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Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Cross and the Person of Christ # 15

The Cross and the "So Great Salvation"

The third section of our article deals with the "so great salvation" (Hebrews 2:3); a phrase which at once sets forth its comprehensiveness and inclusiveness. Under that term we gather the various words which represent its many sidedness: Substitution; Representation; Redemption; Justification; Reconciliation; Regeneration; Sonship; Sanctification; Glorification. The best way in which to see the significance and the peculiar value of each word or work is to ask one simple question. In what state does the word indicate man to be to make such a work necessary?

1. Substitution

Man is clearly regarded as being totally unable to fulfill the Divine requirements as of himself. Those requirements would utterly destroy him and leave no residue of hope or prospect. He is judged and condemned and must die. But his death is more than physical, it is a state of conscious forsakenness of God, a consciousness to which man is to awake sooner or later unless he is saved - that is hell. For only a few that hell has really commenced in this life, for it is a part of the Divine order that men should live here under an aegis of mercy and grace. But "after death the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Grace and judgment belong to two dispensations. That is why men presume upon God's grace. The grand feature of the day of grace is that God has - in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ - provided a Substitute, Who has taken man's place in being "made sin on our behalf" (2 Cor. 5:21), and has passed into that 'hour' (which, in its awfulness, is an eternity) of being forsaken of God. "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). That Substitute is offered to men, for their faith acceptance of Him - "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). That means that when He died, He was accounted by God as their sin, their judgment, their doom, their death, their hell. It is as though they had born it all but are saved. It required a Substitute Who, in Himself, was sinless, so that there was that behind all upon which judgment had no power and over which death and hell had no rights. There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. Hence God could raise Him from the dead in virtue of His own inherent sinlessness. This could never have been so with us. All that I was, Christ was made on the Cross for me. All that I was not that God required, Christ is unto me in resurrection. This, very briefly, is substitution.

2. Representation

But the fact that this has been done for me by another is only one side of the great work and could leave the door open to many weaknesses if it were left by itself. The complementary aspect is that of representation. "One died for all, therefore all died" (2 Cor. 5:14). In substitution, Christ died for us; in representation, He died "as" us. This means that, in the mind of God, we, as belonging to the old creation, have passed out of sight. When we take the Lord Jesus as our substitute and representative, we are regarded as in Christ and only so does God see us. When the Apostle Paul said "One died for all, therefore all died" (in Him), he went on to say, "that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again." This means that we cannot take the substitutionary work of Christ and then just go on as though it had no relationship to what we are by nature. Moreover, it was not just our sin that He took, but ourselves; not what we call 'the bad' about us, but our entirety. The same Apostle came to see that this applied to him as formerly a very religious man, consumed by a fire of religious devotion and activity. But the Cross represents the zero of the old creation in all its aspects, nature and abilities, and the beginning all anew as by resurrection from the dead. It is significant and impressive to remember that it was to Christian believers that Paul expounded this truth as in the letter to the Romans.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 16 - "3. Redemption")

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