Saturday, May 28, 2016

160529 Our Life in Christ (3)

Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
This passage of Scripture gives us another angle on being “in Christ”! We have looked at Christ’s past work of redemption and his present life in heaven. We have looked at his continuing possession of all the spiritual resources we need in order to live the Christian life. Since all the spiritual blessings were earned by him and belong to him they are available to those who are in Him. If we are in Christ, these are some of the blessings that are ours.
We need to remember that Jesus came into the world with a specific purpose in mind. He said that he came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) After Jesus’ death on the cross, resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven, Peter would tell the Sanhedrin, “there is salvation in no one else, (Jesus) for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Among all of the things “in Jesus” perhaps the most important for us is that…
Salvation is in Christ Jesus. Listen while I read 2 Timothy 2:10. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
Anytime you encounter the word “therefore” in the Bible it’s important to pause and think for a moment: what is “therefore”, there for? In this case Paul is encouraging Timothy to, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my (Paul’s) gospel,” (2 Timothy 2:8) Paul is pointing out that even though he was in chains, in prison, the good news about Jesus Christ is always free. That reminds us of what Paul was enduring. He is very clear that he was enduring prison and all the discomforts of it for the elect.
“The elect” are those people that God chose to be saved. There are those who say that we should not worry about witnessing for Christ because only the elect will be saved and surely the elect cannot be lost. Yet we find Paul saying, “I endure everything for the sake of the elect,” referring to the need to share the gospel with everyone so that the elect may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. It is true that salvation is in Jesus Christ and it is important to communicate that truth to all people so that the elect would have the gospel and respond. You might ask, “Is it possible that the elect might not be saved if they are not witnessed to?” I certainly did not say that because God has already determined who will be saved. The names of those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world.
At the same time we have the responsibility, whenever possible, to share the good news about Jesus with everyone. For many people our words will go in one ear and out the other — if they get in one ear at all! Some, on the other hand, will listen and respond because they have been chosen by God. And when they do they are born again into a new life which is eternal. And that…
Eternal life is in the Son. Listen while I read 1 John 5:11-12.  And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. This is John the apostle’s testimony. The eternal life that we receive upon salvation is found in Jesus Christ. Whoever has the Son has life! Whoever does not have the Son does not have life! John was probably remembering Jesus’ high priestly prayer. In that prayer, found in…
John 17:1b-3. We find Jesus saying, Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
It is not just a matter of Jesus giving us eternal life when we place our faith in him. Much more than that, eternal life is in Christ Jesus! Jesus actually says the words, “And this is eternal life”, what is eternal life? Eternal life is knowing the only true God. Eternal life is knowing Jesus Christ.
Fannie Jane Crosby left us a song, written in 1891, that goes like this:
When my lifework is ended, and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.
Fanny Crosby was blinded by shoddy medical treatment when she was only a few months old. She could not remember being able to see. But that did not hinder her in “seeing” with her mind. This song ends with the very touching words, “But I long to meet my Savior first of all.” She knew that eternal life was in Jesus Christ and she wrote over 8000 hymns and gospel songs. You might think to yourself, “What could she have done had she not been blind?” I submit to you that she “could have” married, had a family, and lived out her life without impacting our lives the way she has. Remember, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Yes, salvation is in Jesus Christ alone! But salvation is not, and never has been — never will be — “alone”! Many, many other things are in Jesus Christ.
In Christ we have resurrection power. Listen while I read Ephesians 2:4-6. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
“Raised up with him” is a very powerful statement. When Jesus rose from the dead he did not return to the life that existed before his crucifixion. After the resurrection Jesus had a new kind of life, a “resurrection life”. That life which binds together Jesus’ human body and human spirit with the life of the Father. This new life causes us to be able to be born again by the power of his resurrection.
We have salvation that assures our eternal life and this life we have received in the Son is empowered by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ! Everything we need is found in Christ Jesus.
Faith and love are in Christ Jesus. Listen while I read Paul’s words to Timothy found in 1 Timothy 1:12-14. I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
Saul of Tarsus had been one of the leaders in the persecution of the Christian church. He was present when the first Christian martyr was killed. He held the killers coats while Stephen was being stoned to death. Later he became a leader of those who rounded up Christians and put them to death.
He was on the way from Jerusalem to Damascus with arrest warrants in his hand when suddenly a light from heaven shone around them. As he looked into that light he was blinded. But, while he could still see he saw someone in the light! He recognized that someone to be a “Lord”. Saul said “Who are you Lord?” And heard these words coming out of the light, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Upon arising Saul went into the city of Damascus, fasted and prayed for three days, then a man whom he would’ve arrested came to him, laid hands on him, and he was healed and filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:1-19).
Later, Saul of Tarsus became Paul the Apostle who spent his life proclaiming the good news about Jesus and planting churches all over the Roman Empire. At the end of his life he was beheaded in Rome. But one thing that he confirmed continually was…
Our needs are met in Christ Jesus. We should know this verse by head if not by heart. Listen while I read Philippians 4:19. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
This verse is often misused even though correctly quoted. It is one of the most common promises of the Bible. “My God will supply every need” is not a promise without a condition. The condition is found in the verses just before.
The Philippian church had shared in Paul’s troubles. They had partnered with him by sending offerings more than once. The Philippian church was not rich. Paul had said that these people in Macedonia, that included the Philippians, had an abundance of joy and at the same time extreme poverty. Nevertheless, they begged for the favor of giving to help meet Paul’s needs (2 Corinthians 8:1-7).
Based on the condition of their giving what they could not afford Paul could share with them the promise that God would meet every need. The Lord Jesus himself had said, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)
No doubt God will meet all of our needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus. But he will not do that out of the blue! It will be done because we have been obedient to him in giving to meet the needs of others. Our physical needs are met in Christ Jesus. At the same time…
All spiritual blessings are in Christ. Listen while I read Ephesians 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
Every spiritual blessing! Look ahead to the next verses. He chose us in him! And he didn’t wait to see what we would do first. He chose us before the foundation of the world. In love, he predestined us for adoption. In him we have redemption through his blood. In him we have the forgiveness of our trespasses. Not based on how good we are but based on the riches of his grace showing how good God is, Praise God!
All His blessings are ours in him. Paul wrote to the Galatians with the promise “that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14)
I feel sorry for those dispensationalists who hold that we are only receiving a part of the blessings found in the Bible. The blessings Jesus secured for us extend all the way back to Abraham who is our father in the faith. We should claim every promise in Scripture from beginning to end because Jesus gives them all to us. It is not only our needs that are met but all the spiritual blessings are ours. And…
We are free from condemnation in Christ Jesus. Listen while I read Romans 8:1-2. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
In Christ Jesus there is no condemnation! No matter where you been or what you’ve done there is no condemnation! Don Francisco wrote a song and it goes like this:
I loved you long before the time your eyes first saw the day
And everything I've done has been to help you on the way
But you took all that you wanted then at last you took your leave,
And traded off a Kingdom for the lies that you believed.
And although you've chosen darkness with it's miseries and fears
Although you've gone so far from Me and wasted all these years
Even though my name's been spattered by the mire in which you lie
I'd take you back this instant if you'd turn to Me and cry.
I don't care where you've been sleeping, I don't care who's made your bed
I've already gave My life to set you free;
There's no sin you could imagine that is stronger than my love,
And it's all yours if you'll come home again to Me.

When you come back to your senses and you see who's been to blame,
Remember all the good things that were yours with just My name;
Then don't waste another thought before you change the way you're bound
I'll be running out to meet you if you'll only turn around.
Praise God, He has paid the price for us and covered all the condemnation. You see…
Christ in us is our only hope. Listen while I read Colossians 1:27. To them  God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Paul could see that the mystery that had been hidden for ages was now being revealed in Christ Jesus. Generations of men and women of faith had followed without question the things they could not understand. With Christ’s coming, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension the mystery began to unravel. The only hope we have of glory is Christ in us. He is our hope and we can rejoice that God chose to reveal this truth to all who will listen and understand.
Everything that comes to us in the way of salvation comes to us “in Christ”! In him we are called to salvation. In him we are given a new life. In him we are declared “not guilty”. In him we die and our bodies will be raised again. Because our lives are inseparably connected to Christ Himself the Holy Spirit gives us all the blessings that Christ has earned because we are “in Him”. If you are not in Christ today this can be the day of salvation for you.  If you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved!
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

160522 Our Life in Christ

Ephesians 1:11-14  In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
The Bible is still the number one bestseller throughout the world. The problem is the Bible is not read as much as it once was. Consequently the Bible is not understood as it once was. We need to see what God has to say about who Christian believers really are. “In Him ” best describes where we are and who we are. God determined before the creation of the world that everything that exists is to be “to the praise of his glory”. Thank God if you have been brought to grace through faith in Christ.
When we come to faith in Christ we gain an inheritance that is protected by God and brings glory to God in our life. That inheritance is in God’s safety deposit box in heaven and it is sealed by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we can rest in the fact that the inheritance is now ours and we will certainly possess it.
What a wonderful blessing God has given us. Since we were born…
In Adam we are all spiritually dead. Listen while I read Romans 5:12-14. Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
Our life, before we came to faith in Christ, was a reflection of death! When Adam sinned all his unborn children died spiritually. In Adam death rules! And as a consequence we have no hope other than Christ himself. Recall the words of Peter when he stood before the Sanhedrin and said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) The Bible tells us, in many ways, that mankind is born into a realm of darkness and are in great need of deliverance. We are born in Adam and have a desperate need to be transferred into the kingdom of the Son. Only in him do we have the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:12-14)
In Adam we are born dead but…
With Christ we are made alive. Listen while I read Colossians 2:12. Having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Baptism by immersion is a picture of our being buried with Christ. It only counts when the person has been called by God to salvation and has surrendered their life to the Lordship of Christ. Having been born dead in sin we come to faith in Christ and are made alive in him. God sees us as being in Christ when he was crucified, buried, and raised from the dead in a glorious resurrection body. Think about it! God sees us as having been crucified with Christ and consequently dead to our old way of living! This is amazing to consider but it is repeated again and again in the Bible. If God is thinking of us in a particular way…
We must join God in our thoughts. Listen while I read Romans 6:8-11. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We are born owing a debt that we cannot pay and Christ was crucified paying a debt he did not owe. Having defeated death in the empty tomb death no longer has any claim on him. Since we are “in him” spiritual death has no claim on us. He has become for us “the resurrection and the life” as Jesus said, outside the tomb of Lazarus, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” (John 11:25-26). We all face physical death but if we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we will never die! We need to agree with God in all things.
“Consider yourselves” is an accounting term and represents the attitude we are to have. Our spiritual ledger is filled with debits. We were born in sin and, given the first opportunity, we began to sin on our own and often repeated the process. Those sins are all credited against us in the account book. Then, God, because of the great grace that he has and the love he has for us, enters in our asset line “alive to God in Christ Jesus” and in order for us to realize our true spiritual balance we must enter that term into our balance sheet. Then, forevermore, our balance sheet reads “Paid in full by Jesus Christ”!
We must agree with God and as a result…
We must not “let” sin rule our lives. Let’s read on Romans 6:12-14. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
“Let” is a powerful term. We are able to rule over sin by choosing not to allow it to rule over us. I realize that we all find ourselves from time to time falling back into our old way of living and allowing sin to rule. Micah, the Old Testament prophet, gives us a promise, “He (God) does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.” (Micah 7:18b-20)
When we present ourselves to God as having been brought from death to life we confirm Micah’s promise. Then we strengthen it in Romans. Romans 6:14 gives us the confidence to say that ultimately sin will have no dominion over us. We are under grace.
Julia H. Johnston gave us these words more than 100 years ago.
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, there where the blood of the lamb was spilt. Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within, grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.
We should be lifted up by those words because they are based on Scripture that gives us one of the greatest promises for this life that we are living. Sin will have no dominion over us! And as a result…
We now have a new life in Christ. Let’s look to 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.  For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. And verse 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Because we died and rose with Christ we have power to overcome personal sin. This is a power that grows more and more as we walk with the Lord. We have come to a full life in Christ and, in fact, we have become a new creation in him. We should therefore live out who we are — a new creation! As a result of this new work God has done in our life…
We can now seek things that are above. Let’s turn to Colossians 3:1-4. If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Based on what we have already learned we can change “if” to “since”. Since we have been raised with Christ we should seek the things that are above. Our lives should reflect the fact that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus. We have been saved by grace “and raised up with him and (he has) seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6) God did this in order to show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in the ages to come. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and in the mind of God we are seated with him. We need to seek things that are above. We need to agree with God about our condition and set our minds on things that are above, not on the things of the earth. When Christ died, God, in his great mercy, visualized us as having died with him. More than that, God visualizes us as hidden with Christ in God. And folks, when he appears — and it may be soon — we shall be like him (1 John 3:2). If you want to have confidence in this life please put in your ledger book “dead to sin, alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11). Then, and only then, will your spiritual books balance. We must agree with God! Not with our own feelings or with the world around us. No matter what the world tells you, if you have placed your faith in Christ Jesus you are able to seek the things that are above because you are seated there with him now. Though “the wages of sin is death; the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) As a result…
We can now put our worldly ways to death. Let's read Colossians 3:5-10. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
As a result of our agreeing with God we are able to put to death the things that are earthly in us: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. We can put them all away along with anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language. We can live without lying because we have put to death the old man who is imprinted with Adam’s spiritual DNA and have replaced that DNA with God’s!
As we grow in knowledge of the wonderful grace of our Lord…
We can now put on a godly attitude. Let’s continue to read Colossians 3:12-17. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Too often we think that a complete change in lifestyle and spiritual culture will come to us automatically upon professing that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. This passage tells us that we are to “put on” certain attitudes and outlooks. This can be done because we are in Christ but it is not easy. God has enabled us to cooperate with Him in growing our lifestyle. We are to “put on” compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. We are to “bear with” one another. “Bear with” implies that it is not an easy path to follow. If we have a complaint against another we must forgive as God has forgiven us. This is a large order! In order to accomplish it we need to “let” the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. The peace of Christ is not automatically bestowed. Here we see that we must “let”, or allow, that peace to rule in our hearts. We are to cooperate with God — agree with him in all things.
In order to do that we are to “let” the word of Christ dwell in us richly. Not stingily but richly. I believe that involves memorization. It certainly involves a good deal of reading. We are to encourage one another by singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs together. We are to do that with thankfulness in our hearts! Above everything else, whatever we do, in word or deed, we are to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Our entire life should reflect Jesus Christ and we should live in a constant attitude of thankfulness towards God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All of these things come together to show what God through the Holy Spirit in our lives is doing for us. When we come to faith in Christ it is just as if the Holy Spirit reproduces the death and resurrection of Jesus in our lives. As time goes by we grow closer to God’s life and further away from the worldly life. If we have put on Christ Jesus we need to live our lives in a godly manner. We are a new creation we must live like it! Have you given your life to the Lord Jesus Christ? Today can be your day of salvation! Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.