The Cross – The Work of Jesus Christ
The Atonement – Seeing and acting as if Christ is our Righteousness
and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,
but that which is through faith in Christ,
the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, NASB
The Gospel is Objective Reality
This is to say that the righteousness which was merited by the life and death of Christ is outside of us, immutable and fixed. Our right standing with God does change or shift with our feelings, circumstances or performance, but is in fact that which rests solely on the merits of Christ and His perfect righteousness. He Himself is our righteousness and sanctification, therefore our right standing with God is “in Christ” and always steadfast, unchanging and adequate.
1 Corinthians 1:30 – 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, NASB
If you are “in Christ,” you have trusted in what He has done by His perfect life and death, and not in your own works or performance. On the contrary, our performance was a huge failure and by it we merited God’s holy wrath and deserve to die as a rebel and enemy of God. But Christ is our righteousness and we have believed in Him. Therefore our faith has laid hold of Jesus and His perfection and our righteousness before God is not subject to anything except that fixed reality that Christ IS righteous. The righteousness which we possess is a foreign righteousness, which is NOT our own, but is Christ’s and is complete and adequate.
Philippians 3:9 – 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, NASB
Our faith is placed in an historical fact which has happened and is accomplished. That is, that Jesus Christ lived a perfectly righteous life in my place, and that He died to absorb the wrath of God for me and these He both accomplished completely and perfectly. The resurrection is proof of the fact that it was accepted by the Father and that He did indeed triumph over sin and death. The grave could not hold Him because the effectual power of His life and death does “much more abound” over sin and death. Therefore the life and death of our Lord is an historical fact which is then outside of us and objective. It is not subject to any other thing which can change its merit or value, but is in fact a reality which stands, fixed in the heavens, unmovable and complete. Because of this objective reality we confess that our salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is to say that we are saved because God is rich love toward us and gives us favor which we have not merited, but rather in Christ ONLY we have favor with God and this is applied to us by simply trusting in what He has done for us!
Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. NASB
Therefore we can derive from this objective reality a sound and tremendous assurance of God’s love and favor for us. God only designs that which is good for the Christian and tends to our benefit and blessing. Even the worst circumstances of our lives work together for our good because God “causes all things to work together for good.” If God would not spare His own Son, but would give Him in sacrifice to justify us, will He not also graciously give us all things? What more could God do to prove His love and favor for us?
Romans 8:31-34 – 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? NASB
What then shall we say in response to this? How should we face our daily life in regard to this reality of God’s love and favor for us! We should live our life in view of what God has done, and live in the fullness of the blessing He has worked with a devoted life of love toward God and thanksgiving for His marvelous grace!
A response worthy of Christ
When we live our life in view of the cross, and allow it to define our lives, it changes the whole context in which we respond to the circumstances and relationships in our life. Consider once again the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians….
Galatians 2:20 – 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me. NASB
“I have been crucified with Christ” says Paul. What he means to say is that just as Jesus died to put away sins, we die to sins in regard to our behavior and live in the resurrection of Jesus life by faith. We are to consider the heavenly reality of our death to sin and our life is now purchased and defined by Christ’s death to sin and righteous obedience to God. In Colossians he tells us then to seek this heavenly reality in our thinking and be transformed in our behavior because of the reality of what Christ has done.
Colossians 3:1-4 – 1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
“Seek the things which are above.” That is, allow the heavenly purpose of God’s love in Christ to change the way we view our life, relationships and circumstances. We do this because, he says, “we died and our life is hidden with Christ in God.” We died to sin when we embraced Christ and His cross, therefore Paul tells us, to consider ourselves dead to sinful behavior.
Colossians 3:5-11 – 5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him 11 — a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. NASB
He then goes on to describe how this knowledge of what Christ has done should change the way we view our relationships and it defines the context of how we respond to others in light of the knowledge of the cross.
Colossians 3:12-4 – 12 And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Here Paul describes how the knowledge of the “things above v-2,” changes the context in which we view our relationship to others. If Jesus died to give His life as a sacrifice for us, surely we can view others with “compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience!” If Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross for our forgiveness, surely we can now “bear with one another and forgive each other.” This, he says, is “just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you!” In other words, Jesus life and death on the cross becomes an example to us of how we treat others and express His heavenly love and virtue through our relationships now in our daily life. He describes Christ’s love as if it were a garment to “put on” and tells how we are to let His peace “rule in our hearts” and to do this while being “thankful!” Further we are to teach and admonish one another along with songs of praise and this also with “thankfulness in your hearts to God!” Our entire life, all our actions he says, are to be done “giving thanks through Him!” Let us therefore see how Christ’s cross is the wellspring of God’s virtue in our daily life!
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