Based on, “One died for all, therefore all died…”
I believe the heart of the gospel hinges on this verse. It prompts the question as to how one man dying can be equivalent to all men dying.
There are so many words that can be involved in explaining or attempting to explain theological things, and it often ends in “needless” complexity, but seems unavoidable.
Coupled with this problem was an issue concerning the Christadelphian belief system, which was, that they are at variance with conventional doctrine but especially on the “atonement”, the cross. Noticeable as a result of this, is what appears to be a common theme with all groups who do not see that what Christ did was to take away sin and its power forever. They seem to see that what he did was only to set an example for us to follow, and that we should then “try to be Christ-like” in attempting to put down the flesh, instead of seeing that he HAS put down the flesh FOR US.
This amounts to self justification and self righteousness, and the pressure this puts people under is terrible, leading to marriage breakdown among other things. You could see this also with groups like “world wide churches of God” by Herbert Armstrong. It is what is called legalism, because it retains law as its main principle, and a pseudo grace system.
The foundation for this error can be seen in this verse about “..therefore all died”.
To get straight into it, the verse is conveying information that strikes at the heart of man. It involves “we considered him stricken and afflicted…” You can see in Acts the response that signifies how the heart is meant to respond to Christ on the cross. This “desperately wicked” heart is suddenly confronted with the truth of its condition, and identifies with having crucified the inner righteousness that is reflected from Christ crucified.
Conveyed is the information that all men are also dead along with Christ, falling under the same condemnation for the sin nature.
But even more, that the acceptance into the heart (see the thief on the cross) HAS THE EFFECT OF KILLING THE EGO, or the evil heart, or “sin in the flesh”, or however else you want to say it. Paul’s use of “all” could perhaps be compared with “we all, with unveiled hearts…”. There is a sense where “all” can refer only to those who are to be part of the final result, IE they are believers.
But the key is, it is the IDENTIFICATION with Christ on the cross that AGREES with the judgement on sin, and which effectively “kills” the sin condition, by agreeing with the judgement on it, on themselves. It is the “moment of truth”, it is the “…he came to his right mind..” and other similar biblical references.
It is in this moment that the person “dies with him”, dies with Christ. “One died for all, therefore all died” is that reality where the person is exposed to the light of truth, and being found completely undone, is in the same position as at judgement time. Judgement time has come with the cross.
This is the precursor to the “born again” reference, and the “except a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies…” The person dies with Christ, to the same death as him, by association and identification which amounts to FAITH IN HIS DEATH, since faith is the substance of reality, the reality of death strikes at the sinful heart and makes it real. The heart is laid bare.
Since Paul’s logical conclusion is that one died for all THEREFORE all died, it goes to the intention that lay behind the action, and the assumption? that God’s purposes are not thwarted, but become manifest, become reality.
So ALL DIE as the Spirit moves them to “conviction” of their death state. This joins them to Christ in his death. It becomes those who are chosen? but anyway those who become children before him in admission of their guilt. In that moment they are joined with him in his death. Paul said “If we have died a death like his…” it is inevitable that we will enter the life of his. The “if” can present the question of whether or not we actually truly have died a death like his, or could mean “since” we have died a death like his. Both have their place. Things like baptism are meant to reinforce and encourage that it is a past event.
The upshot of it all is that we do not have to try to imitate his death in ourselves, by putting down the flesh or whatever, but that BY FAITH we HAVE died his death with him, and now are living FROM and BY his life, via the Spirit.
[Christ died for all, but not all will respond][the “legality” of course is that God has done something which absolutely proves that not only is this his intention towards us, but that we can see his direct action in dealing with the problem, so we no longer have to. It is the proof of His love for us which retains no debt or grudge, and in which He is life itself to us when we accept Him][What God has done through Jesus on the cross remains a truth and a reality, regardless of whether or not we accept it]