OUR PLACE IN CHRIST
1 Corinthians 1: 1-2 (to “called saints”); 30-31; 3: 16, 23; 6: 11, 20
In reading these verses I am reminded of what God says to Isaiah, “Speak to the heart of Jerusalem”, chap 40: 2. A very up and down history they had, but it says, “Speak to the heart”. In Jeremiah God says, “I remember for thee the kindness of thy youth, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land not sown”, chap 2: 2. What a God we have to do with! And in the days in which we are, we need to appreciate where we are in God’s heart. You wonder that Paul wrote so much to Corinth; he writes two epistles to Corinth. Why was that? Because God told him, “I have much people in this city”, Acts 18: 10.
Well, Paul never lost sight of what the people were in God’s sight. There is no point in telling somebody how bad they are; he writes to “the assembly of God which is in Corinth”. You have to remember where we are in God’s mind. It reminds me of the high priest going in with full dress, Exod 28: 29. You would have liked to have seen it. There it was, a dress “for glory and for ornament” (v 2), and the names of the twelve tribes on his breast. Paul in writing had some sense of where those names were on the breast. And we need that very much; there is no point in telling people how bad they are, but can you draw near to tell them of their place on the breast plate that never altered? Christ did not go in alone, dear brethren; He went in there, you could say, with the saints on His breast. All God’s promises were secured when Christ went in. And I love to think about it: He went there with our names on His breast, and that is what Paul is saying to these Corinthians. He knew the state but he says, “the assembly of God which is in Corinth”. Later he says, “do ye not recognise yourselves?”, 2 Cor. 13: 5 They were misbehaving; well, these things are not unknown to us.
And now I wanted to speak about that verse at the end of the chapter. It is very precious to me, because I recall a brother quoting this verse, and it was impressed upon me, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus”. That is where you are with a name on the breast: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who has been made to us …”. And if you look at these few things you have there everything that you need for the pathway, everything you need to live here above the storm. First, He says, “wisdom from God”. How much we need that; it is there. Christ has been made it. The One who died for us, He is living for us. We often speak about the Lord dying for us, but it is a wonderful thing to realise in your heart that He lives for you in His glorified position. What better counsel could you get? It reminds me of the addresses in Revelation 3; the need is for an ear to hear. “And righteousness”; well, we need that. And where do we have it? By turning over a new leaf? No, we get it by seeing that we have it in Christ, our Patron with the Father, 1 John 1: 1. He is Jesus Christ the righteous, the One who has the names on His breast. We need righteousness. We do not have it in ourselves. Paul is not speaking in the passage that I have read about anything we work up to. He is saying, ‘It is already there’. Lay hold of it in your heart; grasp the opportunity. He “has been made to us … righteousness, and holiness”. Now that is a great need, is it not? You will never improve the flesh; you will never reach it by turning a new leaf, but you reach it by realising that it is all there for you, and you are it. It is available to you in Jesus.
He “has been made to us … righteousness, and holiness, and redemption”. What a wonderful thing redemption is. I think we sung it in our hymn, did we not?
Redemption gives faith’s holy boast (Hymn 427).
It is a very fine thing to know that you have been redeemed, like Job, who says, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”, chap 19: 25. “Ye have been redeemed, not by corruptible things … but by precious blood, as of a lamb”, 1 Pet 1: 18, 19. Oh, what a basis our righteousness stands on, dear brethren! We get away from it, and we get occupied with the lack of doing what is right, and so on. But here it is, it is all here for us in Christ: He “has been made to us … redemption”. There are some beautiful chapters in Isaiah about redemption; once you get on in the book it is in almost every chapter. “The redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of Jehovah shall return, and come to Zion with singing”, he says, chap 35: 9, 10. That is what redemption does: it lifts you clear from everything else, and that is where you are before God in Christ. So Paul says, “that according as it is written, He that boasts, let him boast in the Lord”.
Well, these things are very attractive to us if our heart is touched that we may be enabled to know that the Spirit of God dwells in us. It puts you to shame as you think of your conduct at times, but ye are not your own, “for ye have been bought with a price, and the Spirit of God dwells in you”. And then he says, “of him are ye in Christ Jesus”. Think of being able to look on one another as God sees them; not what men say about them, which will fade and die away, but what God thinks about them. “Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s”. It reminds us, dear brethren, that there was a great price paid for this to be true: a great price. And that is where we will come to the realisation, that it is not only to be true for us, but it is to be true of us, as we come to value the price that was paid. It was a wonderful day when what we see in the New Testament came into expression. The Old was not only superseded; God was looking on new ground. The earth had a green spot when Jesus was here, and it was equally wonderful when Jesus arose, because He left something. See the change in Peter in the Acts; see the change in Philip, and so on: look at them all. What changed men they were when Christ went in, bearing their name on His breast. He went in as the great High Priest. As I have quoted so often: as the Apostle He maintains the calling at its height, but as High Priest He maintains the people at the height of their calling. What a wonderful High Priest; He has gone in. That is what He is to us, our great High Priest up there that we may be able to realise what we are. No wonder Paul says later on to them, “do ye not recognise yourselves?”; “ye are Christ’s”.
That word has stuck in my mind all my life. Remember who you belong to; you are Christ’s. Would He go there? Would He do the things you do? Would He say the things you say? Well, remember, “ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s”.
In chapter 6 Paul goes over these same things again. He says, “Do ye not know … ?”. He says that a lot to the Corinthians; he was touching their state. He tells them what they are in God’s mind, and then he says, “Do ye not know … ?”. Well, why do you not know? “Christ Jesus … has been made to us wisdom … and righteousness, and holiness, and redemption. Why do we not know? He says, “Do ye not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which ye have of God; and ye are not your own? For ye have been bought with a price: glorify now then God in your body”, v 19, 20. I leave you with that verse, dear brethren. “Ye have been bought with a price: glorify now then God in your body.”
For His Name’s sake.
Word in meeting for ministry, Kirkcaldy
17th January 2017