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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Inescapable Conclusion of Christ in Us

The Problem of Individualism has plagued the Church for centuries! There is, doubtless, a sort of individualism with the writings of the apostles, in particular, Paul, but unlike our modern individualism, his focus was not to the ignorance or even denial of the corporate nature of the salvation which Christ brought! It was the the Body of Israel, who had died with Adam in the Garden, that needed to be resurrected, to be saved from their sins, not to the exclusion of those outside the Body of Israel ( Gentiles ) necessarily, but it was primarily for the Corporate Sin of Adam, that of Communal, or Relational Separation from God!

Much of the apostle's language in his letters can fairly easily be shown, either by the original language or by the context to be plural in usage! There are, however, several, numerous places where it is hard not to come to the conclusion, even where the context of Scripture demands a plural tense, that Paul was speaking of the individual.In Paul's letter to the Church at Galatia, for instance, Paul wrote, 'I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the [ life ] which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.' ( Galatians 2:20 ) It would be fairly easy to substitute plural pronouns for the singular here & preach a similar message ( one, in fact, more in line, maybe, with the greater context of Scripture ), but it is impossible to deny what the apostle was plainly teaching here, that individual Christians needed to experience a change of life, a change in their manner of living!

That the Christ died for individuals is inescapable! Individuals make a body; just as the apostle compared the many members of our individual body to the many ( different ) human members of the Body of Christ! Just as we cannot speak of the salvation of individual bodies without acknowledging the redemption of the corporate Body of Israel, neither can we attest to the corporate salvation of that same Body with admitting the individuals within that Body! To admit that individual sense which the apostle doubtless used, as in 'your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit [ who is ] in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?' ( I Corinthians 6:19 ). Paul actually, in context as we can see, as well as the tense, wrote of the Body of Christ as that which is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, but as individuals within that Temple, we can see that each of us is the dwelling of the Holy Spirit!

Jesus, as well, in some of His most comforting last words to His disciples, said that 'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him' ( John 14:23 ) Using the indefinite tense here, we can see that although Jesus meant these words in the same sense as His words to Nicodemus, 'You must be born again' ( John 3:7 ); one cannot deny that just as the individual ( Jew or Gentile ) had to metaphorically be 'born again', so the Divine Essence would make their Home with ( in ) the individual believer! Though in the greater ( corporate ) sense, we the Church, are the Body of Christ, we, as individual stones & rooms in our Father's House, also in that ( individual ) sense, give place to the Divine Essence!

The writer to the Hebrews wrote that we, the Body of Christ, both corporately & individually, have been 'perfected forever' ( Hebrews 10:14 ); this is not to say that we, individually or corporately, never fail to live up to what we perceive as the Glory of God, but that because we are ( part of ) the Body of Christ, we, together with Him, our Head, with whom the apostle also said we were 'crucified', have been 'glorified' together with Him! As Paul wrote to the Galatians, 'it is no longer we who live, but Christ lives in us'!

Charles Haddon Shank

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