ADVENT DEVOTIONAL FOR 2017
REIGNING WITH CHRIST
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
Reigning with Christ means that by faith we have been adopted into God’s family through the death and resurrection of Jesus. In one sense, this is very easy—Jesus has done all the work, and all we have to do is accept it and believe it. The problem is that we can’t stand being placed above all creation next to Jesus through no merit of our own. Right now many people are upset that some immigrants are allowed into the United States on the basis of a lottery and not on the basis of any qualifications. But our entrance into the Kingdom of God is little better. We are to believe that we are seated next to Jesus for no good reason—not because we are nice, not because we are smart, not because we are deserving. Indeed, any good that comes from our lives is not from our own initiative—but because God prepared beforehand for us to “luck into” good works, NOT because of ourselves but IN SPITE of ourselves.
FJ HUEGEL: Here is where many Christians balk. They are not willing for so radical a change. They cannot see the need of a complete transformation of the old life. There must be some good in them. Why must they die and be resurrected? Is it not sufficient that such was Christ’s lot? And so there is unbelief. Behind it is the will. Will I, or will I not, as a Christian, believe what God says as regards my position in Christ? I must not kid myself with the idea that this is just too much to believe when in reality there is a stubbornness of the will to accept the consequences of such a position.
After Paul presents the wondrous position of the Christians as far as God is concerned, saying, “But God who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” he immediately goes on to say that it is by faith that we come into the possession of our inheritance. “For by grace ye are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Now the real hindrance lies in the fact that such a position leaves no room for human merit. It reduces us to a state of nothingness first, and then to a veritable sharing of the very Throne with Christ [which in NO WAY we deserve!].
PRAYER: Dear God, can I believe that your love extended to me IN SPITE of what I have made of myself and not because of my qualifications? I do not realize how utterly gross my selfishness and self indulgence are before you. And yet, you have offered your perfect Son as a sacrifice for me, and through Him and for His sake you have prepared to draw goodness even from my miserable life. Grant me to “get” the joke. Grant me to laugh with you at the absurdity of it. Grant me to enjoy the death of my old self, confident that you are ready to reveal my true self to my own amazement. In Jesus’s name I pray this. Amen.