Our sure position in Christ
After we become a Christian by faith alone, we are not simply then labeled a Christian, there is so much more. Our precious salvation gains us several wonderful irreversible morphologic and legal positions in our standing before God. These positions are linked also to the security of our salvation which is discussed in another summary in the Teleios Resource Center (under ‘Our great salvation’).
4 key positions in Christ
At our salvation through faith in Christ’s death for us we are positioned spiritually with God in four main ways:
God’s possession – The wonderful story of our being the possession of God starts in Exodus 19:5-6 when our Father told the redeemed Israelites that He intended them to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation and His peculiar possession. However, they failed in their commitment to God and sinned against Him. Therefore, they did not become a kingdom of priests or a holy nation. However, God will keep His promise to Israel – that the nation will be His eternal possession (Psalm 89, and 132:11-17; Romans 11:26-29).
As we know, the sin of Israel under the Mosaic law showed us our need for Christ (Galatians 3:24). He has come and died for our sins, that through Him those who believe on his death for their sins will gain eternal life. As believers, God also redeemed us (purchasing us at the cross) has enabled us to become a kingdom of priests, a holy nation and His peculiar possession (1 Peter 2:9).
How does God accomplish making us a possession?
- The Spirit’s sealing – We are marked as His possession at salvation the Holy Spirit is given to us (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9). This is a great promise and is a part of the results of our belief to salvation by faith alone in Christ’s substitutionary work on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9).
- Seals were used in the ancient world as a legal means to close a document. If a king had given a new order, molten wax might be poured on the document to seal it and the king’s signet ring pressed into the wax. The king’s symbol in the wax would tell the carrier or the recipient that the contents of the document were the king’s will and breaking the seal inappropriately or ignoring the order was done at a person’s own peril (1).
- We are sealed by our King and it reflects the same legal and unbreakable character as ancient law. Further, the Spirit seals us throughout our whole life on earth as God’s own possession, until we go to heaven. Importantly, all those who believe by grace in Christ’s forgiveness on the cross are Christians and possess the Spirit and the seal (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9).
- His workmanship – We are also remade in His image (Ephesians 2:10) as a new work. Please see just below under Baptism for further detail.
Spiritual baptism – This important biblical truth is vital in understanding who we are as Christians.
First, let’s consider the word itself. Although controversial, in the Epistles when baptism is mentioned it speaks of spiritual baptism. Water baptism might be considered as an external ritual to signify the internal event.
The word is βαπτιζω (baptizoo) in the Greek (the original language of the New Testament), and was an old term borrowed from the dye trade. It meant that a piece of cloth immersed in the dye became ‘identified’ with the new color (2).
Second, how is being ‘identified’ with Christ associated with being a Christian? Fortunately, a lot!
When we believe at salvation we are identified with Christ’s gracious death and His resurrection. At this time, our old self died and was buried with Christ. We are raised now to new life with Him and God views us as sitting with Him at His right hand (Romans 6:2-12; Ephesians 2:4-7; Colossians 2:12-13).
Similar concepts in scripture that also appear to speak probably to spiritual baptism are: regeneration (Titus 3:5), born again (John 3:5) and new man (Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). Why is this concept so important?
- Believer’s sin – Although every believer sins, we can say ‘no’ to sin because as a new person in Christ we have the power to live a victorious life.
- The reason for the resurrection – Baptism teaches us the importance of the resurrection because we are raised with Christ to new life without which we would still be dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
- Eternal security – Baptism helps us know we cannot lose our salvation because scripture does not indicate that if we commit a sin our new self can be killed and the old dead self- resurrected!
In other words, we are transformed permanently to a new life, resurrected with Christ and are free to serve Him. We cannot be defeated by the misdeeds of our old self. These changes cannot be reversed. What a great comfort we have in the truth of scripture.
Justification (we are innocent) – There is a vital result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Let’s examine in some detail the meaning of this great promise.
- Meaning of the New Testament word – This word is key because the complete meaning in Greek of the word, “justification” (δικαιος, dikaios) is not fully conveyed by the English. The word dikaios carried a legal sense that still exists today in modern Greek. In the ancient Greek and Roman worlds the term signified that someone who was found innocent in a court of law of all charges against them, just like now, there was no double jeopardy (3). This important legal concept means once you have been found innocent you cannot be charged again for the same crime.
- Christ’s work in justification – The Bible indicates that each of us has sinned and “fallen short” of what God requires of us (Romans 3:23). Because God is just, He demands punishment for our misdeeds. However, because He is loving, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment in our place (Romans 3:24-26).
- It’s as though Christ acted as a courtroom judge, found us guilty of our sins, sentenced us to death, but afterwards, stood up, removed His judicial robe, came around in front of the judge’s bench and took the punishment for us, our past present and future sins!
- Christ’s death satisfied God’s demand for righteousness but also showed His great and gracious love for us.
- No other work or sacrifice is required – Importantly, Christ is a sufficient sacrifice for our sins as He is perfect, holy and without sin (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 7:26; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Therefore, Christ satisfied God’s righteous demand for judgment. Accordingly, He died once for all sin, for all time, and He does not need to do this again as did the Old Testament priests (Hebrews 6:1-14; 10:10-18).
- Our legal position before God was pronounced “innocent” when we trusted Christ for forgiveness of our sins. We do this only once and our sins are forgiven for all time. Since Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient for all our sins for all time, nobody can charge us again (Romans 8:31-34). There is no double jeopardy!
Adoption – This concept is important in our society because when a family legally adopts a child the new family member gains all the rights and privileges of a naturally-born child (4). In other words, their new status in the family is permanent and cannot be overturned. What a great promise of security to the child!
Likewise, in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, as in our own society (with some differences), adoption provided permanent legal status for a child that could not be overturned (5). The Apostle Paul states our status as adopted children into God’s family in four separate places in his epistles, indicating the importance of our new position following accepting Christ as Savior through faith (Romans 8:15; 23; Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:5). Consequently, we are children of God, adopted into His family with legal protection and a permanent status. What a great promise!
In summary: we have four great positional promises as a believer because of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, resulting in either legal or morphological irreversible changes. These positions indicate our secure status with God: spiritual baptism, justified as innocent, God’s possession and adopted as His children.