Monday, August 03, 2009

In Christ, no parsing needed

Eph 1 (NASB)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us.

Col 1 (NASB)

13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I used to try to penetrate deeply in to what those "IN CHRIST" passages mean. In fact it was brought up in one of the discussions here.

Now I do not do that anymore because I believe it has to be understood in its plain sense, it needs no parsing.

Forgiveness is not found anywhere floating in the air but it is found specifically in one location - in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ - who has become our righteousness, sanctification and redemption - 1 Cor 1:30. He is God's gift to us - for us. He brings us to Christ so that we may benefit in his work of paying for our sins. Jesus is The Righteous One.

So when we are bothered that we are thoroughly not righteous, we point to Christ in the face of the Law and even in the face of the accuser of the brethren.

These IN CHRIST passages I observe has a way of pushing you to believe - and to believe what? - Precisely the same thing - that IN CHRIST I have righteousness, sanctification and redemption. To confess this is to believe also what the Scripture says - that indeed IN CHRIST we have the forgiveness of our sins who gave himself as ransom for us all.

The other question, is this - am I IN CHRIST? This is one of the reasons why these IN CHRIST passages had a way of mystifying me.

I was told I am in Christ if I believed. This is true but what happens when I doubt if I even believe?

According to Philip Cary in his paper - "Why Luther is not quite Protestant", Luther looked at his baptism when faced with such doubts.

We need to rely on another Scripture that in our Baptism according to God's word - Rom 1:1-6, God has placed us IN CHRIST. That is what happened. God applied Jesus death to us forgiving us of our sins, in that means of grace. The effect of baptism then if God's Word is to be believed, is not confined only at that point when we were baptized but its effect is for the rest of our lives. The forgiveness is all of our sins not just some.

May our hearts always confess, "yes Lord God, IN CHRIST I have your forgiveness of sin, Jesus has already paid it on my behalf". Amen.


joel in ga said...

Well said. This is the refreshing.

L P said...


I observe that the Word/Sacrament is indeed working to bring us to Christ. Isn't that the work of the HS? Hence, indeed the HS cannot be separated from the Word/Sacrament.

People are born not IN CHRIST. The Word/Sacrament is the means to put us in Christ by the faith it creates, no?


Steve Martin said...

Yes, indeed!

Thgose of us who have been baptized have "put on Christ".

We are robed in His perfect righteousness.

Kill the fatted calf, get the gold ring and put on the Father's best robe.

It is time to celebrate!

L P said...

It is time to celebrate!



William Weedon said...


This is most certainly true! Well said, my brother! We have a new hymn in our hymnal (actually quite an old hymn) about Baptism that gets exactly at it: God's Own Child.

Satan, hear this proclamation!
I am baptized into Christ.
Drop your ugly accusation
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I've travelled
All your might has come unravelled
And against your tyranny
Christ my Lord unites with me.

Death, you cannot end my gladness
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die I leave all sadness
To inherit paradise.
Though I lie in dust and ashes
Faith's assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine
To make life immortal mine!

L P said...

Pr. Will,

This is a wonderful hymn. I like it.
I will mention this to the folk here.

One of the friends here who is making a journey out of his baptistic roots received a comment in his blog -
It's facinating how people believe that a dousing of water and a magic spell makes a baby somehow different.

People think they know what they are talking about and once they think they know it all, it takes a miracle to convince them they are wrong.

Ayayay -

Lord have mercy.


joel in ga said...

Thanks be to the Holy Spirit who, as you observed, does not distance Himself from the Word & Sacraments. How else would we find Him?

I appreciate the link to Cary's paper. It's always a delight to see when someone outside the Lutheran tradition "gets" Luther too. I'm inclined to think that "getting" Luther usually coincides with agreeing with him.

Dawn K said...

That is indeed a wonderful hymn, Pr. Weedon!

Whenever the devil assails me with doubt and despair I can always say with Luther, "Nevertheless, I am baptized!" It is not about me or my feelings or the strength of my faith. It is about the greatness of my Savior. It is about the objective reality that Christ Himself has baptized me into His family.

Augustinian Successor said...

To the Romanists and wannabe Romanists in the LCMS:

So that when you do the elevation, you emphatically do not face the altar but the congregation and say to them, "Behold the Lamb of God who taketh the sin of the world ..."

Come eat ...

This is My Body broken for you, etc. ...

You do not as the Roman do during the Mass offer Jesus to God the Father;

You do not outdo the Romans;

You stick to being a Lutheran, and act like one. I don't care if you kneel and adore the Sacrament, for if you so much as offer the Blessed Body up in a God-ward direction, you turn the Sacrament into a Sacrifice and you turn what is the Gospel into Law.

The Elevation of the Body of Jesus is simply and most straightforwardly the Sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world, literally handing His Body over the powers of this world, in which you and I are really and truly implicated.