But would His acceptance of judgment for us be possible, would it stand to our good, would it be of value in God’s sight for us, if He were not in moral solidarity with us? How could it? What God sought was nothing so pagan as a mere victim outside our conscience and over our heads. It was a Confessor, a Priest, one taken from among men. But then this moral solidarity is the very thing that also gives, and must give, Him His mighty and revolutionary power on us. What makes it possible for Him to be a Divine victim or a Divine priest for us also makes Him a new Creator in us His offering of a holy obedience to God’s judgment is therefore valuable to God for us which also makes Him such a moral power upon us and in us. His creative regenerative action on us is a part of that same moral solidarity which also makes His acceptance of judgment stand to our good, and His confession of God’s holiness to be the ground of ours. The same stroke on the one Christ went upward to God’s heart and downward to ours.
Is this not clear? Christ could make no due confession of holiness for us in judgment if He were outside Humanity, if He were a third party satisfying God over our head. The acknowledgment would not be really from the side of the culprit, certainly not from his interior, his conscience. The judgment would not really be the judgment of our sin, which would therefore be still due. To be of final value the atoning judgment must be also within the conscience of the guilty. But how is the judgment, the self-condemnation, the confession within our guilty conscience to be offered to God as an ingredient of Christ’s reconciling work and not its mere sequel? It is not yet there. Or else it is nothing worth offering by way of atonement when it is there. Is there any way of offering our self-condemnation as a meritorious contribution to forgiveness? Can it be included in the Divine ground of forgiveness in a guiltless Christ? Repentance is certainly a condition of forgiveness. But Christ could not repent. How then could He perfectly meet the conditions of salvation? The answer is that our repentance was latent in that holiness of His which alone could and must create it, as the effect is really part of the cause – that part of the cause which is prolonged in a polar unity into the sequential conditions of time.
Not only, generally, is there an organic moral connection and a spiritual solidarity between Christ and us, but also more particularly, there is such a moral effect on Humanity included in the work of Christ, who causes it, that that antedated action on us, judging, melting, changing us, is also part of His offering to God. He comes bringing His sheaves with Him. In presenting Himself He offers implicitly and proleptically the new Humanity His holy work creates. The judgment we brought on Him becomes our worst judgment when we arraign ourselves; and it makes it so impossible for us to forgive ourselves that we are driven to accept forgiveness from the hands of the very love which our sins doomed to a curse.
What Christ offers to God is, therefore, not simply an objective satisfaction outside His revolutionary effect on the soul of man in the way of faith, repentance, and our whole sanctification. As the very judgment He bore for us is relevant to our sin by His moral solidarity with us, so the value of His work to God includes also that value which it has in acting on us through that same solidarity, and in presenting us to God as the men it makes us to be. He represents before God not a natural Humanity that produces Him as its spiritual classic, but the new penitent Humanity that His influence creates. He calls things that are not yet as though they were. In Him a goodness of ours that is not yet rising from its antenatal spring, brings to naught the sin that is. There was presented to God, in Christ’s holiness, also that repentance in us which it alone has power to create. He stretches a hand through time and seizes the far-off interest of our tears. The faith which He alone has power to wake is already offered to God in the offering of all His powers and of His finished work. That obedience of ours which Christ alone is able to create, is already set out in Him before God, implicit in that mighty and subduing holiness of His in which God is always well-pleased. All His obedience and holiness is not only fair and beloved of God, but it is also great with the penitent holiness of the race He sanctifies. Our faith is already present in His oblation. Our sanctification is already presented in our justification. Our repentance is already acting in His confession. The effect of His Cross is to draw us into a repentance which is a dying with Him, and therefore a part of the offering in His death; and then it raises us in newness of life to a fellowship of His resurrection.