I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of it I do not know, but God knows.
I. THE NATURE OF THE UNION THUS DESCRIBED.
1. The Christian is grafted "in Christ" as a graft in a tree, joined to him as a branch to a vine. The union is thus a vital union, and is to the Christian the means and the occasion of spiritual life.
2. The Christian is accepted "in Christ," i.e. in the Beloved. For Christ's sake the Christian is received into Divine favour. The Saviour is in this capacity a Representative, a Mediator, an Advocate.
3. The Christian is incorporated "in Christ" as the member in the body, and has a new function to discharge in consequence of this relationship.
4. The Christian is hidden "in Christ" as the traveller in the cleft of the rock, as the voyager in the ark, when "the Lord shut him in."
5. The Christian dwells "in Christ" as in a house, a home appointed for him by Divine wisdom and goodness.
II. THE IMPORTANCE AND ADVANTAGES OF THIS UNION.
1. As is apparent from considering the position of those who are out of Christ. For such, where is safety, where is a law of life, where is a prospect for immortality? For to be out of Christ is to be without God, and so without hope.
2. From considering what in this life they possess who have Christ and are in him. Whilst, so far as the bodily life is concerned, they are in the world, they are in spirit in the Lord, and thus partake a higher nature and existence than belong to earth and to time.
3. From considering the imperishable character of this union. To be "in Christ" now is to be "with Christ" forever. To those who are in him there is no condemnation now, and from him there shall be no separation hereafter. The visions which Paul beheld, and the declarations he heard when he was caught up into the third heaven, were to him, and may be to us, an earnest and promise of immortal union. Therefore "Abide in him." - T.
I knew a man in Christ.I. DELIVERANCE FROM THE DEADLY CURSE WHICH SIN ENTAILS (Romans 8:1). In Noah's ark there was no deluge; in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation.
II. EVERLASTING LIFE. Of this Christ is the single source. Paul addresses the Church at Rome as "alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord." The Master said, "Because I live ye shall live also." "It is not I," said Paul, "but Christ that liveth in me." If the nurseryman inserts the graft of a golden pippin into an apple tree, that graft might say truly, It is not I that live, but the whole tree liveth in me. So Divine a thing is this life that it is described as —
III. A NEW CREATION. This word "new" signifies also what is fresh, and unimpaired, and unworn, like a bright garment from its maker's hand. How imperative is it that we keep this unspotted by the world! Not for ornament merely is it given, but for use.
IV. ACCEPTANCE IN THE BELOVED. If we are received into favour, it is solely for Christ's sake.
V. PEACE (Philippians 4:7).
VI. FULNESS OF SPIRITUAL SUPPLY (Colossians 2:10). "Ye are filled full in Christ." Why need I hunger when in my father's house and in my Saviour's heart are such wealth beyond a whole universe to drain?
VII. TRIUMPH "Thanks be unto God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ!" This is the believer's battle-cry and paean of victory. Jesus gives the victory, and will bring us off more than conquerors.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be
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