The Christian life defined as morality is a profound distortion of the Kingdom Jesus began. It’s defining something excellent by the lowest common denominator. Like saying you are defined as a person by whether you wear shoes or thongs. Christian witness as a moral crusade is a sad corruption of what was meant to be the promotion of Jesus as life. Jesus never presented morality as life. Neither did he let loose with diatribes against sin. He presented Himself as life itself – as the one who would save the people from their sins. His rebuke was reserved for those who rejected Him to choose their own way.
ROOT AND BRANCH
We cannot meaningfully live from the law and have Christ as our life. It’s a contradiction. And just in case we do not consider ourselves wading in a swamp of legalism, neither can we live from a grid of Christianity and be the expression of Christ. The Kingdom of God is not a religion. It’s a person. Jesus Christ is not the expression of the church. But the church is invited to be the expression of Jesus.
NOT A NEW SAME OLD, SAME OLD
Why is this so? The short answer is because the spirit and life of which the Kingdom is made, comes ex nihilo from God into us. The longer answer is that what Father, Son and Holy Spirit combined to give us freely is not a new version of the old covenant. It’s a radically new and living way. We did not get the law with Jesus’ help or a self-effort ordered life with Jesus’ assistance either. We got a HIS LIFE AS OURS. We have not received a modified version of the knowledge of good and evil to live from. A new birth into this artifice is not the new birth. It’s the old birth that Adam began re-visited. Your new testament life is CHRIST AS YOU.
Professor T F Torence unearthed the truth that the atonement is much more than Christ’s righteousness in place of our sin. Although it is this. Torence fills and expands the meaning of Paul’s Christ our life to be the everything of our life now and in eternity.
‘And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins’ Mark 2.22 NIV. Well some do.
Someone once suggested to me once that we rub Holy Spirit oil into the old wineskin. But this contradicts scripture as well as promotes the illusion that the new wineskin is the old wineskin with Jesus added.
NOT THE OLD WAY RE-INVENTED
Many of us may have been raised to view the new wineskin as salvation per se. Not so. This container is not a wineskin patched up from the old. It is a new vessel. It is a completely new and living way in all respects. It does not carry with it bits of the law or old covenant. Neither does it involve special methods of undoing our separation from God. Christ is the end of separation and the start of our union with God. No more separation from God. The new covenant is Adam’s work undone and you made a son – your transition from a dis-inherited son to a son in spirit and in truth. Christ’s sonship is your sonship.
Christian Kettler, following Torence writes, ‘There is no other human response apart from the human response of the Son. Therefore, Torrance can say, “Jesus Christ is our human response to God. [And so] we appear before God and are accepted by him as those who are inseparably united to Jesus Christ our great High Priest in his eternal presentation to the Father.” (1) As the one genuine human response, Jesus “thereby invalidates all other ways of responding – such as responding by religion, by law or by good works.
Because Christ is our life we are connected to the trinity, made one with their fellowship and united to their potency and fertility. We have been connected to the spirit and life that drives the universe – not as a force – but in a personal relationship with the ultra-personal God.
(1) Kettler, Christian D. The Breadth and Depth of the Atonement: The Vicarious Humanity of Christ in the Church, the World, and the Self: Essays, 1990–2015 (p. 68). Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.