27 November, 2014 Rupert Standring
In the New Testament, being ‘in Christ’ is the most common way of describing what a Christian is. Yet it is the least common way of describing Christians today.
In the last post, we looked at the ‘what’ and ‘when’ of being in Christ. What does it actually mean, and when does a person become in Christ? Now we will turn to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ – and we will examine the implications of being united to Christ in His death.
How does all this come about?
How does a person go from being outside of Christ to being in Him and intimately united to Him?
The answer is by the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-20 says:
‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor to be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me any more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.’
The Holy Spirit, whom we receive when we put our trust in Jesus, is the means by which we are united to Jesus. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit to us as Christians that means Christ is in us and we are in Him.
Why do we need to be in Christ? Why can’t we relate to God some other way, without the need for this close intimate tie?
The answer is very simple:
‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 6:23)
‘He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.’ (2 Timothy 1:9)
Everything that God gives us – eternal life, His grace, every spiritual blessing – is only available in Christ. These things only come to us and can be received by us if we are in Christ, and have been united to Him by faith.
Do you remember those really long and boring adverts they used to have on television about 30 years ago, selling food processors or Perry Como’s Christmas compilation albums?! The clinching sales pitch that would make you buy it was ‘This offer is not available in the shops!’
In the same way the offer of salvation, and all the blessings of salvation, are not available anywhere other than in Christ.
How does this help us to live as Christians?
Let’s look at three very practical benefits of being in Christ:
1. Have you ever wondered whether it is really possible to be connected to God?
God is so big; we are so small. God is so infinite; we are so finite. God is so holy and different to us. How could be possible for someone like Him to be meaningfully connected to creatures like us?
But the New Testament is clear: we are IN CHRIST and united to Him by faith. If Christ is indisputably connected to God, then being IN CHRIST automatically means being ‘in God’.
Small and feeble and sinful though we are, we really can be forever connected to God IN CHRIST.
2. Have you ever wondered whether God really has forgiven you? The Gospel says you’ve been forgiven. Christ died for you on the cross. But did that really work? Has your sin really been punished in Him?
Let’s look at these words of the Apostle Paul from Galatians 2:20:
‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’
Do you see how reassuring that is, if ever we wondered whether our sin really is covered by the cross?
Christ gave himself for me. But at the same time, if I have been united to him by faith then it follows that, when he died on the cross, I died on the cross. I have been crucified with Christ. Therefore God has truly, fairly and completely dealt with my sin.
3. Have you ever thought, ‘Will I really go to heaven when I die?’ I’m trusting in Christ. I’m loved and forgiven by God. But what if that’s not enough? What if, on the other side of death, I find I can’t get in?
‘Since you died with Christ… Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.’ Colossians 2:20a; Colossians 3:2,3
For Christians, right now your life is bound to Christ in such a way that, spiritually, you are now where He is. He is in heaven so, spiritually, so are you - right now!
Your life is now hidden with Christ in God. No need to worry about getting into heaven when you die. If you’re in Christ now, there’s a part of you that’s already there!