Christ is all! We are complete in Him
For Christians, Christ is their advocate, propitiation, life, judge, hiding place and bridegroom.
Christ our Advocate
Christ, as Advocate, is the One who speaks in our defence. He is One “called alongside of,” having a legal connotation. So Jesus is the One called in to help us before the judgement bar of God. We are not to think of Him as having gone through His life upon the earth, and His death upon the cross, and then being finished with men. Rather He still bears His concern for men upon His heart. Luke 22:32 and John 17 are instances where Christ offers intercession on behalf of His own, and Paul describes Jesus as the One “that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). His ministry as Advocate, then, continues. This being so, we may be assured that since the Father hears Him always, and is well-pleased with Him, and since Christ is always effective in His mediation, we (believers) will certainly be with Him where He is, and behold His glory.
Christ suitable and all-sufficient
As the Puritan Richard Alleine aptly puts it, “God has put Christ into the covenant and made Him over to His people,” a concept backed up by Isaiah 42:6: “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” A similar thought is reiterated later on: “I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages” (Isaiah 49:8).
So all God’s promised blessings find their concrete expression in Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20). Whether it be light (Luke 2:32; John 1:4; 8:12), or righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6), or eternal life (John 17:2-3), or redemption (Colossians 1:14), all accrues to the believers because of Christ the Lord and King (Isaiah 32:1; 9:6; Zechariah 9:9), for He is the Head of the Body, the Husband of the church (Ephesians 1:22,23; 1 Corinthians 2:3; 6:17). Through union with Him, the saints receive His grace, share His honour and partake of His rights and possessions: for instance, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
In this light He is most suitable for us; there is none other comparable to Him. The twin ideas of suitability and all-sufficiency are woven together in Hebrews 7:24-26: “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinner, and made higher than the heavens...”
The believer has enough in Christ Jesus. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalms 23:1ff.). Dark in himself, He has Christ as the source of light; dead in himself, Christ is life to him - “Because I live, ye shall live also” - destitute in himself, Christ is the fountainhead of all the treasures of grace, mercy, wisdom, peace, righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30-31); the believer is “complete in him” (Colossians 2:10). Filthy in himself, the believer enjoys judicial sanctification and therefore also progressive sanctification by Christ, whose aim in dying was to “sanctify” every member of the Body (Ephesians 5:26).
His all-sufficiency for us is seen in the fact that He is made our Surety: where we have failed, He succeeded on our behalf (Hebrews 7:22). He became responsible for all the legal obligations of His people, not merely a part of them or for a short while only.
Furthermore, being the federal Head, he has authority and influence over all believers from the beginning of time to the Consummation (1 Corinthians 15:22). The Father appointed Him sole Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; see also Hebrews 8:6; 12:24). In this arrangement, Christ cancelled His people’s debt by His atoning blood, earned their entitlement to eternal life and freely bestows heavenly blessings on them.
The Holy One of God is suitable for helpless sinners. The Almighty Son is all-sufficient for all their needs, for all fulness dwells in Christ. God grants no eternal blessings outside of Christ. Believers receive the benefits of His atonement and the power of His resurrection. Having entered into a covenanted redemption they have a living and blessed hope as they await Him patiently, meanwhile boasting in their covenant Saviour.
Christ our Propitiation
The word ‘propitiation’ (hilasmos) was used extensively in ancient pagan writings of the appeasement of an angry god by offerings, thus being placated or mollified. But the way it is used in the Bible it is never man who takes the initiative or makes the sacrifice, but God Himself who out of His great love for the sinner provides the way by which His own righteous wrath against sin may be placated and turned away. In 1 John 4:10, the only other passage in the New Testament which uses the exact form of the word found earlier in 1 John 2:2, God’s love is emphasized. God Himself placates His wrath against sin so that His love may go out to embrace and fully save the sinner. This He accomplished by not sparing His own Son, but exposing Him as the propitiatory sacrifice. Christ, in His atonement on Calvary, is and ever will be the reason why God could righteously justify sinners and welcome them into His presence. Christ is effectively such a needed propitiation (1 John 2:2), and not merely a potential one, depending on whether the sinner will choose to believe in Him or not. Thus the reconciliation of the elect in experiential salvation is assured; it will take place in the course of time, just as Christ’s expiatory sacrifice was historically real, and well-pleasing to God, removing the barrier of sin, turning God’s righteous anger away and satisfying His justice on our behalf. It was to fulfill God’s love that He did this.
Christ our Life
Christ is our life in every sense: having life in Himself, He gives physical life to every creature, whether angelic, human or beastly.
Specifically He is the giver of eternal life, having received authority to do so in the covenant of grace: “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (John 17:2).
Eternal life is thus defined by Christ Himself: to know God and His Christ (John 17:3). This is a sublime definition of salvation, especially if we add what is clearly understood: Christ sent to be the Saviour of the world (John 3:16; 4:42; 6:33; 1 John 4:14; 5:20).
So much so that the one who is in vital union with Christ has life; he who is apart from Christ and His grace is dead even while he lives. 1 John 5:11,12: “And this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
Christ being the centre and circumference of all true and lasting life, Paul speaks of this “promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:1). By his faith, expressing itself naturally in godliness, the Christian lays hold of eternal life (1 Timothy 6:19).
Apart from Christ and gloom and despair; in Christ a living hope. “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). Abundant life now, as He promised (John 10:10), and the full bloom of eternal life in the world to come, so much so that “Without Christ there is no help or remedy, no matter how pious men may be,” and, “One can dispense with all the saints, but Christ...no man can dispense with” (Luther).
Christ our Judge
The great and small, poor and rich, all people of all ages will have to render account of their works at the Last Day. Believers too will be manifested before the judgement-seat of Christ that they may receive the things done in the body whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). This does not clash with the statement that the believer does “not come into judgement.”
The Lord Jesus will sit on the judgement-seat, He who died for believers’ sins, and rose again for their justification; and He is the believers’ righteousness - He will not condemn His own work. The saint, being fully justified, cannot be judged. Indeed, John 5:24 declares he does not come into judgement at all. But his whole life will be brought into review, all will then be seen by him in its true light, whether good or bad, and this will but serve to exalt the grace that has saved him.
The exhortation to the Philadelphians is “Hold fast which thou hast that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 3:11). And the Lord says “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). All that Christians do now will then be manifested; they should therefore seek to do such work as will stand the fire, and such as will be owned and approved of in that day by their Lord and Master. His love to us is “made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgement, because as he is so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
As Judge Christ is perfectly righteous and fair; He knows the hearts of men (Romans 2:16) and judges them impartially without being a respector of persons. The Bible praises this aspect of His mediatorship (cf. Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 37:23; Psalms 89:14; Isaiah 45:21). His sceptre is a sceptre of righteousness; in Him power and justice kiss each other.
He judges because of who He is: “And hath given him authority to execute judgement also, because he is the Son of man” (John 5:27; cf. 9:39). By His resurrection we have proof positive that He will judge all (Acts 10:42; 17:31).
Christ our Hiding Place
Christ is spoken of in anticipation, before His appearing, as the Hiding Place, in a context of sin and forgiveness, sheltering the repentant sinner from wrath and condemnation: “Thou art my hiding place, thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance” (Psalms 32:7). Temporal troubles and the eternal woe of hell will leave no scar on the one who runs to Jesus for security and safety.
But Christ the Hiding Place is made known to us in and through the Scriptures. The sound Christian will seek to immerse himself in the revealed Word: “I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love. Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word” (Psalms 119:113,114).
The ideal king and government, fully realised only in Messiah when He came in humility to establish His righteous government on earth, is depicted prophetically in Isaiah 32:1,2, again employing the metaphor of the hiding place: “Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness...And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest...”
With intense theological language, Paul sums it up by saying that as our refuge is in Christ, “a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18) even so our whole future is wrapped up in Him, who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).
Christ our Bridegroom
The Bridegroom is presently calling and perfecting His heavenly bride; this He does through the preaching of the gospel: “For I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
The accomplishment of His design is secured: having set His love upon her from eternity, He has historically atoned for her “that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church...For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church...” (Ephesians 5:26,27,31,32).
So, besides the body of Christ and the house of God, the church is seen as the bride of Christ. Collectively all believers from all ages will be presented to Christ as His bride. This shows the unique relationship that the church has and will have with Christ for eternity.
The eschatological fulfilment of God’s purposes are depicted under the figure of a marriage supper. “The marriage of the Lamb is come and his wife has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7-9). The elect have the special place of nearness and the intimacy of affections which Christ will display to the universe.
As the Bridegroom, then, Christ expresses His great and incomparable love and faithfulness towards His people (Isaiah 62:5; Matthew 9:15; 25:1-10; Mark 2:19,20; Luke 5:34,35; John 3:29).