Gardendale Nazarene

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Archives for September 2019 | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

September 2019

"In Christ"

Sunday, we are beginning a new series on the Sermon on the Mount.  I have to say that I’m really excited about this series.  

As I have been writing out my ideas for this week, I realized that I have too much material. So today, I’d like to get you thinking about Sunday and the direction for this series.  

Let’s start with a couple statistics:
  • The phrase “in Christ” appears over fifty times in Paul’s letters.  
  • There is an additional forty appearances if you add “in the Lord (Jesus/Jesus Christ)” and “in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  
These phrases have been a source of discussion for Bible scholars for years. What does Paul mean with the term “in Christ”? Some have argued that “in Christ” is similar to a membership card. I only carry two membership cards in my wallet- the Jefferson County Library card and a Costco membership.  

Neither of these memberships really change anything. One of them allows me to walk into a library and leave with a book or a DVD for a couple weeks. The other card allows me to enter a store and spend more money (and get a bunch of free samples!).  I’m not changed as a person because of my library card or Costco membership.  Membership does not always equate to transformation.  However, to be “in Christ” is a life-changing transformative event.  

Let's look at a few Pauline passages where he uses this phrase:
  • 2 Corinthians 5:19- For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
  • Galatians 3:26- For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
  • Galatians 3:28- There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.
  • Galatians 5:6- For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
Sunday, we will be looking at Colossians 3 as foundation for this series.  Look at how Paul opens the chapter, "Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.  Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.  For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."

To be 'in Christ' is way more than a membership card!  It is a change in reality, hope, love, and life.  On Sunday, we will look at what it means to be 'in Christ.'  Here's four points that we will look at: 

To be in Christ is to know:
  • We have been raised up with Jesus to new life.
  • We have been given a new identity, one in which Christ dwells.
  • We have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  • Our citizenship is now in heaven. 
May we live into the beauty of knowing that we are in Christ..."For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God..."

grace and peace,

Pastor John