WHAT CHRIST SHARES WITH HIS CHURCH
1. The line of thought we are about to pursue is one of the very best ways to grasp the theme of the Bible, to appreciate the depth of the amazing grace of the Lord, and to understand the vital nature of his church.
2. Put simply, it runs like this.
a. Since he is the Christ, certain meaningful titles of dignity belong to our Lord.
b. Because of his grace, however, he turns around and shares those very titles with his people as a whole.
c. His church, therefore, is to be understood as those who are incorporated into Christ, people who are sharers in the benefits of his work and in the dignity of his standing with the Father.
3. What Christ shares with his church is both our most precious comfort and our most profound challenge.
1. The Bible gives rich meaning to titles which pertain singularly to Jesus in connection with his role as the Christ.
a. He is God’s “Chosen One.”
i. In his sovereign mercy and wisdom, God “elected” Abraham, then Jacob, then David, and he made promises of one who was to come through them.
ii. The Scriptures are the story of the choices he made about a nation, then a tribe, then a family, and finally a person, his “chosen.”
iii. Isaiah 42:1-4 (which is cited in Matt. 12:17-21)
iv. Luke 9:35; 23:35
v. 1 Peter 2:4, 6
b. He is God’s “Holy One.”
i. The Old Testament frequently spoke of God as “the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 1:4), and the New begins with a child who was to “be called holy” (Lk. 1:35).
ii. He was to be “set apart” in relation to God as his own to accomplish a work that could be done by no other one.
iii. Mark 1:24
iv. John 6:69
v. Acts 3:14; 4:27
c. He is God’s “Beloved.”
i. This title is used as if to express the delight of the Father’s soul in his Chosen, and the pleasure the Father has in his Holy One.
ii. Matthew 3:17 (ESV footnote: “my Son, my beloved”)
iii. Matthew 17:5 (cf. 2 Pet. 3:17-18)
iv. Luke 20:13
v. Ephesians 1:6
d. He is “the Son of God.”
i. This title, of course, is at the root of each of the others, and it is especially related to his place as the Christ.
ii. Luke 1:32 – “He will be called the Son of the Most High...”
iii. Matthew 16:16; John 11:27
iv. Mark 14:61, 62 – “...Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ And Jesus said, ‘I am...’”
v. Acts 13:33
2. The New Testament turns the same titles into plurals and applies them to the church as a whole.
a. In him, we are “God’s chosen ones.”
i. 1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen race...”
ii. Ephesians 1:4 – “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love...”
iii. Romans 8:33 – “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
iv. Revelation 17:14 – “...and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
v. It is because the Lord “set his heart in love” on us and “chose” us in Christ, according to his own gracious purpose (cf. Deut. 10:15).
b. In him, we are “God’s holy ones.”
i. The plural noun is translated “saints” and is always used in the New Testament of Christians as a group.
ii. 1 Corinthians 1:2
iii. Romans 6:17-18; 1:7
iv. 1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are...a holy nation, a people for his own possession...”
v. “The saints,” as a community, are to show forth the excellencies of “the Holy One of God.”
c. In him, we are God’s “beloved ones.”
i. Romans 9:25
ii. Those whom God has chosen and set apart as his own, he loves; his soul delights in them; he takes pleasure in them.
iii. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 – “...brothers beloved by the Lord”
iv. They are often addressed simply, “Beloved...” (1 Jn. 3:2; 4:1, 7)
v. Ephesians 5:1 – “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
d. In him, we are “the sons of God.”
i. Christ shares with us even his most personal and dearest title, and the privileges of the relationship it implies.
ii. Galatians 3:26-27
iii. Galatians 4:6-7
iv. The Lord has not been ashamed to call us brothers (Heb. 2:11).
v. He is even content for us to be fellow heirs with him (Rom. 8:17).
3. These titles that the Lord Jesus Christ shares with his people obviously must have important implications for us.
a. These things are true of the people, not as individuals but as part of the group.
i. They call our attention to the corporate nature of the church.
ii. The concept is that all of us together are what he is, but that none of us by ourselves is.
iii. His blessings and his status are shared among his people, not in isolation from them.
b. These things are true only in union with him as the source of the standing.
i. Each title emphasizes the relation to Christ, and that the blessing or the status is derived from him.
ii. Incorporation into Christ is what makes his people what he is.
iii. This is the real way to understand what baptism is: it is a new birth (Jn. 3:5); it is a resurrection (Col. 2:12).
c. These things being true has a formative impact on the Christian life.
i. Each title has to be relevant.
ii. Life in Christ will have to be marked by obedience to God’s gracious will, dedication in his service, brotherly affection toward his family, and hope in all things.
iii. The titles Christ shares with his church have to define and describe what we as a people are. (Cf. Col. 3:12-14)
1. Think of these shared titles against the background of 2 Corinthians 8:9.
2. The gospel is your call to become completely identified with Christ, incorporated into him.