He Lived for You
The total package that Jesus offers
My youthful work companion, Wayne, and I have enjoyed many engaging, gospel-centered conversations. One day we were discussing in great depth the dual aspects of the human sin-and-death dilemma: (1) that humanity is sinful by its very nature, and is under condemnation of the law, and that the wages of sin is death—we are in an enormous “pickle”; and (2) that entrance to God’s kingdom requires righteousness, of which, Scripture testifies, we possess none. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not one.” We clearly have two separate and distinct problems!
The first part of this twin dilemma has been resolved. Our sin debt has been paid in full through the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary, and it’s readily available to all who will receive Him. Jesus, while robed in your flesh and mine, carrying all our baggage, withstood our eternal judgment at the cross, experiencing the full wages of sin—what the Bible refers to as “the final death”—for the entire human race! Jesus endured that judgment death for us and as us, which is freely imputed to all who lay claim to it. Jesus tasted death for everyone (Heb. 2:9).
However (and we should supersize this “however”), the secondaspect of humanity’s double quandary is that God still requires righteousness as a qualification for entry to His kingdom.
Sometime back I heard an old-line Baptist preacher say, “Upon a life I never lived, and on a death I never died; but on the righteous life of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and on His death on the cross of Calvary, I hang my eternity.”
Jesus died indeed for us. But He also lived for us. It is the complete remedy for humanity’s twofold “pickle”: first stated, the terminal state of our sin problem was washed away at Calvary! At the same time our paucity, our dire dearth of any shred of righteousness, has been resolved in the obedience and faultless life of the Savior. God tells us, through the pen of the prophet Isaiah, that all our righteousness is as filthy rags, soiled laundry (Isa. 64:6). And what we desperately need is to be clothed in what the Bible describes as the clean, white robe of Christ’s righteousness. He bestows upon us His pure, white, linen garment, whichbecomes our possession when we surrender completely to Him. It is this robe of Christ’s righteousness that outfits us, that qualifies usfor citizenship in His kingdom.
Not only did He die for us. Not only should we stake our claim to that substitutionary death, but we should consider equally that He lived for us. His obedience, His faithfulness, His perfect life, stands in the place of ours!
We are saved by His death,
and we are saved by His life
“My life of scarlet, my sin and woe,
Cover with His life, whiter than snow.”
We are saved by His death, and we are saved by His life! They are inseparable!
Better and Still Better
Now let’s crank it up a notch: Scripture says that knowing God is the key to life. Hear the voice of Jesus in John 17:3: “This is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (KJV). It is God’s desire that we grow to know Him personally, intimately. Why?
One reason is that He desires to reproduce His own character in each of us. In all that we do, all that we are, He wants us to become likened unto Him in temperament and demeanor, in the structural integrity of who we are! For this reason He has promised to write His law upon the fleshy tables of our hearts. He promises to make His thoughts and His ways central components of our very nature—to restore in us the image of the Almighty as it was when we were first created in Adam and Eve; an image from which we’ve fallen.
Ultimately, though, God’s great desire is to reproduce in us—in our daily walk, in our speech, our responses, our values and choices—the obedience of Jesus, His righteousness, His purity, His selfless love, and the works that the Father produced in Jesus while He walked in our “human-ness.” That’s the life-process of sanctification! It’s the mystery of God, Christ in us, His works and righteous deeds reproduced in us!
In speaking of that impending, final day of accounting, the Son of man assures us in Matthew 10:32 that “whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Jesus is our advocate, our attorney, our divine representative before the judgment bar.
In fact, God’s salvation reckoning is really more “all in One” than it is “One for all.”
A Law Court Illustration
A good example would be a legal class action. In a typical class action, a legal representative stands before the judgment bar on behalf of an entire group of individuals. The people who comprise the “class” are given the opportunity to choose to take part in the action or to decline participation. Should the attorney representing the class win judgment in their favor, will everyone in the class benefit from the victory? Not necessarily. Because it’s more than likely that not everyone in the class will opt to participate, for a litany of reasons (too good to be true; don’t have the time; there’s probably a catch, etc.). In the end, only those who elect to participate in the class action have the legal right to a share in the benefits.
On the other hand, if every individual in that class should decide to participate, would it be necessary for that attorney to return to court for further litigation? No! Because when they won the case, they won judgment for potentially every single individual in the class they represented. All could share in the proceeds.
Our advocate, Jesus Christ, stood before heaven’s judgment bar on behalf of the entire class of Adam’s fallen race and was victorious! As a perfect human, He pleaded a perfectly persuasive case and gained at that time, forever, the ultimate victory for us in our stead.
But will everyone benefit from Christ’s victory? Tragically, no. For not everyone has chosen, or ever will choose, to take part in this cosmic class action. It works only for those who will believe in Him (John 3:16). If, though, by some astounding miracle, every individual had chosen to say, “Yes, Lord Jesus! Count me in, too!” would Jesus have to go to multiple Calvarys and repeatedly spill His precious blood? Of course not! Because His shed blood and His judgment death on Golgotha’s hill was, and still is, sufficient for every human being who has ever borrowed breath from our Creator (Heb. 2:9; 10:10; 1 Cor. 15:22).
If we are not ashamed to confess that we have claimed Jesus Christ and His spotless, sinless life, then His history, His righteousness, His very fulfillment of God’s original purpose for us,stands in the place of our life’s record in that final day of reckoning. He deletes our entire, shady “browsing history” and even our fatal errors, and gives instead His pristine résumé as if it were ours! Moreover, at this very moment His livingintercession before God’s throne of grace is able to keep us from falling, and present us without spot or blemish before the throne of His glory with exceeding joy (Heb. 7:25; Jude 24, 25). Lord, hasten the day!