Grace For The Journey
Can you summarize the purpose of the Bible in just three words? Paul did. He said it is all about “Christ in you.” The purpose of the gospel is captured in this powerful and pithy statement in Colossians 1:27, “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ living in us is the grand goal of God’s redemptive work. Our salvation hinges on the reality of Christ living in us. It is why Paul described his personal ambition by saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
God living in His people
Is a major Biblical theme,
But what does it mean?
The Biblical teaching on this subject
Differs significantly from the mystic concept
– That each person is a god
And will ultimately be absorbed
Into the full essence of the divine.
In the Bible a human is not a God,
And people maintain
Their personality throughout eternity.
To understand the importance of God living in us we must look to the account of creation. When God first contemplated the formation of mankind He said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” … “so God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:26, 27). The purpose of our humanity is to bear the divine image! However, sin entered and spoiled the picture. Pain and death snuffed out life and rebellion replaced righteousness. God’s beautiful self-portrait on the canvas of humanity was soiled by sinful hands.
Then one day the Artist Himself entered our humanity, and for the first time man could see the image of God in flawless clarity. His grace and truth revealed the divine nature as never before, because He was the “exact image” of God in the flesh (John 1:14,17-18; Hebrews 1:3). Jesus was the perfect expression of God’s original portrait of humanity.
The purpose of God’s redemptive work
Is to make us look like Him – Christ in you!
The stains of sin and death
Must first be removed from our lives
Before the divine image can shine through.
How this is accomplished
Is the message of the gospel.
Jesus removed the ugliness of sin and death
By His atoning sacrifice and glorious resurrection.
As a result, man is now able to reflect God’s image.
This is possible because fellowship with God is restored. In fact, many of the passages that talk about “Christ living in us” emphasize the reality of our fellowship with Him. For example . . .
- Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
Jesus is emphasizing the necessity of our relationship with Him.
- Similarly, John wrote in his first letter, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15).
The acceptance of the gospel places a person in fellowship with God. The phrase, “God abides in him” describes the intimacy of that relationship in much the same way as the phrase “in Christ” does hundreds of times in the New Testament. [See also, John 6:56; 14:20; 17:20,21,23; Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 13:5; Ephesians 2:22; 3:17; Colossians 3:11; 1 John 3:24; 4:13]
The wonderful truth is this . . .
If “Christ lives in me” that means
I have fellowship with God!
I belong to Him.
I bear His image.
He forgave my sins
Through the blood of the cross.
He gave me eternal life Through the power of the empty tomb (Romans 6:1-6).
“Christ lives in me” is all about my identity!
I’m no longer a flawed sculpture
Cast out with the rejects of humanity.
My Redeemer remade me into His image.
I must then increasingly reflect Christ’s character in my life. This requires a vigorous, lifelong pursuit to know Jesus. Thankfully, the New Testament record contains the very “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). In the Bible I discover how Jesus thought and acted, and these truths become the template of my life until Christ is formed in me (Galatians 4:19).
A significant number of the “God lives in me” passages describe the formation of Christ’s character in His followers. A startling example is found in 1 John 4:12 which begins, “No one has seen God at any time.” This is a clear reference to the same phrase at the beginning of John’s gospel (John 1:18). However, in the gospel it is Jesus who made the “unseen God” known, but to our astonishment the statement in John’s letter reads, “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). Amazingly we are the ones who now make known the invisible God! How? We reflect the character Christ revealed to us.
Therefore, Christ vitally lives in us when we carefully follow His will – “He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him” (1 John 3:24). This requires a continuous pursuit of His character. This is what the Bible means in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when it says, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Practically speaking it means, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the intake of the Word of God, we think as Christ thought, say what Christ said, and do what Christ did. [See also, John 15:1-8; 17:26; Romans 8:10,29; Ephesians 3:19; 5:1; 2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 2:6,24,27,28; 3:24; 4:16]
This is the purpose of our existence! We are created to display the image of our Creator, but sin marred that portrait beyond recognition. However, through Jesus Christ the sin is removed, eternal life is restored, and we learn, like teetering toddlers, to once again walk like our Father. May we “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”