The phrase “in Christ” is among the most frequently used expressions by the Apostle Paul. It is used at least 13 times in the book of Ephesians alone (and 5 times in just the first chapter!). The frequency of its appearance shows how central the idea is to the theology of the New Testament.
To be “in Christ” means having a vital union with Christ. It is a relationship whereby all that Christ accomplishes in his redemption is given to the one who is united. Thus, being “in Christ” means that one is the beneficiary of Christ’s atoning work because of his being so intimately related to Christ.
Let me illustrate it this way: My daughter recently was given a trophy because her team won her league’s tournament. What’s interesting is that my daughter wasn’t even there for the championship game. The final game was played on a Sunday and we do not allow her to participate in Sunday matches in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Nevertheless, she was given a trophy and is considered just as much a victor as those who were sweating it out at the game.
Why can she have this joy when she wasn’t even there? It is because she has a true and living relationship with her team members. She has been on the squad for a number of years and, despite her occasional absence, continues to be a part of the lineup.
This is how it is with everyone who puts their trust in Christ and recognizes his Lordship. The Spirit of God unites them to Christ in a living relationship and they become victors over sin and death because of what Christ accomplished in his life, death, and resurrection.
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