I am writing today to believers. I am writing to those who are feeling small and insignificant. I am writing today to those who feel like no one cares. I am writing today to that precious believer that feels that everything has somehow went wrong. I am writing to that one that feels all alone, overlooked, defeated, discouraged and perhaps distraught.
You are amazingly important to the One who matters most…..God!
The truths which I am about to share with you are profoundly stabilizing truths. Your identity and your value are not to be found in yourself, and your accomplishments; Nor in anyone else’s valuation of you. Our position in Christ gives us a sure and stable foundation upon which to build our lives, transforming our existence into one with significance and meaning!
The specific phrase “in Christ” is found 78 times in the Bible (All listed below). When related terms are considered, the idea is found over 200 times in the New Testament, especially in the Pauline writings. It is a rich study looking at everything that we, as believers, have and everything that we are “in Christ.” I would encourage you to study each passage. Here are some ideas from some Commentators
Theological Aspects of Paul’s Usage
R. David Rightmire states, "Paul more often than any other New Testament author combines the preposition 'in' (en) with some designation for Christ. The phrase and its cognates occur some two hundred times in Pauline literature. The apostle uses the term in more than one sense, and scholars have attempted to interpret the concept in a variety of ways (e.g., mystical, existential, sacramental, local, eschatological, and ecclesiastical). In places, the words 'in Christ' can be understood as just another way of designating a Christian (Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:2; 1 Thess. 4:16). The idea of instrumentality or causality is an alternate usage of the phrase (Rom. 14:14; 2 Cor. 3:14; Gal. 2:17; Phil. 4:13). It is clear, however, that the words 'in Christ' also have soteriological meaning for Paul (Rom. 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 1:20). Being “in Christ” is presented as the only basis for justification and glorification (Col. 1:27). This is not a mysticism of absorption, the losing of human identity in the divine, but rather an intimate communion with God through Christ.
R. David Rightmire, “Union with Christ,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, electronic ed., Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 789.
Mark Seifrid makes the following observations - "Although there is considerable overlap of the various types, the occurrences of the expression may be divided into five broad thematic categories:
(1) More than one-third of the 151 references affirm something that God has done or does through Christ for salvation (e.g., 'the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,' Rom 3:24). As we have noted, in Colossians and Ephesians this is expanded to include creation and its consummation.
(2) Approximately another third have to do with exhortation or commendation of behavior or character (e.g., 'Rejoice in the Lord always,' Phil 4:4; 'Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,' Rom 16:3).
(3) About twenty occurrences of the expression describe the present state of believers in view of Christ’s saving work (e.g., 'we, who are many, are one in Christ,' Rom 12:5).
(4) A final dozen or so describe specific persons or particular situations in relation to salvation. Among these are six statements that simply affirm that certain ones are 'in Christ' (Rom 16:7, 22; 1 Cor 1:30; Gal 1:22; 1 Thess 3:8; 2 Cor 12:2).
(5) Two references in Colossians have to do strictly with the nature of Christ (Col 1:19; 2:9).
The expansion of the phrases in the vocabulary of Paul’s letters and churches is very likely the product of two basic concerns:
(1) In varying ways Paul found it necessary to assert the exclusivity or distinctiveness of God’s saving action through Christ. To describe God as having acted 'in Christ' or redemption as being 'in Christ' succinctly conveyed this thought ('the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,' Rom 6:23).
(2) It was also important to Paul to define how believers were to live under Christ’s saving lordship. In statements which call for, describe or commend obedience, 'in Christ/the Lord' communicates simultaneously the gift of salvation and the accompanying divine demand (e.g., 'stand firm in the Lord,' Phil 4:1). The phrases therefore became a vehicle for Paul to describe the life of faith under Christ’s lordship in a world where other powers and temptations were present. To act “in Christ” is to act in faith and obedience in the face of false alternatives: 'In Christ Jesus neither circumcision or uncircumcision has any force, but rather faith working through love' (Gal 5:6)."
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
Mark A. Seifrid, “In Christ,” ed. Gerald F. Hawthorne, Ralph P. Martin, and Daniel G. Reid, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 436.
If you are not “in Christ,” then write to me (on the blog there is a way to communicate with me), or come and visit me at new Haven Baptist - 247 Dot Johnson Drive, here in Summerville. Let me know of your interest on learning more about how to get “in Christ.” I will be happy to share more with you.
What does it mean to be in Christ? Study with me and rejoice if you are truly in this valued place and condition.