Question: If the sacrifice of the Church’s humanity is called a sin-offering, does that not imply that the Church has something to do with the satisfaction of Divine Justice on behalf of the world?
Answer: The Scriptures do teach that the Church’s sacrifice is a sin-offering; for example, Colossians 1: 24, where the Apostle Paul in referring to himself states, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.” But the Scriptures also teach that the merit of Jesus’ humanity alone will be used to effect atonement for the sins of the world. Why the seeming discrepancy?
According to the Scriptures, the Church’s sacrifice does have a part in the satisfaction of Justice, though not one of absolute need – as Jesus’ sacrifice was – but of relative need. How is that? All of the spirit-begotten during the Gospel Age received the imputation of Jesus’ human merit, and until they finished their course in death, that merit was not available to be applied to the world nor the embargo – the restriction on the use of the merit – lifted. Upon the sacrificial death of the Church followed by the constrained death of the Great Company, the merit becomes unencumbered and is then free to be applied for the non-elect world of mankind.
After the completion of the Youthful Worthy class and sometime during or after the development of the quasi-elect, our Lord Jesus and the Church, as the great High Priest for the world, will apply Jesus’ human merit on behalf of the world. That merit was originally His, but during the Gospel Age became the possession also of the Spirit-begotten by imputation. The Church’s share in applying Jesus’ merit is typed in the sprinkling of the goat’s blood (Leviticus 16: 15, 16).
We may look at this matter from the standpoint of a different figure, that of a bridegroom and his bride. Just as a bride takes the name of her bridegroom, and all his possessions become her possessions, so the Church as the Bride of Christ takes His name as her name, and all His possessions become hers also. In this sense, the Church can lay claim to Jesus’ human merit as one of her possessions. More to the point, as in a natural marriage where the husband and wife become one flesh, so Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church, the Bride, become one – collectively, The Christ – and heir to all the eternal rights and privileges which Jesus Himself has won.