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Not for Myself, but for You


These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.

—John 16:33


This representative act of Christ, then, lies at the foundation of this saying, His act being the act of one for many. Thus all our victory lies in the merit of Christ. It may seem strange, at first sight, that the Lord should direct His followers to take encouragement from the thought that He overcame the world; which looks much as if a man of large resources should say to the poor and needy, “I am rich and powerful;” for that seems to bring neither aid nor comfort to others. But the announcement changes its character the moment it is understood that His means are possessed in common with that other, and made available for that other more than for Himself. The Lord bids the disciples realize His act as theirs, and His victory as achieved for them, or, in other words, to take the assurance that He identified Himself with them to such a degree that He overcame the world for them more than for Himself. He virtually says: I have by my sacrifice effected this result, That the world, with all its violence, cannot really injure you. The victory of Christ, our High Priest and Head, is ours. Indeed, He needed not, on His own account, to have come down from heaven; and He acted only for His people, for whom His victory was made available. He virtually says, “I have overcome not for myself, but for you.” It is Christ’s work that constitutes all His people’s victory; and hence, when the Apostle John says, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John v. 4), the language must not be understood as referring to two victories, but as intimating simply, that in and with the exercise of faith upon the Son of God, this full victory over the world is obtained through means of Christ’s victory accounted ours.

Thus, the disciples of Christ accustom themselves to triumph in the triumph of Christ, inasmuch as the true victor did all that was needed to atone for sin, and to open heaven on the behalf of His saints; and what remains for them but only to enter into His victory? The battle was won by Him, and they have but to enter into His work, and so tread death and hell under feet. And as they realize this victory in Him, they are “of good cheer,” for they virtually hear Christ say, “I won the fight, and ye reap the victory;” and thus all the rage, enmity, and persecution of the world are only but the impotent death-struggles of vanquished enemies.

—George Smeaton, Christ’s Doctrine of the Atonement (Banner of Truth, 2009), 302–303.

Posted 2018·06·05 by David Kjos
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