Christ, the Apex of Redemptive History
The incarnate Word
The incarnate Jesus Christ stands at the apex of redemptive history because God’s administration for redemption is revealed and fulfilled through His crucifixion.
The Bible introduces the Messiah progressively
The Old and New Testaments progressively introduce the Messiah in relation to the events and the flow of each era (John 5:39, 45-47; Heb 1:1-2). Thus, our chief focus in reading the Bible must be on the Messiah and the redemptive history fulfilled by Him—how God saved mankind through Christ and how He will complete the work of salvation. The messianic promise was first made in Genesis 3:15, which revealed that He would come as the woman’s seed. The method of fulfilling this promise was progressively revealed through Isaiah’s prophesy: “A virgin will be with child and bear a son” (Isa 7:14). It was finally fulfilled through the conception by the Holy Spirit and the virgin birth of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:18-25).
Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was predestined
Jesus’ crucifixion was not an incidental or spontaneous event. When the time to bear the cross was imminent, Jesus said, “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined” (Luke 22:22) and “For this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, seeking to do the Father’s will and not His own (Matt 26:38-42; Luke 22:42; Heb 5:7). Paul added that Christ died for our sins “according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3). Thus, our Savior Jesus Christ came to this earth, lived, and died on the cross according to the Scriptures. Furthermore, He rose again on the third day after destroying the power of death in accordance with the Scriptures. He remained on the earth forty days after His resurrection and ascended into heaven in accordance with the Scriptures. His Second Coming will also be fulfilled in accordance with the scriptural prophecies. All these events were predestined as part of God’s administration for redemption.
Jesus Christ accomplished redemption once and for all
Jesus Christ accomplished redemption once and for all through the cross, and its efficacy is everlasting. Concerning Jesus Christ’s redemptive work, the author of Hebrews says, “But through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb 9:12). The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not a single independent event that occurred two thousand years ago; its power continues to save today, and its efficacy is everlasting. The Old Testament priests had to be continuously replaced when they died. Atonement sacrifices had to be prepared again and again, and the blood of the sacrifice had to be offered repeatedly (Heb 7:20-28). In contrast, Jesus Christ is the everlasting priest (Heb 7:21-24) and the perpetual sacrifice offered once for all (Rom 6:10; Heb 7:26-28; 9:26, 28; 10:10). The Greek word for "once" is evfa,pax (ephapax) and means “once for eternity.” Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross achieved eternal salvation, not a temporal one.
The work of redemption will be completed through the Second Coming
The Old Testament testified of Jesus Christ numerous times and in various ways (Heb 1:1). Jesus Christ is the Word who came in the flesh according to the prophecies of the Old Testament. He came at the fullness of time and proclaimed the Word without rest while He was on the earth until His death on the cross (John 5:17; Gal 4:4). He worked with the zeal of the Lord to save sinners who were predestined for salvation from the beginning of time (Isa 9:7; 62:1; 2 Cor 11:2). He demonstrated His boundless love for mankind by shedding His blood on the cross (Rom 5:8; 1 John 4:10), thereby completing the work of redemption. Since then, the Holy Spirit has been working to bestow the virtues of Jesus Christ’s work upon all those who are chosen to receive salvation, so to lead them toward salvation. God fulfilled the work of redemption through the First Coming, and He will perfect it through the Second Coming.
Conclusion: When the Lord returns at the Second Coming, those who died in Christ will be resurrected to a transformed body, and those who are alive will be transfigured to the completion of God’s saving work (1 Cor 15:51-54; 1 Thess 4:16-17). After the thousand-year reign, the devil, who had caused the fall of this world, will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone. Then, the first heaven and the first earth will pass away, and the new heaven and the new earth will at last be established (Rev 20:1-10; 21:1). The history of God’s work of redemption, which has tirelessly run its course since the fall of Adam, will arrive at its glorious completion through the Second Coming of the Christ. It is our calling to be used as God’s precious vessels until His work of redemption is complete.