Since I am new to the forums, hopefully no one will try to beat me up for this, at least yet. I have no desire to offend or demean what anyone believes. I simply know how truth works in us and want to present this for consideration.
I’d like to contribute a different perspective regarding our participation in the death of Christ. I believe the lack of power in believers today is, in part, due to an incomplete understanding of what God accomplished in the work of Christ. A major theme of the New Testament is man’s union with God through Jesus Christ.
(One meaning of the word devil is “divider”.’ From the beginning, Satan has worked to divide, in ways we have yet to conceive. He not only seeks to divide people from each other but to divide us from our own selves, especially in our minds. That shows up in many ways. For instance, today many believers think they are three distinct and separate parts and the work of Christ only, yet, applies to the spiritual part, whatever we think that is. This makes it impossible to grasp what God has completed, which means we are always waiting for something more from God to help us.)
So, assuming that all reading this accept that God, in Christ, united Himself with mankind, with no degree of separation, let me jump to my point. In 1 Corinthians 1:6, Paul says the testimony of Christ was confirmed (secured, established, made reliable) in us. There is no suggestion or even hint that this only applies to part of us. In plain English, God has caused Christ’s testimony to be our testimony. Whatever He says about Himself, whatever is true about Him, according to John is true about us, “in this world.”(1 John 4:17) (John was fully cognizant of the fact we live in these bodies of flesh.) When did this become the case? When we rose from the dead with Him and in Him. According to Paul, whatever happened to Him happened to us because we were within Him on that cross. So, per the Bible, when He died, we did, too. When he rose, we did too. Yet, for most people, their experiences seem to tell them something far different. And, our experiences, because of the power of our emotions, can take on a reality that seems greater than anything the Bible says. Thus, many assume that our inclusion into Christ’s death must be something toward which we have to struggle.
But, what if it really did happen to us? What if we have already died and risen with Christ and are, right now, seated with Christ in the heavenlies, hidden in God? Is it possible that God, Who is always in the now, sees something different than we see? Is it possible that we have accepted what we see and feel as being consistent with God’s truth when it isn’t? Paul said we walk by faith not by sight. I think that means we walk by seeing things that can’t be seen with our natural eyes and emotions. So, how are we supposed to see what can’t be seen?
Consider this. If the body of knowledge out of which we lived before believing into Jesus was only His truth, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus. We wouldn’t need the knowledge of God, because we would already have it. But, in Colossians 1:10, Paul speaks of growing or increasing in the knowledge of God. Paul is not referring to knowledge about God but God’s knowledge, what He knows. The desire of all good fathers is for their children to learn what they know without going through the same hardships to learn it. Where would such a desire come from but Him Who is The Father? It is God’s desire that His children increasingly know what He knows.
Speaking of the Gentiles, and us before we believed, Paul says, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them.” (Eph 4:20) That was all of us. We were all ignorant. Did that suddenly change after being born again? Did we all suddenly leap from being ignorant to having only God’s knowledge? I trow not. If any of us already knows what God knows, then why did He give us the New Testament? So, we must accept that Paul’s comment about “so learned Christ” (imperfect tense, Eph 4:20) refers to the fact that we are still learning. Which means that very likely some of what we still know is not what God knows. As long as we have any faulty foundational knowledge in our hearts, (we are never aware of it until the Holy Spirit shows us), that “knowing” can cause a distortion of other things which we believe. Because our foundational knowledge and beliefs are so often out of sight and mind, we do not realize they are affecting our perceptions of everything else. Oh, we are so dependent on the Holy Spirit.
A great problem in the church today is that we have not been taught how we work. What makes us tick? How did God create man to function? We don’t know, so the darkness has a field day with those who have yet to discover how God has, from before the beginning, planned on living His life within us, which includes experiencing the death and resurrection life of Christ. It is a subject that was so well understood by many early believers that it is constantly referenced in the Epistles without the apparent need to engage in a foundational teaching of it, though the existence of such teaching is quite clearly addressed in Hebrews 6:1. Many modern believers (those after the first few generations of believers) seem in the dark about such a crucial subject and thus keep falling into the same traps set by the evil. This is included in a subject that the writer of Hebrews calls “the chief (or first) teachings of the Christ.” We wonder why the people were so stunned at the authority of the teaching of Christ? Because He said things they had never heard anyone say. And what He said made tremendous sense. It gave them understanding. Many left His presence with a whole new mindset. That’s what we need in order to experience the power of the Gospel… a new mindset. Paul called it “the renewal of the mind.” The word “renewal” is a noun not a verb. Paul is telling his readers something that the modern church has totally missed.
So, I contend that the answers to the questions about how we can experience the death and life of Christ lie in understanding our union with Christ and how God’s Word works in our lives. Until we begin to understand some of these things we will continue to embrace what God says isn’t. As long as we believe that we just haven’t yet done it right or that something else needs to happen, we will experience an inward pain that we misunderstand as confirmation that we have yet to get it right.