“I became its servant by the commission God gave me to fully proclaim to you the word of God, the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations but is now revealed to His saints. To them, God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1.25-27
God is righteous. This means all those issues from Him is absolutely right and good and just. His thoughts and plans are outside the logic and reasoning and *moral conscience of man. (*Moral here meaning a sense of right and wrong) God’s actions towards man are in keeping with His own moral righteousness. His moral goodness is never violated or compromised and therefore all that is to exist in union with Him, in His fellowship, must be of the same righteousness. God is holy. This means God is “different,” or set apart from all other known to man. He is distinct. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, shares in His moral rightness and holiness and exists in eternal union with the Father. Beginning with Adam, mankind desired to live by his own sense of morality, of right and wrong. He rejected the Tree of Life and instead chose to eat of the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Since that day every man, woman, child, of every tribe and nation, have decided for themselves “right and wrong” and live by their own code of ethics. The gap between God’s righteous morality and man’s morality is called sin—which is missing the mark of true righteousness.
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory (excellence) of God.” Rm. 3.23
Two men are on opposing sides in the war, each praying to the same God for victory, believing their prayer is heard because each believes their cause is “right.” Another man is benevolent to others because he believes this goodness compares with God’s goodness and he will receive some kind of reward or blessing from God. Yet another man offers sacrifices of various sorts in the hopes of atoning for his “sins” of departure from righteousness and to become acceptable to God. When in truth, all have missed the mark and fall short of God’s righteousness and stand in need of a Savior… God’s chosen One, and the only way to life and union with the Father.
And so, beloved, in order to bring man into proper alignment with righteous God, there is this unveiling of a two-fold mystery of Christ. It is a mystery because it has been hidden since the foundation of the world but now revealed by the Holy Spirit to the believer. It is a powerful work of God toward man and in man. It is His ordained way and the only way of true salvation. The first divine act is by grace alone. God sovereignly clothes the believer/confessor in Christ Jesus in the righteousness of Christ by spiritually placing him “in Christ”—as a loving parent would wrap their newborn infant in a blanket to protect it from the harsh elements of the world.
“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.” 1 Cor. 1.30
You may wish to take a moment and reflect upon this, and pray for further revelation of this mystery of being in Christ. (Which, by the way, is the topic of the previous chapter in this series: The Mystery of being In Christ.) It is a marvelous revelation. To come into its true understanding is very liberating, full of peace and stability in our Christian walk. It is by grace, the unmerited favor of God…through faith.
“And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Rm. 3.22-24
The Father now beholds His new-born son or daughter as clothed, or wrapped in the righteous blanket, His Son, shielded from the nakedness of unrighteous and unholy elements of this life. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. For He chose us in Him “ Eph. 1.3-4
The second mighty act of God towards the believer is purposed to draw him once more before the Tree of Life and give to him to eat freely—and this Tree of Life in Christ. Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn. 6.53-54 This, of course, is eating of the Tree of Life. The words eating and drinking in this passage are of a Greek tense that means “having begun, to continue to eat, and drink, to feed upon.”
In receiving Christ, the Holy Spirit sows the seed of the Spirit of Christ into the heart of the believer/confessor. It is not a fleshly seed as in the natural, but being born again of an everlasting spiritual seed of eternal life. This seed bears the genetic potential likeness to Christ, His nature and character. Its inherent nature is to bear the fruit of righteousness, that is, righteous behavior. This too will happen by faith.
“for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” 1 Pet. 1.22
No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 1 Jn. 3.9
And so the focus of this grand goal of salvation is less of “going to heaven” and more of having “heaven in our hearts,” in our inward man. It is a focus less of heaven as a place and more of as a living relationship with God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus summarized the overall grand objective of salvation when He declared:
I am the vine; you are the branches. The one abiding in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit (of righteousness). For apart from Me you are able to do nothing.Jn. 15.5
Dr. A. B. Simpson used a simple illustration, which was about as good as any I ever heard. He said, “Being filled with the fullness of God is like a bottle in the ocean. You take the cork out of the bottle and sink it in the ocean, and you have the bottle completely full of ocean. The bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle. The ocean contains the bottle, but the bottle contains only a little bit of the ocean. So it is with the Christian.”
Having considered the first mystery, being in Christ, in the previous chapter, let’s now turn our focus on the second mystery, Christ in you.
Christ in You
Some Preliminary Thoughts
The essence of our Christian walk revolves around this great mystery of being in Christ and of Christ in you. It is (or should be) the core of our understanding. Jesus put great emphasis upon this when He said,
“Abide in Me, and I will abide in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jn. 15.4-5
With many disciples gathered around Him, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is real food, and My blood is real drink. Jn. 6.53-55 This statement by Jesus is not a logical one, something that may be understood by reasoning. These words are outside the natural realm of understanding. They are spiritual words, speaking of things of the invisible and intangible Kingdom of God and can only be understood (experienced) by faith. Unbelievers cannot understand this scripture. They can know it, memorize it, and quote it. But, they can never understand it as a mystery of God. Later, Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” Jn. 6.63
No, unbelievers cannot even begin to anticipate or understand this most powerful revelation of the Gospel of Christ. They could only know “about” it in a natural way of thinking, of being focused on Jesus: His life, His words, His commandments, His promises, etc. They could only know of the historical Christ without ever coming into the life-giving understanding of this fullness of God in the believer. For the believer, however, it is as Paul prayed for those of the church at Ephesus, “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (you in Christ and Christ in you).” And, “Now to Him who is able to do so much more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Eph. 3.19-20 “According to His power that is at work within us!” Imagine that, believers. This is the power that brings understanding. It is the power to do and to will of His good pleasure. It is the power needed in every scene of life to really grow in spiritual stature and in preparation for the coming Kingdom. It is the power to share in Godly righteousness.
This, beloved, is why Jesus said in John 6, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” The word “nothing” shuts the door, leaves no exceptions. Nothing of any spiritual or eternal consequences can be accomplished in one’s life outside of being in Christ and having Christ in us. It is now understandable why Jesus went on to say, “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers.” Jn. 15.6 There is nothing of spiritual value remaining in his life. It is not as if the believer receives something called “life” as a gift. The gift to the believer is Christ, and that life is in Him. One must be in union with Jesus Christ to have everlasting life.
An Analogy for John 15.5
In Christ and Christ in you. You are in the atmosphere and the atmosphere is in you. Let me explain. We are in the atmosphere in that the atmosphere completely surrounds us. It is our home. It protects us from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun, keeps us warm by trapping and holding the sun’s energy, and provides the moisture needed to sustain life. Life on earth could not exist without it.
But, for a brief moment, inhale and take in a deep breath, and hold the air in your lungs. Now, the atmosphere is in you. You are now its home. Its purpose and function is altogether different. The atmosphere works in you bringing oxygen to billions of blood cells keeping them alive, and removing toxins from the body. When forced outward from the lungs you can communicate with others and vocally give thanks to God. You can only live a few minutes without the atmosphere in you. So, in the natural, unless you abide in the atmosphere, and the atmosphere abides in you, you can do nothing. There can be no life.
Grace and Fruit
While grace involved the whole of the discussion of being in Christ, bearing fruit involves the whole of the discussion of Christ in you…”you will bear much fruit.”
Being in Christ, one is nurtured and cared for as a spiritual babe. They are unable to sustain themselves. They must be properly clothed and milk-fed. Their only righteousness is what may be found In Christ. In Him they become children of God, become a part of the family of God, cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb, become inheritors of the promises of God, and are assured of the resurrection from the dead, but also of judgment for the age to come.
Christ in you is bearing the fruit of salvation… “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Phil. 2.13 Spiritual maturity proceeds on the basis of faith, of being assured the Spirit of Christ is in you and it is the power of God, not of the natural strength that causes growth and maturity. Fruit is Godly character, and Godly character is sharing in His righteousness and sense of moral goodness. It is this quality, or lack of it, that will stand before the judgment seat of Christ in the Day of the Lord. (See 2 Cor. 5.10)
Laying the Scriptural Foundation
|Please stop here for a moment! Take time to reread this passage of scripture. This time receive this written word as the living Word (logos) of God. Ask God that you may rise above its knowledge and remembrance, and to gain understanding…revelation… uncovering of the mystery of Christ in you. All true understanding comes not by mental apprehension but by the revelation of the Father.|
“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live to God. 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 up for me.” Gal. 2.19-20
Many years ago an old farmer drilled this scripture passage into me over and over again until I began to understand its importance. This scripture was instrumental in his life to break the chains of justification (righteousness) by works. Oh how he struggled to make himself morally righteous before God. He continued to fail miserably. The harder he tried, the more futile were his efforts, and the more frustrated he became. It seemed his heart was just not right. Then one day as he was reading Galatians 2.20, it was as if the Father breathed life into the words. With this new understanding, new life entered, and a new sense of peace and freedom. Though he was weak in the flesh to conquer the power of sin and unrighteousness, he now understood Christ conquered sin and death and that the power of that Christ was in him. Now, it is a matter of faith to believe that he, (the old man, old nature) no longer lives in control, but now seeking to manifest itself from within is the life of Christ. He would say, “I am free.” He carried a smile on his face from that day on, and, to me, he became this gentle giant.
Following the presentation of the Gospel of salvation in Christ to new believers, the apostle Paul
would then become totally focused on the mystery of Christ in you. To the first he was an evangelist. To the latter he was a teacher and apostle. For every day Paul spent evangelizing, he spent many months ministering the “Word of God” to bring spiritual growth. Paul wrote,
“I became its (Body of Christ, the Church) servant by the commission God gave me to fully proclaim to you the word of God, the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations but is now revealed to His saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1.25-27
Imagine that, “glorious riches” surround this mystery. He certainly is not addressing a “prosperity gospel” here, one that benefits the flesh and the natural man. I believe the true meaning here is the “riches (or abundance) of the glory,” as Paul has mentioned elsewhere. (See Eph. 1.18, 3.16)
He is addressing a glory of weightier things of the spiritual man, things that accompany true salvation. These are things that are of (spiritual) gold, silver, and precious gems, that which do not perish over time or in fire. These are things such as: the new birth, the rich blessings of justification, pardon, reconciliation, infilling of the Holy Spirit, adoption (placement) as sons, the resurrection, and eternal life; and rich promises relating both to this life, and that which is to come; and of the Messianic kingdom now and in the age to come. There is a spiritual abundance of the glory of God to be revealed in and through the believer. Every believer stands in the hope (expectation) of this glory.
Let us focus for a moment on this word “glory.” The word “glory” (doxa) means something of intrinsic high value, a divine quality, the unspoken manifestation of God, splendor. Glory is that emanating from God Himself and the environs of heaven and manifested to or in man and the environs of this world. A few examples would be: discerning the presence of God, the manifestation of His righteousness, the qualities of His character, the angelic realm that surrounds the throne of God, Jesus as the true manna (bread of life) from heaven; Jesus’ resurrected body, the believers to be resurrected body, the New Heaven and New Earth and New Jerusalem (all emanating out of heaven)..
Christ in You the Hope of Glory
Without “expectation” there is no “hope.” By definition “hope” is the anticipation of things (promises) to come. So the phrase “the hope of glory” is the anticipation of inheriting heavenly or divine qualities in our lives, both now and in the age to come. What comes now is but a shadow of the fullness to come. A measure of glory does come now, but fullness awaits the resurrection of the dead at His coming. And looking to the age to come, the hope of glory is the anticipation of coming before Jesus Christ who is our hope (1 Tim. 1.1) and to a glorified state of perfection in heaven, intertwined in communion with God our Father. This is all in the glorious presence of the Holy Spirit. What glory! What great anticipation. Simply imagining heaven as a blissful place, with streets of gold, pales in the light of this glorious expectation.
So this glory is a fullness of that which the Christian will experience in his perfected, heavenly state. But in this age, the day in which we live, there is a progressive perfection, “from glory to glory” leading to its fullness in the age to come, as described in the following verse:
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” 2 Cor. 3.18
From glory to glory reveals the incremental partaking of divine qualities in this life. It is the progressive supplanting of our own moral character, our own righteousness, with God’s own righteousness. It is abandoning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and partaking of the Tree of Life. We are encouraged to do so,
“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to perfection (maturity), not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,…” Heb. 6.1
Pressing on to perfection (maturity) is the progressive spiritual growth whereby the believer matures into the likeness of character of our Lord, by walking in close relationship with God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ, and engaging in matters of the Kingdom of God. Let’s look a little closer of this first aspect of maturity, maturing in character…which is growing in likeness of His righteousness.
In the very beginning of this message it was stated, “The gap between God’s righteous morality and man’s morality is called sin—which is missing the mark of true righteousness.” In this life one can never completely close this gap, no matter how hard he tries. That is why there is a need for a Savior. Being in Christ we find the grace of God and enjoy the blessings of having His righteousness:
“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Cor. 5.21
This means that God accepts and receives the believer not on the merit of his own righteousness but on the merit of the righteousness of the Christ in which he abides. How else may one approach the Almighty God, the One, “who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see,” 1 Tim. 6.16 unless he stands in the perfection of God’s Son and our Savior? This may be termed imputed righteousness because it is awarded simply by grace. The believer is received by God, even encouraged to draw near, because he is clothed in in the glorious righteousness of the Son of God. What a heavenly standing and relationship with God! This is how we find our rest in Christ.
It is now, upon this foundation of imputed righteous, that God’s grand eternal purpose is put into motion. Succinctly: God, having a father’s heart, desires a family “’And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ Says the Lord Almighty;” 2 Cor. 6.18 The Son is anticipating the preparation of a bride to be received upon His return, “For I promised you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ;” 2 Cor. 11.2 and The Holy Spirit anticipates residing in and overshadowing a holy dwelling place, “And in Him you too are being built together into a dwelling place for God in His Spirit.” Eph. 2.22
His grace is given to us in Christ Jesus so that fruit may abound. O’ how the scriptures abound with such thoughts:
“filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of
God.” Phil. 1.11
“…that we may be partakers of His holiness.” Heb. 12.10
“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Heb. 12.11
“…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.” Eph. 4.13
This progressive growth in Godly righteousness is termed here spiritual maturity. Others may refer to it as Christ-likeness or Godly character. What it is not is: walking in His footsteps, imitating Jesus (asking self, “What Would Jesus Do?), keeping commandments, or any other terms that might reflect self-determination, resolution, or commitment. No, in the end, “I” will have no reason to boast of any accomplishment. It is by faith in Him, by Him and through Him. It is the growth and development of His seed, His divine life, in us who shared, by faith, in His death at the cross.
Sons and daughters of God are holy (different or set apart) by virtue of simply being in Christ, and having a share in His sacrifice. The Father beholds His children as those born of the seed of His only begotten Son. To be considered holy means they are sanctified. Now this word sanctified is a verb of the same root word for the adjective holy. It means “to be made holy, or separated unto God.
“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Heb. 10.10
Being sanctified, once for all time, we have become a special people: of the family of God, of the Church of the First born, and of a habitation of the Holy Spirit. This is glory.
If we are holy in Christ, the Christ in us will bring forth the fruit of holiness in our lives …if we receive this revelation by faith. Note the following verse of Scripture,
“because by a single offering He has made perfect for all time those who are being sanctified.” Heb. 10.14
“Those who are being sanctified (or being made holy) mean bringing forth the fruits of holiness in their live—being set apart from te world and unto the purposes of God. And again,
“But we should always thank God for you, brothers who are loved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginningto be saved by the sanctification of the Spirit and by faith in the truth. To this He called you through our gospel, so that you may share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thes. 2.13-14
O’ how profound, how magnificent it is, to share in the divine, the heavenly glory of Jesus Christ. To what degree or to what measure will one possess His glory remains in the hands and judgment of our Lord. This only I am sure, the measure of sanctification will be of importance.
A Time of Judgment
There is, of course, the end time judgment known as the Great White Throne (Rev. 20.11) when the dead will pass before God and the Son of man will separate the sheep from the goats. (Mt. 25.31-33) Thankfully, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rm. 8.1 The sheep will be separated to sit at His right. But the Bible also speaks of another judgment, for believers,
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Cor. 5.10
I submit to you that the deeds in the body and whether good or bad, has a bearing on that gap that may exist in our lives between our own moral consciousness (or righteousness and holiness) and God’s own righteousness and holiness. One need not fear damnation. But here rewards and loss of reward will be granted as we enter the eternal Kingdom of our God and Lord.
Let us not grow weary of pursuing this righteousness and sanctification which is by the faith and confidence that our Father in Heaven, by His wonderful grace has placed us into Christ, and that now Christ abides in us and we now share or are partners with Him in His divine nature. (2 Pet. 1.3-4) We will close now, but not without a final reflection on this life-changing scripture:
“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect (spiritually mature) in Christ. To this end I also labor, striving with all His energy working powerfully within me.” Col. 1.27-29