The Life Crucified
A.B. Simpson *
“There is a school of teachers who say much about Christian socialism and the application of Christ’s example to the practical details of all our social and secular questions. But these men stop short of Calvary and leave out the view that great event which is the key of all Scripture and all Christian hope and experience. And so very soon in this deeply spiritual first epistle John introduces that expression which bids men pause with a hush of holy awe and tenderness—‘the Blood.’
“John had hardly started his letter before two deep crimson shades had covered all the page: the one the dark stain of sin, the other the precious blood of Christ. ‘…the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from sin.’ (I John 1:7) This is the great fact of the cross of Calvary and the resurrection. The death of Jesus Christ, the life so divine, so human, so beautiful, laid down in sacrifice and self-surrender, was not only as an example of submission, teaching us how to die; but a ransom for the guilty and satisfaction to the righteousness of God for the sins of men.
“With all his deep insight into the spirit and life of Jesus, John, above all disciples, recognized the sacrificial meaning of His blood. ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ [John 1:29, 36] seems to ring out as the undertone of his beautiful Gospel. ‘The blood of Jesus Christ’ is the background of his epistles. ‘To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood’ is the keynote of the oft-repeated redemption song of his sublime Apocalypse. [Revelation 1:5b] The blood of Jesus Christ just means His life, with all its infinite value, given as a substitute and ransom for our forfeited life.
“The death of Christ stands for a great and potential fact, and is of no value until faith enters into partnership with Him in that fact, and knows by personal appropriation ‘the fellowship of His sufferings.’ [Philippians 3:10] The death of Christ simply means for me that when He died I died, and in God’s view I am now as if I had been executed for my own sin and was now recognized as another person who has risen with Christ and is justified from his former sins because he has been executed for them. Not only so it is the secret of my sanctification, for on that cross of Calvary, I the sinful self, was put to death; and when I lay myself over with Him upon that cross and reckon myself dead, [Romans 6:3-14] Christ’s risen life pass unto me and it is no longer my struggling, my goodness, or my badness, but my Lord who lives in me. Therefore, while I abide in Him I am counted even as He, and enabled to walk even as He walked.” [Galatians 2:20]
* Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919), author, hymn-writer, conference speaker, was an evangelist to the urban masses of New York City and a missionary statesman. Among his enduring achievements was the founding of the Christian Missionary Alliance and what is now Nyack College.