Bible Study Opportunities
The Meaning of Being “In Christ”
By Jon W. Quinn
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ...” (Ephesians 1:3). The Scriptures plainly show that every spiritual blessing available to us from God our Father is found “in Christ.” But what does it mean to be “in Christ”? We are so in need of all these spiritual blessings (blessings such as forgiveness, intercession, mercy, fellowship, salvation, hope, peace, victory).
First of all, being “in Christ” does not refer to being at a specific physical place, like “in the house” or “in the yard.” Rather, the phrase refers to being in a certain position or relationship with respect to the Savior. It would be more similar to the phrase “in the family” which describes relationship, not physical location.
Hopefully this helps us to understand the importance of being “in Christ” a little more clearly. We are talking about fellowship, or sharing, in the good things of God which He says are found “in” His Son.
How Does One Get “Into Christ”?
A first, most reasonable question for those interested in eternal salvation, as well as in the other spiritual blessings of God, would be, “How does one get into the relationship described as being 'in Christ'”?
No Scripture says that we “believe” into Christ or that we “repent” into Christ, though both of these things are prerequisites. There is a specific moment which the Scriptures teach that a believing, repentant individual is “in Christ.” We do not have to guess about it. We know the precise point.
The Lord God, in His word, places that moment at baptism! Though many would reject this, saying a believer is in Christ before he or she is baptized, we must instead take the Lord's word for it. He has told us, through the inspired word given from heaven to Paul, that “...do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3,4) and “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27). So we learn that every spiritual blessing is found “in Christ” and that we are baptized “into Christ.” This means we must be baptized to gain access to the spiritual blessings in Christ!
Earlier, we had mentioned some of the spiritual blessings we find “in Christ.” Paul, in fact, lists some of them in the following verses of his statement in Ephesians 1:3. He says we are “chosen” or “elect” in Christ (v. 4). He also says we are made “holy” and “blameless” in Him (v. 4). We become “sons” of God through Christ (v. 5). We are told that we have “redemption” and “forgiveness” in Christ through His blood (v. 7). We have obtained an “inheritance” in Him (v. 10,11) as well as our “hope” (vs. 12). Finally, the passage says we are sealed in Him with the “Holy Spirit” (v. 13).
If we desire to receive these spiritual blessings from God, then we must be “in Christ.” The Bible says we are “baptized into Christ.” So, apart from being baptized into Christ, we cannot have any of these blessings!
One Body in Christ
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:4,5). There is one body in Christ. There are not two or three or dozens or hundreds. This one body is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22,23; 5:23).
When we speak of the church, we must understand what it is. It is not a denomination, or even a group of them. We know this because the church existed in the New Testament, but denominations did not. When we say, “Jesus has one church” we do not mean “Jesus has one denomination” or that “Jesus only approves of one denomination and disapproves of all others.” When we talk of the one body, we are not talking about denominations at all.
The word “church” comes from a Greek word (ecclesia) which means “called out.” It refers to the group, or gathering of people who have been called out of the world by the gospel of Christ. They are gathered together, not in a physical place, but into a relationship that is described as being “in Christ.”
New Creature In Christ
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17). A really wonderful benefit of being 'in Christ” is that we are remade as individuals. We are still the same persons, but several changes have taken place, and will continue to do so. We noted earlier that we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3,4). This passage also says that we rise up from baptism with Christ to 'walk in newness of life.”
We could speak at length as to what this new life entails. We could speak of new purpose (Philippians 3:14) or our new attitude (Philippians 2:5). We could add new speech, new heart, new thoughts, new hope and many, many more.
No Condemnation in Christ
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). That which condemns us is our own sins. In Christ, there is power to take sins away through His gospel (Romans 1:16; 3:23; 6:23).
Our hope in eternity is not our own perfection. It is God's mercy, which is a part of His spiritual blessings. Again, recall that “every spiritual blessings in heavenly places” is to be found “in Christ.” What this means is that “in Christ” we can look forward to one day standing before God uncondemned. Grace has made it possible.
Victory in Christ
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Faithful Christians are on the right track. There might be difficulties along the way, but victory is certain “in Christ” (Romans 8:35-39). In Christ we are partakers of the promise of God (Ephesians 3:6). Even death falls defeated before the Christian, as “asleep in Jesus” we await the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13,14).
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois May 6, 2001