The Work of Jesus Christ
By Elder Ben Winslett, Pastor of Flint River Primitive Baptist Church in Huntsville, AL
I am sure you remember a few years ago one extremely trendy phrase that was “buzzing” in Christianity. That phrase was “What Would Jesus Do?” Trendy or not, it was good advice. But that brings up the question, what DID Jesus do? Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, this all believers know. Yet, scripture gives us much more as to the exact nature of Christ’s work. Christ came into the world, not just to save sinners, but to save “his people,” a specific group of sinners, and not just human kind in general. (See Matthew 1:21)
Jesus Himself said in John 6:38-39, “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” Notice the specific nature of His sacrifice on the cross – He would give His life for His people, those the Father had given Him. Notice similar language in John 17:2, “Thou [the Father] hast given Him [Christ] power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him.”
The work of Christ is clear: He came to give eternal life to all that the Father had given Him. These sinners are referred to as “his people” (Matt. 1:21). We learn through other scriptures that they were chosen by God before he created the world (Ephesians 1:4) and comprise an innumerable number of people from every single nation on earth (Revelation 7:9). Christ’s death was for a specific people!
Did Jesus Finish This Work?
Now that you know for whom Christ died, the logical question is “did he finish that work”? I have good news, dear friends, Christ was victorious! It is Finished! That was the victorious battle cry of our Savior, Jesus Christ, as He hung on the cross (John 19:30). Jesus’ cry wasn’t one of defeat but of completion. He cried out with a loud voice, announcing to the world that He was indeed successful in His work of redemption. After this glorious shout, He commended His Spirit into His Father’s hands, and gave up the ghost. As the hymn writer of old said, “It is Finished, Oh what pleasure, Do these charming words afford?!” But, Jesus’ own testimony isn’t the only proof we have (though it IS sufficient). Romans 1:4 says that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power, by His resurrection from the grave. The fact that Jesus is risen and alive today is eternal proof that He satisfied His Father’s wrath, the wrath we deserve for our sins.
But Don’t I Have to Get Saved?
Unfortunately, the popular theology today is not the theology of the Bible. The bible paints Jesus as a successful, risen Savior and His people as redeemed sheep, who were once gone astray but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls (Isaiah 53). Because of today’s teachings, most of God’s people believe that they must, at minimum, “accept the Lord” in order to go to Heaven. Many other groups add additional requirements to be saved such as: confession, repentance from all sinful behavior, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and perseverance to the list requirements.
The fact is Christ offered Himself without spot to the Father, not to sinful men. The Father accepted this offering in our stead, and therefore we are ACCEPTED in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6). While we receive the testimony of Christ, it is not left to us to accept or reject Him in order to be saved. Baptism, confession, and repentance do bring a temporal salvation – or deliverance – from many woes just as the true gospel delivers from false doctrine, but only the work of God can bring about Eternal Salvation. Remember that “It Is Finished” part? Yes friends, it really is finished.
How Do I Know I’m One?
A person cannot make his or herself a child of God. Neither can we make another person a child of God or give another person eternal salvation. This is an intimate action between God and His children. Yet, God’s word gives us many evidences of Grace! First though, we should look at the natural state of men.
The scriptures teach the following about men in their natural state (Romans 3:10-18):
- None good/righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10)
- None understand God (Rom. 3:11)
- None seek God (Rom. 3:11)
- All gone out of the way (Rom. 3:12)
- Together unprofitable (Rom. 3:12)
- None that do good (Rom. 3:12)
- Throat is open grave (Rom. 3:13)
- Deceitful tongues (Rom. 3:13)
- Mouth full of cursing (Rom. 3:14)
- Swift to shed blood (Rom. 3:15)
- Don’t know peace, but rather destruction and misery (Rom. 3:16-17)
- Doesn’t fear God (Rom. 3:18)
That’s a very negative state! Ah, our sinful state without Christ! Praise Him for His Grace! Since we know that natural men – men without Christ – are so depraved and wicked, it is then obvious that the GOOD people – people who do good things – have been changed by the Grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10). God’s grace brings salvation, and this salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:11-12). Goodness in men is the fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22).
Some of the fruit of the Spirit in a child of grace are:
- Belief (John 1:13, 1 John 5:1)
- Confession (1 John 4:14)
- Love (1 John 4:7, 5:22)
- Baptism (1 Peter 3:21)
- Good works (Acts 10:35, 1 John 2:29)
Sum of the Matter
The Lord Jesus is a successful Savior and we are the sheep of His pasture. He has made us, and not we ourselves. Rather than a vain attempt at securing our own eternal salvation, we should attempt to live our lives in sweet submission to His will, in thanksgiving for all His blessings.