Thursday, April 05, 2012

Risen With Christ



Praise the Lord for the resurrection of Christ!

Consider this also. When Jesus died on the Cross on that Good Friday, and took the wrath of God on Himself...in some mysterious way...we were in Him.

We were crucified with Him, and we died. By the grace of God, our old self died, in Christ.

Then we, in Christ, went to the tomb. We were “buried with Him through baptism”...the baptism by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.

Then when He was raised from the dead, we too were raised from the dead. Made alive to God through Christ Jesus.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together...--Eph. 2:4-6

In raising us up with Him, He gave us a whole new identity.

Where we were Sinners by nature, He made us Saints.

He made us His children, friends of Christ, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, in union with Him, adopted by Him, complete in Christ, free from condemnation, the righteousness of God in Christ, a branch of the Vine, chosen and appointed to bear fruit, the temple of the Holy Spirit, seated with Him in the heavenlies, God's workmanship, inseparable from the love of God, fully accepted in the Beloved.

We can assume no glory for it. All glory goes to the Lamb, who is worthy, who was slain from the foundation of the world.

We can know by faith that we are risen with Christ. And Easter, Resurrection Day, can have greater and greater meaning for us, when we see what God has accomplished in us.

Happy Resurrection Day!

6 comments:

Bino M. said...

Terry,

Great reminder of the truth!

There is something I have been pondering quite a bit these days and your post again brought it to the front of my mind.

When the Bible says "He made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together", do you think its applicable to the entire humanity?

I have heard many people say that it's something which was done for ALL people, but unless you appropriate it with "faith", it's not a reality for you.

So, the issue of "faith" seem to be so critical. Is it safe to say that it is necessary to have the "right faith" to be saved? Or "right faith" is merely a means by which we experience a reality which has already been true "before the foundations of the earth"? Bible says "the lamb was slain BEFORE the foundations of the earth" and in that case, I would think 2000 years ago he simply made it known to us.

Anyways, my struggle is this: If it's the "right faith" what makes us saved (though Christ died and raised for ALL), it raises a whole bunch of questions. Don't you think?

I am pointing to an argument the universalists often make: Is it the "faith" what saves us or is it purely grace alone? They would argue, if it's grace, it includes "all".

Terry Rayburn said...

Bino,

Great questions. Before I write what I believe the Bible teaches, let me illustrate with a little example I often use.

Picture that I show you a closed fist, and say, "Friend, I have a coin in my hand. Do you believe me?"

You may know me and figure I have no reason to lie, but the reality is that you can't REALLY TRULY believe I have a coin in my hand. you wouldn't bet your life on it. I might be lying, I might be joking, whatever. So you might "kind of" believe me, but not truly and fully.

Now if I open my hand and you actually SEE the coin lying in my hand, you not only BELIEVE I have a coin in my hand, you can't NOT believe it! It's a REVELATION to you. It's been REVEALED.

Now you have "faith" that the coin is there. Yet it's not a "faith" you manufactured or came up with yourself. It's not the "right faith", or "true faith" or anything except BELIEVING, which is not related to your WILL. You can't help it, because it's been revealed.

Okay.

1. When we are born, the Bible says that we are DEAD in our sins and trespasses (Eph. 2:1). This is a spiritual death that we inherited from Adam, down through the centuries.

2. As long as we are spiritually dead, we cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). Therefore, until Jesus Christ is REVEALED to someone by God, they are spiritually UNABLE to believe in Jesus Christ.

3. The way in which God REVEALS Jesus Christ to someone is through "regeneration" or being "born again". As Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3, unless one is born again, he cannot even SEE the kingdom of God. Let alone believe in the King!

4. But when Jesus Christ is revealed throught the new birth, we can't HELP but believe in Him, because He's not only REVEALED to us, but in the new birth we are given a new heart that loves Jesus and hates sin.

5. How does this New Birth and the REVEALING of Jesus Christ come about? Through the preaching of the Gospel: the death of Jesus for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection, with the promise that whoever believes in Him will be saved.

That's why Paul, in Rom. 1:16, said he is not ashamed of the Gospel...why? because it's the POWER OF GOD for salvation to everyone who believes.

(CONTINUED)

Terry Rayburn said...

(CONTINUED)

6. Apart from that new birth, EVERYONE would die in their sins, because men in their fallen state oppose Christ. Their very nature abhors the Gospel and is an enemy of Christ. They have a "free will" to choose Christ, but their will is in bondage to their fallen nature, and therefore they WILL NOT (you can just as well say "can not") receive Him.

7. But when God "opens the heart" of someone (like he did Lydia, for example - Acts 16:14), they believe (have "faith") in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whom God chooses to open their heart is entirely in the Sovereignty of God. These He calls the "elect", and He chose them before the foundation of the world, without conditions.

(You may as well know, if you don't already, that this Bible truth is despised by many who have the audacity to say that the Creator of the Universe would be "unfair" in being Sovereign in His choosing some to save and leaving others in their sins -- but I digress).

Anyway, even though that "faith" was not of their own making, it is credited to them as righteousness (Rom. 4:3-22), and God declares them righteous ("justifies" them), forgives their sins, and seals them with the Holy Spirit, indwelling them forever, and "baptizing" them spiritually into the Body of Christ.

8. This is why Universalism and the so-called "Trinitarianism" of Baxter Kruger and Steve McVey, for example, (not to be confused with the true biblical doctrine of the Trinity) are false in teaching that this stuff applies to everyone.

The right question is not, "Is it by faith or is it by grace alone?" The biblical answer is that we are saved:

a. By Grace (that is, entirely by God as an undeserved gift)...

b. Through Faith (that is, through believing the Good News about Jesus Christ, said faith given as a gift from God through regeneration and revelation)... - Eph. 2:8,9

9. Here's another article that might be helpful on this subject: The Primacy of Regeneration.

I would also recommend Luther's The Bondage of the Will if you want something a little heavy and polemical.

Also the London Baptist Confession of 1646. (I don't recommend the London Baptist Confession of 1689, because it's heavy with Covenant Theology, which does not "rightly divide" the Word between Old Covenant and New Covenant).

Hope that helps. I appreciate you much, Bino.

Blessings,
Terry

Terry Rayburn said...

By the way, an online copy of Luther's "Bondage" can be found at http://bibledoctrine.webs.com/Bondage.pdf.

Bino M. said...

"Apart from that new birth, EVERYONE would die in their sins"

I believe this. But my question is, WHEN does the new birth actually happen/occur? Has it happened for all men (or the elect) when Jesus raised from the dead, or does it happen at the time when one believes?

The verse from Eph seem to indicate that it happened (in the past) when He "made us alive together with Christ, and raised us up together".


"if I open my hand and you actually SEE the coin lying in my hand, you not only BELIEVE I have a coin in my hand, you can't NOT believe it! It's a REVELATION to you."

"But when God "opens the heart" of someone"

Whom God chooses to open their heart is entirely in the Sovereignty of God. These He calls the "elect", and He chose them before the foundation of the world, without conditions.

This is hard for me to stomach, especially when I look at it from the perspective of an infinitely loving Father. Don't you think? I agree that God's sovereignty probably doesn't make a logical sense to our finite human mind. But, I can’t help but wonder, why would God limit His grace?

Terry Rayburn said...

Bino,

1. As to when the new birth occurs...

It did not occur when Jesus was resurrected.

Jesus describes it as like the wind. It blows "wherever it will", and no one knows where it will blow next -- in other words, where and when God chooses to "regenerate" someone, they are born again.

"...born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, but of God." (John 1:13)

2. You wrote, "This is hard for me to stomach, especially when I look at it from the perspective of an infinitely loving Father."

That's why it's crucial for us to be sola scriptura, the "Scriptures alone" as our authority.

He is a loving Father, but as the word "father" implies, his ultimate love is to His children, whom He set His special "salvific" love on ("You shall call his name Jesus, for He SHALL save His people from their sins" - Matt. 1:21)

You wrote, "I can’t help but wonder, why would God limit His grace?"

Even if we didn't know "why", it would still be true that He opens the heart of some, and leaves some in their sins.

And in a way, He tells us that it's not our business "why" ("...who are you, O man, who answers back to God?....does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?" - Rom. 9:20,21)

And yet I think there ARE scriptures that give us some indication of "why".

For example, in the "potter and clay" section of Rom. 9, it says...

"What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory..."

He demonstrates his wrath and justice (on some), as well as His mercy on some ("which He prepared BEFOREHAND").

3. Having said all that, I think it's vital to say that He OFFERS salvation to all, and we certainly don't know who the elect are, and so we too should offer the Gospel to all.

It's also true that WHOEVER comes to Him, He will IN NO WAY cast out. WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

It's just that no one will believe in Him unless they are first regenerated. "Unless a man is born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God" -- let alone believe in the King.

4. It's been illustrated by the idea of us throwing matches into wooden barrels, some of which have some gunpowder in them, which explodes when the match hits.

Likewise, we preach the Gospel (the death of Jesus for sins, His burial and resurrection). Some will "come alive and believe" (not of the will of man, but of God).

5. To all who may read this "theological stuff", and who don't yet know the Lord Jesus Christ...don't worry about these intricate truths for now.

Simply hear this:

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, His death for your sins, His burial, and His resurrection for you, and you will be saved.

Come to Christ, and He will receive you with open arms.

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." - John 3:16