Status and State
Edward Robinson, Exmouth
In considering our Christian status (i.e., our standing before God) and our state (which varies in degree), it is important that we do not confuse the two. The first is, of course, objective truth; the second subjective. It would be wrong to think that the two are inter-dependent. Our status (assuming, of course, that we are truly born again) is in no way affected by our state; it is a fixed reality, with its basis in the finished and complete redemptive work of Christ and in the resulting covenant of God to the believer's faith. "For by one offering he has perfected for ever (in perpetuity, J.N.D.) them that are sanctified", Heb. 10. 14. Failure to understand the implications of this will lead to much lack of assurance. In no way can this once-for-all offering of the Son of God be added to or detracted from under any circumstances eternally.
On the other hand, our state is considerably governed by our apprehension and appreciation of the foregoing, set out so clearly and convincingly in the Scriptures of truth. We have been concerned so far largely by the doctrine which is taken in by the mind, and which we have called objective truth and teaching. But how closely mind and heart are linked in the Scriptures, as it is said, "God is (not just has) love". Again, the Lord Jesus says of Himself, "I am the way, the truth and the life". This presentation of objective truth is made to heart and mind in order to bring about a subjective result, that is, to draw out from us an answer (not only in word but in character) to all that grace has brought to us.
Every single believer in the Lord Jesus, however outwardly obscure, is a person of special interest to each Person of the Trinity, both spiritually and in temporal matters in everyday life. "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings ... ye are of more value than many sparrows", and not one of them falls "to the ground without your Father", Luke 12. 6, 7; Matt. 10! 29; "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered". These two conditions which mark the Christian are summed up in the two vital statements "You in Christ" (his status), and "Christ in you" (his state). "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus", Rom. 8. 1. And as to state, "To whom (His saints) God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory", Col. 1. 27.
Let us look at the implications of these two important statements. First, as always, the positive word as to our status before God, "in Christ". It is doubtful if any one of us has entered into the fulness of this position; it is the work of God in the soul at conversion, absolutely unchangeable, in which we have no responsibility, but to which God Himself is pledged. This, of course, is not antinomian-ism (the rejection of the moral law) to which a truly born-again Christian would never subscribe. But secondly the Scriptures make clear that a Christian is a highly responsible person, a testimony of, and witness to, God and to Christ. "Christianity is Christ", and the inward consciousness of "Christ in you, the hope of glory" is the inward power that sustains. The prayer of the apostle Paul is that "Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith", Eph. 3. 17, and again he speaks of "the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ", Phil. 1. 19. And so we join with the apostle, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen", Eph. 3. 20, 21.