Writers know the power of words and punctuation. A misplaced comma can change the meaning. Even little words need to be exact. Today’s Bible passage has a little word that could be translated at least two ways from the original Greek to English. The biggest surprise is that either way is correct.
“But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles . . . .” (Galatians 1:15–16)
Some versions say “. . . was pleased to reveal his Son in me . . . .” rather than to me. As I consider the immediate context, I can see the value and truth in both versions.
The phrase “to me” describes how God opened Paul’s eyes so he could see Jesus. The Christ had been revealed to him, and because of that, Paul was motivated to proclaim Him and His saving work to the world. Seeing Jesus changed his life and his direction.
However, “in me” is also true. When people become Christians, the Spirit of Jesus Christ brings the very presence of the Lord into their hearts. When they abide in Christ in loving obedience, others can see Jesus in them. God uses this amazing phenomena to reveal Jesus Christ to others.
What are the steps? First, the sense of need must be there. It comes to us through conviction of sin and/or helplessness. Before I became a Christian, I recognized that I am a sinner and unable to save myself. I still recognize my sinfulness and am even more aware of my helplessness. In that attitude, I am eager to give my life to Christ, to have Him do in me what I cannot do myself.
Next, God reveals to sinners the wonder of Jesus Christ, the Savior. Seeing Him indeed changes everything. He forgives sin, grants repentance and faith, and comes into our lives. He lives in me!
This remarkable event happens just once, and He promises to never leave me or forsake me. However, the saving part has just begun. An illustration of a guest coming into our home is often used. It describes that the guest enters the house but is not given access to some of its rooms. I am to give full access to Jesus, allowing Him to not only enter all, but to be in charge of all. Sin permeates every part; so must the Savior. When that happens, people began to see Jesus in me.
Regeneration is a biblical term for this wonderful new life. At first, the new Christian is called a babe in Christ because we have been spiritually reborn. As Jesus brings maturity to my faith, increasing both it and the desire to live in obedience, people see less of the old me and more of the new creation, the treasure, the life of Christ in this clay pot.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:6–7)
As Jesus is manifested in the lives of His people, He is glorified and others are confronted and will respond. Some will fall in love with this wonderful God-man Redeemer, and others will hate Him and try to silence those who bear Him and His message.
How is this practical? Obviously, I’m to get out of His way and let the light of Christ shine through me.