The Purpose of Jesus Christ
By William R. Cunningham
We tend to be very familiar with things pertaining to the church that we attend regularly. We are told to go to church every Sunday, pay our tithes, and support your ministry/pastor. We are very familiar with the codes of conduct handed down to us by our church leaders. Many live their whole life practicing Churchianity instead of Christianity. We think that the adherence to rules and regulations will somehow win us favor with God and reserve us a place in heaven for all times. The Christian life has been degraded to legalism. Why is this so?
The main reason that Churchianity is replacing Christianity in the minds of many people is because people do not understand what Christianity is. In order to understand Christianity, we must understand the works and purpose of Jesus Christ. The head and founder of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ. He has made it possible for us to be saved and to call ourselves Christian. The salvation that Jesus Christ brought us transcends our church, our laws, and our ways.
What did Jesus Christ really do? The answer to that question is plainly seen when we examine Jesus Christ's purpose. What was the purpose of Jesus Christ being born of a virgin, preaching the Kingdom of God, being betrayed, dying on the cross, and ascending to the Father? Why did Jesus have to come? What was the purpose of Jesus Christ?
I believe that understanding the purpose of Jesus Christ will help to liberate us from all of the legalistic chains that bind us. These chains are put on us by church, ministers, elders, sometimes family, and sometimes ourselves. Religious bondage does not come from God; rather it comes from the forces of evil that will oppose the liberation that can be found in Christ. Understanding the purpose of Christ will also enable us to grasp the true meaning of the Christian faith and again, this will liberate us as well. How can you be bound when you have baptized yourself with the truth? How can you continue to live a life of bondage after you have come face to face with Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the anointed one of God?
Now let's get started and examine the purpose of Jesus Christ as it pertains to the Christian faith and ultimately our lives
The name Jesus Christ well describes his predestined purpose. The name Jesus is the Greek form of the name Joshua, which means "Yahweh is salvation." Yahweh is the national name of God to the Hebrew people. The word Christ is the Greek form of the word Messiah, which means the anointed one. Jesus Christ is the salvation of the LORD and he is anointed by God to save those who are lost. Consider the following scripture.
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (the virgin birth) and was destined to save His people from their sins. This is very important because it is the basis of the doctrine of salvation. We will talk more about this aspect later in this study. Not only does Jesus save (provides salvation to all those who believe), he also is the best picture that we have of God (See Matthew 1:23). Consider what the writer of Hebrews says of Jesus Christ.
Knowing what Jesus is like will enable us to know what God is like. This is why Jesus could say, "If you have seen me then you have seen the Father" and "I and the Father are one." See John 14:7,9. So we see that Jesus is our salvation, the anointed one of God, and the image of God on earth. How do these fit in with his purpose? Let's examine these individually, starting with Jesus being the image of God.
The Image of God
How would you know what God is like? Perhaps you heard stories told to you by your pastor, mother, father, deacon, etc. How would they know? Somewhere in the past there must be a standard by which all of our knowledge of God originates. It just so happens that this standard is Jesus Christ. We could say that a purpose of Jesus Christ is to reveal God to humans (while humans are in their sinful state I might add). When we listen to Jesus speak we can say that God would say the same thing, and he is through Jesus Christ.
Examining the life of Jesus Christ will enable us to comprehend what God is like and what he desires of us. Learning from Jesus Christ is therefore the same as learning from God.
Since Jesus Christ is the image of God then it becomes imperative that we heed his teachings because they are from the Father. When Jesus describes the Kingdom of God then he is revealing to us God's kingdom, which is His system of operation. When Jesus reveals codes of conduct, for example in Matthew 5 and 6, then we should reckon those as coming from on the Father.
The fact that Jesus Christ is the image of God means that we have a direct link to what God is like and therefore what God desires of us. We have a standard for who God is and what he is like. Our lives can therefore be governed by the one standard, the revelation of God to humans through Jesus. The source of this revelation is recorded in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible.
The Anointed One
The word anointed means to endue with power. It literally describes the procedure of rubbing or smearing a person or thing, usually with oil, for the purpose of healing, setting apart, or embalming. Jesus was anointed in that he was set apart for the ultimate task of providing salvation for the world and that God's power and authority resided with Him. Consider the following scripture.
After this, Jesus began his ministry on earth by preaching the kingdom of God.
Jesus was empowered by God to do a task. That task was to die on the cross so that we might live. His task was to preach the kingdom of God and reveal God to all people. The Holy Spirit of God abided in Jesus so that he could carry out his mission on the earth, which included healing all types of sicknesses and diseases.
Jesus' anointing set him apart from mere humans. The Spirit of God dwelled in him. That same Spirit can dwell in us as well via the Holy Ghost. So Jesus was set apart to do the ultimate of dying for our sins and he was empowered by God to carry out his task.
What is salvation? Salvation is the act of being snatched from harm or delivered from impending danger. When we think of salvation we must consider the entire scope of our life and existence. A full coverage of this is found in my study A Study on Salvation. However, I will briefly cover the topic here because understanding salvation is crucial to understanding the purpose of Jesus Christ.
Why Is It Necessary?
Salvation is necessary because all people are headed to destruction regardless of how good we think we are. There are important implications of this that we will discuss later. Consider what the Apostle Paul said.
Sin leads to death and we all come into this world with the sin nature that was passed down to us since the original sin.
What is the consequence of this sin? As pointed out previously, sin produces death. What is death? Death means a separation from something. We normally think of physical death, which is really the separation of the spirit from the body. Another type of death is the separation of the human spirit form the Spirit of God (See Revelation 20:14, 21:8). This is the main reason that salvation is necessary, namely to join (reconcile) us to God (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
In the Old Testament the sins of the people were atoned by animal sacrifices. However, this would not cover the sins of the world. These rituals were only a premonition until Christ came. The inadequacy of these sacrifices is evident when you consider that they were repeatedly done. Now God sacrificed Jesus Christ for the sins of the world. Consider the following scripture.
Humans had to pay for their own sins. My sin nature destined me to the 'second death' or destruction. Therefore, only a human being could atone for a human being. However, a mere human could not die for the sins of all humans. We could only "pay" for our own sins. After all the wages of sin is death. There needed to be something that transcended the limited human nature so that the one sacrifice would atone for the sins of all people.
The one sacrifice that would accomplish this is the sacrifice of Emanuel or God with us, namely Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was human in the sense that he was a human being and not a mere phantom of a man, as some believe. He had a body and all of the temptations that went along with humans (See Hebrews 4:15).
So because of Jesus' humanity he could die for humans and because of his deity his sacrifice could account for all humans and not just his own.
God simply wanted his children/people back. He created the human race in his image and in his likeness. However, we became not like God but like the evil one because of our sin nature. The nature of God was replaced with the nature to sin, which is in opposition with God. How could God acquire the hearts of his children and bring them back into agreement with him? Replacing the sinful nature of humans with the Holy Spirit could do it. The reason we sin and oppose God is because of the sin nature that we have. Consequently, Jesus Christ did not sin because he did not have the sin nature that we are all born with. Remember, he was born of the Holy. We would be born from death to life via the Holy Spirit of God. That is, we would be born again as we are rejoined with our heavenly Father, the one that created us and everything else in the first place.
Jesus Christ was the agent of that salvation. We all were on our way to total separation from God, i.e., death. We were all destined to the bottomless pit that was meant for Satan and the fallen angels. God delivered us from that by offering Jesus Christ as the atonement sacrifice for our sins. The only requirement is that we believe in Jesus Christ that he is the son of the living God, that he died for our sins and was raised from the dead on the third day (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-4).
Our salvation is possible because of what Jesus Christ did, namely die as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus Christ paid the ransom for our salvation and therefore life. All we have to do is accept the payment that he made on our behalf and avoid having to pay for our own sins. If we do not believe in Jesus Christ then we are still destined to die for our own sins.
The Purpose of Jesus Christ
Ultimately, the purpose of Jesus Christ was to save us from our sins. Consider the scripture that we discussed earlier.
We have to realize that salvation is more than the "I'm going to go to heaven when I die" mentality in order to understand the full context of this purpose. We were originally created in the image of God but sin separated us from God. Consider the following scripture.
So by the obedient act of Jesus Christ suffering and dying on the cross, many can be made righteous (in right standing with God, i.e., justified). Jesus provided a way for us to be reconciled to God.
Consider the following verse.
The word reconciliation here is a concept that has existed since the Old Testament. First let's define the word reconciliation as given in the Holman Bible Dictionary.
RECONCILIATION: The establishment of friendly relations between parties who are at variance with each other, making peace after an engagement in war, or readmission to the presence and favor of a person after rebellion against the person.
Sin has caused a chasm to exist between humanity and God. Our sin separates us from God and our original purpose of fellowship with the Father. God, in his great mercy, took it upon himself to extend grace to us by offering a way for us to come back to him instead of him simply destroying all humans on the earth. God still loved humanity even though we turned our backs on him. This is why the Apostle John could say,
God demonstrated his love for us by sending his son to die so that we can be reconciled with him. The result of this fellowship of spirits is that we inherit eternal life, that is the life of the Father. This means that we will always be in fellowship with God and the chasm between us would be eliminated. All this was accomplished and made possible by Jesus Christ. Basically our heavenly Father wanted us back and so he sent Jesus to accomplish this.
The Consequences of The Union
Reconciliation is not the end. Reconciliation means that we have been born again from death to life and therefore joined with God (at peace with Him). We have become members of the family of God again (returned to the fold). Now what? Christians must BE Christians. There is a lifestyle associated with those who are born again because God is a certain WAY and we now have his nature via the Holy Spirit. Those who are in fellowship with God should govern their lives and act in a manner that is consistent with God's WAY. The New Testament is full of teachings on how to live the Christian life. That subject is beyond the scope of this study, however see my study "Living a Life in Christ" for more information.
Jesus Christ came so that we might have life. His purpose was to provide an avenue for us to get to God. He said,
Jesus is the way to God and therefore life (the life of God). Now Jesus didn't come down on earth, die, ascend to heaven and then tell us to believe Him. He also taught us the Kingdom of God. He taught us how God's Kingdom operates and therefore we have a guide to use in governing our lives. See my family fellowship study guide on The Kingdom of God.
So we must believe in Jesus Christ to acquire eternal life and we must heed his teachings to live according to that life (God's WAY). So the consequence of being reconciled to God is that we have to live according to God's WAY, which is revealed in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Christianity, ETHICS, and Religion
I think it expedient to distinguish between the fundamental teachings of Christianity and the ethics that derive from Christianity. I also believe that there is a need to distinguish between the fundamental teachings of Christianity and the religious teachings that we find in many churches. Christianity deals with Jesus Christ and his life-giving act. It deals with the Kingdom of God and how we should govern our lives according to that Kingdom. We can take the basic teachings of Christianity and apply them to our lives and therefore govern our lives according to God's WAY.
Ethical teachings are primarily the application of the teachings that are in the Bible (Christian fundamentals and God's WAY). The Apostle Paul, for example, applied the basic teachings of Jesus Christ to church conduct and general Christian conduct. This is a very important distinction because we may mistake an ethical teaching for "raw data." Remember that raw data is the fundamental teaching of the New Testament and in general the Bible as a whole as it applies to the New Testament Christian.
In addition to ethical teachings, there are teachings that are tied to religion. For example, every church has a particular way of doing things and a certain belief, which is the application of a concept found in the Bible (not in all cases). These beliefs may not be fundamental to the Christian faith but they are still considered important. Sometimes these ethical or religious teachings are taught as though they are a requirement for salvation or acceptance by God. The Epistle to the Galatians is an example of this situation.
We see that it is very important that you distinguish the fundamental Christian belief as revealed in the New Testament and the applications of those teachings. The point is that the purpose of Jesus Christ has very little to do with religion and religious teachings. Religion is basically the acts of righteousness and in some cases just acts. For example, consider the following scripture.
The word religion in this scripture means pious acts. Review Matthew Chapter six as an example of pious acts such as prayer to be seen and giving to the poor. So don't confuse religious teachings with the teachings of Jesus Christ and therefore true Christianity. Jesus Christ came to save and not to bind you will an abundance of rules and regulations.
The purpose of Jesus Christ can be summarized as follows; 1) To save us from our sins, 2) To reveal the Father to us and lead us to Him, 3) To reveal the Kingdom of God so that we can live according to God's WAY. Overall, Jesus came to reconcile us to God so that we can have eternal life. Jesus came to free us not bind us. Jesus is the express image of God so that when we see Jesus we see God the Father. We are free from the bondage and penalty of sin when we believe in Jesus Christ. This is far removed and transcends any church religion or any particular church doctrine. Again, the purpose of Jesus Christ is to provide a way for us to be at peace with the Father. Jesus came so that we might have life and not death.
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