Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
The Benefits Christ Has Won for You
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 1 Corinthians 1:20 NKJV Question 57 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What benefits hath Christ procured by his mediation?” It gives the answer, “Christ, by his mediation, hath procured redemption, with all other benefits of the covenant of grace.” Last week we examined Christ’s future exaltation as the judge of the world. This week we consider those things He has obtained for His people as their mediator.
As the sole mediator between God and man, the Lord Jesus Christ took on a human nature, lived the perfect life required by the Law, and satisfied the wrath of God due to its transgressors. He did this not to gain anything for Himself, seeing that He was, is, and always will be God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, who, therefore, already owns all things. But He did this for the elect of God, who being justly condemned under original sin could have no hope of obtaining God’s favor on their own. In previous questions we have seen how Jesus entered into and executed the office of the only mediator of the Covenant of Grace. Now we must look at what He obtained for us by that office. To paraphrase today’s question: What did Christ procure for us by his mediation?
With a single word the Catechism summarizes everything that we have by Jesus Christ, our mediator: redemption. The first place in Scripture we find this concept of redemption developed at any length is in the book of Exodus. Right after the first Passover, God commanded Moses: “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine” (Exo. 13:2). On that first Passover night, the judgment of God fell upon the land of Egypt and God “claimed” every firstborn son of man or beast for Himself. Though this judgment was very great, yet God’s greater mercy was seen in that only the firstborn was taken, when in truth all deserved to die. However, even this limited judgment could be avoided by all who trusted in God’s “redemption” and offered the Passover lamb in the place of their firstborn. Thus, for a time afterwards, the firstborn of men and unclean animals needed to be “redeemed” with a lamb: “But the firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb. And if you will not redeem him, then you shall break his neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed” (Exo. 34:20).
Redemption, then, for a price, delivered one from the wrath and judgment of God that must fall upon you otherwise. In the anticipatory salvation event of the Passover, the people of God, as represented by their firstborn sons, are saved from God’s wrath by the blood of the lamb, which God accepts in the place of the firstborn. Consequently, Christ as the firstborn of God, is the true Passover lamb who takes away the sin, not just of Israelites, but of the world (John 1:29). As Paul wrote in Galatians: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Gal. 3:13). To redeem is to buy back, or to deliver from someone or something that has power over you. Christ, therefore, bought us back from the wrath and curse of God to which we were inescapably bound. By the blood price of His life, He brought to us, He procured for us everlasting redemption.
This redemption has not just delivered us from God’s wrath and curse, but it has purchased us into God’s family, the place of God’s favor and blessedness. Thus, there is a negative and a positive aspect to our redemption. We not only are rescued from punishment but we are granted reward. Accordingly, the Catechism speaks of all the other benefits of the Covenant of Grace. What are some of these benefits? Eternal life, forgiveness of sins, imputed righteousness, the new heavens and the new earth, a new nature and someday new bodies, and all of this with no more sin, sickness, sorrow, or dying ever again. Praise be to God for His indescribable gift of redemption, which Christ has purchased for us!