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First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspectives,

Benefits! Americans have more than most. Those who are

'in Christ' by grace and through faith in the promises of God

have more than they realize!

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 records some of those perpetual benefits that the believer is afforded because of the cost Jesus paid for our salvation. "Therefore, if anyone is

IN CHRIST, (the key that unlocks the blessing), he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation."

It is important to understand that being 'in church' is not a substitute for being 'in Christ'. When I have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ then my sin has been covered once and for all in the blood atonement of Jesus' sacrifice for me. I am adopted into the family of faith and made to be a part of His church of which He is the Head. My life is then ordered by His desire and His design.

Some might well respond, that's all well and good but what's in it for me, especially now? In these verses we see a few of those present benefits.

The first personal benefit is the position of being included in the family of faith; the fellowship of saints; the family of God. "...if anyone is IN CHRIST..."

The second personal benefit is the protection from the assault of the adversary the devil. "Now all things are of God..." Do you realize there's nothing that can touch you or me as a child of God that is not first filtered through the all-seeing eye and all-knowing mind of God? IF God permits trial and trouble to come, then there's a purpose of refinement or restoration involved. There are occasions when God allows pain, pressure and problems in order to purge the impurity from of our lives. He does so to conform us to the image of His Son, Jesus. Jesus was willing to humble Himself and serve us. And God permitted His only Son to suffer the hardships of this life knowing that we would. He identified with our suffering to give us someone to identify with and help us overcome.

Every genuine believer has a foe in the adversary, the devil. But every genuine believer has a friend that sticks closer than a brother in Jesus!! We must not forget the benefit of knowing that He knows what we walk through. And as we journey with Him, we journey trusting that He has the proper coordinates for navigating our way through life.

The third personal benefit is the possession of God's peace through His promises. "We are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ." The separation of sin has been bridged through the provision of Christ's offering and our acceptance of it. Because He was made to be sin for us, then we are made to be one with Him through the atonement of His blood that removes once and for all the penalty of our sin. We are no longer enemies of God but adopted heirs of all His benefits.

Romans 8:16-17 read this way--"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs----heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together."

We share in the sufferings of this world as Christ did during His time with us on earth and we will be glorified as He is when our lives are lived! Peter said in 1 Peter 1:4 that "we (who are born again) have as God's children an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade... because it is kept in heaven."

Therefore, one day we who trust God will enjoy everything that God provided through Christ because we are 'in Christ'. Because God is true to His promises, ultimately those who 'in Christ' will be with Christ because we have been accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6

Those benefits are still available today for 'anyone' who is willing to first deny themselves and rest their life on the precious promises of God in faith.

Are you 'in Christ'? Because if you're not 'in' or not sure then there's a benefit in this life you have not yet realized. This benefit will provide blessing for you both here and hereafter!

May the Lord bless you or someone you know with the benefit of transforming your life!

And may He be permitted to do it this week!


Pstr K

Hebrews 10:35-36