Basic Christology - The Work of Jesus Christ

Past systematic theology textbooks, which teaching about the work of Jesus Christ, presented Him as Prophet, Priest, and King.  The title Christ means Anointed, and in the Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil, setting them apart for their office.

In our study we will look at the work of Jesus Christ from a different, three-fold perspective: (1) the past work of Christ, (2) the present work of Christ, and (3) the future work of Christ.  Each theme will be highlighted by two foundational works of major importance.

 

The Past Work of Christ

CREATION

"All things were made through Him (Jesus Christ),
and without Him nothing was made that was made."
John 1:3.

 

The first verse in the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  What a profound statement is made in these ten words!  Do you believe this biblical truth?  If not, then you won't believe the rest of the Book.  There is a God, and He is the Creator of all things.

The first three verses of John's gospel are equally clear, when they state that Christ, the Word, was there in the beginning, and that "all things were made through Him."  The first great work of Christ was the work of Creation.  The apostle Paul adds, "For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible....  All things were created through Him and for Him."  Colossians 1:16.

The outstanding moral attribute of God is holiness.  When you consider all that God created in the first chapter of Genesis, only man, who was created in the image and likeness of God, is moral.  In fact man has been called a free, moral agent.  Mountains and rivers and elephants and planets are not moral, and cannot have fellowship with the Creator.  Only man can have a meaningful relationship with God.

But man sinned.

 

REDEMPTION

Because man has sinned, He needs a Redeemer.  God has provided a Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ.  The God of creation is also the God of redemption.  Creation and redemption are the past works of Christ.

 

"In Him (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through His blood,
the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."
Ephesians 1:7.

 

What is the meaning of redemption?  In the New Testament the Greek word lutrosis is uniformly translated redemption with the exception of Hebrews 11:35, where we find deliverance instead.  The Greek verbs lutroo, agorazo, and exagorazo are translated redeem.  They have a two-fold meaning: (1) the paying of a price, and (2) to loose, or set free.

The price of our redemption was the blood of Christ.  "We have redemption through His blood."  Peter put it this way: "You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct 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.

Fanny Crosby wrote the following lyrics to a wonderful hymn.

 

"Redeemed---how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!
Redeemed by His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever I am."

 

About 2,000 years before her, the apostle John recorded the lyrics of a song that was sung in heaven around the throne of God.  In Revelation 4--

 

"You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist
and were created."
Revelation 4:11.

 

Here Jesus Christ is praised and worshipped as Creator.  But there's more--

"You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God
by Your blood....

"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory
and blessings!"
Revelation 5:9, 12.

 

In Revelation 5 He is worshipped as Redeemer, the Lamb who was slain!

A classic story illustrates something of the past work of Christ as Creator and Redeemer.  It's a story of a young boy, who built a toy, a small sailboat.  One day he tied a string to the boat, and put it out on the lake.  But the string broke, and the sailboat drifted away.  The boat was lost.  Later the boy, while walking past a pawn shop, noticed his boat in the window.  He went inside, and told the salesperson what had happened.  He was informed that if he wanted the boat, he would have to pay for it.  So he did!  The boy made the boat, and bought it back.  Jesus made us, and redeemed us.  We were bought with a price.  We are not our own.

 

The Present Work of Christ

Christians acknowledge the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, where He is seated at the right hand of the Father.  But what is He doing today?

 

INDWELLING

"I have been crucified with Christ;
it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Galatians 2:20.

The indwelling presence of Jesus Christ in the life of the believer is the dynamic in Christian living.  Underscore the words Christ lives in me.  This was the testimony of the great apostle Paul.

Dr. David Jeremiah on his Sunday morning telecast asked, "What is the largest Christian denomination in the United States?"  He answered his own question, saying, "The Ignorant Brethren!"  See Romans 11:25, 1 Corinthians 10:1, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13.  Paul had a question for the ignorant brethren at Corinth.  "Do you not know yourselves, that Christ Jesus is in you?"  2 Corinthians 13:5.

When someone becomes a Christian, he (or she) receives the Lord Jesus.  John 1:12 is an especially popular verse among evangelical preachers.  The sentence structure in the Korean Bible is different than in some English translations.  The NKJV says, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, to whose who believe in His name."  Koreans read, "But as many as received Him, that is, to those who believe in His name...."  Often the second phrase here is ignored by some preachers.  It isn't a matter of believing and receiving.  Believing is receiving.  We receive Jesus Christ by faith.

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him."  Colossians 2:6.  How did you receive Christ?  By faith.  How are you to walk?  By faith.  You received Him by faith, and you live by faith.

This is also the message of Galatians 2:20.  Paul wrote, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God...."  The life of Christ is operative in our lives as we live by faith in Him.

One Old Testament verse, Habakkuk 2:4, is quoted three times in the New Testament.  See Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38.  "The just shall live by faith."  The Christian life is not lived by trying, but by trusting in the indwelling Christ.  The fruits of righteousness are "by Jesus Christ" to the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:11.  He is presently at work in the life of every believer.  Paul summed it up, when he wrote, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."  Colossians 1:27.  He also testified, "For to me, to live is Christ...."  Philippians 1:21.

 

INTERCEDING

While Christ is indwelling believers on earth, He is also interceding for them in heaven.

 

"Who shall bring a charge against God's elect?
It is God who justifies.
Who is he who condemns?
It is Christ who died,
and furthermore is also risen,
who is even at the right hand of God,
who also makes intercession for us."

Romans 8:33, 34.

 

What does it mean to intercede?  The word itself simply means to go between or to mediate on behalf of someone else.  Jesus Christ is our High Priest, who intercedes for us.  "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."  Hebrews 7:25.  He is also our Advocate, that is, our Defense Attorney in the court of heaven.  Pay attention to the following verses.

 

"My little children, these things I write to you,
so that you may not sin.
And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins,
and not for ours only, but also for the whole world."
1 John 2:1, 2.

 

Get the picture.  According to Revelation 12:10 Satan is the accuser of the brethren.  In other words, he is the prosecutor, the one who brings a charge against God's elect.  The Christian, who has sinned, is the defendant.  Jesus Christ is the Defense Attorney for the sinning believer.  Satan comes before the Judge, and says, "This wretch of a person has sinned and broken the law.  The wages of sin is death, and he deserves to die."  But Jesus, our Advocate, responds, "I died in his place.  I was the propitiation, the atoning sacrifice, for his sins.  I paid the penalty."  Case dismissed!

 

The Future Work of Christ

The future work of Christ may be summarized in two words: return, and reign.

 

THE RETURN OF CHRIST

"And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and receive you to Myself;
that where I am, there you may be also."

John 14:3.

Jesus Christ will come again.  Much has been written, and speculated about His return.  Honest differences of opinion exist among Bible-believing Christians.  In this brief study we will just focus on three indisputable facts regarding the return of the Lord.

First, His coming will be personal"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven...."  1 Thessalonians 4:16.  The same Jesus, who ascended up to heaven, will descend from heaven.  No mistake about it.  And the apostle John would add, "When He is revealed...we shall see Him as He is."  1 John 3:2.  We wait for the Savior.  Philippians 3:20.

Second, His coming will be glorious.  Through the ages Christians have been "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."  Titus 2:13.  The blessed hope and glorious appearing are one event, even as our great God and Savior Jesus Christ are one.  Glorious?  Yes!  "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels...."  Matthew 16:27.  When Jesus returns, He will come "on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."  Matthew 24:30.

Third, His coming will be sudden, and unexpected.  Many people have made predictions regarding the second coming of Christ.  Date setters of the past have all been wrong.  Only the foolish and ignorant would predict the time of His return.  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  Mark 11:32.  Nevertheless, the author of this study does know when Jesus will come again.  It's clearly spelled out in Matthew 24:44.  "The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."  Jesus will come like a thief in the night, and like a flash of lightning across the sky.  See Matthew 24:27, Revelation 3:3 and 16:15. 

It's important that we are ready for His coming.  We should be waiting, watching, and working in light of His appearing.

 

THE REIGN OF CHRIST

"He (Jesus) will be great,
and will be called the Son of the Highest;

and the Lord God will give Him
the throne of His father, David,

And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and of His kingdom there will be no end."

Luke 1:32, 33.

 

The return of Christ will occur at a point in time; the reign of Christ will be forever.  He will reign as King of kings, and Lord of lords.  Consider three truths about His kingdom over which He will rule.

First, His kingdom is an eternal kingdom.  "Of His kingdom there will be no end."  The prophet Daniel wrote of a kingdom "which shall never be destroyed...and it shall stand forever."  Daniel 2:44.  We are all familiar with Isaiah 9:6, 7, which says regarding Christ's kingdom, "And the government will be upon His shoulder....  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end."  Those who believe on the Son and have eternal life will live forever in that kingdom.

Second, His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom.  Throughout the Scriptures there are numerous references to "the kingdom of heaven."  For believers "our citizenship is in heaven."  Philippians 3:20.  Jesus spoke clearly to Pilate, when He said, "My kingdom is not of this world....  My kingdom is not from here."  Pilate asked, "Are you a king then?"  Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king."  John 18:36, 37.  He will rule forever over a heavenly kingdom.

Third, His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom.  It is entered by the new birth, by being born again, by being born from above.  Jesus made this abundantly clear to a religious Jew named Nicodemus.  He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."  He added, "Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'"  John 3:3, 5, 7.

 

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