How do you think of judgement and salvation?
If you ask me - you shouldn't think like this:
Instead think like this:
Or to be a bit more nuanced - like this.
Now I could take this observation in many directions.
Perhaps we could explore its significance for an infra versus supra-lapsarian debate.
Perhaps we could discuss the strong link that some make between penal substitutionary atonement and limited atonement.
We could think about how to preach warnings of judgement (for instance warnings of exile in the OT) given that judgement is a-coming.
But I'm going to take the observation in this direction...
I'm becoming convinced that when Jesus says 'Take up your cross and follow me' (Mark 8:34) He's saying the same thing as Paul when he says 'I was crucified with Christ and I no longer live' (Gal 2:20).
Think of some of Jesus' words:
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matt 10:34-39)
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:24-26)
In the context of Jesus' own judgement and salvation He tells His followers what it means to come after Him. It means being caught up in that same path - the only path of life. Seeds must die to live - so it is with The Seed so it is with the many offspring His death produced. Judgement then salvation. To be saved is to die with Jesus - to join Him for an early judgement day and pass through to find true life.
Compare this with some words from Paul:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his, etc, etc (Rom 6:3-5 and following)
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14)
Here Paul describes his history as utterly determined by the cross and resurrection of Jesus. Judgement and salvation have happened for Paul because he has died and risen with Jesus to new life on the other side of wrath, death, sin, law, old creation. And (apart from his Adamic flesh that still clings to him) he is utterly dead to the world around him and utterly brought into 'newness of life'.
Now. Think of a sermon you've heard on the Jesus verses. And think of a sermon you've heard on the Paul verses. I imagine the tone of those two sermons was quite different. I imagine that the Jesus sermons spent a lot of time presenting His words as moralistic exhortations and 'if-then' conditions before (perhaps) the preacher retracted the force of them and told you not to forget that you're 'saved by grace' ('grace' understood along the lines of diagram 1 not diagram 2). And I imagine the Paul sermon comforted you with the whole 'union with Christ', 'newness of life' stuff and encouraged you that 'hey, you really are saved by grace.' (again, probably 'grace' as understood according to diagram 1)
I wonder if the Jesus sermons should sound more like the best of the Paul sermons. And the Paul sermons should sound like the best of the Jesus sermons. In other words, Jesus, the Seed, dies and rises on your behalf. If you are His rejoice that you are created, shaped and defined by this death and resurrection in which you are crucified to the the whole world, and the whole world is crucified to you. This is your salvation because there simply is no other way to resurrection than through the cross. 'Come and die' is not a fearful condition of life - maybe you're up to it, maybe not. It's the description of how that life comes, wrapped up in the announcement that Jesus really has crucified the world to raise it up new - come on in.
If you are not dead to the world, this might well be a sign that you are not His. Or that you have wandered far from Him. So go to Him and take that easy yoke onto your shoulders (Matt 11:28-30). Be constrained by the death and resurrection of Jesus, for this is salvation. Or else be wearied and burdened by your own, much heavier yokes which cannot lead you through the judgement to come.
But for those who are yoked to Christ, know that you have begun, even now, to live that newness of life. Even today as we walk together with Jesus, dying to sin and self and the praises and worries of this world, resurrection life is unleashed. This mystical union with Christ (the best of the Paul sermons) is earthed in the daily discipleship of living for Jesus (the best of the Jesus sermons). Let's have both.
I wonder if that's why Peter finishes his first letter (which is all about this judgement then salvation dynamic) by saying 'This is the true grace of God.' 1 Peter 5:12.
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Very interesting thoughts. I'm inclined to agree, but...
When Jesus said, "Take up your cross...", it was before his crucifixion. Jesus knew what was coming, but his disciples didn't. If he's talking in an attempt to communicate something (which he must be!), then surely he's talking to his disciples own understanding? and the only thing the disciples are going to understand by "cross" is "incredibly painful and humiliating death"...
What would your response be?
Welcome to the blog/comments.
Interesting that in Mark Jesus only starts talking about taking up our cross once He *begins* to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer, be rejected and be killed. In other words Mark 8:31 comes before 8:34.
And I reckon Jesus was (at the very least attempting) communicating that He Himself would die an "incredibly painful and humiliating death".
Certainly the John 12 stuff is caught up with Jesus' own passion.
The trickiest one to account for therefore is the Matthew 10 call. But note that Jesus has already said:
"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household." (Matt 10:24-25)
And He's already said that He's bringing judgement on the whole earth. (v34) So I think the context of the disciples' own suffering is that Christ stands at the head of it. In other words they participate in the sufferings of Christ.
What do you reckon?
Glen, your previous post on this really helped me understand the importance of dying in Christ. I'm still working on it, but this is the teaching that my church uses to emphasize the necessity of baptism - a participation in the death of Jesus.
baptized into His death, yes.
Just preached on 1 Cor 10 - the Israelites were baptized into Moses when they went through the Red Sea. They threw their lot in with Moses knowing that he alone could get them through the waters of judgement and they trusted that he would lead them at their head through to glory. Same with us - we turn from Egypt and die with our Head, joining Him in the wilderness (participating in His sufferings) knowing that we will also join Him in that spacious place (resurrection glory).
Thanks for that. Actually, looking at it, Mark 8:34 follows so closely on from 8:31 that it makes very little sense if it is not connected. In fact, you can't really read it any other way, you're quite right.
It leaves me with some odd questions about "What was Jesus trying to do when communicating with people," "Did he know that they wouldn't/didn't understand and if so why say such things", and also some questions about how the general message of the gospel writer - authoriative as an author of scripture - relates to Jesus' historical message. But I'm not sure how edifying any of those questions would be to pursue in detail!
The stuff in Matthew 10... hmmm... it definitely connects into the cross once you know the cross, it seems saying things that mean much the same (minus the cross... which is no small minus... without the cross what it says doesn't necessarily fit, but it still make sense), and the link you cite seems to work... although I'd have to look at it in more detail to be sure.
I think these things can help us understand the disciples' lack of understanding.
I reckon Jesus was just as plain about His own cross as He was about His followers' cross. Neither are particularly difficult truths intellectually, but they are hugely problematic truths morally and existentially.
I think this is where the lack of understanding comes in - we refuse to get our heads around the way of the cross (whether Jesus' or our own) because we naturally follow a way of glory. And this is precisely what happens in between Mark 8:31 and 34.
Peter rebukes Jesus for the way of the cross. Jesus says you're thinking according to the satanic 'things of men' - and then He reiterates that the way of the cross is for all (v34).
It's not that Jesus isn't very very clear. But there's satanic blinding in the disciples (and in us!) when it comes to the way of the cross. By nature we have in mind the things of men (a theology of glory) not the things of God (a theology of the cross).
I think those are the sorts of dynamics at play when it comes to understanding the cross - and because Christ's cross and ours is so intertwined, so are the misunderstandings.
Hi Glen! Thanks for sharing this! Good weird but a lot of my experience on your site is inclined with the topic of "union with Christ." God bless you Glen and keep em coming!