Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." This familiar verse echoes an even more familiar verse, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." The wonder of God's Love cannot be overstated but for many Christians this is as far as there theology goes. If we look at Romans 5:8 there is a very important, even essential, thought conveyed that we generally overlook. I would draw your attention to the word "yet" in the second phrase of the verse. The verse points us in two directions, before we were saved, still lost and dead in trespasses and sin, Christ Jesus died for us and after salvation, when we became something else.
I have heard so many times the statement, "I am just a sinner saved by Grace." But in actuality that is no longer our state. We could not be saved if Christ died and we accepted Him as Lord and Savior and our essence was not changed. The Word of God makes it clear we are far more than a sinner saved by Grace. That was our state before salvation, before being born-again. Leaving a sinner in his sinful state is where much of modern evangelism fails in its message. God loved us when we were still sinners but God does not accept sinners into His Kingdom. He gives them a "new birth" and their essence is something completely different. When Jesus told His disciples that their righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees He was not talking about a righteousness that they could achieve by keeping the law. He was pointing to the fact of a completely new being, born by the Holy Spirit and having the righteousness of Christ Jesus Himself. We do not enter the Kingdom of God as sinners but as new creatures brought to spiritual life by the Holy Spirit.
I have heard it said that God accepts me because when He looks at me He sees Christ and His shed blood. However, that is not what the Bible teaches. When Jesus went to the cross He suffered the just punishment that should have been mine. It was the only price that could be accepted by a Just and Holy God for sinful man. In theological terms this is called the Penal Substitutionary Death of
Christ. But it made possible far more than just forgiveness. Forgiveness alone would not make it possible for us to have a spiritual union with God. We could not be left in the state we were in when Christ died. Jesus also had to resurrect from the dead. He conquered death and hell in His resurrection. This resurrection life was now available to those that were called to be born again, given new life in Christ, that is eternal life. Paul made it clear that if Christ did not rise from the dead we are without hope. When God looks at the believer, those that have been born again by the water and the Spirit, He sees us. He sees that new creature that Christ paid for with His blood and raised to newness of life by His resurrection.
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was Christ payment for our sins but more than that it was the Bride price that the Father demanded the Bridegroom pay for His bride. In ancient Israel the parents of a couple that were to be married, negotiated a price that the bridegroom was obligated to pay before he could claim his bride. When the price was paid the bride was no longer under her parents but under the authority of the bridegroom. Legally the bride and groom were married, even though the marriage had not been consummated. The groom would leave for a time to build a home for his bride and then return to claim her and consummate the marriage. This is the picture we are given in the New Testament. Before God made Eve all the animals were brought to Adam but none of them were fit to be his companion. Only after a companion of his bone and his flesh was made did Adam have a companion that was acceptable for Him. We must be transformed into something with the essence of God in us to be acceptable members of His body.
The consummation of all things has not happened yet but we are still His, bought with a price we could not pay. We are forgiven by the shed blood of Christ and in His resurrection He enabled us to be partakers of the life of the Spirit. Without the resurrection there would be no new birth. It was just as essential for Jesus Christ to triumph over death and the grave as it was for Him to die in agony on the cross. We must also die daily by taking up our cross and following Him. We are enabled to do this by the resurrection life in us.
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