In Christ, in the Lord, in the Son, in the Kingdom, in the Body, in the Church, etc. are all the same thing when speaking of relationship and they all refer to the same people. Contrary to the thinking and teaching of some, one cannot be in Christ and refrain from church membership, we cannot be in the Lord and not be a part of the body, and it is impossible to be in the Son and not be a citizen of the Kingdom. To enjoy being or sustaining a relationship in one is to enjoy the relationship of each of these because they are expressive of a people who have left the world, the government of Satan, the standard of men, the power of darkness, our personal will and sin.
THINGS THAT ARE OR ARE NOT IN CHRIST
- Those in Christ are not condemned. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1). This passage like those surrounding it is filled with contrasts. Condemned means “to pronounce sentence against a lawbreaker.” The Apostle speaks of three laws in this context. There is the law of sin and death. This actually is a duel pronouncement. The one has to do with our physical nature (the body), reverting back to the transgression of Adam. Because of that transgression (sin) physical death has been pronounce on the race. More importantly there is spiritual death which is the sentence for our own sin. Then he brings up the Law of Moses. Even though this was God’s given law it could not and cannot eradicate the effect of the law of sin and death. However, that is the very thing the law of the Spirit of life does. The little word “no” means that the condemnation is taken away from those who are “in Christ.”
- All spiritual blessings are in Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly place in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3). The heavenly places referred to are the places appointed by Heaven in this world where God’s servants dwell. It has reference to the Kingdom of Heaven—the Church of Christ. These blessings give us a taste of and prepare us for Heaven itself. It is the spiritual realm as compared to the world. We are citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom (Phil. 3:20). These are ours through the work and mediation of Christ Jesus our Lord, meaning that these blessings did not come through the Law of Moses, nor were they discovered within the Gentile mysteries. The spiritual world is “in Christ.” ALL spiritual blessings being “in Christ” means there are none outside of Christ. However, although these are available to us does not mean that we always utilize them. Material and physical blessings come to all human beings alike. Things such as lands, houses, etc. are obtained by the people of the world as well as Christians. The sunshine and the rain bless all without any distinction between the servants of the Devil as well as God’s own. I wonder sometimes if we are not more mindful and thankful for these things than we are of the spiritual blessings we receive through Christ. It seems our prayers are consumed with these things.
- We are made new creatures in Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” (II Cor. 5:17). Literally “a new creation.” This of course is used in a moral and spiritual sense, as the physical does not change, This cannot help but remind the believer of the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus in John three. A “new creature” is one who has been “born again,” when he affirmed “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:3). So shocked was Nicodemus that he could not receive the saying, therefore declared, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?” (V. 4). Nicodemus knew of but one birth—fleshly birth. That was not the birth Jesus was talking about at all. He distinguished between a fleshly and a spiritual birth. “That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of spirit is spirit.” (V. 6). I am not sure that any of us would have understood that any better than Nicodemus had we lived before the full revelation of the Gospel, but having it at our disposal we know that Jesus was making a comparison between the physical connection that Nicodemus and all Israelites had with God through the circumcision of the flesh beginning with Abraham and perpetuated by the law coming by Moses. It had to do with the fleshy people with God’s physical mark upon them—circumcision. The “spiritual birth would have to do with the heart without regard to any physical considerations. “For one is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and that circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom. 2:28-29). The writer later writes in the same epistle, “ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine (the Gospel,) which was delivered you.” At this point they were no longer servants of sin but became the servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18). In other words they were changed—a change so great that it was likened (in a figure,) to a new birth—a new creation. But in his conversation with Nicodemus Jesus broadened His perspective to include all men. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cannot tell whether it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.” (Jn. 3:7-8). One does not know on whom the Gospel will have effect. It is the open heart that is blessed by it.
- In Christ we have a new outlook on life. “…in Christ…old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). This passage is usually applied to the point of conversion, that is, when one obeys the gospel his sins are remitted and he begins life anew, an application that can be made without any damage to the text. However, when we read the verses that come before it is apparent that Paul had in mind the attitude we have and manifest toward the care and anxieties of this life and world. Being in Christ completely makes a change in our thinking we begin to see and appreciate where the true values are. The things we once worked for and cherished are no longer the goal of our life. It is the eternal verses the temporal. Every day of the Christian’s life is a reevaluation; it is putting the soul of our fellows above the possessions that could otherwise be obtained. We know the earth and earthy things will be destroyed, therefore have no lasting value. Remember how Jesus put it in perspective? “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mt. 16:26). Furthermore the Lord declared, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Mt. 10:28). Could more emphasis be placed upon the important thing in life? The people in Christ have made an evaluation and have seen what is truly important as “old things are passed away and all things are new.”
- In Christ we are partakers with Him. I cannot think of anything more wonderful or blessed than to be joined with Christ making us a partaker with Him. “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” (Heb. 3:14). This of course was addressed to the children of Abraham whose seed is Christ the reference here being to the blessing of attachment to Christ. Many of these brethren were being enticed to lay aside the Gospel, reject the Savior and take up once more the ordinances of Moses. What they failed to realize was that all the promises of God pointed to Christ and to inherit these it was necessary to be joined to Christ because it is with Him that we are partakers of these. Therefore the fulfillment and blessings of the promises of God are conditional—depending upon one’s attachment to Christ (See Vs 6). Unbeknown to the fleshly people or seed of Abraham were these promises to be given, but the Gentiles were included as well as through gospel obedience they were united to Christ, whereupon we all are to be eternally saved. “According as his divine power hath given to us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”
(a) Occasionally we need to be reminded that we are also partakers of the suffering of Christ. “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (I Pet. 4:13). We appreciate and are usually thankful for the blessings that are ours “in Christ” but suffering is another matter entirely. The passage before us is written especially to the Jews. They had regarded themselves as the special people of God and upon their obedience to the Gospel they naturally would have thought of the many good things that were theirs. However, an unwanted and unsought after consideration was the suffering that attended them. Their own brethren in the flesh turned upon them and spoke of humiliating things in their regard. Well, as it happens the Jews are not the only people that suffer “in Christ.” Suffering comes upon Christians not only from the those who deny His Sonship but also from those who think they honor Christ. Christians are mocked for their manner of worship, for their way of dressing, for their refusal to stoop to the ways of the world and participation in the affairs of government. The only way we can endure is by remembering that we are walking in the Footprints of Jesus when we suffer as He suffered. “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified,” (I Pet. 4:14).
- We have hope in Christ. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (I Cor. 15:19). The subject of the chapter from which this passage is taken is the bodily resurrection of the dead. The problem of the Corinthians apparently was not a denial of resurrection of Christ but the resurrection of men generally. Paul is showing that we live in hope of the resurrection of our body. There are certain things that would be true if there is no resurrection of the dead, one of which is hope beyond this world. Without the resurrection hope would vanish because any hope we might possess depends on the resurrection of our body. However, if there is no resurrection then the sorrows, pains, problems and disappointment we endure because we are Christians are all for naught. The same writer shows that even those who have died and we who many very well die before Jesus comes are under the canopy of hope. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this I say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (ASV proceed,) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven and with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thes. 4:13-18). These facts give hope and comfort to every person that there shall be a resurrection from the dead.
THE QUESTION FOR US IS: HOW DOES ONE GET IN CHRIST
The first thing men must do is believe in Christ and His claims, else there would be no desire to have any part of Him (Heb. 11:6). The curse of our age is unbelief. The reason people fail to believe Jesus’ claims is the failure to consider the evidence. God’s word furnishes to substantiate His every claim, as “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17). Those who believe the testimony of God’s gift of His Son to save have a desire created within the heart to change their life. “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” (Rom. 2:4). Scripture speaks of this by commanding repentance, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30). Naturally and scripturally the man filled with faith wishes to acknowledge or confess Christ. When a man heard the good news of salvation though Christ he desired to obey the Gospel. He was told “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:37). Then to enter Christ one is baptized. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal. 3:27-28). It would be difficult to find a clearer statement than that—baptized into Christ—put on Christ. Thus it is affirmed that baptism is the point that one enters Christ—puts on Christ. Baptism is also the point of beginning a new life. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:3-4).