Do we need Jesus or do we need what Jesus does for us?
Of course some would suggest that these are the same. Jesus, because of who He is, has done what we need. But that misses the point. Do we actually need Jesus? Him, personally, not just what He has done?
Suppose you travel far away from your family. You send gifts. You have provided for their care. You have left instructions for them. Your children will learn the things that are important to you. Your spouse will have words of comfort and assurances of love. Everything they need is taken care of. What is missing? You!
What do we really need from the Lord? Salvation? Forgiveness? Reconciliation? Assurances of His love? These are great and so important, but we need Him. That’s why He offers us Himself.
Consider this: Romans 5:6 says that “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” What an amazing gift! What a blessing! But the Scriptures refer to the ungodly after the resurrection of Christ. So why are they still called the ungodly? If Jesus died for them, why doesn’t the Scripture call them “the saved?” Answer: because the action on the cross didn’t complete their salvation!
(I realize that I must walk carefully here. We have been taught that everything happened in the cross. I am in no way lessening what was accomplished for us on the cross, nor what was accomplished for the whole world. Instead, I am making a distinction that is very important.)
Through the cross, the Lord redeemed us. Justification, forgiveness, reconciliation, salvation—all are found in the work of Jesus on the cross for us. That’s how the Lord accomplished the work we needed. But listen carefully: no one is saved by the cross. We are saved by the Person of the cross.
Christ died for the ungodly. That’s true, and I am particularly thankful that it is true. But many will remain “ungodly” because they will never have the Person of godliness in them. No one becomes godly apart from Jesus. Godliness is only found in Him – not in what He did for us. We become godly when Jesus comes into us and becomes our life. When His life is the life in us, then we are truly godly. Then, and then only, is our salvation complete.And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh… 1 Timothy 3:16(NKJV)