Monday, October 1, 2012

When Do Believers Belong to Christ?

I have been asked a very interesting question, recently.  “When do believers belong to Christ?”

In one sense the answer is clearly, “before the foundation of the world”.  Revelation 13:8 speaks of those whose “names were written before the foundation of the world” in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.  Ephesians 1:4 says that we [believers] were chosen in him before the foundation of the world. 

Yet there is another sense in which we do not rightly belong to Christ until we believe.  It is clear from Scripture that before we come to Christ in repentance and faith we are children of wrath “like the rest of mankind”.  We are cut off from God’s people.  All of the benefits of union with Christ are not ours because we are not in union with Christ apart from faith in Christ. 

Comparing John 10:29 with John 6:37 is interesting.  In 10:29 Jesus refers to those that “have been given” to Jesus by the Father.  Notice the past tense.  Now consider the tense of 6:37 where Jesus refers to “all that the Father gives me”.  That is a present active indicative.  So which is it, John?  Are we “being given” to Jesus or have we already “been given”? 

The answer I believe is found in this illustration from John Bunyan:

A man gives his daughter to another man, first, in order to marriage, and this respects the time past, and he gives her again at the day appointed, in marriage.  And in this last sense, perhaps, the text may mean that all that the Father has, before the world was, given to Jesus Christ, he gives them again to him in the day of their espousals. (Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ, 15)

In other words we aren’t in union with Christ until we are united to Him by faith and repentance.  But that day was long ago foreknown and made certain by the Father’s promise of gifting us to Christ.  So, if you are in Christ marvel at the fact that before the world was even created the Father held you in His hands and told His Son, Jesus, that one day you’d be His. 

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