Truth Matters Newsletter August 2013

7 10 2013

Who We Are and What We Have In Him – Part Three
By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Three months ago we began considering the three basic manners in which we are to relate to our Lord. We looked at “Christ In Us” in the May issue of Truth Matters. Next we pondered the greater reality of “Christ For Us” in June and now we bring this to conclusion by looking at “Us In Christ.”

The best way to convey this marvelous reality is to think of a swimming pool and we jump off into the deep end of the pool and we become enveloped totally by the water, we are submerged, we are truly “in” the water. Acts 17:28 says —

For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Acts 17:28

Prior to our conversion we were essentially “in ourselves” we looked to ourselves as the source for our direction and the decisions we made. Now that we have been immersed into His Body, the Church, we no longer ought to look to ourselves, but to the One into whom we have been placed. Now that we are in Him
He has become our source of life, His Word now our direction, His very body and blood our food along the journey of life and our hope in every need.

How Did We End Up In Him?

Every person who is a Christian became such a one through nothing less than the sovereign will of God. We did not choose Him, He most assuredly chose us (see John 6:44; 15:9). I like the way Dr. Luther states this in our Small Catechism, the Third Article of the Creed:

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

Normally, this placing us into Christ occurs when we were baptized.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
    Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified
with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Romans 6:3-6

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Col. 2:10-14

When the Holy Spirit immerses us into Christ this is synonymous to being placed “in the Church.” The Church, visible and invisible is nothing less than the Body of Christ (see Eph. 1:23-23; Col. 1:16-20). As we begin to consider just a few of the texts illuminating who and what we have “in Christ” let us remember not to create some artificial division between the Person of Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church; what we have “in Christ” is found in His Body and not separate from her.

The world clamors that we MUST HAVE the next thing and upon gaining this new thing we will be complete. Whenever the world system tries to tell us we are incomplete and lacking remember what God’s Word has said — we are complete
IN HIM there is absolutely nothing lacking that we need (a big difference from what we want).

Today many Christians suffer from an incorrect view of themselves. We tend to vacillate between the poles of pride and despair. Pride, when we think “we” are doing just fine, great in fact until we stumble, as we inevitably do. The fall from the high imagined perch of perfection lands one into the ‘slough of despond” (a little John Bunyan lingo). The Bible calls us to have a correct biblical perception of ourselves:

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. Rom. 12:3

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1 Peter 1:3

All of us have to deal with our own misconceptions about who we are; these misconceptions often stem from seeing ourselves apart from Christ and not who we are in Him. We also have to face the lies and accusations from the devil and his demons, he is not called “the accuser of the brethren” for nothing (Rev. 12:10). Not only does he accuse us before God, but he also works on our fallen mind and attempts to use the conditions around us as indicators of God’s favor or displeasure with us. On top of this we have to deal with our fallen flesh which cries out in hatred against God, His Word and holiness. Our flesh (well mine at least at times) screams out “give up, what’s the use, yield to me and this struggle will cease.” (1) As Christians it is important to remember that now in Christ we are to view this life through the lens of scripture. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye
in him

(Col. 2:6).

The only way to combat these accusations, even when they are true at times is in the exact same manner in which our Lord Jesus Christ dealt with them:

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:3-4

Who Are We in Christ?

It is vital for us to see ourselves through the lens of the scripture in order to properly relate to our God and our neighbors. It is only through the scriptures that we can begin to understand what has been accomplished in us at conversion by our Lord.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places
in Christ: Eph. 1:3

Now that we are in Christ Jesus we have been (past tense) blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places. Every spiritual blessing is already ours in Christ Jesus! You and I are not working on earth to be blessed in heaven. The Father has freely given to us the totality of spiritual blessing(s) in His Son, they are ours already.

According as he hath chosen us
in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Eph. 1:4

Every believer has been hand-picked by the Father and given as a gift to His Son (John 6:37) and this He did before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). In Him we have been chosen and by the marvelous power of His Spirit we walk in the good works prepared for us (Eph. 2:10).

To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted
in the beloved. In whom
we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Eph. 1:6-7

We are accepted in the Beloved Son. What a tremendous foundational BOULDER to build your spiritual life one! Accepted is a ‘full’ word in the Greek:

88.66
χαριτόω; χάριςa, ιτος: to show kindness to someone, with the implication of graciousness on the part of the one showing such kindness—’to show kindness, to manifest graciousness toward, kindness, graciousness, grace.’ χαριτόω: κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ ‘the Lord is with you, you to whom (the Lord) has shown kindness’ Lk 1:28; ἧς ἐχαρίτωσεν ἡμᾶς ἐν τῷ ἠγαπημένῳ ‘which he has graciously shown us in the one he loves’ Eph 1:6.χάριςa: ἐξῆλθεν παραδοθεὶς τῇ χάριτι τοῦ κυρίου ὑπὸ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ‘he left, being commended by the brothers to the kindness of the Lord’ Ac 15:40. (2)

 

Everybody wants to be accepted by someone. Youths join gangs to be “accepted,” men and women enter into toxic relationships simply to be “accepted.” People over the ages have done terribly evil things in order to be accepted by their peers. The driving force behind peer
pressure is acceptance.

This world system hates us (because we are now in Him, see John 15:18) and it will not accept us, unless we conform to its dictates. Sadly, many believers yield to this worldly pressure and compromise their Christian virtues. Yet, when people are established on the fact that we are accepted IN the beloved that is all the approval we need and we become free from striving after the acceptance of fallen man.

The reason that our holy God does accept us is always because of His Son and not anything we have done in and of ourselves. The Father accepts us because in His Son we have redemption the forgiveness of all our sins by His blood.

In whom
we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Eph. 3:12

Another way to translate the above text is to say “because of him we have boldness to address him with confidence.
(3) Now because we have been redeemed we are God’s own dear children. As His children we have the familial right to come into His presence confidently.

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

We do not come before our Father rudely nor do we dare approach Him in ourselves (see Lev. 10:1). We come humbly without fear or hesitancy in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ seeking what we cannot earn nor deserve —- mercy and grace to help in the time of need.

A Few of the Riches that Belong to Us in His Son

We are blessed with every spiritual blessing

We are chosen by God

We are accepted by the Father

We have redemption through the blood of Christ

We have bold confident access to the Father

 

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

Satan accuses us before God (Job 2:1-3; Rev. 12:10) and he condemns our consciences and robs of us peace. I find it interesting that Satan only tells Christians they are “going to hell” or that the believer has somehow committed the “unforgivable” sin. When those accusations arise I simply tell the devil in no uncertain terms that all of my hope is in Christ’s righteousness and perfection and in NONE of my own (it’s good to remind yourself of this fact too). Christ Jesus has borne the penalty for all my sins on the cross FOR ME and I now am IN HIM and thus there is no condemnation coming from heaven against me —- 1 Thess. 1:10 tells us that we have been delivered by God’s Son from the wrath to come. Knowing who I am in Christ sets me free from the condemning voices of the world, flesh and devil.

The Lord delivered Tracy and I from a vicious and endless cycle of works trying to “live holy” and walk a sanctified life. It was very mechanical, just the outward form and the lacking ingredient was the dynamic power to give life to our efforts.

As with all our spiritual life as Christians, the “dynamic” is found only IN Christ and what He has done and is currently doing. (4)

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified
in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 1 Cor. 1:2

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Sanctification is not about the mechanics but the dynamics —- our sanctification, our separation to the holy God for His purposes is found only in Christ Jesus. Many Christians spend much of their lives trying to sanctify their flesh. Our flesh will never become “holy” in this life. You cannot sanctify the flesh; you cannot tame it (see James 3:8)    and it cannot be converted. All attempts to sanctify our flesh are truly chasing after the wind which is nothing but vanity.

For this reason God sent Jesus Christ to do what we would and could not do. Jesus is made unto us our source of (1) wisdom, (2) righteousness and (3) sanctification and (4) redemption. Would you live a sanctified life? Then look unto Jesus who is our sanctification and so much more.

How do we “look” to Jesus? As we have written about in this series, it is not by turning within to find Jesus in our hearts somewhere. To travel that road is to spiral downwards into subjective mysticism.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Hebrews 12:1-4

The force of the text seems to indicate that as we are looking to Jesus as our focus we lay aside the things weighing us down and run patiently, i.e. live our daily vocations. We “look” to Jesus by seeing Him in His Holy Word and as we freely receive His good gifts of life, forgiveness and salvation at His altar in the Divine Service. This life is very hard and we stand “contra mundi” against this world that hates us (John 17:14). If we get caught up in our own efforts to progress spiritually I can assure you that we WILL faint in our minds and end up in despair. Let us look unto our Lord Jesus Christ!

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in himRooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Col. 2:6-7

We are rooted and built up
in Him (Matthew 7:26) and it is no one less than Christ Himself who establishes us in the faith (Heb. 12) —- How? Through hearing the proclamation of the Gospel and our hearing produces thanksgiving which we offered back to God for His unsearchable riches IN Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:8).

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Col. 3:17

Our daily walk is to be lived through Christ Jesus (remember the analogy of being under water in the pool, if our eyes are open we see through the water). Everything we do in our daily life is to be done IN the name of our Lord. A simple discipline in practical experiential sanctification is simply to ask yourself this simple question: “can what I am about to (1) be saying or (2) what I am about to be doing —- be said or done IN then holy name of Jesus Christ our Lord? If the answer is “NO” then do not do or say it . . . this takes practice but will yield the
peaceable fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:11). May God grant us all the grace to be saying “no” when we ought!

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God
in him.
We then, as workers together
with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2 Co 5:19–6:1

Note the beautiful interplay we read here. God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself. Now as ambassadors for Christ and His kingdom — as it were God now beseechs people by (through) us! The Father placed our sins upon His Son and He bore our penalty on the cross. To what end? Now IN CHRIST we are clothed with His perfect righteousness purely as a gift not based on our working the law (Phil. 3:9). Now “in Him” we are laborers together with Him (1 Cor. 3:10) proclaiming His eternal Gospel to all who have ears to hear according to the grace He supplies (Eph. 3:7). God was in Christ Jesus, now He places us into Christ and sends us out as mobile temples of the Holy Spirit. At one time the Father had but One Son, now He has multitudes of sons that He has adopted into His family in Christ!

In the New Testament there are 70 verses which include the words “in Him,” there are 212 verses that state “in Whom” and over 560 verses citing “in Christ.” I could go on and mention the many texts using “of whom, from whom, with Him” which would add hundreds more verses. My point is simply this —- it is evident that our God would have His children understand very clearly (1) who they are and (2) what they have in His Son, our Lord God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.
Isa. 33:6

Stability in our daily walk is in large part a result of our hearing and doing what we’ve heard (James 1:22) taught to us.

אֱמוּנָה TWOT GK firmness, steadfastness, fidelity Ex 17:12 + 46 times; אֱמוּנוֹת Pr 28:20. 1. lit. firmness, steadiness: Ex 17:12 וַיְהִי יָדָיו א׳ his hands were steadiness (i.e. steady). 2. steadfastness, אֱמוּנַת עִתֶּיךָ steadfastness of thy times Is 33:6 (5)

Honestly I can tell you that people who attend church on a weekly basis INCLUDING Bible study (hopefully one is offered where you attend) and mull over (meditate) what they have been taught throughout the week are by FAR more spiritually stable Christians.

God’s Word is the objective anchor of our souls. Heaven and earth will pass away but the Word of Christ is eternal (1 Peter 1:25) and in this fallen life there is no more effective manner in which to both renew our minds (Romans 12:1-3) and still the mouth of the Avenger and Adversary (Psl. 8:2) than by ingraining within ourselves what Jesus has done FOR US and then who we NOW are IN CHRIST.

ENDNOTES:

(1) Satan is so crafty, he tempts us via the world and our flesh {our flesh consists of the lust of the eyes, the pride of life and lust for other things}. When we give into his temptation(s), he immediately switches gears and cries out “I thought you were a Christian, now look what you did.”

(2) Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 748–749.

(3) Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bib le Societies, 1996), 397.

(4) Many Christians somehow think that since His resurrection that our Lord Jesus Christ is basically sitting around on a throne in heaven “doing” nothing or very little. On the contrary He has an active and vital ongoing ministry from the throne through His Body today, but it is beyond the scope of this article to delve into this.

+prefixed, or added, or both, indicates ‘All passages cited.’

TWOT Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.

GK Goodrick/Kohlenberger numbering system of the NIV Exhaustive Concordance.

+plus, denotes often that other passages, etc., might be cited. So also where the forms of verbs, nouns, and adjectives are illustrated by citations, near the beginning of articles; while ‘etc.’ in such connexions commonly indicates that other forms of the word occur, which it has not been thought worthwhile to cite.

(5) Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 53

† prefixed, or added, or both, indicates ‘All passages cited.’

TWOT Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.

GK Goodrick/Kohlenberger numbering system of the NIV Exhaustive Concordance.

+ plus, denotes often that other passages, etc., might be cited. So also where the forms of verbs, nouns, and adjectives are illustrated by citations, near the beginning of articles; while ‘etc.’ in such connexions commonly indicates that other forms of the word occur, which it has not been thought worthwhile to cite

Just A Thought

When I started on this article I was at my favorite Christian Thrift store and purchased a loose-leaf N.T. ($1.00) and I have begun to go through it and highlight all of the texts dealing with “In Christ, in Him, in Whom, of whom.” It is a great way to re-read, albeit somewhat quickly, the entire N.T.. I have done this in the past, but not recently. It is a good way to help renew my mind. I highly recommend highlighting and underlining in your Bibles. If your Bible is too “nice” to mark up, that’s fine, go and buy some inexpensive copies and mark them up! Use different colors (if you are that organized, I am not) and take as long as you like. When a text “hits” you, fine stop meditate on it, look it up in the original language. Make sure and read the verse (whole chapter really) prior and after the text you’re focused on [context is everything].

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