One of my favorite verses on which to reflect or teach at this time of year is 2 Cor. This is how I recall the passage: It is probably a mix of translations from over the years, but I love to think about this. I love to reflect on it during the Christmas season because it illustrates an exchange. We love to exchange gifts and we who are believers say it is a way to celebrate the coming of Christ. Indeed, our celebration should be directed in such ways. What is it that every man strives for?
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By Propitiation God is able to receive man back. By Redemption man is released from sin so that he can return to God. Now through Reconciliation reunion is acheived by a Great Exchange. It is this total reconciliation that we will consider now in more detail. It is the full restoration made possible by propitiation and redemption. It means to remove all differences by an exchange e. In human relationships if there are differences, we usually make up by both changing until the difference is removed.
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The great exchange, as I call it, is without a doubt the greatest gift of grace that could possibly be given by God. It is the greatest example of the love of our Heavenly Father and His unconditional love and grace. Remember, when I talked about making a covenant between two parties there was always an exchange of various things that took place such as the belts, weapons, coats, names, etc. Well, in the making of the New Covenant there was also exchanges made between the parties. The reason it would be " abundant life " is because it would be His life He was giving us and in exchange He was taking our "death" on the cross. Notice that we got peace -- He got chastisement. Jesus got stripes -- we received healing. Please note that this righteousness we receive is not the result of something that we did.
Regrettably, the church has neglected the doctrine of justification by faith alone at different points in her history, even though it was clearly taught by the apostles. Yesterday we emphasized the fact that justification is a legal declaration. In justification we are declared righteous through faith alone based on the merit of Christ alone. The righteousness that is imputed to our account is an alien righteousness, that is, it is wholly something outside of ourselves. When Martin Luther spoke of the state of a Christian, he used the Latin phrase simul justus et peccator. In a legal and positional sense, we are righteous once we are justified because when God looks at us He sees the perfect righteousness of Christ. But this righteousness is not something that we have within ourselves or something that we do.