Everything depends on whether one thinks that Jesus Christ is the idealistic founder of a religion or the very Son of God. Nothing less than the life and death of the human being hangs in the balance. If he was the idealistic founder of a religion, then I can be inspired by his accomplishments and motivated to imitate his zeal, but my sin is not forgiven. In this instance God is still very angry with me, and I am under the power of death. Jesus’ work leads me in this case to total despair about myself.

If however, the work of Christ is the work of God, then I am not summoned to act like God or imitate God zealously, but instead I am convicted by this work as one who in no way can do it by myself. Rather I have found all at once the gracious God through this Jesus Christ, in this knowledge and in this work. My sin has been forgiven. I am not dead but alive. It depends therefore on the person of Christ, whether his work is understood as passing away according to the old world of death or whether it is eternal according to a new world of life.

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Who is Christ for Us?

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