6 Things Christ Accomplished By His Death

by  Matt Perman

Here’s a very brief summary of the six core things Christ accomplished in his death,

1. Expiation

Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death.

Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

2. Propitiation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath.

By dying in our place for our sins, Christ removed the wrath of God that we justly deserved. In fact, it goes even further: a propitiation is not simply a sacrifice that removes wrath, but a sacrifice that removes wrath and turns it into favor. (Note: a propitiation does not turn wrath into love — God already loved us fully, which is the reason he sent Christ to die; it turns his wrath into favor so that his love may realize its purpose of doing good to us every day, in all things, forever, without sacrificing his justice and holiness.)

Several passages speak of Christ’s death as a propitiation for our sins. Romans 3:25-26 says that God “displayed [Christ] publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration of his righteousness at the present time, that he might be just and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.”

Likewise, Hebrews 2:17 says that Christ made “propitiation for the sins of the people” and 1 John 3:10 says “in this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

3. Reconciliation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, and propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation refers to the removal of our alienation from God.

Because of our sins, we were alienated – separated — from God. Christ’s death removed this alienation and thus reconciled us to God. We see this, for example, in Romans 5:10-11: “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

4. Redemption

Our sins had put us in captivity from which we need to be delivered. The price that is paid to deliver someone from captivity is called a “ransom.” To say that Christ’s death accomplished redemption for us means that it accomplished deliverance from our captivity through the payment of a price.

There are three things we had to be released from: the curse of the law, the guilt of sin, and the power of sin. Christ redeemed us from each of these.

  • Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13-14).
  • Christ redeemed us from the guilt of our sin. We are “justified as a gift by his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
  • Christ redeemed us from the power of sin: “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your fathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Note that we are not simply redeemed from the guilt of sin; to be redeemed from the power of sin means that our slavery to sin is broken. We are now free to live to righteousness. Our redemption from the power of sin is thus the basis of our ability to live holy lives: “You have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

5. Defeat of the Powers of Darkness

Christ’s death was a defeat of the power of Satan. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 3:15). Satan’s only weapon that can ultimately hurt people is unforgiven sin. Christ took this weapon away from him for all who would believe, defeating him and all the powers of darkness in his death by, as the verse right before this says, “having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

6. And he Did All of This By Dying As Our Substitute

The reality of substitution is at the heart of the atonement. Christ accomplished all of the above benefits for us by dying in our place – that is, by dying instead of us. We deserved to die, and he took our sin upon him and paid the penalty himself.

This is what it means that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). As Isaiah says, “he was pierced throughfor our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities . . . the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

You see the reality of substitution underlying all of the benefits discussed above, as the means by which Christ accomplished them. For example, substitution is the means by which we were ransomed: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Christ’s death was a ransom forus — that is, instead of us. Likewise, Paul writes that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Substitution is the means by which we were reconciled: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). It is the means of expiation: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 3:24). And by dying in our place, taking the penalty for our sins upon himself, Christ’s death is also the means of propitiation.

To close: Two implications. First, this is very humbling.

Second, “Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).


The fellowship of the Cross

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is the fellowship of the Cross to experience the burden of the other. If one does not experience it, the fellowship he belongs to is not Christian. If any member refuses to bear that burden, he denies the law of Christ.

~ Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

Jesus is the final expression of God’s revelation

by Graeme Goldsworthy

“…the soundest methodological starting point for doing theology is the gospel since the person of Jesus is set forth as the final and fullest expression of God’s revelation of His kingdom. Jesus is the goal and fulfillment of the whole Old Testament, and, as the embodiment of the truth of God, He is the interpretative key to the Bible.”

~ Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p. 3

Why should our forgiveness depend on Christ’s death?

by John Stott

Why should our forgiveness depend on Christ’s death?’…’Why does God not simply forgive us, without the necessity of the cross?’…’After all’, the objector may continue, ‘if we sin against another, we are required to forgive one another.  We are even warned of dire consequences if we refuse.  Why can’t God practise what he preaches and be equally generous?  Nobody’s death is necessary before we forgive each other.  Why then does God make such a fuss about forgiving us and even declare it impossible without his Son’s “sacrifice for sin”?’

For us to argue, ‘We forgive each other unconditionally, let God do the same to us’, betrays not sophistication but shallowness, since it overlooks the elementary fact that we are not God.  We are private individuals, and other people’s misdemeanours are personal injuries.  God is not a private individual, however, nor is sin just a personal injury.  On the contrary, God himself is the maker of the laws we break, and sin is rebellion against him.

The reason why many people give the wrong answers to questions about the cross, and even ask the wrong questions, is that they have carefully considered neither the seriousness of sin nor the majesty of God.

Know Your Idols

by Mark Driscoll

In his book We Become What We Worship, G. K. Beale states the thesis of his book saying, “What people revere, they resemble, either for ruin or restoration.”

Because we are created in the image of God, everyone is always, without exception, reflecting either God or a god. If we do not reflect our Creator to our restoration then we will reflect creation to our ruin.

You are what you eat

This explains why one of the recurrent themes in the Bible is that idols are deaf, mute, and dumb, and so are idol worshipers who do not hear from God, speak to God, or spiritually see God. Perhaps the most legendary account of idolatry in all of Scripture is the worship of the golden calf in Exodus 32. There, Israel is portrayed mockingly as rebellious cattle because they worshiped a calf and thus became like it. Just like a stubborn cow that refuses to go in the right direction, idolatrous Israel is “stiff-necked” (Exodus 32:9; 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6, 13; 10:16; 31:27).

We come by idolatry naturally

Idolatry began with our first father, Adam. Because Adam was committed to something over God, namely himself, he was guilty of idolatry. Therefore, Adam set in motion a course of history in which the most common created thing we worship in idolatry is ourselves; we live for ourselves and our perceived glory, which is actually our shame, in priority over God.

In the New Testament Gospels, the idol that is revered by the Jews and renounced by Jesus is religion. Even though there are not many explicit references to Jewish idol worship in the Gospels, Beale argues that it is clear that the generation of Jews at the time of Christ were at least as sinful as their spiritual forefathers: “The Jewish nation took pride in the fact that they were not like the nations who bowed down to stone and wooden images. Yet what is also clear is that the majority of the Israelite nation was at least as sinful as their forbearers, especially because they crucified the Son of God (Matthew 23:29-38).” Israel worshiped their dead tradition rather than the living God according to his living Word.

A building shouldn’t be your idol

Moving on to the book of Acts, Luke presents the fact that the temple actually became an idol for theocratic Israel. Jesus exposed this idolatry when he said he would destroy the temple. Rather than letting Jesus destroy the temple, the religious leaders chose to instead destroy Jesus. They preferred the temple as their place of meeting with God over God himself in their midst. Subsequently, God had the temple destroyed in 70 A.D.

Idolatry damages every category of relationship we have and is a deadly cancer in a church body and society as a whole.

Similarly, in our own day, religious people continue in various idolatries when they elevate their denomination, church building, liturgical order, Bible translation, worship music style, pastor, theological system, favorite author, or ministry program to a place where it is a replacement mediator for Jesus and that in which their faith rests to keep them close to God. This also explains why any change to the tradition of a religious person is met with such hostility—people tend to cling to their idols, including their church buildings, which are worshiped as every bit as sacred as the temple was.

Know your idols

Like the Jews in Jesus’ day, Christians must be continually aware of their religious idols. Religious idols includetruth, gifts, and morality. These are things people trust in addition to Jesus Christ for their salvation, not unlike the Judaizers who added circumcision to the gospel and were rebuked by Paul in Galatians as heretics preaching a false gospel.

  • Truth idolatry is perhaps most common among those who are most committed to sound doctrine and biblical study. These people are prone to think that they are saved because of the rightness of their belief rather than the simple fact that Jesus died for them. Religious people who idolize truth are often guilty of the rankest sense of superiority. They continually enjoy sarcastically making fun of their opponents and find great pleasure on the Internet, where to be a well-known blogger generally means you have to be a truth idolater who feeds the idolatry of religious mockers for whom their ideology has become their idol.
  • Gift idolatry is perhaps most common among those most gifted and capable in ministry service who mistake spiritual gifts for spiritual maturity and spiritual fruit. These people commonly think that they are saved because of the great gifts they possess and that any ministry they have accomplished—and subsequently their faith—rests more on the fact that God is using them than that Jesus died for them. Sadly, this is common among Bible preachers who have made their pulpit into an idol where they go for identity and joy. They seek the approval of their hearers who cheer them on, and eventually the pastor whose idol is preaching becomes the idol of his listening flock, whose devotion to him is nearly god-like, and he becomes virtually sinless in their eyes.
  • Morality idolatry is perhaps most common among the most well-behaved and decent religious people. These people often think that they are saved because they have lived a decently moral and good life of devotion and obedience rather than seeing themselves as sinners by nature whose sin is serious enough to require Jesus’ atoning death. Such people are much like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son—they are offended when grace is given to repentant sinners because it is undeserved. Their attitude in such moments reveals their idol of self-performance; their ultimate trust resides in their performance and not in Jesus.

Idolatry leads to evil

One of the most lengthy treatments of idolatry in all of the New Testament is found in 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul lists idolatry as participation with demons that leads to all kinds of evil, including gluttony, drunkenness, sexual sin, and grumbling. Indeed, the more we commit ourselves to our idol the more we become one with it and increasingly like it, to our destruction. Furthermore, as 1 Corinthians 10 makes clear, our idolatry also strains our relationships with fellow Christians, gives a false witness to non-Christians, and causes others to be tempted to join us in idolatrous sin. Subsequently, idolatry damages every category of relationship we have and is a deadly cancer in a church body and society as a whole.

Trust in the Creator, not creation

Beale concludes his biblical survey of idolatry in the book of Revelation, noting how those who worship idols are referred to as “earth dwellers” (Revelation 8:13; 13:8, 14; 14:6–9; 17:2, 8). According to Beale, the “earth dwellers” in Revelation cannot look beyond this earth for their security, which means that they trust in some part of the creation instead of the Creator for their ultimate welfare. Thus people are called “earth dwellers” because this expresses the object of their trust and perhaps of their very being, in that they have become part of the earthly system in which they find security—they have become like it. Because they commit themselves to some aspect of the earth, they become earthy and come to be known as “earth dwellers.”

Jesus does not exist to help us worship idols

Christians must never forget we too are prone to the same kinds of idolatry as the “earth dwellers.” Religious idolatry is often the most pernicious of all. Religious idolatry uses God for health, wealth, success, and the like; in this grotesque inversion of the gospel, God is used for our glory, as if not only are we supposed to worship ourselves, but God is also to be a worshiper of us. This kind of false gospel preaching is evident whenever Jesus is presented as the means by which an idolater can obtain their idol. Examples include promises that Jesus will make you rich, happy, healed, joyfully married, parentally successful, and the like, as if Jesus exists to aid our worship of idols.

Adapted from Doctrine, by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears.

He Made Us Fit to be Called ‘Brothers’

by Erik at Irish Calvinist

(Mat 28.10) Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

What a scene this is! The resurrected Savior is standing before two women. Their hearts are full of worship as they cling to him. But Jesus is not done, he instructs them to go and to tell…his brothers!

Do you see how far God has condescended in Jesus? Do you see how successful Christ’s work is for us? He has come down among us to bring us to God (1 Pet. 3.18). This is not to say that he is to be forever of the earth but that his people, his brothers and sisters, are to be forever with him in heaven.

By means of the payment of his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has purchased a new family. The great heavenly prince has plundered the enemy’s stronghold. He has kicked in the door of death. He has broken down the castle of sin. This great multitude of captives were formerly ‘sons of disobedience’ (Eph. 2.2) are now ‘sons of God’ (Gal. 3.26). That is, we have been adopted by the work of Christ, our older brother (Heb. 2.14-17).

O’ the eternal marveling we will do when we consider that he has made us fit to be called ‘brothers’!

Do you see and feel the heaviness of this term? The privilege of being called Christ’s brother is not cheap. It is not an unalienable right. It is not like voting at 18. No, no. Instead, being lavished with such a title is expensive. The very precious thought of it is soaked in Immanuel’s blood. The reality of being such a brother, such a member of the royal family is a gospel privilege. It was purchased by means of our great Savior, the Lord Jesus.

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You. (from Worship God Live)

It doesn’t matter if you are eaten by cannibals or worms

by John G Paton

Amongst many who sought to deter me, was one dear old Christian gentleman, whose crowning argument always was, “The Cannibals ! you will be eaten by Cannibals!”

At last I replied, “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.”

~ Missionary to the New Hebrides. An Autobiography. P89-91