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The Grace Project

No Ugly Ducklings

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Before I understood Union, it was easier for me to believe that I was not who and could never, this side of heaven, be the person whom God wanted me to be, i.e. perfect [Matt. 5:48].  Nonetheless, “becoming whom I knew I could not possibly become” was the futile goal of the Christian life.  Sanctification, also known as “Mission Impossible”, was the goal which I was determined to reach.  Whilst I knew my efforts were doomed to failure, I would still be going to heaven because believing in Jesus, not “sinless perfection”, was the salvation criterion.  

My favourite verse was 1 John 3:2 –Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.

Then and only then would I become a graceful swan. Until then I would remain an ugly duckling.  You see I had understood this to be a reference to the second coming but then, I saw that the Apostle John was addressing “little children” [1 John 3:7], a group he had identified earlier [1 John 2:12-14].  These were the spiritual babies – those who knew no more than that their sins had been forgiven.  However, in the case of what the Apostle John called the “young men” and the “fathers”, these mature or more aware groups knew that “as He is so also are we in this world” [1 John 4:17].
 
Then, suddenly just as a cloud burst open, Union made sense to me.  I could see that when He is revealed, we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is and He is in me, expressing Himself as me.  The tantalising prospect exists that the Apostle John’s reference is not confined to Jesus finally appearing but has application in our finally realising the mystical nature of Union.
 
Imagine my surprise then when I began to see that I was already the person whom I was trying to become.  Being the product of a Jesuit education, I had become accustomed to reading school reports about myself which always said something like, “Paul is a bright child but could do much better; must try harder.”  What was I to make of God’s claim that I am, not that I will be or might be or could be if only I would try harder, but I am already the following – 
 

 

Perfect.

Heb. 10:14

The righteousness of God in Christ.

2 Cor. 5:21

Holy and blameless

Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:22

A partaker in the divine nature.

2 Pet. 1:4

A new creation.

2 Cor. 5:17

Complete in Him (NKJV).

Col. 2:10

Just as He is, so am I in this world.

1 John 4:17

Beyond reproach.

Col. 1:22

Seated with Him in heavenly places.

Eph. 2:6

Container of the fullness of Christ.

Col. 2:9

 

The foregoing list is far from exhaustive and in the light of its claims, we are confronted with two choices – belief or unbelief.  It is the role of the Spirit to convict both believers of their doubt and doubters of their unbelief.  However, and this is the kicker for the religious world, the veracity of these statements do not require us to believe them in order to be true.  They are true regardless of whether we believe them or not.
 
For the Lost/Unsaved Man, their unbelief concerns Christ becoming sin for them [2 Cor. 5:21a] but in the case of the Saved Man, their unbelief concerns their personal righteousness in Christ [2 Cor. 5:21b; John 16:8].  If the first work of the Spirit is to convict unbelievers of their unbelief in Christ, the second work of the Spirit is to convict believers of their unbelief in their own Christ-righteousness.
 
There can be no progress in the Christian life without the most basic and fundamental revelation.  In the same way that we accept by faith (and unquestioningly so) that Jesus became as we were (i.e. in the likeness of sinful man – flesh), we must accept by faith that the purpose of His condescension was that we might become as He is, i.e. divine.
 
Again, whether we believe this to be true or not, it does not alter the fact that it is true.  If the Great I AM says “I Am”, then, I am.  To doubt that is to call God a liar.  Well now, Christians, do you believe that you are who God says you are?
 
Through the prism of Union, rather than the prison of performance, I can see that sanctification is simply recognition – it is not a progressive rectification of one’s behaviour but a progressive recognition of one’s new identity.  What, in my formative years, was the cornerstone of Christian discipleship (where sanctification was a process of becoming holy) has now been replaced by the axiom of Union, i.e. to know that I am holy.

 

 

 
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