Identity in Christ – Acts 9:3-6

Be Found In Christ

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.  “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Proliferate Persecution

For nearly two thousand years, the disciples of Christ have been facing persecution of unimaginable nature.  Beaten, tortured, dismembered, crucified, impaled while covered in tar and set on fire while still alive, the list of brutal physical measures taken against the disciples of Jesus go on and on (for a better look, read “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs“).

Even two thousand years ago, the public ruination of disciples occurred.  They were called cannibals (because of the unfounded belief of transubstantiation with the communion bread and wine), and often had their property seized.  One of the most effective ways to punish someone was to remove their economic ability to flourish.  It caused them to be far less effective in ministry (now having to work doubly hard just to get food let alone shelter), as well as sending a message to others that if they were found that way, they too would receive the same punishment.

Additionally, with the seizure of assets, the people persecuting the disciples became richer, and had better resources at their disposal to persecute others.  In the United States of America, it has been found that some police departments would profile people who had property and assets that they coveted in order to use the drug laws as a hammer to defraud victims of their property.  It made them very rich, and very feared.

Coupled in Christ

The good news is that we are IN CHRIST.  There is something subtle here.  Notice that Jesus asks Saul why he is persecuting HIM.  He doesn’t ask why Saul is persecuting disciples, or Christians, or followers of the way.  Jesus asks why Saul is persecuting Him.  In the eyes of God, for all intents and purposes, we are joined to God in a way that is like marriage, where the two become one flesh.

Jesus views His disciples as part of Him.  There is no distinction between us and Him.  We ARE Him, in His eyes.  As the image-bearers of Christ, we are joined to Him in such a way that what we do and say is as if He said and did it.  It is imperative that we live our lives in such a way that God is glorified.

Found Faithful

God gives Saul a command – to go into the city where he will be told what to do.  Notice that God doesn’t say “repent!”.  He gave a command to be obeyed.  As followers of Christ, we have been told by Jesus that if we love Him, we will obey His commands.  Since we are found to be in Christ, we must live and act as Christ did while on Earth.  He was completely submitted to God, and obedient to all of His word.  In order to be found faithful, we too must be obedient to the word of the Living God.  For it is in obedience that we are found faithful, and then properly displaying the character of God.

Always remember that you are His image-bearer, His ambassador to the world.  An ambassador has the trust to act in the name of the one who sent him, as well as the authority of him as well.  We would do well to remember the awesome privilege and responsibility we have been graciously given so that we won’t abuse it.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I being a proper ambassador for Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have been more than gracious and merciful to send Your Son to be crucified for our sins.  You have joined us to You, and have given us great privilege and responsibility.  Father, help me to do all that You have planned for me to do.  Help me to remember that I am in Christ, and that I have the authority in Christ to do what You have commanded.  Help me to remember that when I am persecuted, it is not because of me, but because of Jesus whom they hate and despise.  Help me to remember that I was once like them, and to have compassion and mercy upon them for the sake of Your Holy name.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Combat Training with God – 2 Timothy 2:11-13

Remember These Things

11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
if we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he remains faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

Trustworthy Truism

Paul provides us with a wonderful understanding of the truth of God.  He first states that if we have dies with Christ, we are alive with Him.  For in the association with His death, we are likewise spiritually raised from the dead in Christ.  He was the first, and we are reborn as a result.  Our identity in Christ is not only in His is death but also in his resurrection.  And although the resurrection of our bodies has yet to take place, the resurrection of our spirits has already taken place.

Sovereign State

God has promised that if we endure, we will reign with Him.  We are told to allow perseverance to finish its work so that we will be complete.  This requires endurance through our trials, as this provides us with the necessary perseverance.  God has provided for us the ability to overcome just as Jesus has overcome through yielding ourselves to His Spirit.  It is through His power, strength, patience, and endurance that we will be trained to endure with Him.  This is a necessary part of our training, as it helps us to be prepared for ruling with Him.

Don’t Disown

God says that we should not disown His Son, or we will be disowned.  If we are to properly identify with Christ, we must identify fully with Him through every trial.  Regardless of the pressures and difficulties we face, we must stand strong in our identification with Jesus Christ.  Jesus never recanted nor disowned the Father, even through torture, beatings, false witness against Him, and even through crucifixion.  In a like manner, we too must trust ourselves to God and endure through whatever difficulties await us as we publicly identify with Christ.

Forever Faithful

The good news is, even if we are faithless, God is faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.  As the image-bearers of God, it is our duty – our responsibility – to completely identify with God in thought, word, and actions.  It is through obedience to His word that we show ourselves as being faithful to God.  Jesus did everything that the Father told Him to do.  We need to follow His example if we are to identify with Him.

But even should we fail in this, we cannot through our failure show that Jesus is not faithful, for in His very nature He is God, and cannot be unfaithful nor disown Himself.  We can be assured that Jesus will forever be in identify with the Father, so that any failure on our part doesn’t reflect upon His perfect identity with God.  And it is in that identity that God the Father sees us as righteous.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I living out my identity in Christ in complete faithfulness?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, thank You for the faithfulness of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  As Your image-bearer, it is my duty and privilege to identify with Him in all things.  Grant me the strength, endurance, and perseverance to overcome all of the challenges that face me today.  In this world, I face many trials.  But I know that You and You alone are able to get me through them all.  Remember me as the world, the flesh, and the devil place their soul-crushing pressures upon me through physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulties that I may overcome them all.  I know that I can do this in the power and strength of Your Holy Spirit because Jesus has overcome the world.  Thank You for all that You do in my life and in the lives of everyone, for You are not a respecter of persons.  Help me to continue on in humility this day in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?