Monday, April 21, 2008

In/Out or what is it all about

To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this
mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1:27

How often have we heard this exposited? Many times, I am sure. It has been emphasized to no end. From its face value, this text has been used by the moderns to point out the importance of the Jesus that is inside you. It kinda makes others feel insecure, you start wondering or looking for the Jesus within. What is it suppose to be like to have Jesus living in your heart? How does he get there, Oh, I know the answer to that, you pray the sinners prayer and invite Jesus to come in. This is so important because if he ain't in, you are out, you ain't saved.

Back in those days, I was so deep into this. In fact I would lead the people to singing this chorus
"into my heart, into my heart, come in to my heart Lord Jesus, come in today,
come in to stay, come into my heart, Lord Jesus".

OK, choir, sing with feelings this time...

Think a bit deeper now. This is mysticality at its best, because how is it like that Jesus is inside? Quite a subjective state of affairs is it not? So you get to hear voices of Jesus or impressions of some sort. Little did I know that the ancients called this mysticism or as the Reformers called this - "enthusiasm". Holy guacamole, I now realize this to be Christian gnosticism, a deadly heretical understanding of how Christian life operates.

How do you properly handle that verse? I have to rely on the Greek, the English is so subject to manipulation by well meaning but misguided pastors/teachers. Don't be like me, I took their word for it because these folk wanted to emphasize the inward internal goings on of a Jesus reality within.

The Greek "you" in that verse is plural. It is not singular. That is significant because it is saying what the preposition "in" means. Looking at the context, this is not referring to the Jesus in you as individual, it refers to Christ "in you" meaning in your midst, in the midst of you Gentile believers. I suggest this is what Paul meant in that passage. Look at the whole chapter's context, it is king.

Let me cut the cheese to the quick, my suggestion is this, to find out if Christ is in you, find out if you are in Christ. Have you been baptized into Christ? In our baptism we were baptized in or into the name of Jesus too. Do you trust the promise that for Christ's sake God is forgiving you of your sins? Then you are in Christ and Christ is in you, not in a mystical experiencial goose bump way, but in the way also promised by God, by faith. The Word says that so that must be true.

The truth is this --- the "in" preposition is not the operational word, it is the "for" preposition. It is the FOR YOU, that determines the IN YOU. More importantly "in" in the sense that he is in your presence, in your midst, not in the sense that he is in there, dangling in you heart.

The trusting of the promise that Christ is FOR YOU, implies, you are in Christ, and Christ is in you. So don't start looking IN, always look OUT.

(The White Horse Inn in yesterdays broadcast has just discussed - The Gospel of Personal Relationship)


Steve Newell said...

Is the focus of having a personal relationship with Christ as being more important than having the correct understanding of the faith is a form of gnosticism?

L P Cruz said...

I do think so. I have questioned this understanding of faith that takes its cue from the song "he walks with me and talks with me in life old narrow way, you ask me how I know he lives, he lives within my heart"

Notice that in that song, it is the experience that assures he lives, not the word of God that declares he is, not the evidence of the Gospel that God raised him from the dead.

This I believe misses the nature of Christian faith. Looking at the life of Abraham, there would be no need for Abraham to hope against hope when he has that inner voice that talks to him and walks with him, there would be no fight of faith.

Christian faith is a promise religion this is my observation but evangelicalism has turned it into a mystical experience or mystical knowledge in the sense that such knowledge is gained through experience.

Honestly Steve, I am not myself totally delivered from it, hence, the nature of my blog title. I struggle with this mystical intrusion that I need sorting out and some help myself.


Steve Newell said...

You're referring to "Jesus, My Boyfriend" type of music. This type of song (not a hymn) places the subjective as being more important than the objective.

Carrie said...


I don't care for the "personal relationship with Christ" emphasis that seems so rampant among Evangelicals. And I agree that our hope is in the promise and not mystical experiences.

But I still am not understanding your opposition to internal change as evidence of our adoption. Particularly, I think of Jesus' references to "bearing fruit".

John 15:8
"By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."

And what about people who have "dead faith" as James spoke about. I could certainly imagine people who think they have faith in Christ and have been baptized, but if they bear no fruit (or have no works) then that faith won't save them.

I guess I see the "proof" of being a child of God as the fruit, in which I would include changed behaviors and correct doctrine (trusting Christ alone for your salvation). I think there is a balance that includes both the clear work of the HS in our lives and our faith in the promise.

BTW, thanks for the WHI link, I look forward to listening to that.

L P Cruz said...


Our BoC states in very strong terms that good works necessarily follow in the justified, that is why it hammers so much on justification. Abolutely good works must follow those who have been justified!

However, changed moral behavior is not always a reliable gauge. Take the case of the Mormon, who can testify of spiritual internal experience and then changed moral behavior. Also good works is not quantifiable because we remain saint and sinner at the same time.

In the church both hypocrites and children of God will co-exists. There will be sheep and goats together and only will they be separated when Jesus comes. There will be wheat and tares alongside each other.

The changed life in the believer is marked by faith in Christ alone and none of what is inside him or any good works in him or in others does he rely on. He longs to to be found not having a righteousness of his own but a righteousness that is by faith in Christ alone.

The changed life is determined where the person is standing. Also in my analysis, the Fruit of the Spirit is actually the Fruit of the Gospel.

At any rate, I object to the way Colossians 1 has been used to emphasize the Jesus IN us. The subjective Jesus. Back in those days there was a Lutheran guy by the name of Osiander, who taught that we are justified by the Jesus inside us. This was rejected.

In my analysis, the Col 1 passage speaks of the same thing that Jesus promised - any 2 or 3 who are gathered in his name, he is there in their midst, and he is the hope of our glory. This however is not being exposited that way, rather, the mystical experience is what is emphasized, the personal Jesus who tells you what you should wear today and where you should put your money and by listening to that 'voice' you are assured of a good outcome.

Anyway I may have not stated my points as precisely as I should have but I am looking for some interaction such as what you said already to further refine my expression of this ideas.


Augustinian Successor said...

I believe we are all agreed that "bearing fruit" as the work of the Spirit alone, i.e. monergistic, rather than synergistic, is closer to the meaning of the text John 15:8
"By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."

Too often, in evangelicalism, "bearing fruit" is looked upon as something we MUST do, rather than something we DO. In other words, BEARING fruit is something NATURAL to us as New Beings - good tree produces good fruits, good people do good works. As Old Beings, we need SUPERNATURAL intervention NOT to increase our capacity for good works but precisely to end our Old Beings, to be killed, so that the New Being can rise up in place.

Doing good works is therefore simply being truly and fully HUMAN. I suppose the difference between the regenerate and unregenerate is that the regenerate does good works out of the Gospel. The unregenerate does good works out of the Law. The Law in its civil use can commend "civil good", i.e. before the world. But the Law in its theological use can only accuse of sin, i.e. before God.

So the same good works flow out of two different motivation - grounded in two differents kinds of righteousness - Law and Gospel, Earthly and Alien Righteousness. That is the difference between the works of regenerate and unregenerate perhaps do not differ outwardly but inwardly. This does not mean that there is no behavioural change. The change is discernable.

But the change cannot be used as a basis for ASSURANCE. Assurance must be grounded in something objective, not subjective - outside of us, not inside. Good works should not be a basis for assurance, but the result or effect of our assurance FOR IT IS ONLY WHEN WE ARE ASSURED THAT WE ARE RIGHTEOUS IN GOD'S SIGHT FOR JESUS'S SAKE THAT WE CAN BE TRULY FREE TO DO GOOD WORKS FOR THE SAKE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR.

So, we would not be worrying too much about whether or not we are measuring up to God's standard, i.e. whether we are bearing ENOUGH fruit to be counted as bearing fruit at all, even though John 15:8talks about bearing MUCH fruit, if we remember that it is God who works in us to will and to do good works, and if remember that sanctification which comes as a total gift is to distinguished from good works which vary.

So, we do good works not for our own sake or Jesus' sake, but for the sake of the world, for whom Jesus died (not here making an assertion of universal or limited atonement, bearing in mind that Carrie is Reformed).

God is glorified when we are turned back to THIS creation and do good works, for this doing of good works has the purpose of demonstrating the love of the Kingdom of God is already here by faith alone.

L P Cruz said...

From the AP V, Because the
Law worketh wrath, Rom. 4, 15. Man observes the Law however, when he hears that for Christ’s sake
God is reconciled to us, even though we cannot satisfy the Law. When, by this faith Christ is
apprehended as Mediator, the heart finds rest, and begins to love God and observe the Law, and knows
that now, because of Christ as Mediator, it is pleasing to God
, even though the inchoate fulfilling of the
Law 150] be far from perfection and be very impure.