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January 15, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Greg Stiekes, professor in the BJU Seminary, continues a doctrinal series on soteriology entitled “Our Great Salvation.” The scripture is from Colossians 1:25-27.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today on The Daily Platform were continuing a study series entitled our great salvation which is a study of the doctrine of salvation or so to reality today speaker is seminary professor Dr. Greg Stites if you would please look at Colossians chapter 1 well. I start by saying how thankful I am to be asked to speak this morning about what may be the most profound aspects of our salvation in all the New Testament, though it is ironically often neglected and sometimes misunderstood this particular truth is central to almost every other blessing that God has given to us because of Christ's, and I am not overstating the case.
Our hearts have been warmed and encouraged through the wonderful teaching we have enjoyed already in the series are great salvation and we have heard about grace and mercy and about justification and atonement, but these blessings of our salvation as well as so many of others, including our election, our redemption and our reconciliation, our adoption into God's family.
Our new life. Our spiritual freedom righteousness fellowship in the church, our sanctification, our Christian growth are preservation our perseverance, our future glorification.
All of these blessings and more are only hours because of this central truth that I'm speaking about this morning. In fact, John Calvin wrote that when it comes to understanding our salvation. This truth has the highest degree of importance. John Murray who is an important 20th century theologian who left Princeton seminary to help Jaeger SMH and begin Westminster called our subject this morning. The central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation.
Murray said it is not simply a phase of the application of redemption. It underlies every aspect of redemption. What is this central far-reaching truth. Paul refers to it in Colossians chapter 1 verses 25 to 27 look there with me.
In verse eight and eight in Colossians 1.5 Paul says that he has been made a minister, according to the dispensation of the calling of God which is given to me for you that is Paul's calling from God to be an apostle on their behalf to fulfill the word of God. What word whatever the word is Paul calls it a mystery. In the next verse, a mystery in the New Testament is a truth that is unknowable its truth that remains hidden until God chooses to reveal it. So Paul says.
Notice that this word is the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of his glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is what what is this mystery here it is Christ in you the hope of glory.
Now I want you to consider very carefully this phrase Christ in you, we are used to thinking. I think too lightly about this kind of language in the New Testament we read Christ in you, and we remember that Christ dwells in our hearts by faith. But we need to give the spiritual teaching.
The weight that it deserves. In fact, what Paul refers to is only one part of the truth.
Yes, Christ is in us, but the corollary to Christ dwelling in us is equally true. Not only is Christ in us that we are in Christ. Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature second Corinthians 5 Romans 81 says there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. First Corinthians 1522 for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. The New Testament Scriptures are full of this in Christ language there not just spiritual words, they are just Christian speak when Paul uses the expression in Christ, he is referring to this great mystery now revealed our union with Christ.
The New Testament speaks multiple places of the fact that we are in Christ. Ephesians 1 for he have chosen us in him before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 210. We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Galatians 328 we are all one in Christ when believers die, they are even referred to as dead in Christ.
First Thessalonians 416, but the corollary is equally true Christ is in us. Galatians 220 I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live yet not I but Christ liveth in me. Ephesians 317 and if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
So these two ideas. The believer in Christ and Christ in the believer come together in a unique way. In the New Testament and sometimes the two are brought together in the same context. John 15 for Jesus says abide in me and I in you.
First John 413 we dwell in him and he in us now as it always tell by the way I'm hurrying.
There is so much that we can be said this morning about our union with Jesus Christ but my goal in these next few moments is to encourage our hearts of faith with the mag deficits of these truths, and for some of you to open your eyes to this New Testament teaching so that you will rejoice and grow in your own understanding of salvation. Whenever you encounter the idea of union with Christ in the text of Scripture in order to accomplish these goals are and then ask you to turn back several pages in your New Testament to Romans chapter 6 if you can understand. Romans chapter 6.
Then you can understand our union with Christ and if you can commit yourselves to the teaching of Romans six, then you can live out the implications of your union with Christ and through a brief look at Romans six, we will look at two aspects of our union with Christ this morning.
First of all, the explanation of this union and secondly the explication of this union, or to put more simply, how union with Christ works and what union with Christ means before we read the text I meant to give you the explanation of union with Christ how it works so that you will be able to see it more clearly when we read Romans six in just a few moments. So, here is the essence of our union with Christ. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ. God doesn't just save us like he's zapping us with something that we now own in ourselves. No, what God does is far more profound than that when we come to faith in Jesus Christ. God places us in Christ, so that what is true of Christ is now true of us. In other words, he unites us with his son. He brings us into an intimate union with his son, and all of the blessings of our salvation are a result not of something that God necessarily does to us, but of that union with in us that we now share with Jesus Christ. That is why we are justified because Christ is just that is why we are being sanctified because Christ is holy, that is why we are reconciled to the father because Christ is at peace with the father what is true of Christ is true of us and that is why the explanation of our being in Christ is bound up in this word union. It refers to this unique eternal oneness that we share with the son of God, because we have been united in him now with all this in mind, let's observe this union in Romans six, first we have to get our bearings. Romans six begins with a question that Paul expects his readers to ask because he has just share the gospel with them. In chapters 3 to 5 in the gospel so completely saves.
It is so free that when you tell the gospel correctly, you will almost always raise this question in people's minds.
If there tracking with you if you're thinking through what you're saying they will object to minute you mean I can trust Christ for salvation and then just keep on sending and let God. Give me all the grace he wants. If anyone ever says that to you when you try to share the gospel with them.
You're in good company because Paul apparently got that to and we know this because he raises the question himself in verse one, what shall we say then shall we continue in sin that grace may abound God for bid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein to see how he answers can become to Christ and the continuance sin is that the way the normal believer behaves, no way, not even a chance why Paul well verse two if we died to sin. How can we continue to live in sin, but how did we died to sins of the we no longer desire sin did God work some kind of magic in our hearts so that he dead in that part of us that wants to sin. No, God did something far greater. He united us with his son and that's what Paul wants us to know in this chapter. So, look what he says in verses 3 to 4 know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death. That's his death that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the father, even so we also should walk in newness of life know you have to look very carefully what Paul just said.
He said that we come to Christ for salvation and baptism is mentioned because it's the New Testament symbol about salvation. We died with Christ when he died verse three and when we were buried away. We were buried with Christ when he was buried verse four and we were raised up from the dead with Christ. When the father raised him up, and now we live with Christ.
We walk in newness of life with him. How can this be will look at verse five and see how Paul summarizes what he is just said you hit the highlights of what he says in verses 3 to 4 death and resurrection verse five. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Explanation of how this can be is centered in the terms planted together. He uses the word planted because that's what happens when you bury somebody with the expectation or as you say you bury something with the expectation that something else is going to burst forth. You buried treasure you plant seeds because you expect the seed to sprout out of the earth and bear fruit. So when you do with the body that won't stay dead.
You planted but notice Christ was implanted alone when you came to faith in him you were planted to gather with him and you burst forth with him and now you live with him and let's read one more phrase from verse six. Before I try to tie all of this together. Paul writes, knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him.
The old man here is Paul's phrase for what you were in Adam, you realize that you are all born into the Adams family tree you related to Adam, when you came to this world. You say I knew that Adam was the first man. He's ahead of the human family tree.
Okay so you realize the problem with that right. Remember first rent is 5022 that we read a few minutes ago in Adam all die. That's a problem. Do you know how God fixes that problem when you come to him by faith. Does he fix your sin problem by giving you some kind of spiritual shield against death does he give you spiritual vaccination. No, instead he takes you out of union with Adam, the head of your old race and places you into union with the head of a new race which is Jesus Christ. In Adam all die, but in Christ all are made alive. That is why first Corinthians 127 says Christ in you the hope of glory.
Adam fell from the glory that he was created in.
He marred our humanity and so we are all born into the world in Adam having fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 323 but when we are placed in Christ, the hope of glory is restored for one day we will be like Jesus Christ in his glory because we are in him now. How does God take us out of this union with Adam and places into union with Christ back to verse six. Our old man. The person we used to be in Adam is crucified with Christ.
He's dead, he's gone is not just wounded. He's dead.
That person you used to be with that relation to the Adam. He died with Christ.
When you became a believer and when you rose with Christ you were a new creation, a new man a new person with a new family tree. So here's how it works. In summary, when you came to faith in Jesus Christ.
God brought you into an intimate union with his son union that was so complete that when Christ died, you died when he was buried. It's as if you were buried when he rose from the dead. You rose from the dead and now you walk in newness of resurrection life just like Jesus does, you're not the old person you used to be. You are completely new in Christ.
In fact, your union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection and new life parallels the gospel. Paul says in verse 20 is 15 Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
He was buried was raised again from the dead the third day according to the Scriptures.
He was seen. We always forget that part. But most of the text is about the fact that he was seen approves the resurrection. So one way to summarize this truth. When we come to Christ for salvation we come. Believing the gospel message Christ died for me, but now that we are living as believers in Christ, we must rejoice and live in light of this truth in order to understand all of our spiritual blessings. I died with Christ.
Furthermore, our union with Christ pertains not only to his death and resurrection, but to many other aspects as well. Paul not only says that we died with Christ and are buried with Christ and are raised with Christ, and we live with Christ. He also says we are seated with Christ. Ephesians 26 that we suffer with Christ. Romans 817 that we will be glorified with Christ that we will one day reign with Christ in addition to this, Paul's letters are full of references to our being in Christ and in him and with him and in whom, and if you haven't realized that before you have to start reading the New Testament with new eyes.
I never really saw it myself until I was a seminary student in Minneapolis Artie married with with kids and this truth finally came home to me and it changed my whole perspective on my Christian walk.
Once you learn to recognize this glorious truth of our union with Christ you will begin to see it everywhere in the New Testament, especially in Paul and he will cause you to rejoice in you will deepening your understanding of and your affection for our great salvation, but this just isn't just a theological truth.
There are implications for us because this is true and so briefly, I would like to suggest just a couple of ideas under the title of the explication of what it means to be united with Christ. In other words, what does are being united with Christ mean well. If Christ is in us and we are in him.
If that can be summarized with the word union and the implications of that union can be summarized with this word identification identification because you are no longer in Adam, but you are now in Jesus Christ. You have a completely new identity, and it is your identity in Christ that now defines you. In fact, your maturity as a believer is directly related to who you realize that you really are in Christ that your value and your habits and your interests and your love and your relationships and your future are all bound up not in who you are anymore, but in who Christ is, you know what we do not realize our identity with Christ is very easy to try to go along and live the Christian life as if were mimicking others who are living at or mimicking what the Scripture is telling us to do using our own strength in our own understanding only. I grew up the son of conservative Baptist pastor, and I was in the public school through sixth grade, but when I became 1/7 grader. My parents sent me to a very large Christian school in the Detroit area. We found out later was kind of one of those Christian schools that was Christian in name only, and the kids from forever from all kinds of different backgrounds and churches and some of them were not even in church and I was appalled by so many of my classmates in my note perfectly righteous seventh grade form, who call themselves Christians.
And yet, things that I was taught in my house. Christian should never do so I took it upon myself to inform my large junior high class how worldly they were. If I thought they were listening to bad music. I would tell them that's worldly. If they were wearing a modest clothing.
I would say that's worldly. If they made entertainment choices I thought were inappropriate. I would tell them that's worldly and I had no love for them, but I was going to conform them to my Christian image.
It wasn't a good year for me. If I remember correctly I was beat up 11 times and maybe maybe less than that.
It seems like that many in that summer I took some time to rethink my mission strategy to that school but were some the things those kids were doing worldly sure. Maybe. But you see my problem was that my identification was not in Christ. I was merely identifying with the Christian code of conduct that difference is not the same thing.
Had I discovered who I was in Christ that what is true of him is true of me, I would've still had the right sense of right and wrong but it would have been tempered by grace and love and wisdom and discernment and true courage, and above all a humbling sense of my own inadequacy outside of Christ. That would've made me consider myself blessed by also be tempted and maybe you can relate somehow to this stage in my adolescent years, or maybe you're struggling with something different, maybe are struggling personally with sin and you believe that sin in your life is a losing battle, and you will always be defeated and that you will never have the will to resist.
Let me encourage you this morning. You won't ever have the will to resist but if you are a believer in Christ than you are united with he who did resist sin and one and what is true of him is true of you. You have been given everything you need in him to say no to sin. In fact, Romans six explains how God has freed us from sin looked down at verse eight he says now if we be dead with Christ for united in his death, we believe we shall also live with him, knowing that Christ being raised from the dead die of no more death hath no more dominion over him, for in that he died he died under sin once, but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God now and what says if you really think about what he saying in verse 10. In what sense can we say that the sinless son of God died unto sin.
Well, we know that sin has at least three aspects. There is a penalty for sin and the power that sin has over our lives and on earth. We are always in the presence of sin, sinful people in simple ideas will Jesus Christ left heaven's glories and entered into since peasant presence. He paid sin's penalty and he conquered sin's power. Then he laughed since presence to be at the right hand of the father. By contrast, we were born into. Since presence dominated by sin's power destined to pay sin's penalty, but through the faith in the gospel of Christ. We were placed in Christ. What became true for him became true for us through Christ we no longer owe sin's penalty.
One day in Christ, we will leave since presence and for now, we are no longer under sin's power. That is the reason Paul is horrified in this tax at the thought that we could sin after salvation because we have been united with Christ.
If Christ could sin heedlessly, so could we but that is not who we are. We are in Christ. Now, conquering sin in our lives is more than just realizing who we are in Christ, but it is at least realizing who we are in Christ realizing our true identity.
Let me go a step further. As part of our identity in Christ. We are also freed from death because back in verse nine it says death is no longer master over him. He didn't death has no dominion over Christ any longer. He broke from the he broke free from death. In fact, Christ resurrection is our resurrection. It's the same resurrection. You know that because that's why Christ is called the firstfruits of them that sleep. We are the second fruits we have eternal life. This morning, not because God zapped us with eternal life, but because he placed us in Christ and of Christ could die this morning. Then we could die but he lives eternally. That is why we live eternally and realizing who we are in Christ gives us an eternal perspective. Finally, one of I think the greatest implications of our being in Christ is understanding our value in the eyes of God. Not only are we free from sin and death. But we are completely accepted in Christ.
Ephesians 16 says to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved that is accepted in Jesus Christ you know this morning that God loves you as his children. If you're in Christ this morning he really does. It's not because you're especially lovely outside of him. It's because of who you are in him. Some of you though don't feel loved by God and are discouraged others of you feel loved by God, but that's because you're doing something to make yourself acceptable to God, and you would never say that. But in the back of your mind you started giving out this power boost by how many good things you're doing so the season to keep pouring out his love on you.
It's a lie.
There is nothing in us that merits God's acceptance of us. We are accepted because of who Christ is not because of who we are in one of the most endearing photographs in our national archives are pictures of John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office with his children was the first time that the president had been young enough to have little children and there are pictures you can find online. There are so cute a little Caroline and John Junior underneath the president's desk and sometimes they're in their Halloween costumes and here they are dancing in the Oval Office and John Kennedy is is sitting there clapping with them having fun with the children out think for just a minute as we close about the implications of this picture. Where are these children the Oval Office, nobody gets into the Oval Office. Hardly anybody say it's not on the tour. You can look down the West Wing, sometimes I'm totally catch a glimpse of the door.
I think I remember hearing that, but that's it. You have to be invited in. And that usually happens. If you have connections or something special happened or your king or president or some dignitary, and I've heard that's an awesome experience. So how can these little children be so at peace playing in the Oval Office, a place where the greatest of men and women have felt their knees weekend just to walk into and meet the president of United States. How can these children be filled with such joy and tranquility. What's the difference between the president's children and the leaders of the world. The differences who these children know themselves to be when the kings and ambassadors and dignitaries are received into the Oval Office. They are coming to meet the leader of the free world. But these children are coming into the presence of their father who loves them.
The difference is their identity. Listen as a believer in Christ, God the father loves you like. He loves his beloved son, Jesus. It's it's hard for us to even imagine that for the Scripture says it's true. Read John 17 because you are in him and he has given you every provision to rest in him and live for him. If you're not doing that you know what it is that you're missing you're missing what he tells us in Romans 611.
He says rack, and he also yourselves to be dead indeed under sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, you know what reckoned means reckoned means counted to be true because it is true we are in Christ and he is in us in every blessing God wants wants to pour upon is all the blessings that he already has a word certain were still realizing come to this wonderful intimate union that we have with the Lord Jesus Christ lures Lewis Sperry Schaefer said there is probably no word of Scripture with Mort which more clearly defines the essential facts concerning the Christians in the phrase in Christ and as a Christian is the most important fact about creation. There is never been a word uttered, which was so far-reaching and its implication, which is fraught with greater meaning to humanity than the phrase in Christ. Let it encourage us to stop living a defeated or discouraged or self-righteous Christian life and recognize who we are in him and begin to experience the riches of his grace to the praise of his glory. Father, thank you for this rich found teaching of your word may we seek it and understand it and grow in it according to your grace because he asked for these things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, you been listening to a sermon preached by seminary professor Dr. Greg Starks on Monday will have a special program celebrating MLK day and then will continue the study series on salvation next Tuesday here on The Daily Platform