January 14, 2004

Union in Christ’s Resurrection

The person who has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior is identified with Christ in all that He has accomplished. The believing sinner is joined to Jesus Christ in His death, in His burial and in His resurrection. This is our vital union with Christ. This is the means whereby we walk in the newness of eternal life.

The apostle Paul appropriates for himself this close personal relationship with Christ. A. T. Robertson observed, “So close has become Paul’s identification with Christ that his separate personality is merged into that of Christ.”

The apostle Paul’s passion was, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). The apostle Paul is not thinking about sometime in the future when his body will be raised from the dead. In this verse, he is thinking of the reality of the resurrection life of Jesus Christ in which he has become a partner by the identification with Jesus Christ in His resurrection. His desire is to have such an intimate relationship with Christ that the resurrection life will manifest itself through him every day of his life. Paul doesn’t think of eternal life as something off in the distant future, but in the here and now. God has given us a new kind of life.

Paul prays that the Ephesian church will experience this same power in their lives. He prays that they may experience, “what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19-20).

The apostle Paul reminds us that “Christ lives in me” by His Spirit. “If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). Christ in His glorified body is in heaven at the right hand of God, but He is represented here by the Holy Spirit. What is said to be done by Christ now is done by Him through the agency of His Spirit.

Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me . . . “ (Galatians 2:20). “Having died with Christ in his death, the believer now lives with Christ in his life––i.e. his resurrection life. In fact, the new life in Christ is nothing less than the risen Christ living his life in the believer. The risen Christ is the operative power in the new order, as sin was in the old (cf. Romans 7:17, 20). . . It is by the Spirit that the risen life of Christ is communicated to his people and maintained within them. It makes little practical difference whether he speaks of Christ living in them or the Spirit dwelling in them (cf. Romans 8:10a, 11a) . . . although it makes little practical difference whether he speaks of them being ‘in Christ’ or ‘in the Spirit’, it is the former expression that is commoner. . . The believer’s present life is lived in faith–union with Christ, the Son of God” (F. F. Bruce).

January 01, 2004

The Glory of Believers

The apostle Peter saw the prospect of the supernatural glory that is prepared for us in Christ Jesus. He wrote: "After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10, NASB 1995)

The apostle Paul said that it has not “entered into the heart or man the things which God has prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The glory of God is among these deep things God has prepared for His people.

The Hebrew word for “glory” originally meant “weighty, heavy, or important.” God’s glory is His beauty in holiness. He is the God of glory.

In His incarnation, the Son of God showed the glory that was His as the only begotten of the Father (John 1:14). The transfiguration of Christ was a breaking out into open His glory (Matthew 17:1-8). Jesus Christ is the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8). The glory of God radiated from His face, and as we behold Him we become like Him (2 Cor. 3:18).

Sanctification of the believer is described as a changing from glory to glory. Glorification is implied as the lat event in the change from glory to glory. Glorification is the completion, the consummation, the perfection, and the full realization of salvation. It is a perfect, incontestable standing before God. Glorification is the perfection of our sanctification (Eph. 5:27; 2 Tim. 2:10).

The glory spoken of by Peter is the glory that belongs to God alone.