When a poor, weary sinner comes in his guilt and misery to the Lord Jesus Christ, his utmost expectation, as a rule, is to obtain forgiveness for the sins committed up to the time of his awakening and conversion. Even this he realizes to be wonderful grace, and imagines that to ask or expect more would be the greatest presumption. Like the prodigal, if pardoned for the past, he will sue for a hired servant's place for the future (Luke 15:12-24).
Blessed it is, however, that God deals with souls in accordance with His own thoughts. He has no hired servants. His word is, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet." So arrayed, the saved one is given a place at his Father's table, where both together feast on Christ.
In this paper I wish to consider a few of the blessings bestowed, through grace, upon the one who trusts in the Lord Jesus as his Saviour.
The word of God declares that "He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 1:3). Among Christians there is no special aristocratic class. All alike have been "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:12), and all alike are dear to the Father's heart as Christ Himself (John 17:23).
There are seven things which may be predicated of every one who has trusted Him whose precious blood puts all sin away; and it is these blessed truths I desire to bring before the converted reader.
1. New Birth.
All Christians have been born anew. "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" (1 John 5:1). The word of God received in faith results in new birth. "Of His own will begat He us by the word of truth." "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." "And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23, 25).
By new birth the Christian receives a nature the bent of which is absolutely righteous; just as, by the natural birth, he inherited a nature whose tendency is ever evil. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). These two natures exist side by side in the believer. "The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye might not do the things that ye would" (Gal. 5:17, N.Tr.). But as he walks in the Spirit, he does not fulfil the desires of the flesh. "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not." "He cannot sin" (literally, be sinning), "because he is born of God" (1 John 5:18; 1 John 3:9). He is no longer to be controlled by the old nature. Denying that, acting as born again, he does not sin. It is a question of practice. The Christian, whatever his failures, is characterized by righteousness.
"As many as received Him, to them gave He title to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12, 13).
2. Eternal Life.
In unmistakable terms, the Scriptures affirm over and over again that every believer has eternal, or everlasting, life. Some have tried to make a distinction between the two words; but they are simply different renderings into English of the one Greek word. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation" (judgment, R.V.), "but is passed from death unto life" (Jno. 3:14, 15; 5:24).
This life is communicated in new birth, as natural life was communicated at the birth according to nature. It is not immortality. All will live forever, in conscious bliss or woe (Matt. 25:46); but only those who trust in Christ have eternal life. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3). It is not to be defined, but enjoyed. Christ is the believer's life as to source, and is likewise the sustainer of it when communicated. Heaven is its proper sphere. There we shall enter into life eternal. That is, we shall be in the scene that is suited to its full display. This is why, in some passages of the Pauline epistles, and the synoptic Gospels, it is presented as the goal. But throughout the Gospel and the first epistle of John it is viewed as the present possession of all believers. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).
To deny that all Christians have it is to make God a liar!
"By Him all that believe are justified from all things" (Acts 13:39). This is far more than being merely pardoned—unmerited grace as that might be. To be justified is to be entirely vindicated from every charge that might be brought against me. It is "the sentence of the judge in favor of the prisoner."
The ground of this is the finished work of Christ, He bore the judgment due to all my sins. Therefore God can be "just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:26).
Justification is not a state of soul. It is the standing of the once guilty sinner, before God, in absolute righteousness. "Who shall lay any to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth" (Rom. 8:33). This settles every question as to guilt. If God has justified, none can condemn.
As no work of man could avail to procure justification, so no act of man can cause it to be forfeited. Christ having been made sin for sinners, they who believe are made th righteousness of God in Him. The new life which they receive is one to which sin can never attach. They stand before Him in "justification of life" (Rom. 5:18); and this on the ground of one accomplished act of righteousness, which has settled the sin-question forever, in a manner fully satisfactory to God. All the believer's sins were laid on Jesus. All were atoned for. All were put away for eternity. None can ever be mentioned to him again. His justification is perfect, complete, and therefore once for all.
Not only is every believer justified, he is also sanctified, i.e., set apart. Christ is his sanctification. In God's eve he is not only cleared (justified), but he is likewise cleansed from the pollution of sin as well as from its dreadful guilt. He is "sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." "By one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:10, 14).
Paul could address all saints as "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Cor. 1:2), though many of them were far from being practically so. This latter must never be ignored. It is of tremendous importance. It is by the word of truth and the Spirit of God (John 17:17; Eph. 5:26; 2 Thess. 2:13). Positional, or absolute, sanctification is by the blood of Christ.
Saved through His death, He is made unto me sanctification (1 Cor. 1:30), for I am in Him; but I am to make this practical by daily walking in subjection to the word of God, in the power of an ungrieved Spirit.
Sanctification, in Scripture, never means the eradication of the sinful nature, which, as we have seen, remains in every believer until the Lord shall fashion anew these bodies of our humiliation, and make them like unto His glo- ous body (Phil. 3:21). The Lord Jesus, in His great intercessory prayer, said, "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" (John 17:19). He was ever holy. This negatives all thought of sanctification referring to inward cleansing from pollution. He set Himself apart as an object for His people's hearts, that they might be practically separated from all evil by the truth, even as they are already viewed by God as set apart in Him.
The old nature is too bad to be sanctified. The carnal mind "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7).
The new nature is absolutely holy, and does not require to be sanctified. It is the man himself (who through the work of Christ has lost his place in the old creation, which is under judgment) who is separated from the filthiness of his sins, and is now in the One who died and rose again.
5. The Holy Spirit.
In addition to having a new nature, all who trust in Christ are indwelt by the Holy Ghost. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9; see, also, verse 11).
This is true of the youngest babe in Christ, as 1 John 2:20, 27 will make clear. It is not the "fathers," or the "young men," who are there addressed, but the babes, the "little children." To such John says, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One," and "The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you."
Likewise, in addressing the Galatians, Paul asks, "Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal. 3:2). This is not a "second blessing," but the beginning of the Christian course.
The "certain disciples" often referred to in Acts 19:1-6 were not on Christian ground at all, but, as the passage itself makes plain, were Jewish believers, disciples of John the Baptist.
All Christians have the Holy Spirit from the moment of their believing the testimony of the gospel.
He is the earnest of what is to come when the child of God is taken home. He is also the seal that he is the Lord's down here. "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."
This sealing is not for a brief period, but Eph. 4:30 says, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
Believers are quickened by the Spirit, sanctified by the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ, anointed by the Spirit, and, as they walk with God in obedience to His Word, filled with the Spirit.
6. In Christ.
Again, every Christian is in Christ; in contrast to his previous condition, in Adam. (See Rom. 5:12-21 and 1 Cor. 15:45-49.) If the reader is unsaved, he is in Adam, and therefore under condemnation. If he is saved, he is in Christ, in a "new creation," (2 Cor. 5:17), and "there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).
He is linked up forever with the glorified Head of the new creation. All in Adam die; all in Christ shall be made alive.
It is of the utmost importance to see this. If in Christ, I am loved by the Father as He is; as secure from judgment as He is; as certain of being forever in glory as He is. My destiny is linked up with His. I died with Him. I have been raised with Him. I am accepted in Him. I am seated in heavenly places in Him. "As He is, so are we in this world" (1 John 4:17). "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit" (1 Cor. 6:17).
All who are now "in Christ" are certain to be in the glory "with Christ."
7. The Church.
Lastly, every Christian is a Church member. He does not need to join a church. He is joined to the Church. In Acts 2:47 we read, "The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved." This Church is the Body of Christ. He is its only Head (Eph. 5:22-32; Col. 1:18). The way believers are brought into the Body is given us in 1 Cor. 12:13: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body."
As of old, so now, the Spirit's baptism brings each saved one into the Church, or Assembly, which consists of all in every place who have trusted in Christ.
The responsibilities flowing from this are clearly set before us in the Corinthian epistles, and the letters to Timothy and Titus, as also in other portions of the New Testament, notably the last half of Ephesians and Rom. 12.
May grace be given to reader and writer to enter more fully into the wondrous privileges of the Christian place, and wisdom be given to walk in subjection to the practical truths flowing therefrom!
Copied from The Only Two Religions and Other Gospel Papers by H. A. Ironside. New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Publishers, [n.d.].
Selections from The Only Two Religions...