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Archive for in Christ

Just Like Him

September 6, 2011

We recently returned from a quick trip to Indiana to see my oldest son and his family.  I was surprised at how much my little grandson Jacob looks like his dad. When Jacob’s picture is placed alongside a photo of his father at his age, the likeness is astonishing!  I can’t help but ponder what little Jacob is going to be like. I imagine the old saying, “Like father, like son” will play out somewhat. It’s hard to fight genetics.  The same is true with believers. We are all spiritually connected to the Lord Jesus Christ and destined to be like Him.

One of the most fascinating Bible truths is captured by the little phrase “in Christ.” I suppose one could spend a lifetime in study of just this tiny two-word expression and never really begin to plumb its depths. Though we now look through that dim glass, the Bible gives us some small insights into its truth. When the Holy Spirit immerses us into Jesus Christ, incredibly but understandably His qualities become ours. In order to appreciate this character exchange, we must realize some downsides of our position in the first Adam. In Adam all die! Short line but loaded with truth.

We come into this world spiritually connected to the first man’s death. In fact, we are laden with his character traits. We are born physically fallen and spiritually separated from God. But the moment faith is placed into Jesus Christ, we change locations. We are taken out of the old Adam and placed into the new Adam. That’s a remarkable exchange! As a result we are made alive in Christ.

How is this new life received? John said in his gospel that God gives us eternal life and this life is in His Son. The moment we are placed into Him, His life becomes our life. What amazing truth! What kind of life does Christ have? Eternal life,of course! This is why we have eternal life. We have His life because we are in Him.

We also come into this world strapped with the weight of Adam’s spiritual baggage – sin. His sin is attached to us at birth. This means that before we commit our first act of sin, we are already spiritually bankrupt before God. In order to live forever with God, we must have righteousness equal to His. Who has the righteousness we need? There is only one source, God’s sinless Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, when we believe in Christ, we are positioned in Him. At the moment we are found to be in Him, His righteousness is placed on our account. In fact, God made Christ – who knew no sin – to become sin for us. Why? So that being in Him we might have His perfect righteousness credited to our fallen bank account. The necessary righteousness – His righteousness – comes to us the very moment that we are placed in union with Him.

Finally, having been born in Adam, we come into this fallen world as children of the devil. That doesn’t sound very comforting, but it is true nonetheless. We were painfully referred to as the children of darkness living under the power of darkness. What made it even worse is that we were spiritually blind to this fact with no hope of ever finding our way to light. God opened our blind eyes to spiritually understand the gospel and He gave us the faith to place in Jesus Christ. At that very moment the light came in and we were given eyes to see it. We became children of the living God. But how? It is important to recognize that Jesus Christ is the very Son of the living God. What does His identity have to do with us? When we are placed into Him, His identity becomes our identity. We become connected to His heavenly Father just as He is connected to Him. We become children of God. We are all sons of God through faith in Christ. When we are baptized into Christ, we put Him on like a garment. Since we are in Him, His relationship is transferred to us. By being in Him, His life becomes our life, His righteousness is placed on our spiritual account and His relationship to the Father becomes ours. My, what riches we have in Christ!

This truth is evidently what motivated Paul to over and over refer to Christians as those who are – you guessed it – in Christ. We also receive a new heavenly citizenship, the promise of a new body just like our Lord’s and we are some day to reign with Him. We are predestined to be conformed to His very image. It’s simply like father, like son. Wow! God you’re a genius!

Connected to Christ by Baptism

August 9, 2011

“Baptism” is a word that seems to simply pop up in the Bible. You are reading along through the New Testament and all of sudden . . . there it is. This strange character named John the Baptist,  sporting a suit of camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey, is dipping  Jewish people in the Jordan River. You wonder, “What in the world is going on  here?”  My inclination would be to go back and search in the Old Testament for “baptism.” To my surprise, it would not be there. There is a lot mentioned about ceremonial washings and cleansings, but the word “baptism” is not found.

The plot thickens when we find that Jesus Christ Himself is baptized. Then we are absolutely swept away by the knowledge that Christians are connected to Jesus Christ by baptism. What? Now, hold on a minute. The word has been overwhelmingly associated with water so much so that when the word baptism is mentioned, water seems to automatically jump into the mind. But not so fast! In my opinion, the most important baptism has nothing whatever to do with water.

God didn’t just pluck baptism out of the air with no explanation in order to clarify the most important truth in the Bible. Baptism was not unfamiliar to people in the ancient world. Baptism was quite common. It was linked with dying cloth. If a person wanted to change the color of a garment, he would take it to the baptizer man.  This “baptist” was not a preacher, but one who operated what is known in the west as a laundry. The baptizer would take a tunic, for example, and immerse it into a vat of dye.  The identity of the tunic would be changed from one color to another.

The Romans practiced another form of baptism.  A Roman soldier would have a sword made by a metal smith. He would then go through a ceremony to commission the new weapon for the purpose for which it was made. The tip of the sword would be ceremonially dipped into a vat of pig’s blood. This ritual symbolically identified the sword as an instrument of death. The sword, unlike the cloth, was not really
changed.

These illustrations represent the two types of baptism. There are both symbolic baptisms and real baptisms. Baptism in the New Testament means “immersion for the purpose of identification.” There are at least six baptisms mentioned in the New Testament. I want to zero in for a moment on the baptism of the Spirit.  It is this baptism that connects the believer to Jesus Christ.

This incredible immersion has everything to do with a meeting that Jesus had with His disciples. He told them that He was going away and that they would not be able to follow. He promised that He would prepare a place for them and return and get them.  In the meantime, He told them that He was not going to leave them alone. He was going to substitute a helper – the Holy Spirit – who would come to them. He then uttered an unusual prophecy.  He said that on that day they would know that He was in His Father, and they would be in Him and He would be in them.

What strange words these are. Christ’s disciples would know that He was in His Father? What could that mean? And He would be in them and they would be in Him? How would that be possible? This sets up an incredible glimpse into God’s invisible realm.

Let’s determine first what our Lord meant by I in my Father.  Soon after speaking these words Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and was raised from the dead.  He appeared personally to many, demonstrating clearly that He had come back from the dead.  Jesus met one last time with the disciples, telling them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for the coming of the promised Spirit. After giving parting instructions from Mount Olivet, He was lifted into the air, departing planet Earth. What a sight that must have been!

We can map perfectly His destination. He went into heaven and was seated upon the throne at His Father’s right hand. The “I in my Father” part of His prophecy had then been fulfilled. The “you in Me and I in you” parts were yet to come. The “you in Me” part of this strange prophecy has everything to do with Spirit baptism.

On the day of Pentecost the Father sent the Holy Spirit. His first ministry was to begin to baptize believers into the body of Jesus Christ.  Like the cloth immersed into the dye, believers baptized into Christ are changed. Though unseen by human eyes, the very instant someone hears the gospel, believes the gospel, and trusts in Jesus Christ, an amazing phenomenon happens. The Holy Spirit removes them from their connection with Adam the first and immerses them into the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is at that moment that they become forever connected to Him.  His life becomes their life. His righteousness is placed on their account. His relationship to God the Father becomes their relationship, and His destiny becomes their destiny. Wow! This is what Christ meant by His words, “you in Me.” 

Mrs. Polson, my seventh grade English teacher, made us memorize the being verbs: I am, you are, she is, they were, etc.  She emphasized the importance of these little words, and I am so glad she did. Because of the meaning of the being verb “are,” the small Bible line that reads, “Now you are the body of Christ” makes perfect sense. We become a part of His body the moment we are baptized into Him. We are immediately and forever changed. How important is this truth? It becomes the very basis for our identity as Christians.  We are those very special people of God who are at this very moment in Christ. What a wonderful Savior we have!

For more, go to our article on Baptism.