The Question Is…

…on whose behalf did Christ offer Himself a sacrifice? Whom did He reconcile to God in the body of His flesh through death? Whom did He redeem from the curse of the law, from the guilt and power of sin, from the enthralling power and bondage of sin? In whose stead and on whose behalf was He obedient unto death, even the death of the cross…These are precisely the questions that have to be asked and frankly faced if the matter of the extent of the atonement [that is, the question of Who Jesus Christ died for, for Whom is it efficacious?]is to be placed in proper focus…The question is precisely the reference of the death of Christ when this death is viewed as vicarious death, that is to say, as vicarious obedience, as substitutionary sacrifice, and expiation, as effective propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption. In a word, it is the strict and proper connotation of the expression “died for” that must be kept in mind. When Paul says that Christ “died for us” (1 Thess. 5:10) or that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3), he does not have in mind some blessing that may accrue from the death of Christ but of which we may be deprived in due time and which may thus be forfeited. He is thinking of the stupendous truth that Christ love him and gave Himself up for him (Gal. 2:20), that Christ died in his room and stead, and that therefore we have redemption through the blood of Christ.”

-John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, pp. 62-63 (Eerdman’s 1955)

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