This past Saturday, Professor Elliot Greene from Redeemer Presbyterian Seminary taught on “Christ, the Kingdom and History.” One of the quotes that I have been thinking on since then is:
“God has placed us where His love is most potent, in His Son.”
Paul often uses the phrase ν Χριστ (in Christ) or ν Χριστ ησο (in Christ Jesus) to refer to this reality of union with Christ. Though the phrase is used dozens of times, consider just a few of the more widely known passages that express this essential truth.
- Romans 8:1–2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
- 1 Corinthians 1:30–31 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- Galatians 3:25–29 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptizedinto Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
- Ephesians 1:3–6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
- Ephesians 2:1–10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Righteousness, holiness, justification, and sanctification, God’s love, grace, and mercy, all pardon and hope and promise and boast wrapped up in Christ Jesus. In order to attain them, we must be in Him. Those who are in Him, that is who are united to Him through faith, and only those who are in Him, are beneficiaries of these attributes and aspects of redemption.
Union with Christ is the fountainhead from which flows the Christian’s every spiritual blessing—repentance and faith, pardon, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification. Chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, and in the divine mind united with Christ in his death and resurrection, the elect, in response to God’s effectual call, are through God’s gift of faith actually united to Christ. Their union with Christ is in no sense the effect of human causation. “The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband” (Larger Catechism, Question 66). By virtue of his actual union with Christ the Husband in his death and resurrection, the Christian, as Christ’s “bride,” is forgiven of his sin and liberated from the law—his previous “husband”—and made capable of doing that which he could never do before, namely, “bear holy fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4–5). To the degree that the Christian “reckons himself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11), that is to say, to the degree that the Christian takes seriously the reality of his Spirit–wrought union with Christ, to that degree he will find his definitive sanctification coming to actual expression in his experiential or progressive sanctification. The holiness of the Christian’s daily walk directly depends upon his union with the Savior.1
Are you in Christ? Are you taking seriously the singular privilege of union with Him and deriving joy and peace from knowing that you are loved by God in Christ Jesus the Lord?