From the Preacher’s Pen… Relationships are always a challenge. Being friends with someone takes effort and so, too, does being family. Many times we take those relationships for granted and end up estranged, no longer close as we once were. For those family and friends that we really consider important to us, we make the effort to keep close, to not only maintain, but grow that relationship. The same lesson applies to our relationship with our God and Savior.
What We Share in Christ – 2
As Christians we enjoy a very special relationship with each other and, especially, with Christ. Like any especially close and important connection it is important that we not only maintain but grow that rapport. Let’s look at a few more of the snapshots that God gives us of just how special that connection is.
To begin, we must first remember the constant New Testament lesson that all God’s promises and spiritual blessings are only available to those that are IN Christ. Last week we noticed some of the many lessons of Romans 6 so let’s begin with another important passage on this subject, this time in Ephesians:
1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10)
As Romans 6 pointed out, our transition from death to life begins with baptism. So now in Ephesians we again see that, once in Christ, we are made alive (verse 5). In Christ we are raised together with Him (verse 6, again the echo of Romans). The point of all this is to be seated with Christ in Heaven as part of God’s eternal family (verse 6).
It is worth noticing when comparing Romans 6 and Ephesians 2 that God’s marvelous grace is the key to making this transaction complete. Often we hear the nonsense that “if grace saves us, then baptism is not important.” The words of the Holy Spirit in both of these passages makes that a lie. Our baptism is NOT an ACTION we take in saving ourselves by our own power. Our baptism into Christ is entirely a submissive action to God and His will.
We do not baptize ourselves as the Jews did under the Law. Baptism into Christ is ALWAYS in the subjective, we submit to, we allow ourselves to BE baptized. And, in so doing, we die and are buried, and are raised anew, just as our Savior was.
Because we submit to His grace, we are made alive, raised and seated together with Him. This changes everything!
Colossians 3:3 says that our life is now hidden, literally concealed by the life of Christ. Romans 8:17 tells us that this change makes us heirs, co-heirs with Him. As such, we have, again only IN Christ, ALL things, ALL blessings, ALL hope given to us (Romans 8:32).
When we realize all the greatness of God, when we see all the treasures that He possesses, only then do we see how much He freely gives us in Christ.
The real question for us is, Are you IN Christ so that all these promises might be yours?
— Lester P. Bagley