At the end of Romans 8, Paul challenges the entire universe, demonstrating to all living things that nothing can condemn or lay a charge at the feet of God’s children (see Rom. 8:31–39).
How can you, dear child of God, feel insecure, unworthy, and condemned in the presence of so marvelous an anthem? Paul does not answer a charge against God’s children with their own good deeds, their own clean record, nor with their own victorious living.
He answers only with Christ.
Paul’s life was spent trying to extinguish the specific falsehoods that eroded the notion that God’s demeanor toward us is grace-full. His letters throb with countless “blame-extinguishing” declarations.
These explosive statements are designed to inoculate the church from any accusation that can be laid at her feet.
God accepts only one person, His beloved Son.
And we are in Him.
So He accepts us on exactly the same basis as He accepts Christ.
Therefore, we need not struggle to earn God’s favor. We only need to come to Christ and rest in Him.
On balance, I would say that understanding that we are a new species in Christ is not a license to practice sin. A proper apprehension of God’s irrevocable love and acceptance of His children actually does the opposite. It wins our hearts over to Him.
Granted, because we are His children, the Lord will chastise us if necessary (Heb. 12:5–11; Rev. 3:19). But such chastisement is an evidence of His burning love for us. It in no way affects His unconditional acceptance. I address the balance between libertinism and legalism elsewhere.
When we discover that our relationship to the Father is actually Christ’s relationship to His Father, it changes everything. Our souls find rest. Even our vocabulary changes.
No longer do we say things like, “I’m working on my relationship with the Lord.” … “I’m struggling to be a better Christian.” … “I’ll eventually get to where I want to be someday.”
If you peel back those statements to their core, you will make the startling discovery that you are at the center of the Christian walk. These statements betray the fact that the Christian life, in your eyes, is all about your ability to be a good Christian, your walk, your testimony, your spiritual growth—you, you, you.
Discovering that God has given us His relationship to Christ causes the entire focus of our lives to shift radically. All of our self-centered “I need to do better” language evaporates. Instead, we begin to speak about what is real in the eyes of God now. We take our place in Christ and we stand there boldly. We then live from that high mountain.
To restate it: You and I do not have a separate fellowship with God the Father. We have been called into the one unique fellowship of God’s Son (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3). Christ’s perfect, unclouded relationship to His Father is the marvelous legacy that He has given to you and me.
The implications of our union with Christ are inconceivable. Yet they are profoundly real and within the reach of our experience. For instance, we share in the actual experiences of Jesus Christ.
And those experiences are reproduced in our lives. For instance …
• Our prayers to the Father through the Holy Spirit are Christ’s prayers (Rom. 8:26–27, 34).
• Our appeal to others on behalf of God is Christ’s appeal to others (2 Cor. 5:20).
• Our affection for the members of the body is Christ’s affection for the members (Phil. 1:8).
• Our deadness to sin is Christ’s deadness to sin (Rom. 6:2–6; 2 Cor. 4:10; 5:14).
• Our sufferings are Christ’s sufferings (2 Cor. 4:10–11; Col.1:24; Phil. 3:10).
• Our burial of the old fleshly nature was Christ’s burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).
• Our spiritual resurrection was Christ’s resurrection (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12–13; 3:1; Eph. 2:6; Phil. 3:10).
• Our spiritual ascension was Christ’s ascension (Eph. 1:20–21; 2:6).
• Our spiritual glorification was Christ’s glorification (Rom. 8:30).
• Our spiritual enthronement was Christ’s enthronement (Rom. 5:17; Eph. 1:20–21; 2:6).
I have purposely worded the above in the particular order in which it appears to stress the point that we so often miss. That is, you and I are completely and inseparably identified with, incorporated into, and united with Jesus Christ.
As members of His body, we are part of Him. Thus His history is our history, and His destiny is our destiny.
To put it another way, your history and your destiny is a person.
Jesus Christ is not just our Lord and our Savior; He is our pathfinder, our trailblazer, our pioneer, and our forerunner.
The forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus. (Heb. 6:20 nkjv)
What, then, can we expect to happen to us if we follow the Lord? Everything that happened to Him. (The exception is His sin-bearing, redemptive work. That belongs exclusively to Him.) What Jesus experienced is your history as well as your destiny.
So whatever He experienced will in some measure be experienced by you.
These things are only “positional truths” for those who do not have eyes to see. They are the reality from God’s vantage point. And that is the only vantage point that’s worth considering.
This post is an excerpt from Chapter 24 of From Eternity to Here.