Christ Brought Forth from Within Us
God can not only
forgive our sins,
but even bring forth
Christ from within us
As we have seen in our previous Notes in this series, in Romans 4 Paul uses the example of Abraham having a son to illustrate our experience of justification. In this example, the promise of a son was not sufficient for God to fulfill His purpose of having a kingdom on the earth. Rather, Abraham needed to actually have a son for there to be God’s kingdom.
This example shows us, then, that we ourselves should not be satisfied with God’s promise; we must press on to actually possess what He desires to give us. (See “Romans 4: Don’t Be Satisfied with the Promise!”).
But what is signified by Abraham becoming the father of Isaac? What is it that God desires to give us?
The key to understanding this is to remember that Isaac, the son God promised to Abraham, is a very clear type of Christ; the New Testament even begins by telling us that Christ is “the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).
So, by using the birth of Isaac as a picture of our justification, Paul is showing us that, for us to enter into the experience of justification, Christ must be produced from within our being, just as Isaac was produced from within Abraham.
This is to be justified in our actual experience; it is to enter into the living that God wants us to have, the kind of living that He approves of, or “justifies.” Moreover, it is only when we have such a living that God’s purpose can be fulfilled in our lives.
It is one thing for us to believe God’s word that our sins are now forgiven; this does take real faith. But for me to believe that God can not only forgive my sins, but actually go on to produce something of Christ from within me—one who is such an unspeakably fallen, impure, and unholy sinner—is something far beyond this. It takes faith of an entirely different magnitude.
This kind of faith is so pleasing to God. It produces a living, as Paul tells us later in Romans, of entering into our baptism and co-death with Christ so that we may walk in newness of life (6:3-4) and be conformed to the very image of Christ (8:29). It is a life of being crucified with Christ so that He may live within us (Gal. 2:20); of dying to earthly things to live a life that is hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3); of having Him as our life within so that, when He returns, we will be manifested with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).
It is, in brief, a life of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
Today so many Christians settle for God’s promise of forgiveness and go no further with Christ than having the assurance of their salvation. May we, instead, learn from Abraham’s example as recorded in Romans 4 to tell the Lord:
Don’t let me be satisfied with the promise! I don’t want to settle merely for that! I want to press on to know Christ to the fullest extent in my experience, so that He comes forth from within me! (cf. Phil. 3:7-14).
For it is only as we enter into this kind of life that the church can be built up and God can finally have His kingdom on the earth.
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— 30 March 2022 —