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Fiat Death

Psalm 32; Joshua 4:14-24; 2 Corinthians 5:6-15

The lectionary has a choice today. It is the day the lectionary celebrates the Annunciation, the day that the Angel told Mary she would have a child and name him Jesus, and Mary said "Here I am," just like so many prophets in the Old Testament (Samuel, Isaiah). There is also a so-called "normal" reading. I read both before the prayer service, but did not focus much on the Annunciation. I focused on the normal reading, and that is the scripture posted at the top of this blog post. If you want to read the scripture for the Annunciation, click here.

The stand-out verse for me today is 2 Corinthians 5:14. "The love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died." First, "The love of Christ urges us on." Christ loves us, therefore we press on working toward our goal. Christ urges us on, using His love to do so. Those are slightly different readings of the same verse. I'm a BOTH/AND kinda guy, and I really see no contradiction here, but am enjoying the expanded semantic field of both meanings. I BOTH like the object, Christ's love, being the internal motivation that Paul's "WE" has chosen to urge themselves on, AND I like the agency of Christ in the subject spot urging the apostles o with His love.

How does Christ's love do this urging? The Apostles are convinced of something that makes it their motivation. They are convinced that one has died for all. Christ died for all people. (Whether you believe Christ died for all the elect (limited atonement) or Christ died for all (arminian) or whether all are among the elect (universalism)). That's what the love of Christ is, to suffer death, even death on the Cross for the sake of others. How it urges the apostles to work is that they are convinced it is true.

This, so far, is really kerygmatic--the most basic beliefs of the Christian religion. The mind blowing part that makes this verse stand out to me this morning is "therefore all have died." Luther's fiat atonement comes to mind: simul iustus et pecator est. We are not righteous, but God declares us righteous, and of course God's opinion is the only one that matters. The interesting thing here in this punitive legal model, is that we're deserving of death because of our unrighteousness, and because Christ died for all, Christ paid that debt, and therefore it is as though, when you look in the legal records, in our account, it is as though we have died. Chas Gowing: date of birth, January 3 1967; date of death: Good Friday, 33AD.

Now we get to read the why and what next in verse 15: "so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them." I've talked before about Calvin's ideas of sanctification: mortification (dying) to sin and vivification (living) to Christ. If my death date was Good Friday, 33AD, then I'm dead and live no longer for myself. Paul's response--my response--is the second part: I live for him who died and was raised for me. Christ both died for us and was raised for us: Chas Gowing: date of birth, January 3 1967; date of death: Good Friday, 33AD, date of resurrection: Easter Sunday, 33AD. The price is paid. We have fiat righteousness and death and resurrection. Now the response is to live to Christ.