Christianity 201

April 11, 2014

The Power of the Cross

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  II Cor. 5:21 (NASB)

The above passage is very familiar to us and ends a  six verse section (16-21) in which Paul is telling us what we become when our lives our placed in Christ. I’d like to offer my own paraphrase of verses 16 to the end of the chapter:

Before we entered into friendship with Christ, we looked at Christ the same way we might look at any historical figure: A significant person who made a difference in the world, but fundamentally a person just like any other. Just as we were wrong then, it’s important not to be wrong about other Christ-followers.

The reason for this is that in Christ, they (and we) have become something that never existed before.1 They are not who they were before, a transformation has taken place.

This is from God, but God passes on to us the task for presenting this opportunity to the world. Just as Christ became mediator between God and man, there is a similar (though obviously not the same) sense in which we then mediate this offer of salvation to our small corner of the world; our friends, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, etc. Part one of the gospel is “taste and see” and part two of the gospel is “go and tell.” 2

(Paul then says this again for emphasis.)

For this reason, sharing a verbal witness becomes an imperative; there is (or ought to be) an urgency to this. We are Christ’s voice in the world — there is no plan B — it is through us that He speaks today. If we sound like a skipping CD (or a broken record) it is because of the gravity of the situation.

We walk around containing this good news,3  that is to say, not only having this message to communicate, but being fit or appropriate or made worthy to carry this message to a world in need, because we have already been the beneficiaries of the work that enables this transformation.4

And that is made possible only because Christ took our sin, the only sinless one becoming the perfect sacrifice for all time.5

It is this final thought, of Christ becoming sin for us, that leads into today’s video, the very powerful song The Power of the Cross by Stuart Townend.


1I once heard someone say that the Greek on this passage is not talking about a metamorphosis like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but more like a caterpillar turning into a “winged elephant.” In other words, anyone in Christ becomes (his words): “a species of being that never existed before.” So we are all not who we were, we are changed and are being changed.

2I Cor. 11:23 demonstrates this

3see previous chapter, verse 7

4In other words, the person who presents the good news to someone else is no better except insofar as they arrived at the table of grace sooner or beforehand. From beyond this point, the ‘older’ follower may disciple and mentor the younger, but they are no different.

5This is why I put this clause after the other; to complete the thought of we, as redeemed people being an agency of His grace, and then to say that all this is possible only because of his redemptive work. Hebrews 10:12

1 Comment »

  1. 2 Cor 5:21 is a verse I use much in counselling. Christ TOOK my sin and GAVE me His righteousness . . . what an exchange!
    Thanks for the Stuart Townend song – a new one to me and as always, great words.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — April 12, 2014 @ 10:51 pm | Reply


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