Friday, August 31, 2012

Importance of Being in Christ - Part 1

The New Testament refers to people who have been born again as being “in Christ”. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this topic over the years and would like to spend some time having us think about it together. I think the implications are huge for those of us who desire to live lives that are pleasing to God and lives that are growing in Christ-likeness.

The first question I would like us to consider is this: How do we get into Christ and what does it mean to be in Christ?

First of all then, how do we get into Christ? Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:30 "Of him are you in Christ Jesus." So it's God's doing that anyone is in Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12:13 we're told that in one Spirit we are all baptized into one body. In Matthew 3:11, John the Baptist said that he baptized with (in) water for repentance, but Jesus who would follow him would baptize with (in) the Spirit. Therefore we know that Jesus baptizes, or places, each believer into one body, and that body is the body of Christ. When a person trusts Christ and believes on Him, he receives the Holy Spirit and is joined to Jesus Christ.

But what does that mean? In some way that we can't understand we are united with him. We are one with him. We become part of him. He is in us and we are in him. There is an identification with him. There is a federal headship involved in which what is true of him is true of those who are in him. Decisions he makes are counted as decisions we make.

Let's look at some Scripture passages:

Our physical bodies are one with him – Ephesians 5:30 “For we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones.”
1 Corinthians 6:15 “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?”

Our spirits are one with him – 1 Corinthians 6:17 “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”
1 Corinthians 2:12, 16 We have the mind of Christ.

Other thoughts
In John 15 Jesus said that he is the vine and we are the branches. He said that without him we can do nothing. The vine and the branches are really all one organism. It's sometimes hard to tell where the vine stops and the branches begin.

Paul told the Colossians in 1:29 that as we work, it is God who works in us.

In John 17:21-23 We find complete oneness. Christ is in us and we are in Him. The Father is in Him an He is in the Father.
In 2 Peter 1:4 we find that we are partakers of the divine nature. This is what the new birth is, isn't it? God raises us from the dead and gives us life. We are new creatures – old things are passed away, all things become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Understanding this first concept is important for understanding what is to follow. A person who is a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has been placed into Christ and somehow is one with him.

To see more of this series, look for Importance of Being in Christ in the title or put that phrase into the search box on the blog.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions

This is the second in a series of articles looking at questions found in the Bible. I think we can learn a lot from questions people ask. Sometimes we learn something from the answer. The question for today is one that David asked. It is found in 1 Samuel 23:11 “Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand?”
Now you might be asking yourself, “What kind of question is that, and what can we learn from it?”
Let me set the scene for you. David is running away from Saul who plans to kill him. David had entered a town called Keilah and when Saul had heard that David was holed up in the town, he made plans to go and besiege David and his men. David called for the priest with the intent of asking God through the priest what would happen. That’s where our question comes in. David wanted to know from God whether Saul would actually come there and if he did, would the people of the city give him up to his enemy.
The question and its answer tell us something interesting about God. The Lord’s answer is, “Yes, he will come down.” and “Yes, the men will turn you over to Saul.” Upon hearing this response, David and his 600 men arose and escaped from Keilah before Saul got there.
Does God know what would happen if certain events take place? This incident shows us that He does. David was basically asking if events continued as they seemed to be going, would he be turned over. As it actually turned out, Saul did not come to the city and David was not handed over. Some would say God had the information wrong. But all of us know how language is used. God knew that if David stayed put, Saul would continue his plan to attack the city and the men of the city would in fact turn David over to Saul. God knew with certainty what would happen if certain other events preceded them. This is different from not knowing anything in advance as some men have proposed. If David had stayed where he was, he would have been turned over. This was God’s certain knowledge of a contingent event.
This is interesting to me because there is a great deal of debate about what God knows in advance. Some say God can know nothing for certain until he sees what man will do. I reject that view. To me this incident does not support that view. David didn’t ask God what would actually happen in the future. He asked what would happen if certain things took place. To me this affirms God’s knowledge of future events including those which are dependent on an earlier event.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Prayer for Today

Thou God of all grace,

Thou has given me a savior, produce in me a faith to live by him,
to make him all my desire, all my hope, all my glory.

May I enter him as my refuge,
build on him as my foundation,
walk in him as my way,
follow him as my guide,
conform to him as my example,
receive his instructions as my prophet,
rely on his intercession as my high priest,
obey him as my king.

May I never be ashamed of him or his words,
but joyfully bear his reproach,
never displease him by unholy or imprudent conduct,
never count it a glory if I take it patiently when buffeted for a fault,
never make the multitude my model,
never delay when thy Word invites me to advance.

May thy dear Son preserve me from this present evil world,
so that its smiles never allure,
nor its frowns terrify,
nor its vices defile,
nor its errors delude me.

May I feel that I am a stranger and a pilgrim on earth,
declaring plainly that I seek a country,
my title to it becoming daily more clear,
my meetness for it more perfect,
my foretastes of it more abundant;
and whatsoever I do may it be done in the Saviour's name.

Quoted from "The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions" , edited by Arthur Bennett, The Banner of Truth Trust, 2007, Page 44

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions

I’ve often been intrigued by the questions people ask and what we can learn from them. Michael Card, in one of his songs, uses the phrase “questions often tell us more than answers ever do.” I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know that one can learn a lot from questions.
I’ve noticed that the Bible contains a lot of questions. God, people and even Satan ask questions. Sometimes it’s to find out answers and sometimes it’s to provoke thinking.
From time to time in this blog I’m going to probe some of the things we can learn by looking at the questions that are asked.
To get us started let’s look at the question in Psalm 85:5. Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
This Psalm was a psalm of the “Sons of Korah” and is referencing God’s anger against his people because of their sin. The first thing we need to realize is that God is angered over sin. Psalm 7:11 says that God is angry with the wicked every day. Our culture has a difficult time with that concept. Most people view God as a benevolent grandpa type who feels such love for everyone that he doesn’t care much what people do. He just wants everyone to be happy. The Bible doesn’t portray God this way. The Bible tells us clearly that sin is rebellion against the reign of God over the world and because of it he is angry.
Running throughout the Old Testament, however, is the theme that there is grace with God. Psalm 103:9 says, “He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.”
Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.”
However there is a conundrum implied in the Old Testament. In Numbers 14:18 we read, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression...” That part sounds pretty good – like the modern view of God. But the verse goes on “…but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and fourth generation.” How is it possible for God to forgive and at the same time not clear the guilty?
The answer is to be found in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. God punished him for the transgressions of his people, Isaiah 53:8. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” I Peter 2:24. “For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
You see, God is able to clear the guilty and be merciful to us because the punishment fell on Christ and he bore that punishment for us. All of those who trust in Christ are cleared of all guilt. However, those who do not trust Christ must bear the anger of God on themselves. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36

Monday, August 27, 2012

Memorization Monday

Monday is the day I introduce the verse of Scripture be memorized this week. We are going through Romans and memorizing key verses.

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

Verse 2 had said that the the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. Sin has its natural consequences. Sin naturally brings forth death. There are several deaths referred to in Scripture, but the "worst" one is eternal death which separates us from God forever.

What Jesus did for us is that he came as a human being, in human flesh. In verse 3 it is described as the likeness of sinful flesh. He looked like the rest of us, but never sinned. Because of sin, he came and lived a perfect life in a human body and then died our death in our place. Thus he condemned sin in the flesh.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hymn of the Week - Lead on O King Eternal

1. Lead on, O King eternal,
The day of march has come;
Henceforth in fields of conquest
Thy tents shall be our home:
Thro' days of preparation
Thy grace has made us strong,
And now, O King Eternal,
We lift our battle song.

2. Lead on, O King Eternal,
Till sin's fierce war shall cease,
And holiness shall whisper
The sweet amen of peace;
For not with swords' loud clashing,
Or roll of stirring drums;
With deeds of love and mercy
The heav'nly kingdom comes.

3. Lead on, O King eternal,
We follow not with fears;
For gladness breaks like morning
Where'er Thy face appears;
Thy cross is lifted o'er us;
We journey in its light:
The crown awaits the conquest;
Lead on, O God of might.
Lyrics: Ernest Warburton Shurtleff
Music: Henry Thomas Smart