1. In the brief passage that we read for today the exact same expression can be found twice in the text. The first is the phrase in verse twenty-six of "joined in Christ Jesus." Unfortunately, it is translated in various different phrases in Japanese, but both are the exact same expression of "being in Christ Jesus." In addition to that, two things are stated in regard to them. The first is that "Being in Christ Jesus, you all are sons of God." The second is that "Being in Christ Jesus, you are all one." Today, using the two "being in Christ Jesus" [clauses] in this passage as a springboard, I would like for us to think about the fundamentals regarding the Christian faith.
Sons Of God Joined To Christ Jesus
2. "You are all sons of God." What does this being "sons of God" mean to say? The Bible states that humans are beings created by God. Even more than that, it states that [humans] "are created modeled in the image of God," (Genesis 1:27). But, in the Bible, humans are not said to be "sons of God" in connection with their creation. In the phrase "sons of God" I think we must think about something other than the creation of humanity.
3. It's reasonable to think that the concept of "son" does not exist on its own. As we know, "sons" are "sons" because of a relationship to their "parents." Therefore, in the word "sons" the important thing is the relationship with "the parent." When the phrase "sons of God" is given, then, naturally we need to think of the close connection between child-parent, of the relationship filled with love and trust among them. Even though earthly children and parents may not actually be that way, we should think here taking the connection and the relationship that ought to be between them as a basic premise.
4. Based on that then, the phrase "sons of God" has its first connection, not in us, [but in someone else]. It is the one whom God called "You are my beloved son, who is in accordance with my will," (Mark 1:11), who is none other than Jesus Christ. We must first turn our attention to the relationship filled with love and trust, which Jesus Christ has shown us, which is between him and God the Father.
5. So, we also need to listen to the words of the Bible where it states, "You all are sons of God." By doing so, we'll notice again that something surprising is being stated here in the text. The Bible states that "The relationship with the Father that he had is also being given to you." That's a surprise. You can't help but think, "That's not possible!" Really. All on our own, it would be impossible. Therefore the Bible is not saying all gung-ho "You are all sons of God" without some supporting argumentation behind it. It adds two clauses to it. It adds, "'By faith, joined to Jesus Christ,' you all are sons of God."
6. You may have heard the claim, "All humans are sons and daughters of God. You ought to see the truth of even that very fact." But, the Bible is not that simple when it speaks on that. It is more realistic. It puts its attention rock solid on the reality dreadful as it is that throughout history humans have been turning their backs on God, and lines out the case for a deep gap and a rift from which their sins cannot cross over to God. The ugly figure of humanity as depicted by the Bible is, actually, our figure. It illustrates the true figure of humanity who can not help but declare, "How could humans described like that be sons and daughters of God?," and then pins [that realistic figure] on us.
7. But, even in this text here, the Bible states something to the effect that it is completely impossible that "You are all sons of God." No matter which way you think about it, the basis for ["our being children of God"] does not lie on our part. It does not depend on how we are. The basis for it lies in the fact that God has brought it about for us through Christ. What did God do for us then? He put Christ on the cross and made him a sacrifice to atone for our sins. It is written that "God set Christ and by his blood he made him an offering to redeem for sin on behalf of those who believe," (Romans 3:25).
8. So, we are joined together by faith in the Christ who had become the sacrifice to redeem [our] sins. By F-A-I-T-H we stand in Christ. By being in Christ we have a part in the forgiveness of sin, we are given a relationship with God, and are made persons living as the sons and the daughters of God. Therefore, "Through faith, we are in Christ Jesus."
9. It is a spiritual fact of reality, which in faith, we are given by the work of the Spirit of God. Of course, we can't see faith. We can't see the Christ either, to whom we're supposed to be joined. We can't see the Spirit of God either. But, thankfully, we are not only given invisible gifts, but also visible gifts for blessings. We can't see Christ, but we can see the church, Christ's body. We can see the ordinances given to the church, [for example], we can see the water we use in baptism. That's why the text here also talks about baptism along with talking about faith. Through the visible church and its ordinances, the spiritual world of reality in our faith which is all invisible can be connected to the visible concrete daily lives [we have]. [The Bible] says, "For, all of you, who have received baptism and been joined to Christ, wear Christ,"(verse twenty-seven).
10. Well, this phrase "wearing Christ" is very impressive. Its meaning is the same as "being in Christ." It's an expression with a richer imagery to it. You all see me, but you don't see me in the nude. You see the suit I wear. You see me wearing clothes. Likewise, if we are in Christ by faith, God does not look directly at us as sinners. He looks at us through Christ. He sees us as persons wearing Christ, as persons having a part in the redemption of sin in Christ. We stand before Him as sons and daughters of God wearing Christ, and live in fellowship with God [that way].
One In Christ Jesus
11. Next, let's think about the Bible stating that "You all are one." In verse twenty-eight, the text says in regard to being one that, "Wherefore then, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor freeman, neither man nor woman." This is the meaning of "being one." It is that the walls which divide Jews and Greeks or Gentiles, the walls which divide slaves and freemen, the walls which divide men and women have been completely demolished. By the way, in the original text, the words "wherefore then" are not there. But, I think it is fitting that this phrase has been put into the translation because what is being stated here is not unrelated to what was said before with "wearing Christ." All the way through, the speech in this text is "wherefore then, because of that then."
12. As I said earlier, the Bible is very realistic [in its approach to the world as it is]. Therefore, even when it talks about becoming one, it doesn't say anything like, "We get to be one by joining hands, understanding each other, and admitting our differences." While people shout for world peace, they insult their closest neighbors - that's how people are. So, it doesn't simply state here that "You all are one," but the phrase is added on "In Christ Jesus [you all are one]." It might be easier to understand this if we think about it using the phrase "wearing Christ" from before.
13. There are Jews there who are wearing Christ. There are Greeks there wearing Christ. They have slaves wearing Christ, they have freemen wearing Christ, they have men and women there wearing Christ. So, since "wearing Christ" is the decisively important thing, naturally from that then, whether it's a Jew or a Greek who is in those clothes will lose its importance. That's what this is stating here in this text.
14. It is certainly important for people who are different to have a mutual understanding of one another. We don't need to fall short in our efforts towards this purpose. But the church hasn't become one by merely saying, "Let's [all try] to understand each other." That's not how it's happened; rather, we all have acknowledged one thing as decisively important. It is this matter of "What are you wearing?" It is that I am wearing Christ and that you are too.
15. Taking it further one step, when Paul said, "Neither Jew nor Greek," he never meant for Jews to quit being Jews and for Greeks to quit being Greeks. It's not that our former identities have to be broken up and that we must all be one color in order to become one. Instead, we ought to relax and be Jews or Greeks. Since wearing Christ is the main thing, then it is because while we are in those clothes we are supposed to be able to be Jewish, or be Greeks, or be Japanese.
16. Actually, in one of the settings in which Paul was writing this epistle, there was an event in which Peter and some other Jews would not eat a meal with Gentiles. In the church, a middle wall of division had started to be built again that was supposed to have been destroyed, but "differences between Jew and Gentile" had begun to rear its head [again]. It was happening because [their] acknowledgement of the gravity of the truth of "wearing Christ" was heading backwards in the old direction. That can happen even in our churches today. When we don't think being in Christ Jesus and wearing Christ is really important and as soon as we start saying, "Whether you believe in Christ, or whether you were baptized is not that important to fuss over," then the many differences between each other will start to become a big deal and a wall of division will begin to set itself all over.
17. As we've seen from this [discussion], the phrase of "being in Christ Jesus" has extremely important meaning and significance for our faith. This week, I would like for us to accept this phrase as a message given to us from the Lord, and I would like for us to go about pondering this message over and over about our being in Christ Jesus, about our wearing Christ, or even about our being called into Christ.