What happened to me at the cross?


Why do 90% of Christians struggle to receive grace and live the Christian life?

There are two reasons. First, they do not properly value what Christ accomplished on the cross. Second, they do not know what happened to them on the cross. Every believer knows that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, but not every believer knows that they died too.

We died with Christ… (Rm 6:8)
You died with Christ… (Col 2:20a)
For you died… (Col 3:3a)

Who died? You died!

“How did this happen? I don’t remember the nails?”

Well you’re going to have to take God’s word for it. Jesus died for the whole world right? Are you part of the whole world? Then by trusting in his representative death you are included in it:

We judge thus: That if One died for all, then all died. (2 Cor 5:14)

Good news for the whole world

Somehow we have bought into this idea that Christ died solely for Christians. But this is not the message of reconciliation that Paul preached. “God has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 5:18). Who is the “us” that Paul is referring to in this passage? In the next verse he tells us:

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself… (2 Cor 5:19a)

Christ died for the world. Christ carried the sins of the world. Because of one man the world had a sin problem. But on the cross the world was delivered from that problem.

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Cor 15:22)

You might say, “This sounds like universalism.” It is not. What God provided you still need to receive. The benefits of the cross are for all, but you won’t enjoy those benefits if you reject them through unbelief. (And for more on 2 Cor. 5:14, read this.)

My point is this: If you believed that sin and death came to the world through one man, why is it  hard to accept that reconciliation came through another?

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. (Rm 5:18)

Christ died on the cross as humanity’s representative. This does not mean that everyone is now counted righteous, for we must still respond to God’s grace with faith.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Rom 5:19)

And how do we receive the gift of God’s righteousness? Through faith, from first to last (Rom 1:17).

Good news for Christians

Because they are confused about the cross, many Christians are trying to die to self. They’re striving so hard that they’re on the verge of shedding blood for Jesus. Put down that hammer! Jesus didn’t bleed for you just so you could bleed for Him. He died so that you might live.

Every man-made religion preaches self-denial and dying to self but the Bible simply declares, You died! Your old man is dead already. Water baptism helps us get this. When you were baptized you were re-enacting your co-crucifixion with Christ:

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (Rom 6:3)

You might say, “But I’m still a mess. I’m still battling with sin.” That may be so, but you will gain nothing by trying to do that which God has already done. The work of the cross is finished. Here’s Watchman Nee writing in The Normal Christian Life:

Let me tell you, You have died! You are done with! You are ruled out! The self you loathe is on the Cross in Christ. And ‘he that is dead is freed from sin’ (Rom 6:7). This is the Gospel for Christians. Our crucifixion can never be made effective by will or by effort, but only by accepting what the Lord Jesus did on the Cross. (p.52)

When did you die? Well when did your Christ die? You did not die the first time you responded to God’s grace and you did not die when you were water baptized. You died 2000 years ago, long before you were born! Now this sounds like foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those of us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor 1:18). Here’s Watchman Nee again:

Must we ask God to crucify us? Never! When Christ was crucified we were crucified; and his crucifixion is past therefore ours cannot be future… That we have died in Christ is not merely a doctrinal position, it is an eternal and indisputable fact. (pp.44-5)

Origin determines destination. If you think you are still in Adam, then the best you can hope for is to be a decent sinner. But when you know that you died with Christ, you will be empowered to live with Him here and now (2 Tim 2:11).

To live the victorious life that Christ has called you to, it’ll help if you know the answer to three questions: (1) What did I lose at the cross? (2) What did I gain at the cross? (3) What did I retain after the cross?

I’ll look at some answers to these questions in my next article.


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39 Comments on What happened to me at the cross?

  1. Patrick Hing // August 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm // Reply

    Yes Jesus died for the whole world! But I think only those who accept Him as their sacrificial Lamb of God died with Him. (Roman 6:3) Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” I think this passage of scripture does implies that. I afraid your sharing may further associates grace gospel with universalism. GB

    • Hi Patrick, I agree. The benefits of Christ’s death are freely available to all, but only those who believe receive those benefits. “If anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation.” For those who aren’t in Christ (those who have not identified with Him and His death) the old has not gone. They are not new. They have not crossed over death to life because they do not believe.

      Postscript: I have now written a post on this. It’s called, “Did all die with Christ?

    • Mr. Patrick, the apostle Paul even said, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us Romans 5:8. Sure you know the whole world was in a mess and everybody was messing up with sin. But He died for them. This man of Calvary died for the whole world (sinners) not for Christians. Now only those that believe in and receive Him into their lives become Christians.

  2. Hi Paul. This is great. I heard this (that everyone is included in Christ’s death) just the other day here. I am personally not an “ecstatic” guy, but I found out that especially John Crowder (Rob Rufus recommended him in one of his sermons) and Friends preach pure grace and the mystery of Christ.

  3. Patrick Hing // August 2, 2011 at 5:58 pm // Reply

    Thanks Paul for the enlightenment. I believe when a sinner able to identify/united himself with the death of Jesus on the cross (respond to God’s grace with faith as you put it); it will bring about the Great Reconciliation of the Universe (death, resurrection & new creation) into full effect (brings into fruition) on the sinner’s life. (Roman 6:5) Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. (Roman 6:8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.

    Btw, how do you address a person who have died with Christ, alive with Christ (1 Cor 15;22) and yet not righteous for heaven? 🙂

    • Squawks 5000 // August 19, 2018 at 5:57 pm // Reply

      Technically, since all believers see Jesus as savior, believers trust in Jesus’s righteousness (not ours) to satisfy requirements.

      I believe that all believers are guaranteed eternal life [John 3:16, John 10:28]. However, remember that sin doesn’t just cause eternal separation from God — it also ruins relationships and burdens people with shame. Jesus came to so we can live an abundant life RIGHT NOW [John 10:10].

  4. Great stuff Paul. I’ve noticed that Christians get as mad as hatters when you tell them such things as they have died to sin or no longer need to confess their sin but receive God’s forgiveness. It’s mainly those who have been Christians 20, 30 or 40yrs. The reason they are up in arms is because they have never actually studied the Scriptures for themselves. They’ve been told certain things again and again till it’s buried deep in their psyche, but when it’s challenged they react with anger because deep down they’re not really sure of their ground. It’s like prodding a nest of vipers with a stick and then having to stand back. In a nice way of course!

  5. Trevor Lovegrove // August 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm // Reply


    An unrelated question to the above if that’s ok. I have been listening to quite a lot of Andrew Wommacks teachings of late, which I have found very helpful and thought provoking. However I am somewhat confused by one or two comments in his teaching on ” A better way to Pray” and would welcome your insights.
    Andrew contends that God in Christ has provided for all of our needs and blessings therefore we should not be asking him to heal, deliver, prosper us etc, but rather just receive them through faith. Furthermore repetitive prayers also appear to be a no no.
    In principal this makes a lot of sense but unless I am mistaken Paul in Ephesians 1 v 17 did exactly what Andrew suggested we should not be doing. e.g ( I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ , the glorious father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better).
    Your comments would be very helpful.
    Trevor Lovegrove

    • Hi Trevor,
      I do not see the need to ask for anything that was provided through the cross (e.g., forgiveness, healing, deliverance, prosperity). We don’t ask, we just receive. But was wisdom provided through the cross? Paul’s not the only one who says we should ask for it. James says something similar (Jas 1:5). God is awesome and wonderful beyond what our mortal minds can grasp. There is always something new about Him to discover. In many places the Bible exhorts us to grow in our knowledge of Christ (2 Pet 3:18). We will spend the rest of this life and all of the next learning to know Him more. In the immortal words of the Carpenters, we’ve only just begun.

  6. Hey Paul. I am just reading “The mystery of Christ and why we don’t get it” from Robert Farrar Capon.
    He takes this message to the limit. Have you ever heard of him? He is an episcopal priest and author.


    And therefore the last judgement will be one of acceptance in the Beloved (Jesus) not one of condemnation.
    Jesus will Hand me to the father and say:” Here`s Robert; what do you think of him now?”
    And the father will say, “Wonderful! Just what I had in mind for him all along!”
    And if at that point I want to say, “I don’t like that”….well, than I can go to hell.

    He makes some real challenging points, not shure if I can go all the way with him – but he has a good insight in the topic of reconciling the “kosmos” to himself.

    I’d like to send it to you when I am through. Is this ok for you?

    • You’re offering me a free book? What can I say – I’m a total book addict. Yes please and thank you – as long as this doesn’t tie me up for a book review or commentary. I have a drawer full of waiting-to-be-read books filling me with semi-guilt and anticipation every time I open it.

  7. gracias gracias gracias

  8. andy bradice // February 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm // Reply

    hi paul concerning the statement that christ died for the whole world it does sound as if everyone is saved does not jesus say when the holy spirit comes he will convict of sin righteousness and judgement and in john6:44 unless the father draws,in Ro 3 there is none that seek after God in Eph.2 were dead also make your calling and election sure I rea lize it was a substitute work on calvary but it seems that its talking about believers past present future in co crucifixion please reply thanks andy

  9. Excellent blog! A friend of mine had a question about where Jesus was for the three days. If he entrusted his Spirit into his Father’s hands, did that mean he was in Heaven or just that he was in the Father’s care? Did he preach to those in Sheol? My only response was to the reason for three days – that Jesus could have resurrected immediately, but stayed dead for three days to prove our Adamic life was dead-dead (3 days has always been a validation for being truly dead). Also, fulfills sign of Jonah and Hosea 6:1-2. Any insight on this?

    • I don’t think anyone knows for sure Mark. There are a few hints in scripture (eg: “…he also descended to the lower, earthly regions” (Eph 4:9), “For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead” (1Pe 4:6)) that suggest Jesus did descend to Sheol to preach to the dead but I honestly don’t know. If I had been in his shoes, I would’ve gone to Fiji for some R&R.

  10. I have been making a list of scriptures to back up this point you are making, Paul.

    John 1:11-13 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. [12] But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Act 16:30-31 NASB – “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

    Rom 5:16-17 NASB – The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who RECEIVE the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

    Mark 10:25-26 NASB – “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They were even more astonished and said to Him, ” Then who can be saved?”

    Mark 16:16 NASB – “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

    Act 2:47 NASB – And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

    Act 16:31 NASB – They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

    Rom 10:1 NASB – Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

    Rom 10:9 NASB – that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

    1Cr 10:33 NASB – just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

    1Th 2:15-16 NASB They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.

    1Ti 2:3-4 NASB – This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    2Th 2:10 NASB – those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.

    Grace is the banquet table. Faith is the Invitation to feast at it. Both are from God. Whether you eat or not is your choice. But, just because you have an invitation does not mean you have already eaten. You need to open your mouth and say, ‘aaaahhhh’!!! Then, you will be filled. Not before 🙂

  11. Please, write more about it!
    This can be confusing – since the argument that Jesus as the last Adam had a “much more” influence on humanity may lead to the conclusion.
    People I have discussed with do not claim that everyone is saved, but that everyone is risen and in Christ as a new creation – faith in Christ makes them aware of this reality.
    I can go with that in parts, cause faith in Christ ist still the key to participate (has nothing to do with universalism).
    Maybe you can bring some clarity on this. Thanks!

    • Hi Tobi,
      I do have a lot to say about the much more effect of Last Adam – it’s part of a book I’ve been working on. If I can find the time in the next few weeks, I’ll put some thoughts together in a post. But here’s a taste. Those in the universalist camp along with those who are not but who claim all are raised with Christ rely on the following argument: Adam killed everyone even though not all believe in Him, similarly, Jesus saved or raised (or will save or will raise) everyone even though not believe in Him – otherwise Adam did a greater work. I have about 18 problems with this but my biggest problem is with the logic: If Adam killed everyone but Jesus saved everyone, then Jesus didn’t do a greater work – He only did a comparable or equal work. If every person who is lost is then rescued, the remedy exactly matches the fall. This is not the “how much more” of which Paul spoke.

  12. Yes please write more on this. I need to hear the same thing put a dozen different ways to get it stuck inside my head. So GO FOR IT! 🙂

  13. Guys, I said I would write more. Well you may be interested to learn that the first part of my study notes has just been uploaded. You can find them here: https://escapetoreality.org/study-notes/

  14. Hey Paul, I am planning to be teaching about this and I had a question about it. I agree 100% with this, but there is one thing that is confusing to me. The whole idea of us dying with Christ confuses me. We obviously weren’t there for it, in the physical form we currently have. But I also believe that this was a literal thing, not metaphorical. Any help? Or is this something that I just need to take on faith, knowing that God said I died, therefore I have died? Have you addressed this anywhere that I haven’t found yet? Thanks!

  15. Paul I think:
    1) Jesus died for all. I mean, He took everyone on the cross, paid for their sin, buried them & rose up with them. So, God included everyone in Jesus. They all died with Him, was buried with Him & rose up with Him
    2) This is what is complete salvation. Death, burial & resurrection.
    3) God/Jesus had to do the perfect work ONLY ONCE, since he couldn’t do as one by one as people believed. He had to do what He did for a complete salvation for everyone irrespective whether they are saved or not. If Jesus has not taken them (unbelievers) in His death, resurrection, then when will He take. Do you think AFTER they believe?
    4) In the eyes of God – It is finished. Everyone is saved by His death, burial & resurrection.
    5) Are they really saved? or what saves them. It is BELIEVING. It is believing that gives them LIFE. Jesus said – you would not come to Me to receive Life. How can they believe unless they hear, how can they hear unless someone is sent. Hos 4:6 My people perish for lack of knowledge. Knowledge of what Jesus did gives them life.
    6) When a person believes, it is not THEN that God puts Him/her in Christ, buries him & raises him to life. But, He did this before anyone knew. When we were sinners, when we had not believed, do you think he had taken us, buried us & raised us or did He wait to do this after we believed. I think he had done this before we were saved, then how can we say this for unbelievers. Because we too were unbelievers & he had included us in Him, buried us & raised us. Then when we believed it was applied to us.
    Paul Silway – Jesus Is Lord Church India

  16. Paul,
    First I’d like to express a huge thank you to you for taking the time to put all your thoughts down on this website. There isn’t enough room in this post to describe how much God is changing my heart and mind thanks to this new revelation of grace you are teaching and I’m hugely grateful.
    But please can you help me with something…
    Why did so many people in the book of Acts associate their being born again with being baptized under water? (I count at least 12). If we are saved by grace alone and kept by grace which I certainly believe, why is baptism mentioned almost 60 times in the NT (although I appreciate many don’t have the water association). If it’s purely symbolic or a public declaration of one’s acceptance of His gift why aren’t there more examples in Acts of people being saved without water baptism
    Forgive me for asking this but I am sincerely asking for guidance because every single person without exception in the church I currently go to subscribes to the idea that full water submersion baptism is ‘part and parcel of’ our acceptance of Gods gift of freedom and salvation – and that it can’t be regarded as a ‘work’ because it is an ‘essential’ part of receiving the gift, and will use every example in Acts to backup that notion. They will also mention John 3:5, Rom 6:3. 1 Pet 3:20-21.

    • I would not make baptism (or anything) a condition for free grace. But I recommend it. Jesus did it.

    • momzilla76 // April 1, 2018 at 10:55 am // Reply

      If it involves a physical act then it is a work not matter how hard they try to make it look like it is not. You do not receive gifts by performing for them, you just accept them. Good thing to do but not part of accepting the gift.

      • That is not true, legalism is a state of the heart, it has nothing to do with physical acts. Jesus and the apostles made it abundantly clear that faith without works is dead. When grace just becomes another law or principal to be followed it ends up exactly where the Pharisees ended up.
        Grace is not even the most important part of the gospel, Jesus described Himself as “the way the life and the truth” grace is the mechanism to bring us to a full revelation of the truth, grace only exists because of sin. Grace is the mechanism of change that brings us to a full understanding of the truth that liberates us from the bondage of sin.

      • momzilla76 // April 3, 2018 at 7:44 am //

        Yet most legalism manifests as required actions not just attitudes to hold. It is true legalism does stem from wrong beliefs. However in context of the question I was answering making an outward action part of being able to be saved is most definitely a legalistic work. If anyone tries to tie an action you perform to your being able to be, or stayed, saved it is legalism plain and simple.
        Regarding grace I said nothing about treating it as a principle or law. So I’m not sure what got you bothered. I just said that salvation is a gift we accept not something we perform to get.

  17. “When did you die? Well when did your Christ die? You did not die the first time you responded to God’s grace and you did not die when you were water baptized. You died 2000 years ago, long before you were born!”

    Dr. Paul, now I’m confused, please can I get your view? If Watchman Nee says the Christian died 2000 years ago long before he was born, does this apply to unbelievers as well? Did all unbelievers die 2000 years ago before they were born?

  18. higherpowered // February 13, 2019 at 6:58 am // Reply

    I was just listening to the normal Christian life by watchmen nee on Romans 6 and he said that we need to a divine revelation of this fact before we can reckon it so. I have had knowledge that I died with Christ but still filled with self-centeredness. I have been reading quite a bit on your website but I still can’t see to get grace.
    I’m paralyzed from the chest down and for the last eight months I’ve had to spend most of my time on bed rest. I use Alexa to listen to Scripture and many books in my library by CH Spurgeon, Andrew Womack, Nee about 30 books. I’m able to get up in my chair for about 3 to 4 hours once but twice a week. No fellowship with any believers this like God wants me all for Himself.

  19. Man Paul! I forgot just how good these older articles were!!! I can’t believe it’s been almost 10 years!! God BLESS YOU!

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