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SermonBeing United with Christ in Spirit
An all-creatures Bible Message

Being United with Christ in Spirit
 
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
 
24 January 2016
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References

Nehemiah 8:1-12
Luke 4:14-21
1 Corinthians 2:16
1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Being united with Christ in spirit is what happens to us when we are truly born again.
 
And, because we are spiritual beings as is Christ, our whole physical body becomes joined with our spirit, which is how we are being united with Christ in spirit and body.
 
This means that we should be able to think and act in the ways that Jesus taught us to live; which is why Paul gives us the assurance of this in 1 Corinthians 2:16.

16. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
NASB

Itís not that we should instruct the Lord, but that we have a mind that is attuned to the Lord in such a way that we can naturally live in the heavenly will of God, unless we deliberately decide not to.
 
Letís take a look at Nehemiah 8:1-12, and see how it applies to our being united with Christ in spirit.

1. And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.

We need to remember that this was a copy of the Law (the 5 books of Moses), which was most likely reconstructed or recompiled by Ezra and his fellow scribes while they were in exile in Babylon.

2. Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
 
3. And he read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.

Most of these people sure seem to want to really hear and understand the Law of Moses.

4. And Ezra the scribe stood at a wooden podium which they had made for the purpose. And beside him stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah on his right hand; and Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam on his left hand.
 
5. And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up.
 
6. Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.
 
7. Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, explained the law to the people while the people remained in their place.

This is how people can be led astray, for without being able to see the Scriptures in front of ourselves while seeing the interpretation and using the mind of Christ to determine if it is really in His heavenly will, we may not be able to recognize the truth.
 
Being united with Christ in spirit requires that we also use our own God-given minds to determine the things that are in the heavenly will of God from those things that are not, and those people who were gathered listening to Ezra and those explaining what Ezra was reading had no other frame of verifiable reference.
 
This is how the creation intent of God in relation to ďdominionĒ can be distorted from its original intent of being loving caregivers and stewards, to one of being dominant dictators who can do whatever they want to the animals that God lovingly created just as He did us.

8. And they read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.

This is the beginning of the Hebrew Bible that we have today, which was compiled around 400 BCE by Ezra and the scribes.

9. Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep." For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.

They were mourning and weeping because the words convicted them of their sinful ways, but not necessarily their uncompassionate ways, for it didnít stop the exploitation and scapegoating of animals, which is evident in what we are told next.

10. Then he said to them, "Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

The joy of the Lord may have been felt by the human beings who were gathered there, but that joy was not felt by the animals that were killed and eaten.

11. So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, "Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved."
 
12. And all the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and to celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.
NASB

While still focusing upon the Lord, the people were also enjoying themselves, but what about the animals?
 
Were they a part of the festival, or were they just a source of food for the festival?
 
In Luke 4:14-21, we are told that Jesus moved with the power of the Spirit, so as we look at these verses letís see if we have any hints about being united with Christ in spirit.

14. And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.

We believe that most of this news was about Jesus performing a miracle, and the people wanted to see Him perform a miracle before their eyes more than they wanted being united with Christ in spirit.

15. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.

For the people saw the presence of the Holy Spirit with Him, but we suspect that only a few knew who Jesus really was.

16. And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
 
17. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,
 
18. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are downtrodden,
 
19. To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." 
 
20. And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him.

They heard the word of God being spoken with the power of the Holy Spirit, unlike the way the priests read the Scriptures.

21. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
NASB

Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be their Messiah, or at least a prophet of God, one that had not been seen or heard in Israel for at least 400 years.
 
Jesus was different!
 
In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul wrote about each of us being united with Christ in spirit, as well as the body of the congregation being united together, and as a whole being united with Christ.

12. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

Each and every one of us has many parts to our body, and all the parts work together to make us a whole body.
 
Similarly, Paul is using the example of our own bodies as a comparison to how a church is to function.

13. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

If we really participated in our baptism from an inner conviction and faith, then this is one of the ways we are being united with Christ in spirit.

14. For the body is not one member, but many.

Here is where Paul begins to talk about the body of the church that doesnít function as being united with Christ in spirit and faith.
 
The problem is that some churches have pastors and followers that focus on only certain things like a health and wealth gospel or a healing ministry or prophecy or speaking in tongues; but the body of the church needs to be a lot more.

15. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
 
16. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.
 
17. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?

This is why the whole church should be filled with people who have all the gifts of the Spirit, for together we are being united with Christ in spirit so that we are more effective in living in the heavenly will of God, and helping to end the corruption of creation with all its pain, suffering, and human inflicted death.
 
We are to be the peacemaking children of God that Jesus Christ calls us to be.

18. But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.
 
19. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
 
20. But now there are many members, but one body.

This is the only way a church can be truly united with Christ; however, each member of the church must be committed and willing to be an active part of the whole, no matter how worthy or unworthy they may feel.

21. And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."
 
22. On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary;
 
23. and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness,
 
24. whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,
 
25. that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.

Jesus and Paul both tell us that love is the real binding force that lets us function in the heavenly will of God, and this love must be extended with compassion to every other living being whether human or animal.
 
When we do this, we are truly being united with Christ in spirit.

26. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
 
27. Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it.
 
28. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
 
29. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?
 
30. All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they?
 
31. But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
And I show you a still more excellent way.
NASB

The more excellent way is being the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God who work diligently to help end all the corrupt and evil ways of this world that cause so many of our fellow human beings and billions of animals to suffer and die every year.
 
Letís look at these things from a practical point of view: if a church or other group of dedicated people are united with Christ in spirit so that they are living in the heavenly will of God, then they can be effective in helping to end the corruption of the earth.
 
If we tell people about the heavenly and creation will of God (a form of prophecy), and that Godís creation intent was that we and the animals were to eat only plant foods, and people listen to us and act upon our message, then we begin a true healing ministry, for the animals are freed from pain, suffering, and death, and the humans are healed of the chronic diseases that plague people who eat animal products.
 
This is truly being united with Christ in spirit.
 
Amen.

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