Sunday, January 25, 2015

Being In Christ. What Difference Does it Make?


Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3
 
 WHAT IT MEANS TO BE 'IN CHRIST' -

'Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.' (2 Corinthians 5:17)

'I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.' (Galatians 2:20)



Our small Bible study group has been reading I & II Thessalonians and the commentary by James H. Grant, Jr., edited by R. Kent Hughes, from the 'Preaching the Word' series. P.S. Our small group is not through our church, but a handful of women, friends, who've been doing Bible study together each week for about 15 years.


 From Amazon, of course


I'd like to share the following excerpts from the chapter entitled 'Union With Christ and the Christian Life:' 

Note:  Emphasis in bold is mine. 

***

'Every time Paul tells his story, he has a reason for telling it the way he does, and the central reason why Paul tells his story the way he does is because of his union with Christ...

'We first notice that in spite of Paul's suffering, his ministry was not in vain...Why does Paul think his ministry was not in vain? Because he is united to Christ, and the great example of suffering that was not in vain is the work of Christ on the cross. The death of Jesus upon the cross was not fruitless. That work accomplished God's purpose. 

"What is Paul doing here? He is not interpreting his suffering as if it were some judgment from God. He is interpreting his suffering as if it is part of his life in Christ.  That means his ministry was not in vain. God is working out the cross in Paul's life, and this suffering will not be fruitless. It is part of the ministry of the gospel...

'Since his life was hidden with Christ in God, he was approved by God. Paul had been approved on the basis of Jesus, not on the basis of how well his ministry went or on the basis of how much people liked him.  His approval came from God and from Christ, and if he was approved by God, that was all he needed to move forward in difficult ministry. That was precisely why he did not seek the approval of men. Such approval did not matter to Paul. He had the approval of Heaven. He did not need the approval of Rome or Jerusalem...

'Paul looks at his life through his union with Christ. Did God approve of his Son Jesus? Yes! And if we are in him, he approves of us. God doesn't approve of us because of our life and greatness. He approves of us because he sees us through his Son.'

***

I know there are many Christians who struggle with thoughts of God being angry with them, expecting any minute a harsh judgment from God, and bearing the burden of never living up to 'God's expectations.' Or perhaps they're suffering, and perceive it as God's anger toward them or disappointment in them. Because of this, they are stuck in a joyless life. I thought that the text above was such a good explanation of what it means to be IN CHRIST, and that it was worth sharing so that we can ponder this and ask God to help us recapture the joy that was once ours when we first began following Christ.

Remember: It's not all about us. It's about Jesus. I realize that in the 21st century, this has become a foreign concept for many Americans, especially. Also, I think it's important to remember that God is not in Heaven wringing his hands, wondering how we get ourselves into these messes. He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). Remember Jesus? It's all about him. When we put our trust in Christ, when we're IN CHRIST, God sees us through his son.  What a wonderful thought!

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. " Titus 3:5-6


***


Have a wonderful Lord's Day, friends.
May you find joy IN CHRIST. 

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24 comments:

Sandra said...

thank you, I spent the majority of my life believing if i did anything wrong, God would GET me for that. this is the perfect explanation to get out from under that.

Mary Hutchins said...

Thank you for this great message. Christ is my Joy!

Mimi said...

Lots of powerful food for thought in your post! Thanks so much for sharing this insight--I'll be mulling it over in my mind for quite some time. :-)

Alex said...

Thank you so much for this Judy;
I found it such a useful reminder.
Blessings to you!

Karen S. said...

Happy joyful Sunday to you, thank you for sharing this.

Susie said...

Judy, When I was 8 years old..that is when I knew God. I know I went to church and heard about Him before that age...but that is the age where I knew he loved me , no matter what. My prayers today are to be the woman he wants me to be. Blessings, xoxo,Susie

Debbie said...

our beliefs are somewhat different but i always enjoy reading different perspectives!!!

have a happy sunday!!!

Nancy said...

A good reminder, and the perfect message on which to start a new week.

Ginny said...

This is a wonderful Sunday devotion! And I love the way you put it that God is not wringing His hands over us. Of course He is out of time, and He knows just what will happen and what our decisions will be. So nothing takes Him off guard. I totally agree with everything you said. Is your group in homes or it it in church?

Kathleen George said...

My sister goes to a church she loves and they have a Bible study she attends. My Sunday scriptures is reading a few blogs that resonates with me, like yours. I enjoy reading your blog. Kathleen in Az

Shelia said...

Hi Judy! This sounds like a great study! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

It's interesting to see what another church is reading for study. Our whole congregation was invited to read the Book of Acts - 28 chapters and one each day in January with discussion and summation on Sundays. Round tables were even put in the sanctuary for easier discussion.
Group bible study sure can bring about a better understanding of what has been written.
Thanks for sharing some insight into your readings.

happywonderer.com said...

Amen, that it's all about Jesus. In Christ alone...

Terri D said...

It is wonderful that you have such a special group of friends, and for 15 years have been constant in your Bible study. You bring some considerable insight to those verses, Judy. I agree with your thinking and thank you for the lesson today!!

Red Rose Alley said...

Judy, how wonderful that you are in a Bible Study Class. I've always wanted to do that myself. Yes, Jesus is everything to me, and I talk to Him often. Thank you for the words today.

~Sheri

Tree Hugger - Suzan said...

I can't imagine not believing is Jesus Christ & God!! How fantastic Judy to have your dear friends!!! As they say -- Birds of a feather, flock together!! And Gladly!!! Have a wonderful, blessed week!

Pamela Gordon said...

Thank you for sharing this word today. I wish you a blessed week.

20 North Ora said...

Judy - such wise words. I don't know how people live without the Lord in their lives- great bunch of friends to share the Word with.

Judy

Cheryl said...

Such indescribable grace, to be in Christ!

Debby Ray said...

Wonderful post...and amen :)

".E." Lizard Breath Speaks, It's Beth said...

every time i read your post about things such as this - i always think i will have something great to say ...but then i come to your comment section and i am speechless. ( :

what i will say is my brother & i ever Sunday will get into discussions after our family dinner ... this week my brother was saying that a lot of our government & food are very much related to our food companies. i must say i don't totally understand his point ...but he thought i was silly not to follow is idea or thought. he likes to get my brain hurting or totally confused. brothers are like that. ha. ha!!

Conniecrafter said...

looks like a great study, and how wonderful to have a group of ladies you have studied with for so many years

Stephanie said...

This was such a beautiful message, Judy. I am so thankful for the Lord's sweet grace, mercy, and love. Thank you so much for sharing at Roses of Inspiration.

Hugs to you!

Michelle F said...

Thank you, Judy!

I think that is wonderful how many years your group has met together.

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