This Mind in You

“God is up to something, and He is taking us all the way through.”


“Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens…” Hebrews 8:1

Conservative Christian people know and understand that we deserve to be brought low. We know and understand the Law of God. We know our own sinfulness. We are very aware of how we fall short in many ways. We know that the holiness of God casts us down. This is all good, as far as it goes. This is healthy, as far as it goes. This is much needed in our day, as far as it goes. But we need to follow God’s purposes all the way out.

We need to understand what God is up to. We need to understand the narrative arc. We need to understand the story, and the story is: death and resurrection; humiliation and exaltation: ascension to the right hand of God the Father.

God humbles us, which we deserve. But He also exalts us, which we do not deserve at all. And this is often the point where we stumble. This is the point where we don’t go along with God’s purposes. This is the point where we often rebel against the Good News, where we kick against the Gospel.

In his great hymn to the obedience of Christ, the apostle Paul urges us to have the same mind in us that Christ had in Him. When this is presented to Christians, many think, “Jesus humbled Himself, so we need to humble ourselves. Jesus was brought low; we must be willing to be brought low.” This is true, but Jesus, as it says in Hebrews, did all this for the joy that was set before Him, for the exaltation that was coming. But we don’t want to have that mind in us, and that’s the problem.

If you don’t understand the process of death, resurrection, ascension and enthronement, you don’t understand the Gospel. When Paul says the mind of Christ should be in us, he is talking about the whole thing. We can’t just take a snapshot of Christ doing one thing and make it a screensaver. You must have the mind of Christ in the whole story.

We do not just follow Christ to Jerusalem to die with Him, as Thomas was willing to do. But Thomas did not yet have the mind to follow Jesus to life. Death is the doorway to life. Thomas did not understand what Jesus was talking about, and many Christians do not understand what Jesus was talking about. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son. God is up to something, and He is taking us all the way through.

prodigal2Christians tend to say, okay, I admit that I’m a sinner, God has forgiven my sins, I’m cleaned up and now I’m back to square one. We are like the prodigal who wants to be forgiven and restored, but only to the level of a servant in the house. The prodigal son was not expecting the fatted calf to be killed. He was not expecting a party to be thrown. He was not expecting his father to hire a small jazz band… and neither was his older brother. He wasn’t expecting to be exalted. He was expecting to be restored at the bare minimum.

This is where our faith staggers. We expect to be forgiven. That’s God’s job. But even though we read and sing about it, and Christians have done so for two thousand years, we still don’t expect the robe, and the ring still surprises us.

Adapted from Doug Wilson, Christkirk sermon podcast May 18, 2010.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

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