If you search through the New Testament, you’ll find that there are a lot of passages that talk about being “in Christ.” What I’ve noticed recently, though, is that there is a lot of confusion on what that really means.
What does it really mean to be “in Christ?” Why should a person want to be “in Christ?” How do we even come into Christ?
The first thing that we’ll look at is what it means to be “in Christ.” We see in John 15 that Jesus talks a lot about “abiding in Him” and “abiding in His love.” We know that Jesus is not a place that we can physically be in, obviously, so what does He mean? How can a person be inside another person?
The phrase used in scripture is used to describe a close relationship with someone or something. A person is “in” another person when they are in a spiritual union or fellowship with on another. We can see this illustrated in some examples in the text; The Father and Son are “in” one another (John 14:10-11), Christians are “in” the Father and Son and They are “in” us (John 14:20-23), and the Holy Spirit is “in” Christians (1 Corinthians 6:19).
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
1 Corinthians 6:19
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
Like we said before, to be “in Christ” means to be in a close, spiritual relationship with Him. But why is that something we should strive for? Why would we want to be unified in Christ and be so close to Him? Because when we are “in Christ,” we have full access to the blessings the He offers.
So what are those blessings? Wealth beyond measure? Strong physical health? Infinite earthly wisdom? Surely not! The blessings of Christ are far greater than these!
In Christ, and only in Christ, we find unending spiritual blessings:
- Reconciliation, redemption, and forgiveness of sin (but dead in our sins outside of Christ)
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
- Freedom from condemnation (but condemned by our sins outside of Christ)
8 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
- We become new creatures in Christ (but remain our old selves outside of Christ)
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
- We find the grace of God in Christ (but no grace outside of Christ)
2 Timothy 2:1
2 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
- Salvation in Christ (but no salvation outside of Christ)
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
- Eternal life in Christ (but eternal death outside of Christ)
1 John 5:11-12
11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
Sounds pretty nice, huh? But in order to receive these eternal spiritual blessings, we have to first be “in Christ,” right? That’s what we saw, that’s what the scripture says. But how to do we come “into Christ?” What do we have to do enter into that close, spiritual relationship? This can really be summarized in two steps
- To be “in Christ” you must COME into Christ
- After coming into Christ, you must ABIDE in Christ
So how do we come into Christ? In order to be in that type of relationship, there has to be a point in life where you come into that relationship. Compare it to a physical place; you don’t just end up inside a building somewhere, you first have to enter into it. Thankfully, we have been given a clear entrance point, a way to know that we have entered into Christ.
You cannot be “in Christ” until you come into Him, and the point at which you come into Him is at baptism.
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Baptism, of course, must be preceded by hearing the Gospel, believing in Jesus, repenting of your sins, and confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We take several steps toward Christ, but we do not come into Christ until we share in the death, burial, and resurrection through baptism, as prescribed by the scriptures.
Hearing the word alone does not put you in Christ. Faith only does not save, we know this from the book of James. Repenting of your sins as well as confessing Christ are two very big steps toward Him, but baptism is ultimately what puts us into Christ and makes us blood-covered.
After coming into Christ through baptism, we also see that we must continue in our faith and abide in Him. We must bear much fruit in Him (John 15:1-6), stand fast in Him (Philippians 4:1), we must walk in Him, be rooted and built up in Him (Colossians 1:6-7), we must be steadfast, immovable, and always abound in the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58), and we must endure to the end and die in Him (Revelation 14:13).
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
4 Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.
6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,
1 Corinthians 15:58
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
We know that we are abiding in Christ when we are keeping His commandments and walking as He walked (1 John 2:3-6). To have the blessings that are found in Christ, not only do we have to come into Him, but we have to abide in Him. We can only come into Him by obeying the conditions He has given us for forgiveness and abide in Him by continuing to live faithfully.
1 John 2:3-6
3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
If we truly come into Christ and abide in Him, then we will have all of the spiritual blessings that are found in Him, and then we can rejoice in Him! (Philippians 4:4) We have plenty of reason to rejoice if we know all of these blessings are ours!
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
However, as long as we remain outside of Him, or if we fall away from Him, then we have no reason for joy. None of the blessings found in His fellowship can be found outside of it.
So what is your relationship with Christ? Do your beliefs on salvation and being in Christ match with what the scripture teaches? I invite anyone to respond with open discussion, questions, or personal messages.