Day 30

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN CHRIST?

DEFININING LIFE IN CHRIST

Jesus said I am the way … to God. I came so that you may have life

and abundant joy … Life In Christ. (My own paraphrase.)

  1. After an examination of some of the scriptures that refer to being In Christ, how would you define “Life In Christ?”
  1. What does it mean to you to be” In Christ”?
  1. What does this phrase mean to you: “Christ in me … the hope of glory”
  1. Does the meaning of the phrase change if you consider the fact that when Moses came face to face with God, the glory of God was reflected in his face?

Phil. 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” In Greek, the word “through” literally means “IN” – so this verse tells us that “In Christ”, we have the power of the Holy Spirit, the strength of Christ, to face and deal with the problems that face us. The Message, which is a contemporary paraphrase, puts it this way, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.“ This does not mean that God is going to give us superhuman abilities to do anything WE want – things that are outside God’s will. But, the power we receive in union with Christ is sufficient to do God’s will and to face the challenges that arise from our commitment to doing it. This assurance should give us a “Can Do” attitude as we deal with the problems that we face, because we are not facing life on our own – we have a helper and the knowledge that we can do all things through or in Christ.

Copyright 2003 Diane Burton

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Day 29

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN CHRIST?

SCRIPTURE STUDY 16 – 19

Try to hear what the scriptures are saying to you about life In Christ. What function “In Christ” is the scripture referring to? Reflect on the connections between scripture and your own life experience – do you see evidence of this scripture in your life? Gratefully listen for and receive God’s presence and guidance in living your life In Christ.

16) 1 Cor. 15:22 “…for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.” (NRSV)

2 Cor. 1:21 “God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us.” (MSG)

When we are “In Christ”, we have life eternal, and we are affirmed as God’s children. We belong to God.

17) Philip. 4:7 “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

When you live “In Christ”, God’s peace will guard your heart and mind through the power of the Holy Spirit. True peace is not found in positive thinking, in absence of conflict, or in good feelings. It comes from knowing that God is in control. Peace of mind and heart is a mark of living “In Christ.” Can you imagine never being “anxious about anything”?! It seems like an impossibility – we all have worries on the job, in our homes, at school. But Paul’s advice is to turn our worries into prayers. Do you want to worry less? Then pray more! Whenever you start to worry, stop and pray – claim the power that belongs to those who live “In Christ.” The power of the Holy Spirit can be used to defeat the worries of the world and is available to those who live In Christ. Claim the power of Jesus name to bring peace to your heart and mind and to soothe your anxieties. God doesn’t promise to take away our problems, but He does promise to give us His peace, His power and spirit.

18) Philip. 4:19 “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

When we live “In Christ”, we can trust that God will always meet our needs. Whatever we need on earth he will always supply, even if it is the courage to face death as Paul did. We must remember, however, the difference between our wants and our needs. Most people want to feel good and avoid discomfort or pain. We may not get all that we want. By trusting and living In Christ, our attitudes and appetites can change from wanting everything to accepting his provision and power to live for him.

19) Paraphrase, 1 John 3:6  “Nobody who abides in Christ or knows Christ well or lives deeply In Christ keeps on sinning.”

When you live “In Christ”, your way of living changes, you no longer practice sin or live the way of the world, because of the power of Christ in you.

Copyright 2003 Diane Burton

Day 28

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN CHRIST?

SCRIPTURE STUDY 12 – 15

Read and reflect on these scriptures. What do these scriptures say about the nature or actions of Christ? What do they say about humans? What do they say about your relationship with God? Do you have a different understanding now of what it means to live a life In Christ? How are these actions evident in your life?

12) Romans 13:14 “Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!” (MSG)

We are to be dressed or clothed “In Christ. How do we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ? First we identify with Christ; second, we exemplify the qualities Jesus showed while he was here on earth (love, humility, truth, service); third, we role-play or try to do what Jesus would do in our situation; fourth, we must not give our desires any opportunity to lead us into sin and avoid those situations that open the door to gratifying sinful desires.

13) 1 Cor. 1:4 “Every time I think of you, and I think of you often! I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, that has been given you in Christ Jesus.” (Combination of MSG & NRSV) Ephes. 3:12 “Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come fearlessly into God’s presence, assured of his glad welcome.” (NLT)

When we live “In Christ”, we gain free and open access to God; in fact, we are welcomed into God’s presence.

14) 1 Cor. 1:30 “God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom. (NLT)

When we are “In Christ”, we are pure and holy and acceptable to God. God sent Christ to die for us this for our benefit so that “In Christ” we can have a relationship with God. In other words, our union and identification “In Christ” results in our having God’s wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3), possessing right standing with God (righteousness, 2 Cor. 5:21), being holy (1 Thes. 4:3-7), and having the penalty for our sins paid by Jesus (redemption, Mark 10:45).

15) Ephes. 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT)

When we live “In Christ” God sees us as His masterpiece. While no action or work we do can help us obtain salvation, God’s intention is that our salvation will result in acts of service. We are not saved merely for our own benefit but to serve Christ and build up the church (Ephes. 4:12). Out of gratitude for this free gift, and with thankfulness, joy, and praise, we should seek to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness, and not merely seek to please ourselves.

Copyright 2003 Diane Burton

Day 27

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN CHRIST?

SCRIPTURE STUDY 7 – 11

Read and reflect on these scriptures. With each scripture, try to hear what God is saying to you through each one. What does each verse say to you about living a life In Christ? What do you hear God saying to you about your life? Are there changes that you need to make in your life to live more fully In Christ? If verses number 9 & 10 were used as a “Christian Job Description”, how would you say you are doing in your job?

7) Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (NRSV)

Those who live “In Christ” have been set free and declared “not guilty.” Christ paid the penalty for us breaking God’s holy law. When we live “In Christ” we are freed from the bondage of sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same power that helps us follow God’s will and to live a Christian life.

8) Romans 8:39 “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

“In Christ” we find the love of God, a profound love for us that is unshakable, no matter what, and that can never be broken; a love for us that should give us comfort and strength when times are tough.

9) Romans 12:5 “…so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” (NLT)

All believers, those who are “In Christ”, are part of the body of Christ, under Christ’s direction, and each one has different and specific gifts and a specific job to perform in God’s kingdom in order to build up the church and the kingdom. As part of the body of Christ, those who are “In Christ” need each other in order to be fully functioning and to most effectively build up the church and the Kingdom of God.

10) 2 Cor. 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.” (NLT)

God, “In Christ”, leads us in triumph, and through us, spreads His message of salvation.

11) Ephes. 2:7 “Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.” (MSG)

When we live “In Christ” God showers His grace and kindness on us.

Copyright 2003 Diane Burton

Day 26

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN CHRIST?

SCRIPTURE STUDY 1 – 6

The New Testament is full of scriptures that refer to being “IN CHRIST,” to living “IN CHRIST,” to being created anew “IN CHRIST,” to eternal life “IN CHRIST,” or to the love of God “IN CHRIST.” Being “IN CHRIST” is an important concept to explore and to understand in order to know just why you would want to bother to try to live “IN CHRIST.” The term “In Christ” reflects different types of actions that result from being and living In Christ and/ or from having Christ live in you. As you read each of the scriptures take time to analyze them and examine your life. For each scripture ask these questions: 1) What action is the scripture is referring to? 2) How are these actions evident in my life? And 3) What do I need to do to improve my life In Christ?

1) 1 Cor. 1:30 “God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.” (NLT)

When we are “In Christ” we obtain salvation. Being In Christ makes us acceptable to God, accepting Christ as our savior makes us pure and holy in God’s eyes.

2) Ephes. 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

When we are “In Christ” we are new creations, and we are created for the purpose of doing God’s good works.

3) Philip. 4:7 “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

Living and being “In Christ” gives us God’s peace to guard our hearts and minds.

4) 1 John 2:27 “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you all things, and what he teaches is true-it is not a lie. So continue in what he has taught you, and continue to live in Christ.” (NLT)

We live In Christ” and Christ lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who will teach us all things, and will teach us what is true.

5) Romans 15:17 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to boast of my work for God.” (NRSV)

It is only “In Christ”, or through the spirit of Christ in us, that we can do good work for God. Paul did not glory in what he had done, but in what God had done through him.

6) Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NRSV)

When we live “In Christ” we receive the free gift of eternal life from God. Salvation or eternal life In Christ can never be earned, but is freely given to all who accept it.

Copyright 2003 Diane Burton

Day 25

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN CHRIST?

GRACE FOR YOUR WHOLE LIFE

We are going to continue looking at the three types of grace that are offered to us In Christ. God pursues us and offers us His gifts of grace throughout our life, from birth to death. The type of grace that you receive depends on where you are in your Christian journey.

Prevenient Grace can be described as God’s action in knocking at the door to our heart. God pursues us and offers us His love and grace from the moment of our birth until the time that we recognize Him and open the door of our heart to Him. Justifying Grace describes what Christ did for us on the cross, taking on our sin and our guilt, even though He was blameless and without sin, in order that we may be saved and set right with God – “Just As If” we had never sinned. Justifying Grace is given to us at that point when we open the door to our heart and invite Christ into our lives, when we confess our sins and our belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. So we are Justified when we confess and repent.

Sanctifying Grace is a description of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, transforming us into the image of Christ. It is the sharing of our lives with Christ. It is an ongoing process from the time of being justified that continues up to the time of our death. The Holy Spirit works in our lives and in our hearts to help us mature and grow.

It has also been described as the process of being perfected.

Accepting Christ isn’t a one time only deal – something we do that makes us a Christian and then we don’t ever have to worry about it again. There are things that can happen that can drive a wedge between God and us so that we, like the Prodigal Son, that we can turn our backs on God and walk away from Him, and go off and do our own thing in the far country. There are times when we get self-satisfied and get caught up in the “world” and have no time or place for Christ in our lives – we let other things take the place of God. However God is never content to leave us in the far country. He will begin pursuing us with His gifts of Prevenient Grace, always seeking to bring us back to Him. Just as the good shepherd goes in search of the lost sheep, so God will pursue His children. When we return to Him and confess our sins and repent, He will be quick to forgive and forget. The Holy Spirit will again share our life, as a friend, again helping us become a new creation In Christ.

 

1) Is the door to your heart open or shut? 2) How often do you seek Christ’s company? 3) How far along is the Holy Spirit in the process of sculpting a new creation? Are you like a lump of clay on the wheel? A half-formed vessel? Nearly ready for firing in the kiln? 4) Are you feasting at the heavenly banquet table or are you on the road to the far country? 5) Is there something in your life trying to take God’s place in your heart?

Copyright 2003 Diane Burton

Day 24

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN CHRIST?

GRACE

In the scriptures there are many examples of the different types of Grace that God extends to us and offers us In Christ. John Wesley divided God’s grace into three different categories:

  1. PREVENIENT GRACE: Rev. 3: 20: Listen! I am standing and knocking at your door. Ephes. 1:4 Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. (NLT)

God is always standing at the door of our hearts, knocking, seeking to make Himself known to us. We were chosen “In Christ” before the world began. God sought us from the beginning to be His Child In Christ, and to live a life that reflects God’s love for us to the world around us.

  1. JUSTIFYING GRACE: Rev. 3: 20: If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in. Galatians 2:16-17 We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it-and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous.” (MSG)

There is no doorknob on the outside of the door to our heart, and God will never force His way in – He waits for us to hear and recognize His voice and open the door of our hearts to Him. It is only when we invite Christ into our lives that we are justified and cleansed from our sin. It is only through our faith In Christ that we are set right with God.

  1. SANCTIFYING GRACE: Rev. 3: 20: We will share a meal as friends. 2 Cor. 5:17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (NRSV)

When we open the door of our heart, the Holy Spirit comes in to share our life, to be “best friends forever.” In Christ, we are re-created as new creations, new persons, with new life under a new master. In Christ we live in vital union with God through the power of the Holy Spirit who continues the ongoing work of bringing us to perfection and re-creating us into the image of Christ.

In Rev. 3:20, the Laodicean church was complacent and rich. They felt self-satisfied, but they didn’t have Christ’s presence among them. Christ knocked at the door of their hearts, but they were so busy enjoying worldly pleasures that they didn’t notice that he was trying to enter. How busy are you? The pleasures of this world – money, security, and material possessions – can be dangerous, because their temporary satisfaction makes us indifferent to God’s offer of lasting satisfaction. How satisfied are you with your life? If you find yourself feeling indifferent to church, to God, or to the Bible, perhaps you have begun to shut God out of your life. Letting Him in and keeping the door open is your only hope for lasting fulfillment. Have you opened your life to Christ or do you intentionally keep his life-changing presence and power on the other side of the door?

Copyright 2003 Diane Burton