by The Rev. Mark Buetow
Are you IN or are you OUT? In the reading from Ephesians that we just heard, St. Paul uses the phrase “in Christ” or “in Him,” I don't know, like a million times or something! In Christ. In Christ! IN CHRIST! In Christ what? In Him you have forgiveness, an inheritance, the revelation of God's grace, your salvation and on and on! St. Paul writes that everything that God does for you and your salvation is done in and through Jesus Christ for you. That's SOLO CHRISTO: CHRIST ALONE! In Christ, you are rescued from sin, death and the devil. In Christ, you are a child of God. In Christ, you are on the receiving end of the Father's grace. In Christ is your hope. In Christ is your redemption. In Christ. In Christ! IN CHRIST! Do you get it yet? In Christ, the Father has given you every blessing ever given. That's because Christ alone is the Beloved Son of the Father. It's because Christ alone took on human flesh to save sinners. It is because Christ was baptized along with sinners, as if He was a sinner, to take our sins from us and to carry them Himself. Every blessing is ours in Christ because Jesus Christ fought the devil in the wilderness. Because Jesus preached God's Word. Because Jesus was arrested and stood trial. Because Jesus was flogged and made fun of. Because Jesus was nailed to a cross. Every blessing is yours in Christ because Christ threw down the Devil and his power and rose again on Easter. Every blessing is yours in Christ because He has ascended into heaven to prepare a place for you, sends the Holy Spirit and will come again and raise you from the dead. Do you get it? It's ALL Christ. So are you IN or are you OUT?
In Him, in Jesus Christ, all that St. Paul says is yours. But OUTSIDE of Christ, APART from Christ, there is only you. Only you and your sins. Only you and your hating God, trashing His name, despising His Word. Only you and your disobedience to your parents, your murdering other people with your words and actions, your lust and your stealing and your trash-talking other people and all your coveting. Outside of Jesus there is no inheritance, no forgiveness, no eternal blessings and grace of the Father. Nope. Outside of Jesus there is just you and your sins. Scary thought, isn't it? So are you IN or are you OUT? In Christ? Or outside of Christ? To answer that question, the world and most preachers tell you to look inside yourself to figure that out. Do you believe enough? Do you live a good enough life? Have you figured God out and figured out what God wants? Do you love the Lord more than anything? Have you made a decision to be “in Christ?” Listen to the world and those preachers and you'll end up right were you started: outside of Christ! Because all of those ways of thinking and doing are about YOU. What did St. Paul say? Did he say anything about US? No, he says that all of these blessings are ours IN CHRIST and CHRIST ALONE.
So are you IN or are you OUT. You are IN. You are IN CHRIST. You are IN HIM. Not because of anything that YOU'VE done. Because of what Christ has done. Did you suppose that Christ came into this world to suffer, die and rise again only to expect you to make the final leap and join His team? Christ came to not only accomplish our salvation completely but now sends the Holy Spirit to make sure His salvation is delivered the same way: fully and completely and with no strings attached. You are IN CHRIST because you have been baptized with His water and Word and Name. You are IN CHRIST because your pastor has absolved you of all your sins. There is nothing you have done or thought or said that can keep you outside of Christ. His blood covers all your sins and the absolution says just that! You are IN CHRIST because of the preaching and teaching of the Gospel which declares exactly what St. Paul says: that in Christ, God the Father has poured all these blessings upon you. By the body and blood of Jesus, you are IN CHRIST. And Christ is IN YOU. And He forgives your sins and promises to raise you up on the Last Day. So are you IN or are you OUT? You are soooo IN! You are in by the water and word and body and blood. And being in Christ, all those tons of blessings St. Paul writes about are yours. In Jesus Christ. Say it: “IN CHRIST!” Amen.
Pr. Mark Buetow is Internet Services Executive for Higher Things.
Created: August 3rd, 2009