6 Things It Means to Be in Jesus

Taken from Solid Joys for 29th August 2013

[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. (2 Timothy 1:9)

Being “in Christ Jesus” is a stupendous reality. It is breathtaking what it means to be in Christ. United to Christ. Bound to Christ.

If you are “in Christ” listen to what it means for you:

1. In Christ Jesus you were given grace before the world was created. 2 Timothy 1:9, “He gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

2. In Christ Jesus you were chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.

3. In Christ Jesus you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38–39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

4. In Christ Jesus you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins. Ephesians 1:7, “In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.

5. In Christ Jesus you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to you. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

6. In Christ Jesus you have become a new creation and a son of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Galatians 3:26, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Shadows and Streams

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke! I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. (Psalm 104:31–34)

God rejoices in the works of creation because they point us beyond themselves to God himself.

God means for us to be stunned and awed by his work of creation. But not for its own sake. He means for us to look at his creation and say: If the mere work of his fingers (just his fingers! Psalm 8:3) is so full of wisdom and power and grandeur and majesty and beauty, what must this God be like in himself!

These are but the backside of his glory, as it were, darkly seen through a glass. What will it be to see the Creator himself! Not his works! A billion galaxies will not satisfy the human soul. God and God alone is the soul’s end.

Jonathan Edwards expressed it like this:

The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. . . . [These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.

This is why Psalm 104 (verses 31–34) comes to a close like this, with a focus on God himself. In the end it will not be the seas or the mountains or the canyons or the water spiders or the clouds or the great galaxies that fill our hearts to breaking with wonder and fill our mouths with eternal praise. It will be God.

When God’s Love is Sweetest

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. (Ephesians 5:25–26)

If you only hope for unconditional love from God, your hope is great, but too small.

Unconditional love from God is not the sweetest experience of his love. The sweetest experience is when his love says: “I have made you so much like my Son that I delight to see you and be with you. You are a pleasure to me, because you are so radiant with my glory.”

This sweetest experience is conditional on our transformation into the kind of people whose emotions and choices and actions please God.

Unconditional love is the source and foundation of the human transformation that makes the sweetness of conditional love possible. If God did not love us unconditionally, he would not penetrate our unattractive lives, bring us to faith, unite us to Christ, give us his Spirit, and make us progressively like Jesus.

But when he unconditionally chooses us, and sends Christ to die for us, and regenerates us, he puts in motion an unstoppable process of transformation that makes us glorious. He gives us a splendor to match his favorite kind.

We see this in Ephesians 5:25–26. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her [unconditional love], that he might sanctify her . . . and present the church to himself in splendor” — the condition in which he delights.

It is unspeakably wonderful that God would unconditionally set his favor on us while we are still unbelieving sinners. The ultimate reason this is wonderful is that this unconditional love brings us into the everlasting enjoyment of his glorious presence.

But the apex of that enjoyment is that we not only see his glory, but also reflect it.

“The name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and
you in him” (2 Thessalonians 1:12).

Pleased to Praise

Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67:3, 5)

Why does God demand we must praise God?

C.S. Lewis:

Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?”

The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

There is the solution! We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value and celebrate what we love and praise what we admire, our joy could not be full.

So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, he must not only give us himself; he must also win from us the praise of our hearts — not because he needs to shore up some weakness in himself or compensate for some deficiency, but because he loves us and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising him, the most magnificent of all beings.

If he is truly for us, he must be for himself! God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking his own praise is the ultimately loving act. For him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When he does all things “for the praise of his glory,” he preserves for us and offers to us the only thing in all the world that can satisfy our longings.

God is for us! And the foundation of this love is that God has been, is now, and always will be for himself.

What the Resurrection Means

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)

The meaning of the resurrection is that God is for us. He aims to close ranks with us. He aims to overcome all our sense of abandonment and alienation.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s declaration to Israel and to the world that we cannot work our way to glory but that he intends to do the impossible to get us there.

The resurrection is the promise of God that all who trust Jesus will be the beneficiaries of God’s power to lead us in paths of righteousness and through the valley of death.

Therefore, believing in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead is much more than accepting a fact. It means being confident that God is for you, that he has closed ranks with you, that he is transforming your life, and that he will save you for eternal joy.

Believing in the resurrection means trusting in all the promises of life and hope and righteousness for which it stands.

It means being so confident of God’s power and love that no fear of worldly loss or greed for worldly gain will lure us to disobey his will.

That’s the difference between Satan and the saints. O, might God circumcise our hearts to love him and to rest in the resurrection of his Son.

God Forgives and Is Still Fair

The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die. (2 Samuel 12:13–14)

This is outrageous. Uriah is dead. Bathsheba is raped. The baby will die. And Nathan says, “The Lord has put away your sin.”

Just like that? David committed adultery. He ordered murder. He lied. He “despised the word of the Lord.” He “scorned God.” And the Lord “put away [his] sin.”

What kind of a righteous judge is God? You don’t just pass over rape and murder and lying. Righteous judges don’t do that.

Here is what Paul said in Romans 3:25–26:

God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

In other words, the outrage that we feel when God seems to simply pass over David’s sin would be good outrage if God were simply sweeping David’s sin under the rug. He is not.

God sees from the time of David down the centuries to the death of his Son, Jesus Christ, who would die in David’s place, so that David’s faith in God’s mercy and God’s future redeeming work unites David with Christ. And in God’s all-knowing mind, David’s sins are counted as Christ’s sins and Christ’s righteousness is counted as his righteousness, and God justly passes over David’s sin.

The death of the Son of God is outrageous enough, and the glory of God that it upholds is great enough, that God is vindicated in passing over David’s adultery and murder and lying.

And so God maintains his perfect righteousness and justice while at the same time showing mercy to those who have faith in Jesus, no matter how many or how monstrous their sins. This is good news.

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