Summary: What does it mean to be IN CHRIST?
At the beginning of the study I invited you to pay attention to all the times you hear the phrase "In Christ"
Today we'll look at that concept.
Let's back up
Verse 1: to . . . the faithful in Christ
Verse 3: God . . . has blessed us in heavenly places in Christ
Verse4: . . . chosen in Him . . .before Him in love (In Christ & in love are kinda the same thing)
Verse 6: He has made us accepted in the beloved.
And that brings us to the reading for this morning:
7 in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 in whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
From this, two things:
1. We are in Christ.
Where did Paul get this idea? He may have gotten it partly from the Greek philosophers. When he addressed the Athenians he quoted from Aratus, "In him we live and move and have our being". We'll return to this idea below.
Maybe the idea came partly from his conversion experience. Paul's conversion was apparently really important in the early church. Luke recounts the story of Paul meeting Jesus on the way to Damascus three times in the book of Acts. In Paul's day, book technology was not the same as it is today. They wrote on scrolls of pasted-together papyrus. Papyrus scrolls had a limited length. If they were too long they would split and tear. Matthew, Luke, John and Acts are each about the maximum length a scroll could be. Space was a premium. The fact that Luke included the story three times is significant. Paul was on his way with official sanction from the Jewish authorities to arrest Christians in Damascus. Jesus appeared to him and said "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" (Saul later took the more Greek name, Paul). Paul answered, "Who are you, Lord?" Jesus said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting".
Paul wasn't persecuting Jesus. He was persecuting the church. He may have concluded from Jesus' words that the Church was in Christ.
What does this mean?
This morning I'm making coffee. I plan to have oats and banana, milk and eggs for breakfast. But later in the day if we see each other, you won't see milk or oats or banana or coffee; you'll see me (assuming I haven't spilled my food on my clothing). My breakfast will be in me.
When God looks at us, He sees us as in Christ. Our sins, our past, our faults, our foolishness, our drives, our temptations, our mistakes are all hidden in Christ.
One other thing about being in Christ.
Little things remind you of someone you love. If they like mutton, you can't eat mutton biryani without thinking of him or her. If you did something special and it rained, rain reminds you. If you went somewhere special in a vehicle, you won't be able to ride in that kind of vehicle without being reminded. Maybe God wants us to have that kind of experience with Jesus. When the breeze is cool and comforting, we think of Him. When we admire the beauty of the trees and the warmth of the sun, we're reminded of Him. When we are stunned by great works of art, we are reminded. When we see the beauty of a smile, or the kindness of an act, we see Jesus. Maybe God wants us to be so in love with Jesus that we see Him everywhere.
2. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
People like to argue about whether the Spirit of God is given at salvation, or later. It seems in this passage that Paul is saying we're sealed after we believe. But I'm not interested in splitting that theological hair. The Holy Spirit of God is given to us as a kind of promise. It's like if you wanted to buy a car, and wanted to make sure the dealership wouldn't sell it to someone else, you put a down payment to demonstrate that your serious about the purchase. Then you go and gather your resources and come later to finish buying the car and drive it home. God has not yet fully redeemed us. He has given His spirit as the promise that He is serious about wanting us forever. He promises to take us home.