The Ground and Nature of the Christian's Relationship With God

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 6
There are two points in connection with the believer's standing and relationship with God. One, as to the cause and ground of it; the other, as to the character of it.
First, the whole cause and ground of it are the free and sovereign grace of God. This comes out most strikingly in Eph. 2:1-41And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (Ephesians 2:1‑4). In the first three verses I get, in the strongest possible light, the character of my natural condition. There are two sides to it: first, all the activity of my life was in direct opposition to God-it was all offenses against God, and sins, pleasing myself, and following the course of this world, which, being energized by the devil, is in direct antagonism to God. Secondly, looked at Godward, there was not a spark of spiritual life, all was death, so that by nature I was a child of wrath. What could be worse? What more intolerable to God? What more helpless and hopeless as to myself? In the verses which follow, I see, not only how I am delivered out of this condition, but the greatness and height of the standing in which I am now set before God, in Christ. First, I am quickened, that is deliverance from my former condition; therefore, at once it adds, "By grace ye are saved." But this is not all. I am raised up, and seated in Christ in heavenly places; complete identity and union with Christ, the Son of God's love. Could anything be greater or more exalted? Could God Himself do more? He has raised me up out of the lowest, most degraded condition, and put me in the highest, the most blessed, in His own Son. I do not yet fully realize it, but there I am, and thus I am before God.
And what is the one and only cause to which I can trace all this? and what is the sole ground on which I thus stand before God? Grace, grace, grace. Verse 4 is the turning-point. It all hinges on what God is to me, "But God who is rich in mercy, because of his great love wherewith he loved us." Why did He move towards me at the first? Why has He so wrought for me? Why does He always and forever so regard me, and act for me? I see that the whole cause is IN HIMSELF, in what HE is to me, irrespective, or in spite of, what I am to Him. This is what determines the perfection, the stability, the eternal unchangeableness of my relationship with Him, and of my blessedness.
But how slow I am to learn this, and how readily do I forget it! Surely it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. All this is so contrary to my natural thoughts and ways; it is beyond my natural comprehension. The natural way is to reason from myself up to God, instead of the opposite, which is the way of faith, to reason from God down to myself.
There is another truth, namely, that as a Father, He is a righteous and holy Father, and exercises a righteous discipline over His children. But this in no wise calls in question, or alters for one moment, the character of my relationship, but on the contrary, it is the proof that I am in this relationship. (Heb. 12:7, 87If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:7‑8).) The relationship is the ground on which it is exercised. But I have to take care, lest, when under the discipline of the Father, unbelief should come in and lead to questions as to the unchangeable character of my acceptance, I stand by faith.
The second point in connection with my standing, as to the nature and character of it, is, that it is in Christ. It is entirely outside of all that I am in myself, it is solely what I am in Christ, as having put off the old man and having put on the new. (Col. 2:10; 3:10, 1110And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: (Colossians 2:10)
10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:10‑11)
.) It is not the mere suppression of what I recognize to be morally evil in myself, nor is it a change or development of anything which I am in myself naturally. I see and feel that in myself there is nothing but evil, I am a sinful man. I am simply and wholly vile, in me, that is in my flesh, there dwelleth NO good thing. Therefore when I make this discovery I realize that my condition is irremediable and as to myself entirely hopeless. But then I see that all this evil in my flesh has been judged by God, in Him, who, knowing no sin, was made sin for me.
The old "I," the natural "I," the irremediably bad "I," has been crucified with Christ; there is the end of it for God, He has no more to do with it, and sees it no longer. And I, by faith accepting this, as to my standing before God, have put off the body of the flesh in toto, I have in that sense done with it forever. It is not improved, not developed, not the bad of it merely held in check by the iron hand of the law, but it is PUT OFF altogether.
In baptism the fact is expressed in figure, that the old man is entirely removed out of God's sight. I (the old I) am buried with Christ. What then remains if the old "I" is judged and totally removed out of God's sight? Only that which has come out of death, the new man, the perfect man. Nothing but Christ, and the believer as risen with Him in His life-Christ in me and I in Him.
The last Adam, the life-giving Spirit, has breathed upon me, and imparted His life to me. This is the new I, this is what alone God recognizes in the believer. Nothing but Christ, Christ is all; I am in Him, and in Him I have righteousness, sanctification, and everything which God sees in Him. My acceptance is simply His acceptance, I have not a bit of acceptance apart from Him; but in Him my acceptance is as perfect as His, the One whom God raised from the dead and set at His own right hand in glory. "Christ is all, and in all." This is to-day, and every day, and forever. F. H. B.