SIXTEENTH LORD’S DAY.
Question 43. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
Answer. That by virtue thereof our old man is crucified, dead, and buried with mm ; so that the corrupt inclinations of the flesh may no more reign in us, but that we may offer ourselves unto him a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
This question has respect to the fruits or benefits of Christ s death. And here also, as in the passion of Christ, the end and fruits are to be regarded as the same, only in a different respect: for the things which Christ proposed to himself as ends, are unto us the fruits, when we receive or apply them to ourselves. It is, therefore, manifest that the benefits of Christ's death comprehend the entire work of our redemption, of which fruits we may specify the following :
1. Justification, or the remission of sins. The justice of God demands that the sinner should not be punished twice. And as he has punished our sins in Christ, he will not, therefore, punish the same in us. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,” original as well as actual, and sins of commission as well as omission. We are, therefore, justified, that is, freed from the evil both of punishment and of guilt on account of the death of Christ, which is the cause of this effect.
2. Regeneration, or the renewing of our nature by the Holy Spirit. Christ, by his death, has merited for us not only the pardon of sin, but also its removal and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Or, we may say that he has, by his own death, obtained for us not only the remission of sin, but the indwelling of God in us. “ If I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart I will send him unto you.” “And ye are complete in him.” “Who is made unto us righteousness and sanctification.” (John 16:7. Col. 2:10. 1 Cor. 1:80.)
But the death of Christ is, in two respects, the efficient cause, as well of our justification as of our regeneration. 1. In respect to God: because he, on account of the merit and death of Christ, remits unto us our sins, grants us the Holy Spirit, and renews in us his own image. “Being justified by his blood.” “Being reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” “Because ye are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Rom. 5:9, 10. Gal. 4:6.) 2. In respect to us the death of Christ is also an efficient cause; because we who believe that Christ obtained for us righteousness and the Holy Spirit, cannot be other wise than grateful to him, and earnestly desire so to live that we may honor him, which is done by commencing to walk in newness of life. The application of the death of Christ, and a proper consideration of it, will not suffer us to remain ungrateful; but will constrain us to love Christ in return, and to render thanks for such a great and inestimable benefit. Hence we are not to imagine that we can have remission of sins without regeneration; for no one that is not regenerated can obtain remission of sins. He, therefore, who boasts of having applied to himself by faith the death of Christ, and yet has no desire to live a holy and godly life, that he may so honor the Saviour, lies, and gives conclusive evidence that the truth is not in him for all those who are justified are willing and ready to do those things which are pleasing to God. The desire to obey God can never be separated from an application of the death of Christ, nor can the benefit of regeneration be experienced without that of justification. All those that are justified are also regenerated, and all those that are regenerated are justified.
Obj. The apostle Peter, in his first epistle, 1 Peter 1:3, attributes our regeneration to the resurrection of Christ. In what manner, therefore, is it here attributed to his death. Ans. It is attributed to both: to his death as it respects his merit; for by his death he has merited regeneration for us: and to his resurrection as it respects the application of it; for by rising from the dead he applies regeneration unto us, giving us the Holy Spirit.
3. Eternal life is another fruit of the death of Christ. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, (viz., to death) that whoso ever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (John 3:16. 1 John 5:11.)
What now is it to believe in Christ, dead? It is to believe that he has not only suffered the most excruciating pains and torments, but also death itself; and that by his death he has obtained for me remission of sins, reconciliation with God, and by consequence the Holy Spirit also, who commences in me a new life, that I may again be made the temple of God, and at length attain unto eternal life, in which God shall for ever be praised and magnified by me.
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