- [1 Cor 1:30] But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption
- [Rom 8:1] There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
- [2 Cor 5:17] Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
- [Gal 6:15] For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature [creation].
- [Acts 20:30] Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse [distorted] things, to draw away disciples after them.
A few months after I found the Lord, my wife also received Him has her Savior. We attended several evangelical churches during the next seven or eight years. These provided some help to us initially, but as we grew in the Lord, I became very disappointed with the carnality, spiritual deadness, and conformity to the world that I observed in the churches.
In that state of mind I was drawn into a sect that seemed to be much like the early believers in apostolic times. The leader shared my convictions about the backslidden condition of the churches and was very vocal about it. He was followed by a small group of people who came from mostly charismatic backgrounds. He had experienced a remarkable conversion from an Eastern religion and manifested to an unusual degree spiritual gifts such as knowledge, discernment, and healing. The charismatic aspect of his ministry was quite foreign to my family, but it was rather exciting and we felt that we had really been led into 'the truth'; however there were some doctrinal issues that were never completely resolved in my mind.
I believe that the many years I spent in that fellowship were God’s preparation for an appreciation of the riches of His grace. While there were many positive elements in the teaching to which we were exposed, there were some serious flaws. One was a complete absence of the concept of grace. ‘Grace’ was a forbidden word. No doubt many Christians turn the notion of grace into license to do whatever they please, but to reject it is a recipe for disaster. Doctrine was declared unnecessary. The New Testament was disparaged as “the Christians’ book”. It was alleged to have been ’tampered with’ and corrupted to the point of unreliability. This resulted in a tragic ignorance of New Testament teachings. The customs and practices of Judaism were introduced. These and other factors contributed to a legalistic and works-righteousness type of mentality. The fruit of all this was very, very sad, especially in the lives of the children. By the end of year 2000 I was pretty disillusioned.
In early 2001, after a Wednesday night worship meeting, I had what I can only account for as a revelation from the Lord. I was driving down the road, in a miserable state of self-condemnation due to some recent behavior, when a thought came to me with considerable force: that I was 'in Christ.' I remembered how Paul had used that expression a lot in his epistles, and that I once had a book by A J Gordon entitled 'In Christ’. I was determined to get a copy of that old out-of-print book. I borrowed one from a library and eagerly read it. I also began in earnest study of the teachings of grace in Paul’s epistles. After two decades of graceless teaching, it was as refreshing to my soul as the waters of Elim to the thirsty Israelites. I soon severed my fellowship with the sect, and gave myself wholly to the task of learning more and more about the riches that we have in the Lord Jesus.
One verse I clung to through the years of reproach and condemnation in the sect was 1 Cor 1:30: ‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption’. It told me that the Lord Jesus Christ was my righteousness. It was the one gleam of hope that kept me going. But could I believe it? It seemed almost too good to be true; not only righteousness, but wisdom and sanctification and redemption too. Well, praise God; it’s true. It is part of what it all means to be ‘In Christ’. Placed there and sealed by the Holy Spirit. In perpetual union with the Lord Jesus -- identified with Him.
My terrors all vanished before His sweet name,
My guilty fears banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain life-giving and free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
[Tsidkenu: Hebrew for ‘Our Righteousness’ -- see Jer 23:6 ]
I used to see Christians use the phrase ‘In Christ’ as a complimentary close to their letters. I even did it myself, but was never comfortable with it. It seemed merely a formula to me -- something more spiritual than ‘Sincerely’, or ‘Yours truly’. After the experience described above I can sincerely say that it is precious to me, and I delight in signing letters ‘In Christ’, or ‘In the Lord Jesus’. It is such a secure, blessed place to be. [Col 3:3] ‘Hidden with Christ in God’.
Abiding in my new-found position in Christ so consumed my thinking that I even selected ‘itB’ for my email ID, to reflect that blessed place of refuge: [Eph 1:6] ‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.’ It is only in the Lord Jesus that we can be accepted by God. But in Him we are assured a welcome into the very Holy of Holies. [Heb 4:16] ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’.
Once we discover the exalted place the believer has in Christ, it is important to abide there. The Lord Jesus Himself said, [John 15:4] ‘Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me’. He went on to say that abiding in Him is the only way anyone can live a fruitful life, and if we don’t, we are like a worthless branch that is cast into the fire and is burned up. So this is not an optional or complicated doctrine for some spiritually elite, but it is for all, and the consequences of ignoring it are tragic.
If being ‘in the Beloved’ is not that precious to you, ask the Lord today to make it real to you. But are you sure that you really are in Christ? The Scriptures say: [2 Cor 13:5] ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’. If you are not sure, trust Him right now to save you. He said [John 6:37] ‘... him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’. See how I came to Him.