We’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. Today I want to look at the questions: What benefits has Christ obtained by his death?; How do we come to be made participants of the benefits which Christ has obtained?; and, Who are made participants in the benefits which Christ has obtained?
So, firstly, what are the benefits that Jesus has obtained for humans? When Jesus Christ died he was obtaining eternal redemption for sinners. The author of Hebrews says about Christ: ‘He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption’ (Hebrews 9:12). So although we deserve eternal punishment for our sin, Jesus redeems us from the death that we deserve and gives us eternal life. Jesus himself makes this point when he says: ‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45).
But how do we come to be made participants in the redemption that Christ has obtained? The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us participants in the redemption of Christ. Paul says: ‘But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life’ (Titus 3:4-7). No one is redeemed without the Holy Spirit applying the work of redemption to them.
So then, how do you know who the Holy Spirit has applied redemption to so that they have been redeemed from sin by Christ? Once the Holy Spirit has applied the work of Christ to someone, he enables them to believe in Christ. Paul teaches us: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9). God gives the gift of faith to those who have been saved through Christ. So when someone believes, they demonstrate that they have had the work of Christ applied to them by the Holy Spirit. Paul makes this point when he writes to the church in Corinth. He says: ‘It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence’ (2 Corinthians 4:13-14).
So how can you enjoy the benefit of redemption that Christ has obtained through the cross? Believe that Jesus Christ has died for you at the cross. If you truly believe, then you are revealed as one who Christ has ransomed and who has had the Holy Spirit apply that work to you.
So believe, in Jesus Christ and you will be saved.