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Marks and signs of union with Christ

November 29, 2009

Neo. Well, sir, you have fully satisfied me concerning that point: but as I remember, it follows in the same verse, “Know ye not your own selves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates”? (2 Cor 13:5). Wherefore, I desire to hear how a man may know that Jesus Christ is in him.

Evan. Why, if Christ be in a man, he lives in him: as says the apostle, “I live not but Christ liveth in me.”

Neo. But how, then, shall a man know, that Christ lives in him?

Evan. Why, in what man soever Christ lives according to the measure of his faith, he executes his threefold office in him, viz: his prophetical, priestly, and kingly office.

Neo. I desire to hear more of this threefold office of Christ; and therefore, I pray you, sir, tell me, first, how a man may know that Christ executes his prophetical office in him?

Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows that there was a covenant made betwixt God and all mankind in Adam; and that it was an equal covenant, and that God’s justice must needs enter, 1 upon the breach of it; and that all mankind, for that cause, were liable to eternal death and damnation; so that if God had condemned all mankind, yet had it but been the sentence of an equal and just judge, seeking rather the execution of his justice, than man’s ruin and destruction; and thereupon takes it home, and applies it particularly to himself, (Job 5:27), and so is convinced that he is a miserable, lost, and helpless man; I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching him, and revealing unto him the covenant of works. And, so far forth as any man hears and knows that God made a covenant with Abraham, and all his believing seed in Jesus Christ, offering him freely to all to whom the sound of the gospel comes, and giving him freely to all that receive him by faith; and so justifies them, and saves them eternally; and thereupon has his heart opened to receive this truth, not as a man takes an object or a theological point into his head, whereby he is only made able to discourse: but as an habitual and practical point, receiving it into his “heart by the faith of the gospel,” (Phil 1:27), and applying it to himself, and laying his eternal state upon it; and so setting to his seal, that God is true: I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching him and revealing to him the covenant of grace. And so far forth as any man hears and knows, that “this is the will of God, even his sanctification,” (1 Thess 4:3), and thereupon concludes, that it is his duty to endeavour after it; I say, so far forth as a man does this, Christ executes his prophetical office in him, in teaching and revealing his law to him. And this I hope is sufficient for answer to your first question.

Neo. I pray you, sir, in the second place, tell me, how a man may know that Christ executes his priestly office in him?

Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows that Christ has given himself, as that only absolute and perfect sacrifice for the sins of believers, (Heb 9:26), and joined them unto himself by faith, and himself unto them by his Spirit, and so made them one with him; and is now “entered into heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for them,” (Heb 9:24); and hereupon is emboldened to go immediately to 2 God in prayer, as to a father, and meet him in Christ, and present him with Christ himself, as with a sacrifice without spot or blemish; I say, so far forth as any man does this, Christ executes his priestly office in him.

Neo. But sir, would you have a believer to go immediately unto God? How then does Christ make intercession for us at God’s right hand, as the apostle says he does? (Rom 8:34)

Evan. It is true indeed, Christ, as a public person, representing all believers, appears before God his Father; and willeth according to both his natures, and desires as he is a man, that God would, for his satisfaction’s sake, grant unto them whatsoever “they ask according to his will.” But yet you must go immediately to God in prayer for all that. 3

You must not pitch your prayers upon Christ, and terminate them there, as if he were to take them, and present them to his Father; but the very presenting place of your prayers must be God himself in Christ. Neither must you conceive, as though Christ the Son were more willing to grant your request than God the Father, for whatsoever Christ willeth, the same also the Father, being well pleased with him, willeth. In Christ, therefore, I say, and no where else, must you expect to have your petitions granted; and as in Christ and no place else, so for Christ’s sake, and nothing else. And therefore I beseech you to beware you forget not Christ when you go unto the Father to beg anything you desire, either for yourself or others; especially when you desire to have any pardon for sin, you are not to think, that when you join with your prayers, fasting, weeping, and afflicting of yourself, that for so doing you shall prevail with God to hear you, and grant your petitions; no, no, you must meet God in Christ, and present him with his sufferings; your eye, your mind, and all your confidence, must be therein; and in that be as confident as possible you can; yea, expostulate the matter, as it were, with God the Father, and say, “Lo; here is the person that has well deserved it; here is the person that wills and desires it; in whom thou hast said thou art well pleased; yea, here is the person that has paid the debt, and discharged the bond for all my sins; and, therefore, O Lord! now it stands with thy justice to forgive me.” And thus, if you do, why, then you may be assured that Christ executes his priestly office in you.

Neo. I pray you, sir, in the third place, show me how a man may know that Christ executes his kingly office in him?

Evan. Why, so far forth as any man hears and knows “that all power is given unto Christ, both in heaven and on earth,” (Matt 28:18); both to vanquish and to overcome all the lusts and corruptions of believers, and to write his law in their hearts; and hereupon takes occasions to go unto Christ for the doing of both in him; I say, so far forth as he does this, why Christ executes his kingly office in him.

Neo. Why then, sir, it seems that the place where Christ executes his kingly office, is in the hearts of believers?

Evan. It is true indeed; for Christ’s kingdom is not temporal or secular over the natural lives or civil negotiations of men; but his kingdom is spiritual and heavenly, over the souls of men, to awe and over-rule the hearts, to captivate the affections, to bring into obedience the thoughts, and to subdue and pull down strong holds. For when our father Adam transgressed, he and we, all of us, forsook God, and chose the devil for our lord and king; so that every mother’s child of us is, by nature, under the government of Satan; and he rules over us, till Christ come into our hearts, and dispossess him; according to the saying of Christ himself, (Luke 11:21,22), “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace”: that is, says Calvin, Satan holds them that are in subjection to him in such bonds and quiet possession, that he rules over them without resistance; but when Christ comes to dwell in any man’s heart by faith; according to the measure of faith, he dispossesses him, and seats himself in the heart, and roots out, and pulls down all that withstands his government there; and, as a valiant captain, he stands upon his guard, and enables the soul to gather together all its forces and powers, to resist and withstand all its and his enemies, and so set itself in good earnest against them, when they at any time offer to return again; and he doth especially enable the soul to resist, and set itself against the principal enemy, even that which does most oppose Christ in his government; so that whatsoever lust or corruption is in a believer’s heart or soul as most predominant, Christ enables him to take that into his mind, and to have most revengeful thoughts against it, and to make complaints to him against it, and to desire power and strength from him against it, and all because it most withstands the government of Christ, and is the rankest traitor to Christ; so that he uses all the means he can to bring it before the judgment-seat of Christ, and there he calls for justice against it, saying, “O Lord Jesus Christ, here is a rebel and a traitor, that does withstand thy government in me, wherefore, I pray thee, come and execute thy kingly office in me, and subdue it; yea, vanquish and overcome it.” Whereupon Christ gives the same answer that he gave to the centurion, “Go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee,” 4 (Matt 8:13).

And as Christ doth thus suppress all other governors but himself in the hart of a believer, so doth he raze out and deface all other laws, and writes his own there, according to his promise, (Jer 31:33), and makes them pliable and willing to do and suffer his will; and that because it is his will. So that the mind and will of Christ, laid down in his word, and manifested in his works, is not only the rule of a believer’s obedience, but also the reason of it, as I once heard a godly minister say in the pulpit; so that he does not only do that which is Christ’s will, but he does it because it is his will.

Oh that man, which hath the law of Christ written in his heart! according to the measure of it, he reads, he hears, he prays, he receives the sacrament, he keeps the Lord’s day holy, he exhorts, he instructs, he confers, and does all the duties that belong to him in his general calling, because he knows it is the mind and will of Christ he should do so! yea, he patiently suffers, and willingly undergoes afflictions for the cause of Christ, because he knows it is the will of Christ; yea, such a man does not only yield obedience, and perform the duties of the first table of the law, by virtue of Christ’s command, but of the second also. Oh that husband, parent, master, or magistrate, that has the law of Christ written in his heart! he does his duty to his wife, child, servant, or subject, willingly and uprightly, because Christ requires it and commands it. And so that wife, child, servant, or subject, that has the law of Christ written in his or her heart, they do their duties to husband, parent, master, or governor, freely and cheerfully, because their Lord Christ commands it. Now, then, if you find these things in your heart, you may conclude that Christ rules and reigns there, as Lord and King.

Source: Marrow of modern divinity, by Edward Fisher

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