplished by the person described in our last post. Only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is able to accomplish our redemption through his “sinless life, vicarious death, burial, and bodily resurrection, and in His personal, visible return to earth”.
Christ’s work encompasses both his first and second comings. In his first coming he takes on human flesh, lives a sinless life, dies in our place, is buried, and raises from the dead. The reformers often distinguished between the active obedience and the passive (not passive completely) obedience of Christ. The active obedience was displayed in his sinless life, the passive obedience in his death, burial and resurrection. John Murray wrote. “… he took care of the guilt of sin and perfectly fulfilled the demands of righteousness. He perfectly met both the penal and perceptive requirements of God’s law. The passive obedience refers to the former and the active obedience to the latter. Christ’s obedience was vicarious in the bearing of the full judgment of God upon sin, and it was vicarious in the full discharge of the demands of righteousness.” (Redemption Accomplished and Applied. Eerdmans, 1955, 22) John Stott wrote, “The value of continuing to speak of Christ’s ‘double’ obedience is that we then distinguish between his fulfilling the demands of the law and his enduring the condemnation of the law. Both kinds of submission to the law were essential to the efficacy of the cross. ” (The Cross of Christ, IVP, 1986,2006, 117)
In ‘His personal, visible return to earth’ our salvation is brought to completion. Then we will receive the fullness of what Christ has accomplished through his ‘sinless life, vicarious death, burial, and bodily resurrection’.
The person and work of Christ must be central to our “engaging the unreached”. All our thinking about strategy, contextualization, church planting, etc. must focus on communicating the truths we hold about the person and work of Christ. These commitments are not our opinions but are rooted in God’s self-revelation. They hold our thinking because they have God’s authority.
2. How does this statement hold our emotions and will?
Charles Wesley’s hymn puts it well, “Amazing love, How can it be? That thou my God should die for me!” The last line of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Lowell Mason states, “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
1 Peter 1: 8-9 show a proper response to Christ’s work, “…you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Then in verse 1 Peter 1:13 we are told, “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ”(ESV).
What Christ has accomplished for us overwhelms us with amazement, joy, humility, commitment, and worship. In the words of John Stott, “… the cross transforms everything. It gives us a new, worshiping relationship to God, a new and balanced understanding of ourselves, a new incentive to give ourselves in mission, a new love for our enemies, and a new courage to face the perplexities of suffering.” (The Cross of Christ, 17)
3. How does this statement hold our action?
2 Corinthians 5: 14-15 state: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (ESV) Christ’s love demonstrated in dying for us leads us to a conclusion. Thinking about the love of Christ moves the heart and the will to live for Christ. The balance of chapter 5 makes it clear that living for Christ entails the ministry of reconciliation as ambassadors of Christ. We ourselves are reconciled to God through the work of Christ and that leads us to share that good news with others.
Through the work of Christ, we are children of God. The work of Christ should result in growing purity in our lifestyle. 1 John 3:2,3 states, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”(ESV)
The person and work of Jesus Christ is central to our mission of mobilizing God’s people to engage the unreached in order to establish reproducing churches. It is the motivation for mobilization. It is the central message with which we engage the unreached. It is the only foundation for reproducing churches.