For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
The effects of Christ's death
Some precious consequences of the work of the Cross.
The predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God
The death of Christ obeys the "predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). It was not an accident in history; But an agreement taken in the eternal counsel of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God, in eternity past, decided to create man (Genesis 1:26). There it was also discerned that man, by having free will, could fall into sin. The fall was foreseen, and the solution was established, that the Word of God would go as a sacrifice to rescue man, "the lamb unblemished and spotless ... destined from before the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:19-20).
The death of Christ, in the first place, involves the satisfaction of divine justice.
God was offended in his authority and in his holy character, when the creature rebelled against the divine purpose. Man's sin, like that of Satan, is a sin against the authority of God rather than against the holiness of God. To sin against divine authority is more serious than to sin against His holiness. The latter is a matter of morality, but the former defies the throne of God.
God is just and His righteousness demands punishment for sin. Nothing, in the whole universe, was enough to stop the righteous judgment of God. And so the offering of Christ appears, a spotless lamb, an innocent victim who would shed his blood for God.
The death of Christ is represented in the book of Leviticus in the burnt offering. The burnt offering is a voluntary offering that has nothing to do with sin. The believer offers a gift of pure gratitude and worship, just to please God. In this sense, Christ, by the knowledge He always had of the heart of God, knew how He could please Him.
Jesus offered himself to God as a burnt offering. He offered up His blood for the purpose of satisfying divine justice. The Father felt that this sacrifice was enough to stop the righteous judgment that sinners deserved. By virtue of this perfect offering, divine justice was completely satisfied.
Secondly, the death of Christ involves the redemption of man.
With divine justice satisfied, God accepts the sacrifice of Christ as payment for redemption, the ransom of man. The debt of man to God was unpayable. God considered the debt of sinners as cancelled, attributing the highest value to the blood of Christ. Whoever receives by faith this offering of the love of God, effectively receives the ransom from the condition of a lost debtor.
Redemption means at least four things:
Nº 1: Substitution: This means that another person puts themselves in the place where I deserve to be, to pay for my guilt. In this sense, the death of Christ for us is an exclusive death, because only He was prepared to offer a holy sacrifice. As our substitute, Jesus died on the cross.
Nº 2: Propitiation. This means that someone acts as a mediator, a meeting point between God and men. In Hebrew worship, in the tabernacle, was the mercy seat, the place where the High Priest placed the blood of a lamb once a year for the forgiveness of sins. In that place, God descended to the sinner to cleanse him from all sin, through the propitiation by the blood of the lamb.
Christ was a priest and a victim at the same time "and he is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:1). At this point, the holiness of God does not destroy the sinner because he is seen through the blood that is on the mercy seat, and then he can approach and worship God without fear of being rejected.
Nº 3: Reconciliation. We were enemies of God, His holiness separated us from Him; we lived without hope, wandering in the world, without the knowledge of God. Therefore He, in His love, while we were dead in sins, sent us a mighty Savior in Christ, that He might make peace between Himself and us.
Sin separated us from God; But Christ, with his sacrifice, established a bridge between God and men, reconciling us to Him. In this way we were brought to God to be His children and so that His will might be fulfilled in us: that we should be conformed to the image of Christ.
Nº 4: Rescue. God had stripped us of His glory. The justice of God demanded the punishment of the sinner. Since we could not pay it, God, in his love, came in the person of Christ and paid the price of our ransom. We were rescued from the clutches of the enemy, from an eternal separation from God. We were rescued and transferred from the power of darkness to the kingdom of his beloved Son.
Thirdly, the death of Christ implies the end of the old creation and the beginning of the new creation.
The old creation is associated with that which the Scriptures refer to as the Old Man, and the new creation is associated with the New Man. The old man is Adam with all his descendants, and the new man is Christ and His body which is the church.
"So if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). "For in Christ Jesus, neither is circumcision worth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation" (Galatians 6:15). "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works ..." (Eph 2:10a) "To create in himself a new man" (Ephesians 2:15b). "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him ... And if we die with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him" (Romans 6:6, 8).
One of the most significant passages that concerns this is where Luke (2:21-38) tells us about the presentation of Jesus in the temple. There we have an old man and a baby; Symbols of the old and the new. Simeon declares, "Now, Lord, you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation" (vv. 29-30). The old man says goodbye as though representing the old regime, that of the law, works, the flesh, the old man, the old creation. All the old is left behind and gives way to the new: salvation through Jesus Christ, the New Man, the new creation, the new regime.
Paul, in the Epistle to Colossians 3:9-10 says: "Do not lie having put off the old man with his deeds and having been clothed with the new (man) who according to the image of Him that created him is being renewed unto the fullness of knowledge.” In these passages it is taken for granted that the old man, of the old creation, is dead, crucified with Christ. The ancient creation was judged on the cross and ended with the Last Adam.
The death of Christ, in this sense, was an inclusive death, because he took with Him the whole race of Adam. When Christ rose again, He brought life and immortality to light, He raised up, together with Himself, a new creation. He was the grain of wheat that fell to the ground, which died and rose again, and was raised together with a sheaf. This is the fruit of the affliction of the soul of Christ: the church.
The Christian life is from faith to faith
Many times the Christian doubts whether he is alive or dead to sin, and fears that the old man will rise up again. We have to learn that the Christian life is a matter that begins with faith and is maintained by faith. The experience of what happens in our lives on a daily basis could make us stumble, but faith does not look at the experience, but instead at the revelation of what God says in His Word. The believer believes God over and against everything that is opposed to what God says.
The word of God says that we are dead and the believer takes that for granted. It will be tested many times in his faith, but the believer is to always persevere in it. If he falls, God raises him up. God has the solution when a righteous man stumbles. We are not perfect, but nor do we walk around falling at every moment. Now we have the life of Christ that frees us from the dominion of sin. You are not compelled to sin, but if you should sin, remember that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin. The confession of sin brings forgiveness and peace to the heart.
Fourth, the death of Christ destroyed death and the one who had the power of death.
Satan had the keys of death and Hades; he had and exercised a right to condemn, to kill and to destroy every sinner, for God, according to divine law, had decreed: "Each one shall die by his own wickedness" (Jer. 31:30).
Satan, knowing that God cannot turn back from his word, exercised that dominion of death. No one had been able to escape it because of the sin that was the common denominator in the whole race of Adam. But Christ lived a holy life, and a prophecy was fulfilled that said: "O death, I will be your death; and I will be your destruction, O Sheol "(Hosea 13:14).
Death retains only sinners. As Christ had no sin because he is the Second Man, who is from heaven, he did not inherit the sinful nature of the race of Adam, because he was conceived by the work and grace of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb. And though He was tempted in all things, He denied himself in order to please the Father who had sent him to undo the works of the devil, to judge the rebellious creature and to destroy the devil in the very place of his empire: "And stripping the principalities and powers, he made a public display of them, triumphing over them on the cross" (Col. 2:15).
Jesus stripped Satan of his rights. Now the devil has no power to accuse the elect of God, nor to prosecute them, for now Christ has the keys of death and Hades. The devil was publicly shamed in the heavens. His defeat was displayed throughout the celestial court. Now he knows that Christ overcame him and that is why he flees at the name of Jesus.
Fifth, the Death of Christ implies the end of the Jewish sacrificial system corresponding to the Old Covenant (Old Testament), and the inauguration of the New Covenant (New Testament).
The Old Covenant was a regime established by God, through Moses, with the people of Israel . He gave them His laws, to be witnesses among all nations. He gave them promises and privileges, but also a regime of demands through moral laws and ceremonial laws - all of which was a shadow of what was to come through the New Covenant made in Jesus.
The ceremonial law allowed the people to approach God despite their unworthiness. They could never fulfill the moral law, but there was the ceremonial law to cover their faults. The moral law tested human nature. "You will take care to put into practice every command that I command you today, that you may live ... and you will remember all the way in which the Lord your God has brought you these forty years, to afflict you, to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not" (Deut 8:1-2).
God wants man to live. That means that man is not alive at the time the law is given. God knows it, but man does not know it. God offers him the law that he might live. Notice that man is fallen, separated from God, but God wants to have fellowship with him, so that he may live.
The people compromise foolishly, saying, "All that the Lord has said, we will do" (Exodus 19:8). They did not know that "the deeds of the flesh are enmity against God; Because they do not submit to the law of God, nor can they" (Romans 8:7). This is why God leads them through the desert, to bring them to the end of their strength and to learn the lesson that they, like all men, are spiritually and morally bankrupt before the divine requirements.
In a certain way the priests, who administered the sacrificial ceremonies, and the prophets, called the people to repentance. But they never realized that under the regimen of law they would never reach righteousness: "What shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not go after righteousness, have attained righteousness, that is, righteousness which is by faith; But Israel, who went after a law of righteousness, did not reach it. Why? For they went after it not by faith, but as if it were by the works of the law" (Romans 9:30-32).
The law tests human nature, so that it knows that it cannot please God in itself, for all the efforts it makes. Paul says, "But we know that whatsoever things the law says, it speaks to those that are under the law, that every mouth may be shut up, and that the whole world may be under the judgment of God: for by the works of the law no human being will be justified before Him; For through the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:19-20).
Under the law we are reduced to silence; the whole world is under God's judgment because there is no one amongst men who can obey it and live by it. Finally, only through the law do we realize what is sin and what is not. The tragedy is that, knowing what is good, we do not have the capacity to do it, and knowing evil, we cannot avoid it. The law does not help man; on the contrary it crushes him, condemns him.
It does not reform him, it does not save him, it does not convert him, it does not release him from moral impotence; it only shows him how incapable he is. The last and greatest, the most austere of all the prophets under the regime of the law, didn’t manage to regenerate any of his disciples. Why? Because the new Covenant had not yet come into effect.
The law showed that man is totally incapable of justifying himself before God. For this reason, God establishes a change of regime for men to relate to him: the regime of the Spirit. God has sent the Holy Spirit into the hearts of those who have believed, that by His Spirit we may be brought into the life of Christ, which is also the life of God.
In this regime, life is given to us by the grace of God, contrary to the rule of law, in which life was offered in exchange for our works. The law asks from, demands from and makes demands of man; Grace bestows on, helps, favours and empowers man. Under the law man is alone; under grace man is helped by God.
Always remember that there are three categories of words that will always go together: law and grace; flesh and spirit; works and faith. The first words of each pair correspond to the regime of the letter of the law, and therefore, belong to the Old Covenant. The second words correspond to the regime of the Spirit, and therefore belong to the New Covenant.
Christ's death put an end to animal sacrifices for the atonement of sins: "But Christ, having offered once and for all one sacrifice for sins, has sat down at the right hand of God "(Heb. 10:12). The ceremonial law is no longer necessary, because Christ is already present with a greater and more perfect sacrifice.
The moral law has not become obsolete, because this is the very character of God; but the rule of the letter of the law has ended; because now, in the regime of the Spirit, the law has entered into us, it is imprinted on the character of Christ that dwells within us, and the Spirit reproduces in us the law of God in Christ Jesus. The law for Christians is not outside, but inside, in the hearts and minds of those who love the Lord.