Christ's Role in Your Salvation
- Monday, September 16, 2002
Q: I have often heard you lead people to Christ during the Bible Answer Man broadcast. In the course of such conversations, you always say that Christ not only died to pay for our sins, but that he also lived the perfect life in our place. What role does the life of Christ play in our salvation?
A: God demands that humankind must obey His righteous statutes perfectly and conform to His holy law in all of their thoughts, words, and deeds (Matt. 5:48). Furthermore, God's absolute wrath is promised on those who do not keep His law (Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10). Due to humanity's inherent sinful condition, we are unable to perfectly fulfill God's law, nor obtain eternal life by obeying His ordinances (Romans 3:20).
Therefore, God Himself took on human nature (John 1:1, 1:14), keeping the law perfectly in our place (Gal. 4:4-5). However, He paid the price for us having broken the law, though He was sinless (Heb. 4:15). Christ's active obedience (His life) and passive obedience (His suffering and death) effectively satisfied the demands of God's divine justice (1 Pet. 3:18) and won for us the Father's favor (Rom. 5:10; 18-19).
However, some have argued that while Christ's death reconciles us to the Father, His life is to be ascribed no redeeming value. This view misses the scriptural truth that God not only demands that those who break the law be punished, but that He also demands that His law be kept perfectly.
The apostle Paul teaches that Christ undertook the penalty due to us because of our transgressions in addition to keeping the law perfectly in our place: "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10). By this way, God is truly reconciled to sinful humanity since our representative, Jesus, bore God's unabated wrath in addition to keeping His righteous commands and statutes.
Christ won, through His perfect obedience, life and forgiveness for sinful humanity; "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). Viewed in this context, the righteousness of Christ literally is the possession of the believer, imputed through faith. "And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth" (John 17:19).
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