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A common travesty of the Gospel is a variation in which we must earn our own salvation. A more subtle and pernicious travesty is the assumption that we must ‘Earn Jesus’ by living worthy of Him or what some may call, ‘Keeping close to Jesus.’ The latter is a pious form of law-mongering if ever there was one. It implies that we must make ourselves worthy of Jesus before we can be saved by Jesus. A very good example of humbug.


“How, then, is the Gospel to be preached in a genuinely evangelical way? Surely in such a way that full and central place is given to the vicarious humanity of Jesus as the, all sufficient human response to the saving love of God which he has freely and unconditionally provided for us.” (1)


I had not heard of the words, ‘vicarious humanity of Jesus’ until let in life. The meaning was not new though. I had been taught grace for much of my life – but a limited grace. Limited in that grace, was defined as the means of helping us cope with the law. Real grace is not about the law in the new testament age. Real grace is Christ’s life as our life – which is the vicarious humanity of Jesus, meaning that Christ is us in every possible way.


It's sad that there are have been sincere and talented theologians who have spent their lives teaching ‘grace’ but a grace whose purpose is to help people cope with the law. This is a very limited grace – many would argue it’s not grace at all – since real grace is Christ incarnated in our being. Grace is the incarnation.


‘Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist’

2 John 1.7 NIV. Many may have been taught that this scripture applies to occult manifestations and demonic utterances. It does in a way but not in the way that the legalist has been taught. It means that where the law is substituted for the incarnation, the spirit of antichrist is at work.

The vicarious humanity of Christ makes our status in Him and in God plain and explicit. But it is a relationship in which the Believer is invited to participate so that Christ is in us and we are in Christ.


Dr Gary Deddo writes, “Union with Christ (and related terms such as in Christ or in the Lord) as used in the New Testament, indicates a depth of relationship that, by the Holy Spirit, is reciprocal and interactive—a personal relationship possible for us individually only on the basis of the objective work of Christ who sanctified, personalized and brought into right, subjective, responsive relationship the recalcitrant human nature that he assumed, via the Incarnation, to himself.” Jesus invites us to take His life as our own because it is a light burden that imparts His life and is His life.


Just to be sure that we begin to get a grip on the radical grace that is the vicarious humanity of Christ, here is a quote from Dr Christian Kettler. “A vicarious sense of Christ's humanity signifies that Jesus Christ is both the representative of and the substitute for my humanity. He represents my humanity before God the Father, having taken my humanity upon himself, bringing it back to God from the depths of sin and death. He is High Priest, representing the people before God (The Epistle to the Hebrews). But he is also the sacrifice himself. He is the substitute, doing in my place, in my stead, what I am unable to do: live a life of perfect faithfulness to, obedience to, and trust in God. 'Vicarious' at its heart means doing something for another in their stead, doing something that they are unable to do.”

(1) Thomas Torrance, The Mediation of Christ. P93.