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September 30, 2022 4:00 am
The phrase Christ is something that's often in Christian circles, but do we really understand what that means we'll find out today on Truth for Life as Alistair Begg takes an in-depth look at the meaning and implications of being in Christ were continuing our study in Ephesians Ephesians 2 beginning at verse 11.
Therefore, remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh Colby on circumcision by what is called the circumcision which is made in the flesh by hands. Remember that you wear at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought nearby the blood of Christ, for he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create in himself one new man in place of two, so making peace and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross thereby killing the hostility and he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone in whom the whole structure being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the spirit, amen father as we turn now to the Bible. Please grant to as the aid of the Holy Spirit that we might bow down underneath the truth of your word that we may take our stand upon that our lives may be transformed by for we ask it in Christ's name. Amen.
While we're picking up our study at verse 13. Here and since were going to move very slowly this morning were not going to get beyond the opening phrase in Christ Jesus. I think is perhaps helpful for us at least to see the big picture and the flow of Paul's teaching here as we have it in the passage that I just read you be helped, as I have been by just noticing transitions.
First of all, in verse 11. Therefore, remember, and here's the phrase at one time he comes back to it again in verse 12. At that time. At one time and then in verse 13, but now and then in verse 19 so then all right at one time.
But now, so then at one time he says as we saw last time. In his description of the unbelieving Gentiles.
We had a picture of our pre-Christian reality. And if verses 1 to 10.
Explain the fact of our hopelessness, then verses 11 and following express our helplessness and we saw last time that outside of Christ.
The verdict of the Bible is that we are both hopeless and we are helpless. It points that out not to drive us to despair but to drive us to the only solution to our hopelessness and our helplessness, namely in the gospel of the Lord Jesus. So that's the little section in verse 11 and 12, at one time and then in verse 13 is going on to contrast what he has just said was true of them by nature with what they are now, by grace, and this contrast.
In verse 13 is akin to what he's already done. In verse four. If you look back at verse four. Having in the first three verses outlined their predicament as being enslaved and condemned and dad and so on. He then says but God, being rich in mercy, so God has intervened on their behalf and things will never be the same again.
And that's what he's doing once again in verse 13 and then down in verse 19 when we finally get to it which won't be today. He begins to describe the results of what Christ has done and what he has done is he has brought both Jew and Gentile to the same place. To the foot of the cross. He has provided for them the same salvation in the blood of his son. He has united them in their harmony with one another in Jesus and he is putting together a whole new dimension of reality which she describes here in metaphorical terms in terms of a holy temple in the structure being billed to the Lord.
So now he's pointing out that their identity is directly tied to their experience of community we try and say this consistently, that although we come to Christ as individuals we do not live in him in a solitary fashion. But when we are united with Christ, we are united with all who are then in Christ, and it does not make sense to live than in isolation from those to whom we have been united so they were formerly stateless and he's going to tell them how they have now a whole new citizenship. They were friendless, but now they have a completely new family and they were once alienated by now. They have been joined together all of this actually flows out of this one phrase this morning that I want us to pay attention to it, it's there in verse 13, but now in Christ Jesus.
In Christ Jesus. This actually is the most common description in the Bible of a follower of Jesus that he or she is a person in Christ you might be surprised to be reminded of the fight that neither Jesus nor Paul certainly in their recorded teaching are used the word Christian et al. in-flight Christian only appears in the New Testament three times. I once when Luke explains that the followers of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch and they weren't called Christians or some of it in a nice way.
They were called Christians in a not nice way you Christians you Christian away.
It is also friend Paul gives his testimony before Agrippa and a gripper system. Do you really think you're going to make me one of these Christians in such a short time and the other plays. The only place that is actually using any positive dimension is in first Peter chapter 4 where Peter is speaking about suffering and he says you know if you suffer as a Christian I need using their simply as we most commonly use it mainly as a follower of Jesus, but you know what you think this out.
It makes sense that Paul and he does this over 150 times in his letters over hundred and 60. Actually, not necessarily the exact phrase in Christ Jesus. Synonyms for that essentially he comes to it again and again and again he understands how vital it is that those who have professed faith in Jesus Christ understand that what is happened to them is that there have been united with Christ that they that they live in union with Christ that he is not an add-on to their profession of faith. They are in him and it is on account of the fact of their union with him that everything else flows so that for example when you tell somebody these days of summons is your what are you and you and is and you say well I'm a Christian. While they will often come by gazebo either. What is that mean or what kind of Christian are you, and so on, and the term itself is not actually particularly helpful because you constantly have to go back and explain. No, not one of those no more like this more like that so we could make a case for saying that when you started. Just tell people to say what are you say I am I am in Christ Jesus there, so that's a strange thing to say. You say yes I did it deliberately because I wanted to tell you what it actually means, and they will say you mean to does it mean to be in sight. Christ the way my keys are inside my glovebox or the way my clothes are in my closet inside Christ know we will say no, it doesn't mean that a tall it means to be united to Christ. The way Lynn is part of a body or the way a branch is part of the vine. In other words, that the union that exists is a personal organic union that is brought about as we seen already in Ephesians here as a result of God's gracious initiative. Note the danger in doing what I'm going to do the balance of time and sticking with one phrase is that it becomes a bit of a rabbit trail and I confess that it is a purposeful rabbit trail which I hope you will agree with. By the time I finish. If you don't then let me apologize in advance, but let me turn into a number of passages in the Bible. First of all, in John chapter 15 because it is here in John 15 that Jesus uses this very terminology concerning the vine and the branches. In fact, in chapter 14 and verse 20 Wendy's thinking about leaving his followers. He says I will leave you as orphans. This is the 18 verse John 14 I will come to you. Chapter 14 and yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me because I live, you also will live in that day you will know that I am in my father and you in me and I in you. That's quite a thought is that the context in which his followers find themselves is that they are united in Christ. They are included in Christ. And so when he goes into chapter 15.
He picks a picture that would be familiar to them. The vine and the branches and he says I am the true vine. My father is the vine dresser and every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit is not our purpose this morning to stop here, but let's just notice in passing that to be in Christ to be in the in the vine is aware is to be pruned and all pruning is purposeful.
Sometimes it is painful it may often look haphazard from where we are sitting but in the economy of God. It never is the vine dresser knows exactly what he's doing and when he prunes us when we feel as a where the knife of his pruning on ours. It is in order, were told in order that we, then, the branches may bear more fruit ready verse three your clean because of the word I've spoken to you by in me and I in you, he goes on to say, as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, either can you unless you abide in me any any sensible schoolboy can get a hold of this apart from me goes on to say you can do nothing.
So the reality of our Christian experience is that we are united with Christ.
We are placed into Christ not in sight of Christ. In fact, there are two sides to this because the Bible also speaks invite Jesus here is speaking of he being in Oz by the Holy Spirit and we being in him by the Holy Spirit. Two sides of one client expressing the fact of our union with Christ classically and Paul two Corinthians 5 if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
And of course Paul is going to want to speak about this new creation that God is making that comprises all who are redeemed put in this new family brought together in a tribe that no one will be able ultimately to number that will of every flavor and category in language and picture and and and face that we could ever imagine. And one great gigantic jigsaw puzzle of God's grace. That's what he's doing and every time that another phase is added to the Colossians where it is a testimony to the wonder of God's goodness. Note the reason this is so important is because it establishes your identity as a believer you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is your identity you are in Christ Jesus, you're not in it doesn't mean that because you have an admiration for Jesus because you like the ethics of the sermon on the mound because you are able to rehearse the creeds know it means that you by grace through faith have been personally organically brought into a relationship with Jesus which can only be described in this terminology in the mystery of it in the wonder of it in the in the entire nature of it is vital that we understand it, because if we don't understand it as individuals and as a congregation, then we will tell the wrong story and we will lead people up the wrong path over talking about here is what God has done for us in Jesus. The authentic follower of Jesus is in him know Paul is described for these Ephesians reminded them the Gentiles of the way in which this came about in their life's if you go back to chapter 1 of Ephesians. You will recall, I hope that having spoken of those who were the first to hope in Christ, namely the Jews. Because salvation is a first for the Jew and then for the Gentile. All the early believers were Jewish. We including himself. And when that group with our group.
Also, as we verse 12 for the first open Christ, might be to the praise of his glory than verse 13 in him. Notice again in him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation believed in him and were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. So this is of absolute vital importance when these folks we harass the story of God's grace in their life's they would have marveled at all that Paula said in Ephesians 1, they would've said you know the amazing thing about this is that I was chosen in my maker. I was hidden in my Savior. And this before even the mountains were formed and some system while.
How about how did you personally. You know, engage with this and they would've said well verse 13 I Herod the word of truth, I realized it was the gospel of salvation. I believed it and I was sealed I was authenticated. I was marked with the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life. God invaded my life. This is something that I actually did. I believe we've said this before, and we need to keep seeing it that while God elects to salvation. He doesn't believe Phares we believe John chapter 1 go there as part of the rabbit trail but let me quote it to you.
He came to his own his own people didn't receive him by and large, but to all who did notice the verb receive him. Notice the verb who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God unless a man is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God. A lady once said to George Whitfield when he was preaching she said with you. Why do you keep saying to people you must be born again, and Whitfield said because you must be born again. There is no other way. Well, did you bring about your own birth, physically, no spiritually know all I know that somebody told you Eunice to turn to Christ and be repented of your sins and you did all that and it seemed like you were doing everything but now you've gone along the road a little while, and you keep looking back and further back in further bags that you know it's remarkable that I was even there. It's remarkable that he gave me that book is remarkable that she shared with me what she did and as you trace the line further back where you trace it to you trace it to eternity in him you hair the gospel you believe are the factors in this is what Paul is of course pointing out in the classic section of the eight, nine and 10 of chapter 2 that the faith our faith, our lien holder of the promises of God is actually rooted in the activity of God.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, your faith in this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, so the identity that is ours in Christ and the mystery of the work of Christ.
Are there with each other.
Paul in Romans as you know begins by showing how the whole world is accountable for God. All have sinned and have come short of the glory of God points out that there is no way that we can work out our condition and put ourselves in a right standing with God.
He then says for the glory of the good news is that the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law and it is it is that was the law and the prophets have testified to, but it is the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
Okay, so a righteousness that is alien to us through Jesus Christ.
As a result of what Christ is done he is The law and its perfection is the only righteous man that ever lived. He has borne the penalty of sin which we deserve, but he too can our place and now that righteousness is imputed to all who believe.
Therefore, it is not to those who don't believe as Calvin says all that Christ has done for us is of no value to us, so long as we remain outside of Christ, so that there is an appropriation.
There is an acceptance. There is a gift that is to be received and whether that takes place instantaneously in a great dramatic moment whether it takes place over a period of time.
Whatever way it comes about.
Eventually the person begins to sing the songs and suddenly says you know I actually believe this, something has happened to me. I guess I have been born from above and I believe is about as a result of believing I know myself to be included in this company. The gospel is the promise of forgiveness and transformation for those who are in Christ listing to Truth for Life that is Alistair Begg with part one of a message called in Christ Jesus you like to know more about what it means to be in Christ Jesus. Let me encourage you to visit Truth for Life.org/learn more you find a couple of brief videos there in several short series to help you get started now.
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