We have often heard the expression, “Christ died to save sinners,” yet most people do not understand what it means. Simply stated, the Bible defines sin as the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Man by birth, and by virtue of his nature, is a sinner. Men continually transgress God’s Law-the Ten Commandments. God is a God of Justice, thus, a penalty must be paid for sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Christ came to take the penalty for sin upon Himself and to die in the place of sinners, that is, to die in our stead. But how could He do this? Jesus Christ was the Creator of the universe (John 1:3, Col 1:16, Eph. 3:9, Heb. 1:10). His life, therefore, was of a greater value than the sum total of all human lives- past, present, and future. Since He was sinless (Heb. 4:15), He alone could pay the penalty of sin for all of mankind. This is what it means when we read, “Christ died to save sinners.”
We have also heard the expression, “Jesus Christ is our Personal Savior.” What does this mean? Briefly, all human beings have sinned. The Bible tells us: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Man’s sin must be covered, but this requires an awareness on the part of each individual. Christ did not come to live a righteous life in our stead. Rather, He came to die in our stead. To live a righteous life we must first be justified, that is, our guilty past must be erased. To have Christ as Personal Savior means we must accept His sacrifice as payment for our individual sins, and then we must repent of those sins. The acceptance of the shed blood of Christ justifies us. “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Rom. 5:9).
Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1). Repentance means we are not only sorry for our sins, but we stop sinning-transgressing the Law. It would be senseless to assume we accept Christ, then are allowed to continue to sin. Repentance means a complete and permanent break from our past conduct. Then, with the help of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we begin living a righteous life. The Bible defines righteousness as the keeping of God’s Commandments (Ps. 119:172). With God’s help we begin keeping the Ten Commandments-all of them. Then and only then, does God view us as His spiritual children. While we may slip and occasionally sin, we can go to God in repentance, relying on His help to overcome. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Today, Jesus Christ is our High Priest in heaven.
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16)
There is a great difference between habitually practicing sin as a way of life and sometimes missing the mark. If we slip and sin and then go to God in a humble and repentant spirit, He will intervene, forgive us, and grant us the help we need to stop sinning. So, the first reason Christ came was to be our Messiah and to die for the sins of the world. By accepting that sacrifice and repenting of our sins, we have a Personal Savior whose sacrifice grants us forgiveness and access to God in heaven who hears our prayers.
A second reason Christ came was to make the Holy Spirit available. By himself, man does not have the power to overcome the pulls of the flesh and the influence of Satan. Human nature is intrinsically evil. Jesus said so. ” . . . That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness” (Mark 7:20-22).
Jesus told His disciples that without Him they could do nothing (John 15:5). He told them that after the Holy Spirit was given they would have power (Acts 1:8). He said: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). The Comforter was the Holy Spirit. Emanating from the Father, the Holy Spirit resides within the heart and mind of each converted Christian (John 15:26). It is called the earnest (the down payment) of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). It grants us the power to live up to what God requires (Rom. 15:13, Eph. 3:20, 2 Tim. 1:7). The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:38). Jesus made this promise: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7). With the gift of the Holy Spirit, referred to in the Bible as the “life of Christ within us,” we are able to meet the requirements God places upon each of us. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight” (1 John 3:22). The power of the Holy Spirit within us gives us the ability to do the will of God. This is a second reason Christ came.
The third reason Christ came was to bring the gospel of the Kingdom of God.A clergyman was once asked, “What is the gospel?” His answer was, “Well, it is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” Was he right? Of course not! He was mentioning the four gospels, the New Testament books that give an account of the life of Christ. But these are not the gospel. The gospel, which means “good news,” was the message Jesus brought. It was not a message about His person. He did not go about speaking of what He had done here and there. The gospel Jesus brought was the message of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14, Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2, 11; 16:16). Jesus constantly spoke of the kingdom. What did He mean?
Jesus was speaking of the coming world government of God to be established on the earth after His return. He told Pilate that His kingdom was not of this present age.
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. (John 18:36-37)
At the time of His ministry the Jews wanted to make Him king. He refused. “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (John 6:15). Jesus knew it was not the time. That time would come when He returns with all power and glory. “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). Jesus is depicted as the nobleman who went into a far country to receive for Himself a kingdom, and to return (Luke 19:12-27).
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God. (Rev. 19:14-17)
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (Matt. 25:31-34)
At the time of His second coming Jesus will set up a world government. Speaking to Christ, the Father said: “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Ps. 2:8-9). This is what the gospel message is all about. It was not a message about the person of Christ, but about the coming Kingdom of God. We can participate in that kingdom as immortal spirit beings (1 Cor. 15:44) if we overcome and endure to the end. “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2:26-27).
Do not be confused. The gospel message Jesus brought was the gospel of the Kingdom of God. His entire ministry was teaching and preparing a people who at that time, and in generations to come, would prepare themselves, with the help of God, to join with Christ as a king and priest in that kingdom (Rev. 5:10).
Another important reason Jesus came was to build His church. During His public ministry, Jesus said He had come to finish God’s work (John 4:34). While this included His sacrifice for the sins of the world, it also included the important task of making the Truth about Christ and the gospel of the Kingdom of God available to the world. Near the end of His ministry, He prayed to the Father: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). Much earlier He had told His disciples what He had in mind for them: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain . . . ” (John 15:16). Jesus intended for His disciples to go forth and to preach the gospel to the world. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19-20). Jesus promised to be with His disciples unto the end of the world. That means, He would build a Church that would not die. He said: ” . . . I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
What is the Church? It is a physical entity, a group of individual who have the Holy Spirit dwelling within their hearts and minds. The Apostle Paul wrote: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many . . . . But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Cor. 12:13-14, 18). The body we are baptized into is the Church of God. Jesus built that Church. While not recognized by the world, Jesus promised it would continue until the consummation of the world, that is, until God’s plan of salvation has been completed. Either Jesus built that Church or He did not. If He did not, He did not keep His Word, and we have no Savior. The fact is: That Church has existed since Christ built it with His disciples and Apostles, and it continues to this day.
The Apostle Paul emphasized the importance of the Church when he wrote to the Ephesians:
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:18-21).
This Church teaches all that Jesus commanded His disciples (Matt. 28:20). It is referred to as God’s Temple. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16) This is the Church, the Temple of God, which Jesus built.
Jesus also came to displace Satan as world ruler. While many professing Christians may not realize it, Satan is the god of this present world. The Apostle Paul wrote: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Cor. 4:3-4). “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).
Because of Satan the world is spiritually blinded and deceived, unable to understand the Truth of God. Cast out from God’s throne, Satan and his demons roam about on the earth carrying out their evil purposes. “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9). We are warned: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
At one time Satan was in God’s service, but he rebelled against God and was removed from His presence.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa. 14:12-14)
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee [so]: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. (Ezek. 28:13-17)
In the above passages, the types are the physical king of Babylon, and the physical prince of Tyrus. The antitypes in both passages refer to Satan. Why? Because the king of Babylon was never in heaven, and the prince of Tyre was never in the Garden of Eden. Satan was in both. Jesus referred to Satan as the prince of this world ( John 16:11; 14:30), and said that he would have this function taken away. “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31).
Jesus did not refute Satan’s claim that he was the ruler of all the nations on the earth. During the temptation in the wilderness, we read the following:
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:5-8).
But that will change. Satan-the ruler of this world-has been judged (John 16:11). At His return, Christ will replace Satan as the ruler of the world.
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled . . . . (Rev. 20:1-3)
When Christ returns, the Apostle John tells us:
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Rev. 19:11-16)
A sixth reason Jesus came was to enter into a New Covenant relationship with spiritual Israel. The Old Covenant with the physical nation of Israel was figuratively a marriage agreement between God and Israel. The nation was given the Ten Commandments as the guide for a way of life, but was required to obey it in the letter of the law only. Ezekiel 16:8 relates how this marriage took place: “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.” But Israel could not even live up to the letter of the law requirements. God told them: “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you . . . ” (Jer. 3:14).
Christ came to establish a New Covenant, not with physical Israel but with spiritual Israel. And who is spiritual Israel? “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Rom. 2:28-29). The Israel of God is the Church. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new [creation]. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:15-16).
The Old Testament marriage agreement ended with the death of Christ, and He is now establishing one that is new.
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Heb. 8:6-13)
At Christ’s return He will marry His affianced bride-the Church.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. (Rev. 19:7-9)
This is why the Apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).
Upon Christ’s return, Christian saints who live or lived according to the spiritual intent of God’s Law will be resurrected or changed and given immortality in the Kingdom of God (1 Thess. 4:15-17). This is what the New Covenant marriage relationship is all about.
The seventh reason Christ came was to set an example. We read in 1 Peter 2:21: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” A close examination of the gospels reveals that Jesus did not practice what is commonly assumed to be Christianity today. He did not observe Sunday as a day of worship. He did not keep the “Christian holidays” so touted by the world that supposedly commemorate Christ in various ways. How these things became a part of professing Christianity is a study in itself. Jesus did not preach what is today commonly accepted as the gospel. He did drink wine (not grape juice) on occasion. He observed the Passover and washed the disciples’ feet. He observed Saturday as the Sabbath and kept the annual holy days.
Some would have us believe that Jesus represented the “tail-end” of Judaism, and that it is not necessary to follow His example. Yet, Paul said he followed Christ and said we should do the same (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul kept the Sabbath and holy days. He did not observe the present day customs of Christmas, and Easter, or the other pagan holidays of the world. He preached the same gospel Jesus did-the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Both Jesus and Paul preached obedience to the Law of God-the Ten Commandments. Paul wrote: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil. 4:9). Yet, we are told today that the Ten Commandments are “done away.” The Bible does not say this, and it does not contradict (John 10:35). Instead, it has been wrongly interpreted. The Bible says the commandments of God stand forever and ever. “The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness” (Ps. 111:7-8). Christ taught obedience to the commandments of God (Matt. 19:17). Those who regard themselves as followers of Christ-Christians-should walk as Christ walked. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
One of the largest distortions in professing Christianity today is the notion that it is not necessary to follow Christ. The idea prevails that all we need to do is profess Him. Yet, Jesus said: “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). The Apostle Paul adds: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16).
Christianity is not complicated and difficult to understand. Men have made it that way. All that is really necessary is to follow Christ’s example.
We have seen from what has been presented above that Christ came for a number of reasons. All of these should be understood and appreciated for what they mean in our lives. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).