The Practical Power Of The Doctrine Of Jesus
The Lord Jesus Shared All Our Temptations; He Was A Man Of Our Nature, He Didn't Pre-Exist.
Therefore in the daily round of life, He will be a living reality, like David we will behold the Lord Jesus before our face all the day. We will really believe that forgiveness is possible through the work of such a representative; and the reality of his example will mean the more to us, as a living inspiration to rise above our lower nature. Appreciating the doctrines of the atonement enables us to pray acceptably; " we have boldness and access with confidence by the Faith" - not just 'by faith', but as a result of the Faith (Eph. 3:12). Hebrews so often uses the word " therefore" ; because of the facts of the atonement, we can therefore come boldly before God's throne in prayer, with a true heart and clear conscience (Heb. 4:16). This " boldness" which the atonement has enabled will be reflected in our being 'bold' in our witness (2 Cor. 3:12; 7:4); our experience of imputed righteousness will lead us to have a confidence exuding through our whole being. This is surely why 'boldness' was such a characteristic and watchword of the early church (Acts 4:13,29,31; Eph. 3:12; Phil. 1:20; 1 Tim. 3:13; Heb. 10:19; 1 Jn. 4:17). Stephen truly believed that the Lord Jesus stood as his representative and his advocate before the throne of grace. Although condemned by an earthly court, he confidently makes his appeal before the court of Heaven (Acts 7:56). Doubtless he was further inspired by the basic truth that whoever confesses the Lord Jesus before men, He will confess Him before the angels in the court of Heaven (Lk. 12:8).
The connection between the atonement and faith in prayer is also brought out in 2 Corinthians 1:20 RSV: “For all the promises of God in him are yea. That is why we utter the Amen through him”. The promises of God were confirmed through the death of Jesus, and the fact that He died as the seed of Abraham / Ibrahim, having taken upon Him Abraham / Ibrahim’s plural seed in representation (Rom. 15:8,9). Because of this, “we utter the Amen through [on account of being in] Him”. We can heartily say ‘Amen’, so be it, to our prayers on account of our faith and understanding of His atoning work.
The fact the Lord Jesus didn't personally pre-exist needs some meditation. It seems evident that there must have been some kind of previous creation(s), e.g. for the creation of the Angels. God existed from infinity, and yet only 4,000 years ago did He have His only and His begotten Son. And that Son was a human being in order to save humans - only a few million of us (if that), who lived in a 6,000 year time span. In the spectre of infinite time and space, this is wondrous. That the Only Son of God should die for a very few of us here, we who crawled on the surface of this tiny planet for such a fleeting moment of time. He died so that God could work out our salvation; and the love of God for us is likened to a young man marrying a virgin (Is. 62:5). Almighty God, who existed from eternity, is likened to a first timer, with all the intensity and joyful expectation and lack of disillusion. And more than this. He died for me, in the shameful way that He did. Our hearts and minds, with all their powers, are in the boundless prospect lost.
Jesus Christ Is The Son Of God
1 John strongly links belief in Christ as the Son of God with a life of true love. They had heard from “the beginning” of their contact with the Gospel that Christ was the Son of God: and yet also the need to love one another. The “message” which they had heard from the beginning was that Christ was the Son of God (2:24); and yet it was also that we should love one another (3:11). This is why in the context of teaching the need for love, John warns against false teaching regarding the nature of Christ as Son of God (2:22,23; 4:1-4; 2 Jn. 7-11). “The word...from the beginning” was the ‘logos’ of Christ (Jn. 1:1-3); and yet in John’s letters, the word from the beginning was that we should love each other (2:7; 3:11). This is the essence of belief in Christ: love for each other. This is where the doctrine of Christ leads. And for this reason, Paul pronounces an ‘anathema’ upon both those who teach another doctrinal Gospel, “another Jesus” (Gal. 1:8,9); as well as those who do not love the Lord Jesus personally (1 Cor. 16:22). “This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another” (3:23). “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” [i.e. your brother]. “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us...whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him” (4:12,15). But why is there this link between love, and belief in Jesus of Nazareth being the begotten Son of God? Theologically, it could be said that if we accept Him as God’s Son, then we must likewise accept all God’s other sons, begotten as they are by His Spirit. But practically, are we not being taught to see the pure wonder of the way in which Almighty God had a Son and gave that Son, so freely and so painfully, for us...? The pure wonder of God having a Son of our nature, a child and then a man who showed us the essence of God displayed in human flesh and temptation; and then giving Him to us... If we see this, we will naturally show love to our brethren. So it isn’t just a case of thinking yes, we believe Jesus was Son of God, not God the Son – and period. No. There’s infinitely more to it than this. This faith and understanding can tear down every barrier between men, and provide the inspiration for a life of true, self-sacrificial love. The true wonder of it all simply must be meditated upon. That God’s very own son should begin so small, as an ovum, “a single fertilized egg barely visible to the naked eye, an egg that would divide and re-divide until a foetus took shape, enlarging cell by cell inside a nervous teenager”.
Because Jesus was the only Son of God, therefore He is full of the Father’s grace and truth. John 1:14 makes this connection between fullness and only Son-ship. Because of the wonder of this, we should therefore hear Him, respecting and thereby obeying His word simply because of our appreciation of who He is and was- the Son of God (Lk. 9:35). Quite simply, to truly believe in Jesus as Son of God means that we will have a sure Hope of passing beyond the gates of the grave into the Kingdom (Mt. 16:16 cp. 18).
Jesus Never Sinned
The extent to which this man from Nazareth, who sneezed and slept and thirsted as we do, was really God manifest in the flesh...this needs sustained personal meditation. That from the larynx of a Palestinian Jew really came forth the words of Almighty God; to the extent that it had to be said that never man spake like this man; and He Himself could assure us that heaven and earth would pass, but not His words (note the links with Ps. 102:25-27; Heb. 1:10-12)...that this man died for us...rose again, ascended...and now works His saving work for us, hour by hour. Mark records how a man once in an offhand way addressed the Lord Jesus as “good master”. The Lord Jesus’ response was to say that if the man really accepted Him as ‘good’ he ought to share His cross, and sell what he had and give to the poor. The real extent of Jesus’ goodness will move us to deep personal response, if we truly perceive it.
Jesus Is The Christ
If we deny Christ, we deny that Jesus is the Christ (1 Jn. 2:22); and yet we deny Christ if we don’t preach Him (Mt. 10:33). It follows that if we really believe that Jesus was not just Jesus of Nazareth but the Christ of God, therefore we won’t deny Him but will preach Him. This is why there is connection between confessing Jesus as Christ and preaching Him (Jn. 9:22; Acts 18:5; Phil. 2:11). A grasp of who the Lord Jesus really is and the height of His present exaltation will naturally result in a confession of Him to the world, as well as a deep personal obedience to His word and will (Heb. 2:1). “But and if ye should suffer for righteousness sake...fear not their fear, neither be troubled; but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man” (1 Pet. 3:14,15). Knowing and having Christ as Lord of our hearts will practically enable us to overcome tribulation, and will lead to a suitably humble witness in response. The Gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4 RSV). 2 Cor. 2:14-17 invites us to see the Lord Jesus after His victory - which can only refer to His victorious death on the cross - leading a victory parade, in which we are the triumphant soldiers, carrying with us burning incense. This represents our preaching of the Gospel, as part of our participation in the joyful glory of the Lord Jesus’ victory on the cross. And yet that incense is used as a double symbol - both of us the preachers, who hold the aroma, and yet we are also the aroma itself. We are the witness. But the motivation for it all is our part in the victory procession of the Lord Jesus, going on as it does down through the ages, as He as it were comes home from the cross.
The Lord Jesus Died And Rose Again, And Was Made Lord And Christ (Acts 2:36)
His resurrection is the basis for ours. Despite the emotion and hardness of death itself, our belief in resurrection is rooted in our faith that our Lord died and rose. When comforting those who had lost loved ones in the Lord Jesus, Paul doesn’t simply remind them of the doctrine of the resurrection at the return of Jesus. His focus instead is on the fact that “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thess. 4:14).
The fact Jesus is Lord has vital practical import for us. In Romans 14:7-9, Paul speaks of the need not to live unto ourselves, but to rather live in a way which is sensitive to the conscience and needs of others. Why? “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living”. Because He is our Lord we therefore don’t live for ourselves, but for Christ our Lord and all those in Him. When Paul exalts that Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, dwelling in light which no man can approach unto, this isn’t just some literary flourish. It is embedded within a context of telling the believers to quit materialism, indeed to flee from its snare. 1 Timothy 6:6-14 concern this; and then there is the passage about Christ’s exaltation (6:15,16), and then a continued plea to share riches rather than build them up (6:17-19). Because He is Lord of all, we should quit our materialism and sense of self-ownership. For we are His, and all we have is for His service too. And the principle of His being Lord affects every aspect of our spirituality. Dennis Gillet truly observed [in The Genius Of Discipleship]: “Mastery is gained by crowning the Master as Lord and King”. And Peter likewise says that those who reject the Lordship of Jesus (2 Pet. 2:10) indulge in sexual immorality. The height of His Lordship ought to mean self-control in our lives; because He, rather than our own passions, is Jesus and Master of our soul. Joseph’s amazing exaltation in Egypt was clearly typical of that of the Lord Jesus after His resurrection. As a result of Joseph’s exaltation, no man could lift up even his hand or foot without exception within the sphere of Joseph’s power. And the Lord Jesus’ exaltation has the same effect and imperative over us.
Because Jesus is Lord and Master, and because He is our representative in every way, therefore all that He did and was becomes an imperative for us to follow. Thus: “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn. 13:13,14). They called Him “Lord and Master”, but wouldn’t wash each other’s feet. Like us so often, they had the right doctrinal knowledge, but it meant nothing to them in practice. To know Him as Lord is to wash each other’s feet, naked but for a loincloth, with all the subtle anticipations of the cross which there are in this incident. “Wherefore [because of the exaltation of Jesus] [be obedient and] work out your own salvation with fear and trembling [i.e. in humility]” (Phil. 2:12). And so it is with appreciating God’s greatness: the deeper our realization of it, the higher our response. Thus Solomon built a “great” house for Yahweh, “for great is our God above all gods” (2 Chron. 2:5). Israel prayed to God but without meaning, “though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him” (Hos. 11:7). They theoretically knew Him as “the most High” but in their hearts they failed to exalt Him. And so their prayers remained as empty words.
James 2:1 (Gk.) gives the Lord Jesus the title of “the glory” (as also in Lk. 2:32; Eph. 1:17). And James makes the point that we cannot believe in the Lord Jesus as the Lord of glory and have respect of persons. This may seem a strange connection at first sight. But perhaps the sense is that if we see the height and surpassing extent of His glory, all others will pale into insignificance, and therefore we will be biased for or against nobody and nothing because of the way they are all as nothing before the brightness of the glory of the Lord Jesus we follow. The RV mg. Makes the point clearer: “Do ye, in accepting persons, hold the faith of the Lord of glory?”. This explains why when Paul sat down to write to churches (we call them ‘ecclesias’) riddled with worldliness, immorality and false doctrine, he takes as his repeated opening theme the greatness and exaltation of the Lord Jesus.
There’s one more especially noteworthy thing which the sheer height of the Lord Jesus’ exaltation leads us to. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow...and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord...wherefore...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:9-12). These words are alluding to Isaiah 45:23,24: “...unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the Lord [Jesus] have I righteousness and strength”. We all find humility difficult. But before the height of His exaltation, a height which came as a result of the depth of the degradation of the cross, we should bow our knees in an unfeigned humility and realization of our sinfulness, and thankful recognition of the fact that through Him we are counted righteous.
As with many aspects of doctrine, it is often difficult for us to appreciate how radically revolutionary they were in the first century context; and in essence they should lose none of their radical-ness with us. David Bosch observes: “Christians confessed Jesus as Lord of all lords - the most revolutionary political demonstration imaginable in the Roman Empire”. Philip Yancey likewise: “As the church spread throughout the Roman empire, its followers took up the slogan “Christ is Lord”, a direct affront to Roman authorities who required all citizens to take the oath ‘Caesar [the state] is Lord’” (The Jesus I Never Knew, p. 246). It hurt, it cost, to recognize Him as Lord. And so it should with us, especially those who live in Islamic societies. Men and women died for this; and we likewise give our lives in response to that very same knowledge. There is a tendency, which the Lord Jesus Himself brought to our attention, of calling Him Lord but not doing what He says. To know Him as Lord in truth is axiomatically to be obedient to Him (Lk. 6:46).
Faith is also inculcated by an appreciation of the height of His exaltation. He now has all power in Heaven and in earth, and this in itself should inspire us with faith in prayer and hope in His coming salvation. On the basis of passages like Exodus 4:7; Numbers 12:10-15; 2 Kings 5:7,8, “leprosy was regarded as a “stroke” only to be removed by the Divine hand which had imposed it” (L.G. Sargent, The Gospel Of The Son Of God, p. 28). The leper of Mark 1:40 lived with this understanding, and yet he saw in Jesus nothing less than God manifest. Inspired by the height of the position which he gave Jesus in his heart, he could ask him in faith for a cure: “If thou wilt, thou canst [as only God was understood to be able to] make me clean”.
Because Christ is Lord of all, we must preach Him to all, even if like Peter we would rather not preach to them. This was the motivational power and reality of Christ’s universal Lordship for Peter (Acts 10:36). The same link between Christ’s Lordship and witness is found in Philippians 2:10 and 1 Peter 3:15 (which alludes to Is. 8:13 - Yahweh of Hosts, of many ones, becomes manifest now in the Lord Jesus).
The reality of the Lordship of Jesus is used in Revelation (19:12, 16) to encourage the brethren to continue fearless in their witness despite persecution. Jesus is Lord of the kings of the earth; He has control over the world; therefore, no human power can harm us without His express permission and purpose. The exhortation of Psalm 110 is powerful: because Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand, His people offer themselves as freewill offerings in this, the day of His power. They are arrayed in “holy attire” because He has been made the Priest after the order of Melchizedek- they share in the work which His exaltation has enabled (Ps. 110:1,3,4 RV mg.).
The ascended Christ was highly exalted and given the Name above every Name, so that for those who believed this, they would bow in service at the Name of Jesus. Peter preached in and about the name of Jesus - this is emphasized (Acts 2:31,38; 3:6,16; 4:10,12,17,18,30; 5:28,40,41; 10:43). The excellence of knowing Him and His character and the wonder of the exalted Name given on His ascension (Phil. 2:9; Rev. 3:12) lead Peter to witness. Because of His exaltation, we confess Jesus as Lord to men, as we later will to God at judgment (Phil. 2:9). According as we confess Him before men, so our judgment will reflect this. Lifting up Jesus as Lord is to be the basis of giving a witness to every man of the hope that lies within us (1 Pet. 3:15 RSV). The knowledge and experience of His exaltation can only be witnessed to; it can’t be kept quiet. 3 John 7 refers to how the great preaching commission was obeyed: “For his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing (material help) from the Gentiles” (Gentile believers). For the excellence of knowing His Name they went forth in witness, and moreover were generous spirited, not taking material help to enable this. The knowledge of the Name of itself should inspire to active service: for the sake of the Lord Jesus’ Name the Ephesians laboured (Rev. 2:3).
Because “all power is given unto me...go ye therefore and teach all nations” (Mt. 28:18,19). The great preaching commission is therefore not so much a commandment as an inevitable corollary of the Lord Jesus’ exaltation. We will not be able to sit passively in the knowledge of the universal extent of His authority / power. We will have to spread the knowledge of it to all (see “Into all the world” for more on this, especially the way 1 Timothy 3:16 alludes to the preaching commission as having already been fulfilled the moment it was uttered, so strong is the imperative). There may be some similarity with the way in which the exaltation of Israel / God’s people was so that all men would be witnessed to (Dt. 4:6).
The greatness of Christ clearly influenced Mark’s witness; he began his preaching of the Gospel (of which his Gospel is but a transcript) by quoting Isaiah’s words about how a highway was to be prepared “for our God” and applying them to the Lord Jesus, whom he saw as God manifest in flesh. Appreciating the height of who Jesus was and is, clearly motivated his preaching. And it should ours too. This is why Paul in the face of every discouragement could preach that “there is another king, one Jesus” (Acts 17:7). This was the core of his message; not so much that there will be a coming King in Jerusalem, but that there is right now a King at God’s right hand, who demands our total allegiance.
The Lord Jesus’ Blood Was Shed For Our Redemption. Christ Died The Dreadful Death He Did For Us
If we understand something of the ‘mechanics’ of the atonement, and grasp something of the fact that they were outworked in a real, historical man, we will see that the final realization of the redemption achieved at the cross will be when Christ comes back. Having expounded the Lord Jesus’ cross for several chapters, Paul concludes: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28). Here we see two fundamental first principles linked: If we understand something of the atonement, we will earnestly look for the second coming, when the redemption achieved on the cross will be brought unto us (cp. 1 Pet. 1:13). An enthusiasm for the second coming, spurred by a realization that the bringing of salvation then is an outworking of the cross, will lead to a loose hold on the things of this life.
Paul had a debt to preach to all men (Rom. 1:14). But a debt implies he had been given something; and it was not from “all men”, but rather from Christ. Because the Lord Jesus gave us the riches of His self-sacrifice, we thereby are indebted to Him; and yet this debt has been transmuted into a debt to preach to all humanity. Our obligation to the Lord Jesus for His death for us issues in an obligation to preach that message to others.
Consider the implications of 2 Corinthians 5:20,21: “On behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ: be ye reconciled to God [because] him who knew no sin he made to be a sin [a sin offering?] on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him”. Because of the cross, the atonement which God wrought in Christ’s offering, we beseech men to be reconciled to God. Appreciating the cross and the nature of the atonement should be the basis of our appeal to men. And indeed, such an appeal is God appealing to men and women, in that there on the cross “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself”. The blood and spittle covered body of the Lord Jesus lifted up was and is the appeal, the beseeching of God Himself to men. And this is the message that we are honoured to preach on His behalf; we preach the appeal of God through the cross.
The reality of the Lord Jesus’ crucifixion was the basis of Peter’s appeal for men to repent: “Repent ye therefore [and he spoke not only to those who had crucified the Lord Jesus], and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:17-19). And think through the reasoning of 1 Corinthians 1:13: “Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”. The fact Jesus was crucified for us means that we should be baptized into that Name, and also be undivided.
Therefore, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it...so ought men to love their wives” (Eph. 5:25). The Greek for “gave himself” is mainly used of the Lord Jesus giving up the spirit to the Father. His death was as an act of the will, He gave up His life rather than it being taken away from Him. This matchless peak of self-control and self-giving for us must somehow be replicated in the humdrum of daily domestic relationships. He carried our sins “that we, being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes (Gk. Weals- Peter saw them) ye were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).
Because Of The Suffering Entailed In The Putting To Death Of Our Sins By The Lord Jesus’ Cross, We Should Respond In Likewise Mortifying Them
To put it mildly, our experience of His death for us should lead us to be generous spirited in all ways. In appealing for financial generosity to poorer brethren, Paul sought to inspire the Corinthians with the picture of Christ crucified: “For ye know the grace [gift / giving] of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor [Gk. a pauper], that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). In the light of this, we should not just be generous from the abundance of what we have; we should become as paupers in our giving. The Lord Jesus’ giving wasn’t financial; it was emotional and spiritual. And so, Paul says, both materially and in these ways, we should likewise respond to our brethren, poorer materially or spiritually than we are. “The very spring of our actions is the love of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:14 Philips; it “urges us on”, NRSV).
By God’s grace, the Lord Jesus tasted death for (Gk. huper) every man, as our representative: “in tasting death he should stand for all” (NEB). In His death He experienced the essence of the life-struggle and death of every man. The fact the Lord Jesus did this for us means that we respond for Him. “To you it is given in the behalf of (Gk. huper) Christ, not only to believe on Him [in theory], but to suffer for his sake (Gk. huper)” (Phil. 1:29). He suffered for us as our representative, and we suffer for Him in response. This was and is the two-way imperative of the fact the Lord Jesus was our representative. He died for all that we should die to self and live for Him (2 Cor. 5:14,15). “His own self bare our sins [as our representative] in his own body [note the link “our sins” and “his own body”] that we being dead to sin, should live unto righteousness” (1 Pet. 2:24,25). We died with Him, there on His cross; and so His resurrection life is now ours. He is totally active for us now; His life now is for us, and as we live His life, we should be 100% for Him in our living. He gave His life for us, and we must lay down our lives for Him (1 Jn. 3:16). There are about 130 reference to being “in Christ” in the New Testament. But if any man is truly in Christ, he is a new creature, and the old things pass away; it must equally be true that “Christ [is] in you”. If we are in Him, He must be in us, in that we live lives around the principle of “what would Jesus do?”. His spirit becomes ours.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 urges us to preach the salvation in Christ to all men, because He died for us, as our representative. He died for [the sake of] all (5:14,15), He was made sin for our sake (5:21); and therefore we are ambassadors for [same word] His sake (5:20). Because He was our representative, so we must be His representatives in witnessing Him to the world. This is why the preaching of Acts was consistently motivated by the Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection for the preachers. By baptism into the name of Jesus, men confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. There was and is no other name given under Heaven by which men can be saved; “every name” under the whole Heaven must take on the name of Jesus in baptism. This is why Acts associates His exaltation (Acts 2:33; 5:31) and His new name (Acts 2:21,38; 3:6,16; 4:10,12,18,30; 5:40) with an appeal for men and women to be baptized into that Name. Realizing the meaning of the Name of Jesus and the height of His exaltation meant that they realized how “all men” could have their part in a sacrifice which represented “all men”. And thus they were motivated to preach to “all men”. And thus Paul’s whole preaching ministry was a bearing of the Name of Jesus before the Gentiles (Acts 9:15).
Human Nature / The Flesh Cannot Be Atoned For, Or A Sacrifice Offered For It; It Must Be Cut Off
So we can’t keep living the fleshly life thinking that somehow we will be atoned for. We must at least seek to put to death the flesh: not just get forgiveness for the same sins and carry on doing them. Even if this is in practice our experience, there must be a dominant desire to cut off the flesh and a counting of ourselves as dead to sin. We should do this because Christ bore our sins and by the cross healed our spiritual weakness in prospect; we respond to the death of sin which He achieved by cutting off our flesh (1 Pet. 2:24).
In the light of ten chapters of detailed exposition of the meaning of the blood of Christ, therefore let us... Paul triumphantly drives home (Heb. 10:19-25):
- Let us enter boldly “into the holiest by the blood of Jesus”. This is only possible through a deep knowledge of sin forgiven. Our prayer life should be a positive and up building experience: “Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience”. Reflection on the atonement, believing it all, will result in a positive and unashamed faith.
- “Let us hold fast...without wavering”. If the belief of the cross is imprinted upon our minds, reflected upon not for a few fleeting minutes on Sundays but often throughout each day, we won’t waver. The natural tendency to blow hot and cold in our spiritual endeavours will be vanquished beneath an unceasing wonder at what was achieved. It is only sustained reflection upon the cross which can, in an almost mystical way, impart an unceasing verve of inspiration.
- “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together...but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching”. Again the doctrine of the atonement and that of the second coming are linked. As we realize more and more clearly that very soon the final outworking of the cross will be achieved in the actual physical granting of redemption to us, so we will be inspired to more and more earnestly seek the welfare of our brethren. If we believe in the atonement, we will naturally seek to break bread. Whether it means summoning the courage to meet with those we naturally would rather not meet with, bringing the wine to the meeting, we will be motivated to rise up and serve in these ways by the eternal and personal truth of the cross.
As the blood of the ram had to be put on the ear, thumb and toe (Lev. 8:23), so the blood of Christ’s atonement should affect every aspect of our lives; our hearing [i.e. our perception], our doing and walking...
The Basis Of Our Salvation Is That We Are Justified, Counted By Righteous, By Our Faith And Baptism Into The Representative Sacrifice Of The Lord Jesus. His Righteousness Is Thereby Counted To Us
Throughout Romans, the point is made that the Lord Jesus counts as righteous those that believe; righteousness is imputed to us the unrighteous (Rom. 2:26; 4:3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,22,23,24; 8:36; 9:8)
If God is our justifier, where is he that condemns us, or lays any guilt to our charge (Rom. 8:33,34)? And yet in family life, in relationships with others...we are so so quick to feel and hurt from the possible insinuations of others against us. We seek to justify ourselves, to correct gossip and misrepresentation, to “take up” an issue to clear our name. We all tend to be far too sensitive about what others may be implying about us. All this reflects a sad lack of appreciation of the wonder of the fact that we are justified by God, and in His eyes - which is surely the ultimately important perspective - we are without fault before the throne of grace, covered in the imputed and peerless righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Paul, misrepresented and slandered more than most brethren, came to conclude: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me [right now] is the Lord ” (1 Cor. 4:3-4). The judge is the justifier, according to this argument. Paul is not justified by himself or by other men, because they are not his judge. The fact that God alone is judge through Christ [another first principle] means that nobody can ultimately justify us or condemn us. The false claims of others can do nothing to ultimately damage us, and our own efforts at self-justification are in effect a denial of the fact that the Lord Jesus is the judge, not us, and therefore He alone can and will justify.
These thoughts are meshed with another first principle in John 5:44, where the RV mg. has the Lord Jesus telling the Jews that they sought glory “one of another” because they didn’t seek the glory that comes from the one God. Because there is only one God, there is only one glory, one Name of God, one standard of spirituality, one judge, one justifier. Whilst men seek glory and approbation and acceptance and justification from other men, they are denying the principle of one God. If there is only one God, we should seek His honour and justification, to the total exclusion of that of men. Hosea had revealed this truth earlier: “I am the Lord thy God...and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me...neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee [i.e. thee alone] the fatherless findeth mercy” (Hos. 13:4; 14:3). Because God alone can give salvation and mercy, therefore there is no space for worshipping or seeking for the approbation of anything or anyone else; for the receipt of mercy and salvation are the only ultimate things worth seeking. There is only one God who can give them, and therefore we should seek for His acceptance alone.
But the very same Greek word is used in Romans of our self-perception. We must count / impute ourselves as righteous men and women, and count each other as righteous on the basis of recognizing each others’ faith rather than works: “Therefore we conclude [we count / impute / consider] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law... Likewise reckon [impute] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. (Rom. 3:28; 6:11). We should feel clean and righteous, and act accordingly, both in our own behaviour and in our feelings towards each other. The mind of love imputes no evil to others, as God doesn’t to us (1 Cor. 13:5; AV “thinketh no evil”, [same word] to count / impute in Romans). And again the word occurs in 2 Corinthians 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think [same word impute] any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”. We are able to count / feel to ourselves as righteous: for God has counted us righteous. And if we can believe this, we will overcome that difficulty which there is within every one of us of truly counting our brother to be righteous, of having the love that truly believes and sees only the best in others.
Despite Being Saddled With Our Nature, The Lord Jesus Christ Died And Rose Again For Me, For My Justification And Salvation. His Life And Death Were A Surrender Of All To The Cause Of My Redemption, To God's Glory
And so I too must surrender all, I will willingly strive to do this, for the glorious wonder of knowing this Man who died for me to enable such great salvation. He died and rose so that He might be made Lord of His people (Rom. 14:9); if we believe in His resurrection and subsequent Lordship, He will be the Lord Jesus of our lives, Lord of every motion of our hearts. We are yet in our sins, if Christ be not risen (1 Cor. 15:17). But He has risen, and therefore we are no longer dominated by our moral weakness. Because baptism united us with His resurrection, we are no longer in our sins (Col. 2:13). Therefore the baptized believer will not “continue in sin” if he really understand and believes this (Rom. 6:1 and context). Ours is the life of freedom with Him, for He was and is our representative [note that He represents us now, in His freedom and eternal life, just as much as He did in His death].
We died and rose with Christ, if we truly believe in His representation of us and our connection with Him, then His freedom and sense of conquest will be ours; as the man guilty of blood was to see in the death of the High Priest a representation of his own necessary death, and thereafter was freed from the limitations of the city of refuge (Num. 35:32,33). Because Christ really did rise again, and we have a part in that, we must therefore abstain from sin, quit bad company and labour with the risen, active Lord (1 Cor. 15:34,58). The representative nature of the Lord Jesus' death means that we are pledged to live out His self-crucifixion as far as we can; to re-live the crucifixion process in our imagination, to come to that point where we know we wouldn't have gone through with it, and to grasp with real wonder and gratitude the salvation of the cross. " As one has died for all, then all have died, and that He died for all in order to have the living live no longer for themselves but for Him who died and rose for them" (2 Cor. 5:14,15 Moffatt). It has been powerfully commented: " To know oneself to have been involved in the sacrificial death of Christ, on account of its representational character, is to see oneself committed to a sacrificial life, to a re-enactment in oneself of the cross" (W.F. Barling, The Letters To Corinth). Such is the power of a true, lived-out baptism. If we have really died and resurrected with the Lord Jesus, we will be dead unto the things of this world (Col. 2:20; 3:1). This is why Paul could say that the greatest proof that Christ had risen from the dead was the change in character which had occurred within him (Acts 26:8 cp. 1 Tim. 1:15-16.). This was “the power of his resurrection”; and it works within us too. The death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth aren’t just facts we know; if they are truly believed, there is within them the power of ultimate transformation.