‘Of God are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, both righteousness and sanctification, and redemption’ (I Cor. 1:30, R.V. marg.).
‘My Father is the Husbandman’ (John 15:1).
God Himself has united you to Him
‘Ye are in Christ Jesus.’ The believers at Corinth were still feeble and carnal, only babes in Christ. And yet Paul wants them, at the outset of his teaching, to know distinctly that they are in Christ Jesus. The whole Christian life depends on the clear consciousness of our position in Christ. Most essential to the abiding in Christ is the daily renewal of our faith’s assurance, ‘I am in Christ Jesus.’ All fruitful preaching to believers must take this as its starting-point: ‘Ye are in Christ Jesus.’
But the apostle has an additional thought, of almost greater importance: ‘Of God are ye in Christ Jesus.’ He would have us not only remember our union to Christ, but specially that it is not our own doing, but the work of God Himself. As the Holy Spirit teaches us to realize this, we shall see what a source of assurance and strength it must become to us. If it is of God alone that I am in Christ, then God Himself, the Infinite One, becomes my security for all I can need or wish in seeking to abide in Christ.
Let me try and understand what it means, this wonderful ‘Of God in Christ.’ In becoming partakers of the union with Christ, there is a work God does and a work we have to do. God does His work by moving us to do our work. The work of God is hidden and silent; what we do is something distinct and tangible. Conversion and faith, prayer and obedience, are conscious acts of which we can give a clear account; while the spiritual quickening and strengthening that come from above are secret and beyond the reach of human sight. And so it comes that, when the believer tries to say, ‘I am in Christ Jesus,’ he looks more to the work he did, than to that wondrous secret work of God by which he was united to Christ. Nor can it well be otherwise at the commencement of the Christian course. ‘I know that I have believed,’ is a valid testimony. But it is of great consequence that the mind should be led to see that at the back of our turning, and believing, and accepting of Christ, there was God’s almighty power doing its work, — inspiring our will, taking possession of us, and carrying out its own purpose of love in planting us into Christ Jesus. As the believer enters into this, the Divine side of the work of salvation, he will learn to praise and to worship with new exultation, and to rejoice more than ever in the divineness of that salvation he has been made partaker of. At each step he reviews, the song will come, ‘This is the Lord’s doing,’ — Divine Omnipotence working out what Eternal Love had devised. ‘Of God I am in Christ Jesus.’
The words will lead him even further and higher, even to the depths of eternity. ‘Whom He hath predestinated, them He also called.’ The calling in time is the manifestation of the purpose in eternity. Ere the world was, God had fixed the eye of His sovereign love on thee in the election of grace, and chosen thee in Christ. That thou knowest thyself to be in Christ, is the stepping-stone by which thou risest to understand in its full meaning the word, ‘Of God I am in Christ Jesus.’ With the prophet, thy language will be, ‘The Lord hath appeared of old unto me: yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.’ And thou wilt recognise thine own salvation as a part of that ‘mystery of His will, according to the good pleasure of His will which He purposed in Himself,’ and join with the whole body of believers in Christ as these say, ‘In whom we also have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.’ Nothing will more exalt free grace, and make man bow very low before it, than this knowledge of the mystery ‘ Of God in Christ.’
It is easy to see what a mighty influence it must exert on the believer who seeks to abide in Christ. What a sure standing-ground it gives him, as he rests his right to Christ and all His fulness on nothing less than the Father’s own purpose and work! We have thought of Christ as the Vine, and the believer as the branch; let us not forget that other precious word, ‘My Father is the Husbandman.’ The Saviour said, ‘Every plant which my Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up;’ but every branch grafted by Him in the True Vine, shall never be plucked out of His hand. As it was the Father to whom Christ owed all He was, and in whom He had all His strength and His life as the Vine, so to the Father the believer owes his place and his security in Christ. The same love and delight with which the Father watched over the beloved Son Himself, watches over every member of His body, every one who is in Christ Jesus.
What confident trust this faith inspires, — not only as to the being kept in safety to the end, but specially as to the being able to fulfil in every point the object for which I have been united to Christ. The branch is as much in the charge and keeping of the husbandman as the vine; his honour as much concerned in the well-being and growth of the branch as of the vine. The God who chose Christ to be Vine fitted Him thoroughly for the work He had as Vine to perform. The God who has chosen me and planted me in Christ, has thereby engaged to secure, if I will but let Him, by yielding myself to Him, that I in every way be worthy of Jesus Christ. Oh that I did but fully realize this! What confidence and urgency it would give to my prayer to the God and Father of Jesus Christ! How it would quicken the sense of dependence, and make me see that praying without ceasing is indeed the one need of my life, — an unceasing waiting, moment by moment, on the God who hath united me to Christ, to perfect His own Divine work, to work in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
And what a motive this would be for the highest activity in the maintenance of a fruitful branch-life! Motives are mighty powers; it is of infinite importance to have them high and clear. Here surely is the highest: ‘You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works:’ grafted by Him into Christ, unto the bringing forth of much fruit. Whatever God creates is exquisitely suited to its end. He created the sun to give light: how perfectly it does its work! He created the eye to see: how beautifully it fulfils its object! He created the new man unto good works: how admirably it is fitted for its purpose.
Of God I am in Christ: created anew, made a branch of the Vine, fitted for fruit-bearing. Would God that believers would cease looking most at their old nature, and complaining of their weakness, as if God called them to what they were unfitted for! Would that they would believingly and joyfully accept the wondrous revelation of how God, in uniting them to Christ, has made Himself chargeable for their spiritual growth and fruitfulness! How all sickly hesitancy and sloth would disappear, and under the influence of this mighty motive — the faith is the faithfulness of Him of whom they are in Christ — their whole nature would rise to accept and fulfil their glorious destiny!
0 my soul! yield thyself to the mighty influence of this word: ‘Of God ye are in Christ Jesus.’ It is the same God of whom Christ is made all that He is for us, of Whom we also are in Christ, and will most surely be made what we must be to Him. Take time to meditate and to worship, until the light that comes from the throne of God hath shone into thee, and thou hast seen thy union to Christ as indeed the work of His almighty Father. Take time, day after day, and let, in thy whole religious life, with all it has of claims and duties, of needs and wishes, God be everything. See Jesus, as He speaks to thee, ‘Abide in me,’ pointing upward and saying, ‘My Father is the Husbandman. Of Him thou art in me, through Him thou abidest in me, and to Him and to His glory shall be the fruit thou bearest.’ And let thy answer be, Amen, Lord! So be it. From eternity Christ and I were ordained for each other; inseparably we belong to each other: it is God’s will; I shall abide in Christ. It is of God I am in Christ Jesus.
As your Wisdom
Jesus Christ is not only Priest to purchase, and King to secure, but also Prophet to reveal to us the salvation which God hath prepared for them that love Him. Just as at the creation the light was first called into existence, that in it all God’s other works might have their life and beauty, so in our text wisdom is mentioned first as the treasury in which are to be found the three precious gifts that follow. The life is the light of man; it is in revealing to us, and making us behold the glory of God in His own face, that Christ makes us partakers of eternal life. It was by the tree of knowledge that sin came; it is through the knowledge that Christ gives that salvation comes. He is made of God unto us wisdom. In Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
And of God you are in Him, and have but to abide in Him, to be made partaker of these treasures of wisdom. In Him you are, and in Him the wisdom is; dwelling in Him, you dwell in the very fountain of all light; abiding in Him, you have Christ the wisdom of God leading your whole spiritual life, and ready to communicate, in the form of knowledge, just as much as is needful for you to know. Christ is made unto us wisdom: ye are in Christ.
It is this connection between what Christ has been made of God to us, and how we have it only as also being in Him, that we must learn to understand better. We shall thus see that the blessings prepared for us in Christ cannot be obtained as special gifts in answer to prayer apart from the abiding in Him. The answer to each prayer must come in the closer union and the deeper abiding in Him; in Him, the unspeakable gift, all other gifts are treasured up, the gift of wisdom and knowledge too.
How often have you longed for wisdom and spiritual understanding that you might know God better, whom to know is life eternal! Abide in Jesus: your life in Him will lead you to that fellowship with God in which the only true knowledge of God is to be had. His love, His power, His infinite glory will, as you abide in Jesus, be so revealed as it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive. You may not be able to grasp it with the understanding, or to express it in words; but the knowledge which is deeper than thoughts or words will be given, — the knowing of God which comes of being known of Him. ‘We preach Christ crucified unto them which are called, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.’
Or you would fain count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ your Lord. Abide in Jesus, and be found in Him, You shall know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Following Him, you shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. It is only when God shines into the heart, and Christ Jesus dwells there, that the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ can be seen.
Or would you understand His blessed work, as He wrought it on earth, or works it from heaven by His Spirit? Would you know how Christ can become our righteousness, and our sanctification, and redemption? It is just as bringing, and revealing, and communicating these that He is made unto us wisdom from God. There are a thousand questions that at times come up, and the attempt to answer them becomes a weariness and a burden. It is because you have forgotten you are in Christ, whom God has made to be your wisdom. Let it be your first care to abide in Him in undivided fervent devotion of heart; when the heart and the life are right, rooted in Christ, knowledge will come in such measure as Christ’s own wisdom sees meet. And without such abiding in Christ the knowledge does not really profit, but is often most hurtful. The soul satisfies itself with thoughts which are but the forms and images of truth, without receiving the truth itself in its power. God’s way is ever first to give us, even though it be but as a seed, the thing itself, the life and the power, and then the knowledge. Man seeks the knowledge first, and often, alas! never gets beyond it. God gives us Christ, and in Him hid the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 0 let us be content to possess Christ, to dwell in Him, to make Him our life, and only in a deeper searching into Him, to search and find the knowledge we desire. Such knowledge is life indeed.
Therefore, believer, abide in Jesus as your wisdom, and expect from Him most confidently whatever teaching you may need for a life to the glory of the Father. In all that concerns your spiritual life, abide in Jesus as your wisdom. The life you have in Christ is a thing of infinite sacredness, far too high and holy for you to know how to act it out. It is He alone who can guide you, as by a secret spiritual instinct, to know what is becoming your dignity as a child of God, what will help and what will hinder your inner life, and specially your abiding in Him. Do not think of it as a mystery or a difficulty you must solve. Whatever questions come up as to the possibility of abiding perfectly and uninterruptedly in Him, and of really obtaining all the blessing that comes from it, always remember: He knows, all is perfectly clear to Him, and He is my wisdom. Just as much as you need to know and are capable of apprehending, will be communicated, if you only trust Him. Never think of the riches of wisdom and knowledge hid in Jesus as treasures without a key, or of your way as a path without a light. Jesus your wisdom is guiding you in the right way, even when you do not see it.
In all your intercourse with the blessed Word, remember the same truth: abide in Jesus, your wisdom. Study much to know the written Word, but study more to know the living Word, in whom you are of God. Jesus, the wisdom of God, is only known by a life of implicit confidence and obedience. The words He speaks are spirit and life to those who live in Him. Therefore, each time you read, or hear, or meditate upon the Word, be careful to take up your true position. Realize first your oneness with Him who is the wisdom of God; know yourself to be under His direct and special training, go to the Word abiding in Him, the very fountain of Divine light, — in His light you shall see light.
In all your daily life, its ways and its work, abide in Jesus as your wisdom. Your body and your daily life share in the great salvation: in Christ, the wisdom of God, provision has been made for their guidance too. Your body is His temple, your daily life the sphere for glorifying Him: it is to Him a matter of deep interest that all your earthly concerns should be guided aright. Only trust His sympathy, believe His love, and wait for His guidance,– it will be given. Abiding in Him, the mind will be calmed and freed from passion, the judgment cleared and strengthened, the light of heaven will shine on earthly things, and your prayer for wisdom, like Solomon’s, will be fulfilled above what you ask or think.
And so, especially in any work you do for God, abide in Jesus as your wisdom. ‘We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them;’ let all fear or doubt lest we should not know exactly what these works are, be put far away. In Christ we are created for them: He will show us what they are, and how to do them. Cultivate the habit of rejoicing in the assurance that the Divine wisdom is guiding you, even where you do not yet see the way.
All that you can wish to know is perfectly clear to Him. As Man, as Mediator, He has access to the counsels of Deity, to the secrets of Providence, in your interest, and on your behalf. If you will but trust Him fully, and abide in Him entirely, you can be confident of having unerring guidance.
Yes, abide in Jesus as your wisdom, Seek to maintain the spirit of waiting and dependence, that always seeks to learn, and will not move but as the heavenly light leads on. Withdraw yourself from all needless distraction, close your ears to the voices of the world, and be as a docile learner, ever listening for the heavenly wisdom the Master has to teach. Surrender all your own wisdom; seek a deep conviction of the utter blindness of the natural understanding in the things of God; and both as to what you have to believe and have to do, wait for Jesus to teach and to guide. Remember that the teaching and guidance come not from without: it is by His life in us that the Divine wisdom does His work. Retire frequently with Him into the inner chamber of the heart, where the gentle voice of the Spirit is only heard if all be still. Hold fast with unshaken confidence, even in the midst of darkness and apparent desertion, His own assurance that He is the light and the leader of His own. And live, above all, day by day in the blessed truth that, as He Himself, the living Christ Jesus, is your wisdom, your first and last care must ever be this alone, — to abide in Him. Abiding in Him, His wisdom will come to you as the spontaneous outflowing of a life rooted in Him. I am, I abide in Christ, who was made unto us wisdom from God; wisdom will be given me.
As your Righteousness
The first of the great blessings which Christ our wisdom reveals to us as prepared in Himself, is — Righteousness. It is not difficult to see why this must be first.
There can be no real prosperity or progress in a nation, a home, or a soul, unless there be peace. As not even a machine can do its work unless it be in rest, secured on a good foundation, quietness and assurance are indispensable to our moral and spiritual well-being. Sin had disturbed all our relations; we were out of harmony with ourselves, with men, and with God. The first requirement of a salvation that should really bring blessedness to us was peace, And peace can only come with right. Where everything is as God would have it, in God’s order and in harmony with His will, there alone can peace reign. Jesus Christ came to restore peace on earth, and peace in the soul, by restoring righteousness. Because He is Melchizedek, King of Righteousness, He reigns as King of Salem, King of Peace (Hebrews 7:2). He so fulfils the promise the prophets held out: ‘A King shall reign in righteousness: and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever’ (Isaiah 32:1,17). Christ is made of God unto us righteousness; of God we are in Him as our righteousness; we are made the righteousness of God in Him. Let us try and understand what this means.
When first the sinner is led to trust in Christ for salvation, he, as a rule, looks more to His work than His person.
As he looks at the Cross, and Christ suffering there, the Righteous One for the unrighteous, he sees in that atoning death the only but sufficient foundation for his faith in God’s pardoning mercy. The substitution, and the curse-bearing, and the atonement of Christ dying in the stead of sinners, are what give him peace. And as he understands how the righteousness which Christ brings becomes his very own, and how, in the strength of that, he is counted righteous before God, he feels that he has what he needs to restore him to God’s favour: ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.’ He seeks to wear this robe of righteousness in the ever renewed faith in the glorious gift of righteousness which has been bestowed upon him.
But as time goes on, and he seeks to grow in the Christian life, new needs arise. He wants to understand more fully how it is that God can thus justify the ungodly on the strength of the righteousness of another. He finds the answer in the wonderful teaching of Scripture as to the true union of the believer with Christ as the second Adam. He sees that it is because Christ had made Himself one with His people, and they were one with Him; that it was in perfect accordance with all law in the kingdom of nature and of heaven, that each member of the body should have the full benefit of the doing and the suffering as of the life of the head. And so he is led to feel that it can only be in fully realizing his personal union with Christ as the head, that he can fully experience the power of His righteousness to bring the soul into the full favour and fellowship of the Holy One. The work of Christ does not become less precious, but the person of Christ more so; the work leads up into the very heart, the love and the life of the God-man.
And this experience sheds its light again upon Scripture. It leads him to notice, what he had scarce remarked before, how distinctly the righteousness of God, as it becomes ours, is connected with the person of the Redeemer. ‘This is His name whereby He shall be called, Jehovah our Righteousness.’ ‘In Jehovah have I righteousness and strength.’ ‘Of God is He made unto us righteousness.’ ‘That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’ ‘That I may be found in Him, having the righteousness of God.’ He sees how inseparable righteousness and life in Christ are from each other: ‘The righteousness of one comes upon all unto justification of life.‘ ‘They which receive the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.’ And he understands what deep meaning there is in the key-word of the Epistle to the Romans: ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ He is not now content with only thinking of the imputed righteousness as his robe; but, putting on Jesus Christ, and seeking to be wrapped up in, to be clothed upon with Himself and His life, he feels how completely the righteousness of God is his, because the Lord our righteousness is his. Before he understood this, he too often felt it difficult to wear his white robe all the day: it was as if he specially had to put it on when he came into God’s presence to confess his sins, and seek new grace. But now the living Christ Himself is his righteousness, — that Christ who watches over, and keeps and loves us as His own; it is no longer an impossibility to walk all the day enrobed in the loving presence with which He covers His people.
Such an experience leads still further. The life and the righteousness are inseparably linked, and the believer becomes more conscious than before of a righteous nature planted within him. The new man created in Christ Jesus, is ‘created in righteousness and true holiness.’ ‘He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.’ The union to Jesus has effected a change not only in the relation to God, but in the personal state before God. And as the intimate fellowship to which the union has opened up the way is maintained, the growing renewal of the whole being makes righteousness to be his very nature.
To a Christian who begins to see the deep meaning of the truth, ‘He is made to us righteousness,’ it is hardly necessary to say, ‘Abide in Him.’ As long as he only thought of the righteousness of the substitute, and our being counted judicially righteous for His sake, the absolute necessity of abiding in Him was not apparent. But as the glory of ‘Jehovah our righteousness’ unfolds to the view, he sees that abiding in Him personally is the only way to stand, at all times, complete and accepted before God, as it is the only way to realize how the new and righteous nature can be strengthened from Jesus our Head. To the penitent sinner the chief thought was the righteousness which comes through Jesus dying for sin; to the intelligent and advancing believer, Jesus, the Living One, through whom the righteousness comes, is everything, because having Him he has the righteousness too.
Believer, abide in Christ as your righteousness… Take time to realize that the King’s own robe has indeed been put on, and that in it you need not fear entering His presence. It is the token that you are the man whom the King delights to honour. Take time to remember that as much as you need it in the palace, no less do you require it when He sends you forth into the world, where you are the King’s messenger and representative. Live your daily life in the full consciousness of being righteous in God’s sight, an object of delight and pleasure in Christ. Connect every view you have of Christ in His other graces with this first one: ‘Of God He is made to you righteousness.’ This will keep you in perfect peace. Thus shall you enter into, and dwell in, the rest on God. So shall your inmost being be transformed into being righteous and doing righteousness. In your heart and life it will become manifest where you dwell; abiding in Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, you will share His position, His character, and His blessedness: ‘Thou loves righteousness, and hates iniquity: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’ Joy and gladness above measure will be your portion.
As Your Sanctification
Paul, unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints;‘ — thus the chapter opens in which we are taught that Christ is our sanctification. In the Old Testament, believers were called the righteous; in the New Testament they are called saints, the holy ones, sanctified in Christ Jesus. Holy is higher than righteous. Holy in God has reference to His inmost being; righteous, to His dealings with His creatures. In man, righteousness is but a stepping-stone to holiness. It is in this he can approach most near to the perfection of God (compare Matthew 5:48; I Peter 1:16). In the Old Testament righteousness was found, while holiness was only typified; in Jesus Christ, the Holy One, and in His people, His saints or holy ones, it is first realized.
As in Scripture, and in our text, so in personal experience righteousness precedes holiness. When first the believer finds Christ as his righteousness, he has such joy in the new-made discovery that the study of holiness hardly has a place. But as he grows, the desire for holiness makes itself felt, and he seeks to know what provision his God has made for supplying that need. A superficial acquaintance with God’s plan leads to the view that while justification is God’s work, by faith in Christ, sanctification is our work, to be performed under the influence of the gratitude we feel for the deliverance we have experienced, and by the aid of the Holy Spirit. But the earnest Christian soon finds how little gratitude can supply the power. When he thinks that more prayer will bring it, he finds that, indispensable as prayer is, it is not enough Often the believer struggles hopelessly for years, until he listens to the teaching of the Spirit, as He glorifies Christ again, and reveals Christ, our sanctification, to be appropriated by faith alone.
Christ is made of God unto us sanctification. Holiness is the very nature of God, and that alone is holy which God takes possession of and fills with Himself. God’s answer to the question, How sinful man could become holy? is, ‘Christ, the Holy One of God.’ In Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, God’s holiness was revealed incarnate, and brought within reach of man. ‘I sanctify myself for them, that they also may be sanctified in truth.’ There is no other way of our becoming holy, but by becoming partakers of the holiness of Christ. And there is no other way of this taking place than by our personal spiritual union with Him, so that through His Holy Spirit His holy life flows into us, Of God are ye in Christ, who is made unto us sanctification. Abiding by faith in Christ our sanctification is the simple secret of a holy life. The measure of sanctification will depend on the measure of abiding in Him; as the soul learns wholly to abide in Christ, the promise is increasingly fulfilled: ‘The very God of peace sanctify you wholly.’
To illustrate this relation between the measure of the abiding and the measure of sanctification experienced, let us think of the grafting a tree, that instructive symbol of our union to Jesus. The illustration is suggested by the Saviour’s words, ‘Make the tree good, and his fruit good.’ I can graft a tree so that only a single branch bears good fruit, while many of the natural branches remain, and bear their old fruit, — a type of believers in whom a small part of the life is sanctified, but in whom, from ignorance or other reasons, the carnal life still in many respects has full dominion. I can graft a tree so that every branch is cut off, and the whole tree becomes renewed to bear good fruit; and yet, unless I watch over the tendency of the stems to give sprouts, they may again rise and grow strong, and, robbing the new graft of the strength it needs, make it weak.
Such are Christians who, when apparently powerfully converted, forsake all to follow Christ, and yet after a time, through unwatchfulness, allow old habits to regain their power, and whose Christian life and fruit are but feeble. But if I want a tree wholly made good, I take it when young, and, cutting the stem clean off on the ground, I graft it just where it emerges from the soil. I watch over every bud which the old nature could possibly put forth, until the flow of sap from the old roots into the new stem is so complete, that the old life has, as it were, been entirely conquered and covered of the new. Here I have a tree entirely renewed, — emblem of the Christian who has learnt in entire consecration to surrender everything for Christ, and in a whole-hearted faith wholly to abide in Him.
If, in this last case, the old tree were a reasonable being, that could co-operate with the gardener, what would his language be to it? Would it not be this: ‘Yield now thyself entirely to this new nature with which I have invested thee; repress every tendency of the old nature to give buds or sprouts; let all thy sap and all thy life-powers rise up into this graft from yonder beautiful tree, which I have put on thee; so shalt thou bring forth sweet and much fruit.’ And the language of the tree to the gardener would be: ‘When thou graftest me, 0 spare not a single branch; let everything of the old self, even the smallest bud, be destroyed, that I may no longer live in my own, but in that other life that was cut off and brought and put upon me, that I might be wholly new and good.’ And, once again, could you afterwards ask the renewed tree, as it was bearing abundant fruit, what it could say of itself, its answer would be this: ‘In me, that is, in my roots, there dwelleth no good thing. I am ever inclined to evil; the sap I collect from the soil is in its nature corrupt, and ready to show itself in bearing evil fruit. But just where the sap rises into the sunshine to ripen into fruit, the wise gardener hath clothed me with a new life, through which my sap is purified, and all my powers are renewed to the bringing forth of good fruit. I have only to abide in that which I have received. He cares for the immediate repression and removal of every bud which the old nature still would put forth.’
And now, if you would live a holy life, abide in Christ your sanctification. Look upon Him as the Holy One of God, made man that He might communicate to us the holiness of God. Listen when Scripture teaches that there is within you a new nature, a new man, created in Christ Jesus in righteousness and true holiness. Remember that this holy nature which is in you is singularly fitted for living a holy life, and performing all holy duties, as much so as the old nature is for doing evil. Understand that this holy nature within you hath its root and life in Christ in heaven, and can only grow and become strong as the intercourse between it and its source is uninterrupted. And above all, believe most confidently that Jesus Christ Himself delights in maintaining that new nature within you, and imparting to it His own strength and wisdom for its work. Let that faith lead you daily to the surrender of all self-confidence, and the confession of the utter corruption of all there is in you by nature. Let it fill you with a quiet and assured confidence that you are indeed able to do what the Father expects of you as His child, under the covenant of His grace, because you have Christ strengthening you. Let it teach you to lay yourself and your services on the altar as spiritual sacrifice, holy and acceptable in His sight, a sweet-smelling savour. Look not upon a life of holiness as a strain and an effort, but as the natural outgrowth of the life of Christ within you. And let ever again a quiet, hopeful, gladsome faith hold itself assured that all you need for a holy life will most assuredly be given you out of the holiness of Jesus. Thus will you understand and prove what it is to abide in Christ our sanctification.
The thought that in the personal holiness of our Lord a new holy nature was formed to be communicated to us, and that we make use of it by faith, is the central idea of Marshall’s invaluable work, The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification:–
‘One great mystery is, that the holy frame and disposition whereby our souls are furnished and enabled for immediate practice of the law, must be obtained by receiving it out of Christ’s fulness, as a thing already prepared and brought to an existence for us in Christ, and treasured up in Him; and that, as we are justified by a righteousness wrought out in Christ, and imputed to us, so we are sanctified by such an holy frame and qualification as are first wrought out and completed in Christ for us, and then imparted to us. As our natural corruption was produced originally in the first Adam, and propagated from him to us, so our new nature and holiness is first produced in Christ, and derived from Him to us, or, as it were, propagated. So that we are not at all to work together with Christ in making or producing that holy frame in us, but only to take it to ourselves, and use it in our holy practice, as made ready to our hands, Thus we have fellowship with Christ, in receiving that holy frame of spirit that was originally in Him; for fellowship is where several persons have the same things in common. This mystery is so great, that notwithstanding all the light of the Gospel, we commonly think that we must get an holy frame by producing it anew in ourselves, and by pursuing it and working it out of our own heart’ (see chap. 3).
As your Redemption
Here we have the top of the ladder, reaching into heaven, — the blessed end to which Christ and life in Him is to lead. The word ‘redemption,’ though sometimes applied to our deliverance from the guilt of sin, here refers to our complete and final deliverance from all its consequences, when the Redeemer’s work shall become fully manifest, even to the redemption of the body itself (compare Rom. 8:21-23; Ephesians 1:14, 4:30). The expression points us to the highest glory to be hoped for in the future, and therefore also to the highest blessing to be enjoyed in the present in Christ. We have seen how, as a prophet, Christ is our wisdom, revealing to us God and His love, with the nature and conditions of the salvation that love has prepared. As a priest, He is our righteousness, restoring us to right relations to God, and securing us His favour and friendship. As a king, He is our sanctification, forming and guiding us into the obedience to the Father’s holy will. As these three offices work out God’s one purpose, the grand consummation will be reached, the complete deliverance from sin and all its effects be accomplished, and ransomed humanity regain all that it had ever lost.
Christ is made of God unto us Redemption. The word invites us to look upon Jesus, not only as He lived on earth, teaching us by word and example, as He died, to reconcile us with God, as He lives again, a victorious King, rising to receive His crown, but as, sitting at the right hand of God, He takes again the glory which He had with the Father, before the world began, and holds it there for us. It consists in this, that there His human nature, yea, His human body, freed from all the consequences of sin to which He once had been exposed, is now admitted to share the Divine glory. As Son of man, He dwells on the throne and in the bosom of the Father: the deliverance from what He had to suffer from sin is complete and eternal. The complete redemption is found embodied in His own person: what He as man is and has in heaven is the complete redemption. He is made of God to us redemption.
We are in Him as such. And the more intelligently and believingly we abide in Him as our redemption, the more shall we experience, even here, of ‘the powers of the world to come.’ As our communion with Him becomes more intimate and intense, and we let the Holy Spirit reveal Him to us in His heavenly glory, the more we realize how the life in us is the life of One who sits upon the throne of heaven. We feel the power of an endless life working in us. We taste the eternal life. We have the foretaste of the eternal glory.
The blessings flowing from abiding in Christ as our redemption, are great. The soul is delivered from all fear of death. There was a time when even the Saviour feared death. But now no longer, He has triumphed over death; even His body has entered into the glory. The believer who abides in Christ as his full redemption, realizes even now his spiritual victory over death. It becomes to him the servant that removes the last rags of the old carnal vesture, ere he be clothed upon with the new body of glory. It carries the body to the grave, to lie there as the seed whence the new body will arise the worthy companion of the glorified spirit, The resurrection of the body is no longer a barren doctrine, but a living expectation, and even an incipient experience, because the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in the body as the pledge that even our mortal bodies shall be quickened (Rom. 8:11-23), This faith exercises its sanctifying influence in the willing surrender of the sinful members of the body to be mortified and completely subjected to the dominion of the Spirit, as preparation for the time when the frail body shall be changed and fashioned like to His glorious body.
This full redemption of Christ as extending to the body, has a depth of meaning not easily expressed. It was of man as a whole, soul and body that it is said that he was made in the image and likeness of God. In the angels, God had created spirits without material bodies; in the creation of the world, there was matter without spirit. Man was to be the highest specimen of Divine art: the combination in one being, of matter and spirit in perfect harmony, as type of the most perfect union between God and His own creation. Sin entered in, and appeared to thwart the Divine plan: the material obtained a fearful supremacy over the spiritual. The Word was made flesh, the Divine fulness received an embodiment in the humanity of Christ, that the redemption might be a complete and perfect one; that the whole creation, which now groaneth and travaileth in pain together, might be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. God’s purpose will not be accomplished, and Christ’s glory will not be manifested fully, until the body, with that whole of nature of which it is part and head, has been transfigured by the power of the spiritual life, and made the transparent vesture for showing forth the glory of the Infinite Spirit. Then only shall we understand: ‘Christ Jesus is made unto us (complete) redemption.’
Meantime we are taught to believe: Of God are ye in Christ, as your redemption. This is not meant as a revelation, to be left to the future; for the full development of the Christian life, our present abiding in Christ must seek to enter into and appropriate it. We do this as we learn to triumph over death. We do it as we learn to look upon Christ as the Lord of our body, claiming its entire consecration, securing even here, if faith will claim it (Mark 16:17,18), victory over the terrible dominion sin hath had in the body. We do this as we learn to look on all nature as part of the kingdom of Christ, destined, even though it be through a baptism of fire, to partake in His redemption. We do it as we allow the powers of the coming world to possess us, and to lift us up into a life in the heavenly places, to enlarge our hearts and our views, to anticipate, even here, the things which have never entered into the heart of man to conceive.
Believer, abide in Christ as thy redemption. Let this be the crown of thy Christian life. Seek it not first or only, apart from the knowledge of Christ in His other relations. But seek it truly as that to which they are meant to lead thee up. Abide in Christ as thy redemption. Nothing will fit thee for this but faithfulness in the previous steps of the Christian life. Abide in Him as thy wisdom, the perfect revelation of all that God is and has for thee. Follow, in the daily ordering of the inner and the outer life, with meek docility His teaching, and thou shalt be counted worthy to have secrets revealed to thee which to most disciples are a sealed book. The wisdom will lead thee into the mysteries of complete redemption. Abide in Him as thy righteousness, and dwell clothed upon with Him in that inner sanctuary of the Father’s favour and presence to which His righteousness gives thee access. As thou rejoicest in thy reconciliation, thou shalt understand how it includes all things, and how they too wait the full redemption; ‘for it pleased the Father by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things on earth or things in heaven.’ And abide in Him as thy sanctification; the experience of His power to make thee holy, spirit and soul and body, will quicken thy faith in a holiness that shall not cease its work until the bells of the horses and every pot in Jerusalem shall be Holiness to the Lord. Abide in Him as thy redemption, and live, even here, as the heir of the future glory. And as thou seekest to experience in thyself to the full, the power of His saving grace, thy heart shall be enlarged to realize the position man has been destined to occupy in the universe, as having all things made subject to him, and thou shalt for thy part be fitted to live worthy of that high and heavenly calling.
From the first English edition of Abide In Christ (1884). This page Copyright © 2000 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/. Check out our Bookstore.