Saturday, November 3, 2012

Who is in Christ?

Ephesians 1:3 tells us: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." Think about those words for a second. Every spiritual blessing/gift is found in Christ. Some of those gifts include redemption and forgiveness of sins (Eph. 1:7), justification (Rom. 5:18) freedom from sin (Gal. 5:1), and salvation (1 Thess. 5:8-10). I am sure that every single person who has a belief in Jesus Christ wants those spiritual blessings. Even those people who do not believe in Jesus want some form of these gifts! But what was it that Paul said at the end of that verse? Those blessings are found somewhere: in Christ. To obtain these blessings, we must be in Christ. To obtain salvation--the opportunity to be in heaven with God face to face--we must be in Christ!

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:10 that he endured all things, even chains, so that those to whom he preached could obtain the salvation that is available in Christ. That was the reason Paul preached--so that others could obtain salvation. The Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing (Rom. 10:17), and that's exactly why I want to explore this topic today. I want us to all open our hearts to what the Word of God teaches so that we can be exposed to the salvation that is made available through Jesus.

While this is a sentence I don't want to write, it is necessary: those who are outside of Christ (not in Him) will not have these spiritual blessings. They will not have forgiveness for their sins or justification or salvation. They will not have heaven as their eternal home. Heaven will only be for those found in Christ--the ones who have remained faithful to Him until death. That is why it is so important for us to explore what exactly it means to be in Christ, so that we can determine if we ourselves are in Him or if we are lacking.

So how do we know if we are in Christ? Galatians 3:26-28 tells us this:
" (26) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
I love these verses for a lot of reasons. I'm going to take them a little out of order, but I think it's necessary for the congruity of thought. First, in verse 27, we see that those who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Therefore we can deduce that it is those who are baptized (Mk. 16:16, Acts 2:38, 1 Pet. 3:21) who are the ones that are in Christ. All of the spiritual blessings that are made available in Jesus are only accessible to use once we have come in contact with His blood (Rom. 6:3-4). In order to have salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, we must be baptized. Once we are baptized, we are in Christ and we can have every spiritual blessing.

One such blessing is found in verse 26. The text says that we are sons (and daughters) of God through our faith in Christ Jesus. When we have faith in Jesus and are obedient to His commands (because faith without works is dead--James 2:20,26), we can be called children of God. I find this to be one of the greatest blessings of all! Not only is the God of the universe giving me the opportunity to live with Him forever and have my slate wiped clean, He loves me, individually, and is calling me His daughter! It's one thing to be in subjection to the King of the world, but another altogether to be a part of the royal family! How extremely blessed are we to be called sons and daughters of God! And that blessing is only bestowed on those who have faith in Jesus and have acted upon that faith in obedience through baptism!

The third reason I love this verse is because of verse 28. We are all one in Jesus Christ. There is no partiality (Rom. 2:11-12). Because Jesus humbled Himself and came to this earth to suffer and die for us, we ALL have the opportunity to go to heaven with Him one day! Had He not come, heaven would never have been a possibility for any of us, because we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23). And yet, Jesus gave the same commands to all people. He didn't give one set of commands to the Jews and one set to the Greeks; He didn't give one set to the apostles and another set (or new revelation) to us today. He said that we must repent from our sinful ways and be baptized into Him for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38-39). And if we truly love Him and truly want to be found in Him, we will do what He has said (John 14:15).

God desires that all men everywhere will be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). It isn't only Americans or religious-type people or rich people or poor people or white or black or hispanic. It is all men; everywhere. That is why it is so important for those of us who have heard the gospel to spread it to those who have not; because God wants everyone to be saved--not just those of us who have already heard. And while it is important to go and spread the gospel, it is also commanded (Mt. 28:18-20). In order that we can be pleasing to God, we must be telling those who are not in Christ what they can do to be found in Him and thus have the opportunity to go to heaven!

I know that this hasn't been the most cohesive post I've ever written. I know there is a lot thrown in here all at once. The point is this: if you have not been baptized into Christ, you aren't in Christ. And if you aren't in Christ, all of those spiritual blessings aren't available to you. The great news is that God wants to have a relationship with you; and Jesus' sole purpose in coming to earth was to seek and save people just like you. If you want to go to heaven, turn from your sinful ways and put on Christ in baptism. If you have more questions about that--you can leave me a comment and I'll email you!

If you have been baptized into Christ and are enjoying the many blessings that He has given to you, make sure that you are telling other people about the blessings that you enjoy in Him--and if they aren't enjoying them, tell them how they can!

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