In our text, the apostle Paul is reminding the Corinthian believers of what they and he share in God’s grace of salvation. God confirms all believers in Christ. He legally confirms our union with Christ against any and all claims against us. So then, we share a secure position in Christ Jesus. Paul is doing this in part to “convince the Corinthians how groundless are the charges of fickleness and instability which certain ill-disposed persons have been making against him” (Hughes). Paul is making this point: We share in God’s grace in Christ; therefore, we ought to stand together and demonstrate love and trust in each other.
As we stated previously, Paul is using this opportunity, not merely to defend himself against false charges, but also to teach his dear friends what they and he share in Christ. It is “us with you”. The basis of the Christian way of life is what we are in Christ. And we must realize that we share in Christ together. When God saved you, he put you into the body of Christ with others who are in Jesus. We are joined to the Lord and to one another. And we must never think of ourselves in any other way. In addition we learned that we share in God’s present work of confirming us.
With this section of our study we will now begin to look at what God did at the time of our salvation. The apostle uses three aorist participles (anointed, sealed, and gave) to explain more about God’s saving grace. We start with just one of these. God anointed us. This idea of being anointed by God might be a new concept to many of you, because I do not think that the doctrinal traditions that most people in this room come from have done much with this scriptural idea. So then, let’s go exploring together!
I. Some foundational principles
A. We are talking about something that is positional rather than something that is emotional or psychological.
1. Every believer was anointed by God at the moment of salvation. You did not feel anything; you did not have to seek this as a second blessing. God did it by his grace.
2. There are many such aspects of God’s saving grace that happen to us when he saves us or keeps us save that we may not feel or be aware of apart from the Word, like being placed in God’s family as adult sons. That is why God gives us his Word—that we might know every spiritual blessing that we have in Christ.
B. This is something that is true of every believer in Jesus Christ.
1. Notice again the “us with you” idea. We share in the spiritual experience of having been anointed by God.
2. Therefore, no one has to seek this as “a second blessing” or “a second work of grace”. All three verbs (anointed, sealed and gave) point back to what God did when he saved us. When you repented and believed the gospel, you probably were thinking that God forgave your sins and gave you eternal life. Perhaps someone even explained to you that God justified you. But the Lord did much more for you at that moment. We do not have to know everything when we become disciples (learners) of Jesus. But after becoming a disciple, we are to be baptized and taught.
Apply: By the way, have you been baptized? Are you being taught in a small group setting? You need to be in some kind of small group setting, so that you can think through and apply with others how God’s grace in Christ leads you on life’s journey. God did not save you to be a “lone ranger” kind of Christian. You need others; they need you!
C. We share in this anointing by our union with Jesus Christ.
1. Jesus was anointed by God without measure (Jn 3:34).
2. When we are in him, we partake of his fullness (cf. Col 2:10; Jn 1:16; 7:38). The fullness of every blessing and promise is in the Lord Christ. Since we are in true union with him, we participate in what is found in him. The Holy Spirit then makes Christ known to us (Jn 16:14) through the word and his direct, almighty power.
D. God anoints us in order that we might serve the living God.
1. An anointed person in Old Testament times was set apart to God and commissioned for service for God. Before they were anointed, David was a shepherd and Elisha was a farmer. But both were anointed to serve God. David became king; Elisha became a prophet.
2. Now think of Jesus, the Anointed One. The Father anointed the Son for the mission that he wanted Jesus to do (Lk 4:16-21). After Jesus fulfilled all that the Father gave him to do, Christ opened their minds of his sent ones to understand the Scriptures and promised the Holy Spirit to help in the mission of being Christ’s witnesses (Lk 24:45-49). Now we have received the promised Holy Spirit (Ac 2:33-39). And so we are on Christ’s mission to bring salvation to the ends of the earth (Ac 13:47).
Point: All followers of Christ must view themselves as “missional Christians”. We are saved to serve the true and living God (1 Th 1:10). From the day God saves us, we become partners for the good news (Ph 1:5).
II. The Christian is anointed to serve God, bearing the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He is preeminently the Prophet, the Great High Priest, and the King of kings. But in Christ, we also are anointed as prophets, priests, and kings. He is the sun; we together are the moon, reflecting his light.
A. Every follower of Christ is a prophet.
1. We have received the anointing of the Spirit (1 Jn 2:20, 27), by which we are enabled to know the truth.
a. We know what is true honor—to be children of God (1 Jn 3:1).
b. We know what is true riches—God’s grace (Eph 2:7).
c. We know what is true nobility—to be born of God (1 Jn 2:29).
d. We know what is true pleasure—righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rm 14:17).
e. We know the difference between what is real and lasting against what is deceptive and fading away (1 Jn 2:15-17).
2. We have been enabled to speak for God (Rm 15:14; 1 Pt 3:15).
B. Every follower of Christ is a priest (Rev 1:6; etc.)
1. We can offer up prayer for others (Eph 6:18).
2. We can praise God (Heb 13:15).
3. We can share with others (Heb 13:16).
4. We can proclaim the good news (Rm 15:16).
C. Every follower of Christ is a king (Rev 5:10; 20:6; 22:5).
1. We wait for this in its full realization. This is an area that we must understand the difference between “the now” and “the not yet” (cf. 1 Cor 4:8). David was anointed as king, but he had to wait for years to reign. Elisha was anointed as prophet, but for a time he was simply Elijah’s servant.
2. However, even now we begin to assert the kingship of Jesus Christ by conquering sin (Rm 8:37; 1 Jn 5:4). For example, self-control is part of the Spirit’s fruit.
1. Let us think of what God has made us in Jesus Christ. When we are tempted to sin and to grovel in the filth of the world, we should think like Nehemiah did. “Should a man like me do this?” (Neh 6:11)
2. This gives us another reason to praise the Lord. We should often be stirred to exalt God for the high position that he has graciously given us in Jesus Christ. “What love! what love! hath the Father shewed, ‘that we should be called the sons of God,’ 1 Jn 3:1, that we should be made kings and priests to God the Father” (Sibbes).