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Pastoral 2012

The Death That Was No Ordinary Death!


Christ’s death was no ordinary death, but a mighty act envisioned to vanquish sin and death. Christ died in anticipation of His triumph. He “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). His death put to death our death. Now all those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ can possess eternal life and they can look forward to a renewed life of godliness and spiritual joy. Sin and hell can no more subjugate and enslave those who have truly come to Christ. By His death, He has secured our salvation. He died that we may be freed. The shackles of sin and curse are cut asunder. He died to emancipate us!

The extraordinariness of Christ’s death is described in several biblical and theological terms. Understanding those terms would help believers to appreciate the matchless blessings that Christ’s death on the cross has achieved for them.

Redemption refers to the paying of a price to secure the release of a person in bondage or slavery. Jesus redeemed His people at the great cost of Himself. To redeem them from the curse of God’s law, He Himself had to become accursed on their behalf and die in their place. So they were redeemed with His precious blood. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18–19). Therefore, it is only through Jesus that we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (cf. Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:12).

Vicarious Death of Christ “is vicarious in the sense that Christ is the Substitute who bears the punishment rightly due sinners, their guilt being imputed to Him in such a way that He representatively bore their punishment” (Louis Berkhoff). “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

Atonement refers to God’s act of reconciling us to Himself through the substitutionary death of Christ. Christ’s death is a perfect atonement for sin. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:10–11).

Justification refers to God legally declaring His people not guilty but righteous on the grounds that Jesus suffered for all their sins and punishment. It is a gift which God offers His people and no one can receive it by doing good works. The only way we can be justified is by faith in Jesus Christ. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24; cf. Romans 3:28; 5:1, 9, 16-19; Galatians 3:11, 24; Titus 3:7).

Sanctification refers to spiritual cleansing that Christ offers to those who trust Him. He achieved their purification through His perfect sacrifice on the cross. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Hebrews 13:12).

Reconciliation refers to Christ’s removal of our sins which previously made us enemies of God. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10; cf. Colossians 1:21-22).

Propitiation refers specifically to the complete satisfaction of God’s justice and righteousness. By His death, Jesus appeased the just wrath of God against our sins. On the cross, Christ paid the moral debt incurred by our offence against the righteousness of God. By the perfect sacrifice that He made on our behalf, our sins were forgiven. Indeed, Christ is our propitiation because He bore the wrath of God against our sins and died. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10; cf. Romans 3:24-25; Hebrews 2:17; Isaiah 53:5, 10; Matthew 27:46; John 19:30; 1 Peter 2:24).

“So Christ was once offered to bear
the sins of many; and unto them
that look for Him shall He appear
the second time without sin unto
salvation.” Hebrews 9:28


Pastoral Exhortation