Blessed in Christ

Blessed in Christ

In a previous article “Two Men and You” we saw that we are either represented by Adam and what he did in Eden (sin) and what he in consequence became (a sinner), or by Christ and what He passed through in His death and resurrection. The multiple benefits of the Saviour’s work on behalf of those who have faith in Him are the subject of large sections of the New Testament. Believers are taught there to see themselves as “in Christ” for He fully represents what they now are before God. They should never consider themselves apart from that fact, it is one that puts them —

Beyond Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). You may feel condemned as you consider your past, how stubbornly you resisted the gospel, ridiculed Christians or revelled in your sin etc. The Apostle Paul permitted himself to recall his past when occasion called for it, but note how he used it to magnify the grace of God in 1 Tim. 1:13-17, moving immediately from what he had been in Adam to what he was now in Christ.

On the other hand it may be that you feel condemned because you are discovering that though you came to the Saviour some time ago, your most earnest efforts at self improvement have met with no success. Instead there are ongoing disclosures of the weakness of your flesh; a situation so graphically described in Romans 7. That chapter ends in utter despair. Again Paul counters with what is true for all those “in Christ”– They are not under law (what man should do and be) but under grace (what God in Christ has done for us). Any self- condemnation that is experienced arises from either ignorance or unbelief as to all that the gospel provides.

Appreciating the Cross

The nature you inherited from Adam will not change, you cannot improve it, and to think that you may some day personally gain victory over it is to entertain a false hope. But on the Cross and by His death Christ delivered believers from all condemnation associated with it! So the gospel does not reach its climax in Rom. 5 with us being justified by faith from our sins, but continues on to chapter 8. That chapter begins with us being freed from the condemnation due to us because of our sinfulness. Our condition as well as our conduct had to be dealt with to the satisfaction of God. Jesus bore our sins in His body on the tree and God at the same time by sending His own Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh”. It was for sin in our flesh, but borne by Him in His holy flesh! Any condemnation I still feel results from a failure on my part to appreciate the Cross, it is unbelief.

Another thing: For Samuel to continue mourning for Saul after God “had rejected him from reigning over Israel” displeased the Lord (1 Sam. 16:1); the prophet needed to anoint his successor. When we still hope or want to improve anything which God has condemned we likewise hinder His work in and through us. His judgment of the flesh is clear. Let us bow to it and move on! As Paul says, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Appreciating the Resurrection

Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection were three days apart. Forty days later He ascended and was seated at the Father’s right hand, having completed the work He was sent to do (John 17:4).

Each of those events had its own significance for Him and for us. They may be viewed separately as they sometimes are in the Scriptures, but each is incomplete without the others. Ignore or overlook one and there is no good news to tell.

When we receive Christ we enter into benefits that He obtained for us by His work “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…” (Rom. 6:3,4). So the first half of the action in a believer’s baptism pictures that the life we inherited in Adam was brought to an end at the Cross according to God’s reckoning. The second action declares similarly that we were raised with Him. (Col. 2:12). How these two truths should affect our present conduct has to be worked out, but the Holy Spirit declares them as being things already accomplished and thus to be believed.

A Shared Inheritance

We are now seen as being “in Christ” and joint heirs with Him (Rom. 8:17). No wonder Paul prayed that “the eyes of your understanding might be enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power… which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places…” (Eph. 1:18,19). Earlier he had referred to the inheritance we have in Him. (v. 11). I think that in these two phrases (emphasized in italics) we may be looking at two aspects of the same inheritance. Israel’s possessing of their earthly heritage under Joshua’s leadership might illustrate that.

After settlement in Canaan it would have been foolish for any Israelite to boast of his estate as being a sample of what the army had conquered, if he failed to give credit to the essential role Joshua played in the conquest. Without him there would have been no army and no military strategy and no victory. On his part, Joshua knew that it was God’s purpose that possession of the land be realized through the nation he had led into it. His own portion and theirs thus forming a mutually enjoyed inheritance.

He and we, in coming glory One deep joy shall share Ours to be forever with Him, His that we are there!

– Gerhard Tersteegen. Adapted

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