Many things happened at Calvary. We can summarize some of them as follows:
Jesus paid the price of our redemption.
"But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the most holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Hebrews 9:11-15).
Jesus was perfected as our Savior.
"Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..." (Hebrews 5:8-9).
The law was done away with.
"Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14).
Satan and his power over men were destroyed.
"Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15). "Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it" (Colossians 2:15).
The division between Jew and Gentile was broken down.
"For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father" (Ephesians 2:14-18).
The way into the presence of God was opened.
"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:19-20).
The Holy Spirit was given for those who believe.
"But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39).
All of this, and more, was done by God at Calvary. The foundation was laid for the kingdom of God in every generation. The question for us is this: How do we enter into all of the provision of Calvary? If Christ has finished the work, what is our part?
I think Paul's ministry to the Galatians gives us some good direction at this point. "Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:21-27).
Paul says that faith has now come, and that we are sons of God through faith in Jesus. Someone has said that the currency in God's economy is faith. We experience the riches God has opened up to us by faith. The Galatians were ones who began well, but allowed themselves to be turned aside from the pathway of faith. In pointing them back to Christ, here was Paul's strong statement: "O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?-- Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? just as Abraham 'believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, 'In you all the nations shall be blessed.' So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham" (Galatians 3:1-9).
Everything Christ provided at Calvary as the Savior of mankind is potentially available to every person. The death He died was for the whole race descended from Adam. But to experience all the reality of this provision, we must be personally united with Christ by the Holy Spirit. Christ died to sin once for all men (Romans 6:10), and the way we die to sin is to be baptized into His death (Romans 6:3). We cannot die to sin on our own. (If we could, Christ did not need to die.) Now, if by faith we have been united with Christ, then we also have risen with Him. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection..." (Romans 6:3-5).
As we mentioned earlier, the term "death" is used different ways in scripture. We are told that we were "dead in our trespasses and sins," and also that we are "baptized into His death," which enables us to walk in newness of life. These are obviously different kinds of death. What is the difference?
The hold that Satan had on men was death. "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15). Our death (existing condition at birth) is separation from God, and unless we are raised from this death in Christ, we can only look forward to the final judgment where we shall be found guilty--resulting in what scripture terms "the second death." At Calvary, Christ became one with Adam's race, even to the point of human death. But God raised Christ up again as victor, revealing that He is master over all, including death and the devil. When we are baptized into union with Christ, we are baptized into His death, but also into His life; thus, death no longer has dominion over us. To say this another way, when we are baptized into His death, we no longer face the "second death" which we deserve, but are delivered from our sentence of death into His resurrection life.
This spiritual baptism is our gateway into union with Christ and everything He provided for us at Calvary. It is entered into by faith, as we believe His word that comes to us. By faith we receive God's provision at Calvary and invite God to take what He rightfully owns--ourselves. This relationship has a beginning, but it also has a continuing, and the continuing is also by faith. It is a "faith relationship" or a "faith walk" in His life. In many ways, it is similar to a marriage. A marriage has a beginning day where the union is begun, a wonderful day with much rejoicing. But a marriage is not lived by the emotion or commitment of the wedding day, but by a love relationship that is worked out in the everyday details of life. So it is with Christ. We walk day by day in faith and love with God, drawing on the grace that is ours because of the indwelling Christ.