The Work of Christ

Part 8 - The Doctrine of Christ
Chapter 38 - The Work of Christ

The offices of Christ show the normative perspective of His work.
As prophet, He not only spoke the Word but IS the Word of God, as its "Author and the chief theme of Scripture" (900).

As priest, He sacrificed Himself as an atonement for our sins.  His sacrifice was spotless, as He was perfectly righteous.  The atonement expiates sin (wiping it from our record and taking it on Himself), propitiates God (redirecting His anger against our sin from us to Jesus), reconciles us to God, and redeems us (buys us back) to God.  Wrong views of the atonement include (1) that Jesus paid the ransom/redemption to Satan, not to God, (2) that His death was only an example for us to self-sacrifice, and (3) that God could forgive our sins without the cross-atonement.  Scripture teaches the atonement is limited in its extent, not in its efficacy (John 10:11, 15; Rom. 8:32-39).  That is, anyone the cross applies to is totally saved.  The cross doesn't just make it possible for them to be saved (limited efficacy).  Everyone limits the atonement in either extent or efficacy, unless they are universalists.  Verses that speak of Christ dying for all either shouldn't be taken literally (1 Cor 15:22; Mark 1:5), or refer to the cosmic scope of the atonement (John 3:16; Col 1:20), or means some from all nations (1 John 2:2).  Besides the atonement, Jesus also intercedes for us as priest.  As a human He can be a faithful and sympathetic advocate with the Father for us.

As King, Jesus does powerful things: creating, sustaining and working miracles.  Of the line of David, He was raised from the dead, showing His power.  His coming as King IS the Gospel (Isaiah 52:7).  Earthly rulers misunderstood Jesus' kingship, "but they were not wrong to feel threatened" (909).  He is the King of kings.

The states of Christ show the situational perspective of His work
As the catechism puts it, Jesus was humbled in His Incarnation, life under the law, suffering, death, and descent into Hell.  The last involved bringing Old Testament saints from Sheol to glory (compare Hebrews 11:39-40 with 12:22).  Jesus was exalted in His resurrection, ascension, sitting at God's right hand, and future return.  Philippians 2:5-11 describes both states, and also applies them to us, in a way, leading us to consider our union with Christ.

Union with Christ
"Jesus saves us by uniting us to Himself" (909).  Since we are chosen in Christ before the world began (Eph. 1:3-4), but also fell into sin right after our creation, there are different senses in which we are united with Christ.
Election - God chose us before time, in His purpose.
Adoption - God chose us for a privileged position in relation to Him, like His own Son (Eph. 1:11-14)
Redemption - God forgives our sins by the cross of Christ.  We are chosen to be justified and sanctified (Eph. 1:7-10; 2:5-10).

This is a fairly standard treatment of the work of Christ.  The most notable parts are the descent into hell, where Frame makes an interesting case for the harrowing of hell from Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:22, and the union with Christ, where he points out that union with Christ happens in multiple senses.  Both assertions are controversial, but I think true.

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