Monday, January 30, 2006

A Primer On Election - Part 4

The primer on election is wrapping up, only one small part remaining in my next post. We are working our way through the "Eight C's of Salvation" in regards to God's plan of redemption for mankind. Perhaps in future posts we'll consider other points of the doctrines of grace (commonly referred to as the 5 points of Calvinism). Election is a common stumbling block for many people and as such I wanted to openly discuss it first. I thank God for your patience as we work together through these posts.

Who Makes The First Move? (continued)

#6: In Christ

As if regeneration and conversion didn’t adequately express the riches of his grace, God has done something more. See if you can piece it together from this passage:

Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:3-7)

God has chosen you, created you, called you out of your sinful condition, and enabled you to cooperate with his work through repentance and faith. In addition, he has united you with his Son, Jesus Christ. You are now able to say, like the apostle Paul,

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Jesus Christ—the One who triumphed over sin and death—now lives in you. And as Romans 6 makes clear, this has enormous implications for your spiritual life. In Christ your old, sinful way of living has been crucified and you have been resurrected with him into a new life. You don’t have to be preoccupied any more with things you did in the past. You have been set free from slavery to sin (verse 6). You have received a new nature which enables you to overcome sin. In Christ you are dead to sin and alive to God (verse 11). No longer does your heavenly Father see you in the tattered rags of your own sinful rebellion. Instead he sees you “in Christ.” Your identity now springs from your living union with the Son of God.

“We haven’t been eliminated in this union,” writes Robin Boisvert, “but Christ has been added…We haven’t been handed a guide book and told to find our way to heaven. Instead, we’ve been given a Guide who will escort us there personally.”

Why is God delighted to be with you during your daily devotions? Because you are in Christ. Why does he forgive you when you sin? Because you are in Christ. Why will he never leave you nor forsake you? Why has he taken responsibility to lead you in his good and perfect will? Why does he bless you with every spiritual blessing? Why can you rest securely in his love? Because of the initiative he has taken to unite you forever to his perfect Son, Jesus Christ!

#7: Cleansed by God

If I were reading Paul’s statement in Romans 6 for the first time, I can pretty well predict the response I would give at this point: “Freed from sin? Me? Remind me of that the next time I slice my first shot off the tee, or get rear-ended in traffic. I’m not exactly perfect, you know.”

How true. Even though our union with Jesus gives us power to overcome sin, we still wallow in plenty of muck.That’s why it’s so important that we understand the gracious fact of God’s forgiveness:

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. (Colossians 1:21-22)

One of the first Bible verses I memorized as a new Christian was 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” By his death on the Cross, Jesus purchased your forgiveness. He has paid the price for all your sin—past, present, and future. Take confidence in your merciful God, who says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25)

In addition to being forgiven, you have been justified by God. This is a very important word, so think hard with me for a minute. Justification means God has declared you righteous, just as if you had never sinned. He’s thrown away all your old files. All of them. He has canceled your debt. As incredible as it seems (and totally undeserved), he now sees you the same way he sees his Son.

Through justification, God has imputed the perfect, spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ to you. How can he do that? Why would he view you as righteous even though your actions are still “shot through with sin”? For one reason only—because you are in Christ.

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