This will be an appeal to Christadelphians and others of similar persuasion, to rethink the heart of Christianity which is what the atonement is.
The issue revolves around what righteousness by faith actually means in its practical outworking. The reality of what ‘they’ teach is that you end up having to be obedient in order to produce the required righteousness, but is this not then the same as being ‘obedient to law’?*
The difference of opinion can be seen in this statement by Roberts. “The idea that Christ has borne our punishment and paid our debts, and that His righteousness is placed to our credit, and that all we have to do is to believe it, is demoralising”.
What is missed here is that it was Christ who was perfectly obedient, so that, by His obedience, the impossibility of us having to be perfectly obedient also, is negated. It is no good simply holding up the cross as being our forgiveness to a given situation which then must be ongoingly supported by our own righteousness in our own strength. IE that once forgiven we are then under the commitment of having to maintain a continuous stream of righteousness simply because the example has been set for us to ‘follow’, even if we claim to be supported by our prayer to God for assistance in this regard. [which prayer will not be heard because it disregards the victory of Christ].
So the idea of “righteousness by faith” is being differently interpreted and applied. Scripture advises that it is NOT the “simply believe” in the terms of which Roberts speaks that is the case, because James says that the faith that is the true one will be accompanied by good works. But these good works come from a good heart that has been cleansed by faith in the appropriate manner to the situation.
Abraham was the precedent for faith, and was quoted in the apparent exact opposite to that which Roberts presents, IE that our faith “IS credited to us as righteousness”, so the problem then becomes, faith in what?
Simplicity says that Jesus was the sacrifice for sin which liberates us then from its debt of death, IE that He died FOR us, so that we don’t have to die. This is true, being that if we place our faith in Him having removed the obligation to death, then we can consider ourselves free from that obligation, meaning that we are no longer under the inevitability of death having to be our end.
But this release from the obligation to die, then automatically places us under the obligation to LIVE. Unless no value is placed on the fact of our liberation, that it was intended to so liberate us and free us from the domination of sin and death from our lives.
Much is made of the fact that Jesus also benefitted from His own death and resurrection, but this is smokescreen material to avoid the fact that His death was meant to provide us with righteousness by removing from us the burden of unrighteousness, because one who dies is freed from sin. If we recognise the death as it truly was/is, then we will also recognise the life as it truly was/is.
The point being that Jesus provided the death for us that all men had to have, and that their conscience screamed out for to satisfy the sense of justice within us. God always wanted us to trust Him, to return to Him, but we could not do so as long as our debt to sin remained. So He provided a way which meant that those who wanted release from death, could find it in Jesus, but find it in a permanent way that was irrevocable unchangeable and irrefutable, except that some still find a way to refute it.
Because it was done for us for the very purpose of a permanent release from the power of sin, it is the very forgiveness of God Himself that brought it into place, that we might be placed permanently in the state of grace that He is and always has been, and has towards us.
“One died for all, therefore ALL DIED”. This is God’s edict, His proclamation, that all men have been freed from death by HIS death, SO THEY CAN LEAVE DEATH BEHIND THEM. By declaring all men dead, nothing of their past can any more affect them, and they are dismissed from any further claim under any law or laws. There is now only the “law of the Spirit of life” in ongoing activity to be entered into.
“He has abolished death”. All of the original creation is now said to be WIPED OUT so that a new creation can take effect. The old covenant has gone, the new has come.
The new creation is that of being “in Christ” and His resurrection, not our own resurrection, which comes later on physically, even though we are now ‘resurrected’ with Him spiritually, even to the point of being already raised with Him into heaven.
Jesus being as another Adam, but being the first of the new creation, is central to God’s plan and purpose in that what Jesus did and achieved, He did and achieved for ALL. Because we are “IN HIM” we also participate in His death, NOT BY TRYING TO BE DEAD (to sin flesh and death) but by ACCEPTING His death as being our own.
We get the final product of what He achieved. We get credited to us His death, WITHOUT HAVING TO ACHIEVE IT OURSELVES which we could not then or EVER do ourselves, at any time. So we are ‘dead’ yet alive, to be “those as returned from death to life”.
WE CANNOT MORTIFY THE FLESH even though we are enjoined to do so. The mortification of which it speaks is that of JOINING WITH Christ’s ACHIEVED MORTIFICATION.
And this is where the faith comes in. That it was Jesus who put to death within Himself those elements of nature which were of humankind, of flesh. We could not do it, He did it, and we are to place our faith in that He did it for us so that the matter of sin and death could be concluded. “It is finished’. Sin and death have been declared dead and only life now matters.
He put to death within Himself everything that was not of life, and all that was of death. This was an action that occurred within Him, within His physiology, it was painful and it took time, but eventually and finally, all those bits of His human body had been healed, converted, changed or destroyed to enable only righteousness to be left in Him, enabling then His immortality to occur.
We could never do that, even with the help of God and the Holy Spirit we could never have done that, NOR CAN WE STILL. But if we by faith accept what He has done and JOIN WITH HIM AS PART OF HIS BODY then sin and death are null and void in Him and in us.
BECAUSE he put every sin nature part of His body to death FOR US, we can simply draw on THE FACT THAT THIS IS ALREADY SO. We do not need to do what He has already done, and if we attempt to, GOD IS EXTREMELY DISPLEASED. Another way of saying that is that we will meet the wrath of the law. (“Law brings wrath”).
FAITH means we accept that He has done it for us, because we could not. This forces us to accept His dominion over us as adopted sons. Anything which tries to arise from the old sinful nature is now met with the understanding that it is already dead in Him, it has no power over us because it is forgiven in this manner of having put death to death FOR US.
And this is the ongoing power of faith in Him, that He has done it, has indeed borne the burden of it, of our sin, so we could be forever free from the condemnation of it. The power has been taken out of our hands, we only get to choose to believe Him or not. By believing Him we are empowered to reject sin and death and to embrace righteousness and life.
[Faith in His death frees us from our own][The penalty for sin has been removed. The penalty for not having life, remains.][He has abolished death. He has abolished the law.][He who believes has CROSSED OVER from death TO life]*[Especially as how they don’t believe in the gift of the Spirit as a free gift, which is what the promise referred to][Strange how the free gift of life is a result of the free gift of absolution and freedom from death][One who has freedom from death may then be captivated by life].
[Life (the Spirit of) as a free gift in counterpoise to the absence of death is denied by several groups, all who disagree with trinity and the general thrust of the commonly accepted gospel. They are, because of their unitarian and legalistic (many insist on keeping commandments and laws) stance, predominately locked into the old covenant rather than the new [and therefore ‘locked out’ of the new]. The denial of what most Christians accept as far as “the comforter” and the ‘indwelling’ of the Holy Spirit at a personal level goes, completes the conventional viewpoint that they cannot, on this basis, be considered as “Christian”]. [Roberts’ writing reveals that to receive “God’s free forgiveness” you have to first take part in His righteousness (page 15 “The blood of Christ”) this means you have to first satisfy their definition and the occasion of, when you are considered “righteous enough” even to qualify for baptism, let alone outrightly recognise that “God’s free forgiveness” is that which was instituted by His death, by effectively removing ours.][I could continue on about Roberts’ racism and murderous intent that Christadelphians would, at the ‘coming of the kingdom’, dispose of all those who effectively, were not Christadelphians.] [As the promise of salvation relates to the reception of the gifted Spirit, it is then the nature of this that becomes central to their argument, that is why they deny “trinity”, because they can’t have a returned Spirit of Jesus. This then also relates to their concept of what is “the spirit of Christ” and how you receive THAT.]. The end result of it all is that the true intention of the salvation process becomes NULLIFIED by their doctrine. The simplicity of it lies in the fact, to be apprehended by faith, that “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree”. The reality being that He “paid” our sin debt, that He LITERALLY bore ‘our’ sin in His body, being a “sacrifice for sin through faith in His blood”.
LIFE IS A GIFT, IT CANNOT BE EARNED. [*To be obedient to the Spirit, you have to first HAVE the Spirit, which they themselves deny they have, they are still in the process of ‘earning’ it, (by learning and study) so the only obedience they are left with, is to the law.]
[For those interested in the “mechanics” of it, faith means that what has been previously established in you as a “truth” or reality, is then subsequently denied on the basis of a newly accepted “truth” and reality which contradicts the ‘old’ one. So instead of some action that we might do to try and establish credibility (righteousness), that same credibility and “righteousness” is actually established on the basis of the willingness to believe something different. IE it is the direct change in thinking (thought patterns) that establishes that new way of thinking in righteous ways. When we believe God, we establish God’s thoughts within us also. “Imputed” righteousness is actually a legalism (of the new kind) which takes root in us on the basis of God’s truth, which in this case is forgiveness grace and love (and righteousness).]
All of this is because Jesus ACTUALLY dealt with the penalty of sin within His very own physical body, the one just like our own. Because He did this for all (that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone), (“One died for all, therefore, ALL DIED”), then that which He achieved for us becomes ours also if and as we believe it, Him. The putting to death of sin and that which causes sin within us and therefore without us, was achieved literally by Him, and this same death to sin is “credited” to us as and when we trust in it, in HIM that it is so.
In this way, law sin and death is abolished within us, just as it was within Him. The new “law of the Spirit of life” reigns where once only the law of sin and death reigned. Sin and death, now having been put to death FOR us, now has no actual power over anyone, because these “entities” are now DEAD. (If we believe). “Only believe”.
So the simple depiction of Christ dying for our sins on the cross is true, and He who believes on Him is saved. It’s not so much what you know but who you know that counts.
When people or groups take up the defective line which effectively means that you have to “earn” your salvation, it shows they are still captive to the old covenant of laws, of cause and effect, of action and reaction, of KARMA. They are actually in denial of Christ, it is as if He never was, except they have now produced new “systems” of legalisms which are even worse that the old ones. Many of these groups or people make a great deal out of studying the old testament, moreso than the new. This is because they are really still ‘living’ in the old covenant. There is nothing wrong with studying the scriptures, but to make scriptural knowledge the basis of their salvation (which is what they are doing), simply throws a shadow over the new testament, new covenant, and new Spirit (Jesus) which/who must now be pre-eminent in all things.
To deny that Christ ‘took away our sins’ is to deny the very nature of God, the revealing of which is the whole point of why Jesus came.
John 20-31. “…so that through believing you might have life in His name..”
[Robert Roberts was the co-founder of the Christadelphian religion.]
The chastisement that we deserved was laid upon Him. He took away our death. Believe it, or not.