Raised with Christ-Messiah

 

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

~ Ephesians 2:4-7


What does it mean to be raised with Christ?  Is this something that only happens when we pass from this life to the next through what is commonly called physical death?  The answer is a simple—no.  A revelatory notion in Scripture is that we can indeed be dead [to the life of God], when in fact our physical bodies are still alive [in this world].  Whereby Jesus says, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22); or Paul when he says, “But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6).

So although we can be dead [to God] and yet alive [according to the flesh]; yet, we can also be dead according to the flesh [i.e. old man—Romans 6:6-9] and also alive with God.  For we are to be “united together in the likeness of His [Jesus] death” (Romans 6:5), because “If you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).  However, although we are still in the physical body, we are not in the fleshly consciousness of setting our minds on earthly things (Romans 8:5-6; 2 Corinthians 10:2-3).  This is what it means to actually experience what Christ Jesus says when “we are not of the world” (John 17:14, 16), but “we are in the world” (John 17:11).  To not simply believe that we are strangers upon this earth, but to actually know our identity in Christ so strongly that our faith is fixed upon the Rock that is unshakable (Psalm 61:1-4).

When we think about being raised with Christ it should be made clear that we can be raised with Christ now while we live in the flesh, although we do not war according to the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3).  What does this mean?  It means very literally that there is an aspect of you sitting in the heavenly places in Christ—now (Ephesians 2:6; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:1-4).  Thus, this spiritual reality is what Paul groaned for and earnestly desired in order to be clothed with (2 Corinthians 5:2-4).  Therefore, we too should deeply desire to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, now in this moment.  This refers to our ability through the grace of God by having our “senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14), and by “yielding the peaceable fruit of righteousness by being trained” from the Holy Spirit via our life experiences to “be transformed by renewing our minds” (Hebrews 12:11; Romans 12:2).

To be raised with Christ refers to the work of God moving through our lives, which manifests in such a way so as to literally “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).  But “how” do we seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness?  We do this by actively and consciously pursuing God, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:6).  How do we acknowledge God in all of our ways?  We do it by “guarding our hearts with all diligence” (Proverbs 4:23).  How do we guard our hearts with all diligence?  By seeking to acknowledge and prioritize our lives by seeking Yahweh with our thoughts, emotions, will, words, actions, that is, with our entire being at all times by mustering as much strength and intensity (Isaiah 64:7) as we can to love Yahweh our God and to seek His counsel and strength.  Let us not simply come to the cross of Christ, let us also get on the cross and be crucified, namely, we must die to ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 5:24).  Additionally, we do this by walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16, 22-25) seeking to embody spiritual fruit in order to love God and humanity in truth (Mark 12:29-31; John 13:34-35; Galatians 5:6, 13-14), and to worship God in the beauty of holiness by means of spirit and in truth (Psalms 29:2; John 4:23-24).  However, to be raised with Christ, it is the Father who draws us that we may die with Christ (John 6:44; Romans 6:1-4; Colossians 2:20; 3:1), because it is the Father who has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).  Once we have truly been “born from above” or regenerated by the Spirit of God we are now truly free to serve God in the newness of life by seeking our true Life from above which is hidden with Christ in God.

But how do we live this life where God comes first in ordering our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions?  From my experiences in life it comes from two specific changes in one’s being.  First, it comes from literally being “born from above” (i.e. born again) – which is revealed by knowing, growing into, and daily experiencing who you truly are in Christ, which is the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:9; Titus 3:4-7).  In a word it is by having a new life and a new identity.  Second, it comes from a renewed will (Psalms 16:8; Romans 12:1-2) that longs to please Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous Light (1 Peter 2:9).  This “renewed will” is not divorced from this new identity, but it naturally seeks through careful study to imitate our Heavenly Father’s characteristics and holy attributes embodied in Christ Jesus—no matter the cost or sacrifice.

 

 

Peace be with each of you.

 

 

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Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony

The following section below represents a portion of “Our World Belongs to God” developed originally in 1986, and updated in 2008 by the Christian Reformed Church in North America.  For the full version, which has 58 sections click on the link below.  I originally came across this source in the book:

Our Faith: Ecumenical Creeds, Reformed Confessions, and Other Resources. Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2013.

 

Let it be known that you and every person who has ever existed will give an account of how we have used our life-space, and that our thoughts, words, and actions will testify against us in this great accounting.  To be sure, that just as most children don’t like to be told what to do, so too, adults do not like to be told what to do.  Therefore, what is often the case is that we have “children in adult bodies” (see Matthew 11:16-19).  And…in our stubbornness and self-sufficiency we refuse to submit to the natural order of God’s Rule.  Saint Augustine eloquently said, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.”  If God does indeed exist (which I hope to address this issue in future posts) then the Most High Living God must be eternally superior to anything of the created order.  If this first principle is true, which indeed it is, then to elevate anything that is created above the Majesty and Perfection of God is to exalt the inferior over the superior – and to do so is logically foolish, ignorant, and sinful.  This has been the great charge of the sages, prophets, teachers, and apostles of the ages, namely, that we indeed are blind and even “willingly ignorant” until by the Grace of God our eyes are opened to see “as we ought to see.”

 

Let us learn what it means to “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 4:5-6) and to “put one the armor of Light” (Romans 13:12-14; Ephesians 6:10-18).  I hope you all enjoy the opening sections of this Contemporary Testimony.

Our World Belongs to God

Preamble
1. As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!

For God’s ownership of all things, see Psalm 24:1 (quoted in 1 Cor. 10:26), Job 41:11, and Deuteronomy 10:14. That this is also “our world”—given to the human race to keep and care for—is one of the themes of the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2.

2. From the beginning,
through all the crises of our times,
until the kingdom fully comes,
God keeps covenant forever:
Our world belongs to God!
God is King: Let the earth be glad!
Christ is victor: his rule has begun!
The Spirit is at work: creation is renewed!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!

For God’s faithfulness, see, among many passages, Psalm 89, 117, 145; Romans 8:31-39; and Hebrews 10:23. For the victory of God in Christ and the rule of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 15:54-57, Philippians 2:9-11, and Revelation 1:13-18. For the Spirit’s work renewing creation, see Genesis 1 and Romans 8.

3. Still, despair and rebellious pride fill the earth:
some, crushed by failure
or broken by pain,
give up on life and hope and God;
others, shaken,
but still hoping for human triumph,
work feverishly to realize their dreams.
As believers in God,
we also struggle with the spirits of this age,
resisting them in the power of the Spirit,
testing them by God’s sure Word.

Psalm 2 expresses the rebellious spirit of the human race. See also Romans 1-3. Ephesians 6:10-17 describes the struggle of believers with the spirits of the age. On testing the spirits, see 1 John 4.

4. Our world, fallen into sin,
has lost its first goodness,
but God has not abandoned the work of his hands:
our Maker preserves this world,
sending seasons, sun, and rain,
upholding all creatures,
renewing the earth,
promising a Savior,
guiding all things to their purpose.

See Genesis 3; 9:8-16; Psalm 104, especially verse 30; Matthew 5:45; and Acts 14:17. For the promises of a Savior, see Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; 11:1-5; 42:1-7, 53; and Micah 5:2.

5. God holds this world
with fierce love.
Keeping his promise,
he sends Jesus into the world,
pours out the Holy Spirit,
and announces the good news:
sinners who repent and believe in Jesus
live anew as members of the family of God—
the firstfruits of a new creation.

For God’s fierce love, see Hosea 11, especially verses 10-11. For statements of the gospel message, see John 3:1-21, Acts 2:36-39, Romans 10:7-11, and Ephesians 2:1-10. For “firstfruits,” see Leviticus 23:9-14 and James 1:18.

6. We rejoice in the goodness of God,
renounce the works of darkness,
and dedicate ourselves to holy living.
As covenant partners,
set free for joyful obedience,
we offer our hearts and lives
to do God’s work in the world.
With tempered impatience,
eager to see injustice ended,
we expect the Day of the Lord.
We are confident
that the light
which shines in the present darkness
will fill the earth
when Christ appears.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Our world belongs to you.

Among the texts referenced in this paragraph, see Matthew 5:17-20, 48; John 1:1-5, 9-13; 3:19-21; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:11; 2 Peter 3; 1 John 2:7-11; and Revelation 22:20.

 

Creation

7. Our world belongs to God—
not to us or earthly powers,
not to demons, fate, or chance.
The earth is the Lord’s.

For references, see the first paragraph.

8. In the beginning, God—
Father, Word, and Spirit—
called this world into being
out of nothing,
and gave it shape and order.

See Genesis 1, where Creator, Word, and Spirit call creation into order. For the role of the Word in creation and Jesus as the Word, see John 1:1-14.

9. God formed sky, land, and sea;
stars above, moon and sun,
making a world of color, beauty, and variety—
a fitting home for plants and animals, and us—
a place to work and play,
worship and wonder,
love and laugh.
God rested
and gave us rest.
In the beginning
everything was very good.

On creation, besides Genesis 1 and 2, see Psalm 19; 33:6-9; and 104.

10. Made in God’s image
to live in loving communion with our Maker,
we are appointed earthkeepers and caretakers
to tend the earth, enjoy it,
and love our neighbors.
God uses our skills
for the unfolding and well-being of his world
so that creation and all who live in it may flourish.

For the image of God, see Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10; and James 3:9.

11. Together,
male and female,
single and married,
young and old—
every hue and variety of humanity—
we are called to represent God,
for the Lord God made us all.
Life is God’s gift to us,
and we are called to foster
the well-being of all the living,
protecting from harm
the unborn and the weak,
the poor and the vulnerable.

See Genesis 1:26-27, Galatians 3:26-28, and Acts 2:5-11. On how we treat the vulnerable among us as a measure of justice, see Isaiah 1:15-17 and James 1:27.

12. Even now,
as history unfolds
in ways we know only in part,
we are assured
that God is with us in our world,
holding all things in tender embrace
and bending them to his purpose.
The confidence that the Lord is faithful
gives meaning to our days
and hope to our years.
The future is secure,
for our world belongs to God.

For the providential care of God, see Isaiah 45:6-7, Matthew 6:25-34, and Luke 12:4-7.

 

 

The highest pursuit in life is the pursuit of Truth.  Peace be with each of you.