In creation the eternal power and divinity of God are declared: in government His authority is displayed: in redemption His great love is revealed.
The present gospel of the grace of God has to do with the last; the future gospel of the kingdom with the second; and the everlasting gospel with the first. In its special bearing, this is also future.
The gospel of the present period, and that which is involved in it, is what we desire to speak of. The preaching of it is in the Acts of the Apostles and its teaching is in the Epistle to the Romans. The latter instructs us that those who have received the gospel are justified freely by God’s grace “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (3:24). It was the love of God which planned and provided this redemption in Him.
Outside of Christ, the unbelieving remain “in sin.” This stands in contrast to being “in Christ,” just as being “in the flesh” is in contrast to being “in the Spirit.” The unbeliever is in sin, and sin is in him: the believer is not in sin, though sin is yet in him.
Now the redemption which is in Christ Jesus involves, eventually, the complete deliverance of those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; and also the deliverance of the inheritance, the purchased possession, where bondage is now through Satan’s power. The love of God has secured this eternal redemption in Christ Jesus righteously through Christ’s death; and believers, though still waiting for the redemption of their bodies, can say even now, In Christ we have redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7). The redemption is theirs; and soon, the display of it will unfold the vast and varied riches of all that is now enfolded in it, to the praise of God’s glory; while our hearts shall rejoice in and praise the love which brought it all to pass; when spirit, soul and body shall reap the glorious results of that redeeming love.
Those who share in this were once like others—away from God and “in sin.” They were reached by the gospel of God’s grace;—called, and justified, they are brought to have part in these things by faith, even before they are actually glorified. Christ having stepped into their place in grace, He opened a way by His death and resurrection whereby they could come into His place now before God. He died to sin once, and now He lives to God. Those who are His can consequently reckon this change of position theirs, for He took it for them. So it is written, “Reckon ye yourselves also dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). It is in Him they are thus livingly brought into the good of redemption now before God; for the redemption is in Him in whom they are now alive to God.
Moreover, the wonderful gift of God is also in Christ Jesus. This we are told at the close of Romans 6. The gift of God, or the act of His favour, is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (N.Tr.). Promise having been made of life on God’s part, He has now secured this for those who were once in sin, through the death and resurrection of Christ. By man sin came, and death by sin: by man also, our Lord Jesus Christ, righteousness and life are secured; and, in free favour, God has now given to US eternal life in Him. The grace of God has over-abounded where sin abounded, that eternal life might be ours, and that through righteousness. It is ours now as God’s gift, though we await its fullness in glory. This life was necessary if we were to enter into the riches of redemption; and, eventually, those who receive this abundance of grace, and of the free gift of righteousness, shall “reign in life” by Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:17).
The love of God having thus wrought for those who were once guilty and subject to condemnation, they are now placed where there is no longer anything to condemn. They are
“IN CHRIST JESUS.”
“The love of God is commended toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Now He has raised Christ from the dead, all the sin and condemnation having been borne. There is now nothing to condemn in Him raised in life, and we are in Him. Redemption is in Christ Jesus, and we are there. (“CHRIST JESUS” is a name used of Jesus in resurrection.) Life is in Him, and there we now live to God. God’s gift to us is in Him, and we are there too. How naturally therefore those precious words of Romans 8:1 come to us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”
“NO CONDEMNATION, OH, MY SOUL ’TIS GOD WHO SPEAKS THE WORD.”
Before there could be any condemnation for one of His own, let it be said with reverence as with truth, the One in whom they are must be found subject to it Himself; but, thank God, that can never be. Nor is it only that we are clear of condemnation in Christ Jesus, for in Him we have the positive blessedness of God’s love as our present portion, even as the last verse of Romans 8 tells us, “The love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” No condemnation for those in Him! but the love of God is theirs, and nought can separate them from it. Eternal praise to our redeeming God.
We may well glory in the Lord, boast in Christ Jesus, and be strong in the grace that is in Him! We have seen from Romans 3-8 that—
(1) Redemption is in Christ Jesus;
(2) We are alive to God in Him;
(3) God’s gift is in Christ Jesus;
(4) There is no condemnation there;
(5) But God’s love is in Him.
Redemption, as we have shown, has placed us where the love of God that planned it is; and it has done so in such wise that all the praise is to the glory of God’s grace, which is His love in activity, taking us into favour in His beloved Son. Each one of us therefore who knows this can say what the Apostle said concerning all those who belong to Christ, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In closing, it must be said, Though this belongs to all the saints, yet, if like Caleb and Joshua, we would rejoice in the wealthy Canaan freely given to us of God, communion with Him, as we abide in Christ, is to be maintained. Thus we shall dwell in divine love. Christ fed upon, as the One who went into death for us and rose again, is the food and strength of this communion, even as He said, “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in Me and I in him.” Mark, it says, “Dwelleth!” not a happy visit on some special occasion, but—