New City Catechism 24.3

Question 24: Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?

Answer: Since death is the punishment for sin, Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God. By his substitutionary atoning death, he alone redeems us from hell and gains for us forgiveness of sin, righteousness, and everlasting life.

Because Jesus Christ died our death, enduring our punishment, we have no punishment from God to face. We have been reconciled to God through his Son. This means that we now look to God as Father, the one who has welcomed us into his family, who delights in us, who hears our prayers, who has ordered all things for our good (Rom. 8:28). With the barrier of sin no longer standing between us, we have access to God through the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

This new covenant blessing far surpasses the experience of God that was known under the old covenant. Israel knew the blessing of God’s presence in their camp at the tabernacle and later at the temple in Jerusalem, but these structures were visible reminders that while God dwelled among them as a people, he continued to hold them at a distance, forbidding access to the inner sanctuary. God’s space, the intersection between heaven and earth, had to be kept holy, and thus free from the stain of Israel’s sin. It is only by the atoning work of Jesus Christ that the veil of the inner sanctuary has been torn and thus rendered useless, for the presence of God is now accessible to his people through Christ his Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Suggested passage for personal or family reading: Ephesians 2:11-22. What does verse 18 in particular mean? What does it teach us about the atoning work of Christ? How should we live in light of it?


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