|Volume 18 Number 11 November 2016||
Terry G. Jones
In the epistles of the apostle Paul, there are constant references to the idea of being “in Christ.” Being “in Christ” involves one being influenced by Christ, being obedient to the Gospel of Christ and being added to the body of Christ where one walks in the footsteps of Christ and lives in hope of eternal life with Christ. Paul would have us to know that Christ had influenced every aspect of his life. Nowhere is this more evident than when he wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). In this verse, we learn what Christ really meant to Paul.
First, Paul was crucified with Christ. He had not experienced physical death on a cross. However, Paul could identify with Christ’s death. (1) He had become dead to the Law of Moses (Galatians 2:19) in that it no longer had control over him. (2) He had died to the flesh. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24). (3) He had died to the world. “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14).
Second, Paul was changed by Christ. He said, “nevertheless I live; yet not I…” Though crucified, he still lived. Then, notice the phrase, “yet not I.” Here Paul pointed to the change that had taken place in his life and the influence that Christ now had over him. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul declared, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” When Paul met Jesus, his life was completely and forever changed. Here is a life that went from “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4) to “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Third, Paul was controlled by Christ. He said, “but Christ liveth in me.” It was Paul’s life but Christ was at the controls. He allowed every aspect of his life to be directed by the Lord. In Colossians 3, Paul detailed how completely Christ controlled his life. (1) Christ controlled his mind. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (v. 2). (2) Christ controlled his members. “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (v. 5). (3) Christ controlled his morals. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…” (12-14). (4) Christ controlled his manners. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts… Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (15-17).
Fourth, Paul was committed to Christ. He said, “And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” Paul referred to his present life which he was “now” living as a Christian as opposed to his old life before his conversion. Not only was he saved by faith (Galatians 2:16), but he lived by faith in the Son of God. In Philippians 1:21, he declared, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Every aspect of Paul’s life was rooted in Christ.
Fifth, Paul was claimed by Christ. He said that Christ, “loved me, and gave himself for me.” Paul’s life was motivated by the love of Christ that was demonstrated by His vicarious death. Like all men, Paul was lost in sin, but Christ died that He might claim him for His own. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:27-29). To Timothy Paul said, “That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am now chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
By His death, Christ has claimed us for His own. Like Paul, we must allow Christ to influence every aspect of our lives!
It Is Finished
Jesus endured the excruciating agony of slow death by crucifixion. He languished for six hours, beginning at nine o’clock in the morning and continuing until three in the afternoon (Mark 15:25, 34).
Of the seven sayings Jesus spoke from the cross, the sixth was: “It is finished” (John 19:30). In order to appreciate the significance of these words (actually one word in the original) we must go far back in time.
In John’s Revelation letter, we find a verse that refers to “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8 KJV). In the Greek construction of this verse, it is difficult to determine whether “the foundation of the world” should be linked with “slain” or “written.” This explains why English versions differ. However, many grammarians observe that the above reading is more in keeping with the original word order and is more natural. The meaning would thus indicate that from God’s vantage point, His Son (the Lamb of God) was as good as dead (slain) from the foundation of the world. God’s plan to send Jesus to die for humanity can be traced back to the beginning.
This agrees with Genesis 3:15 where God foretold that the seed of woman (Christ) would suffer. Through the centuries, God gave brief highlights about the coming Messiah. Finally, “when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son” (Galatians 4:4). The reason for His coming was ultimately for one purpose. “For the Son of Man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He came to die. Jesus was born to die. He died that we might live.
Part of the significance for His words, “It is finished,” was to indicate that what He came to do was done. Yet, His words also indicate something more. In His Sermon on the Mount He had said, “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17). The word “destroy” is important. It means literally to “loose down.” Jesus had no violent intent to disregard the Law. Rather, He would, in Himself, fill it full. Until Jesus came, no Jew had ever been able to keep the Law with absolute perfection.
By His perfect fulfillment of the Mosaic code, “he hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). “He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9). Read Galatians 4:21-31. Through Moses came the Old Law, but through Christ came the New Covenant (John 1:17). Jesus “is the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 9:15).