Lesson 16: The Work of Christ and the Christian Life | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 16: The Work of Christ and the Christian Life

We have learned that Jesus Christ is the unique God man and that His work is sufficient for man’s salvation. Having discussed the work of Christ both before and within time, we will now study the practical results of His work for the believer.

I. Christ’s Work Before Time and the Christian Life

In the previous lesson, we learned that Christ’s work began before the creation of time. Christ was active in planning the events of history, including the salvation of believers, in eternity past.

A. Because of Christ’s work before time, we are saved .

1. The requirements for salvation were planned for before time.

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.   1 Peter 1:18 20 (See also Revelation 13:8.)

This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.   Acts 2:23

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.   Acts 4:27 28

These passages indicate that the work of Christ within time was the result of His work before time. The ultimate cause for the events which brought about our salvation is the plan of God.

2. The recipients of salvation were chosen before time.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.   Romans 8:29 30

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.   Ephesians 1:3 5

[Note that our choice of Christ within time is the result of God’s choice of us before time. ]

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.   Ephesians 1:11

Note that God chose people, not facts. That is, these verses refer to who God foreknew, not what He foreknew. They refer to a relationship prior to time.

[It is important to understand the idea of God’s “foreknowledge” at this point. What is it? Is it just knowing something before it takes place? That’s what some people think it is–advanced knowledge. But it’s more than that. Read Acts 2:23, Romans 11:2. These verses show that foreknowledge is a choice before hand that a certain thing will happen. Thus in Romans 8:29, “foreknew” carries the idea of selection/choice before hand, not just advanced knowledge. God did not choose us based on what He saw we would do on our own (an Arminian idea).]

B. Because of Christ’s work before time, we can approach the future with confidence .

The triune God determined future events before the beginning of time. We can thus be confident that whatever happens is part of God’s wise design.

[God has from eternity past planned what is going to happen, so history is not mere chance, random happenings. There is a definite goal toward which history is progressing. God, who is loving, kind, and wise, is directing history to His desired ends. Thus we may look forward with confidence, knowing that God is in control and that all things will end up as they should be.

The problem comes for us when we see bad/evil things happen, like crime or natural disasters–how could God allow/do such a thing? While it’s impossible to know why God does certain things, we can be sure it’s all part of God’s program/plan and that God is still in control.]

Note: The events of human history, including the events of our individual lives, are the fulfillment within time of that which God determined in eternity past. The believer’s assurance of life in eternity future is possible only because of God’s work in eternity past . One is eternally secure because the process of salvation began before time and extends eternally. Thus, the doctrine of eternal security is based upon the doctrine of election .

II. Christ’s Work Within Time and the Christian Life

A. Because of Christ’s work within time, we understand more fully the character of God .

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “. . . My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”   Mark 15:33 34

The death of Christ on the cross displayed the character of God. The cross helped solve the tension between the justice of God and the love of God. His justice required a perfect sacrifice for sin. His love moved Him to become that sacrifice on our behalf. In addition to the attributes of justice and love, the cross also displayed the holiness of God. On that fateful day when the innocent, spotless Lamb of God took our sin upon Himself, the Father was unable to look upon His Son. His holiness prevented Him from looking upon sin.

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil. – Habakkuk 1:13

B. Because of Christ’s work within time, we understand more fully the true meaning of love .

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   John 3:16

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.   John 15:13

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.   1 John 3:16

At the cross, God revealed the true meaning of love by giving Himself for our salvation.

[We’ve got to get rid of this romantic, emotional, worldly idea of love. Love is a choice to do what is best for the other person, to sacrifice your self, your desires, your possessions, etc., for the good of another. This means: 1. You don’t have to wait until you feel something to love someone; 2. You can love someone you don’t even like very much; 3. Much of what passes for love really is not true love.]

C. Because of Christ’s work within time, we have a right relationship with God.

1. Our slavery to sin is finished, and we are now slaves to righteousness . We call the act of being purchased out of the slave market of sin redemption .

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey  whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.   Romans 6:16 18

[The above verse has only two options: slave to sin or slave to righteousness. No one is truly free. Everyone is a slave. ]

2. Our separation from God is finished, and we are now reconciled to God. We call the act of being restored to a friendly relationship with God reconciliation .

For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.   Romans 5:10 11

The work of Christ removed the separation between God and man caused by sin. Christ has restored for us that which sin had destroyed: fellowship between God and man. We are no longer God’s enemies.

3. Our liability to God’s wrath is finished, and we are now able to please God. We call the act of appeasing God’s wrath propitiation .

God presented [Christ] as the one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin through faith in his blood.   Romans 3:25 [NIV footnote]

Jesus appeased God’s wrath toward sin by His death on the cross. Although previously unable to do anything pleasing to God (Isaiah 64:6), Christians are now able to do things which are acceptable to Him.

[Liability to wrath or punishment is called guilt. We are truly guilty for our sin. At salvation, God removes our guilt, and thus we are no longer liable/blameworthy to suffer the penalty of sin or be exposed to God’s wrath.]

4. Our condemnation by God is finished, and we are now declared righteous . We call the act of being declared righteous justification .

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Romans 5:1

God has declared all unbelievers guilty and, therefore, under condemnation. However, He has declared believers righteous.

[Justification is a positional thing – it describes our relationship with God. We are declared to be righteous, just like a judge declares someone not guilty. This does not mean that we will live perfectly righteous lives, but that our standing with God is righteous.

The opposite of each one of the above things is true of the unbeliever. The unsaved are enslaved to sin, separated from God, under God’s wrath and condemned. Each one of those relationships changes when one gets saved.]

Note: The new life that we experience upon salvation is the outworking of the new position we enjoy in Christ. This is similar to the fact that, in the mind of God, the work of Christ was completed before time began, even though its outworking occurred within time. So too, what is considered as being completed in God’s mind is worked out in our daily experience .

Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.   John 19:30

Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.   Philippians 2:12 13

[Positionally, our salvation is a completed thing. We are saved. Experientially, we continue to “work out” our salvation on a daily basis. ]

D. Because of Christ’s work within time, we eagerly expect His return.

While we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. – Titus 2:13

The hope of Christ’s future return to receive His own is based upon His Resurrection and Ascension . Because Christianity is based upon belief in a living Savior, Christians worldwide wait for the “blessed hope” of the Lord’s return.

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Because of Christ’s work before time, we are saved and can approach the future with confidence.

2. Because of Christ’s work within time, we understand more fully the character of God and the true meaning of love, have a right relationship with God, and eagerly expect His return.

Learning to Live It

1. Your cousin, who enjoys discussing biblical issues, gets into a discussion with you at a family gathering. In the midst of the conversation, you realize that he does not believe in eternal security based upon his belief that eternal life begins at death. At what point in time does eternal life begin for the believer?

at the moment of salvation

What are some Scripture passages which support your conclusion?

John 3:36 and 5:24–“has eternal life” is in the present tense, i.e., it’s happening now.

Is a believer’s salvation within time the true beginning of the process?


If not, when did the process of our salvation begin?

with God’s choice in eternity past

Therefore, on what doctrine is eternal security based?


2. A best-selling song declared: “Learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Is this lyric true?

no, in fact, the whole self-love/esteem thing is unbiblical. We love ourselves too much.

What are some Scripture passages which define the true nature of love?

John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16 and 4:9-10

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