The End of Christ's Death
Now we have began with book II of Owen's monumental work. He begins by returning to the subject in Chapter 1 of book I, which concerned the end (i.e. goal) of Christ's death as Scripture declares it (see above).
The primary, or “supreme and ultimate” end of Christ's death is the glory of God. The glory of God stands at the center in Reformed theology. That is what attracted me at the beginning to Reformed theology. The obsession with the glory of God and trying to do all things to His glory. Everything and anything that God does, He does first of all to and for His glory. Owen cites a few passages to this effect (Prov. 16:4; 2Cor. 4:15; Eph. 1:6, 12; Phil. 1:11; 2:11; Rev. 5:13; I would add Isa. 46:8-11). Owen says:
The Lord doth necessarily aim at himself in the first place, as the chiefest good, yea, indeed, that alone which is good; that is, absolutely and simply so, and not by virtue of communication from another: and therefore in all his works, especially in this which we have in hand, the chiefest of all, he first intends the manifestation of his own glory; which also he fully accomplisheth in the close, to every point and degree by him intended. (book II, Chapter 1)
The secondary, or the end that is “intermediate and subservient to that last end” of Christ's death, which is “the bringing of us unto God” (book II, Chapter 1). The salvation of the elect is “subservient” to the glory of God. Generally, if you would ask an Arminian, or a non-Calvinist, what God's primary purpose or plan is, they would likely answer “redemption.” On the other hand, Reformed theologians see that God's glory is the primary goal and end of everything which God does, including the salvation of the elect, but that in itself is not the primary goal; the glory of God is the primary goal.
Before enquiring in the Scriptures, Owen lays down the thesis which he is trying to prove:
“Jesus Christ, according to the counsel and will of his Father, did offer himself upon the cross, to the procurement of those things before recounted; and maketh continual intercession with this intent and purpose, that all the good things so procured by his death might be actually and infallibly bestowed on and applied to all and every one for whom he died, according to the will and counsel of God.” (book II, chapter 3)
- The purpose of the Trinity in it, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that hold out the intention and counsel of God, with our Saviour’s own mind; whose will was one with his Father’s in this business.”
- The accomplishment of the atonement, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that lay down the actual accomplishment or effect of his oblation, what it did really procure, effect, and produce.”
- The scope of the atonement, which he titles, “Those [Scriptures] that point out the persons for whom Christ died, as designed peculiarly to be the object of this work of redemption in the end and purpose of God.”
The Savior's purpose was to be a ...