. The Real Christ...
Freedom From Sin
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 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 from sin 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's 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 Moffat). 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" (1).
Such is the power of a true, lived-out baptism and faith that we have found freedom from sin. If we have really died and resurrected with the Lord, 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 ff.). 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.
Nearly everyone in the first century believed in the God-idea. There were very few atheists. Hence the radical nature of statements like 1 Pet. 1:21: we " through him [Jesus] are believers in God" , because God raised Jesus from the dead. The resurrection of the Lord inspires faith in the Father to such an extent that anyone whose faith in 'God' is not based on the risen Jesus does not actually count as a believer in God.
The wonder of the resurrection would totally affect our attitude to asking for things, the Lord taught in Jn. 16:23,26. “In that day [of marvelling in the resurrected Lord], you shall ask me nothing…if you shall ask anything of the Father, he will give it you [RV]…in that day you shall ask in my name…”. What are we to make of all this talk of asking and not asking, in the ‘day’ of the resurrected Lord Jesus? My synthesis of it all is this: Due to the sheer wonder of the resurrection of the Lord, we will not feel the need to ask for anything for ourselves. The gift of freedom from sin is enough. Because if God gave us His Son and raised Him from the dead, we will serve for nothing, for no extra ‘perks’ in this life; and yet, wonder of wonders, if we shall ask, in His Name, we will receive. But we must ask whether the implications and wonder of the fact of the Lord’s resurrection have had such an effect upon us…?
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 you 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 you 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. By this I don't mean we should get to the position where there are no rich people amongst us- this is clearly not the church scene imagined in passages like 1 Tim. 6. But the image of the pauper is the one that is impressed upon us. The Lord's 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).
Living Like Jesus
By God's grace, the Lord 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 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 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 NT. 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. Because of the nature and extent of His sufferings and experiences, the Lord is able to meaningfully enter into the human experience of us all. Yet we feel so often helpless as we watch the sufferings of others- as we watch their facial features contort, as we listen to their complaints. We are deeply aware of the huge gulf between us and them. We cannot penetrate their suffering- or so we think. Yet the Lord Jesus, on the basis of the extent of His love and the depth of His experience, can make this penetration. And it is not impossible that we ourselves can do far better than we think in achieving deep solidarity with others in their sufferings.
2 Cor. 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 [s.w.] 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's death and resurrection for the preachers.Phil. 2 draws out the parallel between the Name of Jesus, in which all the names of those in Him find a part, and the need to confess this in preaching. 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).
Paul in 1 Cor. 15 lists ten serious consequences of failing to believe that Christ rose. One of these is that there was no reason for him to constantly risk his life to preach the Gospel if Christ was not risen. It stands to reason that the fact Jesus has risen is an inspiration to risk and give our lives, time and again, in an all out effort to spread that good news of freedom from sin to others.
Duncan Heaster has written over 20 books, some of which contain material relevant to The Real Christ. And there is a host of other relevant material...