Sunday, May 23

Purposes of Christ's Death, No. 5

In this look at the explicit purpose statements for Christ's death that are found in scripture, let's consider Galations 3:13, 14:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith. (NET)
The purpose statement found here for Christ's death--or for Christ becoming a curse for us--is "in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith."

What exactly does it mean when it refers to the blessing of Abraham? We can find the answer in the text just prior to these verses:
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, "All the nations will be blessed in you." (v. 8)
God promised Abraham that through his lineage blessing would come to the Gentiles. Verse 14 tells us that this promise to Abraham that all the nations would be blessed in him was really the promise of the coming of the Spirit to those of faith.

The law, which contained promised blessing to those who kept it, also contained a curse for all those who didn't fully keep it, and so it became a universal curse upon mankind, for there was no one--except Christ himself, of course--who fulfilled properly. All human beings, both Jew and Gentile, find themselves with a curse hanging over them because of their disobedience to what the law commands. Christ came, and in His death on the cross, bore that curse of the law that we earned for ourselves by not keeping the law.

This is one of the clearest references to the substitutionary nature of what Christ accomplished in His death. He became a curse for us; He took what we had coming to us. This text calls this vicarious bearing of our curse an act of redemption--the paying of a price for us.

These two verses are set within a context of Paul's contrasting the Spirit over against the law. Those in Christ Jesus, both Jew and Gentile, receive the blessing promised in those words to Abraham--that all nations would be blessed in him, which Paul tells us is the promise of the Spirit by faith--instead of the curse of the law that is rightfully theirs.

In these verses we see that one of the purposes of Christ's death was the fulfilling of the promise to Abraham that the nations would be blessed in him, and this promise was fulfilled in the coming of the Spirit through faith, and this coming of the Spirit is grounded in Christ's bearing of the law's curse in our place.
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