Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Philippians 3:12-15 KJV)
Recently, I dreamed that I was totally in Jesus. There I slept in perfect peace, harmony, and unity. Nothing seemed to be lacking in that state. I was so shocked that I awoke. I went back to sleep praying to experience it again, and again He let me abide there in my sleep. I woke up in the morning quite rested. The experience was very real. God wanted to show me something that I had only known in theory from reading the scriptures.
“In Christ Jesus” is a phrase we see all through the epistles of the New Testament. What does it mean? We say to others, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Yet, are wein Jesus ourselves when we ask it of others? There is a great difference in believing in someone or something the way we do in our culture and really, fully believing in Jesus.
First, we are mislead by the mistranslation of many verses that have to do with our salvation.
For instance, in John 6:29 we read, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29 KJV). All we have to do is “believe on” Jesus.
In John 3:16 we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Every Sunday school child can parrot this verse. This is all straight forward. We just believe on or in Jesus and we are saved. In our culture to “believe in” someone is to account them as trustworthy. We believe in our elected officials (as long as they are the ones we voted for). We believe in our home football or baseball teams and root for them all season. We even believe in Ford pickup trucks! But is this what this famous verse we hang our salvation on is really saying?
The part of these two verses in question of which I speak is this, “believe on” and “believe in” Jesus. The word translated “on” and “in” here is the Greek word ice. Its real meaning is into, not on or in. When it comes to true salvation, true belief is when we believe INTO Jesus. Through the faith of Jesus that He places in us, we are brought totally into Him in perfect intimacy. This kind of faith is way beyond simply believing in an elected official or a baseball team or a manufacturer’s product. Believing in is defined in the Amplified Version of John 3:16 as one who (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Jesus Christ. This comes far closer to our callings than the way we culturally use the word “believe.” Yet, there is more to this believing INTO Jesus than most of us will ever know.
Christ in Us
Paul wrote to the church, “[The gospel] Of which I am made a minister, according to the commission of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:25-27 KJ2000 – emphasis added). Christ living in us is the hope of glory. As I read this I had to ask, “If Jesus in us is just the hope of glory, what is the glory?”
Jesus comes into us to make His abode. But does He stay there all shut up inside while we continue to live our lives as we see fit? When Jesus comes into us, He comes to take over, not just to live in seclusion. The bumper sticker that reads, “Jesus is my co-pilot” totally misses the mark! Is that all there is when it comes to the kingdom of heaven and “being saved?” Is Jesus just along for the ride and there to be called upon whenever we lose control or need a rest? I think not! Jesus comes into us so that He might continue to grow in us. Paul wrote, “God has put all things under the power of Christ, and for the good of the church he has made him the head of everything. The church is Christ’s body and is filled with Christ who completely fills everything” (Ephesians 1:22-23 CEV). Jesus is planted within us as a lowly mustard seed and He desires to grow in us until He becomes the greatest of all herbs, filling us up to overflowing. The goal of the gospel is that we might manifest the glory of the Father as we abide in Christ Who finally takes over both within us and without, filling the whole church, manifesting to the world the body of Christ in action that the Father might once again be glorified in His creation.
“For ye are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus; for as many of you as were immersed into Christ, did put on Christ. There exists neither Jew nor Greek, there exists neither bond nor free, there exists neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28 Worrell N.. T. 1904)
In Christ We Have True Unity, Obedience and Glory
Jesus prayed just before He was to go to the cross,
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which you have given me: for you loved me before the foundation of the world. (John 17:20-24 KJ2000)
First He not only was praying for the disciples who believed in Him, but for all who would believe in Him in the future as the good news of Christ’s kingdom spread through the whole earth. And what was that prayer? That we ALL might be one just as Jesus and the Father are one. He defines that unity, “as you Father in me and I in you that they might all be ONE IN US. If we are not living IN Christ, we have not yet known His glory that He has IN the Father. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus and we who truly believe are in them and they are in us. This is true unity.
Only by living in Christ are we filled with all things that Father has for His sons and daughters. Paul wrote, “And of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31 KJ2000). As we abide in Jesus, we have everything we need to function in His body, the church. As we abide in Jesus all religious divisions are done away with, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15 KJ2000). We are made new creatures in Christ (see Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Ezekiel 36:26&27) and abide in a whole New Covenant totally unlike the Old Covenant! We are no longer of, nor do we live for this world. We no longer rely on our old natures to do the will of God. Paul wrote, “And [God] has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6 KJ2000). Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, and as we live in Him that is our abode as well. It is there that we can say with Paul, “…For all things are yours [ours]; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23 KJ2000). “For in him we live, and move, and have our being….For we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28 KJ2000).
Obedience to the Father and knowing His will are no longer an issue, either. We simply abide in Him and listen to and observe Him and carry out His will. Jesus said that He only did the works He saw His Father doing and only spoke the words He heard His Father saying, and so it should be with us as the sons and daughters of God. To me, this IS the high calling of Jesus Christ. Everything else is just dead religious works, living as carnal Christians. Just because we read something in the Bible does not mean that we have a mandate to go do it in and of ourselves. Our real lives are in Him, always abiding in and resting in Him and only from that position of rest can we consistently act under the influence of the Spirit.
We start out in our Christian faith first by believing in Christ and learn that Christ in us is our hope of glory. But that is not all. We then are called ever deeper INTO Christ. First Jesus abides in us, but as it is with Him and the Father we go deeper. We are called to abide in– live IN Him! As Jesus is in the Father, and the Father in Him, so it is to be with us. God invites us to share in His glory, the glory that comes over us when we abide IN Them.
Jesus taught the disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. ABIDE IN ME, and I IN YOU. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you ABIDE IN ME. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that ABIDES IN ME, and I IN HIM, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing” (John 15:1-5 KJ2000- emphasis added). Here we see the same thing as Jesus prayed two chapters later. Jesus not only wants to live in us, but He wants us to live IN Him. This is when true spiritual fruit starts to happen in our lives.
When Jesus lives only in us, which is often spoke of in Christian circles as the goal of our salvation (inviting Jesus into our hearts), what do men see? They still see us on the outside of the relationship. We are still being manifest, though we rely on Him as our salvation and righteousness. But where is the glory of the Father in all this? The glory that Jesus shared with the Father comes not only from Jesus living in us, but when WE are also living IN Jesus. He is the one who is on the outside. He is the One who people see. Until we are also in Him, we have not been made “perfect in one” within the Father and the Son. It is by abiding in the unity of Father and the Son that the world will see the good news of the gospel in action.