posted on Dec, 7 2018 @ 05:01 PM
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, the new has come”- 2 Corinthians ch5 v17
The message of the New Testament centres upon what God achieved in Christ, through his death on the Cross and his Resurrection..
All this was happening “on account of our sins”, for the sake of doing something about them.
And the promised result is the forgiveness of sin.
Our contribution to the outcome is our faith; that is, our willingness to rest, in trust, upon what Christ has done.
The effect is to establish, through Christ, a new relationship with God.
Paul tells us on different occasions that Christ is in us, and that we are in Christ.
But what does this mean?
New Testament salvation follows on from the fact that the believer belongs to Christ.
In the gospels, he calls his followers his “brethren”, or “these little ones who believe in me”.
In John’s gospel, they are the sheep of his flock.
The relationship is emphasised in the teaching of Paul;
“You are called to belong to Jesus Christ” (Romans ch1 v6).
“You are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians ch3 v23).
We have been “called into the fellowship of Christ” (1 Corinthians ch1 v9).
But when Paul talks of “fellowship”, he means something much closer than the word normally implies.
He tells his people that they were baptised “into Christ”, and I suggest that the word “into” should be taken seriously.
That is, the act of baptism is recognising their inclusion in the experience of Christ.
“For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians ch3 v27). They are “wearing” Christ like a garment. But that
“for” is explaining the previous statement, that “In Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith”.
So the concept of being “in Christ”, and therefore sharing in his sonship, follows on from the concept of entering “into” Christ.
I don’t think we should water down these claims by treating them as metaphors about joining the church as a corporate society. I would regard them
as expressions of an objective spiritual reality.
The relationship begins with faith. As we’ve seen elsewhere, this theme of trusting in Jesus, or trusting in his name, runs through the whole of the
But the real bond of the relationship is the presence of the Holy Spirit, which comes in response to faith.
This is also described as the Spirit of Christ.
By the evidence of the same Spirit, we know that we are sons of God in union with Christ.
“When we cry Abba! Father!, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God… heirs of God and fellow-heirs
with Christ” (Romans ch8 vv15-17).
“By this we know that we abide in him and he is us, because he has given us of his own Spirit” (1 John 4v13)
“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba! Father!” (Galatians ch4 v6).
And that is why “no-one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians ch12 v3).
This relationship has important consequences.
It is because we are “in Christ” that we receive forgiveness of sins, as the “new creation” promised at the top of the page.
This throws light on the best way to read other New Testament statements that we have received benefits “in Christ”.
Part of the meaning is that we have received them through the agency of Christ, but we should also understand that we are “in Christ” when we
As when Paul tells us that we receive righteousness throughChrist.
“We have peace with God through Christ Jesus our Lord… through whom we have now received our reconciliation… so that grace might reign through
righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans ch5).
That is to say, we have received it “through faith in Christ” (Philippians ch3 v9).
That is why there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans ch8 v1).
Another example of this ambiguity is when Paul tells the Corinthians that they are “sanctified in Christ Jesus”, that the grace of God and the
riches of speech and knowledge were given them in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians ch1 vv1-5).
I find in commentaries the explanation that Christ is the carrier of God’s grace.
However, I believe this is one of the occasions when Paul means also “You are in Christ”.
In other words, grace and sanctification are given to Christ, in the first instance, and we receive them by participating in the experience of
Similar language can be found in other epistles.
“In him we have redemption through his blood… in him, we have been predestined and appointed to live… in him we were sealed with the
promised Holy Spirit” –Ephesians ch1 vv7-14
“You have come to fullness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority” (Colossians ch3 v10).
Again, it is because we are “in Christ”, bound together by his Holy Spirit, that we are also in union with one another.
It is because “Christ is in us”, and we are guided by the indwelling of his Holy Spirit, that we are able to live out a new life while we remain
These things will be considered in more detail on other occasions.
This, then, is how we benefit from what Christ has done; by coming to Christ and belonging to Christ in faith, through the Holy Spirit.
Our new relationship with Christ brings us into a new relationship with his Father, in which we have been made “a new creation”.