Conformity to the Death of Jesus
Why do Christians get the flu? Because they were predestined to. Is the cross we bear something we choose of our own "freewill", so that the flu is not the "cross"?
Jesus lived to die. If you divide the life which led to his death from his death, and tell us only to imitate the first part, only the life, you miss the NT theology of the cross. If we are to imitate the death part also (I Peter 2:21) then why must we avoid saying that our deaths are like that of Jesus? Of course our deaths are not propitiatory, but EVEN OUR DEATHS as Christians continue to confirm the power of the cross. Of course Jesus is unique, but that does not mean we cannot imitate his life, so why should it mean that we cannot have his death as our model?
Consider II Corinthians 4:10-12 :"always carrying around in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you."
Paul doesn't say that he carries around the life so that the life will be visible. He carries around the death. I suppose you could say that it was only apostolic, that it does not apply to us. But we still have mortal flesh and the way we live is a reflection of our faith in the resurrection AND the death of Jesus. This means that we can not only live for Jesus and others, but that we can die for Jesus and others (instead of killing to protect the elect)
Consider Romans 6:5--"we have been united with him in a DEATH LIKE HIS..." I'm sure that our death by imputation is the motive for "presenting our members", but I see also a call for our conformity to the death of Jesus so that even the death is a model for us. Philippians 3:10--the way we "know Christ and the power of his resurrection" how? "by becoming like him in his death". Even though we have "died with Christ" (Rom 6:8) and thus to the demands of blessing by law, the "life that we now live in this mortal flesh" (Gal 2:20) does not depend on our "co-operation": like Jesus when Jesus was dead, we depend totally on the resurrection. This conformity to the death of Jesus of course can be mere words and theory but does not have to be.
Copyright © 2000 by Mark McCulley. All rights reserved.