Simply Put

December 20, 2016

One of the most profound and important theological principles of the Christian faith is built on a simple preposition: in.

The expression “in Christ” occurs 216 times in the letters of Paul and 26 times in the writings of John. “In” is the connective hinge of the doctrine referred to as “union with Christ.”

Union with Christ, is a phrase used to summarize several different relationships between believers and Christ, through which Christians receive every benefit of salvation. These relationships include the fact that we are in Christ, Christ is in us, we are like Christ and we are with Christ. These four aspects of the union affect our relationship both with Jesus and with other believers.

  1. We are in Christ—Paul says “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come” (2Co 5:17). This connection has implications not only for the future (the resurrection of our bodies) but also for the life we live now. Every action in our lives can be done “in Christ,” if it is done in the power of his kingdom and in a way that brings honor to him.

  2. Christ is in us—The reality that Christ dwells within believers has many profound consequences for how we treat other Christians, particularly those in need. This doctrine helps us to better understand what Jesus meant when he said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

  3. We are like Christ—Our union with Christ is the primary motivation for our imitation of him. Paul frequently admonishes us to act in a way that models the behavior of Jesus (e.g., Ro 15:7, Eph 5:25, Col 3:3).

  4. We are with Christ—Even though his body ascended to heaven, Jesus assures us that he is still with us (see Mt 28:20). Our Savior does not remain outside of us, simply leading the way to a better life, says Michael S. Horton. Rather, “we live in him and therefore in and for each other.”

God bless from

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