Looking at My Salvation from God’s Point of View
Looking At My Salvation from God’s Point of View
(from What God Wishes Christians Knew About Christianity, Harvest House, 1998)
“But, Bill, how can I have been crucified in Christ? Jesus was crucified 2,000 years before I was born! How could I possibly have been crucified in Him?” We must understand that God is not obligated to make sure that we understand everything about the Christian life. His concern is that we believe what He says about it. At times we just have to believe Him even though we don’t understand. Let’s see if we can gain insight into our crucifixion with a simple illustration.
The space between TB (time begins) and TE (time ends) in Figure 4A represents the time dimension. Since time is God’s creation, it follows that God Himself cannot be time-dimensional; if He were, He is subject to or controlled by His own creation … time. Can’t be. You and I, however, are time-bound. Let’s depict your earthwalk in the time line. B represents your physical birth and D your physical death.
The letter P on the line represents the present. You consider everything from the P backward as “past” because you’re a time-conscious critter; everything from P forward is the “future.” But God sees your entire time line from B to D as “present.” He is like a man in a helicopter hovering above your line. Not only this, but He sees forever into what you call “future.” This is how He inspired all of those prophecies in the Bible. They are not future tense from the helicopter view; they are present tense. Second Peter 3:8 says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years.” And you think, Hmmm, God has a lot of time on His hands. But the rest of the verse says, “And a thousand years is as one day.” Uh-oh, it’s not saying God has lots of time; it’s saying that time is meaningless from the helicopter viewpoint. God’s entire view is present tense!
In addition to seeing forever into the future, God sees forever into the past. In Figure 4B, I’ve added Adam and the cross. Everything that is required for you to experience victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil happened during those marvelous days encompassing Jesus’ sacrificial death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. “His works were finished from the foundation of the world” from the helicopter view (Hebrews 4:3).
Let me now address the question, “How could I possibly have been crucified in Christ before I was even born?” by asking a question. How many of your sins did Christ take to the cross 2000 years ago? All of them, of course. How many of your sins had you committed 2000 years ago? None of them. Then how could God have possibly laid your sins on Christ at the cross? Answer: the helicopter illustration! God is not limited by the time dimension. He is omniscient (all-knowing). From His helicopter view, God “sees” the entire time dimension as present tense. He sees forever into both future and past.
Just as you have enough faith to believe the Bible when it says that your sins were laid on Christ 2000 years ago for your forgiveness even though you would not commit them until centuries later, you must also believe that you were crucified in Christ, purged of your old identity, as well as reborn with a new identity and new life—Christ! Hey, believing this is no more outlandish than believing Christ carried your sins 2000 years before you were born! If you can believe that, you can believe this! Same Christ, same Bible, same faith, same salvation, but perhaps two fantastic treasures which you had never realized that you have: your new identity in Christ, and Christ as life. These parts of the salvation package (which must be just as important as your blessed forgiveness, or God wouldn’t have effected them) must also be accepted by faith. Of course, you can be saved without understanding everything that you gained through Christ, but you will be handicapped in both spiritual warfare and spiritual development. The thief on the cross alongside Jesus had very little understanding of what the salvation package contained, yet he was given the complete benefit through coming to Christ by faith.
William R. Newell, the esteemed former assistant to the president of Moody Bible Institute and their Bible teacher at large, has this to say about our literal crucifixion in Christ:
These words are addressed to faith only. Emotions deny them. To reason, they are foolishness. [But] this crucifixion was a thing definitely done by God at the cross, just as really as our sins were laid upon Christ. It is addressed to faith as a revelation from God. Reason is blind. The “word of the cross” is “foolishness” to it. All the work consummated at the cross seems folly, if we attempt to subject it to man’s understanding. But, just as the wonder of creation is understood only by faith (“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the Word of God” [Hebrews 11:3], so the eternal results accomplished at the cross are entered into by simple faith in the testimony of God about them.
It is no light thing that this is announced to you and me, that all we were and are from Adam has been rejected by God. Scripture is not now dealing with what we have done, but with what we are. No one by nature will be ready to count himself so incorrigibly bad as to have to be crucified!
This is the opposite of [those] who set you to crucifying yourself. You must “die out” to this, and that. But God says our old man, all that we were, has already been dealt with—and that by crucifixion with Christ. And the very words “with Him” show that it was done back at the cross; and that our task is to believe the good news, rather than to seek to bring about this crucifixion ourselves. (William R. Newell, Romans Verse by Verse (Chicago, Moody Press, 1938), pp. 212-213.)
Gang, that was the party line in one of the leading evangelical institutions in America in 1938! Would you say that Satan has been effective in stuffing the truth of our crucifixion in Christ between the cracks in modern Christianity?
Look at these words from one of the most highly acclaimed Bible teachers of this century, A.W. Tozer:
The cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. In Roman times, the man who took up his cross and started down the road was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life redirected: he was going out to have it ended! It struck cruel and hard and when it had finished its work, the man was no more!
In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. Thus God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him up again to newness of life! (A. W. Tozer, Renewed Day by Day (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, Inc., 1980), January 5.
Look at Figure 4C. “Christ was made to be sin [a sinner] [for you] that [you] might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The old you was crucified in Christ at the cross. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). You were subsequently buried and then reborn in His resurrection: “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father; so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10). After this you ascended to heaven in Christ. “And raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Notice the verbs; they’re all past tense! This is yours to embrace by faith just as you embraced your forgiveness by faith.