The Wonder of a Shared Life
Jesus Identified with Us
in Our Sin and Death
THERE IS AN INTERESTING PASSAGE IN I THESSALONIANS that reveals there is a divine energy in God’s Word available to us that believe. Take note of I Thes 2:13. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which EFFECTUALLY WORKETH also in you that believe.
Effectually worketh comes from energéo, one of the words Paul used in Ephesians 1:19, 20 to speak of the power released in the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. As we have learned, it means "to communicate energy and efficiency." Thus, the Word of God, as well as the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, is ready to communicate its energy and efficiency to us that believe.
I never let go of the above Thessalonian verse. Sometimes I cannot muster enough faith to believe all there is to be believed in the Bible, but I’ve learned to soak in the Word and let its energy come over upon me. This is especially so with regard to what we’re learning about the Resurrection. We spend time with the Word of it, bathe in it, soak in it, meditate upon it, think about it, and talk with others about it. Then we find—powerful Kingdom commodity it is—that it releases its energy in us even in our smallness of faith. The fact is, its energy creates faith and works to set us free from unbelief. Surely we can call this a work of mercy.
Because he sees we have limited ability to lay hold the Word of God, Satan himself contests our knowledge of it. He knows its release in us can result in the very effective operation of Christ’s life in us. And His is the only life that can survive the days that may be soon upon us. So learn to tell the spirits dispatched from Satan to take leave in the Name of the Lord Jesus. We present our minds and hearts to God’s Word and to the help of His Holy Spirit. Many times when we come together to open the Word, we ask everyone to lay their hands on their heads. We do this because of what we learn from Paul in II Corinthians 10:4,5. Here we learn to cast down our imaginations, that is, our vain logical thoughts. Then we present over to the Holy Spirit every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God. Then, with His Spirit’s help, we bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Thus, our unruly and disbelieving mind can be brought under His control. Paul was asking for nearly the same thing in Ephesians 1:18 when he prayed that the eyes of our understanding would be enlightened.
THERE IS AN UNUSUAL, AND VERY IMPORTANT, point of understanding regarding the Resurrection in the last part of Ephesians 1 and the first part of Ephesians 2. It doesn’t make it through in most Bible translations because we are thrown off by the chapter division. We must remember when this Epistle came from Paul, there were no chapter and verse divisions in it. But we have them today and take them for what they are. We appreciate them for many reasons. At the same time, we look at something that goes beyond them. Doing this, we find a point of understanding so vital to Paul that it permeated his whole life.
What Paul knew about the Resurrection—and what he’s leading us to know—overran sin and grief. It filled the void left in him by the loss of all things. It enabled him, while undergoing the deprivation and humiliation of prison, to be more aware of his dwelling in the heavens and more aware of his bonds in Christ than of the cell and chains of his incarceration.
What he knew will serve us well as this age moves on toward its end—and its end may be close upon us now. If what Daniel said in Daniel 12:1, and what the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, is true about a coming time of trouble, then we can find our greatest hope in receiving the same understanding that was born in Paul.
In previous articles we introduced you to fifteen "power" words Paul used in the Greek of Ephesians 1:19-21. They pertain to Christ’s Resurrection. One of those words was energéo. We showed that, while there is a powerful and positive energy reaching for us from God’s Kingdom, there is also a negative energy that reaches for us from the kingdom of darkness. As long as allowed, it will hold us in spiritual darkness. The energy of the Resurrection is ready to counter that grip of darkness. It will work to set us free from the dominion of sin, sickness, demon oppression, grief, all kinds of self-destruction, plus the humiliation that could be brought on by the loss of all things.
We can find one of Paul’s finest points of understanding in the word raised in Ephesians 1:20. It has two Objects. This means there are two recipients of its one action. One is Him, right by the word raised itself; the other is you, four verses later in Ephesians 2:1.
A POWERFUL RELEASE OF ENERGY was required to bring the Lord Jesus from the dead. Now we are learning that when God raised Him, He raised us also. When we see this, we take a great step toward becoming ready to receive this communication of energy and efficiency ourselves. This is what will set our lives in order to face any conflict that can come upon us in the time of the end.
As we have through several articles, let us go to the Ephesian passage again. And again, we break into the middle of
Paul’s prayer to note the three "whats" as they direct us to
the points of knowledge that can be released in us when our understanding
is enlightened by the Holy Spirit. I hope by now you have marked these
verses in your Bible. The larger passage begins with Ephesians 1:15 and
proceeds through 2:7. Learn to soak in it. We lift out two and
a half verses for consideration here.
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know
= what is the hope of His calling, and
= what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19 And = what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe,
according to the working of His mighty power
20 Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead...
In the middle of this verse 20, Paul diverted his flow of thought to interpose a statement about what happened to Jesus when God raised Him from the dead. This powerful and far-reaching statement goes on through verse 23. This is a passage we must consider later. In Ephesians 2:1 Paul resumed what he was saying about the Resurrection. Look at the simple bare-boned word as it shines out. 1:20 He raised Him from the dead…2:1 and you…who were dead in trespasses and sins...
In 2:1, some translations place the words "hath He quickened" (or "made alive") after you. This is supplied by the translators. There is nothing to correspond with these words in the Original. The word you at the beginning of 2:1 is from the Greek húmas. Grammatically, when the word for you is spelled this way, it cannot properly begin a sentence. It is spelled in a way that means it must receive the action of some Verb somewhere, or it must be the Object of a Preposition. There is no Preposition to which it can relate and the only Verb whose action it can receive is raised all the way back in Ephesians 1:20. This is the same word used to say God raised Christ Jesus. This is all right, for Paul was seeing there was but one Resurrection anyway. It was for Him and for us. When He was raised, so were we.
We named raised as one of the "power words" of Ephesians 1:19-21. It is the actual and far-reaching result of all the dynamic power, the energetic power, the governmental power, plus the muscle power of God’s Kingdom.
God raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and you when you were dead. When He was raised, we were raised. Let us recite it again: Paul was talking about one resurrection. Christ’s was a death in Death itself; ours was a death in sin. The same power that reached Him in the tomb reaches for us in our sin to release the same kind of life that was released in Him in the tomb. We call this a work of grace. By the grace of God we share His life with Him. His life is greater than that of any enemy who might confront us, whether man, beast, spirit, sickness, trouble, or catastrophe. When it works in us, it will supersede the loss of all things.
NOW, LET US SPEND SOME TIME with a powerful string of statements that run through Romans and Ephesians. Their energy is ready to break in upon us. They are part of a doctrinal understanding we call Identification. The Lord Jesus identified with us in our sin and death that we might identify with Him in His righteousness and life.
In articles past we pointed out what we called the "sun-words." These are words Paul used, particularly in Romans and Ephesians, to describe what we share in union with the Lord Jesus. The Greek word sun, in itself, is powerful. It means "together with, or in company with." It was a favorite of Paul as he described what is ours together with Christ Jesus. In most instances he let it become part of another word to speak of something that has happened to us "in company with" Christ.
We will look at some of the passages making use of these words. They must be read and understood in the light of the verses around them but it will help to see them briefly all together. They enshrine the content of our hope of eternal being with Christ. The soul that will embrace them, meditate upon them, and allow their energy to find its release will indeed become a soul rich in relationship with Him. I encourage you to note them well in your Bible and consider the passages often till they release in you the energy of the light and understanding they present.
We place with each passage the Greek word making use of the prefix sun, or a remnant of it. Don’t try to pronounce these Greek words; just take note of the prefix on each one. They point to our identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, His burial, His resurrection, and His enthronement in the heavens. As we take all this into our hearts, we begin to see what is ours with Him—and faith is born.
But, before we look at them, we should know that our identification with the Lord Jesus begins when we open ourselves to Him as our Sin-bearer. II Corinthians 5:21 makes this very clear. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. When we receive this, the power of the New Birth takes over and we are able to see, and to enter, His Kingdom with Him.
Following are the particular Romans and Ephesians passages that present the truth of our identification with Christ so clearly. Do your best to see them. Let the light, life and power of each statement work its way into your heart and mind. And remember this—there is a belief that arises from within the heart that can sometimes lay hold on eternal reality even when the mind cannot comprehend it. So, at least let your heart receive these statements of identification and let them release their energy in you.
WHEN WE TAKE THESE POINTS of our Identification with Christ in their logical order, the light and the life in them begins to break forth in us. They bring us from our death in sin to our enthronement with Him in the heavens. While these points of truth and understanding bring us into eternal reality, there is nowhere in them a recognition of death except in the death Christ died for us. It is clear in the Scripture: when He died, we died. To state it simply, we do not have to wait till we depart from this life—which some call "passing away," or "going to be with the Lord," or "leaving this world"—to enter into this death with the Lord Jesus Christ. We reckon upon it. We put it down to our account that when He was crucified, we were crucified with Him. When He was buried, we were buried with Him. When He was raised up, we were raised up with Him. Death that has snipped at the heals of all humankind since Adam loses its bite when we allow the word of our identification with Christ Jesus to work in us.
We can then say, 0 death, where is thy sting? 0 grave, where is thy victory? (I Corinthians 15:55) Death no longer lords it over us. In Christ, we have more victory than it does.
Our first point of knowledge regarding our identification with Christ begins with His death. It comes from Romans 6:6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. This is an understanding that came to Paul as he struggled to overcome the sin that was driving him. He discovered he was under the law of sin and there was no escape from its bondage except through death. Mercy stepped in and provided the death for him. It was the death of the Lord Jesus upon which he learned to reckon.
Perhaps no understanding so powerful and full of light had ever come to a man before. It was revealed to Paul by the Holy Spirit, that when Christ Jesus died, he died. This was the crowning point of the revelation that came to him as he struggled with sin. It became the crowning point of Romans Truth and is ready to come over upon us.
To know it, we do not wait till we understand it or can explain it. Nor do we wait till we experience it. We can lay hold on the simple word knowing in Romans 6:6. Doing this, we begin our knowing simply because of what we find in the Scriptures. The Word of God has in it the germ of its own life and the energy to produce what it says. It will release its own energy as it brings us over into the realization of its substance. When Christ Jesus died, we died. As soon as we acknowledge the Word of this, we begin knowing it.
OUR SECOND POINT OF KNOWLEDGE in the logical unfolding of this is in Romans 6:4. Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we also should walk in newness of life. The outward expression of this is in water baptism. That we are buried with Him is a fact from which we learn not to move. Thus, it becomes a force—more powerful even than six feet of dirt—that will hold our old man of sin in subjection. We take all this in as part of our reckoning.
In Romans 6:5 Paul used another term similar to buried but with a different connotation. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. When we submit to water baptism, our confession is that we are both buried with Him and planted together with Him. Buried carries with it the idea of putting away something that is no longer useful. This is how we regard our old man. He is worthy only to be buried. Planted carries with it the idea of putting something into the ground that contains within it a germ of life that will spring forth once the old is cast aside. When we are planted with Him in the likeness of death, that is, by water baptism, it is with the expectation that something new is coming forth from that grave.
There is an interesting thing in Romans 6:5. Look at it carefully and note the words we have underlined. They were added to our King James Version by the translators. There is nothing to correspond with them in the Original. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Now, take the verse without these added words. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also…of…resurrection. When we see this, we’re closer to receiving exactly what Paul said. The burial in baptism is a likeness, or a representation, of His death and burial. But what results to the person who believes is not a likeness or a representation. It is a reality.
ALL OF THIS DRAWS US ON TOWARD PAUL’S CONCLUSION, that we share one life with Christ. Consider what he reveals in Rom 6:8. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. He shares His life with us. This is our salvation. There is no "plan" or scheme of goodness by which we can come to God with the hope of finally reaching heaven. We come to Him, and have hope of heaven not because of a plan. It is because of the Man Christ Jesus. The Father receives us in Him.
John Wesley, mighty man of God of generations past, knew this. He would say, "As soon as I think of myself and Christ as two, I am doomed to failure."
Indeed, the only—absolutely the only—way unto the Father, or into heaven, or into the authority of God’s Kingdom is through Christ Jesus. We believe this Word: Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me—John 14:6. We can’t find any way, or any truth, or any life outside of Him that will prevail in the final days of this age.
But then—look on. We need no other source. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together—Romans 8:17. The word children in this verse takes my attention. It’s from the Greek tékna and designates those born into a family. Thus, by the very virtue of our birth into the family of God, we become heirs. This is a position that belongs to every born again believer. But oh so many live beneath their inheritance! Go back and read that passage again in John where Jesus tells about the "new birth." Take note in John 3:3 how He speaks of seeing the Kingdom of God. In 3:5 see how He speaks of entering the Kingdom. When we are born again, inheriting the Kingdom with Christ becomes a possibility.
There are three "together words" in Romans 8:17. We become heirs together with Christ, if so be that we suffer together with Him, that we may be also glorified together.
What does all of this mean?
If we are heirs together with Him, we share in everything that is His—His righteousness, His wholeness, His authority, His strength, His power, His might, His everlasting life, as well as His relationship with the Father.
As far as the world is concerned, this will call us to suffer together with Him. All the forces set in the world to oppose Him will oppose us. As this kind of opposition increases, it will only crowd us closer in to the life and provision of His Resurrection and His Kingdom. We will see that the greatest blessing the world has to offer us is its rejection of us.
We are ready to learn this: if we suffer together with Him, we are in line to be glorified together with Him. We should not let this slip by us simply because we can’t comprehend all it means. The glory we share with Him begins with peace and joy here and now, but it carries us on into a quality of life in His Kingdom that will go on forever.
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