A-e010 What does it mean "To be in Christ"?
The Lord wants to bless us, for He is a good God, a wonderful God. He wants everyone to know Him ; He also wants all those who do know Him to learn to know Him better. Indeed, the better we know Him, the more we long for a deeper knowledge of Him. The knowledge that we have of God will be ours in heaven throughout all eternity. He will continually reveal to us who He is, and He has already begun to do so. Tonight I would like to speak about something absolutely vital. As I was reading from the Bible, I was thinking : "Lord, this is amazing. Lord, open our eyes !" and saying : "Lord, open my eyes !". When I see what is written there, it is as if I was reading it for the first time, although it is already familiar to me. When we read that Word with open hearts that truly long to know God, we are renewed in the knowledge of those things, and they become alive in a new way.
So tonight I would like to speak to you about a statement we find in the Bible, which says that "we are in Christ". What does that mean, and what is involved in "being in Christ" ? The Bible often says : "to those who are in Christ", "to the Church that is in Christ", "you who are in Christ", "I who am in Christ". To make a detailed study of what it means would require several evenings instead of one. So I will try to condense it into a single message, so that we have an insight into what the Bible means when it tells us that "we are in Christ".
The very first thing that is required of us is to be in Christ. It is impossible to receive the wonderful things God wants to grant us unless we are in Christ. So what does "being in Christ" involve, and what is it that God has in store for those who are in Him ?
When you look at the world around you nowadays, you can see where it is going. If you listen to the news and take a look at the headlines in the papers, you realise that the world is on the wrong track, and even that it is going from bad to worse.
You also realise now that you can only be in one position or the other. I am not referring to believing - or not believing - in God, for most people will tell you that they believe in God. What I mean is that you can only be in one of two positions : either you are in Christ, or you are outside Him.
When we are in Jesus, we receive His Spirit, who is constantly at work transforming us, so that He can use us. When we are outside Jesus, we are in darkness and in death. The whole world around us is unaware of the fact that it heading for death and for the pit. But the Lord Jesus is pouring out His Spirit, calling all those who are not yet in Him to enter into Him, into the ark of salvation, into the stronghold, into Jesus.
So what are we, "in Jesus" ? This is not only for those who are in Him, but also for those who are not. Some of those who are going to listen to this tape are not in Jesus. My heart's desire, and also the Lord's desire is to make them want to enter into Jesus, and not just listen to a message, but to say : "I, for one, would like to be in Jesus. What must one do in order to enter into Jesus ? Because when I hear of the things God has in store for those who are in Jesus Christ, I long to enter into Him and to dwell in Him." For those who already are in Jesus, this message is not only to remind them of what they already know, but also to open their eyes still wider to the wonders God has in store for those who are in Jesus. God has already supplied this wonderful provision, so that all we need to do now is to draw on it. There is a tremendous difference between something that has been promised, and something that has already been supplied to us. In Jesus, some of the things that are ours have already been supplied, so all we need is to understand what they are, and to use them ; some other things are promises yet to be fulfilled. So there is going to be something for everyone, Halleluia !
The very first thing we need to know is this : the Bible tells us that we absolutely must be in Jesus, and we must know whether we are in Him or not. We absolutely must enter into Jesus Christ, for unless we dwell in Him, we dwell in death.
I would like to read, first of all, from Colossians, chapter 2, verse 6. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord." Paul is addressing Gentiles, here. The Colossians were not Jews, but Gentiles, and they had received the Lord Jesus. "As you have received him, also walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."
Paul is telling them: "You did not know Jesus ; but now you have entered into Him. As you have received Him, He has entered into you, and as He entered into you, you entered into Him." Both statements are true. "Now that you are in Him, continue, go on walking in Him, rooted and built up in Him." What a powerful statement ! In our heart of hearts, we need to be fully aware that "to be converted" does not mean switching from one religion to another, or "getting religious". To be converted is to enter into God through Jesus Christ, so that through Jesus, God enters into us and we enter into Him. Jesus is the way in : there is no other way. Nobody can enter into God without going through Jesus. That is why all the religions in the world have got it wrong. All religions are born of human effort, when man tries to hoist himself up to God. But nobody can ever manage to hoist himself up to God. God had to come down to us, by sending Jesus into the world, and Jesus is the door through which we can enter into God. He Himself is the door : and a door is for entering into something. And once you are in Him, you go on walking in Him, all the way. When Paul addresses the Churches, he says to the Thessalonians, for instance : "To the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ".
So every Christian is in Christ, and Paul is aware of that, because he says so to the Thessalonians. In 1 Corinthians 1:30, Paul makes a very important statement : on our own, we are totally unable to enter into Christ : there is no way we can push the door open. It simply can't be done. God Himself has to take us into Christ. "Through Him you are in Christ Jesus."It is God who has taken you into Jesus ; "Through Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." So God has lifted us out of that kingdom of destruction we used to dwell in and He has transferred us into Jesus. He says this in another verse, in Colossians 1:13. How wonderful it is to know that it is God Himself who transfers us into Christ, because we are utterly unable to reach the goal ourselves. Of course, there is something that we have to do, because God will never forcibly transfer anyone into Christ unless he is seeking to be taken and unless his heart is open. So we need to open up our hearts to Him, and say what we have to say to Him. Then God the Father transfers us into Christ.
In Colossians 1:12, Paul says : "Giving thanks to the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,(and presently I am going to say something about that inheritance) who has delivered us from the power of darkness." To start with, God snatched us away from the devil : He delivered us out of the devil's clutches through the blood of Jesus, and transferred us not merely into a kingdom that is ruled by His Son, but into Himself, into His Son who is the King and the Head of His Body. That is accomplished through the blood that Jesus shed for us, provided we put our faith in Him. God has snatched us away from the powers of darkness, and transferred us into the Kingdom of His Son. I find that tremendously significant : not only did God take me into his Kingdom, but into Himself, into His Son Jesus, making me a part of Him, since I am now a member of His Body. "He has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son", the kingdom of His beloved Son, "in whom we have redemption through his blood, that is to say the forgiveness of sins". In Him, God the Father has transferred us into Jesus Himself. How beautiful, how glorious !
In Ephesians 5:30, Paul says to the Christians : "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." That is a miracle : the Bible says that we are a part of His flesh, a part of His bones. Some versions of the Bible have left that part of the verse out, but it is to be found in the good versions. Now Jesus has a resurrected body of glorified flesh ; and Paul says that we are part of His flesh and bone of His bones, now that we are in Him. In 1 Corinthians 6:17 he also says :"he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit". That is an equally powerful statement. Paul does not say that we have simply received part of the Lord's Spirit : he goes so far as to say that the one who is joined to the Lord is more than a body that has miraculously become part of the Lord's Body : he is now one spirit with Him. So you see how deeply we have been planted into Jesus. We are truly part of His flesh and of His Spirit. To understand those things, beloved, we need a revelation from God through the Holy Spirit. All I can do is speak about those things, but I am relying on the work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts so that our eyes will be opened and our hearts enabled to understand. That is what we are in Him.
I am now going to speak about what we are, according to the Bible, when we are in Christ ; then lastly, I shall explain how we can enter into Him, and how we can be assured that we are indeed in Jesus.
What, then, does the Bible say we are, once we are in Christ ? Once we have fulfilled the conditions that God lays down for us, once we have accepted the Lord as our Saviour and our Lord, once God the Father has transferred us into Christ, the Bible declares :"Once you are in Christ, you are this, and you are that ; and you have this, and that." Let us now see what this involves. To make it simpler I have distributed what the Bible says we are in Christ under three main headings.
My first point is the following : to all those who are in Christ, God grants privileges. A privilege is something that is exclusively reserved for a certain category of people. It is not that God has favourites : He would like everybody to enjoy those privileges. It is just that some accept them, and others refuse them. God cannot grant those privileges to those who refuse them. Suppose you say to Him : "I don't want you, neither do I want the blessings you wish to grant me", then of course you won't receive anything, for God respects you. But if you say to God : "Lord, I want You, and I want those blessings of Yours, I want those privileges", then He will freely bestow them on you. God will show you what they are, they will be revealed to you, He will explain what they are and then all you have to do is to help yourself to them through faith.
Here is the first set of blessings that is granted to all those who are in Christ : in Christ, we are utterly dead to all that is past and all that belongs to this sinful world all around us. I have already spoken about those things, but they are so vitally important that will mention them again, briefly.
It must be perfectly clear to us that when we enter into Christ, God does not want us to be burdened down by anything from our past life. Each of us knows perfectly well what our past life was like, so we don't need to go into the details of it now : it is something bad, something rotten. In God's sight there is no such thing as a "good sinner" and a "bad sinner" : there are just sinners, and every one of us was born a sinner. From the start, our nature is sinful, we are born into sin, and all of us have sinned. God cannot transfer us into Christ with a nature like that. He is not merely going to wipe away our sins and be satisfied with that. He wants to put to death everything that belongs to our former sinful nature. It needs to be destroyed and utterly put to death. That was done in Christ, when He died on the Cross. The Bible says that for all those who believe in Him, everything that belongs to our old sinful nature died in Him, on that Cross. What an amazing gift ! If it were not so, we would go on dragging our old past life forever, like a millstone round our necks, and we would have to go on bearing the consequences of our sins. God does not want us to do that, even if we can still detect the consequences of our past sins in our present life. God wants to remove them completely, because in Him, we have become new creatures. He wants us to be transformed from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes ; and that is precisely what He has already done, in Christ.
I am going to quote some Scriptures about the meaning of our death in Christ, when He died on the Cross two thousand years ago. Perhaps you could write down the references.
In Ephesians 1:7, in Him "we have redemption through his blood." That means that once we have entered into Jesus, as soon as we enter, His blood blots out all our past sins, because we have asked for God's forgiveness in Jesus' Name.
Further on, in Ephesians 4:32 : "God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you." The meaning is the same. When we enter into Him, Jesus' blood atones for all our past sins. Since we died with Him, through His death all our sins are blotted out, and through His blood, we obtain complete forgiveness.
In Romans 6:3, "Do you not know that all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death ? "Baptised into Him" means "plunged, immersed into Him". What a beautiful thought : God has not merely "placed us in Christ", He has completely immersed us into Him.
In Romans 6:6 we read : "Knowing that our old man (that is to say our former nature) is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, so that we should no longer serve sin." This is both for those who already are in Christ and for those who are not. Let it be made known to those who are not in Christ that we can be fully delivered from this "body of sin" that urges us to keep on sinning, because when Christ died, you died with Him. Let those of us who are in Christ ask the Lord for a deeper revelation of the slaying of that old nature of ours that sometimes causes so much trouble. We know for a fact that our former nature was nailed to the Cross with Jesus and that it died with Him. That has been done ; it is not something that has to achieved sometime later on. All we need to do is receive the revelation of it, believe it, and hold fast to it in our hearts. My former nature died in Christ. When God transferred me into Him, first He transferred me into Jesus' death, because Jesus died.
In Romans 8:2 : "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death" that held me captive.
In Galatians 2:20 : "I am crucified with Christ." Crucified with Jesus. That is perfectly clear. So, beloved, don't say to the Lord : "Lord, help me to crucify my flesh". That is a prayer God doesn't like to hear. Say : "Lord, thank You because You have said that my flesh has been crucified in You. Just open my eyes and my heart to Your truth, so that I can receive it into my heart, make it mine by faith, so as to walk in it daily ; let me receive it as a revelation !
In Galatians 6:14, the Lord says something wonderful : "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world."
Since I have been crucified with Jesus, since I died in Him and with Him, the world all around me, which is ruled by Satan and by sin, has been crucified for me, just as I have been crucified for it : I am now free from the law of sin that governs this world. And the world has forever lost its appeal for those who have been crucified with Jesus. To understand that I have been crucified for this world is to know that death has come and interposed itself between the world and myself. A dead man is no longer tempted by the world : the world is powerless to tempt him. Try it and see.
So if through a revelation from the Holy Spirit I understand that I have been crucified, the world is crucified for me ; it has been entirely swallowed up into Jesus' death, and I myself, to start with, have been immersed into death - death to the whole of my past life, death to my former nature, to this world of sin, to everything ; in Christ, I died when He did.
It is of prime importance for us to know about the second set of blessings that God provides for those who are in Christ.
Indeed, we could not have gone any further, had Christ not risen from the dead : as Paul says to the Corinthians, "if Christ is not risen, you are still in your sins"; we would be still be dead in our sins. Our sinful nature was such that it deserved to die. It had to die. Christ died for us, and we died in Him. But that was not all ; otherwise, we would have remained dead in our sins. But Christ did rise from the dead, and in Him, we receive His resurrection life with all that it involves : new life in Him. It is not just a new teaching, or a new religion that you are going to receive, but God's very own life, given to you through Christ ; it is God's life entering into you, re-creating you through and through. You are a new creation.
So that second set of blessings, which Jesus obtained at such great cost and which is His free gift to us, involves our being born again to a life that is entirely new in every respect, and that is eternal. It will never end : it will be ours for ever and ever.
Here are just a few of the many verses I could read to you on this subject. In 2 Corinthians 5: "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature." The Greek is more powerful still : "he is a new creation". That means that as soon as you have accepted Jesus as your Saviour and your Lord, God works a tremendous miracle : He puts to death the whole of your former nature which already died two thousand years ago in Christ, and through the power of His Spirit, He creates within you a brand new nature.
Jesus' resurrection from the dead was an amazing event. He had been in the grave for three days : all his vital functions had stopped and His spirit had departed. Then through the power of God's Spirit, he became alive again, eternally alive, for Christ risen from the dead will die no more. He has a wonderful glorified body endowed with every divine capacity, and an eternal, living, life-giving Spirit. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, as soon as you give yourself to Jesus, that same Holy Spirit enters into you, and creates in you a new spirit that comes into you and is established within you through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
However, that is something that goes on deep down inside us, and the work of the Lord is to open our eyes to the reality of that first stage. Our bodies have not undergone any change yet, and neither have our souls, but deep down within us, the Lord changes our spirits and gives us His everlasting life in Christ. He promises that all the rest will be changed as well, and that even our bodies will be resurrected when Jesus returns. Then we shall receive the fullness of what we are in Christ a new creation.
"The old things have passed away ; see, all things have become new." Your body should no longer be a problem, since it is dead in Christ. That is what we need to grasp through the revelation of the Holy Spirit deep down in our hearts, so as to be able to walk in the Spirit, through faith. We are taught to do that by the Lord, who is our master and our helper. You are a new creation !
Ephesians 2:1 says : "You.who were dead in trespasses and sins." Before we knew Jesus, before we were in Him, in God's sight we were dead. If physical death had overtaken us then, we would have gone to hell forever. But God, who is love, and who loves us, does not want us to go there. So He sent Jesus to us. He does not want us to spend eternity in hell : He loves His creatures too much. That is why He asked Jesus to come and deliver us out of this kingdom of darkness into His kingdom of light. "You were dead in your trespasses and sins.and among whom also we all once conducted ourselves."
But verse 4 says: "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us." That is what counts. Let us always remember that God seeks to have us with Him because He loves us. Yes, say it out loud, all of you ! He is not a vindictive God trying to hit us with a stick every time we sin. God loves us. Anyone can love a lovable person, but there was nothing lovable about us in God's sight ! It is because of his great love with which He loved us, the unlovable ones, that He sent Jesus to change us through and through, we who were dead in our sins. He restored us to life in Christ, to His very own Life ("it is by grace that you are saved"), and He resurrected us together when Jesus rose from the dead, out of the darkness into the light, and seated us together in heavenly places in Jesus Christ. The past tense is used here. It means that now those who are in Christ have been delivered out of the kingdom of darkness into the light, and are seated in spirit in the heavenly places with Jesus. Your bodies are sitting here in this room, but Jesus says that in spirit, we are seated with Him in the heavenly places. Where is Jesus now ? He seated at the right hand of the Father, and He is preparing to come back for us. But as He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and since we are in Him, we too are seated, in Him, at the right hand of the Father.
In Ephesians 2:10 we read : "For we are His workmanship, (whatever God does is well done, and unlike us, God never does anything wrong) created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he has predestined us to practise." You see, it is truly a new creation, and nothing from the past remains. God has made us brand new creatures in Jesus, and He says : "Now, don't you worry. I've got work for you to do, and it has been prepared beforehand ; all you have to do is to step into it. I have prepared a great many good things for you to do ; and it is through My power that you will do them." If you are in Christ, it is all yours ; there is a new creation, is that clear ? Have you grasped that it means stepping into a wholly new life ?
Now here is the third set of blessings that God has for us : when we enter into that new life, God says that we have all things in Christ and are complete in Him. "Complete" means complete ! Beloved, the Lord doesn't want us to be whining Christians who are always saying : "I haven't got this, I haven't got that." It may well be that this or that has not yet been manifested in your life. But if your heart understands that in Christ, you are already complete, and that everything has been given to you, if you retain that faith and that trust in your Lord who loves you, you will see all those things manifested in your life, already on this earth and in the hereafter, in eternity. You are complete in Him. Be assured that the Lord is at work to grant you the enjoyment of all those things, down here and throughout all eternity. I am only going to mention the main blessings that God bestows on us. They are included in that new life He gives us, and not added to it. Some of them are specifically mentioned in the Bible. So when we are in Jesus, we can remind ourselves of what we already have in Him, because all our needs are met in a very practical way.
"To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles : which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (As I said, we are in Christ, and Christ is also in us). Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus." (Col. 1:27-28). You can see the connection between those two verses : it is because Christ is in us that we can be made perfect in Him ; it is He who does the work in us, provided we remain bonded to Him. His purpose is to present to God every man perfected in Jesus Christ. "To this end I also labour, striving according to His working which works in me mightily."
Therefore, once the Lord has taken us into Himself, He wants this thought of His to be clearly graven wihead bodily." Christ is God, and all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him in bodily form. And He wants to make us partakers of all this fullness in Him, because he wants Christ to be all in all. So He wants to fill us, too, with all this fullness.
In Colossians 2:10 He also tells us : "You are complete in him." So there can be no greater completeness than that. When He says : "You are complete in him", can anything still be lacking ? When we are complete in someone, we cannot lack anything. That is tohead bodily." Christ is God, and all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Him in bodily form. And He wants to make us partakers of all this fullness in Him, because he wants Christ to be all in all. So He wants to fill us, too, with all this fullness.
In Colossians 2:10 He also tells us : "You are complete in him." So there can be no greater completeness than that. When He says : "You are complete in him", can anything still be lacking ? When we are complete in someone, we cannot lack anything. That is to be received through a revelation of the Holy Spirit and accepted in faith into open hearts. Once you have grasped that through the Holy Spirit, you say it, together with God : "I am complete in Jesus". Maybe I cannot yet see it before me, manifested in my own life, but I am in Him, I am already complete in Him. It is not something I have to achieve in the future, or when I get to heaven, if I get there ; no, not at all ! If you are in Christ, you are complete in Him. That concerns your spirit, your soul, your body, your finances, your health, your life, matters of spiritual warfare, deliverance, and divine guidance. You are complete in Jesus. And because I believe that, God will cause His power to operate in me, first of all to make me grasp those things, and then to produce the evidence of them.
They will not be automatically manifested in my life unless I believe what God tells me. If God says to me : "Now, you just listen to me, yes, you ! you are complete in Christ." If, when I hear Him, I say : "Yeah, Lord, but I still lack this and that ; I can't see it, so it simply can't be there," that means I doubt God and am full of unbelief. What I need to say is: "Lord, You have said so ; it is Your holy Word, and I accept it. I am complete in You. That means that outside of You, I lack everything, and that in You, I have everything. Glory to God !
In Ephesians 1:3, look at what He says about those things that are already ours : "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us." He has blessed us, it is in the past tense, which means that now, we are blessed "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." My only problem is to be in Him. When I am in Christ, God's word to me is : "You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ". So if you belong to the Lord, stop saying that you are not blessed. You have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. and God wants to reveal that to you, to make you understand it, so that your heart will know it, so that you will rejoice in it, and enter into the fullness of those blessings. You have been blessed.
In verse 4 He says : In Him (a vital phrase - all those blessings are in Him) He chose us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons to the praise of the glory of His grace" Note the use of the past tense ! Without blame, without the slightest reproach ! Beloved, sometimes we Christians are so unbelieving that God finds it difficult to reveal those glorious truths to us, because we are too attached to our past lives, and we still see ourselves with that rotten old nature of ours. God finds it difficult to open our eyes to what He has done in us in Christ, to what He wants to do in us, in Christ, and all that is already ours in Him. In order to demonstrate those things fully in our lives, we need to understand them and believe them. It is God who says so.
Verse 7 says : "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. And verse 11 : "In Him, we have obtained an inheritance." An heir is the rightful owner of all that he inherits from his father. Christ died for us - then rose again, but has given us the inheritance in Him. Notice the past tense again ! You are already your heavenly father's heir. You are already in possession of your inheritance. It has already come to pass. You will not receive it when you die : it is already yours, yours because Jesus died for you.
Verse 13 says : "In Him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit". Sealed with the Holy Spirit ! That means there is a seal on your life. Formerly, when a document was sealed, it was a sign of ownership. The owner had his seal, and once he had sealed anything with it, everyone could see who owned what. The seal was also for keeping something closed so that no-one could open it. Once a document was closed and sealed, no-one could break it open. In the same way, we are God's property. He has sealed us with His Holy Spirit, which means that nothing harmful can get inside us once we are in Christ. We are closed in with Him, inside Him. All those things are ours in Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 1:2 we read : ".to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints." Therefore in Jesus you have been sanctified, altogether set aside for Him, so that perfect holiness will be manifested in every aspect of your lives. That is what you already are if you abide in Christ and if Christ abides in you. Let us go to verse 20 in the same chapter, and listen to what Christ has become for us : "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." If Christ is in you, those four things are His free gift to you, and they will be manifested in your life. He grants them to you as a gift, because He has already been made for you wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. That is what He has become for you, and you are in Him.
Listen to this, too, in 2 Corinthians 1:20 : "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes." All means that not one single promise has been left out ! If you ask the Lord for something that is in agreement with one of these promises, and if you are in Christ, God's answer to you is "Yes, in Him". Whichever one of those promises you mention to your Father, you say : "Lord, I am in Christ, and You say that in Jesus the answer is "yes", so I have a right to all your promises."
2 Corinthians 2:14 says : "Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ." Not "no matter when", or "no matter how", but if you are in Christ, in the peace that comes from faith in Him and the knowledge of who He is, then God always leads you in triumph in Him. My only concern is to abide in Christ. If you are abiding in Him, in the peace given by the knowledge that His power is at work in you, yours will not be a hard-won, hair's-breadth victory, with the loss of a limb here, and of a hand or a foot there, but total triumph in Christ, because He triumphed for you on the Cross, over every principality and power, over the prince of this world of darkness. He triumphed over sin, He triumphed over death, He triumphed over the world, He triumphed over temptations. He lives in you, and you live in Him, so the Word uses the present tense here : "God always leads us in triumph in Christ." What powerful statements ! Thank you, Lord, Hallelujah !
In the next chapter, in 2 Corinthians 3:14, we read : "But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament." Here Paul is speaking of a veiling of the revelation of God's Word. The Jews are barred from in-depth understanding when they read the Old Testament. So are unbelieving Gentiles : they can't understand the Word in its fullness. All they can do is understand what they must do to be saved. So Paul says that the veil "remains unlifted, because the veil is taken away in Christ."
Therefore when I am in Christ, the veil is removed from the revelation of God's Word. The veil is lifted in Christ. I need to believe that, too. In Christ, I receive an abundance of light, because He gives me, in my heart, the Holy Spirit who inspired the Word in the first place ; God wants to reveal those things to us. According to the Word, the hidden things belong to God, and the ones that are revealed belong to us and to our children. God wants to reveal His Word to us. He knows how desperately we need it. Nowadays there is so much deceit, there are so many doctrines, so many wrong things spreading throughout the world, that God wants us to receive the revelation of His Word. If we abide in Christ, He says : "The veil has been removed : in Christ, you have the revelation of my Word."
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 : "For he made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us ("sin", here, means "a sin-offering for us") that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." In Christ, we become the righteousness of God, which means that we receive the same nature that Christ had, which does not turn us into gods : that can never be ! But we do become partakers of He things that are above, and you rejoice in what is above. You no longer have the spirit of the world. God has changed your heart, so the world around you can't bear it, and neither can Satan, who controls this world. Therefore you will be persecuted as Jesus was. You can't receive better treatment than your Master did. But never mind ! If you have all things in Christ, if you are complete in Him, if you have peace and happiness, the joy of being in Him, if you have the assurance that He is leading you into Him ! The very thought of what the Lord has done for us sends thrills right through my body.
I'll have to go more quickly now, it's a pity.
In Galatians 2:4, we read : "this occurred because of false brethren.who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus." In Christ, we have freedom.
Galatians 3:28 shows that we are all one in Christ :"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." All those splits between men, between races, social backgrounds, languages, and so on, have gone. In Christ "you are one".
We need to understand that the true Church of Jesus is already one in Jesus. It cannot be divided into denominations, or into specially labelled groups, or any such thing. If you are in Christ, God is no longer concerned with your label, your race, or your social background. He sees us all as one in Christ. His Church is one, in Christ. Yes indeed, one ! We have been brought near and are already one in Christ. His Church throughout the world is one !
In Philippians 4:19 we read : "My God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus," if only we abide in Him. That is about financial, material needs. Paul says that he has learned both to abound and to suffer need. I am content with what I have, but what I do know is that my God shall supply all my needs - and yours as well - according to His riches, with glory in Christ Jesus, and God is no pauper ! God knows what my needs are, and He will answer and meet them according to His riches. If you have received that word into your heart, you will no longer worry about the future.
Lastly, 2 Timothy 3:12 is about something that we cannot avoid : "all those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." You are persecuted because when you are in Christ, the life you receive is the exact opposite of the kind of life that is in the world. Your desires also become the exact opposite. You begin to think about the things that are above, and you rejoice in what is above. You no longer have the spirit of the world. God has changed your heart, so the world around you can't bear it, and neither can Satan, who controls this world. Therefore you will be persecuted as Jesus was. You can't receive better treatment than your Master did. But never mind ! If you have all things in Christ, if you are complete in Him, if you have peace and happiness, the joy of being in Him, if you have the assurance that He is leading you into perfection, guiding you and meeting all your needs, all that persecution can do is to add a final touch to the perfection that God has in store for those who partake in the sufferings of Christ. So the Spirit of glory rests upon you when you go through persecution.
I now come to my last point, which is : how do we know that we are in Christ, and how do we enter into Him ?
It is God who takes us and puts us into Christ, but before He can do so, He requires something of us. We simply need to respond to Jesus' message in the Gospel, and open our hearts to His Word, which is given to show us what we actually are when we are not in Him : lost sinners heading for death, for hell, and for judgement. God sends the message of the Gospel through Jesus Christ, to tell you that there is a Saviour who loves you and who wants to lift you out of the road to hell into His salvation, into Him, provided you accept the message of the Gospel telling you that you are a lost sinner and that out of sheer love for you, God sent Jesus to die on the Cross for you. So if you accept Him into your heart, you say : "Lord Jesus, forgive my sins, come into my heart, change me, and take me into You". When you say that from the bottom of your heart, because you understand that God loves you, and the Holy Spirit has shown you what you are without Jesus, (not to condemn you or to put you down, but so that you can repent), then you say : "Yes, Lord, now in the light of your Word I see that I am nothing at all, just a lost sinner in Your sight, and I need You. I am opening my heart for you to come in. Lord Jesus, come into my heart." When you do that, God's heart leaps for joy. He immediately sends His Holy Spirit into you, putting to death all of your former nature and causing your spirit to be born to new life in Christ through His Spirit. That means you open your heart to the Word of the Lord and accept Him into your heart. On the day of Pentecost, when the people were "cut to the heart" and asked "What shall we do ?", Peter's reply was : "Repent, and let every one of you be baptised (i.e. plunged into water) in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins ; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38).
That shows you why the Lord asks us, first of all, to repent, because "repenting" means understanding, through the Holy Spirit, what we are ; it means repenting of it, asking God's forgiveness, in order to cast off our former nature and to enter into God's salvation. It also shows us why water baptism is all-important.
Mark 16:16 makes it clear that "He who believes and is baptised will be saved." Why is water baptism absolutely vital ? Because it symbolises (and it is more than a symbol, it is an act of obedience) death and resurrection in Jesus. It is of such paramount importance that God's plan for us is that we should be baptised as soon as we come to Him to enter into Him. God is saying to us : "You understand that you have entered into Me, into my death, and that you have been born to a new life. To show me that you are obedient and that you understand what this new life is, I am asking you to demonstrate your obedience publicly by being immersed into water in the Name of the Lord." Baptism is an act of love for my Lord, a way of showing the Lord that I want to follow Him forever. Spiritually, my baptism cuts me off from the world, from Satan, and from all of my past life.
I am going to read from Ephesians 5, verse 26 : "Christ.loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word." That speaks of the waters of baptism, which are not for the removal of filth from the body, but which demonstrate "the answer of a good conscience toward God" ; yes, the answer of a good conscience. That is what saves us. We are saved through faith in Jesus ; and in the absence of that faith I cannot say I believe in Jesus unless I obey His Word.
So that it is what must come first. I do it out of love for Jesus, to respond to His call. And once I have done it, once I have entered into Him, a number of signs are actively operating in my life, showing me that I am indeed in Him. As soon as we are in Him and His Spirit is in us, He produces a deep change in our heart of hearts, and a number of things change in our lives. We notice them day after day, and they show us that we are indeed in Jesus, because we have accepted Him through faith.
Colossians 3:1 is about the first of those signs that tell us we are indeed in Him. We seek those things which are above, not those which are on earth. (Just look up that verse later on). The hearts of those who are in Jesus have indeed been changed : they seek the things that are above. If you are not in Jesus, however hard you try to do that, you fail. So this is what I tell those who say to me : "Yes, but if I turn to the Lord, I'll have to give up this and that, I'll have to stop smoking, and so on." I reply : "Stop bothering about that ! Accept the Lord Jesus, receive His life into your heart of hearts ; let Him change your heart on the inside, then you'll see the change that takes place ! You'll see !"
Philippians 3:10 is about the second of those signs. Receiving Jesus into our hearts creates a desire within us to know Christ. "Those things that are above", are in fact, Christ. If that desire is lacking in my heart, I would do well to ask myself : "am I really and truly in Him" ? But being in Him gives me a burning and growing desire to know Him - yes, to know Him - and to renounce this world, which no longer appeals to me.
Then in Ephesians 4:20, "But that is not how you have learned Christ, if indeed you have heard him and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus : that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man that was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness."
What does that mean ? It means that when we are in Christ, we have already received our death to our past life, and our birth to a new life. But we are also told that in Christ, we need to be taught day after day what it means to put off the old man, to be renewed in our minds, and to put on the new man. Therefore it means that if I am in Christ, I will seek to learn from Him what it means to walk daily in the Spirit. That is all I shall say about that for the moment.
Just remember this : we who are in Him desire to learn from Jesus our Master how to walk in the Spirit day after day, i.e. how to put off all of that old nature of ours - which is already dead - how to change our thinking so as to think God's thoughts instead of our own, and daily to put on the new being He has given us.
That is what Jesus is going to teach us, since when we are in Him, we keep His Word, we treasure His teaching, we do not practice sin and we carefully keep the Holy Spirit He has given us. Remember what John says in his first Epistle : if we are in Christ, we keep His word and we do not practice sin. Someone who is in Christ can stumble and can commit a sin, but he does not practice sin, and he keeps the Holy Spirit that Christ has given us.
In conclusion, now that we have heard those things, what we need to do is this : first of all pray that God will grant us a revelation of them. We cannot truly put them into practice unless they have been revealed to us by God, and you know that God grants revelation. In Amos He says that He does nothing without having revealed His secrets to His servants the prophets. That means that to us who are His children, and who are more than servants, God will reveal all those things, if we pray, if we ask Him for that revelation. You remember how Jesus prayed when He said : "I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent (or from those who consider themselves to be wise and prudent) and revealed them to babes." (Luke 10:21). We are His children, if our hearts remain meek and lowly, and we say : "Lord all those things are wonderful : Lord, reveal them to me through Your Spirit." Paul prayed that the Ephesians would receive from God a spirit of revelation, of spiritual wisdom, so that they would see the magnificence of those wonders that God had already given them in Christ. Let us do likewise !
If we are going to retain something from this evening, let it be to commit ourselves to pray more, so that through His Spirit God will give us revelation knowledge of what we already are in Him, because once He has revealed that to our hearts, we shall no longer see ourselves as we used to, but we shall see ourselves as God sees us now. When God looks at us, He sees us in Christ. He already sees us laden with all sorts of blessings. And there is no way for me to reckon myself dead and resurrected in Him, unless I have first received the revelation of it through the Holy Spirit and the Word.
So let us prayerfully go over those Scriptures again, and let us pray. There is something terribly wrong with the Church when she fails to understand what God has done for her in Jesus, what God has made of her in Jesus. And why doesn't she understand ? Because she doesn't pray to her heavenly Father fervently enough to receive the revelation of it. God will never force those revelations on us. But he will respond eagerly and lovingly if we pray to Him like this : "Father, I want my eyes to be open to those wonderful things. Reveal them to me, Lord." He will do it, in proportion to our capacity, and He will also increase our capacity. Once He has revealed those things to us, our responsibility is to lay hold on them, to lay hold on what God says we are, and to say to Him : "Yes, Lord, that is what I am. I no longer want to be filled with unbelief and keep on saying that I am a miserable, rotten old sinner, when You say that I am a wonderful creature in Christ, that You have changed me through and through and that you are going to do other wonderful things in my life. That is what I want to confess wholeheartedly, since You have revealed it to me."
I want to see myself as Jesus sees me and give myself wholly to the Lord, to be consecrated to Him, spirit, soul, and body, so as to say to Him : "Now, Lord, I yield my limbs to You, I yield my body to You. I yield everything to You, so that as I receive this revelation and see myself as You see me, I will daily learn from You, and continually enter into the works that You have prepared and into all your perfect plans, for Your glory." The world needs it, the Church needs it, we need it ; God wants to do it in us. Hallelujah ! And He will do it, in every heart that believes in His power. Amen.
Let us pray : "Thank You, Lord. I really want to bless You for Your Word, because, Lord, the veil has been lifted only in part, but You want to lift the whole of it, since it has been removed in Jesus. Therefore I pray, Father, that you will fill up for us, through Your revelation, all that is still lacking in our spiritual understanding. Lord, I pray for all of us, for myself, for each one of us, that you will grant us the full revelation of those things ; and that as we receive that revelation, Lord, we shall go from progress to progress, in You, from victory to victory, till You return. Lord, that is all that counts, and all that should count : to live in You, to let Your life flow through us, so that we become powerful instruments in Your hands, for this doomed world in these end-times : do that for Your children, Lord, in Jesus' Name, I beseech You, manifest Your power by revealing Yourself and by revealing Your Word ; and glorify Yourself by fulfilling all of Your wonderful Word in us, in Jesus Name, Amen !