Yesterday, we spoke in length on how the death of Christ afforded mercy for the world. This mercy has been manifested and is presently manifested in the staying of God’s hand from striking down every human on the planet in immediate judgment. Because of this we said, repeating Scripture’s declarations, that one facet of Christ’s work on the cross was a propitiatory one, i.e. one that turns aside the wrath of God for a time. We looked at this particularly in God’s covenant with Noah following the Great Flood and how such a covenant necessitates a Propitiator and how Noah’s sacrifice was a foreshadowing and an anticipation of him who is the true Sacrifice and Offering for humanity.
This propitiatory work of Christ for humanity is indeed gracious and merciful on its own accord. The fact that God gives the children of Adam a reprieve from their deserved and ultimate damnation is a mercy that should be incomprehensible to any reasonable heart, and yet Christ’s work on the cross for humanity did not end with its propitiation for humanity.
To understand this second aspect of Christ’s work, we must understand the nature and desserts of all men. We learn in Scripture that all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and that no man is righteous on his own accord (Rom. 3:23, etc.). We are also told in Scripture that every person is guilty before God, not only for the evil deeds that flow from his evil heart, but because of the imputation of Adam’s sin to his children (cf. Rom. 5:12-21). All men therefore, because of their father’s deed and their own wicked deeds, are doubly guilty before God and deserve evil continually.
In spite of the wickedness of men, Scripture teaches that the rain of blessing falls on the just and the unjust from the hand of a loving and gracious God (cf. Matt. 5:45). All men, regardless of their self-righteousness or wickedness, enjoy an amount of blessings while they live upon the earth. All, despite their relationship to Christ, breathe the air that God has provided for the world, give and are given in marriage, enjoy children and grandchildren, are given food for their sustenance and shelter for their protection.
All of these good things that God grants to all people are a gift through Christ and his blood, for it is through his blood that the immediate wrath of God is removed from mankind so that they might live and it is through his blood that these aforementioned gifts are granted to men while they live. And because of his death, Christ has been granted the name above names and is exalted above all things so that in all things he is preeminent and in him all things, including the unregenerate and regenerate, are held together and sustained (cf. Col. 1:15-20).
This goodness of God in Christ in spite of humanity’s wickedness is revealed apart from Scripture in the testimony of Nature, and therefore all humanity is aware of the mercy and goodness of God. The Apostle writes concerning this general awareness in his Epistle to the Romans:
For what can be know about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him (vv. 1:19-21).
Though God has revealed his goodness to all men, they do not give thanks to him for it and thereby condemn themselves further for their ingratitude.
Therefore Christ is for the world the fount head of mercy and blessing, for in his death he temporarily withholds the Divine Judgment and also extends to all common blessings and enjoyments in this age. Tomorrow we will look at redemptive aspect of Christ’s work on the cross.