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.
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.
May you find joy IN CHRIST.