A Man in Christ
2 Corinthians 12:2
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell…

St. Paul spoke of himself. Once he had been out of Christ, though in a legal fashion very religious. But he gave up his legality when he found Christ. He looked to him for help, fled to him for defence, and thenceforward lived in him as a new creature. It is the best short description of every believer.

I. CHOSEN IN CHRIST. (Ephesians 1:4.) We put this first, because this must come first in the Divine order and in the very nature of things. But man does not begin with any knowledge of this as affecting himself. He grounds his faith, not on the secret purpose, but on the revealed good will of God to all in the gospel. It is after he has believed that he learns gratefully to trace his own calling and salvation, in common with that of all his fellow believers, to the gracious choice and purpose of God. Then, as the seventeenth Article of the Church of England expresses it, "The godly consideration of predestination and our election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ."

II. FREELY GRACED IN THE BELOVED. (Ephesians 1:6.) The man in Christ is embraced in the favour with which God regards his beloved Son. He has redemption and reconciliation to God, unsearchable riches, spiritual blessings in heavenly places, and continual freedom of access to the Father in heaven.

III. CREATED ANEW IN CHRIST JESUS. (Ephesians 2:10.) God begins this work, as of old, by causing light to shine out of darkness; then he introduces a new order, peace and fertile life, and this is wrought on and in every genuine Christian. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." And therefore he does what is right, not by a continual strain and effort against nature, but spontaneously and naturally, because he has a clean heart and a right spirit.

IV. ESTABLISHED IN CHRIST. (2 Corinthians 1:21.) He who comes to Christ under the drawing grace of the Spirit of God abides in him by the same Spirit, so as to imbibe his wisdom, experience his support, and learn what consolation there is in him, and what comfort of love. So God confirms and establishes his people in Christ, making good to them his promises, anointing them, sealing them, and giving "the earnest of the Spirit" in their hearts. This is much more than being settled in one's religious opinions and habits. It is the staying of the mind on Christ. And usually it is reached through conflicts and sufferings that compel the soul to grapple more firmly the reality of Christ and the security of Divine promises in him, just as trees rocked by the winds strike their roots the more widely and deeply into the ground (see 1 Peter 5:10).

V. APPROVED IN CHRIST. (Romans 16:10.) Establishment relates to faith, knowledge, and comfort; approval refers to service. Labour for the Lord ought to be rendered in the Lord, i.e. in virtue of union with him, and by the power derived from such union. But as there are gradations of faith and love among true Christians, so also there are degrees of diligence and thoroughness in service; and some servants are more approved than others, and shall have a more full reward. Oh to serve so as to have our Master's smile upon us now, and to be openly accepted of him at his coming as good and faithful servants!

VI. PERFECT IN CHRIST JESUS: COMPLETE IN HIM. (Colossians 1:28; Colossians 2:10.) There is all-perfect resource in our Lord. But all have not attained. There are babes in Christ, not perfect or mature; let them go on to fuller stature and strength. It is an object to be desired and. worked for, that every believing man may be presented perfect in Christ Jesus, i.e. ripe and mature, not crude or ill-developed in the Christian character.

VII. ASLEEP IN JESUS. (1 Corinthians 15:18; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 18.) If we are Christ's, death is ours. It cannot do us hurt or separate us from the love of God. For a man who is in Christ, the whole state of death is brightened by the love and faithfulness of the Lord. Blessed are the dead who die in him. Sweetly sleep the laborers who, when their day's work for Jesus is ended, fall asleep in him.

"Oh, never doleful dream again
Shall break the happy slumber when
'He giveth his beloved sleep.'" F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

WEB: I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I don't know, or whether out of the body, I don't know; God knows), such a one caught up into the third heaven.

Visions and Revelations
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