The Work of God in Christ

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The importance of the Atonement cannot be overestimated; it was the subject of conversation when Jesus, Moses and Elias were on the Mount of Transfiguration; and much was said by Jesus on the same subject to the two disciples whom He joined on the road to Emmaus, causing their hearts to "burn within" them. On these two occasions Christ's thoughts centred around the Atonement knowing that He was the "Holy Thing" born of His mother, Mary – the Lamb which God Himself provided – "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world," and the "Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."

The work of God in Christ was designed to bring about a relationship between God and His creation in which mankind would render to Him the honour and the glory due to His Great and Holy Name, for He had declared that His purpose is to fill the whole earth with His glory, and this can only be done by populating it with those who voluntarily reflect the Glory of God as it was revealed in the person and character of Jesus Christ.

If we commence our study of this subject with God's creation of man upon earth we learn at the outset of man's rebellion against God, and how that, through disobedience of His command, man became the servant of Sin and wandered from the way of life, and by transgression, merited the sentence of death, which was "in the day that thou eatest thereof (the forbidden fruit) thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17).

Thou Hast Magnified Thy Mercy

In the mercy of God, "for God delighteth in mercy," He provided a way of redeeming man from the dominion of sin under which transgression had brought him. Instead of Adam perishing and God's plan to fill the earth with His Glory being frustrated, Adam was provisionally redeemed with the blood of an animal, the ultimate redemptive price was to be the natural life of Jesus, and by this means we can see how "God is the Saviour of all men..." and how Jesus was "a Ransom for all." This redemption from destruction in Adam, unto natural life which we all possess was in order to give us opportunity to serve God. Concerning the phrase "God is the Saviour... specially of those that believe," this points to a special salvation unto Eternal Life which all men will not receive.

Because of the possibility of Adam and his descendants choosing to live unto sin rather than serve God, it was needful to bar the way to the Tree of Life. In the wisdom of God the privilege of eating of the Tree of Life was withdrawn, and having been created from the beginning a natural creature of the dust of the ground, ageing and decay were inevitable and that which befalleth the beasts befalleth man also, "for they have all one breath," for God´s law is "first that which is natural..."

Justified by Faith

From the time of Adam´s expulsion from the garden, he had to live by faith, in the hope that some day "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." Faith in "the Seed" was required by God. Where this was present man was put back on probation to develop character, as Enoch, Noah, and others who hoped in the promised Grace of God.

In the unfolding of God´s purpose we see that the Atonement protects from Judgment, for that which is atoned for, or covered by atonement, comes not into judgment; for the sentence of death which fell upon the godless in the days of Noah, he and his family within the ark, being covered by the covering of the Ark - pitch or atonement (the words are identical in the Hebrew) the judgment of God in his day fell not upon them. They joyed in God through the mercy that was shown to them. Oh, how "we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." (Romans 5:11).

God´s purpose is further revealed in Abraham´s offering up of Isaac. By faith Abraham saw God as the Redeemer and Christ as God´s Lamb whom He offered; for God did as Abraham said He would when he spoke to his son, Isaac, saying, "God Himself will provide a Lamb." Abraham saw the Day of Christ and rejoiced; he saw the Seed of the woman, the Lamb of His providing which God Himself offered; a Lamb who voluntarily took upon Himself the heavy load of our iniquities; a spotless Lamb in every sense, for this Lamb was none other than the "Messiah, the Prince, cut off, but not for himself," who laid down His life even as those who would dare to die for a good man and in the fullest sense, man for man - as indeed the text referred to makes clear, for "God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

Life for Life

How could one die for a good man if he did not take his place? The answer to this makes it plain what is meant by Christ dying for us. When Christ died for us it was "the Just for the unjust." This loving act of His for us resulted in us having only to die symbolically in the waters of baptism, for we are buried with Christ in baptism. The literal death due to sinful man Christ suffered for us, for, "He hath once suffered for sins," "the Just for the unjust" knowing that by so doing God would anoint Him with "the oil of gladness above His fellows."

By His dying unto "Sin" once He has made us "free from the law of sin and death," for "now are we the sons of God" upon whom "there is therefore now no condemnation (i.e. judgment), for we have passed from death unto life." Christ may be long in coming and we may fall asleep, but this is not the execution of the sentence but the natural outcome of being made of the dust of the ground.

The purpose of God is still further revealed in the time of the Exodus, when, in the Passover Lamb which the children of Israel had to offer, the first thing which impresses itself upon the mind is God´s insistence upon it being "without spot or blemish." It had to be altogether perfect like the antitype Jesus Christ; and it was the blood, in which was the life of the lamb which prevented the angel of death slaying the first-born of Israel; the life of the animal in place of the life of the first-born. The one for the other.

Free Born

Leaving the type we now come to the anti-type, Jesus Christ, begotten of God, born of a virgin. By being born of a virgin Jesus was unmistakably begotten of God. It was also necessary for Jesus to be born of a virgin to fulfil the prophecy relating to Him being Immanuel – "God with us," which the prophet Isaiah said was to be a sign given by God. The logical conclusion is that to be begotten, He must have derived His life from God and not from man. The natural life which Jesus possessed was derived from His Father. Therefore, a life not under Adamic condemnation, for, "in Adam all die," but Christ, not being "in Adam" had a life none could lawfully take from Him. He had "life within Himself."

He knew that the "corn of wheat" of which He spoke was Himself and that if He did not offer His life as a Ransom He would "abide alone," but out of love for His fellow man, being bone of their bone and flesh of their flesh, "He gave His life a ransom for ail." "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor, that ye, through His poverty, might be rich."

Adam, through transgression, brought himself and his posterity under the dominion of sin; their right to life was lost. They indeed had now become poor, but Christ was never in their position for He was rich, having life and the right to hold it. At no time did His life belong to Sin, and for this reason His life was very precious – "the precious blood of Christ" - no other life "could redeem his brother." "We are bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ" - bought from the dominion of Sin. The price of our release was paid with the blood of "the Lamb of God," and so the "sin of the world" was taken away by an act of God´s love and the loving co-operation of His Son who gave His life for the life of the world. No other life could have bought it and for this simple reason it was necessary for Christ to be in possession of a life which did not already belong to Sin. In this is seen the reason Christ derived His life directly from God.

Without the Shedding of Blood is No Remission

Concerning the word "blood" this represents life. This is made plain by what is written in Leviticus 17:11, "The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your sins."

Jesus said, "I lay down my life for the sheep." It was His natural life which Jesus laid down - and took not again, no, not even for an hour, for "He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father." "He was sown a natural body. He was raised a spiritual body." Jesus had what none other had (after the fall), for He had right to His natural life which God gave Him, and right to God´s promise of immortal life. The former was in His power to lay down, none having power to take it from Him; and the latter He had merited by His perfect obedience and was His for the asking. (Psalm 21:4, "He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever."). The former was the life He laid down and took not again, for it was the offering for sin. "My life I give for the sheep." The laying down of His life meant "He suffered death for all men." "Christ hath once suffered for sins..." Adam and all mankind in him had sinned and the law of sin and death demanded the life of sinners to be taken, or its corresponding price paid, as is implied by "ransom" - i.e. "antilutron" in Greek, means "corresponding price."

Had the price been paid by one under condemnation then all hope of resurrection would have been lost, but God, in His mercy, provided the corresponding price - a life which was not "Sin´s" for the release of Adam and all his posterity in him, for their lives belonged to Sin; not so Christ´s.

A Sin Offering

In 2 Corinthians 5:21 we read that "God hath made Jesus to be sin for us." Now all Scripture points to the fact that Christ was a "Sin Offering." The only sense in which Christ could be "made sin for us" was by the transfer of our sins to Himself, as shown by the law of Moses; sinners placed their hands upon the head of the animal to be offered, confessing their sins, so symbolically transferring their sins to the innocent victim which in no sense had any sins of its own. If God sent His own Son in flesh belonging to Sin, how then could He be an offering to sin? It is impossible to offer to a person or dominion that which already belongs to it. It was because He was in flesh like sin's flesh, though flesh not belonging to Sin, that it was possible for God to make His Son an offering for sin.

Christ has "put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." To take sin away is to take away the effects of sin; though actions cannot be recalled, their effects can be obliterated. David sinned a sin unto death but the Lord, being merciful, said "I have put away thy sin, thou shalt not die." The action was irrevocable but the death penalty was remitted – though the troubles which followed for David were but the chastenings of the Lord, "for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." "For the Lord will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy."

"All have sinned and come short of the glory of God;" some will be forgiven and some will not "for the Lord looketh upon the heart." Did not Christ say to one, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee."? He was immediately healed. It is therefore obvious that the taking away of sin is the taking away of the effect completely.

Life: A Present Possession

The forgiveness of this man´s sins did not necessarily relate him to a future life, but it did remove the affliction. Now Paul said to Timothy, "God hath saved us... according to His own purpose and grace," and Jesus said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24), and in 1 John 3:14 we read, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."

Now let it be asked, Why then do we die? We have been by Christ redeemed, in Christ restored, and "our sins have been forgiven for Christ´s sake." Our natural death is therefore in no sense the sentence, for this fell on the innocent Victim, who was slain to provide a covering for sin. God did not contravene the law of sin and death when He kept alive Enoch and Elijah. Neither will He when those "which are alive and remain (at His Christ´s coming) shall be caught up... to meet the Lord..." (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Paul said to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:10), Christ "hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." Obviously Jesus has abolished death's sentence which fell upon Adam and all in him; the result being they are allowed to live out their natural lives. It was God's purpose to save in this sense, and it was an act of grace, for it is written (1 Timothy 4:10), "God, who is the Saviour of all men," but those who are in Christ, who walk not after the flesh, come under those referred to in the latter part of that passage, "...specially of those that believe;" they are now said to have "passed from death unto life." (1 John 3:14).

No Condemnation

When did the Lamb of God take away the sin of the world? It was when He said, "It is finished." Now we can see that "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death." If we are found among those that are in Christ Jesus, through baptism into His death, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit, then for those "there is now no condemnation." But those who have spurned God´s grace are amenable to condemnation because they obey not the Gospel.

"If the spirit of Christ be in us we are His" and Christ has asked of us perfection, and God has asked of us holiness, and let it be remembered, all His laws we can keep if we will. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." The way is straight and the path is narrow and those who wander out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead, but "this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." (John 17;3).

It is not too much to say that knowledge brings responsibility. Our knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is essential to our obtaining life eternal. Ignorance alienates, and if we have heard Christ and been taught by Him, "as the truth is in Jesus," we shall be in that happy position of knowing Him and to know Him is to know the Father. To know God necessitates walking with God, so shall we know His character as "the Lord gracious and merciful." To know Him necessarily includes knowing His plan of Redemption and the reason for it, and to see in it His love, wisdom, justice and mercy, all of which are revealed in God´s work in Christ when He was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

It is well nigh impossible for us to entertain any hope of eternal life without an understanding and appreciation of the scriptural teaching of the Atonement. Of all the teaching contained in Scripture the understanding of this subject carries more influence upon the character than any other.

The fear of the Lord may be the beginning of wisdom, but the love of God is wisdom herself and "happy is the man that retaineth her." In God´s work in Christ we see how "God so loved the world" when "He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

May the love of Christ constrain us to honour the Son even as we honour the Father and worship them both in the beauty of holiness.

O.E.H.Gregory (circa 1950)


As so many of the scriptural references in the above article are not in full we append the following to assist those who desire more fully to study this aspect of truth.

Atonement. Literally, the being at one; Tyndale explains – One–Mediator – 1 Timothy 2:5 – At one, maker between God and man. Romans 5:11 - But we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the Atonement.

The Lamb. Genesis 3:21, Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. Genesis 22:8, And Abraham said. My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering. John 3:16; Revelation 13:8, The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Numbers 14:21, But as truly as 1 live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.

Man, the Servant of Sin. John 8:34, Whosoever commiteth sin is the Servant of Sin. Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or obedience unto righteousness. Romans 7:14, Sold under sin.

Man, a natural creature. Genesis 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life (living soul) I have given every green herb for meat, and it was so. Genesis 2:7, And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7, Ecclesiastes 3:19, Psalm 49:12-20.

Christ died for us. Romans 5:8, But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 1 Peter 3:18, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust.

Not for Himself. Daniel 9:26, And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.

Seed of the Woman. A sign - Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Luke 1:34,35, Therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.

Abide Alone. John 12:24, Verily, verily, I say unto you. Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it. abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Ransom. Proverbs 13:8 The Ransom of a man's life are his riches. Job 33:24, Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a Ransom. Psalm 49:7, None of them can by any means redeem his brother, or give to God a Ransom for him. Matthew 20:28, Even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a Ransom for many. 1 Timothy 2:5,6, For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a Ransom for all, to be testified in due time. John 5:24, Verily, Verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 1 Timothy 4:10, Because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. Romans 8:1,2, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Galatians 3:27, For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ... For ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.

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