We’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in the 17th Century. Recently we’ve been answering questions about God’s church. Last time we saw that Christians are united with Christ. But what does that mean?
Firstly, if you are ‘in Christ’, it means that you are in God’s eternal plan. Paul says: ‘For he [God] chose us in him [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight (Ephesians 1:4). God has known about us for a very long time. Before the creation of the world, God has viewed us as in Christ.
Secondly, if you are ‘in Christ’ then you have been united with Christ during his life on earth. When Christ suffered on earth, Christians suffered with him. Peter writes: ‘He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed’ (1 Peter 2:24). If you believe in Christ, then you were in Christ when he suffered on the cross. Paul also says ‘Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection’ (Romans 6:3-5). We were not only united with Christ in his death, but in his resurrection too. So we share in the eternal life that Christ enjoys.
Thirdly, if you are ‘in Christ’ and alive today, then you are living ‘in Christ’ now. Once you come into physical existence, you are no longer simply in Christ in the mind of God, you live in Christ here and now. Paul says: ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So if you are ‘in Christ’ in this world, that means that all that you do for the Lord is done in Christ. Paul says ‘I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:12-13). Paul understood that whatever circumstances he was in and whatever he was called to do, he was able to do it because he was in Christ and Christ was continually at work through him.
Thus Paul exhorts Christians to live in Christ: ‘So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness’ (Colossians 2:6-7).
So do you have union with Christ? Are you ‘in Christ’? Were you ‘in Christ’ before the creation of the world? Were you ‘in Christ’ when he was here on earth? Were you ‘in Christ’ when he suffered on the cross and then was raised to life? Are you ‘in Christ’ now?
If you fear that you are not ‘in Christ’, then turn from your sins and trust in his death for you. If you truly do that, then you are most assuredly ‘in Christ’.
Joel Radford