Posted by Stephen Venable

There is a residue that still lingers within the Protestant tradition. As a result of what Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and the other reformers were responding to (distortion of the doctrine of justification by faith primarily communicated in Pauline literature), in their generation and centuries following there emerged an overemphasis on the effects of Christ’s saving work. Even as diverse as Protestantism now is, if Jesus is actually discussed it is often limited to what He achieved on our behalf.

Though glorious and necessary, the examination of His work must be accompanied by a living understanding of His person. Increasingly men and women are seeking to define soteriological truths for a modern audience and coming to wrong conclusions because of a vague conception of who Jesus is. Identity determines the parameters for action and defines the significance of it. This truth extends to all times, all places, and all people but nowhere is it more important to recognize than when reckoning with God Himself. It is impossible to rightly interpret what the Bible says about the things that Jesus did without first being established in what the Bible says about who He is. One of the most important premises for growing in the knowledge of Jesus is very intentionally binding His person and work together to form an integrated approach to beholding Him.

We commence with a consideration of CHRIST’S PERSONAL PRECIOUSNESS—His preciousness in Himself. It is the conviction of Christ’s personal dignity and worth that gives to faith such a substantial realization of the greatness and preciousness of His work. We have need, beloved, to be cautioned against an error into which some have fallen—of exalting the work of Christ above the person of Christ—in other words, not tracing the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice to the essential dignity of Christ’s person. The Godhead of the Savior admitted—His atoning death becomes a fact of easy belief. Once concede that He who died upon the cross was “GOD manifest in the flesh,” and the mind will experience no difficulty in admitting that that death was sacrificial and expiatory. (Octavius Winslow)

Apart from clear perception of the great pillars of His divinity and His humanity, and the totality of His person, the unique mediatorial achievement of Jesus is easily misconstrued as merely exemplary or but one way of relationship with God instead of the exclusive sacrifice of the God-man for the reconciling of depraved humanity. Furthermore, if severed from His identity, various facets of the work of Jesus can be divorced from one another. Taken to extremities, this can result in eventually just dismissing part of His work altogether. The benefits of the cross can be extolled while the fierceness of His judgments are forgotten or denied. An adoring preoccupation with the matchless identity of Christ stands as the remedy. Let us look unto Him.

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