Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. It was so foggy in Daly City this morning, and therefore the traffic on freeway was very slow. Many cars just exited assuming accident ahead. I took the chance to follow the slow traffic and eventually saw the light once I past the fog line at San Bruno. Praise the Lord! That experience reminded me of our new life in Christ; we were once in darkness and now we enter into the Light because of what Christ did on the cross. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:5b-7).
The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy. The New Testament view is that He bore our sin not by sympathy, but by identification. He was made to be sin. Our sins are removed because of the death of Jesus, and the explanation of His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy with us. We are acceptable with God not because we have obeyed, or because we have promised to give up things (that we attach on earth), but because of the death of Christ, and in no other way. We say that Jesus Christ came to reveal the Fatherhood of God, the loving-kindness of God; the New Testament says He came to bear away the sin of the world. The revelation of His Father is only to those to whom He has been introduced as Savior. Jesus Christ never spoke of Himself to the world as one who revealed the Father, but as a stumbling block: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father” (John 15:22- 24). Jesus spoke only to His disciples, "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father' (John 14:9)?
That Christ died for me, therefore I go without death, is never taught in the New Testament. What is taught in the New Testament is that "He died for all" (not that He died my death), and that by identification with His death I can be freed from sin, and have imparted to me His very righteousness. The substitution taught in the New Testament is twofold: 1) He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin. 2) We might be made the righteousness of God in Him (read 2 Cor 5:.21). Therefore, it is not Christ for me unless I am determined to have Christ formed within me.
This is indeed Paul’s theology or conviction to daily practice “becoming like Him in his death” (Phil 3:10b), or “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature… since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Col 3:5-10). If I were to believe in a cheap gospel that Christ died for my death (consequence of my sins), and therefore, I could indulge myself in sins without worrying about the consequence of death, then the life of Christ could never be really conceived and grow within me. Yes, we could never earn this new life of Christ by our good work or religious disciplines. It is purely a gift of God for us. But in order to nurture the life of Christ within us, we need to identify with the death of Christ daily. This is what the early church believed and practiced. But what about us today?
Let us hold each other accountable to become like Christ in His death each day, so that our lives may become a channel of His blessings to people around us.
Love you because of this New Life in Him,