Faith column: In Christ
Over 130 times in his writings the Apostle Paul uses the two simple words “In Christ” or “In Him” or “In the Lord”. These two words, consisting of a simple preposition and the word Christ give us tremendous insight into how God produces salvation and holiness. Someone said the key to the power of the gospel is in the prepositions. Prepositions are words that paint a picture of relationship such as “in”, “with”, “through”. Watch how different prepositions change the meaning of a simple statement. Compare: He walked ‘in’ the house to he walked ‘with’ the house.” The relationship changes the meaning. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says; “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation.” The amplified translation says; “if any man is ingrafted in Christ.” Other translations say “in union with Christ.” This paints a picture of how God produces salvation and transformation in man.
Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” The branch can only produce fruit if it is connected to the vine. In the vine. In Christ. John 15:7 may be the most powerful prayer scripture in the bible. Jesus said; “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will and it will be done for you.” The word ‘abide’ means to remain fixed in a place. We must remain in connection with Christ. Not only that, but His words must remain fixed in us. When both of these conditions are met, our prayer life explodes into fruitfulness.
A.J. Gordon says of these two words ‘in Christ’: “Like the famous Rosetta stone, itself a partial hieroglyph, and thereby furnishing the long-sought clue to the Egyptian hieroglyphics, these words, by their very mystery, unlock all mysteries of the divine life, letting us into secrets that were “hidden from ages and from generations.” Through these two words, we get a profound insight into the divine method of salvation.” God does not work upon the soul of man from a place of isolation and distance, the kind of discipline that gradually renders him fit to be reunited to Himself. Rather, He begins by reuniting the man to Himself, that through this union He may communicate to him the divine life and energy, without which all discipline is futile. The method of grace is precisely the reverse of the method of legalism. Legalism is holiness in order to union with God; Grace is union with God in order to holiness.”
In God’s wisdom, love, and grace, He accepts us in Christ before we get everything in order. Not only are we accepted in our current condition, but He unites us to Christ in that condition, which releases into us the life and nature of God that cleanses and purifies our hearts . Every other religion operates in legalism, saying; ‘Get your life right and one day you may be close to God’. Christianity starts with God connecting us to Himself. This union causes His life to flow into us like the vine and branches. Through contact with Him we are saved and then begin to change.
How do you see yourself? Do you think of yourself as trying to get close to Him but never quite able? If so, your approach to God is through legalism. Salvation however, is a free gift. When you believe in Jesus, God ingrafts you into Christ.
Jason Haskell is pastor of New Creation Church in Craig, Colorado and a missionary to the nations. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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