Entering Our Position in Christ

This chart represents four stages a Christian goes through to arrive at a mature abiding in Christ. Some Believers never progress beyond childhood (the first three stages).

FOUR STAGES OF GROWTH

1. JOY – ADOPTION Romans 8:14-16; 2 Cor 5:17 – (emotionally rewarding)

2. FOR ME THE PROMISES OF GOD Ephesians ch’s 1-3; 2 Pet 1:4 (self gain oriented)

3. FOR HIM – PERFORMANCE 1 Cor 3:6-15; Eph 6:7, 8; Phil 2:12; Ja 2:14,18,26; Tit 3:8 (labourer) service is emphasised above maturity/relationship; doing, not being, becomes the assumed purpose of salvation.

DEATH* a dark valley where we begin to lose the supports we were comforted in, family, friendships, church and/or financial security, and where God becomes our only hope and support and yet seems distant too (Job 23:8-12- silence of God)

DEUTERONOMY 8:1-10 [the principle]…to know what is in your heart..

1 Peter 4:12-19; 5:6-10

Romans chapters 6, 7, 8

Hebrews 12: 1-( 10, 11)-13

4. THE BLESSING – REST [1] – THANKFUL – FAITHFUL – WORSHIP/DEVOTED PRAYER – ILLUMINATION – INTIMATE COMMUNION WITH THE PRESENCE OF GOD. Ps 16:11; Ps 31:19; John 14:1- to 15:11; Gal 4:1-7; Heb 4: 9, 10; Matt 11:28-30;

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* This is where we give up trying to justify our condition any longer, or bemoaning our lot in life. We learn not to blame other people or circumstances for the persons we have become. We accept our limitations – contentment. Also, and more to the point, this is where we give up the battle of trying to improve the old man and instead accept Jesus’ righteousness and His Holy Spirit imparted power for holiness. This sets us free from the burden of ourselves. Matt 11:28-30.

Gal 2:19-21

19 “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.

20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

21 “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”

(NKJ)

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Once we have passed through the ‘valley of death’, and are growing as spiritual adults we have a new focus and experience in our faith. Our completeness does the following:

#1 Prevents us from striving for –

-forgiveness Col 2:13,14*

-acceptance or qualification Eph 1:6 KJV; Col 1:12-14

-blessing based on Law obedience instead of Christ inheritance Gal 2:16 [2]

-commendation through self-righteous works Gal 6:13-15; Phil 3:9; Ro 12:1. [3]

-maturity through the accumulation of knowledge 1 Tim 6:20, 21; 1 Cor 2:4,5; 8:1; Col 2:8 [4]

-personal confidence measured by performance 1 Cor 15:9, 10; Ro 6:7; Phil2:12, 13; Col 1:28, 29

-for a hearing with God Heb 10:19-22; Ehp 3:12

-for victory over sinful self by increased strength Ro 6:11; 7:25; 2 Cor 12:10; 3:4-6

#2 Instead it gives us rest

-in God’s ability and purpose (adopted for glory) 1 Jn 3:2,3

-of being satisfied and committed to my role in His created order (humility) Ro 12:3-8

-in the assurance of His ability to keep me (security) Jude 24, 25; 1 Cor 1:8, 9; Heb 10:23

-in His wisdom as to the illumination of His will and person (timing) Dan 2:20-23; 1 Pet 5:6, 10

-in His fatherhood expressed by grace as revealed in Christ Ro 8:15; Gal 4:5-7

-God’s provision, freely given, to meet every existent need in Christ 1 Cor 2;12; Eph 3:20, 21; Ro 8:32

-unrestricted access to the Father Ro 5:1, 5; Heb 4:15, 16. [5]

#3 The fruit of this expanded love is-

-a love for the community of saints (holy love desiring purity in self and the Body)

-love motivated obedience (true righteousness, not just works to gain personal benefit)

-submission to authority, structure and created order (harmony)

-peace with the universe and man through our peace with God (tranquillity)

-fruit of wisdom expressed before man acquired from God (moral purity)

-perseverance and endurance in righteousness (faithfulness)

-good works (rightly motivated unto the glory of God not self improvement or reputation)

never souly alone.

*#1 Prevents us from striving for –

-forgiveness Col 2:13,14 …having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.(NIV)

Do we never need to ask for forgiveness? Yes we do. We ask for forgiveness for sins brought to light through the work of the Holy Spirit. BUT we do not strive for forgiveness in the sense that we have to maintain salvation through confession as though we go to hell if not, or become dethroned from being in Christ, because of any unconfessed sin in our lives. We confess our sins, not to maintain forgiveness, but to maintain relationship and empowered righteousness! God’s total forgiveness is afforded us through the merit and work of Christ alone (Eph 1;5; 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5)! We have forgiveness for all our sins.

“…if you believe that on that cross He was dying for you and your sin, you have been forgiven; you have no need to ask for forgiveness, you have been forgiven … The Christian, therefore, should always be a [person] who knows that his sins are forgiven. He should not be seeking it, he should know he has it, that he is justified in Christ freely by the grace of God,…” [6]

However, to grow in maturity and maintain our intimate communion with God we are to walk in the light. (1 Jn 1:7).

Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted* in the Beloved. (NKJ) *accepted = charitoo (khar-ee-to’-o); to grace, i.e. endue with special honour: KJV– make accepted, be highly favoured.

“..all to few people are enjoying the benefits of acceptance in their daily walk. The Believer who is not aware of his position of acceptance in Christ in caught in the struggle to improve his condition in order to feel acceptable to God. But the believer who abides in the Lord Jesus as his righteousness and acceptance is freed from futile self-effort. Standing in his position, he trusts Christ to manifest Himself increasingly in his life. He is free from the burden of himself and has become burdened on behalf of others.” Miles Stanford; Principles of Spiritual Growth.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (KJV)

Obeying the Law gains us no more merit than we already have through faith in Christ. Does not this give us cause to worship? If we obey for merit, favour, acceptance, we are seeking self-merit by performance, and we move ourselves out from under free grace (Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain; Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (NIV)

When we receive Christ, God places in our account full inheritance rightsFor in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Col 2:9-10 (Eph 1:3; 2:6). We do not earn this inheritance; we draw from it during our Christian walk. We do not gain any more than that placed in our account which is abundant beyond our comprehension (Eph 3:20)

Eph 1:3 has blessed (past tense); Eph 2:6-7 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus). We can never gain more love, acceptance, favour, resource than we have now already in Christ! See 2 Pet 1:3ff

The process of sanctification is appropriating that which is given to us in Christ. We can’t gain more through our obedience but we can lose because of our disobedience -(2Jn 8; 1 Cor 3:15;) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise Heb 10:36 (NKJ). We do not gain more by our behaviour but we do lose by our wilful disobedience, living or giving in to sin, or believing deception (Heb 10:36; Col 2:8).

PRAISE THEN IS THE EXALTATION OF GOD’S CHARACTER!

“His flood tide of blessing – all that is impelled by infinite love – awaits, not the imploring, prevailing appeal that might move Him to be gracious, but rather it awaits the simple willingness on the part of men to receive what He has already provided, and is free to bestow in and through His Son, the Saviour.” LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, III, PG 389

There is a time frame from within the Valley to experiencing the reality of Christ’s inheritance. The principle involved is:

APPREHEND KNOWLEDGE. This is the only part we have direct control over, is discovering the knowledge of God’s perspective through the Word.

APPROPRIATE BY FAITH. This is where the person must appropriate the knowledge in faith and live according to the revealed knowledge. We may encourage the person to apply the truth by faith, but we have no control to make the person live the truth.

ACQUIRE REALTY of these truths in the emotions and personality is totally out of the control of the individual’s ability to experience on his own. This is the ultimate work of God through the Holy Spirit. This is God’s part alone – making these truths an emotional reality.

Now it must be understood that the time period from apprehending, appropriation (or applying faith), and experiencing the reality may be longer than we would normally want. This tests our resolve to ‘hang in there’

REST:

POSITION IN CHRIST RULES ABOVE OUR CONDITION

Complete in Him … Col 2:10 [i]

Perfect in Christ Jesus Col 1:28

A VALLEY EXPERIENCE REFOCUSED

A Christian desiring to follow after God struggles to overcome sin [7] but is frustrated because he feels God is not helping him get rid of his sinful condition. [8] He senses that God is not making him stronger to overcome his sinfulness and wonders what is wrong. One sometimes feels that now he is saved he must try harder at being good so as to not blow his acceptance. He will try to be, and remain good, so as not to loose his salvation or favour from God and when that fails he wonders if he has lost his salvation or never had it. [9] But he must learn that God will not honour efforts towards self-righteousness. [10] The Christian must come to the realisation that God has crucified the old man and therefore the old man is not worth improving or remodelling but only to be discarded. [11] But the Christian is hopeful that he will improve what he is, that he’ll get better, that he will become worthy of the salvation in Christ. We don’t want to die, we want to improve so our pride may stay intact, and we want to have something commendable to offer at the throne. [12] The new creation is just that – New – the old has to progressively be discarded as we walk in the light.

-Our position is what God has given to me because of my belief in His Son and what Christ accomplished for me at the cross (theology). This is where I begin to understand how God sees me in Christ and not how I think God should evaluate me in light of my own estimation.

“The believer must learn by two means the fact that the self life is unimprovable. (1) Specific Scripture: God never intends to improve the old man, because, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God… neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned 1 Cor 2:14. Further, the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another Gal 5:17. Everything of the first Adam is unalterably opposed to everything of the last Adam. Self is implacable in its attitude toward God, having the very essence of the enemy. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be Romans 8:7. (2) personal experience: One’s daily life proves beyond doubt that the sinful Adamic source within never changes. The awakened and honest believer must admit that self is as capable of sin after fifty years of the Christian life as it was before he was saved – sometimes, it seems, even more so.

“No, our Father can accept nothing of the Adamic life, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘religious’ it may seem in the natural realm. And when the believer sees that God has taken all the old life to the cross and crucified it with Christ, he will like-wise count [reckon] it crucified, and take his place of consecration as alive to God in Christ Jesus.” [13]

OUR REST MENTIONED IN MATT 11:29, 30; AND HEB 4:9-11.

We rest from our own performance to gain God’s acceptance, instead we accept thankfully our position in Christ given by God through faith (Phil 3:9).

“..readers [of Hebrews 4:9] need to model their lives after Jesus Christ who “was faithful to the one who appointed Him” (3:2) and must be careful to “hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (3:14; cf 3:6). Only thus would they be able to rest from their works in the joyful possession of their inheritance in the messianic kingdom.” [14]

OUR POSITION: FIRST STEP

JUSTIFIED RO 3:20, 24; 8:29, 30; 5:1

-Treated by God as though I was just, righteous, not as a criminal to be dealt with condemnation. NO RECKONING OF SINS. It is how God treats me in light of my faith in His Son’s finished work on the cross.

-In sinning God treats you as a child needing correction not a criminal deserving eternal death.

“God does not punish the Christian for sin. God disciplines His children, but He doesn’t punish them. The distinction is this: punishing carries the idea of satisfying justice for a crime. But Christ satisfied the Father’s justice. Therefore, God does discipline us, that is, He brings problems and struggles into our lives so that we will not stray from the main road. He is not angry with us but disciplines us so we can mature.

“…..remember God will always disciplines in love. God cannot be angry with us, nor can he punish us since Christ received the punishment for us. All the ammunition of God’s justice was exhausted on Him. Therefore whatever happens to us is designed for our good, that is, to lead us to a more meaningful relationship with God…. Confession removes all guilt but not necessarily all consequences. God uses these circumstances, the dilemmas of the Christian life in general, to develop rich qualities within us. Therefore we can experience a joyful relationship with God, even when facing problems that are our own fault.” ERWIN LUTZER – FAILURE THE BACK DOOR TO SUCCESS.

ACCEPTED EPH 1:6 (KJV); COL 1:12

-We are acceptable [15] to God in Christ.

God does not see what potential we can reach but sees the potential of what He is able to do with our faith in Him. I may be accepted, but everything that I do may not be acceptable. I may sometimes be ashamed of my ‘walk’ and myself but God is never embarrassed to be my Father; He knew all of me before He died for me and so nothing will embarrass Him.

Acceptation: to receive favour, to take pleasure in, well pleasing, the act of receiving… These words are full of the abundant grace of God and are rich in comfort to believers. That which makes man, in word, work and character, acceptable to God; and renders it possible for God to accept him, his service and sacrifice, is the fullness of the Divine mercy and grace and forgiveness.” INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPAEDIA

The same word structure is applied to Mary in Lk 1:28 – she was highly favoured.

“Mary is highly favoured because she is the recipient of God’s grace… shows that the grace in view here is that which is given all believers apart from merit of [their] own” Bible Commentary.

This word structure is only used one other area in the New Testament in Ep 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted [bestowed favor upon us] in the Beloved.

Mary was highly favoured by God’s consideration of her. Literal translation: to the praise of His glorious grace which He graced to us.

“Obviously God had bestowed a special honour on her. She was a special recipient of His grace.” Bible knowledge Commentary.

SANCTIFIED 1 COR 1:30; 6:11; HEB 10:10

God sets us apart from the world as His own personal project; He relates to us differently than those of the world and we have no power to change God’s commitment to us in Christ.

-This relationship is appropriated and experienced through purity and full surrender to His love and desire for us. Called apart to a different life and citizenship to a different kingdom.

“All Christian living meant for [Paul} clean, pure, right living, and that was sanctification eg 1 Thess 4:3, 4, 7″INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYCLOPAEDIA

– We are in the process of becoming. Not the degree of achievement is the focus but the right attitude toward the ideal, living as people God has already declared we are.

RIGHTEOUS 1 COR 1:30; 2 COR 5:21; PHIL 3:9

-In a right relationship with one another. God’s agreement with was based on promises – I will be your God – promised to be His people – this relationship was righteous as long as both parties submitted to their part of the agreement.

-Man, here illustrated through, broke the relationship conditions; therefore man is not the one who can re-establish the relationship for he is the one who broke the agreement! The act of re-establishing the agreement is based on the kind intent of the offended partner. The one who did not break the contract must be willing to reach out for the good of the lost one. The offended one, God, has every legal right to deny relationship with a sinner.

-Through Jesus Christ, God has established the avenue to have a righteous relationship with Him. That is, when a person admits failure, through sin, and accepts Christ as his righteousness, it as an act of faith in God’s gracious provision. This is not based on any merit on the person’s behalf, or acts of obedience to the Law, for that old contract (which was directed toward ) has been made void for the true believer. Heb 8:7-13.

“The New Testament uses five terms to summarise our salvation: 1) justification 2) redemption 3) reconciliation 4) forgiveness 5) sonship….

“In justification we stand before God as sinners declared righteous after being accused. In redemption the sinner stands before God as a slave and is granted freedom by ransom. In reconciliation the sinner stands before God as an enemy who becomes a friend. In forgiveness the sinner stands before God as a debtor whose debt has been paid in full. In sonship the sinner stands before God as a stranger who is made a [full heir]. Doctrinally, that is our position before God Himself.” DAN DEHAAN; THE GOD YOU CAN KNOW; MOODY PRESS

OUR CONDITION: my emotional make-up, which has been established over time by the flesh, tends to rob me of God’s truth about me in Christ. My flesh demands my emotions be the test of validity or truth. I must believe God is true and what He says is trustworthy even if I struggle with experiential reality.

THE ONLY REQUIREMENT, OTHER THAN BELIEF IN GOD’S PROPITIOUSNESS [16] , IS TO BE ACTIVELY INVOLVED WITH HIS WORKING IN MY LIFE. HOW? BY WALKING IN THE LIGHT, AND THAT LIGHT IS ABIDING IN TRUTH! [17]

“To walk in the light is in no sense a matter of attaining sinless perfection; that would be to become the light which God alone is. It is rather to be responsive to the light, which God sheds into the heart. It is the attitude of willingness to confess immediately every sin as soon as it is recognised to be sin. Such confession brings the Christian at once into moral agreement with God. He shares God’s denunciation of his sin and this becomes the basis of a renewal of fellowship with God.” LEWIS SPERRY CHAFER, SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY VOL III, PG 101

The guilt of my condition can be the preoccupation of the thought life and efforts.

– The feelings of not measuring up to what I should or could be in light of the standards set so high by the Law.

– Of not being what God has called me to be in Christ.

– Of not being as good as I feel I’m supposed to be.

The guilt of my condition is only dealt with by acknowledging my position given to me from God the Father based upon Christ’s accomplishment alone. I am to rest in God’s ability to deal with my present condition! I then offer myself as I am by trusting in His ability (Jude 24). The Focus then is not in my ability to accomplish fruitful sanctification but His ability to produce in my willing heart all that He desires for me in Christ! I then offer non-resistance as He forms in me what He pleases through my co-operation – by walking in the light! All through this process my position in Christ does not change. Humility is the issue, an acceptance of hopelessness to accomplish righteousness, thus producing a firm clinging to God’s promises and Holy Spirit power on my behalf. God does not look for what we can accomplish for Him but sees the potential of what He is able to do for the contrite heart devoted to trusting Him (Isa 57:15; Ps 51:17; Isa 66:2).

Understanding, responding, and living from our position in Christ is most essential to spiritual maturity! The more we realize this, the more Holy Spirit’s power works into our souls and outwardly through us into the world around us.

WE ARE TO LIVE FROM THE POSITION OF HAVING BEEN FORGIVEN INSTEAD OF WORKING TOWARD MAINTAINING FORGIVENESS OR MERIT. THIS FREES US FROM USELESS SELF-EFFORT. WE CAN BE AT REST THOUGH ACTIVE.

In service we learn to either return to the beginning of trust; the goal of working with God and not for God. John 15:14-15 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

We know well of Christ’s substitution for our sins but how many identify with His resurrection? The Spirit, if the goal is maturity, will move us to change our disposition toward doing the things we do, and learn to relate to the mind of God in fulfilling His will! We no longer pursue success for childish affirmation that we are saved or to gain acceptance but live to only serve His will alone (Phil 3:9); not to gain merit or acceptance but to please Him who made us acceptable and forgiven. [18]

Zech 4:6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. (KJV)

John 5:30-32 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgement is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me `”If I alone bear witness of Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the testimony which He bears of Me is true.

Jn 4: 23, 24 ..such the Father seeks.. truth and spirit … trusting in His promise and ability.


[1] Not striving to gain what Christ has already accomplished on our behalf.

[2] We don’t gain any merit through obeying the Law, but through obedience we don’t hinder Christ’s intention in us.

[3] If we live perfectly, what do we add to God, that’s how God intended we live anyway.

[4] Maturity is not only knowledge, but being coupled with moral living in the fear of God.

[5] All resources and authority of God are freely made available solely through Christ.

[6] Martin Lloyd Jones; Studies in the sermon on the mount pg 82

[7] Roman 7:13-24

[8] Phil 3:9

[9] Eph 2:8,9

[10] Titus 3:4-7

[11] Col 3:2, 3

[12] Ro 6:6-14

[13] Green Letters; Miles Stanford; Clarion Classics

[14] Bible Knowledge Commentary, page 789

[15] 1 Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I am accepted in Christ, favoured by God’s grace. My Christian behaviour may not be acceptable. That does not however change God’s favour to me in spite of my behaviour.

[16] Kind and willing intention to me.

[17] 1 Jn 1:5-10; Eph 5:7-21

[18] We then please Him by celebrating our position in Christ and living from God’s accomplished will for us through Christ. Acts 7:20;2 Cor 5:9; Phil 4:18; Col 1:10; Col 3:20; 1 Thess 2:4; Titus 2:9; Heb 13:21; 1 John 3:22.


[i] COMPLETE (kom-plet’): In the King James Version for pleroo, the verb ordinarily used for the coming to pass of what had been predicted. the King James Version translates this “complete” in Col 2:10; 4:12 to express the final and entire attainment of what is treated, leaving nothing beyond to be desired or hoped for; otherwise rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) (“made full”). In the Revised Version (British and American), c. appears once for Greek artios, from aro, “to join,” in 2 Tim 3:17, in sense of “accurately fitted for,” where the King James Version has “perfect.”

(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)

Now, the remarkable thing is this: every believer shares that fullness! “And you are complete in Him ” ( Col 2:10). The tense of the Greek verb indicates that this fullness is a permanent experience. Dr. Kenneth Wuest’s very literal Expanded Translation reads, “And you are in Him, having been completely filled full with the present result that you are in a state of fullness. ”

When a person is born again into the family of God, he is born complete in Christ. His spiritual growth is not by addition, but by nutrition. He grows from the inside out. Nothing needs to be added to Christ because He already is the very fullness of God. As the believer draws on Christ’s fullness, he is “filled unto all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19). What more does he need?

(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

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