position & practice

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The Believer’s Position In Christ (A retro-post by Edward Dennett)

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 1:17-2:6

“We are here taught that the mighty power of God was displayed in the resurrection of Christ, that God came in and took Him out of the grave wherein He lay, raised Him up, and set Him down at His own right hand in the heavenlies, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named; and then, more wonderful still — more wonderful because of those who were the objects of this perfection of His grace — that His power to us-ward was ‘according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ.’ And if Ephesians 1 gives us the effect of this mighty power in relation to Christ, Ephesians 2 shows us the effect on His people. The chapter thus commences: ‘And you, who were dead in trespasses and sins.’ And the apostle then points out that the exceeding greatness of God’s power met us in the place where we lay dead in sins (for Christ indeed in grace had come down to us — down to the very depths of our condition of death); and that God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us quickened us together with Christ, and raised us (both Jew and Gentile) up together, and made us (Jew and Gentile) sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Christ, for the glory of God, in the accomplishment of His purposes, having identified Himself with His people, God, in response to the One who thus endured all for His glory, came in and wrought, and the effect is seen in a twofold way — in the place Christ occupies, and in the place we occupy in Him — seated in Him in the heavenlies.

But it is objected that we are only in Christ Jesus in the heavenlies in the sense of being seen in Him as the head of the new race. In the first place, Christ is never spoken of as the Head of a race in this epistle: as the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all, He is; and we are also told that all things, whether in heaven or in earth, will be ‘headed up’ in the Christ; but this is a very different thing. Secondly, this would imply that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings through, rather than in, Christ. Of course, He is the only medium through which blessings flow to us, as indeed He is God’s only vessel of blessing for us; but, as united to Him, members of His body — and this is the teaching of Ephesians — we are blessed as in Him. This statement, however, its met by the allegation that the members of the body of Christ are on earth, not in heaven. This is not true in the teaching of Ephesians 2. There everything, being on God’s side, or, as we often say, on the side of purpose, is complete. The counsels of God are accomplished, and He has before Him, in Christ, His whole Church, Jew and Gentile alike, all distinctions abolished, seated in Christ. He reveals this to us to show us our true place, the character of our blessings, and the scene in which in spirit He would have us live and move. It may be furthermore objected that Christ is seated at God’s right hand, and that, as this place belongs only to Him, we could not be said to be seated in Him where He is. True, most blessedly true, is it that the right hand of God is the pre-eminent place of our blessed Lord, the place which God delighted to give Him, and the place which the saints rejoice to recognize as His alone. But this in nowise militates against the fact that believers are in Christ where He is. His place at the right of God is positional — the token of His supreme exaltation; and it would indeed be unholy presumption to intrude a claim to this. But while asserting this, is not Christ before God? And is He not there as the head of His body? And are not saints actually united to Him? And is it not true, therefore, that God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, has quickened us together with Christ, raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus? There is the whole Church now before the eye of God, and He has it there, ‘that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness towards us through (in) Christ Jesus.’ Edward Dennett, “Expository Jottings: What is it to be seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus?” in Christian Friend, Vol. 11, (1884), p. 204; Electronic ed. accessed on 8/17/17 here: http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/dennett/seathvnl.html

An excerpt from C.H.M.’s “‘Accepted’ & ‘Acceptable’.”

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

“The blessed apostle knew he was accepted. Did that make him lax, careless, or indolent? Far from it. ‘We labor’ he says, ‘to be acceptable to him.’ The sweet assurance that we are accepted in Him is the ground of our labor to be acceptable to Him. ‘The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.’ 2 Cor. 5:14, 15.

All this is pre-eminently practical. We are called upon, by every argument which can bear sway over the heart and conscience, to labor diligently to be acceptable to our blessed and adorable Lord. Is there aught of legality in this? Not the slightest tinge. The very reverse. It is the holy superstructure of a devoted life, erected on the solid foundation of our eternal election and perfect acceptance in a risen and glorified Christ at God’s right hand. How could there be the very smallest atom of legality here? Utterly impossible. It is all the pure fruit of God’s free and sovereign grace from first to last.

But ought we not, beloved Christian reader, to rouse ourselves to attend to the claims of Christ as to practical righteousness? Should we not zealously and lovingly aim at giving Him pleasure? Are we to content ourselves with simply talking about our acceptance in Christ, while at the same time there is no real earnest care as to the acceptability of our ways? God forbid! Yea, let us so dwell upon the rich grace that shines in the acceptance of our persons, that we may be led out in diligent and fervent effort to be found acceptable in our ways.

It is greatly to be feared that there is an appalling amount of antinomianism amongst us—an unhallowed traffic in the doctrines of grace, without any godly care as to the application of those doctrines to our practical conduct. How all this is to end, it would be hard to say; but, most assuredly, there is an urgent call upon all who profess to be accepted in Christ to labor fervently to be acceptable to Him.” C.H. Mackintosh, “‘Accepted’ & ‘Acceptable’” in Things New & Old, Vol. 17; quoted in Milk & Honey, April 2017; electronic ed. accessed on 5/13/17 here: http://bibletruthpublishers.com/accepted-and-acceptable/charles-henry-mackintosh-chm/things-new-and-old-volume-17/la50614 [Italics original.]