'Dying and rising with Christ', what does that mean? I thought to myself as I tuned in to listen to Andrew Sach's talk online for a second time after attending the RML weekend away in February.
It's an interesting turn of phrase, yet this, the title of the final talk of the cross weekend certainly opened my eyes not only to the fact that Jesus died for me, but that in fact, Jesus died with me. This is an awe inspiring thing to get our heads around, and this blog won't do justice to all the wonderful implications of this biblical truth, yet hopefully it will explore to a certain degree what it means for you and me. I shall therefore talk about two things that flow from this truth, God's fairness (or justice) and God's grace.
Firstly, Andrew helpfully explained to us how Jesus wasn't a third party in dying for our sin, that is, he wasn't convicted apart from us on the cross. Indeed, such a process might prompt one to ask 'how is that just?' An answer to this very reasonable question as explained in the talk would take into account the transfer that takes place between the sinner (us) and Jesus by the Holy Spirit through faith in the gospel. (2 Corinthians 5:21) What this means is that when someone has faith in the gospel (John 3:16-17), the Holy Spirit unites us both to the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, that is, our 'old' sinful self dies on the cross with Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we are included in Jesus in his death. In addition, when Jesus rose from the dead, we also rise with Jesus, that is, through the miraculous conquering of sin through the power of God through Christ, we are included in Jesus also in this way, thus our sin is conquered! (Ephesians 1:13-14).
This is a awesome life changing truth. Yet going back to the original question regarding justice, one might still ask regarding this unity and exchange between Christ and ourselves, 'how is it just that God should even want to exchange what he has to offer (eternal life, a relationship with him on earth with all the great implications) with what we have to offer? (i.e. nothing, or our sin!) This is where I think God's grace comes in, and why both this exchange and unity between Christ and us demonstrating God's justice cannot be discussed without also talking about God's grace. That is, how can we possibly say that exchanging our sin and it's path to eternal death for God's righteousness and guarantee of eternal life is fair? The answer is that we can't, it is the ultimate expression of God's grace to us, undeserving sinful individuals (Ephesians 2:4-6). And how should we respond to this? There are probably many answers, and for me, praise and wonder are certainly involved!