The Work of Christ

Christology part 3

According to the book of Titus, Jesus came to purify for Himself a people for His own possession.  Sometimes we Westerns get too wrapped up in individualism, so in our understanding of the Work of Christ we think immediately of “what He did for me.”  While this is certainly good to ponder, we must learn to ask more broadly “what did He set out to do?  What did He do while on earth?  What is He doing now?  What has He promised to do in the future?” 

If we approach our studies this way, we will at once remember that God created the world, not just me, and has redeemed His people, not just me.  He has brought me into His kingdom, into the love shared by our Triune God, into a life meant to be shared with His people.  The Work of Christ is not properly understood unless we keep in mind the corporate aspect.  Those who know Him will heartily proclaim that “He loved me, and died for me” and “He has made me part of His family”:

So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,  having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone,  in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,  in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.  Ephesians 2:20-22

The Son of God has always been at work (John 5:17-18), and is working still.  So how exactly does one go about studying the Work of Christ?  These doctrines are sometimes split up into His work on earth, His work through His death and resurrection and ascension, His current work, and what He has promised to do when He comes again.  Robert Letham, in his book titled The Work of Christ, an invaluable resource, splits the chapters into sections on Christ’s work as Prophet, as Priest, as King. 

As Prophet, He speaks, He is the Word, and speaks the Word; and will disclose Himself to His own.  He ensured that His people would have the once for all handed down tradition to cling to and abide in and contend for (Jude 1-3).  

As Priest, He accomplished our atonement, He acted as our propitiation, He secured our eternal redemption, He presents us pure and holy and blameless (having taken our reproach upon Himself) to God.  He continually makes intercession for us, as the Holy One of Israel, Holy to the LORD (Exodus 28:36), having entered within the veil.  

As King, He ushered in His eschatalogical Kingdom.  He has defeated His enemies, and He is seated on His throne.  When He returns to judge, He will separate the wheat from the tares, and the last days of this earth will end as the new heavens and new earth are revealed.  All of creation groans, as do His people, anxiously crying out “Come, Lord Jesus!”    


As you grow in your understanding of Redemptive history,  you must ask about the early church, and how doctrine was passed on, how it was recognized as orthodox or heresy.  Enter:  The Nicene Creed.  This council addressed heresies that had arisen in the early church, and which have repeatedly arisen since.  The Creed contains the phrase “for us and for our salvation”  So when He came for us, He did not simply hand out salvation as a commodity and leave us on our own.  A good discussion of this council can be found in Robert Letham’s book, The Holy Trinity; or in J.N.D. Kelly’s book, Early Christian Doctrines; or very briefly in any good Bible Encyclopedia set.

Jesus Christ, Son of God, Word made flesh–He spoke, He taught, He revealed His power and dominion through miracles, He revealed God.  

He came to bring us to God, but to do that He had to, as our Mediator, cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  He crucified our sins, nailing them to the cross, in His body.  He bore the wrath of God, defeated sin and death, and freed us from that which enslaved us (we were enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, Titus 3:3; and to our sins, John 8:34; and slaves of corruption, 2 Peter 2:19; slaves to our fears, Hebrews 2:15.  He came to draw you into His covenant community, His family, His Body which is the church.  He came for us!  

Union with Christ

Letham declares on page 75 of his book, The Work of Christ:   “The theme of union with Christ is vital to an understanding of what he has done.  It is foundational to every aspect of our salvation.”  One of the most helpful chapters!  This book belongs in your library (are you building one?).  We are only able to scratch the surface here concerning His work, this particular doctrine deserves the attention and study that a book like Letham’s would lead you through.

We are united to Him in His death and resurrection and ascension; our life is hidden with God in Christ; it is Christ who lives in us; and we strive according to His power at work in us!  

He obeyed on our behalf, fulfilling all the covenant demands, and He adorns us in His righteousness.  All of our obedience comes from Him, we can do nothing apart from Him (John 15, Hosea 14).  As our Forerunner (Hebrews 6:20)  He sanctified our flesh, entering into His glory as the God-Man, the firstborn from the dead.  He is seated on the throne and will  intercede forever on our behalf (7:25).   

As the God-Man, He represents both parties, having both natures, He is the perfect mediator.  As a member of the Trinity, His work was never separate from the Triune God.  The Son, through Spirit, offered Himself up to the Father; and therefore can make us perfect and cleanse our conscience (Hebrews 9:8-15) that we could be vessels for honor, set apart for the good works He created us for.

Journaling Excercise

As you prepare your heart for Easter, and as you celebrate all of Who Jesus Christ is, devote some time to reading, meditating on, and journaling through these passages:

Colossians 1:13-22 (consider committing this one to memory!)

1 Timothy 2:5-6

2 Timothy 1:8-10

As you ponder His work, remember that all our works as filthy rags apart from Him.  Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision matters–but only whether He has made you a new creation! And in Him, we can serve, and our work is full of joy and purpose. Eternal purpose.

Galatians 6:14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And those who will [walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

I highly recommend these books for any who want to deeper in their study of the work of Christ. “Persevere, brethren!” (as my professor of Christology used to say).