Our union with Christ stands at the heart of the gospel. This devotional book reflects on the Incarnation as well as the Christian’s position in Christtwo doctrines that are foundational for truly understanding salvation.
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About the Author
Elyse Fitzpatrick(MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the author of over twenty books, includingBecause He Loves Me;Comforts from the Cross; andFound in Him.
Read an Excerpt
From Beginning to End It's All about Him
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
The story of Jesus, the long-awaited Christ, is what the entire Bible is about. Perhaps I should say that again. The beginning and end of everything in the universe and most particularly everything recorded in the Scriptures is Jesus Christ. He declared himself to be the "Alpha and the Omega," the one "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8). He "is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead." In all that is, he is "preeminent" (Col. 1:18). He is the sun around whom all beings orbit, whether they are aware of it or not. He is the director, the author, the actor, and the finale of every act that has ever been played out on humanity's stage.
The man Christ Jesus is the preeminent message of the Bible. Of course there are other messages and secondary peoples and histories, but he's the point of everything that has been written. He is primary; he outranks everyone and everything in importance, dignity, beauty, wisdom, and honor. And because of who he is and what he has done for our salvation,
God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9–11)
I suppose that those of you who have been Christians for any length of time are nodding in assent. Yes, of course Jesus is the main character in the Bible! That's obvious, isn't it? Well, yes, it should be obvious. But while many of us would agree that Jesus is key, the all-encompassing message of his preeminence, although assumed, is not usually the message we hear. No, the message we usually hear is something about us and what we're supposed to do to make God happy, or, at least, about how we can avoid making him unhappy and live satisfying lives. But as we'll learn in the chapters to come, the Bible isn't primarily a rulebook, nor is it a self-help manual; it's not about how we become better people so that we can earn blessings by working hard. It's all about Jesus, God made man, his life, death, and resurrection. It is about his determination to be in union with us.
The message of the Bible is Jesus Christ, the one truly good human person: who he is and the work he's done for our salvation and his Father's glory. Of course, what he has done does intersect with our lives and change us, but we're not the subject of this story — he is. He is the subject, and all the verbs are about his work. But this story didn't start a mere two thousand years ago in Bethlehem.
THE SON BEFORE THE BABY
Way before the Christmas story was written, the Bible resounded with the message of the Son. In fact, all of the Old Testament writings are about Jesus. Every law, every prophetic utterance, every narrative, every psalm is meant to remind us of him, to force us to look away from ourselves and to look to him for salvation.
Adam's, Abraham's, and Israel's entire experience was designed from the beginning to foreshadow the end [that] ... Jesus, the beloved Son, would keep the covenant and bear the curse on their behalf and ours.
In fact, Jesus himself claimed that he was the subject of all of Israel's history. I know that this might be a new thought for some of you, so here are some passages from the New Testament for your consideration. Notice how Jesus identifies himself as the subject of all of Moses's writings:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me. ... If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. (John 5:39, 46)
Think of that! Jesus said that Moses actually wrote about him! But that's not all he had to say on the topic. After the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples on the road to Emmaus and taught them (and by extension, us) the right way to read and interpret all the Old Testament Scriptures:
These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. (Luke 24:44)
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
EVEN BEFORE THE AGES BEGAN
Jesus (and the rest of the New Testament writers) made it abundantly clear that all the history contained in the Old Testament was ultimately about him: his person and his work. But even further back, even before Genesis 1 and the first light of creation, he was already involved in our salvation. His preeminence in our salvation didn't start when Adam and Eve were created or even when they first sinned. Although Jesus the Godman doesn't actually appear until his physical birth in Bethlehem around two thousand years ago, God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, had existed in communion with God the Father and God the Spirit eternally. From before the Word was spoken and the Holy Spirit hovered over the womb of the unformed world (Gen. 1:2), God the Son existed in inexpressible light and endless joy in union and loving fellowship with his Father and the Spirit. The Son, the personal Word, was "with" God and was, in fact, God (John 1:1–2; 1 John 1:1).
There, in time, before time began, the Trinity existed in perfect happiness within his person. He was not lonely; he never needed anything. In himself, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were absolutely complete, a Trinity existing in perfect harmony and unity. But then, in overflowing love, grace, and mercy, God chose to make a covenant within himself, sometimes called the pactum salutis or covenant of redemption. In it the Son agreed to be sent as a redeemer for a race of men yet to be created, but in order to do so, he would have to become a new sort of person, one in the likeness of his fallen brothers and yet immutably God. He agreed to do this not out of necessity, not because he was forced to or lacked something in himself that only the incarnation would provide, but because of God's "own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began" (2 Tim. 1:9).
Now, before we look more deeply at what that means, why not take a moment to think a bit more about it? Consider this: before the ages began it was God's plan to come to you, to call you to himself, to save you and make you his own. Though you were lost, he set out to find you and make you one with him. He wasn't shocked or taken by surprise by Adam's fall in Eden. Before the ages began he had already planned for it. He is not shocked or surprised by your weakness or sin. He saw it all before you were ever born and yet purposed to come to you with his grace — not in judgment, but in lavish grace.
Our sin and salvation didn't necessitate a plan B. His purpose to bring salvation before the ages began is now and always has been the only plan there ever was. Our sin didn't paint him into a corner or leave him scrambling to try to fix the big mess we had made. We were chosen "in him before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4).
IN ALL-KNOWING LOVE THE LORD CREATED
In love God made mankind, knowing what it would cost him, knowing all about Bethlehem and Calvary and all our sins before they even existed. In joy he said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Gen. 1:26). By his Son, the creative Word, he made "all things" (John 1:3), including man, and gave him life by personally breathing into him his first breath. So Adam and Eve were created — perfect creatures in perfect love and harmony with each other and with their creator, the Son, who would visit them for joyous walks in the "cool of the day" (Gen. 3:8).
But this bliss would not last. Soon the couple would know the bitter taste of conflict, disunity, and isolation; they would be sent wandering and weeping away from the garden, and they would know that without a doubt this was their own doing.
The Serpent tempted them by questioning the very love of God for them that was at the heart of their creation.
"If God really loved you he would let you eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil," he hissed. "Go ahead; help yourself. That way there won't be any difference between you and him. In fact, you'll be just like him. Take care of yourself. You can do it!"
The Lord had wisely fashioned Adam and Eve in his own image for fellowship with him and with each other, and, oh, the madness of craving something other. Of course, they knew that what they had in communion with their creator and each other was great (even though there were differences), but they were captivated by the thought of how much better life would be if there weren't any differences at all! They didn't want to be creatures any more — they wanted to be gods, too! They knew about goodness already, but they didn't know about evil, and they were so curious. Wouldn't it be a good thing for them to know everything there was to know? Didn't they need to help themselves out?
Adam and Eve drank from the poisonous cup of autonomy and independence. They ate and fell. They fell from their blessed communion with the Lord and were banished from the beautiful garden he had created for them. They fell also from blessed union with each other. God's image in them was shattered (though not completely obliterated), and in that shattering every relationship within the race of man would thereafter be marred. On our own, we would never know the "oneness" we all long for. Where once Adam and Eve had been "one flesh," now they were individuals. Where once they had been self-forgetful, now each was "turned in upon himself. ... Each [knew] that he or she was no longer what he or she ought to be." They experienced shame. They hid. They tried to cover themselves with fig leaves; they wept in isolation.
Notice that Adam immediately began to refer to himself in the singular "I" rather than as "we" (Gen. 3:10). The deathly individualization of humanity had begun, and with surprising ease Adam deserted his wife while casting aspersions upon the Lord's wisdom for giving her to him in the first place. Adam was utterly alone. He had abandoned his wife. He no longer trusted his God. On her own, Eve was weak and vulnerable. And though we are no longer hiding behind a tree in that garden, the die had been cast for the rest of us. All their children, all of us, will hide from each other and the Lord in isolation, suspicion, and shame, trying to weave together fig leaves to cover our shame.
SEPARATION AND DEATH
Before Adam and his wife left the garden from which they had been banished, God cursed them and told them of the enmity and conflict that would forever plague them. There would be enmity between mankind, animals, and the created earth, between the wife and her husband. The evening walks with the Son would end (for now). Man was alone, isolated, solitary, lost.
Thankfully, that isn't the end of the story. Although the Lord had spoken a curse of death for disobedience, he also comforted them with good news. Eve would be a mother. Through the woman a child would come who would bruise or crush the Serpent's head (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20). Even in the devastation that their sin had caused, there was still good news: there would be new life, offspring, another Man who would comfort his mother, who would be born from her and who would be uniquely created in God's image. He would walk in the evening with his people and talk with them about the inevitability and blessing of another tree. The enemy would be vanquished. And as a foreshadowing of this new Man's life and death, God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of animals: living, breathing creatures were slaughtered to cover their nakedness and shame.
BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM
In astounding grace, God called a descendant of Adam and Eve, Abraham, out of Ur, a land of idol worshipers. God promised that through Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3); that is, through Abraham's offspring, namely, Jesus, God would again come to his people, but this time in a way that no one could have foreseen (Gal. 3:16). God's Son would become a man! A miracle birth would occur, and this Promised One would eventually give his life as ransom for the blessing of many, fulfilling God's ancient promise to Abraham (Acts 3:25). Abraham was one of the greatest men in the Old Testament, but his story is not meant to focus us on him or his goodness or his life. Yes, we are to follow in his faith, but Abraham isn't the point of the story. Jesus, the one in whom Abraham believed, is.
Abraham trusted in Jesus! How could that happen? After all, Abraham lived and died thousands of years before Jesus was even born. Jesus knew that he was the ultimate fulfillment of his Father's ancient promise to Abraham. Thousands of years after the promise of blessing had been given to Abraham, Jesus shocked his listeners by declaring that Abraham had seen "his day" and had been gladdened by it. Jesus tells us that Abraham knew him because this man, Jesus, had existed before him. His hearers incredulously asked, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:57–58).
In using the phrase "I am," Jesus was declaring that not only had he existed before his actual physical birth in Bethlehem, but also that he was Yahweh himself. That his hearers understood exactly what he meant is shown by their response to his words: "So they picked up stones to throw at him" (John 8:59). They were infuriated because Jesus was proclaiming that God had been furnished with a body and a soul and that they were looking at God in the flesh! His audacity was too much to bear. His blasphemy had to be silenced.
TWO MIRACLE BIRTHS, TWO BLOODY MOUNTAINS
After many years and numerous trials, the Lord finally granted aged Abraham and his elderly wife, Sarah, a beloved son, Isaac. This miracle son, born to a father who was "as good as dead," and a mother who was "past the age" (Heb. 11:11–12), would ultimately be offered up as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. The wood for the sacrifice was laid on Isaac's back while he and his father made the journey up the mountain with knife and fire (see Genesis 22).
Like Isaac before him, Jesus too would carry the wood for his sacrifice as he walked up Calvary, probably the same mountain that Abraham had walked up before him. And there, like Isaac, Jesus willingly lay down on the wood to die. But although Abraham was willing to offer the son he loved as a sacrifice, there could only be one promised Son offered up by the loving Father, so it is here that the similarities between Mount Moriah and Calvary ended.
Isaac would never know the thrust of his father's knife, but our Lord experienced far more than that — his wrists, ankles and side were pierced for our transgressions (Isa. 53:5). Isaac would never gape in wonder at his father's desertion, but the Son would cry out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46). At the very moment when the Father should have freed Jesus from his captivity, as Abraham had freed Isaac, the Father poured out all his fiery wrath upon him. Jesus was the ram who was "caught in a thicket" (Gen. 22:13) and slaughtered on a mount so that we could go free. He was caught in the thicket of our sin, but this was no accident. He willingly walked into it and became "sin" (2 Cor. 5:21) and a "curse" (Gal. 3:13) for us so that we might be eternally his. The perfect incarnate Son is the only offering who can atone for sin — for Abraham's, Isaac's, and ours. No matter how hard we work, we cannot atone for our sin or make it up to God. Jesus alone is the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. Now Abraham's experience becomes ours, and we, like him, meet Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides on the "mount of the Lord" (Gen. 22:14). In Christ, Jehovah-Jireh has provided all we need: a savior, a redeemer, a friend and a husband. We are no longer alone, trying to offer sacrifices that prove our love and fidelity. We are his. We have been found.
JESUS: THE PROPHET GREATER THAN MOSES
God prospered Abraham and his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. Jacob grew to become a great family, known by Jacob's new name, Israel. During a time of famine the family went down to Egypt under Jacob's son Joseph's care, and there the family multiplied into a great nation. Soon they were forced into slavery by a ruler who did not "know" Joseph (Ex. 1:8), but God delivered his people out of Egypt through great plagues and wonders by the hand of a deliverer, Moses. Even Moses knew that he wasn't the point of the story, though God used him greatly. He knew that there would be a greater true Deliverer who would come after him and of whom he foretold:
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers. ... And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deut. 18:15, 18)(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Found in Him"
Copyright © 2013 Elyse M. Fitzpatrick.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 Incarnation
1 From Beginning to End It's All about Him 27
2 Come Adore on Bended Knee 43
3 Our Perfected Savior 59
4 God's Love for Sinners 77
5 O Sacred Head, Now Wounded 95
6 Jesus Shall Reign 113
Part 2 Union With Christ
Introduction to Part 2 135
7 "I in Them" 137
8 He Gave Himself Up for Us 155
9 Chosen, Betrothed, Beloved, and Named 173
10 You Are Forgiven, You Are Righteous, You Are Loved 189
Appendix 1 The Creeds 207
Appendix 2 The Best News Ever 213
Appendix 3 John 17 219
Appendix 4 A Golden Chain William Perkins 221
General Index 229
Scripture Index 231
What People are Saying About This
“Busy Christians in an iPhone age can look at Christ as though he were the battery charger and we are the smartphone. We ‘plug into’ Jesus during a quiet time, then go out and live on that energy until our spiritual batteries run drythen it’s back to the next quiet time, conference, or retreat. But this is not a metaphor the Bible invites us to use when it speaks of our union in Christ. He is the vine; we are the branches. In her newest and perhaps most important work, my friend Elyse Fitzpatrick describes this beautiful union we have with our Savior and the joys of drawing from the Vine. I highly recommend this exceptional book!”
Joni Eareckson Tada, Founder and CEO, Joni and Friends; author, Joni and A Place of Healing
“Found in Him reveals the God-designed remedy for our impoverished heartsthe work of Christ for, in, and through us. While many heavy-laden, conscience-stricken believers struggle to bear up under the weight of their spiritual ‘to-do’ lists, Elyse awakens our hearts and minds to what Jesus has already done and calls us to find rest in him.”
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author, Adorned; Teacher and Host, Revive Our Hearts
“Fasten your seatbelt and get ready for a theological thrill ride. I’m not talking about spiritual entertainmentyou best look elsewhere for that. But if you are looking to understand one of the most profound and moving mysteries of the Christian lifeas Elyse puts it, ‘the soul-consoling, heart-transforming, zeal-engendering’ of Christ’s incarnation and union with uswell, you’ve found the book you absolutely need to read.”
Mark Galli, Editor in Chief, Christianity Today
“If Elyse Fitzpatrick is right, the Bible (finally) is not about us at all! It is about the God who has acted to save those who don’t and can’t ‘become better,’ and that Christianity is not (finally) about ‘morals’ at all. The Bible’s story is a story about God’s love for immorals like you and me. It is about Christ, who he is and what he did for us––once and for all and at a particular time and place in normal history.”
Rod Rosenbladt, Professor of Theology, Concordia University
“When the great theologian John Murray famously wrote, ‘Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation,’ I wonder how I could have missed the point for so many years. Yet, as I simply consider the focus of Christ and the apostles on being ‘in him,’ I have grown to recognize the wisdom of Murray’s words and now, with Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book, I also cherish the dearness of them. She writes of the deep truths of our union with God, freshly unfolding biblical passages that describe his incarnation, and she writes with sensitivity of the significance of the continuing intimacy we have with the Creator who walked among us. Here is the infinite made intimate to strengthen our hearts.”
Bryan Chapell, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois
“Over the years, I have been challenged by Elyse’s profound and practical approach to biblical issues that concern women. Last year when I heard her share a snippet of her writing on the incarnation, I was hungry for moreand I wasn’t disappointed! Pondering the incarnation, in my moments of loneliness and brokenness, has been the strong medicine I need to soothe and heal my heart, and I trust it will be yours as well.”
Cathe Laurie, Director of Women’s Ministry, Harvest Christian Fellowship
“Found in Him is a timely paean to the timeless good news of Christ’s incarnation and our union with him. As with everything Elyse writes, it brims with humility and imagination, and the focus on grace is sharp and undeviating. She never flinches from honesty about who we are, which only makes the ‘comfort and joy’ of what Jesus has done on our behalf that much greater. Would that more of us had her courage (and good humor)!”
David Zahl, editor, The Mockingbird Blog
“This book is a celebration of the person and work of Jesus. Elyse wisely and winsomely shows us the deep wonders of what it means to be found in Jesus. Her theological maturity enables her to write with profound simplicity. This is a book to be savored. Read it slowly, and stop often to worship the one who found you and made you his own. Then read it again.”
Susan Hunt,Former Director of Women's Ministries, PCA; coauthor, Women's Ministry in the Local Church
“This new book by Elyse warms my heart. She beautifully elaborates on Christ and who he is and what he has accomplished for us. In the later half of Found in Him, she shows us how to apply and live out this Good News. Expect your life to change.”
Charles Morris, speaker; President, HAVEN Today
“It’s hard for me to capture how thankful I am for this book. As Elyse is so skilled at doing, she has taken the doctrine of our union with Christ, which sits and collects dust on the shelves of most Christians’ theology and has little impact on their living, and displayed for us the beauty of its transformative power. When you don’t understand the essential provisions that have been made for you in your union with Christ, you sadly spend your life shopping for what is already yours in him. I will recommend and give away this book again and again and will celebrate with new enthusiasm that I have been found in him!”
Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, New Morning Mercies and Suffering
“Resist the temptation to think that a book on the incarnation of Christ and our union with him couldn’t help but be dull, dry, and doctrinally abstract. Elyse Fitzpatrick couldn’t be dull if she tried! This is a rich, incisive, thoroughly scriptural, and heart-warming journey into the gospel of who Jesus is and what he has done to unite us to himself. Elyse’s portrait of Jesus and our life in him will do more than challenge and inform; it will awaken awe at the depths of God’s grace and stir adoration for the one who loved you and gave himself for you. Read and rejoice! I did.”
Sam Storms,Senior Pastor, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
“One of my favorite experiences was eating at a chocolate buffet at the Cailler chocolate factory, in Broc, Switzerland. Reading Elyse’s new book, Found in Him, reminded me of that day. Our sister has spread the table with the richest of gospel fare and has invited us to behold, feast, and savor every good thing we have in Christ. This is the finest meditation I have ever read on the radical implications of the incarnation of Christ and our ‘this-changes-everything’ union with him. Highly accessible, theologically sound, and eminently encouraging, Elyse has once again clearly demonstrated that there’s nothing more than the gospel, there’s just more of the gospel.”
Scotty Ward Smith, Pastor Emeritus, Christ Community Church, Franklin, Tennessee; Teacher in Residence, West End Community Church, Nashville, Tennessee
“In her treatment of the incarnation of Christ and our union with him, Elyse Fitzpatrick has given us an insightful and compelling presentation of these insufficiently celebrated truths. And she sets them forth not just as truths but as realities that profoundly touch our daily livestruths which are, in fact, meant to touch our lives deeply and powerfully. To paraphrase Elyse, ‘O how impoverished our souls will be if we neglect these sweet doctrines.’ I have often told students to read books that make you want to read your Bible more. Here is such a book. I turned often to my Bible, with great joy, while reading Found in Him.”
Mike Bullmore, Senior Pastor, CrossWay Community Church, Bristol, Wisconsin
“As Elyse says in this book, there is truly a feast to be found in understanding and meditating on the truth of our union with Christ. This doctrine has transformed how I understand myself and empowered me in healthy relationships with others. Elyse’s Found in Him is a beautiful exploration of these truths, and I am excited that this resource is now available.”
Wendy Horger Alsup, mother; author, Practical Theology for Women and The Gospel-Centered Woman
“Elyse Fitzpatrick’s writings are always saturated with gospel grace, understanding, and wisdom, and Found in Him is no different. With clarity and warmth Elyse meditates on how God answers our isolation and enters into our suffering through the incarnation of Jesus. In Christ we are not alone, and we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. I am thankful for Elyse’s ministry and for this book.”
Justin S. Holcomb, Episcopal Priest; Professor, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; coauthor, Rid of My Disgrace and God Made All of Me; editor, Christian Theologies of Scripture
“Found In Him offers a deep but nevertheless eminently practical look at the doctrine of union with Christ. Whether in his union with humanity by virtue of the incarnation or through indwelling the believer by the Holy Spirit, all Christians should know Christ, the one to whom they are united. This book is an able guide to understanding these glorious truths.”
J. V. Fesko, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Westminster Seminary California
“Many of us, if we are honest, have an image of God as the one who is far above us and far away from us. Few of us know our Trinitarian God as so close to us that he is in us and we are in him. My friend Elyse Fitzpatrick takes the doctrine of the incarnation and teaches us that we are not aloneGod is with us! Elyse then takes the doctrine of our union with Christ and shows us the soul-altering significance of our connection and communion with God in Christ. Found in Him is not just theology come alive, it is theology for lifefor your life and mine.”
Robert W. Kelleman,Vice President of Strategic Development and Academic Dean, Faith Bible Seminary; author, God’s Healing for Life’s Losses and Grief: Walking with Jesus
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Study this book at my church! Wonderful book!