Summary: What does it mean to us, individually and as a church body, to be "in Christ?"
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,
6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,
10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Last week as we went through verses 1 and two there was something incredibly important that we didn’t take a look at and that is this phrase, “In Christ Jesus”.
This is a phrase that is used over 90 times in the New Testament! And, it is important! Let me give you a few examples.
Often when we think of “in Christ” we think of faith in Christ which is an action born out of the grace of God calling us to Himself and enabling us to respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit such as is seen in
Galatians 3:26 where it says,
“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus …”
But this act of faith in Christ Jesus actually moves us spiritually into Christ Jesus! We become a part of His body here on earth! And, this is much more than just some kind of metaphorical mumbo jumbo; it is a radical transformation!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”
But what does this mean to be “in Christ”?
Those of us who have had and used film cameras know what a negative is. In the negative of a black and white photo all of the black areas of the photo appear white and all of the white areas of the photo appear black.
For instance, this is a black and white photo of our handsome grandson, Levi.
And, this is a black and white negative of the same picture.
The reason I’m explaining this is because the following illustration is could be perceived in a negative way and yet I hope it reveals the truth of what it means to be “in Christ”.
Who is this (PPT image of the Frankenstein monster)
How was the Frankenstein monster made?
In the 1931 film, Frankenstein, a young medical student took parts from dead bodies, assembled them into a body and strapped the body to a gurney which was raised to a hole in the ceiling of the lab during a thunderstorm. The lightening was channeled through some sort of equipment which “jump started” the body and it came to life.
In this story the monster is now up and moving around. The arms and legs, hands and feet, torso and head which all had previously belonged to other people are now unified into one body.
All of these parts, with the exception of the head, used to belong to other people and naturally they responded to the desires of the head to which they belonged at that time.
When the arms were attached to the original body the desires of that person originated in their brain which sent electrical signals down the spinal column which branched off into the arm and caused the appropriate muscles to contract giving the desired movement. But now, that arm is attached to a new body with a new head and it therefore reacts according to the desires emanating from the new head. Why? Because the arm is now “in” the new body! And, that is true of the other body parts; both arms and legs, both hands and feet and the torso are now “in” the new body.
From birth we were spiritually dead body parts. We are not able to function at all in a manner pleasing to God. Instead we responded to spiritual “nerve” impulses from our physical desires, the enticements of the world and the evil one himself.