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Yesterday, we quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his book “Life Together.”  Bonhoeffer also showed how such alienation and isolation from the body will result in a critical spirit and accusations against the body of Christ:

“When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament.  But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God.  Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief.  Let him pray God for an understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren.”

The deceiver is clever.  Just as the serpent was able to persuade Eve, so the enemy will persuade a man by luring him away from the body.  Once that man is separated, the thoughts then begin to run rampant.  Suddenly, as an outsider, the man “sees things” he hadn’t seen before.  This, indeed, is true, for how he is viewing the body from a different perspective.  He is viewing the body as an outsider.  This, however, is not what Christ intended.  Christ called no person out of the world to be an outsider, or loner.  Christ called us out of the world and into a community.  As Paul wrote “God sets the members in the body, every one of them, as it pleases him.”  God does not set us where we desire to be set; he sets us where it pleases him.  For a person to complain and accuse the body is akin to that person telling God that God did not know what he was doing when he placed that person in the body.  The person may as well tell God “my way is a better way!”  God indeed is building his perfect church, the bride of Christ, from imperfect people. What we, as kingdom citizens must do, is conform to God’s perfect, eternal image, rather than expect that God will conform to our imperfect, temporal, jaded image.

Looking at the cross1 Cor. 15:3 – For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,

Yesterday, we discussed why the Lord Jesus had to die.  It was necessary for Him to die in order that God may raise Him from the dead.  But what does it mean that Christ died for our sins?  If we look at the above passage in isolation, it is easy for us to place a period at the end of that passage instead of recognizing the comma that is there, implying that there is more to the sentence.  Many Christians like to read the above passage as follows:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”  If read in that fashion, one can easily see why we would focus on the death of Christ.  Yet, it is not a period at the end of that phrase, but a comma, indicating there is more:
1 Cor. 15:that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
Paul didn’t stop at the death of Christ; indeed, Paul knew that the good news was that God raised Christ from the dead.  So what, then, does it mean that Christ died for our sins?  Did Christ die so we wouldn’t have to?  Paul explains this further in his letter to the Colossians:
Col. 2:13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
So what is Paul suggesting here?  Simply put, Paul is saying that sin was a slaveowner, and we were the slaves.  What Christ did, then, was to set us free from the slaveowner of sin by purchasing us to be His bondservants. In short, we were transferred from one owner to another.  Here is what Paul told the elders at Ephesus:
Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”  So in truth, we weren’t emancipated from sin to live life as we please; rather, we were transferred from one property owner to another.  When we say Christ died for our sins, it doesn’t mean He performed a duty on our behalf.  For example, if I needed to wash my dishes, and my wife said “I did that for you,” that implies that I no longer have to perform that task.  She completed the task on my behalf.  But did Christ die so we wouldn’t have to?  Consider what Paul said in his letter to the Galatians:
Gal. 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Paul explains it clearly in his letter to the church at Corinth:
1 Cor. 6:19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price.Therefore honor God with your bodies.
We, the church, were bought at a price.  We are not our own.  Christ’s death symbolized the purchase of our lives.  We were transferred from one property owner to another.  In truth, we were never freed to live as we please.  We were purchased to labor in His kingdom.  In short, Christ did not die so we would not have to; He died as the prototype to show us how we must die to the things of the world and live in this world as citizens of His kingdom.  As a wise man and dear friend helped me see, we do not have dual citizenship.  Our citizenship is in heaven only if we are not looking at Christ on the cross by Himself, but rather seeing ourselves crucified with Him.  Christ died for us, in order that we may follow His example.

Book coverA quote from the soon to be released book A Glimpse of the Kingdom – “When we read the words of Christ, we must take heed to process those words spiritually and not carnally or intellectually.  Apart from being born again, we are incapable of processing His words spiritually.  This is why we must be born of the Spirit.  Being born again is not something that we can do to or for ourselves.  Being born again is not a matter of will.  It is a work of God through the Holy Spirit.”