Thursday, May 20

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 3

We'll look at two portions of scripture today, since the purpose statements in each of these texts are very similar.
He gave himself for us to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good. (Titus 2:14 NET)
Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious--not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27 NET)
The purpose statement in the first verse is "to set us free from every kind of lawlessness and to purify for himself a people who are truly his, who are eager to do good," and in the second text it is "to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious--not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless." Since I'm presenting these two statements as similar, I am making the assumption that the church and a people who are truly his are roughly equivalent in meaning. If you disagree, then you'll just have to see these two statements as expressing to different purposes.

Each statement, then, says that a purpose of Christ's death is have a group of people who are pure or spotless. In the first verse, these people are called "a people who are truly his." The idea here is ownership of something special. These people belong to him, and are a special possession. In the second bit of scripture, the group of people are called "the church", and you can see the idea of treasured possession here as well because the church is likened to Christ's bride, something He loved in the same way that husbands are encouraged to love their wives, and something that He was willing to "give himself" to obtain.

In the first statement it is said that Christ's death was "to set us free." This literally means "to release when a ransom is paid". Christ's death--his giving himself on our behalf (or perhaps huper in this case means in our place)--causes His people to be released from sin. It also purifies them. I would take this purification to be that of the sanctifying process, although some might argue that. These purified people who belong to him are then identified by their zealousness for good works.

In the second statement, Christ is also described as having given Himself. He gives Himself on behalf of the church, in order to sanctify her, and then, when she is completely sanctified, He presents her to Himself in all of the glorious purity that has been worked in her based on His own death for her. He takes as His own the bride He has already given himself for--given to make her suitable to belong to Him.

One purpose for Christ's death, then, is for Him to have a sanctified people (the church) for Himself.
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