Questions and Answers on the Offices and Atonement of Christ

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These questions and answers are from the Student Catechism.

111.  What are the three offices of Christ?

The three offices of Christ are Prophet, Priest, and King.

112.  Why did Jesus need to fulfill these offices?

Jesus had to fulfill these offices to meet our needs. As Prophet He enlightens our darkened minds. He calls us to repentance. As Priest, He cleanses our corrupt hearts and reconciles us to God. As King, He delivers our wills from the bondage of the devil and will eventually “put all things under His feet.”

113.  Why did Jesus have to die?

Jesus had to die because the consequence of our sin was death. In order to reverse the curse of the Fall, Jesus took that consequence. Jesus identified with us even to the point of death to restore us. Jesus was able to destroy death and the devil by dying and then raising from the dead. We are saved when we identify with Christ, dying to sin as Jesus died for sin, and then by faith identifying with Christ in His resurrection.

114.  Was Christ punished for our sins?

Christ was only punished provisionally for our sins. It is most precise to say that Christ suffered for us so that we don’t have to be punished for our sins. The problem with saying that Christ took our punishment in an absolute sense is that one might conclude that no one for whom Christ died could be punished for his sins, since the punishment was already taken by Christ, and it would be unjust for punishment to be suffered twice for the same sins.

115.  Do we believe that the atonement is objective?

We do believe that the atonement is a once-for-all objective act, but we say that it is the basis for forgiveness; it doesn’t secure our forgiveness automatically.

116.  Was Christ our Substitute?

Christ was our substitute. “He was wounded for our transgressions . . . He died the just for the unjust . . . (Isaiah 531 Peter 3:18).

117.  How would you define the atonement?

The atonement is that gracious act of God whereby Christ, the sinless God-man, demonstrating God’s love for man and hatred for sin, suffered in the place of all mankind, giving His life’s blood to fully satisfy the justice and holiness of God, propitiating for sin, then rising from the dead, destroying the power of sin and death, overcoming the devil, and thereby making it possible that all who repent and believe will be forgiven instead of being punished for their sins, sanctified and (ultimately) glorified.

118.  How important is the resurrection to atonement?

The resurrection confirms the atonement. It is evidence that Jesus has power over sin, death, and the devil, and that He can give spiritual and physical life to those who trust him.

119.  Is there proof that Jesus really rose from the dead?

There is overwhelming evidence that Jesus rose from the dead. This evidence includes the facts that people observed Him die, after which the tomb He was buried in was found empty three days later, that Jesus was seen alive by hundreds of people after His death and burial, and that the disciples willingly died for their faith (they would have known their story was a lie if it were; no one willingly dies for what they know is a lie).

120.  What are the unconditional benefits of the atonement?

The unconditional benefits of the atonement are the continued existence of the human race, salvation of infants, and prevenient grace, making salvation possible for all persons.

121.  What are the conditional benefits of the atonement?

The conditional benefits of the atonement include justification, regeneration, adoption, the witness of the Spirit, and entire sanctification.

122.  Did Christ die for everyone?

Jesus Christ died for everyone. The atonement is universal.  1 John 2:2 says that Christ made propitiation not only for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world. 2 Cor 5:15 says that He died for all. Romans 14:15 says that He died for those that may perish. 1 Timothy 4:10 says that Jesus is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

123.  Does this mean that everyone will be saved?

Universal atonement does not mean universal salvation. John 3:16 says that God gave His Son so that whoever believes would not perish but have everlasting life.  Salvation is conditioned upon our faith.

Mark Bird
Mark Bird is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at God's Bible School and College.