© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2015
In this study we dig into the very heart meaning of the Redemption, Regeneration, Reconciliation factor. We have already seen the cost of our Redemption in Concept 9: that God redeemed us, that is, set us free, liberated us, by the payment of a price: the death of his Son.
Both the Old and New Testaments teach the concept of substitionary atonement. Both the Old and New Testaments teach the concept of a representative, mediatorial priesthood. In the Old these concepts are seen in animal sacrifices and the OT priesthood: in the New both have their final, absolute and ultimate reality in Jesus Christ.
[These Scriptures teach substitution, representation and mediation: Mark 10:45b; John 10:11; Romans 5:6-10,15-21; 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:14; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; Ephesians 2:6;Colossians 3:3; Hebrews 2:17; 4:14; 7:24-25; 9:26-28a; 10:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:1,2.]
When the Bible says that Jesus Christ died ‘for us’ it means that he died in our place, in our stead, as our substitute. Because he was our substitute God considers his death as ours. For this reason he tells us:
We died to sin [Romans 6:2]
We were baptized into Christ’s death [Romans 6:3, compare 1 Corinthians 12:13]
We have been united with him in his death [Romans 6:5]
We are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ [Romans 6:11]
We died to the law through the body of Christ [Romans 7:4]
If one died for all, then all died [2 Corinthians 5:14]
We have been crucified with Christ [Galatians 2:20]
We died with Christ [Colossians 2:20]
We died, and our life is now hidden with Christ in God [Colossians 3;3]
Because of this substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for us, and because Jesus Christ is our representative, our mediator, in his presence, God no longer relates to us as we are in ourselves. He relates to us always, ever and only in Christ.
A. IN CHRIST – AN AMAZING, INCREDIBLE REVERSAL
Here we see a radical reversal of the results of the Sin Factor. Here we see that what we are in ourselves, ‘in Adam’, has no continuing relevance to God, and to our relationship with God.
|Scripture||What we are in ourselves [in Adam]||What we now are [or have] in Christ|
|Romans 6:11b||Dead [by inference]||Alive to God|
|Romans 6:23||Death||Eternal life|
|Romans 8:1||Condemnation||No condemnation|
|1 Cor 1:30||[By inference] no wisdom, no righteousness, no holiness, no redemption||Wisdom, righteousness, holiness, redemption|
|2 Cor 5:21||Sin||Righteousness|
|Gal 2:17||[by inference] legally guilty||Justified|
|Gal 3:28||[By inference] divisions according to religious law||Elimination of divisions between Jew/Gentile, slave/free, male/female|
|Eph 1:3||No spiritual blessings||Every spiritual blessing|
|Eph 1:4,11||Chosen by God|
|Ep 1:7 Co1:14||Not redeemed, not forgiven||Redemption and forgiveness|
|Eph 2:6||Dead in trespasses and sins||Seated with Christ in heaven|
|Eph 2:13||Far away||Brought near|
|Eph 2:15||Cut off from each other by religious law||United|
|Eph 2:21,22||Joined and built together as God’s dwelling|
|Phil 3:9||Striving for a righteousness of our own||Credited with the righteousness of Christ|
|Plus these verses below that don’t use the terms ‘in Christ’ or ‘in him’ but do relate to this concept.|
|Romans 3:24||[Legally guilty]||Justified freely|
|Romans 5:1||No peace with God; no justification||Justified; peace with God|
|Galatians 3:13||Cursed by God||Redeemed from the curse|
|Col 1:12||Disqualified||Qualified to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.|
|Col 1:13||Under the dominion of darkness||In the kingdom of Christ|
|Col 1:20-22||Alienated from God because of our sin||Reconciled to God and presented to him as blameless in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.|
For those who genuinely believe in Christ, who have been reunited to God by receiving his Son Jesus Christ as Lord, and who by that faith have been given eternal life in Christ on the basis of his atoning death, many of the effects of the Sin Factor:
Have been completely reversed, or
Are in the process of being reversed, a process that will be complete with Christ’s return, or
Are potentially reversed, waiting only for us to embrace them, and live with them.
Here we are confronted by serious questions relating to the man/woman question within the ministry of the church:
If God has reversed these impacts of the Sin Factor, what changes are necessary in our self-perception as men and as women?
If God has reversed these impacts of the Sin Factor, what changes are necessary in our attitude to women, if we are men, and to men, if we are women?
If God has reversed these impacts of the Sin Factor, on what basis can we justify the continuance of the divisions that entered the world only as a result of the curse and the condemnation – a curse and a condemnation that God, in Christ, has dealt with and removed?
B. IN CHRIST – THE ONLY WAY TO SEE A CHRISTIAN
In 2 Corinthians 5:16, having stated in verse 14 that if one died for all then all have died, Paul states:
‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
The ‘from a worldly point of view’ inadequately translates the Greek kata sarka, which, literally, is ‘according to flesh’. Paul is saying that because we have died in the death of Christ our substitute we no longer regard [the Greek is actually ‘know’] other Christians as they are in themselves. He used to know Christ that way, before the Damascus road conversion; before that time he viewed Jesus as a blasphemous man, and condemned him and his followers, but from that point forward Paul knew that this viewing people ‘according to flesh’ could no longer apply, that Jesus was not just a man, he was the Lord God. In the same way, Paul says, he has stopped looking at people as they are in themselves; he now regards them as they are ‘in Christ’.
It is in this context that we find the oft quoted 2 Corinthians 5:17:
‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’
The Greek reads literally: ‘if anyone is in Christ – new creation’. It is not just that this person is a new creature in Christ, but, importantly, that there’s a whole new set up, a whole new ball game, a whole new world – a whole new way of relating to each other, a whole new paradigm.
On the basis of this truth Paul spends the next five verses stressing the Reconciliation Factor. We need to remember here that Paul is not writing to unbelievers. He is writing to Christians, people who are ‘in Christ’, and exhorting them to live in the brand new reality of that reconciliation.
|2Cor 5:17 – 6:1||Meaning|
|‘the old has gone, the new has come’||Because of the substitutionary death of Christ God no longer relates to us on the basis of our performance [the old]; he relates to us on the basis of Jesus Christ [the new].|
|‘God reconciled us to himself through Christ’||The division and enmity between God and man that began in Genesis 3 has been removed by the death of Christ. This includes all the fear, guilt and shame and being banned from his presence that we looked at in Concept 4.|
‘gave us the ministry of reconciliation’
‘committed to us the message of reconciliation’
|We have to communicate this tremendous message – not only by preaching the message, but by helping people to live in the light of it in every moment and circumstance of their lives. [Note that Paul was saying all of this to believers, and encouraging them to live in the light of the reconciliation achieved for them by Christ.]|
|‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them’||God counted our sins against Jesus – this is what happened at Calvary. Because God counted our sins against Jesus he will never again pay us out or count our sins - past, present, and future - against us. And he will never again count that person of the opposite gender’s sins against him/her.|
|‘We implore you … be reconciled to God.’||Paul is imploring the Christians he is writing to to live in the reality of this reconciliation, to take on board the mindset that sees oneself and one’s fellow believers always, ever and only in Christ, and never as an isolated person. They are reconciled to God, that is a given fact of their salvation: they should also be reconciled to God – they should think and live with the liberating peace and joy of implications of this reconciliation.|
|‘God made him to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God’||An incredible exchange has taken place: Christ was debited with our sin so that God can credit us with his righteousness. Our debit file has been permanently deleted; in our credit file is the righteousness of Christ. God regards us in Christ as guilt free. God sees us clothed and covered with the righteousness of Christ.|
|‘I urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain’||The Christian is a person who, in receiving Jesus Christ as their God, has received also God’s grace – God’s unearned, unmerited acceptance. But many Christians live out their lives as though God is still relating to them on the basis of their own performance, rather that seeing themselves, and other believers, only in Christ. So Paul begs us not to receive God’s costly grace ‘in vain’ - in a meaningless, powerless, empty way.|
C. THE RADICAL AND LIBERATING IMPLICATIONS FOR THE MAN/WOMAN QUESTION
This ‘in Christ’ factor is very poorly understood by many Christians. Because it is poorly understood its radical and liberating implications are lost. We continue to relate to ourselves, to each other and to God, as if the Sin Factor and its devastating results were still in place, instead of relating to God, each other and ourselves from the perspective of the Reconciliation Factor. We think and live as though Reconciliation was not now in place. We think and live as though each of us still have to bear the burden of our sin and guilt, despising and counting of no-effect the sin-bearing, substitutionary death of Christ. We have received it, but we have received it in an empty, meaningless, powerless way.
Let us repent of this practical rejection of the death of Christ. Let us cease to disbelieve his promises. He has born the guilt, gaining for us total freedom from condemnation. He has paid the penalty for all our sins, gaining for us complete and permanent forgiveness for all our sins. He has reconciled us to God, gaining for us uninhibited and eternal access into the very presence of God. And he has done all of this for the person of the opposite gender with whom we exist together in the church.
There are certain attitudes and perceptions that we hold of ourselves and our gender and of people of the opposite gender, that are completely out of sync with this Reconciliation/In Christ Factor. We have brought them with us from that old creation, the old set up, as if we were each still stand alone individuals and as if all that the Scripture teaches about Christ were not true and were not in place.
We live with a personal burden of personal guilt
We use words, actions or attitudes that make the person of the opposite gender feel guilty.
We allow the perceived disapproval of someone of the opposite gender make us feeling guilty
We reject ourselves
We make the person of the opposite gender feel rejected either in him/herself or in relation to roles
We feel rejected by people of the opposite gender, either in ourselves or in our roles.
We live as though God is our enemy.
We live and/or think as though the person of the opposite gender is our enemy.
We make the person of the opposite gender feel or think that we are his/her enemy.
Women feel inferior in the presence of men; men feel superior in the presence of women.
All of these, and more, are expressions of the mindset of the flesh which regards people as they are in themselves, and contradict the mindset of the Spirit which regards and relates to people only, ever and always as they are in Christ.