6 Things Christ Accomplished by His Death

Here’s a very brief summary of the six core things Christ accomplished in his death.

1. Expiation

Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt. Christ’s death removes — expiates — our sin and guilt. The guilt of our sin was taken away from us and placed on Christ, who discharged it by his death.

Thus, in John 1:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus takes away, that is, expiates, our sins. Likewise, Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him,” and Hebrews 9:26 says “He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

2. Propitiation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath.

By dying in our place for our sins, Christ removed the wrath of God that we justly deserved. In fact, it goes even further: a propitiation is not simply a sacrifice that removes wrath, but a sacrifice that removes wrath and turns it into favor. (Note: a propitiation does not turn wrath into love — God already loved us fully, which is the reason he sent Christ to die; it turns his wrath into favor so that his love may realize its purpose of doing good to us every day, in all things, forever, without sacrificing his justice and holiness.)

Several passages speak of Christ’s death as a propitiation for our sins. Romans 3:25-26 says that God “displayed [Christ] publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because in the forbearance of God he passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration of his righteousness at the present time, that he might be just and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.”

Likewise, Hebrews 2:17 says that Christ made “propitiation for the sins of the people” and 1 John 4:10 says “in this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

3. Reconciliation

Whereas expiation refers to the removal of our sins, and propitiation refers to the removal of God’s wrath, reconciliation refers to the removal of our alienation from God.

Because of our sins, we were alienated – separated — from God. Christ’s death removed this alienation and thus reconciled us to God. We see this, for example, in Romans 5:10-11: “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

4. Redemption

Our sins had put us in captivity from which we need to be delivered. The price that is paid to deliver someone from captivity is called a “ransom.” To say that Christ’s death accomplished redemption for us means that it accomplished deliverance from our captivity through the payment of a price.

There are three things we had to be released from: the curse of the law, the guilt of sin, and the power of sin. Christ redeemed us from each of these.

Note that we are not simply redeemed from the guilt of sin; to be redeemed from the power of sin means that our slavery to sin is broken. We are now free to live to righteousness. Our redemption from the power of sin is thus the basis of our ability to live holy lives: “You have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

5. Defeat of the Powers of Darkness

Christ’s death was a defeat of the power of Satan. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 3:15). Satan’s only weapon that can ultimately hurt people is unforgiven sin. Christ took this weapon away from him for all who would believe, defeating him and all the powers of darkness in his death by, as the verse right before this says, “having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

6. And he Did All of This By Dying As Our Substitute

The reality of substitution is at the heart of the atonement. Christ accomplished all of the above benefits for us by dying in our place – that is, by dying instead of us. We deserved to die, and he took our sin upon him and paid the penalty himself.

This is what it means that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). As Isaiah says, “he was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities . . . the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him” (Isaiah 53:5-6).

You see the reality of substitution underlying all of the benefits discussed above, as the means by which Christ accomplished them. For example, substitution is the means by which we were ransomed: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Christ’s death was a ransom for us — that is, instead of us. Likewise, Paul writes that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).

Substitution is the means by which we were reconciled: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). It is the means of expiation: “He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21) and “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). And by dying in our place, taking the penalty for our sins upon himself, Christ’s death is also the means of propitiation.

To close: Two implications. First, this is very humbling.

Second, “Greater love has no one than this, than he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

April 22, 2011 | Filed Under Theology | 32 Comments 

Comments

  • http://ingmarhingwah.blogspot.com Gordon Cheng

    It is a great list Matt, and thank you. But I’m surprised that you don’t mention justification more explicitly. Romans 5:9 is one important verse that links together Jesus’ death and our justification:

    “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

  • http://ingmarhingwah.blogspot.com Gordon Cheng

    Another observation: I notice that you quote Romans 3:25-26, which is wonderful and likewise links the propitiation Christ brought about to our justification. What a blessing!

    These verses link back to Romans 1:16-17 ( indeed, they bring to a close the argument that Paul begins in those verses), where Paul states that in the gospel ‘righteousness from God’ is revealed. As you know, the Greek word underlying ‘righteousness’ is the same word as the one underlying the word ‘justification’.

    So Paul’s central concern in writing this section—and I would argue the whole of Romans—is to establish that the death of Christ brings about our justification.

    I’m sure I’m not saying more than you already know! But I agree with Luther that justification is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls, and I think he got his understanding first and foremost from Paul in Romans.

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  • Matt

    Gordon,

    I totally agree on the centrality of justification.

    In one sense I should have titled this post something like “the nature of the atonement,” because what I’m primarily looking at is what Christ’s death _is_ in itself. It _is_ an expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption. Justification is a core benefit flowing from the nature of the atonement (and resurrection) that definitely would have been good to discuss as well. In an earlier version I discussed it in conjunction with expiation (as the removal of our sins goes hand in hand with the imputation of Christ’s righteousness) but took it out to save space.

    Here are a couple of things I’ve written on justification elsewhere:

    “Understanding the Gospel: Justification”: http://contendforthefaith2.com/just.html

    “Justification by Faith Alone”: http://contendforthefaith2.com/just2.html

    Matt

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  • http://ingmarhingwah.blogspot.com Gordon Cheng

    Hi Matt,

    I didn’t want to come across too critically as I though it likely that this is what you were getting at, but thanks for the fuller explanation and the links!

    God bless,

    Gordon

  • http://www.contendingforthefaith.com John Metz

    I appreciate your post. As believers, it is crucial that we appreciate what Christ has accomplished for us through the cross. Here is another way of listing what Christ accomplished on the cross that I have found helpful. (This is not to negate what was posted but to offer a different perspective.)
    1. Christ died for our sins: “For I delivered to you, first of all, that which also I received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3) and “Who Himself bore up our sins in His body on the tree…” (1 Pet. 2:24). In other words, Christ died for the sinful deeds committed by men as the equivalent of the trespass offering in Leviticus.
    2. Christ died for sin: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29) and “…God, sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” (Rom. 8:3) “Sin” differs from “sins” in that the sins are the acts that stem from the root of the sin nature of man. Here, Christ’s death on the cross is equivalent to the sin offering in Leviticus.
    3. Christ died for “me,” “I,” the “old man:” “I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live…” (Gal. 2: 20) and “Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with Him…” (Rom 6:6).
    4. Christ died to deliver us from the world: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.” (Gal. 6:14) and “Now is the judgment of this world…” (John 12:31).
    5. Through the cross, Christ defeated Satan and his evil powers: “…now shall the ruler of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31); “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8); “that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 1:14); and “Stripping off the rulers and the authorities, He made a display of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Col. 2:15)
    6. Through the cross, he made peace, not only between God and man but among men by destroying the ordinances: “Wiping out the handwriting in ordinances, which was against us, which was contrary to us; and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14) and “For He Himself is our peace, He who has made both [Jews and Gentiles] one and has broken down the middle wall of partition, the enmity, abolishing in His flesh the law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might create the two in Himself into one new man, so making peace.” (Eph. 2:14-15). This presents Christ as our peace offering, another reference to Leviticus, and is greatly related to the corporate aspects of salvation – the formation of the universal Church as the Body of Christ and the one new man.
    7. Through the cross, Christ as a grain of wheat “fell into the ground” and died to release the divine life-element from within the “shell” of his humanity to produce “much fruit,” the regenerated believers as the many grains: “Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24).
    Expiation, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption are all included in these points and were accomplished by Christ dying on the cross as our substitute. Altogether, these form a strong base for our experience of the resurrected Christ as our life (Rom. 5:10; Col. 3:4).

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  • Gail

    If Christ broke the bondage over sin and
    satan’s power over us..then why does satan
    leave me alone when I am sad and have nothing in my life that makes me happy and am depressed and alone….but when something comes my way in life that brings joy into my
    life and makes me feel like life is wonderful and want to live.. he starts attacking me in so many ways..even to the point of using my Christian friends to say mean, hurtful things to me to steal my joy away from me and make me miserable and depressed. The reason I end up letting what they say get to me is because it happens so often to me and gets to me…wears me down…! if I give up the devil leaves me alone…if I try he attacks…..I have been alone, lonely for so long…I am 48 now…I have had horrible
    relationships in the past, abusive in every way ! I gave up for years on having anyone in my life…but was so lonely..even going to church ect..One day something in side me said to just make some friends….people to talk with….I went online just to make friends and not expecting anything met the most wonderful man ever..and a Christian man who respected me like never before. As time went on we grew in love and commitment…we were both so happy we met each other and both of us felt as if God must have had us meet . It was wonderful and I came out of loneliness and the depression from it…..I felt so alive and so excited abut my future and life ! I started being more positive, taking better care of myself… ect….and just when it all seemed so wonderful..the attacks came…..I tried to push them away and ignore them…but the devil tried all the harder…..began using others to say horrible, negative things to me. Non stop ! Push one person away and more would come out of the blue with negative nasty things to hurt me and steal my joy from me ! It really got to me after awhile and started coming up in the relationship…my man and I tried to work things out and start being happy together again and so other person close to me would start saying nasty, negative things. Example : I mention casually to my Christian friend that I haven’rt heard from Ken in 2 days..instead of saying something like…”maybe he got busy just give him time ass things can come up unexpectedly sometimes…he will call ect…” I get instead stuff like “” ,maybe he is playing you…or maybe he is laughing behind your back…maybe he is thinking of ways to dump you and that is why you haven’t heard from him ect…” The words get even more hurtful to me !By then I am so broken down in tears and feeling depressed that I start questioning Ken as if he is guilty of something….even when I believe what they say is not true somehow I now after their hurtful words have doubts planted in me making me insecure. Now the relationship between Ken and I are broken and damaged !Is this how God works? Does God cause horrible things to break people up that were once happy together ? Did God put the words in those peoples mouths to say to me ? or is the devil behind it all ? I have been told that the devil uses others sometimes to say things…to keep us from our destiny that God has planned for us ! Is this true ? I was so happy with Ken and he with me…it was so great and beautiful between us ! Why would God want me to go back to being lonely, depressed and unhappy in life ? I am sorry I let those people get to me wit their hurtful words…but I had no one else in my life to say positive things to me to counteract the harsh words they spoke .. I had no one else on my side!
    So easy to fall when you have no one to help hold you up when being attacked…no one to help me be strong when it is happening…so I fell hard and failed and lost the man I love who was wonderful to me ! I prayed God would redeem what the devil has stolen from me because now I know what really happened and who was behind it all..the devil..as far as I am concerned the devil has defeated me and fooled me….unaware. If God knows I am vulnerable and have no one positive in my life to help me not to listen to those negative people..Who will speak words that are positive to me and speak truth to me to help me resist those harsh words with truth ? Who then will help me ?
    I have no one else….Going to church is where I meet those negative people ! my relationship to Ken means so much to me and the devil robbed me !
    I am back to being lonely, depressed and even now thinking of ending my life…who wants to live a life where every thing that comes your way that makes you feel joyful about life gets robbed from you every time ? I am only human….if I had positive people in my life to tell me that those people with their harsh words are being used by the devil to harm me and not to listen to them. I would have not let it get to me….or to harm my relationship with Ken…but I had no one so I was easy prey for the devil ! Sorry but losing my relationship wit ken and having my joy robbed from me that I waited all my life for…makes me want to end it all ! This separation from Ken is killing me inside….God fight for me ! heal my relationship with Ken…restore it back to when we were happy…..and in love…..please do not let the devil win ! Do not let him have the victory Lord ! Save my relationship with Ken..let me have that joy and love I had with him again….and I will make it more wonderful and not allow myself to listen to negative people ever again ..nor will I doubt Ken over it ! Lord this is the only real happiness I have had in my life ! Please help !

    • Justin

      When you depend on someone or something in this world for happiness, you’ll almost always be let down. I’m sure Ken was a great person, but he himself can’t be the source of you’re happiness. If you’re Christian relying on people and not Jesus it’s sure to not work. Pray and ask to be closer to Jesus and to submit to the Fathers will, a relationship with him can’t fail, you need to love others but there love is not first, Gods should be. It’s a relationship, and God won’t let you down if you put him first.
      If you’re holding on to truth it always prevails. People and things are movable and can be influenced. God cannot, he’s you’re rock, but we have to obey him completely as you leaned on Ken completely. You must do that with Jesus. Then relationships can work. I pray everything gets better for you and you grow closer to the Lord

  • Pastor Isaac

    Thank you all God bless you.

  • Gabe Alexander

    Nothing LESS than this:

    “… through Him to reconcile all to Him (making peace through the blood of His cross), through Him, whether those on the earth or those in the heavens.” (Col. 1:20)

  • Tyler

    Hi, Gail

    I’m not sure if you’ll read this or not. I felt like sharing something that I pray will give you some hope, in this hard time. My Dad at 43 was diagnosed with PTSD ( post traumatic stress disorder) He suffers greatly daily and has came to a point of ending his life. He feels like he lost all reason and purpose to live. Again why I am saying this is some times believe it’s nice as cynical as it might sound, to know others are suffering as well. This is true most defiantly with Christ, He never ran from suffering Isaiah says He was lead there. Jesus is our joy when we look to Christ for everything and all that He done for us, knowing or selfishnes. Knowing we are the ones that would nail Him to the cro

  • Tyler

    Sorry I have to big of thumbs for my phone screen. But Him know we would nail Him to a Cross, He still went. It is ause like the page above He was redeeming us because He wanted to fill us with His spirit. To do so He had to die so He could remove deaths sting. So see Gail, your life is valuable
    and we where bought with a high price, your filled with the spirit when you excepted Christ to dwell in you and you new not the same person. Remind yourself that and know your not your own. You belong to Christ He wants to sustain your happiness and Him alone, everthing else good comes from the Father but He wants Christ to be enough before we are given much. Listen to what Chirst has to say about you nothing else can give such a lasting joy. God Bless and rember your life is valuable so much so Jesus die for it.

  • Daniel

    EXCELLENT explanations!!! So much so that one only needs to know how to read to understand. I thank God for you, you are definitely gifted at teaching, and you’ve definitely studied to show yourself approved!!! This really did bless me and I just want to encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing for the glory of God. may God bless you according to the riches of His grace!All the way from Trinidad and Tobago….God bless you!!! :)

  • Gail

    In reply to my last response over a month ago….I am getting stronger ! I am not letting anyone steal my joy or my dreams and hopes. I have enough experience to know the sign of bad company or negative people around me and who my REAL friend are ! I will never allow anyone any ore to speak negative to me or I will stop them immediately and know they are not good people to be around. I also realize the God is with me always watching over me. Jesus did not die on the cross for me to live negatively or to be depressed and let others crush me ! It is up to me do make a choice who I will listen to…it is high time I listen to pure, good and holy things and not allow negative comments to influence me. Happy to say Ken has NOT given up n me and just taking things slow with me now….this is great as it give me time to work on things within myself and heal and gives time for Ken to see those changes in me also ! I believe things will work out for Ken and I over time if I remain positive ! I have been programmed with so many negative things in my life and now I am re-programming my mind to think positive, hopeful thoughts…good things ! I believe God has revealed this to me through good people who opened my eyes. I am going to be ok and my life is going to be a positive one from now on ! Thank you for your encouragement and kind words everyone !

  • Thabir Bagh

    Thank You O’ Jesus My God and Savior,

  • Matt

    Gail,

    Thanks for sharing your heart and I am glad to hear (as of January) that you are getting stronger. I am sorry for my delay in saying anything–I’ve been buried in getting my book done and haven’t been able to do much at the blog. But I did pray for you when my assistant let me know about your comment.

    I very much understand what you are saying about receiving the negative comments from others. From what you described, those comments do not sound like something God would suggest at all, but rather like “flaming darts.” Proverbs says “there is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts.” Conversely, Jesus says to us “_be of good courage_, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) and Paul tells us to fix our minds on what is “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise” (summarized from Phil 4:8).

    Also, let me say this: the comments people were saying to you simply do not sound truthful. They sound like they were cynical, without basis in fact. So, if this has continued to happen or happens again, don’t let it get you down!

    I hope you are doing OK–and thanks, Tyler, for what you shared also.

    Matt

  • George Edwards

    Thank God for His word is awesome and it gives me life.

  • Denise Taylor

    Hi Gail, I want to share my testimony so it will encourage you… At 38 I came to Jesus and shared the most wonderful relationship with Him, because I was looking to Him. Then a crisis situation occurred in my life which took me five years to get over, forgive and move on in life, I was convinced I had lost the Lord and became depressed, people left my life and I became very lonely. Then one night I listened to Joseph Prince on TV and it has changed my life, everything has changed as I have taken my eyes off myself and what I think and turned back to Jesus, looking to Him and His word, I am no longer trying to analyse or work out but have learnt to Trust in the Lord with all my heart. Be encouraged as you look to Him He will bring His Shalom Peace into your life, wellness, prosperity & peace, Rich Blessings on your life, make Jesus your best friend, because He surely is, Denise

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  • Saran

    Dear Writer, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” is actually Colossians 2:15

    With the Love of Christ

  • James Mbuva

    These six Things Jesus Christ Accomplished on the Cross by His death blessed me, and I have shared with others; for without Christ’s death we would be under the dominion of sin and death. Thank you for writing on these items. God bless you. Amen!

  • Jim

    Hi Matt !
    According to Strong’s Concordance … Propitiation is defined as :
    Atonement , Expiatory , the Lid of the Ark – MercySeat .
    None of these appear to be in concert with your defination … but
    rather they are in concert with Expiation . They appear to be
    synonyms .
    No mention of … appeasing God’s Wrath !
    Many Thanks !

    • http://www.whatsbestnext.com/ Matt Perman

      Jim: Thanks for your thoughts. Strong’s misses the mark there. Some have sought to remove the concept of wrath from the meaning of propitiation, but it can’t be done. I would suggest Leon Morris’ excellent and very thorough discussion of this in his book _The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross_.

  • Ekua Oforiwaa

    This is my first time reading your post.. I believe The Lord led me to read this, based on the hunger in my heart to know more on the word of God..thank you and receive Gods blessing.