ABIDE IN CHRIST,
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Of God are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, both righteousness and sanctification, and RedempTion.—I Cor. i. 30 (R. V. ntarg.).
LI ERE 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 (comp. Rom. viii. 21-23; Eph. i. 14; iv. 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 favor 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. viii. 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 -4
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 xvi. 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 favor 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.