BY: KENNETH GREATOREX
There is a problem that is weakening the Church, "The Assembly of Called Out Ones," today. It is the mixing of Law with Grace. This has caused much grief to many of us. This is the same problem that the apostle Paul spent much time dealing with it in the infant church. This problem is subtle in its approach because of the well meaning intention of preserving and advancing the grace of God in the life of the believer. Do this and don't do that becomes the rule. It is as if the Grace of God in the death of Jesus Christ was not enough. We need to be mindful of Paul's admonition in Galatians 3:1-3 where he rebuked the Galatian church for adding works [legalism] to the work of the Spirit.
Paul laid down some foundational points in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. He stated that the gospel he preached to the Corinthian church was received by them, to be stood upon, and had brought them to salvation. This gospel was based upon FOUR IMPORTANT FACTS, or NUTS and BOLTS.
Christ died for their sins according to the Scriptures.
He was buried.
He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
The fact of Christ' resurrection was confirmed by more than 500 witnesses, Paul being one of them.
Without these four bedrock facts, Paul's all important exhortation on the resurrection would have been a waste of words.
Recently, during an email interchange of thoughts, I made a statement that may seem excessive to many. "Frankly and radically, I sometimes think if we could tear off the O.T. section from most Bibles, people might be better off. While I am not serious with this statement, the tendency is to live by law rather than the accomplished work of Christ - our very life."
Also I gave a suggested list of six basic lessons that few seem to have really grasped. I too was a long time in learning them. Yet, they are so simple, but so little understood. The world of religion agrees with them, and then says, "Yes, BUT." Then the list of things "to do" and mostly "not do" starts. Having been raised in the legalism of the Pentecostal movement, I was well aware of the way a new convert was treated. Should the one seeking Christ be a woman, then immediately upon arising from the altar, some older sisters would take the woman aside and tell them that they must not wear makeup and most kinds of jewelry again as these were considered very sinful. Of course the list for both genders included where one should nOt go, and things NOT do. It is no wonder that so many never lasted because condemnation would soon set in. We must let the life of Christ in the person make the changes to bring the person into His image.
The basic lesson points that I listed were:
1 - YOU are dead!
2 - Where? - IN Christ
3 - You died in Christ. This is an imperative to understand!
4 - Christ has risen, and is alive in victory & glory
5 - Guess where you are?
6 - There is nothing you could and can do, cause it is all accomplished in Christ.
Since the first three are similar, they will be dealt with together. YOU are DEAD! We agree with Ephesians 2:1 that speaks of our being dead in trespasses and sin, however that is not the point. Many seem to love to dwell upon their sins, and keep hanging onto sin forgetting that Jesus had delivered them from sin. Some like to say that they are a sinner, and will always be one. Can you believe that this is being said while trying to lead others to Jesus Christ. Salvation from sin, comes from death to it.
The point is as Paul said, "I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED with/in Christ." When we are crucified, WE DIE, we, and all of our sin ability. (Discussion of "missing the mark" in believers is a separate matter) After death, we get BURIED. Now WHERE WERE WE when it happened? Our Father placed us IN CHRIST. Romans 6:5 "For if we have been UNITED WITH HIM in the likeness of His death ..." We WERE UNITED, or PLANTED TOGETHER WITH Him in His death. When He died, WE DIED. He was buried and so were we. Can we believe it, WHEN HE DIED, WE DIED IN and WITH CHRIST. How much deader can we get? HIS death is a historical fact, and SO IS OURS!
Now, CHRIST HAS RISEN, and is alive in victory and glory. He arose according to the Scripture and we know there were witnesses to his fact. Since our Father included us in His death, we also were included in His resurrection according to Romans 6:8-11.
"Now if we have DIED WITH Christ, we believe that we shall also LIVE WITH HIM, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but ALIVE to God in Christ Jesus." (NAU) What a victory! Hallelujah!
Acts 2:32 and 33 tell us where He is today. "This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses." AND, "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of the Father ..." So, where are we today? Ephesians Chapter One makes it clear that WE ARE IN CHRIST! Chapter Two makes us to know that "WE ARE SEATED WITH HIM." Yes! We may physically have our feet on terra firma. OUR SPIRITS are reigning now with Him. It is past time for us to stop pecking at the ground like a chicken, and begin to soar as the eagle.
Jonathan Mitchell has translated Galatians 2:20 this way:
"I was crucified together with Christ, and thus it remains (or: I have been jointly put on the crucifixion stake in Christ, and continue thus), yet I continue living! [It is] no longer I, but it is Christ continuously living within ME! (or: No longer an "I" - now Christ constantly lives within, and in union with, me). Now that which I, at the present moment, continue living within flesh, I am constantly living within faith by and in the Son of the God loving me and giving Himself over to another for the sake of me (or: even transmitting Himself, over me; also passing Himself along for me)."
A. T. Robertson comments, "So complete has become Paul's identification with Christ that his separate personality is merged into that of Christ." Norman Grubb describes this union, "CHRIST IS ME."
Therefore, there is nothing to accomplish this that we can or could do, because it is accomplished in Christ. We certainly are LIVING by the life of Another. The life now lived is based upon FAITH. It is not our faith. This is a divinely imparted grace of the heart. It is a walk of rest. The life of a believer can be the hardest thing, or the easiest to live. Do it yourself, and you will fail or be in constant frustration. My counsel, "Stop trying, as you will always fail." It is ONLY Jesus Christ IN you that can live the victorious Christian life. Remember what Colossians 3:3-4 says. "For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."
We are not under the Law, as it was fulfilled in Christ. Galatians 2:19 reminds tells us, "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God." Romans 10:4 is clear, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." To put it briefly, we are under a new law, it is "the law of the Spirit of life," which "has set us free from the law of sin and death."
All too often there has been a failure to understand that when He died - we died. When He was buried - we were buried. When our Father raised Him from the dead - He raised us also. When He was raised and exalted to the right hand of the Father - we were also.
It is important that we know that while any part of the Scriptures may be a blessing to us, we are NOT under Law. The writings of Paul especially, are where we should spent the most of our time. We have received the GRACE of GOD, Christ Himself within us, and we are in Him. Let us rejoice!
The following words, composer unknown, are what I will leave with you all.
Because I live, ye shall live also,
Because I'm risen, ye shall rise also,
I'm the Captain of thy salvation,
The Prince of Life,
Because I live, ye shall live also.
Because I'm in the Father, ye are also,
Because I'm a Son, ye are also,
Because I'm glorified, so shall ye be,
Because I live, ye shall live also.