Why Did Christ Die?
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” -- Philippians 2:1-8
Philippians chapter two is one of many passages of Scripture in which we are exhorted and encouraged as believers to live in this world for the honor of God, serving and promoting one another’s happiness and welfare. In this chapter the Apostle Paul urges us to seek and promote spiritual unity among God’s saints, love and affection for one another, and humility and lowliness of mind. He urges us to exercise genuine care and concern for one another’s happiness and welfare.
The basis of the Apostle’s appeal is the grace of God toward us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Here and throughout the New Testament, believers are urged to godliness and obedience, not upon the basis of law, but upon the basis of grace. We are motivated and inspired, not by threats of punishment and promises of rewards, but by gratitude and love to God because of the mercy, love, and grace we have received and experienced in Christ.
Arguments for Christian Unity
In the first verse of this chapter, Paul gives us four arguments for unity, peace, and love in the Church of God. If we belong to Christ, we ought to constantly strive for and promote unity and peace among God’s elect. Indeed, if we truly belong to Christ, we do love one another; and we ought to walk in and build upon that love. Here are four reasons why we should do so.
1. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ” -- The word “consolation” means “comfort” or “confidence.” This is what Paul is saying: If we have any genuine ground of hope, comfort, and confidence in Christ, founded and based upon his person, his righteousness, his death, and his intercession as our Substitute and Advocate before God, then we ought to comfort one another and build one another up in the hope and confidence of the gospel.
2. “If there be any comfort of love” -- If we enjoy the comfort and strength of God’s love, the everlasting love of the Father, the redeeming love of the Son, the regenerating love of the Spirit, and the brotherly love of grace, that love which is so pleasant and delightful, then we ought to give one another the strength and comfort of mutual love.
3. “If any fellowship of the Spirit” -- If we have been brought into fellowship with God and with one another by the Spirit of grace, then we should constantly strive to maintain and build upon that blessed fellowship.
4. “If any bowels and mercies” -- If we have any real depth of affection, if we have any real compassion and concern for Christ, his gospel, his glory, and one another, if our religion is real, if it is more than lip-service to God, let us show that love and concern to one another.
If these things are not in us, if they do not flow from our hearts to the hearts and lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, if we do not truly love God’s people, then our religion, our profession of faith, our doctrinal orthodoxy, and our moral uprightness is nothing but a vain show of hypocrisy. But if these things are in us, Paul says, “Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (v. 2). Let all the heirs of heaven, let all the children of God, let all believers in Christ, let all the family of God be like minded in all things. Some say that is expecting too much; but that is exactly what Paul is saying here. That is not expecting too much. Let us be like minded, of the same mind, of one accord in love, affection, and care, -- in unity, harmony, and peace, -- in mind, purpose, and desire. These things reveal the reality or hypocrisy of our faith. These are marks, fruits, and evidences of inward grace.
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (v. 3). -- Anything that is done through strife dishonors God. Anything that divides brethren is a reproach to Christ. Anything that is born of contention casts a slur upon the gospel of the grace of God. The source of strife, division, and conflict between brethren is always vain-glory, pride, self-seeking, self-serving, self-promoting pride (Pro. 13:10). Let us, therefore, do nothing seeking recognition, honor, and praise. We should always look upon our brothers and sisters in Christ as being spiritually superior to ourselves, because in Christ they are perfect before God. Recognizing these things, we ought to willingly yield to the judgments, desires, pleasures, and rights of others.
"Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (v. 4). -- That simply means that the way to promote this unity and peace, this fellowship and love is to look out for and look after one another and quit looking out for yourself. Don’t seek your own praise. Seek someone else’s praise. Don’t promote yourself. Promote someone else. Don’t be concerned about your own feelings. Be concerned about your brother’s feelings and your sister’s feelings.
Friendship and fellowship is a two way street; but we must be willing for it to be all one way, --willing to give and receive nothing in return, --willing to serve and not be served, --willing to care for others and to neither want nor have anyone to care for us. Why? Why should any man or woman be willing to so abase himself, or herself? Why should we set aside our own ambitions, feelings, desires, and preferences for the sake of others? Upon what grounds can anyone make such an appeal? The Holy Spirit gives us the answer to these questions in verses five through eight.
The Mind of Christ
"Let this mind be in you,” this loving, self-abasing, self-sacrificing mind, “which was also in Christ Jesus:” Our Lord thought not of himself, but of us. He served not himself, but us. He came not to be ministered unto but to minister and to give his life a ransom for us. Our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
This is what the Holy Spirit teaches us in these verses. -- If the Lord Jesus Christ so loved us, we ought, for Christ’s sake, so to love one another (1 John 4:9-11; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:32-5:2). Because of his great love for us, that he might save us from our sins, ourselves, and the wrath of God, our all-glorious Lord Jesus Christ became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. God the Son assumed our nature. God’s own dear Son, as a man, fulfilled all the requirements of God’s law for his people. Then, having fulfilled all righteousness, the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, died upon the cursed tree as the sinners’ Substitute.
The Purpose of Christ’s Death
Why did the Lord of Glory endure such great humiliation? Why did the Lord Jesus Christ die in the place of chosen sinners at Calvary? What was the object and purpose of his death? What did the Son of God have in mind, what did he hope to accomplish by dying upon the cursed tree in the place of his people?Two things are certain. (1.) Whatever Christ intended to accomplish in his death, in the act of dying and by the merit and virtue of his death, shall most assuredly be accomplished. Christ, who is himself almighty God, is an effectual Redeemer. It is written, “He shall not fail” (Isa. 42:4). And (2.) the Word of God tells us plainly and exactly what the Son of God hoped and purposed to accomplish by his death. Here are seven things, plainly revealed in Holy Scripture, which the Lord Jesus Christ died to accomplish, seven revealed reasons for the death of God’s dear Son upon the cursed tree.
1. Christ died that he might be Lord of the entire universe (Rom. 14:9).
"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.” -- The blessed gospel doctrine of particular, effectual redemption is plainly revealed throughout the Scriptures. Christ died to redeem and save God’s elect. He did not die to save those who perish in their sins. The Son of God did not lay down his life for those for whom he refused even to pray (John 17:9, 20). The priestly work of our Savior cannot be divided. His sacrifice and his intercession are made for the same people.
Yet, there is a sense in which our Lord Jesus, as our Mediator, as the God-man, our Surety, bought the whole world and all who are in it (Matt. 13:44). As a man, our Mediator, bought the right to rule the whole world and all who are in it as a sovereign despot (John 17:2; 2 Pet. 2:1). He bought the right to dispose of the whole world and all who are in it as a righteous judge (2 Thess. 1:6-10). And our Lord Jesus, as a man, bought the right to make all things new and to have the praise of all things (Rev. 21:5; Rom. 8:23). By virtue of his death upon the cross, Christ the Man is Lord of all. He has all power over all flesh. And he constantly exercises that power as the Sovereign Monarch of the universe to save his own elect (Ps. 2:8; Acts 2:36; John 17:2; Ps. 115:3; 135:6).
2. Christ died upon the cross, under the wrath of God, as our Substitute, so that God might be both just and the Justifier of all who believe on him unto life everlasting (Rom. 3:19-28).
It is not possible for any of us to justify ourselves by personal obedience to the law, because we are all sinners. It is not possible for God himself to justify us without the perfect fulfillment of the law’s righteousness and the complete satisfaction of the law’s justice by Christ. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Through the merits of Christ’s obedience and death God is just and we are justified, made righteous in God’s sight. -- It was the specific object of Christ in his death to make all for whom he died righteous before God; and he did (2 Cor. 5:21; Jer. 23:6). Since we who believe on the Son of God are justified without the works of the law, we have no grounds of boasting before God. By faith in Christ, only by faith in Christ, we fulfill, honor, and satisfy the law of God (Rom. 3:31). Thus, all who believe are justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption that is on Christ Jesus.
3. Christ died for us, as our Substitute, under the wrath of God, to put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself (Heb. 9:24-26).
The Son of God was made to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). When he died, he put away our sins. Now, in him, God’s elect have no sin. They are removed from us as far as the east is from the west. The Lord God has cast our sins behind his back. In so far as our heavenly Father is concerned, in so far as the law and justice of God are concerned, we have no sin (Num. 23:21; 1 John 3:5).
My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more, .—
Praise the Lord! It is well with my soul!
4. The Lord Jesus Christ died upon the cursed tree, “that he might bring us to God.” (1 Pet. 3:18).
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” We were far off from God. Christ brought us nigh unto God. We were alienated from God. Christ reconciled us to God. We were enemies to God. Christ brought us peace with God. We were separated from God. Christ has given us access to God. We could never have come to God. Christ brought us to God, and will yet bring us unto God, and will at last present us holy, unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight, before the presence of his glory (Jude 24-25).
5. Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal. 1:4).
Our Savior came down from heaven and died in our place at Calvary to deliver all his people from the evil kingdom of this world, the evil ways of this world, the evil things of this world, the evil religion of this world, and the evil end of this world. In the light of this fact, let us give all the more earnest heed to the inspired psalmist.
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth” (Ps. 37:1-9).
6. Christ “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Tit. 2:14).
Every word in this text is precious and full of instruction. Do not let a single syllable slip by your eyes unnoticed. The Son of God has redeemed us from all iniquity, -- its penalty, -- its dominion, and all its evil consequences. The Lord Jesus Christ purifies his people, those people whom he has redeemed, as his peculiar, distinct people. He has purified our record in heaven (2 Cor. 5:17). He gives every redeemed sinner a purified conscience by granting him faith in his blood and righteousness. And he will purify us perfectly in the resurrection.
All who are redeemed by the blood of Christ and saved by his grace are his peculiar, distinct, special people; and they are zealous of good works. We belong to Christ as no one else. Every saved sinner is a blood bought, mercy sought, grace caught, Spirit taught, peculiar trophy of God’s free, amazing grace in Christ.
And all who are Christ’s are zealous of good works. That does not mean that believers live in perfection, or even in anything that resembles perfection. But it does mean that believers earnestly seek to do the will of God in all things, walking in love toward one another for the glory of him who loved us and gave himself for us.
7. Our most glorious Christ died for us that he might present us to his Father and our Father, before wandering worlds, in the beauty of perfect holiness, to the everlasting praise of the glory of his grace (Eph. 5:25-27; Col. 1:21-22; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Eph 2:7; Jude 24-25).
This, too, is the purpose of Christ in his death; and this, too, shall also be accomplished. These seven things are clearly set forth in the Word of God as the objects of his sin-atoning sacrifice. And, being the objects, the purposes for which he laid down his life, they shall be effectually accomplished by his grace and power. It is written, “He shall not fail”!
The Lord Jesus Christ came into this world and laid down his life for us so that we, all his people, God’s elect, the chosen sons and daughters of God almighty, might, through the merits of his precious, efficacious blood, receive and forever enjoy all the benefits and blessings of adoption in him (Gal. 4:4-5). Redemption, forgiveness, justification, regeneration, sanctification, preservation, and eternal glorification shall be the possession of every blood bought sinner forever to the praise of the triune God, because Christ died. Therefore, we confidently sing,
“Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
`Til all the ransomed Church of God
Be saved to sin no more!
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen."