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December 7, 2007

3

When Christ’s history becomes our history

by Dave Malnes

Sometimes a Christian will explain their faith journey as “walking in Christ.” For many of us, however, our walk seems more like a crawl. Even then, we miss the point God is trying to teach us in Scriptures. 

In Galatians 2:20 we read, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” At the moment of faith, Christ’s history becomes our history. We are with Christ because we are already “in” Christ. God acknowledges my past, but not based on all of my sins. He views my past based on the perspective of the cross. I have been crucified with Christ and now Christ lives in me. This is not just a promise, but a fact, a foregone conclusion that God clearly declares for all who trust in Him. We are united with Christ (Romans 6:5-6) and our old self is no longer acknowledged by God. 

What is even more difficult to comprehend is that God already determined our status before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The problem is that we are trying to create our own history by doing good works. We carry with us the thought that somehow we can be pleasing or acceptable to God on our own. We tend to think of God has a partner in our salvation instead of a redeemer. 

A good illustration is found in the instructions on how to save a drowning man. There is a great risk whenever a person tries to save a drowning victim. There have been tragic cases of people drowning themselves in their attempt. As a result, there are really only two ways to save the person. Either knock them unconscious or wait until they stops struggling until they relax or their strength gives away before taking him to shore. A struggling person in the water will try to clutch and grab until both of you are lost. In the same way, God waits for us to stop struggling until we are give up and surrender. When we have stopped trying to save ourselves and call out for help, God saves us.

This analogy explains the process of coming to faith. It’s God rescuing us when we realize that we are utterly dependent upon him to snatch us from death. Also, this explains the process of maturing in the faith. We don’t start by “walking with Christ,” but we mature in the faith by learning how to rest in Christ. Our Christian experience does not begin on the basis on what we do for Christ, but receiving and accepting our status based on the finished work of Christ. Once we see our selves as God sees us, 100% forgiven and completed assured of our citizenship in heaven, we mature in our trust and find true rest.

The joy of having Christ’s history as our own, not only does that give assurance in our present, but confidence in the future.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 7 2007

    “We are united with Christ (Romans 6:5-6) and our old self is no longer acknowledged by God.”

    Paul states here, this is done through baptism not “At the moment of faith”.

    “He is just waiting for us to stop trying to create our own history, by doing good works, in order to be somebody that can be pleasing or acceptable to God.”

    But Jesus tells us in the sermon on the mount:”your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” And Paul tells Titus in 3:8, “I want you to insist on these points, that those who have believed in God be careful to devote themselves to good works; these are excellent and benefical to others.”

    I just wanted to point these verses out to your readers as well. Thanks and God bless.

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  2. merganzerman
    Dec 7 2007

    Thank you, Tim, for your comments. I always appreciate your insight.

    I think the central point I am trying to get across not only this post, but in previous and in future posts, is to steer people away from works-righteousness attitude. The Scriptures clearly say, as you point out, the standards of what it means to “let your light shine” and “devote yourself to good works”. This is what God wants us to be and to do. However, they are a by-product of faith not a means. This is a popular thought of the secular culture of what Christianity is all about — that if we do enough good works than we ought to be good enough for heaven. This is not Scripturally true and something that I want every person to understand— even Christians.

    Furthermore, for us Christians, we have a tendency to burden ourselves with good works; thereby dealing with guilt (Am I doing enough?) or either burn out altogether. I want to relieve people of guilt, which is a significant barrier, so that they can have a whole different mindset of doing good works — which is the motivation of giving thanks for all that God has done for us through Christ Jesus. Ultimately, the good works in us (or what is truly pleasing to God) is a result of Christ working through us. I can’t tell you what a relief that is for people like myself when we understand this crucial point.

    Thanks you for allowing me to share this thought.

    God blessings to you as well.

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  3. Dec 7 2007

    Your point is well taken and understood. Because of my background, I tend to “up” play the works part [not of salvation itself] but in living out the faith, because there were so many around us who had “accepted” Christ and sat on their behinds, doing nothing to “prove” their conversion.
    For we are still responsible for our actions, and will have to answer for them.

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