December 14, 2017

What Belongs to All of Us (1)

jesus_prays.gifThese posts will celebrate the Bible’s descriptions of what belongs to ALL Christians. Christian unity cannot be found in continually debating our differences, but in acknowledging what we all possess through union with Jesus Christ.

Galatians. 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave* nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Comments: All who are in Christ are God’s sons. All who are God’s sons have that relationship through faith. Baptism is the visible enactment of faith’s “putting on” Christ. (Note: In baptism, we put on Christ. We are the actors, whereas in faith, we are passive and Christ is active. This is why baptism and faith are inseparable and should never quarrel.) In Christ, all other distinctions, including nations, cultures, denominations, divisions and theological teams, give way to being “in Christ.” Belonging to Christ is the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham that, in him, “all the families of the earth would be blessed.” Christ is that blessing and those who, like Abraham, belong to Christ are the people of God. All this rests on God’s promise. We are justified through faith and all that justifies us, now and in the future, is in Christ.

Prayer
: Thank you Father, that all those who, through faith, “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ belong to you in that most intimate of relationships: they are your children. I praise you that no other identity is more true, and that nothing can separate us from the love you have for us in Jesus. May all of us who belong to Jesus, who are the children of God and the heirs of Abraham’s promise, be one people, both in our earthly journey and in the Kingdom that is coming. In Jesus, Amen.

Comments

  1. Amen. Thank you.

  2. Nicholas Anton says:

    2nd(?) John

    re; “You guys hate each other…Catholicism is like a soft bouncy pillow in comparison.”

    It seems to me that you do not have a good perspective of history. Most Protestant denominations (with the exception of some Lutheranism and some Reformed groups) have never been directly in control of the government of the land. Historically, the opposite is true of the Catholics. In consequence, Protestant dominated countries have tended to be democratic, free thinking societies, while Catholic countries were not. Just ask protestants who were missionaries in South America half a century ago.

    In a free society, there will be much bickering and bantering, as there is in any normal family. Just read the New Testament. There was constant friction between the Judaizers/law and the “Free in Christ” groups. Paul, Barnabas and Mark had their disagreements. Paul nailed Peter to the wall in public for his hypocrisy. In Romans 12:8, Paul is instructing THE ONE LEADING (the term used in the Greek is in the singular) at Rome, how to lead. Some attest that the leader in Rome at that time was Peter.

    Freedom allows free speech, which can include dissent, at times vicious and uncalled for, to exist in the open. Autocracy forces it underground. As in a Family, there are constant squabbles with I HATE YOU innuendos plus at times vicious fights between siblings. However, should an outside force attack any of its members, BEWARE! I am part of a FREE, often squabbling, fighting family.

  3. 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God…

    Note: “in Christ Jesus”.
    NOT “in Young Earth Creationism”.
    NOT “in Pre-Millenial Dispensationalism”.
    NOT “in Soul Winning”.
    NOT “in Heretic Hunting”.
    NOT “in Spiritual Smugness”.
    NOT “in Denouncing Demon Rum”.
    NOT “in Burning Harry Potter“.
    NOT “in 24/7/365 Prayer & Devotions”.

  4. Eric Phillips says:

    I wouldn’t say I was very active in my baptism. I stood there and got dunked. Of course, I did enter the water by myself, and I did ask to be baptized, but I didn’t _baptize_ myself. And the majority of Christians throughout history didn’t even do as much as I did, because they were baptized as babies.

    In the statement, “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ,” the “have put on” is active, but the “were baptized” is passive. I don’t think being baptized is any more active on our part than having faith is. Remember, the Bible sometimes talks about faith in active language too, e.g. Acts 16:31 (“Believe” as an imperative).

  5. Thank you, Michael. I like your thinking.

    Thank you, Ken. I agree, except for the last. I’ve not heard of “24/7/365 Prayer and Devotions”. I know that Paul asks that we pray without ceasing; I also know that it is easy for some of us to remember to pray just a few words frequently while we work. (I don’t expect everyone to have the same type of job that allows it, nor the personality that finds it easy.)

    Can you, or someone please explain it to me.

    Thank you.

  6. Anna A,

    I never understood this either until I read Fire Within by Thomas Dubay. He is a catholic author and the book looks at the lives of Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, and the Gospel concerning Prayer. It is a great resource on Living the Gospel as well as prayer.

    As for your question. I think “pray without ceasing” helps us to understand that prayer is more than just talking to God or sending our petitions as we can not possibly do this at all times. At the root of prayer as Paul describes it is the ability to enter into communion with God. What Paul says is no easy thing. It involves sacrafice and detatchment from this world so that we may be more united to the Triune God.

    Mother Teresa was asked what she says to God in prayer. Her response: “I don’t say anything; I just listen.” She was then asked what God says to her. Her response: “He doesn’t say anything; He just listens.” When asked what that meant she said, “If you don’t understand then I can’t explain it to you.”

    Fire Within will lend insight to this manner of prayer and while Paul’s command and Mother Teresa’s discourse will no doubt remain mysterious you may just catch a glimmer of light that will enhance your prayer life ten fold.

    But be warned only read this book if you aren’t afraid to be challenged by what it really looks like to live the Gospel.

  7. Joseph,

    I have read and own the “Fire Within” and other Thomas Dubay books. (I even traded a Christmas gift copy of “The DaVinci Code” for his book about beauty)

    Where I wasn’t clear to Ken, was that either he was putting that kind of ceaseless prayer down or there is a program called “24/7/365 Prayer & Devotions”

    I’ve been out of touch with Southern Baptist churches for a while, except for reading my home state Baptist newspaper.

  8. Anna A,

    I assumed the “24/7/365 Prayer & Devotions” was a reference to Catholicism in general with its frequent emphasis on prayers and devotions. Or possibly just a more generic reference to any Christian who thinks that the Christian life is all about filling as many hours as possible with as many formal prayers and devotions as possible.

    My reaction to Michael’s writing was the same as Ivy’s… Amen.

  9. Christian M. says:

    We are so “individualized” in American evangelical Christianity that I’ve nearly given up on the church ever recovering an understanding of the “corporate” nature of the body of Christ. We are a corporation of those who are in Christ, not just an aggregation of those who follow Christianity. The former is true, but the latter is reality.

    When I read your first “What Belongs to All of Us” post, it was a breath of fresh Spirit. I need to be reminded biblically, not just experientially, of what makes “us” a body, and not just a bunch of “we” and “them”ers. Inspired concept.

    Michael, this idea is a book. Really. After you write however many of these you intend to write, seek to have them published as a devotional. It’s not just that your thoughts and gifted writing deserve a wider audience, but that a wider audience deserves them. The body needs all the spiritual glue it can find right now to start bringing it back together. You’ve got the right stuff.