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December 6 Today’s Reading: Ephesians 3-5
“Created in Righteousness and True Holiness”
In Hebrews 12:14 the Spirit of God tells us that there is a “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” In Ephesians 4:24 he declares that all who are born of God are born new creatures in Christ Jesus, “created in righteousness and true holiness.” That holiness without which none can enter into heaven is the righteousness of God imparted to the heaven-born soul in regeneration, the divine nature of which we are partakers by grace (2 Peter 1:4). This is the experience of the new birth; and it is just as necessary to the salvation of our souls as the righteousness of Christ imparted to us in justification.
Without question, the new birth is the certain result of our Savior’s accomplishments in his death as our Substitute; but if we have no living, vital union with Christ, his mediatorial accomplishments at Calvary cannot effect our deliverance from the wrath to come.
Born of the Spirit
Though the obedience of Christ unto death met all the claims of the law and satisfied divine justice for all the chosen seed, that obedience does not impart to the redeemed a qualification for the enjoyment of heaven. For that we must be born again. — “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).
Here we are presented with two distinct births from two distinct elements, necessarily producing two distinct beings. The flesh produces beings incapable of entering into the kingdom of God. The flesh cannot enter into, understand, or enjoy that which is spiritual, let alone that which is heavenly. But the Spirit produces beings capable of entering into the kingdom of God, capable of entering, understanding, and enjoying that which is spiritual, making all who are born of the Spirit “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). By the new birth, being given faith in Christ, God’s elect are brought into an open and manifest union with Christ; but our experience of it is not the beginning of this union.
An Everlasting Union
The believer’s vital union with Christ the Mediator is an everlasting union of grace. This union between Christ and our souls is the nearest, dearest, closest, most intense, and most enduring relationship that can be imagined. We live because Christ lives, and our lives are hid with Christ in God. This is a relationship that is closer than that of a husband and wife, or children and their parents.
This union of Christ and his people is one of the greatest mysteries revealed in the Book of God. — “We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:30). We are members of Christ. We form his mystical body. This is the closest relationship imaginable. It is such a close relationship, such a close union, that the Lord Jesus Christ would be as incomplete without us as we would be without him (Ephesians 1:23; Colossians 2:9-10). We are identified with him; and he is identified with us. He has made us essential to himself, just as he has made himself essential to us! He is the head of the body and we are the members of that body. That is a truly vital union! — “We are members of his body.”
Partakers of Christ
As Eve derived life from Adam (Genesis 2:18-25), so we derive life from Christ. As Eve was made partaker of Adam’s nature, so we are made partakers of Christ’s nature. As Eve’s life was but an extension of Adam’s life, so our life is but an extension of Christ’s life. He is eternal life; and we have eternal life by the gift of God. That eternal life is “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27). We are partakers his life. Our spiritual life proceeds from and is sustained by Christ. He is the source of our present spiritual life, and of our eternal life in glory with him.
Let us never diminish one aspect of our Savior’s work to make another appear more glorious. All that Christ is made to us and all that he does for us is vital. We cannot be saved without his work for us; and we cannot be saved without his work in us. Both are vital.
Astonishing but Real
There are three great mystical unions revealed in Holy Scripture. The union of the three persons of the Godhead, being one God, is the doctrine of the Trinity (1 John 5:7). The Scriptures also reveal the union of divinity and humanity in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. — “The Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). And the Book of God reveals this vital union of God’s elect with Christ. Nothing can be more astonishing; but nothing is more real than our union with Christ.
Be astonished, O my soul! I and my Savior are one! Child of God, you are one with the Christ of God! You were “buried with him in baptism into death,” wherein also you have risen with him. You were crucified with him upon the cursed tree. You have gone up into heaven with him. God has raised us up together and made us to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. You are one with Christ! I am one with Christ!
Be astonished, O my soul! Being one with him, the Lord Jesus himself assures us that the Lord God our Father loves us as he loves him! He loves me to the same degree, with the same love, and for the same reason he loves his Son as my Mediator. He loves me and his Son with an everlasting love (John 17:23).
Since we are members of his body, he will one day present us to himself without spot or wrinkle or blemish or any such thing. We will be perfect, even as he is perfect. We will enter into the eternal joy in the Lord. We are joint heirs with Christ; therefore whatever he has we shall have.