by T. Austin-Sparks
"God... has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by (in) the (a) man whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
"For neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgment unto the Son... and he gave him authority to execute judgment because he is the (a) Son of man" (John 5:22,27).
Here we have a comprehensive and emphatic statement concerning the place that the Lord Jesus occupies by the appointment of God His Father. That place is shown to be inclusive and exclusive. That means that
1. God has summed up all things in Christ. Ultimately there will be nothing outside of Christ, and all that eventually is found to be outside of Christ will be removed from God's domain.
2. Nothing of God can be had outside of Christ.
In the Bible we have two revelations: one of man outside of Christ and the other of man in Christ. The emphasis is upon the word man. The Scripture above says that the final judgment of the world is in a man; a God-ordained, God-horizoned man. And it is not by, but in that Man. What is in that Man in the matter of righteousness will be the criterion of judgment.
Man Outside of Christ
We know, not only by the statements of the Bible, but in our own hearts that man is marred and spoilt by sin. It is an ugly word, hated by all, refused acknowledgment by many, excused by many more, but, apart from those in Christ, not confessed or allowed recognition. In this connection it is very significant that, in a time of moral landslide and increasing depravity, there is a great revival of humanism - the theory of man's inherent goodness and moral greatness: the total dismissal of the fact of sin as sin. It is called by any other name; even good in the making. It is not difficult to see through this artifice of the devil. It is to construct a humanity which, in itself, is its own saviour, and to wholly dispose of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. This is almost the last word in human blindness. It is blindness to history. It is blindness to the moral devolution of recent times. It does not allow that the last decades have uncovered a depth of iniquity, wickedness, and "man's inhumanity to man", beyond description, and that in the areas which have had more education, scientific research, discovery, and "culture" (?) than anywhere else on the earth. Such is the master-deception of the devil! "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving", says the Word of God. We must ever remember that Satan's rebellion against God was on the decision of God to make man. He knew that the intention of God was to give dominion over the world to man, and that dominion he - Satan - both coveted and usurped by the deception of man. This is all very clearly implied in the titles given to Satan in the Bible as "The prince of this world", "the god of this age", "the world-ruler of this darkness", etc. Hence the double issue of man's deception, seduction, and ruin: man's separation from God: and the defeat of God's intention. Man, out of Christ, is such a man, even at what he - man - thinks to be the highest levels of intelligence, "culture" and "progress". The Bible says much about the sinister nature of "the wisdom of this world", and even foretells that apostasy will go hand-in-hand with the increase of knowledge. The subtlety of sin is that to try and eliminate its malevolence it has to be called by other names. The Bible does not hide the fact of man's sinful nature, not even to omit mention of the sins of the greatest of its men of God: Abraham, Moses, David, etc.
It is now possible to discern the momentousness of Christ. For this we have to go a long way back, even to a cosmic event before man's creation, when, the Bible tells us explicitly, God appointed His Son "Heir of all things". That was the point of cosmic controversy then, and has been ever since. The focal point of the conflict of the ages is the predestined place of Christ as Son of Man, the humanity according to God's intention, of which Jesus the Christ is the "Firstborn", "Progenitor", "Pioneer" and "Head". Countless are the ways and means pursued to prevent, frustrate, and defeat Christ from coming into His own in a humanity conformed to His image. In other words, (a) to discredit and displace Christ; and (b) to prevent there coming into being a people truly, by new birth, coming "into Christ". The great revelation of the New Testament is what is represented by that phrase "In Christ". The "fall" was not only a fall in level, from one higher level to a lower; it was a fall out of God! The momentousness of Jesus Christ is in His reversal of that, and in Himself restoring man 'into God', his right place.
This is the meaning of that darkest and deepest eternal moment at the end of the Cross when Jesus went out from God - "Forsaken"; out into the direst distress; out, that in 'lostness' He might find us just where we are in God's knowledge and bring us back into God. "Christ died once, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18). His body broken was the reality of which the veil of the tabernacle and temple was the type. Its rending, as between heaven and earth, man and God, opened a fast-closed way back into the realm of God. Surely that was a momentous moment; a momentous act!
Every aspect of Christ's person and work, and every aspect of the Gospel has to do with this. Moreover, every activity of the evil powers upon the Christian is with the object of cutting in between him - or her - and the Lord by weakening or damaging the one tie of that union, namely faith.
Hence Christ's imperative "Abide in me". Satan "abode not in God" and see the consequences! Hence the momentousness of being in, and abiding in Christ, which is in God.
We return to where we began. God binds Himself up with His Son for man. All judgment is, and will be, on the basis of what Christ is and whether man is in Him or not. The whole Christian life, if it is true and under the government of the Holy Spirit, is a lifelong education as to the significance of Christ; the knowledge of Christ, and, seeing that it is not merely theoretical, doctrinal, theological knowledge, but very practical, wrought on the anvil and by the fires of deep experiences, it is knowledge which is a part of our being, our constitution. It is knowledge which represents something that has taken place in us. We are that knowledge.
When we first come back to God through Christ we have only a more-or-less understanding of the depth, the cost, the momentousness of what we have come into. But as we go on, the dealings of God with us bring us to an ever-deepening realisation and appreciation of what Christ is and has done. On the one side, the depth of our worthlessness becomes more terrible to our awareness. This is not for our desolation as the end, but to make us "know" how great is the meaning of Christ from God to us, and to God for us. The ultimate vision of the redeemed multitude is that of a worshipping people attributing everything to the Lamb.