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Did Jesus Do It All For Us?

There is a phrase which is often used to excuse Christians from any kind of discipline (and to condemn those who ARE disciplined) and it has a superficial sound of praise for Jesus. It is the phrase referred to in the title of this article: "Jesus did it all for us." We are told that it is an insult to the loving grace of God to try to do anything to please him. But this argument, used so often to condemn other more disciplined Christians as heretics, is really a heresy in itself.

There is an old Christian hymn entitled, "Jesus Paid it All" and yet even in this song, the very next line says, "All to him I Owe." In other words, there is an obligation upon those of us who have been touched by the grace of God, to respond in obedience to the demands that he makes upon us.

The fact that the death of Jesus on the cross somehow paid for salvation for the entire human race does not restrict God from only applying that grace to those who meet certain other requirements. Those other requirements are more spiritual now... things like honesty, humility, and love, in preference to religious observances and rituals. In fact, it seems that simplistic rituals are actually the sort of things that most cloud the message of the cross of Christ. And we really have to put the so-called "sinner's prayer" up there near the top of the list these days. Maybe it meant something in the past, but people who say it now (i.e. the little prayer "asking Jesus into your heart") quickly learn to be self-righteous about the prayer itself (condemning to hell everyone who hasn't said it, and even teaching that God himself cannot punish them now, no matter how ungrateful they are) and to be absolutely stubborn about NOT obeying anything that Jesus taught.

We have experienced condemnation from these people for years, on the grounds that we are trying to "work our way to heaven" just because we try to obey the commands of Jesus.

One of the teachings of Jesus is that if we don't deny ourselves daily and take up our cross and follow him, we cannot consider ourselves to be one of his followers. (Matthew 10:38) If Jesus did it all for us, then why is he telling US to take up our cross as well? (Note that he even stipulates that such obedience is a prerequisite for being a Christian and not just some option that you may or may not choose to do AFTER saying the sinner's prayer!) Surely, whatever he did on the cross needs to be repeated somehow in our own lives.

It has been almost 2,000 years since Jesus died on the cross. His death has not lost its power to provide forgiveness in terms of payment for our sins; but the kind of commitment that took Jesus to the cross is definitely missing from the lives of virtually all those who profess to be following him today. Something needs to change. There needs to be a dramatic wake-up in the world.

As I write this article, members of our community are making plans to take the punishment for a crime that was committed against one of our members. A family of four people conspired together to brutally attack Reinhard, with two very strong men, wearing hard shoes, repeatedly kicking him (in the face, back, and elsewhere) while he lay unconscious on the ground from other hits he received during the assault. The wife of one of these men held a loaded gun in her hand, to be used to assist her husband if needed. (Her husband, by the way, is a high school teacher, who has a responsibility to be a role model to his students.) When neighbours came and someone started to take pictures, the family fled, leaving Reinhard in a pool of blood, without so much as checking to see if he was still alive. They hid overnight in a nearby motel while making plans for their next move.

We are going to demonstrate our love for these people as well as our contempt for their behaviour by "taking up our cross". What does that mean? It can mean a lot of different things, but in this situation, it means that we are going to actually put the family on trial, pass sentence, and then offer to take the punishment ourselves.

We expect an outcry against this... claims that we have no right to judge (but, of course, even the people saying that will be judging us), and that we are somehow desecrating the cross of Christ by trying to imitate it. People will be told that Jesus did it all on Calvary, and that we are a dangerous cult, teaching people to add to what Jesus has already done.

But we disagree. Our punishment (though harsh by some standards) will be only a token punishment, and so our "cross" will also be merely smbolic of the real cross of Christ.

Even if the family were to accept the punishment that we prescribe, it would be only a token of their repentance, an attempt to show that they really are sorry for their crime. In return, we will drop all efforts to have them punished by the laws of the land. (Note: This relates only to the criminal charges. The family would still be required to make restitution for the medical expenses incurred as a result of Reinhard's medical treatment, dental work, and shattered glasses.)

Did Jesus do it all for us? It all depends on what you are talking about. He is the one who bought eternal salvation. But we are the ones who have the job of taking the twin message of justice and mercy, symbolised by the cross, to the rest of the world. We need to show by our lives the awfulness of sin as well as the depths of God's love. He loved us so much that he sent his only Son to suffer and die in our place. And we want to follow in his footsteps.

The Johnson family, like Barabbas, will escape court action through our little demonstration; but their eternal salvation rests largely on how sorry they are for what they have done. We have been given power to forgive their sins or to "retain" them, and we intend to use it.

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