Thought for the Evening
Reconciled By His Death
"For if, when we were enemies [of God], we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."
There is something missing here. Jesus' death didn't reconcile anybody when he died. His enemies felt justified in their crimes against him. His friends and disciples gave up hope of him being the Messiah and returned to their hiding places or to their homes. The Roman soldiers who crucified him returned to their barracks and washed his blood off their bodies. No one was reconciled to God by Jesus' death when Jesus died.
How then are we reconciled to God by Jesus' death, when his death only confused and disappointed even his closest disciples? Paul solves this mystery in the sixth chapter of Romans. In verse three, he wrote, "Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?"
We are reconciled to God by the death of Jesus only when we become partakers of it. Physically, this is impossible. Jesus died on the cross long before we were born; we cannot partake of his physical death. Spiritually, however, it is possible to be a partaker of his death-his death to sin, death to self, and death to the ways of this world. Filled with the Spirit, Paul could say, "God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of Jesus Christ, by whom I am crucified to the world and the world to me" (Gal. 6:14).
Paul said in another place, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live!" (Gal. 2:20). We know that Paul was not physically crucified with Christ. That was impossible for him as well as for us. But spiritually, Paul was made a partaker of the inner death of Jesus Christ to sin, by receiving the sin-killing power of the holy Ghost. It is not the physical death Jesus died that the Spirit makes us partakers of; rather, through the Spirit, we are made partakers of the death that Jesus lived. Jesus was dead to sin a long time before men nailed his body on the cross. Indeed, the very reason they killed him was because he was already dead - to the sin they loved. "He that is dead" wrote Paul, "is freed from sin." And, "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him" (Rom. 6:7-8).
Friend, are you dead yet? If not, you need to follow Paul's example. He told the Corinthian saints, "I die daily" (1Cor. 15:31).
It is essential to note that the only way into the spiritual death of Jesus is, as Paul taught, "baptism". There can be no question about that. The only issue that needs to be resolved is "which baptism is it that makes us a partaker of Jesus' death"? When he used the word "baptism", Paul was not referring to any form of water baptism. Earthly water can never transport a soul out of a life of sin and into Jesus' life of righteousness. The heaven-sent baptism of the holy Ghost is the only baptism that can perform this miracle. It is the only baptism that can circumcise us with Christ (Rom. 2:28-29), crucify us with Christ (Gal. 6:14, bury us with Christ, and raise us up with Christ (Col. 2:11-12).
The death of Jesus will save no one; it is Jesus' life that saves (Rom. 5:10), "seeing that he ever lives to make intercession" for us (Heb. 7:25). Paul taught that if the story of Jesus ended with his physical death on the cross, then all faith in Jesus is worthless (1Cor. 15:17-19). Far from saving us, Jesus' agonizing death on the cross condemns us because it was for our sins that he died. In short, all who have sinned caused Jesus' death and are, therefore, responsible for it and will have to face God in the Final Judgment with that blood-guiltiness unless they repent of their sins and seek God's forgiveness now.
There is only one way to escape the terrible wrath of God for killing his Son. That is, to die with Jesus, and that is only possible in spirit. But how is that possible? How can we die with someone who was crucified two thousand years ago, except to die to the same things that he died to? The only way that Jesus' physical death will do us any good at all is if we enter into his spiritual death to sin by the baptism of the holy Ghost. Until then, we remain before God responsible for Jesus' cruel death and are "enemies of God", and, as enemies, we remain worthy of the awful vengeance of God for the murder of His Son that is coming upon the inhabitants of this earth.