by J.C. Metcalfe
THE LIFE I NOW LIVE
In our last chapter we saw the necessity of counting moment by moment upon the fact of our death with Christ. That is one side of the truth of our union with Him. Now we need to examine our union with our Risen Lord in His life. Do you remember how Romans 6:11 divides itself naturally into two parts both necessary to the other? "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin" that is the first part, but is not all - "but alive unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord". Before a man is born again he is "in Adam" (1Corinthians 15:22), that is, he inherits from Adam a sinful nature, and lives and moves in the thoughts and ways of a fallen world. When the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world, He was "found in fashion as a man" (Philippians 2:8), and as the "second Adam" (1Corinthians 15:45) He first of all won the fight against evil and Satan that Adam had lost, and lived a sinless life. Then He died in our place, and in doing so brought to an end the old race, so that when He rose again from the dead He might be the first of a new race. When, therefore, a man is born again, and by being "planted in the likeness of his death" is raised by the power of God "in ... resurrection" (Romans 6:5) he is "in Christ". This means that as far as his new life is concerned, and that new life has to be lived here in this world, he now lives and moves in the thoughts and ways of heaven, of which he has become a citizen (Philippians 3:20), and inherits from the second Adam that new creature, which is the nature of God.
Let us then see some of those things that are his "in Christ", words that are used again, and again, in the epistles. As I write I have the epistle to the Ephesians open in front of me, and I do not think we can do better than make a list of those blessings and graces which we may count as ours because we are "in Christ" - joined in newness of life to our Risen Lord.
The epistle is written to "the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful (meaning those who are full of faith) IN CHRIST JESUS" (Ephesians 1:1).
We are told that God has bestowed on us "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
We are said to be "chosen" IN HIM (Ephesians 1:4) which means that the elect are those, who by the new birth are no longer in Adam, but in Christ - God's Chosen ONE. We are adopted as God's children through Christ Jesus, because of our being IN HIM, and united to Him (Ephesians 1:5).
We are accepted IN HIM (Ephesians 1:6).
We have redemption through His blood IN HIM (Ephesians 1:7).
There is coming a day when "all things... in heaven and which are on earth" are to be gathered together in one" IN HIM (Ephesians 1:10).
We have "an inheritance" IN HIM (Ephesians 1:11).
We have the seal of the "Holy Spirit of promise" IN HIM (Ephesians 1:13).
We have been "quickened together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:5).
We have been "raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places IN CHRIST JESUS" (Ephesians 2:6), which means that IN HIM we are possessors of a reigning life, greater and more powerful than that of any earthly ruler.
We are "created unto good works" IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:10) which means that there is something for you and me to do here in this world, which can be done by nobody else, and can only be done in union with HIM.
We are made near to God IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 2:13).
We are built together with our fellow Christians into a house in which God is seen in this world through the Spirit IN HIM (Ephesians 2:20-22).
All God's eternal purposes for the blessing and enrichment of men are IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 3:8-11).
We may have boldness to go right into the presence of God Himself IN HIM (Ephesians 3:12).
Glory is brought to our God in the Church IN CHRIST JESUS (Ephesians 3:21).
We are made strong to face and conquer all foes IN HIM (Ephesians 6:10).
What riches we have already found! Imagine a diamond mine. In that mine can be found riches, which it is quite impossible to find anywhere else. If you wish for diamonds it is there you must go. If you lack anything in your Christian life there is one mine in which you can find it, and one alone; but there you are sure to find it - IN CHRIST JESUS. IN HIM you may count upon all those things which will make you truly like Him. "For all the promises of God IN HIM are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God ..." (2Corinthians 1:20).
It is not difficult to read the epistles looking for these two words IN CHRIST, or THROUGH CHRIST, and then to take a piece of paper and write down as I have done from the epistle to the Ephesians, those things that are ours IN CHRIST. Anyone able to read and write can do this. It does not call for a great deal of education, but only for a hungry heart that is seeking after God, and is prepared to receive His Word, and seek that it is made real in the life. I sometimes think that one of the greatest triumphs Satan is winning in these days is to keep Christians from looking into their Bibles in this way. God works in grace as He does in nature. He has put into the world the seed necessary for corn, which can be made into bread, but if men do not plant, harvest, grind and bake, they will go hungry. God has placed in His Word all the Christian can possibly need to maintain his new life, but the Christian must read, pray, and apply the truth he finds to his own life, or he will live in a barren desert, never growing in grace, nor being a joy either to himself or others. "Incline thine ear to wisdom," cries the writer of the Book of Proverbs, "and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:2-5). Preaching is necessary, testimony is valuable, fellowship with one another has its place, but there is nothing that can build up the new life in Christ but a personal knowledge of the Word of God, and a humble spirit of personal application to the life of all that is found there.
Now will you look with me at the verse quoted at the head of this chapter - Galatians 2:20. Let us divide the verse into the division into which it falls. 1. I have been crucified with Christ.
This we have already spoken about together.
2. Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.
The new life given to us when we are born again is IN CHRIST, and is made ours as He dwells within us by His Spirit.
Now we come to the practical outworking of these wonderful facts and we are not talking of something strange and mysterious, but of something which makes all our life in this world rich and joyous for ourselves; and also enriches those in our homes, those with whom we work, and meet daily, and those in the Churches to which we belong.
3. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
In other words our daily life, which we live amongst our fellow men is now a life of faith. Some teachers of the Bible say that the faith we live by is the faith of the Son of God, Who Himself is living in us by His Spirit. Others translate these words - "I live by faith in the Son of God". In either case the principle is the same. Our life in this world when we are children of God, is not lived by our own efforts and endeavors, but by drawing for every need on the resources which God has given to us IN CHRIST JESUS. What does this mean? Let me try and illustrate by using one verse of Scripture. We are told in 1Corinthians 1:30, "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption". Suppose I am faced with a situation in which I do not know what to do, what course to take. What do I do? First of all I turn away from my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). I confess to God that in front of me is a problem that is too hard for me, and remind Him that I have been crucified with Christ, and that I believe that He is my wisdom, and that I can face my problem without fear, because as I need it He will give guidance as to what to say and do. In times of temptation I may in just the same way turn away from my own power to resist, and take Him as my righteousness. When conscious that I might be drawn away from God, and out of His plan and will for me, I may also throw myself upon Him as my sanctification, and find myself being drawn to love and desire the will of God above all things. In the day when I can do nothing for myself, If I would, and am called to pass out of time into eternity, whether through the grave or at His coming, I can also look away to Him, and say, "He is my redemption - I am now safe in God's presence for ever."
"Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow!" said the Lord Jesus, having first asked a question, to which all of us have to say - "I cannot!" - "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?" The picture of a man solemnly sitting down, and trying to think himself into growing taller always amuses me. And yet that is what many Christians try to do in their spiritual lives. Then He continues, "They toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these" (Matthew 6:27-30). The reason is that they grow and are given their beauty by the power of God. It is in just this way that you and I may live day by day, by drawing on those things that God has Given us IN CHRIST. We may reckon ourselves to be "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord". It is the simplicity of this reckoning of faith, which is the chief difficulty with many of us. We like something difficult and complicated, but the Lord Jesus said: "I thank Thee O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matthew 11:25). Then almost at once He gives the greatest, and most wonderful invitation ever given to man: "Come unto Me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). The habitual acceptance of this invitation is the one sure way into healthy, useful Christian living.
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