Dangerous Blessings

The blessings and benefits of being “in Christ” are quite staggering. You could get lost in just one but you don’t want to. That would be dangerous! Imagine that - focusing on one of the many blessings of being in Christ could stunt your growth as a Christian. Paul, in the first chapter of Ephesians, highlights a host of them. Take a moment and read Ephesians 1:1-14. There is enough in those 14 verses to mesmerize you for a lifetime. Here are a few that Paul mentions:

  1. Chosen - God set his affection on you before you were ever born. Not because you were special but because He loves you.
  2. Regeneration and Conversion - God made you alive to Him when you were dead and you didn’t want anything to do with him.
  3. Justification - God declares you forgiven and righteous in his sight based upon Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. It is what He has done, not what you have done.
  4. Adoption - God adopts you as his child and places you within a whole new family made up of brothers and sisters who likewise have been adopted by the Father. He gives you the Spirit of adoption.
  5. Sanctification - God continues to give you grace as you engage in the glorious and arduous work of being conformed into the very likeness of Christ.
  6. Perseverance - God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will surely accomplish what he started. It may not be fun or attractive but you will arrive. Your transformation in the likeness of Jesus is inevitable. He will even use your sins, failures and mistakes for your ultimate good.
  7. Glorification - the final destination toward which your entire life revolves will end. But this will simply be the beginning. No more sin and suffering. Only pure weighty glory.

This is where union with Christ is so important. If you are not careful, you might be tempted to focus on only one or two of these blessings. Here are some common problems that arise when you don’t keep all of these benefits together and only focus on one to the exclusion of the others:

  1. Chosen - if it is all of God’s work, you may be tempted to become passive or even spiral into fear wondering whether you have been chosen.
  2. Justification and Adoption - if you are completely accepted and adopted based upon nothing you do, you may become lazy or passive in living the Christian life because your efforts don’t matter.
  3. Sanctification – as you participate in your growth in grace, you could become very performance oriented and fall back into a view of the Christian life that leads to exhaustion.
  4. Glorification - if future grace is all there is, you may lose sight of the mundane, daily places where God wants to work and change you.

Now you can see why it is so very important to keep past, present and future grace together. You don’t want any blessing to get separated from all of the others. If you do, you wind up with a truncated understanding of your relationship with Christ and your growth and maturity will likely be hindered in some capacity. All of the various blessings are a facet of what it means to belong to Jesus and relate to him.

Comment

Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.