THE DEATH OF CHRIST
Nothing is more important to the Christian faith than the event of the cross of Christ and its proper interpretation. How does Paul summarize the message he preaches? - “the word of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18), and “we preach “Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23). What was the only message he must to preach in Corinth? Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). If the cross is not central it is not the true gospel message.
You must make sure you know about the following:
(1) The prophecies that were fulfilled. Write down the Old Testament reference that is quoted in Matthew 27:46 – Psalm 22:1; Luke 22:37 Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:46 – Psalm 31:5 John 19:24 – Psalm 22:18; John 19:28 – Psalm 69:21; John 19:36 – Exodus 12:46; Number 9:12; John 19:37 – Zechariah 12:10.
(2) Crucifixion was a form of death that signified a person was cursed by God (Galatians 3:13).
(3) The three hours of darkness, at the end of which He shouted, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Darkness is a sign of God’s judgment that Jesus fully endured, so He was able to shout that He was victorious, having done all the Father planned for Him to do.
(4) The curtain of the temple was torn from the top to bottom = by God (Matthew 27:51) to show that through the death of Christ the way into His presence was now open.
THE MEANING OF CHRIST’S DEATH
The Bible uses the following words to explain the death of Christ:
(1) Sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26, 10:12). He fulfilled the Old Testament sacrifices; for example, He is the true Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), and Hebrews 9:25-26 compares His sacrifice with the atonement (in Leviticus 16). Most of the sacrifices were because of the offerer had sinned and was asking God for forgiveness. The animal was killed instead of the sinner. So Christ was a sacrifice “in our place”, “for” us (John 10:11, 15:13, Romans 5:6,8, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15,21, Galatians 1:4, 2:20, Hebrews 10:12, 1 Peter 2:21, 3:18).
(2) Blood (Romans 3:25, 5:9, 1 Corinthians 11:25, Ephesians 1:7, 2:13, Colossians 1:20, Hebrews 9:14, 10:19, 13:12,20, 1 Peter 1:2,19, 1 John 1:7, Revelation 1:5, 5:9, 12:11). The blood of animal sacrifices was poured out around the alter (Leviticus 1:5, 3:2, 4:7) to show that it was dead. The “blood of Christ” means that Christ died as a sacrifice, not that there is something special about the blood in His body. His blood was just like ours.
(3) Obedience (Romans 5:19, Philippians 2:8). He came from the Father to do His will, and He perfectly obeyed (Hebrews 5:8-9). As one without sin He could die for us (Hebrews 7:26-27), just as the animals were to be without “spot or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19).
(4)Propitiation (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 4:10). God’s wrath is upon sinners, but Christ has suffered the punishment sinners deserve, and so God’s wrath is removed from them. As an illustration, in traditional religion the elders would seek to turn away the supposed wrath of God in times of drought and disease by offering a certain sacrifice.
(5) Ransom (Matthew 20:28, 1 Timothy 2:6, Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 1:18-19). A ransom is a price paid for release. We are released from our bondage to sin because Christ gave His life as a sacrifice for us.
(6) Redemption (1 Corinthians 6:20, Galatians 3:13, 4:5). The word ransom emphasizes the price that was paid; redemption emphasizes that the price paid brings release. When we say that Christ is our Redeemer, we mean that by His death we are set free to serve God!
(7) Reconciliation (Romans 5:10-11, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, Ephesians 2:16, Colossians 2:20-22). God Himself has removed all obstacles to our fellowship with Him through the death of Christ, so that we are now at peace with God.
Note: Propitiating God, dying for our sins, redeeming us by a ransom price, and reconciling us to God, are all things that Christ accomplished by His death. Nothing needs to be added. Do not miss the assurance in Romans 5:1-2,9-11, 8:33-34! Christ’s death is powerful.
FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE?
This is what our 1689 Confession of Faith states about Christ the Mediator:
“By His perfect obedience to God’s law, and by a once-for-all offering up of Himself to God as a sacrifice …, the Lord Jesus has fully satisfied all the claims of divine justice. He has brought about reconciliation, … for all those given to Him by His Father” (Sect.5).
The Confession states that Christ died for the elect, for those given to Him by the Father (John 6:37-39, 17:24). Many people think this means that Christ’s death was not able to save everyone. But the real question is, “What was God’s purpose in giving His Son to die?”
According to the following verses, for whom did Christ die:
Isaiah 53:11, Matthew 20:28, 26:28 many; John 11:52 children of God
Ephesians 5:25 the church; Hebrews 2:14 children;
Hebrews 2:16 the offspring of Abraham ; Hebrews 2:17 brothers
If Christ died for the purpose of saving everyone, then why is not everyone saved? If His death was a ransom, then why is not everyone ransomed? If Christ died for everyone, and everyone is not saved, it means that Christ’s death is not sufficient to secure the salvation of anyone. It would then depend on Christ’s death plus something else in man, such as faith.
There are a few verses that appear to teach Christ died for all (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 1 Timothy 2:6). Others verses use the word world and supposedly teach that Christ died for everyone (John 1:29, 3:16, 2 Corinthians 5:19, 1 John 2:2). Note that “all” can mean all types of men without distinction (1 Timothy 2:1), or many people (Matthew 3:5-6). “World” can mean Gentile as well as Jew (John 1:29, 4:42), sinners as opposed to God’s people (John 17:9).
(1) Let us have full confidence in Christ and His work to save us completely. Spurgeon likens Christ’s work to a bridge. One bridge is wide enough for everyone to go on it but it only goes half way across the river. The other bridge is narrower but it goes all the way across to glory! What does the Bible teach?
(2) The Bible never presents the gospel as “Christ died for you.” It rather present Christ as a Person who, by His finished work, is fully to be trusted to save any sinner who comes to Him in faith and repentance.
Write true or false for each of the following statements:
TRUE Christ’s death guarantees full salvation for all for whom He died.
TRUE It was not the purpose of God that Christ should die on behalf of everyone.
FALSE It is possible that Christ died for people who will go to hell
TRUE The ‘blood’ of Christ means Christ’s death as a sacrifice for sins.
FALSE God loves everyone, so there is no need for His wrath to be propitiated by sacrifice.
· The Sovereignty of God, by A. W. Pink, pp.56-67.
· Saving Grace, by John Cheesman, pp.78-92.
· A Price for a People, by Tom Wells.