By Walton Weaver
To say that Jesus Christ came into the world is simply to affirm an historical fact. The manner of his coming is a much more complex subject, but Scripture itself affirms that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), and that “God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16). We accept as fact what Scripture itself affirms about the incarnation of Christ, and make no attempt to address the more complex questions associated with that subject. Our aim is briefly to touch on the question, why? Why did Jesus Christ come into the world? And even on this question we must limit the scope of our inquiry. There are reasons for his coming that are beyond the purpose of this article. Our study will be limited to four reasons which the Bible gives for Christ’s coming into the world. Each of these pertains directly to our salvation.
To Do The Father’s Will
Jesus himself said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). He came to do “the works of Him who sent Me,” and yet he had only a brief time in which to do them a period described by him as “while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4). Though he did many “works” all of which were a part of the Father’s will, there was one work in particular that was to be the ultimate outcome of all of these works. The last week of his life, and in anticipation of his death, he said, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do” (John 17:4). His statement looks back upon his life as brought to a perfect end by the sacrifice of himself which he was about to make. On the cross he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), no doubt meaning that he had accomplished the work he had come into the world to do. God had prepared a body for him that he might offer himself to God in a very special way (Heb. 10:5). This offering of himself upon the cross was the ultimate goal of all that he had come into the world to accomplish.
God did not desire the sacrifices and offerings made under the law, but he prepared a body for Christ that he might come and do the Father’s will “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). To this end, Jesus affirmed, “I have come In the volume of the book it is written of Me To do Your will, 0 God” (Heb. 10:7). The Hebrew writer had already said, “who, in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and was heard because of his godly fear, though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience by the things which he suffered. And having been perfected, he became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him . . .” (Heb. 5:7-9). Christ was obedient to the Father’s will in every respect. His perfect obedience qualified him to be offered up as a sin offering to God. His resolve to completely do the Father’s will is best illustrated in the length to which he was willing to go in the offering up of himself on the cross for us. Paul makes this point when he says that he “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8).
To Reveal The Father
Christ is the only one whose testimony of the Father involved an immediate apprehension of him. He is the only one to have himself observed the Father. The very fact that he “came down from heaven” (John 3:13) enabled him to bear witness to what he had “seen” with his Father (John 5:19; 6:46; 8:38) and what he had “heard” from him (John 8:26, 28, 40; 14:10, 24; 15:15 the same was true of the Holy Spirit, John 16:13). While he was in the world the same relation which he had all along with the Father continued. He continued to be “with” the Father who sent him (John 8:16, NKJV). His judgment was true because he was not alone; it was the Father’s judgment as well as his own because his relation to the Father was such that whatever he said the Father also said. Christ’s judgment was not merely a human judgment; it was a divine judgment because of his unique relation to the Father. His judgment was God’s judgment be-cause he was one with the Father. Is this not but another way of saying that whatever he spoke and whatever he did he spoke and acted as one with the Father because his very nature required that he speak and act as one with him (Heb. 1:3)? This is what he meant when he said that he could of himself do nothing (John 5:19, 30 nor could the Holy Spirit speak “of himself’ John 16:13).
This unique relation with the Father enabled Jesus to perfectly declare the Father unto us. This was another reason for his coming into the world. John 1:18 says, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Again, the unique relation of the unique Son of God (lit., in the earliest manuscripts, “the only begotten God”) to the Father is what is affirmed. The words “who is in the bosom of the Father” suggest an abiding closeness between the Father and the Son. It is Christ’s intimacy with the Father while he was declaring him that is being described, and yet what is said describes what is permanently true of Christ. Alvah Hovey quotes Luke as pointing out that the “timeless present participle is here used, like the finite present in 1 John 3:3, 7, to express an inherent, permanent relation of the only begotten Son to the Father” (Commentary on the Gospel of John, p. 69). Because of this ever abiding relation to the Father, John says that Christ is the one who has declared him or made him known. What has been declared is what Christ knew by being in the bosom of the Father. Christ had immediate and intuitive knowledge of God (John 8:55). This could be affirmed of no other. Only the Son has such knowledge of the Father (see Matt. 11:27). He alone could say when asked of Philip, “Lord, show us the Father,” that “he who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). He was declaring the Father unto us in his every word and action.
To Destroy the Works of the Devil
John says, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Both Jesus and other writers of our New Testament also had much to say about this same problem and how Jesus’ coming into the world was meant to deal with it. Questions on the origin, nature and consequences of sin, on the one hand, and the nature of God and how he must deal with sin, on the other, are central to the subject of salvation and why Jesus Christ came into the world. These are not new subjects; they are not first introduced in the New Testament. From the very beginning the problem of sin was present. God’s hatred for sin had also been demonstrated again and again throughout the Old Testament period. When John affirms that “the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil,” he is simply announcing what is God’s last effort to overthrow the power sin, and what is more important, what proves to be his triumphant act in accomplishing that fact.
With the lifting up of Christ on the cross a certain judgment would be brought against this world (John 12:31a). The ruler of this world would be cast out (John 12:31b). Jesus would through his lifting up draw all men unto him-self (John 12:32). “That world remained God’s world, even though it had become disintegrated by sin and had tried to organize itself without reference to its Creator, and in con-sequence stood under His judgment. But Jesus lifted on the cross, the supreme expression of the invincible power of divine love, would draw to himself like a magnet all who accepted in faith His victory over sin and evil; and over against all such believers the world and its prince would be impotent” (R.V.G. Tasker, The Gospel According to St. John, p. 150). Jesus Christ and the cross is the Christian’s victory over the world. To those who are called the cross is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24). Though Christ died in weakness, he is mighty in us (2 Cor. 13:3-4). John assures his readers that they are of God and have overcome those who have the spirit of Antichrist “be-cause He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:3-4). No Old Testament saint ever had such strong incentive to be an overcomer.
To Take Away Sins
Not only did Jesus come to destroy the works of the devil in our lives, but he was also “manifested to take away our sins” (1 John 3:5). Sin is a transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4). Sin reaps the wage of death (Rom. 6:23), or separates one from God (Isa. 59:1-2). The sacrifices of the law could not remit sins (Heb. 10:1-4) and bring sinful man back into God’s favor. A better offering was required; yet it must be a blood offering, for “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22). The better offering was the blood of Jesus Christ. We may now be “sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). Christ “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). We were redeemed by the “precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19). “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us …” (Gal. 3:13); God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Such an offering was necessary in order that God might be just: ” . . . For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:22b-26). All men had broken God’s law. All were lawbreakers. The penalty was spiritual death, eternal separation from God. God had allowed this condition to continue all during the Old Testament period. No provision to take away sins had been provided. The demand of the law for punishment had to be met. God sent his Son to suffer the penalty for our sins. In his death upon the cross the just demands of the law had been met. God is just in saving those who believe. Christ’s sacrifice also made provision for those under the First Covenant (Heb. 9:15). Through the provisions of the New Covenant we have the assurance that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The testimony of John the Baptist is, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin on the world!” (John 1:29).
Guardian of Truth XL: 1 p. 1
January 4, 1996