THE SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST
As we approach Christmas and celebrate the birth of Messiah Jesus, I wonder if our view of the baby Jesus restricts our understanding of Christ’s sufficiency for all believers. Jesus did not fit with Jewish expectations because they anticipated a conquering king, whereas Christians may neglect this aspect of His identity by focusing on His humiliation on earth.
Remember, the baby was born to die and even more, rise from the dead as the glorified Christ seated at the Father’s right hand.
From this exalted position, Jesus supersedes the Old Covenant stipulations, being a sufficient Saviour, Advocate, Protector, Helper and Guide.
He is a Sufficient Saviour
The Old Testament presents the Jewish sacrificial system as the practical means of dealing with individual and national sin (Leviticus 4-6). Forgetting its temporary nature and its foreshadowing of a greater sacrifice blocked the majority of Jewish leaders and population from seeing Jesus as a sufficient Saviour. Further, the Jewish perspective on Messiah as a conquering king prevented them seeing His death as a sufficient sacrifice. In contrast, the writer to the Hebrews stated, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified”, (Hebrews 7:14, ESV) and, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, ESV) which gives us access to the Father for all our needs. In our most important need, final salvation, Christ as Saviour is supremely sufficient. We can be confident that what God has begun in salvation, He will finish. (Phil 1:6) Paul expressed this assurance so well in Romans 8:31-39 in that nothing can separate believers from God. Not only can God save us, He can and will keep us all the way to heaven. In large measure, the advocacy of Christ on behalf of his brethren with regard to sin guarantees our arrival at the final destination.
He is a Sufficient Advocate
John wrote, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2, ESV) Conversion does not remove our capacity to sin. Even the godliest of Christians will sin and God has provided for such failure. Jesus Christ is the best lawyer anyone could want and is most needed when a crime is committed, which in relationship to God is often. Whenever an accusation is brought against you, as true as the facts may be, you have an advocate, Jesus Christ, who presents His own death as the payment for that crime, so that you are not condemned. Satan is the accuser of believers (Revelation 12:10) and we need protection against him, which God also provides in Christ.
He is a Sufficient Protector
The Bible portrays the devil as a roaring lion seeking prey to devour (1 Peter 5:8), which ought to frighten us, but the Bible promises divine protection against him. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3, ESV). Jesus Christ, the commander-and-chief of the angelic hosts, is more than a match for a fallen angel, Satan, even with an army of demons on his side. John wrote, “…for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4,ESV). The book of Revelation clearly communicates who wins in the end, “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11, ESV). Not only in death but also in life, believers have Christ’s help along the way.
He is a Sufficient Helper
Hebrews teaches that Christ is also a sufficient helper because of His identification with us and His experience of our circumstances (Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16). Taking on our situation and dealing with our sin, Christ has given us hope. He fully understands us – our weaknesses and our temptations – so He can completely help us. Believers can draw near to Christ as their great High Priest to, “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). One specific way in which Christ assists believers is in guiding them.
He is a Sufficient Guide
Paul tells the Thessalonians of his request for God’s direction, “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you…” (1 Thessalonians 3:11, ESV). This request had been answered before and would be many times more in the future. One example is in Acts 16:6-10, where Paul is guided to the right place of ministry. John writes, “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:17, ESV)Christ as our shepherd will lead us to places of spiritual refreshment and healing. We can confidently look to Him as our sufficient guide in a confusing and deceptive world.
The nation of Israel’s previous participation in their sacrificial system and obedience to God’s commandments was preparatory for the coming of their Messiah. Its limitations required repeated activity, which was insufficient to address fully the spiritual needs of the nation. Not so for their Messiah! In all respects, Christ is a sufficient saviour, advocate, protector, helper and guide, as well expressed by the chorus: “All that I need is found in Him, all that I need is in Him…” Let us see beyond the manger to the throne on which sits the glorified Christ, from whom our sufficiency comes (2 Corinthians 3:5).