Early in his letter to the church in Galatia Paul makes a striking comment about God being “pleased to reveal His Son in me” (1:15b, 16a). Though it is biographical in nature, the remark is, nevertheless, applicable to every believer, offering rich insights into one aspect of the meaning of salvation. In short, it may be said that to be saved is to have God’s Son, Jesus Christ, revealed in us. In other words, salvation is in essence neither a power nor a process, but a Person. Infinite power and intricate process are surely required to secure our salvation, but the crux of salvation must be found in the Person of God’s Son. We will consider briefly three facets of the revelation of Jesus Christ in a believer.
Justification. We might better have used the term salvation or justification because salvation in both its simplest and broadest terms is about the Person of Christ. “I have been crucified with Christ,” Paul wrote later in the same epistle, “and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (2:20). He explained salvation to the Romans in part as the fact that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death” (8:2). And to the Corinthians, he remarked that “Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test” (13:5b). There is no final cleansing from sin, no deliverance from judgment, and no eternal life without the indwelling presence of Jesus Christ in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Good works, improved character, great intentions, religious zeal, and any and all other things afford no salvation; Christ must be revealed in us, or we have no salvation.
Sanctification. Just as initial salvation depends upon the Person of Christ indwelling us, so, too, the process of sanctification hinges on Christ within us. Progressive sanctification cannot be accomplished through the believer’s self-effort to clean up his life or live in a more exemplary fashion. In its most fundamental form, sanctification might be viewed as the progressive manifestation of the virtues of Christ in the life of a believer. Sanctification involves the production of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23) in the believer, which is nothing less than the virtues of Christ being revealed in our lives. The less of self or the “old man” that may be seen and the more of Christ that is exhibited, the more believers become sanctified. Again, sanctification never results from conforming to a list of do’s and don’t’s but from submitting to the Lord so that Christ might be seen more and more clearly in us.
Glorification. Glorification is no less the work of Christ being revealed in the believer than justification or sanctification. While it is true that glorification entails a change in our bodies, the change is not essentially mechanical, biological, or organic. In other words, glorification is not a superficial work involving the suspending of natural laws so that a believer can live forever without pain, suffering, tiredness, hunger, thirst, etc. The angels have that sort of existence, and it is wonderful. But the believer has more. John explains glorification in these terms: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (I John 3:2). To be glorified is to be “like Him,” to have the last vestige of sin, and the flesh, and the curse removed so that our Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, may be fully revealed in us.
A final note: That it is said that “His Son,” not a perfect man nor even an angel, will be revealed in us should make us realize how personal, intimate, gracious, and loving is this gift.
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