Friday, October 28, 2005
The title of this commentary is the question we ask when we are told something is free. Another expression is “Read the fine line.” Somehow we know that when we are told that something is free it does not really mean free - and, justly so. Free really means - Not imprisoned or enslaved; being at liberty; not controlled by obligation or the will of another; without restraint nor confinement. A more correct word would be Gratis, which means - Without charge, out of kindness, costing nothing, complimentary, gratuitous, free. Maybe that is just the point – nothing in this world is without charge and out of kindness. Maybe that is why we use free instead of gratis. The fact is - for the most part – that in our world, when things are free they come with strings attached or there is an angle or agenda somewhere. We would not have the aforementioned expressions if this were not so. Take for example, the advertising, “Buy one and get one free.” There is an expectation that unless you can comply with the first half of the statement, then you cannot receive the second object free. Since Gratis would really mean free of charge, and with this scheme it is not, the term free is used to hide the fact that we are being lied to, when that marketing scheme is used. Another example is when we are offered free money as in a grant or scholarship. To get the money we must qualify, so there is somewhat of a cost involved in obtaining what it is given for free. Furthermore, very often you not only need to qualify, but the donating party has some expectation from you the receiving party. And the donator’s will make sure you live up to those expectations. This does not seem without cost or out of kindness, either.
No wonder when we hear, “Salvation is free,” we may then ask, “what’s the catch?” We wonder how will we have to prove that we qualify, must we have to purchase or do something in order to get the free part, or is God expecting something in return for what He did for us? We may ask if salvation by subscription? If so, will I have to renew every year? And, if I allow my salvation subscription to lapse, will I have to pay extra to be reinstated? We may think this to be silly. However, this is exactly, what we are being taught. When we say that salvation is only for believers, we say it only for those who qualify. When we say that Salvation is only for those who keep the law, then it is also by qualification. Then if we say that salvation is free but if we do not follow certain historical tenets or traditions than it will be stricken from us, then it is also not free. When we preach that every time we Sin we must be justified again, then Salvation is not free.
Ephesians 2 says that it is by Grace that we are saved. Let us read this passage in Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
We know this, yet do we know what it truly means? Grace means unmerited favor. Grace is a gift we do not deserve. The Dictionary defines grace as, a disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill; mercy; clemency; a favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence. God out of generosity, mercy, and goodwill sent His Son to die, ”that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16.) God did not have to do so. He did it because He loves us unconditionally. Verse 17 continues, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” And, how does God save us through His Son. Ephesians gives us the answer. He put the whole world in Christ, so that corporately, we lived in Christ, we died in Christ, and resurrected in Christ.
This means that Salvation is at no cost to the whole world. We do not have to buy anything, we do not have to qualify, nor prove we are using well what is given to us to be saved. (In fact, outside of Christ we cannot do this no matter how hard we try.) Christ accomplished all that on the Cross – past tense. This fact is objective truth. This fact is Justification by Faith. And, no one can take that away from us. (We can, however, choose to reject the gift.)
Friends, God is not a man that He should lie, when He says salvation is by Grace it means it is at no cost to us. So it is, indeed, free or if you prefer gratis – at no cost with no fine lines, and no catches.
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Friday, October 21, 2005
The term quarantine refers to the isolation of persons, animals, places, and effects that are harboring or are suspected of harboring a communicable disease. Quarantine originally referred to the 40 days of offshore waiting, during which time incoming vessels could not discharge passengers or cargo. This was during the era when plagues of epidemic proportion swept across Europe killing untold numbers of persons. For most of these communicable diseases, there was no cure, hence the need for quarantine. The idea behind this practice was to allow the disease to run its course without the infection of other individuals or populations. If the quarantined individual survived, he or she was usually free from that particular communicable disease. Chicken Pox is an example of such a disease for which there is no cure. When a pustule ruptures, the disease becomes contagious. Hopefully, the infected individual has been diagnosed by this time and has followed the suggested precaution of isolation. After the disease runs its course, the quarantine is lifted for the individual no longer poses a threat to others. Naturally, if a cure existed for Chicken Pox there would be no need for quarantine.
I wonder if quarantine would work for the contagious disease of discouragement? After all, I've never heard of a cure, have you? Yet, this disease is so deadly, that the majority of persons, who are infected with it, just give up. In fact, not only is discouragement deadly to the individual who is carrying it, but it is just as lethal to those with whom the individual associates. You're not sure you've heard of this disease, much less experienced it,' you say. Why certainly you have. You know, it's that feeling of despair in the face of obstacles. 'I have never felt despair,' you say. Well what about disheartenment, or dismay, or just plain feeling down or blue? Sure you have, we all have. You know, in Paul Bunyan's book, "Pilgrim's Progress, the main characters -- Christian and Faith, land in the dungeon of despair, in the Castle of Despondency. Why did that happen to them? Well, in the land of Enchantment they laid down to nap, and were lulled into a wonderfully deep sleep. What a pity! For in this land was the rather large, greasy ogre, who had captured many a trespasser, and never let them go. Now friends, Christian and Faith were isolated from everyone else. (That means they were quarantined). So, although they could hear the moans of the other prisoners, they could not help them, even if they wanted to. Furthermore, Christian and Faith didn't even have the energy to try. What were they to do? They tried jumping up to reach the only window in the cell, but they couldn't jump very high, and soon tired. They were so cold and hungry. Furthermore the cell was dark and damp. Cheerlessly they tried to sing, but that didn't help either, for neither of them could remember the words, nor the tunes.
Just then, Faith remembered the rather rusty little key that hung from Christian's neck. Given to Christian on his journey, he had faithfully worn it around his neck. Faith remembered another thing too, he remembered that the key was especially useful in emergencies and he told Christian so. But Christian was so cold and hungry and tired, that he just groaned and moaned the louder. "Perhaps," thought Faith, "this is such a time." and with that he asked Christian for the key. Christian had trouble getting it, so Faith helped. With some difficulty, out came the rusty little key. It was so small, Faith was afraid he would drop it, but he held on tight. "What are you going to do with that rusty little key Faith?" "Why I'm going to open the lock." "But", protested Christian, "the lock is so large, and the key is so small it won't fit." "Well I'm going to try," replied Faith, and with that he stuck the little key in the big lock. In the lock it seemed to grow a little larger and heavier. "Hmm," thought Faith, just then an almost audible thought came to mind, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'move,' and it will move." "Hey, said Faith, the key grew, but it is still not big enough yet." Just then another thought came to mind, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word." Faith was so excited by now, that he said the verse out loud to Christian. And the key grew larger, and stronger. "Look Christian, look, the key is growing," whispered an excited Faith. Suddenly, the thought that came to mind was even louder and more insistent than all the others had been. "Prayer is the key in the hand of faith that unlocks heaven's storehouse." With that, the key turned in the lock, the jail door opened, and Christian and Faith were able to make their narrow escape.
What is faith? It is believing that Jesus means just what He says in the Word. It is believing that He is faithful and keeps His promises. Above all, faith is knowing what Christ has specifically promised you, and choosing on a daily, even hourly basis to live by those promises. Simply put, faith is your heart and mind's response to believe Christ's Word to you. Accordingly, the Apostle states in 2 Peter:
2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having
escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
If these promises are great and precious, should we not receive them from our Lord? I Corinthians 16:13 says, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith... ." And I Peter 5:9 says that we are to "resist (Satan) steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world." And lastly, Galatians 2:20 reads, "I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." What wonderful promises. Why don't you ask the Lord which ones He has for you today? He will be very to pleased to answer you.
In the above adaptation of Pilgrim's Progress, Faith and Christian were not the only persons overtaken by discouragement. Others were present, moaning and groaning in the same dungeon of despair, for they all had the same disease. Yet only Faith and Christian were cured and able to escape. What was it that freed them? Was it being quarantined, (or isolated) from their peers? No, it wasn't. It was faith in the promise that the key was the solution. Here is a reminder, Ellen White has said, "prayer is the key in the hand of faith ..." (Steps To Christ, p. 94-96). When we feel down and isolate ourselves, we are going contrary to scripture, for nowhere in scripture is it said that isolation is the solution for discouragement.
Scripture establishes that Paul is the author of the letter to the Ephesians, and that it was written while he was in prison. You will no doubt note that the word discouragement does not appear in the letter to the Ephesians. You see, Paul had heard good reports of the church in Ephesus, and was pleased to learn of their continual Faith in God and their unconditional love for others. He wrote in Ephesians:
Ephesians 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Ephesians 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
And yet if the Ephesians were so strong in faith, and love, why write to them? The entire epistle seems like a good bye letter, written as if Paul knew he would not return to their midst. As such it is likely that he sought not only to encourage the Ephesians to continue living 'in Christ,' but to remind them of the doctrines he had taught them. By writing this letter, it is likely Paul desired to forestall the discouragement that is most probably going to come upon them when they realize
that not only is he imprisoned, but that he has gone for good. You see, the members of Ephesus had probably unwittingly become attached to Paul's ministry. After all, he was the greatest example of Godliness they had heretofore seen. Furthermore, he had founded their church. Just imagine how you would feel if an important and tireless leader in your church were to suddenly be taken from you. Imagine how others in your church would feel, particularly if they thought that person was irreplaceable. Not only would the church suffer, but what would happen to the preaching of the gospel? Oh, to the Church at Ephesus, Paul's imprisonment was frightening.
And yet, it was Paul that was imprisoned, it was he that was isolated (or quarantined) but not discouraged. Paul was not without hope for he knew that he had already died 'in Christ,' and was living in Him. Therefore death held no fear for Paul. And so in the midst of prison, he prayed, interceding for the saints at Ephesus. In his hand, Paul held the key to faith. For through the Word, he had the faith of Jesus. Remember the scripture says, "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word..." (Rom. 10:17).
What does this mean to us today who may be tempted to give up? Remember, the Word is your friend, it will: lift your eyes from the view of burdensome daily cares to Jesus; and take your mind off of yourself to joyfully and gladly help others in need. Whatever may be your trials, whether family, work, finances, church issues or health problems, remember, The Faith of Jesus is your answer. You don't need to quarantine or isolate yourself, for if you have this, you will 'never, never, never, never give up,' and the victory that Christ has already won for you will be yours at last.
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Thursday, October 13, 2005
Robert and Gina were siblings who were destined to bounce from home to home. You see, they didn't want to be adopted, they wanted their mommy and daddy back. But mommy and daddy had forfeited not only their right to have Robert and Gina in their custody, but were not even allowed to see them. Their rights as parents had been terminated, and it was permanent. But how Robert and Gina missed them. Yet, there was no going back. Well, you may ask, "did the parents really deserve not even being allowed to see their children?" Sadly, Robert and Gina's parents received exactly what they wanted, for neither parent desired the best for the children. Neither parent called or wrote or attempted to visit the children. They not only never remembered Robert's or Gina's birthday, but they never attempted to financially support them, did not send them to school or feed them. To the parents, Robert and Gina were unwanted burdens and so they left them to fend for themselves. In a heightened state of anxiety and anticipation, Robert and Gina waited and waited for their parents to return, but they never did. Instead someone called the local child and family agency, and the workers came out and rescued them. Robert and Gina were so sure their parents would return, that they did not want to leave. Angry, sullen and reluctant, they were taken out of the home and placed in foster care, as no relatives existed. Still angry at being taken, and hopeful that their parents would return, they refused to cooperate. Young as they were, they thought that if they were bad enough, no one would keep them, and then they could go home; until then, they had decided they could take care of themselves. The day finally came when the workers thought they were old enough to be told that their parents' rights had been terminated by the state. They were so angry that they determined to behave worse than before.
But this foster home was different. The foster parents were gentle, but firm and kind and loving. Furthermore they had determined that they would adopt Robert and Gina. The foster care workers spoke at length with the foster parents, the court and finally with the children, and drew up the papers. All was made in readiness, but still the children resisted. What more could be done for them? It was out of the question for Robert and Gina to return to the place where their parents had left them, for the drug and rodent infested apartment buildings had been razed. There were no other foster homes that wanted them, and they were too young for group home living or emancipation. What could be done? Finally, the foster parents requested Robert and Gina to come into the living room together. There they spoke with the children at length. They told them, "we know that both of you have been waiting for your mom and dad to return." "We also know that you have been angry that their rights have been terminated, and that you don't know where they are or even if they're alive." "We want you to know that we don't want to take your parent's love away from you, and that we will never try." "We just want to adopt both of you and give you the benefits and privileges to which you'd be entitled if you'd been born to us." "We love you and we hope you'll eventually come to love us, but it's your choice." If you were Robert or Gina, what would you choose? Would you choose to be adopted or would you choose otherwise? I'm happy to be able to tell you that both Robert and Gina chose adoption, and came to love their adoptive parents.
Our lesson this week is focuses on 'what God has done.' If someone were to ask you what has God done, what would you say? Would you be able to tell them that every human being that had ever lived, is living or would live (the whole human race) was placed into Christ -- the 2nd Adam -- and that when He lived -- we lived and when He died -- we died in Him and when He was resurrected -- we were resurrected, and that through His blood we have the forgiveness of sins, redemption and have been accepted in the beloved by the Father (I Cor. 15:45, Rom. 5:12 -21, Eph.1:6)? Would you say that by Christ's redeeming blood, He has given every human being the gift of choice, and that who ever would like to be adopted into God's family now has the privilege to do so? The apostle Paul certainly would say these things if he were alive and were asked. How do we know? Because He has said so, in his writings.
In Ephesians 1:4, Paul says that the Father chose us 'in Christ' before the earth had a foundation. Brothers and sisters, this was prior to sin even entering our world, as our world wasn't yet created. How could we be chosen before earth's foundation when we weren't even alive? Well, scripture says that God foreknew us (see Ps. 139 the whole chapter and in particular, vs.14-16). Not only did He choose us, but He placed us 'in Christ.' By the way who is the 'us' He placed in Christ? Why it's the whole world -- not just believers, for by the offence of one -- Adam the 1st -- sin entered the world, and the wages of sin is the second death. In contrast, by the abundant unmerited favor of the Father, the gift of the righteousness of Christ came upon all men so that all were justified and received the gift of life. Just as by the disobedience of one, the many (all) were made sinners -- by the obedience of One, the many were made righteous, and we judge thus, "if one died for all, then were all dead (Romans 5:10-19, 2 Cor. 5:14)." So, in Christ, we -- the human race -- were made right with God. Going back to our true story in which the names where changed, the papers were prepared without the children's consent. They had no say in the preparation, or rectifying of the wrong their parents had done. Just so, we had no say in what the 1st Adam did, which was to plunge us into sin and no say in what the 2nd Adam -- Christ -- did which was to rectify the wrong which our first parent had done.
In our story, did Robert and Gina have a say so as to whether they were adopted or not? Sure they did, and so do we. If Robert and Gina refused to be adopted, no court of law would dishonor their wishes and proceed with the adoption. By the same token, the court of heaven will not dishonor our choice regarding heavenly adoption, it is ours alone to make. Yet, as the prospective adoptive parents attempted to persuade the children to accept the adoption as in their best interest, so the Holy Spirit attempts to persuade us that the Father loves us and would be delighted to adopt us as His sons and daughters. According to Galatians 3:5, Paul says that Christ was sent to redeem all of us who were under the condemnation of the second death (the law), that we might receive (if we so desire) the adoption of sons. (Vs. 6) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Holy spirit into our hearts that we may cry, 'Abba -- Father.'" Galatians 3:26 says "For ye are all the children of God by faith 'in Christ Jesus'." Who are referred to here as the children of God? Those who choose by faith.
Romans 8:15,16 also reiterates the same message. Let's look at verse 15, "For ye've not received the Spirit of bondage (to sin / Satan) again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby ye cry Abba, Father." Verses 16 and 17 add valuable information too. They say, "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God: And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and Joint-heirs with Christ..." Wow, what a wonderful gift has been given to us, and sadly how little we think of it. Many of us are often wondering if the Father truly loves us. Some of us even question whether or not we're really saved. How sad that we think God is far away from us, and has forgotten us. How could a parent who is in his right mind, forget his children? Sometimes human parents do when they're preoccupied, but for the most part, parents do not forget their children. If a loving parent thinks about his or her children and plans for them, wouldn't a perfect God? How could He forget when He does not suffer from the effects of sin?
It seems as if one of the reasons we forget that God loves us is that we resist being led by Him. Somehow, we're still convinced that we can go it alone -- that as long as we live Politically Correct lives, as long as we're nice to people and live a social gospel, we'll be all right. But Romans 8:14 says, "For as many as are led by the (Holy) Spirit of God, they are the sons (and daughters) of God. Could it be that we're still under the dominion of our first parent (Adam the 1st) -- and that we're trying to obey the law so we won't be condemned? What a waste of perfectly good energy. For there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are 'in Christ Jesus,' who walk not after the flesh, but after the Holy Spirit. For it is only the law of the Spirit of life 'in Christ Jesus' that has made us free (already) of the law of sin and death. Brothers and sisters, we've been freed from the condemnation of the second death, by dying 'in Christ' and being raised with Him to sit in heavenly places. The Father has chosen us to be a part of His family 'in Christ,' and our adoption papers have been prepared and signed in His blood. Freely He has given us this wonderful gift, hoping against hope that we will choose to receive and share it with others. He is waiting for our smile of recognition and understanding, anticipating and hoping that we'll choose to love Him in return. The Holy Spirit is prompting us, let us not resist -- for as many as are led by the Holy Spirit -- they are the sons of God.
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Friday, October 07, 2005
A number of farmer's from the same area, decided to have a business meeting. Of particular issue in the discussion, was a group of fruit trees which had failed to yield the expected crop. It wasn't that the trees yielded pears or even apples instead of peaches. No, the trees yielded peaches alright, but they were consistently sour. Nope, nobody was happy, and everybody wanted something done -- right away. So, the farmers were all meeting this day, to decide the fate of their peach trees. You see, they were all concerned because collectively, year after year the farmers had attempted various things to remedy the problem with their trees but to no avail. Now, every farmer was fed up, and each came to one conclusion -- they had all purchased the sour peach seeds from the same shop.
A traveling consultant, having heard of the farmers' dilemma offered his services. He indicated that if allowed, he would study the situation and present his findings at the end of a specified time. Hopeful, all of the farmers agreed and the consultant began his analysis. Today however, was presentation day and the farmers were eagerly awaiting the results of the study.
At the opening of the meeting, the consultant stood to speak and said, "after analyzing your situation it has been determined that all of you have utilized sour seed." Irritated because they knew this, the farmers urged the consultant to tell them something they didn't know. Unfazed, the consultant continued, "there are a number of remedies available, and each is pricey." "One is to treat the trees with additives to increase the fruit size which probably change it's taste." "Another is to uproot the trees, and sow new seeds." At this point one of the farmers asked, "If we go for the first solution, would we have to do this every year?" The consultant nodded and answered, "Yes, sir, you would." Looking at their copy of the report, the farmers silently estimated how much the intervention would cost them. Then another stated, "but, if we uproot the trees wouldn't that mean we would have to replant?" "And if we do that, there won't be a harvest for several years -- that doesn't sound good to me --you know what they say, 'no harvest, no produce, no produce, no money." Frustrated, the farmers began talking amongst themselves. After they quieted down, the consultant answered, "Yes, what you've said is true -- but.." Just then another farmer asked the question they had all been thinking. "What guarantee do we have that the new seeds will not be sour?" Simultaneously, all of the farmers started talking again. After they quieted down, the consultant responded, "unfortunately, there are no guarantees -- you know about that more than I do." "Apparently, not as much as we should," said another farmer joking. They all laughed. Suddenly one of the quietist farmers said softly, "I think what we need is brand new seed -- from another source." Slowly the laughter subsided, and all agreed, brand new seed is just what was needed.
In this story human beings are the trees that produce sour fruit, having come from bad seed. The seed's name was Adam. When God created Adam, He created all of us in him. The Bible says in Genesis 2:7, "And the LORD God formed man of the
dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." In the original, the text says that God breathed the "breaths of life into man ... . " Surprisingly, the plural form of the word is used, and not the singular. So, the text reads "breaths" and not "breath," as is written in most of our bibles. From this we can understand that God breathed into Adam the breath of lives -- all of mankind's lives. So the lives of the whole human race were created in one man: Adam. (Adam in Hebrew actually means mankind.) Acts 17:26 confirms this thought: "And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation." So it is no surprise that if God created all human beings out of one man, when this man sinned, we all sinned. Romans 5:12 says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" This is the basis of the biblical principle of "Solidarity" or "corporate oneness." This principle is also illustrated in the book of Hebrews where we find Levi paying tithes to Melchizedek, despite the fact that Levi was not yet conceived. See Hebrews 7:1-10. How did Levi pay tithes to Melchizedek? Let's take a look at Hebrews 7:
Hebrews 7:9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes to Abraham
Hebrews 7:10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedic met him.
How does this fit our situation today? How does the concept of "corporate oneness," or "solidarity" affect us? Well, although we were not yet conceived -- we were in the loins or in the body of Adam -- so when he (Adam) sinned and his nature was changed, all he could bequeath to us was his nature of sin, therefore we became sinners also. Because of this we suffer the consequences of Sin, and must pay the penalty of the second or eternal death which as we know is not a sleep. This death is eternal separation from God.
Unlike the characters in our story, God is neither a farmer, nor a consultant. He foresaw our Adam's sin and therefore ours and before there was a need, he formulated a solution. We needed Brand New Seed in the form of Adam the 2nd. Among the many places in the Bible in which we find the solution, Romans 5:18 is one of them. It reads: "Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." God solved the Sin problem by putting us, all human beings, in Christ. The whole of the human race, you and I and every human being from Adam to the last person, were put into Christ. Christ became the second or the last Adam. Just as we were in Adam, God by His act of incarnation through the Holy Spirit, put us into Christ so that we were corporately in Him. In bearing us -- our corporate human nature, He bore our Sin /s.
How does this help us? Since we are in Christ, all that He did we did. His life's history has become our history. So when He died the second death, we died with Him, and as He was resurrected on the third day, so were we. Salvation complete and final has been provided in Christ. This is God's gift to Mankind. Why? So that none would perish. For in John 3:16 it says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It is the Father's desire that none should be lost. Abundant provision has been made and if we are lost at last, it will be because we have beat the Father off, and have fully and finally rejected His gift of love. So yes, Christ objectively justified and saved the whole world, but only your and my full and personal acceptance His gift (subjective salvation) will allow us the reward of being the new fruit from the incorruptible seed. Receipt of this Truth (by faith) sanctifies us from Sin's consequences and fits us for Eternal Life. In the personal knowledge of truth is power, for "you shall know the truth and it shall set you free." (John 8:32)
This _expression of "In Christ," is used in Ephesians 1:3-14 approximately ten times. Lets read this passage:
Hebrews 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Hebrews 1:4 According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:
Hebrews 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
Hebrews 1:6 To the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Hebrews 1:7 In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace;
Hebrews 1:8 Wherein He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Hebrews 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:
Hebrews 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:
Hebrews 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will:
Hebrews 1:12 That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Hebrews 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
Hebrews 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.
Based on this passage we can conclude that in Christ were are not: cursed, left to ourselves, to prove ourselves worthy, we are not lost and forlorn, hopeless, aimless, and excluded from God. On the contrary, we are in Christ: blessed, chosen, predestined to adoption, redeemed through His blood, forgiven of Sin, given wisdom and understanding, purposed to know the mystery of His will, first to hope, and included. Christ has justified all mankind -- qualified us for eternal life. So, Jesus is near us, not only in proximity and in sympathy, but also because He has chosen us in Himself. Now, through portal of our choice, He wants to be "in us," to make us fit for Heaven. If we choose to accept Him, one day we will be living with Him eternally.
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