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2 Corinthians | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene

2 Corinthians

"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

Ambassadors for the Kingdom

This Lenten season, we have been on a journey together. This journey began in the wilderness with the Hebrew people as the twelve spies returned from their trip to the Promised Land. We stood with Moses as he found his home in the presence of the Living God before a burning bush. As we journey through the wilderness, I hope we hear the voice of God giving us direction and a new orientation.

Paul reminds us our direction revolves around the fact that we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). Last week, I used Dr. H. Orton Wiley’s definition of an ambassador. He gives us four points to consider:

  • An ambassador is a citizen of another country than that in which he temporarily resides.
  • He has no message of his own but delivers the message given him by his own country.
  • He speaks not on his own authority but on behalf of, and with the authority of, his country.
  • The ambassador's mission is to bring peace.

We have a message given to us and Paul reminds us of this message, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).

This work that we have been entrusted with it not easy work. It is, however, a message the world needs to hear. This Easter, we have the opportunity again to proclaim- God has done something completely new in Christ! This is our message. This is our hope. This is the gift we have been given.

May we proclaim this gift of new creation in our fallen world.

Grace and peace,

Pastor John

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