He is thus not only the pledge to us of God’s love but the pledge to God of our sure response to it in a total change of will and life. We see now how organic, how central to Christ’s gospel of Atonement is Paul’s idea of dying and rising with Him, how vital to His work is this effect of it, this function of it. For such a process, such an experience, is not a mere moral sequel or echo of ours to the story of the Cross, it is no mere imitation or repetition of its moral greatness; nor is it a sensitive impression of its touching splendor. To die and rise with Christ does not belong to Christian ethic, to the method of Jesus, but it has a far deeper and more religious meaning. It is to be taken into His secret life. It is a mystic incorporation into Christ’s death and resurrection as the standing act of spiritual existence. We are baptized into His death, and not merely into dying like Him. We do not echo His resurrection, we share it. As His trophies we become part of Christ’s offering to God; just as the captives in his procession were part of the victor’s self-presentation to the divinity of Rome. God leadeth us in triumph in Christ (2 Cor. 2:14). It is, indeed, for Christ’s sake we are forgiven, but for the sake of a Christ who is the Creator of our repentance and not only the Proxy of our curse. And it is to our faith, which is no more perfect than our repentance. It is to nothing so poor as our faith or our repentance that new life is given, but only to Christ on His Cross, and to us for His sake who is the Creator and Fashioner of both. Our justification rests on this atoning creative Christ alone. And when the matter is so viewed, the objection some have to the phrase “for Christ’s sake” should disappear.
No martyrdom could do what the death of Christ does for faith. No martyrdom could offer God in advance the souls of a changed race. For no martyr as such is sure of the future. It is easier to forget all the martyrs that the Savior; and their power fades with time, while His grows with the ages. With the martyr’s death we can link many admirable reflections, exhortations, and even inspirations. What it does not give us is the new and Eternal Life. It is not the consummation of God’s saving purpose for the world.
** Because substitution does not take account of the moral results on the soul, and for a full account of the cause we must include all the effects. To do justice to the whole of Christ’s work we must include the Church, and in justification include sanctification.
From Peter Forsyth, The Work Of Christ; Cf. The Work of Christ at Amazon