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October 30, 2007

“WHAT WE HAVE IN CHRIST” Part I

by Professor Robert J. Barth

Part I

The term “in Christ” is illuminated when you consider its different connotations. This word describes our position in Christ (imputed righteousness) before the Father, it describes our authority in the name of Christ (power to invoke His name), and it describes the virtue or character we have as we are conformed to the image of Christ (imparted righteousness). The complete identification with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ produces a spiritual rebirth, a renewed mental state that views oneself as being dead to self but alive to God in Christ Jesus, and motivation to do good works out of love for Jesus. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).  All this means that as disciples of Jesus, we are children of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, ambassadors for Christ, the light of the world, a royal priesthood, a chosen generation, servants of righteousness, and new creatures, just to mention a few.

Because of our position in Christ we have certain authority and responsibilities. We also have the benefits and blessings of the New Covenant promises. Each of us must accept and believe who we are in Christ, and we must appropriate the authority and blessings that we have in Christ, if we are to be a “good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). With authority comes responsibility, with responsibility comes accountability, and with accountability comes rewards for faithful stewardship. Let us all be faithful doers of the Word (James 1:22) recognizing that our salvation from eternal damnation, and entrance into the kingdom of God is by grace through faith alone, but that the blessings and rewards in the kingdom are based upon manifesting our love for Jesus by doing what He commanded.

Meditate upon these Scriptures that tell us the authority, the promises, and the blessings Jesus said we have in Him:

  1. Salvation from sin: Jesus came to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Greek word for save is “sozo” which includes the present experience of God’s power to deliver from the bondage of sin. “Sin” is “hamartia” in Greek and it means missing the true goal and scope of life. I John 3:4 also tell us that sin is the transgression of the law. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
  2. God’s presence with us: Jesus was “Emmanuel” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).  Jesus said, “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).
  3. Assurance of food, drink, and clothing: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 and Luke 12:31).
  4. Stability in our life: “Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24).
  5. The love of the Father, which eliminates fear: “But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:30-31).
  6. Rewards in heaven for ministering to the physical needs of others: “And whosoever shall to give drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42, see also Mark. 9:41). “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
  7. Authority to do greater works than Jesus: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).
  8. Authority to speak God’s will into existence: “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:18-20). “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22).
  9. Authority to teach all nations: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, … teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
  10.  Authority to cast out devils in the name of Jesus and to heal the sick: “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part” (Mark 9:38-40). “And these signs shall follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover” (Mark 16:17-18). “Even devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Luke 10:17).
  11. Our names written in heaven: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because you names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
  12. Eternal life/everlasting life: “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:15). “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). See also John 6:40, 47; 11:25-26; 17:3; 20:31; Romans 5:21; Romans 6:23.
  13. The Holy Spirit, if we repent and ask:  “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).  “Repent, and be baptized every one of your in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).  “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” (Acts 5:32). “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 11:16).
  14. The kingdom of God: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). Jesus said, “For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16). (Thank you God! The requirements of the kingdom of God have been fulfilled by Jesus!) “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44).
  15. Rivers of living water: “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow waters of living water” (John 7:38).
  16. The love of the Father: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him…. If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:21, 23).
  17. Hatred from the world: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19). “He that hateth me hateth my Father also” (John 15:23).
  18. Continual presence of the love of Jesus: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).
  19. Guidance by the Spirit of truth: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26, see also John 16:7). “Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13).

The words of Hosea 4:6 “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” are applicable when it comes to the authority and promises God has given to us in Christ. Once we have the knowledge, we have the responsibility to act in that authority and power as a servant of the King for His glory and honor. The Apostle Paul had much to say about this, as we will examine next week.

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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