Friday, September 30, 2016

The Death and Life of a Believer

The Death and Life of a Believer What is meant by you died with Christ and you were made alive with Christ - What does the Inspired Word teach about the Spirit-born believer's identification with Christ's death and identification with His life? It is first of all important that we establish Who the Jesus of Scripture is! He is the Second Person of the Godhead, and is God come into the stream human history - "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form When the fullness of time had come (that is, at God's precise timing), God sent forth His Son, born of woman (He entered into the stream of human history), born under the (Torah) Law, to redeem those who were under the Law (that is, under the condemnation and the guilt of breaking it), so that we (those who have anchored real-faith in Jesus Christ) might receive adoption as (God's legal) sons" (Colossians 2:9 NIV; Galatians 4:4 ESV). Kenneth Wuest's Expanded Translation of the Greek reads - "In Him there is continuously and permanently at home all the fullness of absolute deity in bodily fashion When there came the fullness of the time, God sent off His Son, woman-born, made subject to (the Torah) Law, in order that He might deliver those under Law to the end that we might be placed as adult sons."1 Jesus is God come to us in bodily form to redeem us from the hold that sin and death have over us. The Inspired Scriptures unequivocally declare that God warned Adam that by sin - "you will surely die (literally, 'dying you shall die') For the wages of sin is death" (Genesis 2:16 NIV; Romans 6:23a). Because of an act of disobedience the penalty of death passed to all human beings, and its appetite continues on generation after generation - "Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned" (Romans 5:12 ESV). God has put into the stream of human history two holy and righteous things that align with His holy and righteous nature to direct Mankind back to God and the things of God: The Torah Law: The first holy and righteous thing God placed in the stream of human history was the Torah Law, the first five books of the Inspired Scripture containing 613 positive and negative commandments. The Torah is like a school teacher showing us that we cannot measure up to its righteous and holy standard even with our very best works of merit - "The (Torah) Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out" (Romans 7:12, 18b ESV). The Torah Law though it was a standard of God's righteousness and holiness stood against us by pointing our inequality to its commandments: "For all have sinned (Gk: pantes gar hemarton, from 'hamartano' meaning 'to miss the mark', a panoramic view of Mankind that is doing nothing but breaking God's commandments) and fall short (Gk: kai husterountai, from 'hustereo' present tense, literally, 'and at the present time are short falling', like an archer who constantly falls short of the intended target which is) the glory of God (the target, which we all keep falling short of is the righteousness and holiness of God)" (Romans 3:23). W. M. Conybeare's translation reads - "For all have sinned and none have attained the glorious likeness of God."2 Our behavior continually expresses an attribute of self-centeredness, self-gratification and self-preservation. Mankind, though religious in many respects, has little, if any, regard for God unless we need His help because of our circumstances, or we think we can manipulate Him in some manner to get something we want - "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6a NIV). Yet the Inspired Texts are clear -- God will not commune with those whose nature is incompatible with His nature - "Without holiness no one will see the Lord All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (into an eternity without God)" (Hebrews 12:14b NIV; Isaiah 64:6 NIV). What makes matters worse, as human beings we have a bent in our nature that strives to pronounce our personal unrighteousness and unholiness as OK! When we step back, so to speak, and analyze our own unholy thoughts and unrighteous outward expressions the bent within our nature gives personal approval to these deviations from God's righteousness and holiness. This approval of personal wrong as right, and acceptance of our deviations as good, is where a personal act of rebellion against God takes place - "A stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not set its heart aright, and whose spirit was not faithful to God For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools" (Psalm 78:8 NKJV; Romans 1:21-22 ESV). Our personal deviations from God's holy and righteous Law gives expression to the sphere of separation from Him in which we live day in and day out. Jesus Christ: Secondly, God sent into the stream of human history something else that was holy and righteous only this time it was not an abstract standard, but The Torah Law come alive in flesh and blood - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (Gk: kai theos en ho logos, literally, 'and God was the Word') And the Word (the very righteousness and holiness the Torah Law was an abstract form of) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we (the Lord's apostles) have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth For the (Torah) Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ No one has ever seen God; the only God (referencing Jesus the Messiah-Savior), Who is at the Father's side; He has made Him known (Gk: ekeinos exegesato, from 'ek' meaning 'out' and 'hegeomai' meaning 'to lead forward' or 'declare thoroughly'; literally, Jesus 'has lead out from behind the curtain what God is, declaring Him thoroughly')" (John 1:1, 14, 17-18 ESV). Kenneth Wuest's Expanded Translation of the Greek reads - "In the beginning the Word was existing. And the Word was in fellowship with God the Father. And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity And the Word, entering a new mode of existence, became flesh, and lived in a tent [His physical body] among us. And we gazed with attentive and careful regard and spiritual perception at His glory, a glory such as that of a uniquely-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth Absolute deity in its essence no one has ever yet seen. God uniquely-begotten, He Who is in the bosom of the Father, that One fully explained deity."3 So God the Father sent from the vaults of eternity One Who stepped out of the pages of the Torah, so to speak, One Who is righteousness and holiness in bodily form -- Jesus the Messiah-Savior. On a certain day as He was instructing the crowds Jesus said - "Do not think that I came to destroy the (Torah) Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot (the smallest Hebrew letter) or one tittle (the tiniest accent mark on a Hebrew alphabetic letter) will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled (in and through Me)" (Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV). On the dusty roads of the land of Israel walked the visible righteousness and holiness of God in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth Jesus Mission: Thankfully for us in our helpless state of wayward personal approval, which holds us captive in a sphere of sin, guilt and death, an attribute of the Triune God came shining through into our spiritual darkness - God's infinite love! It was Divine love that brought to the stage of human history The Solution we needed - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son (Jesus), that whoever believes in Him (Gk: hiva pas ho pisteuon eis autov, literally, 'that everyone who places an active-obedient reliance in Him') should not perish (in their unrighteousness and unholiness) but have eternal life" (John 3:16 ESV). Jesus mission was to provide a complete all-sufficient solution to a sinner's state of sin, guilt and death by satisfying the justice of God in the sinner's behalf. Therefore because of His great love for us Jesus voluntarily entered the stream of human history - "Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said, 'Sacrifices and offerings You (referencing God the Father) have not desired, but a (physical) body have You prepared for Me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings (which could never satisfy the justice of God) You have taken no pleasure.' Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God, as it is written of Me in the scroll of the book (the Old Covenant Scripture)'" (Hebrews 10:5-7 ESV). God the Son's mission to provide a complete-sufficient solution for Mankind's state of sin and death was saturated in the love of God for us! You died with Christ: What is meant by - you died with Christ? Jesus Christ voluntarily positioned Himself between the judgment of God, which was going to fall on you, so that it would fall on Him instead - "For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18 ESV). The point of Jesus death on the cross in your place is just this: Through real-effectual faith in Jesus redemptive work on the cross you became identified with His death, so that in essence, you died with Him - "I have been crucified with Christ (Gk: Christo sunestauromai, a compound word, 'sun' meaning 'together with' and 'stauroo' meaning 'to crucify'; literally, 'I have been co-crucified with Christ')" (Galatians 2:20a ESV). According to the New Covenant, Jesus' blood, which was proof of His life poured out in your behalf, is the sufficient atonement that satisfies the justice of God. As a result of your identification with the death of Christ for your sins, here is God the Father's promise to you and to every Spirit-birthed believer whose faith rests in Christ - "'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.' Where there is forgiveness (in and through Jesus Christ), there is no longer any offering for sin (because the penalty for your personal sins has been paid in full, and your record of sins has been wiped clean; expunged)" (Hebrews 10:18 ESV). You have been co-crucified with Christ - you died with Christ -- through real-effectual faith. Thereby the justice of God has been satisfied changing your relationship from Judge and sinner to Heavenly Father and Spirit-born child! You were made alive with Christ: What is meant by - you were made alive with Christ? It isn't enough to have died with Christ, there must be new life regenerated within the one whose faith now rests in Jesus redemptive work! And that is exactly what the Holy Spirit did for you, and for all sinners whose faith takes a strong-effectual grip on Jesus' redemptive work -- "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were (spiritually) dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (Gk: sunezoopoiesen to Christo: sunezoopoiosen is a compound word - 'sun' meaning 'together with' and 'zoopoieo' meaning 'to make alive' or 'to quicken'; literally, the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit 'has quickened us to life with Christ')-by grace you have been saved (from the wrath and judgment of God)" (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV). Kenneth Wuest's Expanded Translation of the Greek reads - "But God, being wealthy in the sphere of mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, and we, being dead with respect to our trespasses, made us alive together with the Christ; by grace have you been saved completely in past time with the present result that you are in a state of salvation which persists through present time."4 The Apostle Paul put these two tremendous truths together - you died with Christ and you were made alive with Christ - when he wrote - "I have been (co-)crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me (not a life of partnership, but a life of all-encompassing yieldedness to the Lord). So that the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith (Gk: en pistei, literally, 'by a fixed-undivided confidence and an unshakeable-secure hope') in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20 ESV). We have seen in this study that what we continuously keep falling short of is -- the glory of God, His righteousness and His holiness, and that God will not commune with any creature human or angelic which is not compatible with these two qualities. We also saw that righteousness and holiness were qualities we could not generate within ourselves. Consequently, because of this dire state of affairs God our Heavenly Father has also taken care of this short falling for us in and through His Royal Son! When we came to Jesus in real faith God wiped away all of our sinful indebtedness, and in its place He credited to our personal accounts the righteousness of His Son, giving us a righteousness of the same quality as God's own. Jesus' righteousness - "will be counted (or credited) to us who believe (Gk: tois pisteuousin, literally, 'the ones having an active-obedient reliance') in Him Who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (that is, God the Father has declared us righteous in His Son)" (Romans 4:24-25 ESV). In summary, the very wonderment of our salvation is that God takes away our sins through our faithing identification with the death of His Son, regenerates eternal life in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, and graciously gives to us the very qualities of righteousness and holiness we lacked. So that Jesus Christ is the complete all-sufficient Solution in every aspect of our short falling before God - "It is because of God the Father that you are in Christ Jesus, the One Who has become for us wisdom from God! (Wisdom in what way?) Because Jesus is our righteousness -- He is our holiness -- and He is our all sufficient redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). Jesus Christ is our all-sufficient Solution both now and throughout all the ages to come - unending! The sphere of freedom and life: Our identification with Jesus Christ by real faith has taken us out of the dreadful-terrifying sphere of sin, guilt and death, and placed us into the magnificent-eternal sphere of freedom and eternal life in Jesus Christ. We have not entered into a void of nothingness, but into a glorious life where we have the freedom to know God, to understand His Spirit-inspired Word of Truth, and to mature in the things of God -- a freedom we did not have in the sphere of bondage and death. It is a freedom to overcome the power of sin -- a freedom where praise and worship before God is according to the beauty of what He is -- a freedom to serve God and minister to each other as the New Covenant priesthood of every believer exercising spiritual gifts -- and a freedom energized by the Spirit of God to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to a spiritually dead and spiritually blind world in which we once walked. Our identification with Jesus Christ brings to us the beautiful-splendor of God's unmerited favor - "For if we have been united with (Gk: sumphutoi gegonamen, from 'sumphuo' meaning 'planted together' or 'to be permanently united with'; literally, if, and we have, 'become permanently united with') Christ in a death like His (which erased our sinful indebtedness by satisfying the justice of God), we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His (that is, a new quality of life energized within us by the Spirit of God). We know that our old self (that was controlled by sin) was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from (the reigning power of) sin For the death Christ died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives (as the resurrected Man) He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin (you died with Christ) and are alive to God in Christ Jesus (because you share His resurrected life!)" (Romans 6:5-7, 10-11 ESV). The freedom you have from the power of sin, guilt and death, has set you alive unto God in Jesus Christ, so that you rejoice in the fact that - "You have died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:3 ESV). And you have the absolute-unshakeable hope that - "When Christ Who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:4 ESV). So you can say each day during your journey of faith - "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Because) whether you live, you live to the Lord, and if you die, you die to the Lord. So then, whether you live or whether you die, you are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living" (Philippians 1:21; Romans 14:8-9 ESV - pronoun changes mine). In Jesus Christ you have been set free into the wondrous-glorious things of God, therefore - "Since you have been raised with Christ (to new life), seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (the Father). Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth (which is ripe for God's judgment) put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Colossians 3:1-2 ESV; Ephesians 24b NIV). Always remember - "For freedom Christ has set us free (into the glorious sphere of life with God) For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Only do not use your freedom (from the sphere of sin and death) as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole (Torah) Law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself' (Therefore) be an imitator of God (Who first loved you), as a beloved child. And walk in love, as Christ loved you and gave Himself up for you, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (in your behalf!)" (Ephesians 5:1-2 pronoun changes mine). And finally as Spirit-birthed children of God - "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all (godly) wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do (in the sphere of freedom you have been placed in), whether in word or deed, do everything in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:16-17 ESV).

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