that the King of Glory may come in."
3:14. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.
It is very significant that the writer inserts this verse at this point. He has been talking about the dangers of falling away, and here he presents yet another danger in that area, but also the means of overcoming.
Often it is all-too-easy to just slide over the statements of Scripture and not take them fully to heart, not even really hear what it is saying. “We are made partakers of Christ.” What an awesome statement!
Firstly, we have become partakers in His life. Outside of Christ, it was only our bodies and souls that were alive – our spirits were dead, non-functional because of sin. That’s why the very first step of our Christian walk is for us to be re-born of the Spirit. Just as God breathed life into man at the creation, when we are born again he breathes the life of the Spirit into us. This is the same Spirit Who overshadowed Mary at the conception of Jesus; the same Spirit Who empowered all of His life; the same Spirit Who raised Him from the dead.
We have become partakers in Christ’s righteousness. We had no righteousness of our own. Every one of us had failed to live up to the standard of God’s image in which we were created, every one of us had acted contrary to God’s will many times. Yet when we come to Christ, the Father declares us to be righteous because of His righteousness. Theologians refer to this as Christ’s righteousness being imputed to us. Even beyond that, His righteousness is imparted to us as the Spirit works within us, transforming us into His likeness.
We are partakers in Christ’s authority. Both by reason of His nature (God the Son) and of His victory at Calvary, He has “all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18) He has given that authority to us, in order that we may go and make disciples of all nations. He has given us authority over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19) that we may have victory in every area of our life and witness.
We are partakers in His power, for the same Spirit Who empowered Him lives in us. When Jesus walked on the earth, He did not operate as God. He never for one instant ceased to be God, but He laid aside all the power and prerogatives of Godhead to live on earth as Man totally empowered by the Spirit. We have that same Spirit, Who is God, living within us.
We are partakers in His victory. At the cross, He disarmed the principalities and powers (Colossians 2:15). Now, when we are engaged in spiritual battle, we are not fighting to gain the victory, but to enforce the victory that has already been won.
Most of all, we are partakers in Him. We are bound to Him as closely as the branches are bound to the vine. Without Him, we can do nothing, but in Him we can do all things.
… if we hold the beginning of our confidence …
Just as the branch only continues to have life while it is attached to the vine, so our experience of all that being partakers in Christ means will continue only as long as we remain attached to Him. The word “confidence” carries the significance of a foundation, that on which something is built. In the beginning of our Christian walk we built on only one thing, the fact that Christ died in our place and that because of that death we can receive forgiveness, cleansing and new life. If we move our confidence – our foundation – to something else, we will not experience the fullness of that new life. It doesn’t matter whether we begin to build our Christian life on our own efforts, or on the doctrines of man, or on the personalities of leaders, or any thing or person other than Christ, the result will be the same. None of those things is sufficient to sustain our life of faith.
… steadfast to the end.
It is not just the beginning of a thing that counts, but its ending. Christian life is not a sprint, but a marathon. There will be many temptations along the way to place our faith in something other than Christ; many temptations to build foundations other than on Him. It is only as we, by the power of His Spirit, overcome those temptations that we will find ourselves truly partaking in all that He is.
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