Explaining the Gospel 
 by E.H.  “Jack” Sequeira 

5 – The In Christ Motif

While God sent Christ into the world to be the gospel, it was Paul whom God commissioned to explain it.

Romans 1:1:
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God....

That is why the Pauline epistles comprises almost half of the New Testament.  In reading Paul, you will find that there is a key phrase that runs throughout his epistles.  If you were to take this phrase out, there would be very little left of Paul’s exposition of the gospel.  This recurring phrase, which is the central theme of Paul’s theology, is the expression “in Christ” or “in Christ Jesus.”  This phrase is sometimes expressed by other similar phrases, such as:  “in Him,” or “by Him” or “through Him,” or “in the Beloved,” or “together with Him,” etc.  These are all synonymous terms implying the “in Christ” motif or idea.

The truth behind this phrase was first introduced by Christ Himself, when He told His disciples to “remain [or abide] in me.”

John 15:4:
Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

This was something they could not do had God not included them in Christ’s humanity at the incarnation.

1 Corinthians 1:30:
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

These “in Christ” phrases are the undergirding words of the gospel.  And if we don’t understand what Paul means by “in Christ,” we will never be able to fully understand the message of the everlasting gospel.

There is nothing we have as Christians except we have it “in Christ.”  As already mentioned, everything we enjoy and hope for, as believers the peace that comes to us through justification by faith, the holy living we experience through the process of sanctification, and the blessed hope we will experience at glorification is ours, always, “in Christ.”  Outside of Him we have nothing but sin, condemnation, and death.

The expression “in Christ,” however, is a rather difficult phrase to understand.  Just as, “you must be born again” was mind boggling to Nicodemus; so likewise, the concept of “in Christ” is a very difficult idea for us to understand.  How can I, as an individual, be in someone else?  Even harder to understand is, how can I, born in the twentieth century, be in Christ who lived almost 2,000 years ago?  This makes absolutely no sense to our way of thinking.

But what does Scripture mean when it tells us that we were together with Christ in His birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection, and now, are sitting with Him in heavenly places?

Ephesians 2:4-6:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....

Because we cannot fathom these facts we tend to ignore or skim over them.  Yet the whole understanding of the everlasting gospel hinges on our understanding the significance of these two vital words:  “in Christ.”

The “in Christ” motif or concept is based on the biblical idea of solidarity or corporate oneness.  Therefore, if we are to come to grips with this phrase, we must first understand what the Bible has to say about solidarity.  Texts that help us understand Biblical solidarity are below.

Romans 9:12b:
She was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

The twins, Esau and Jacob, represent two nations, not individuals.

Genesis 25:23:
The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

Hebrews 7:7-10:
And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.  In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.  One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

Levi paid tithe to Melchizedek in Abraham, since he was “in the body” of his great grandfather Abraham when he paid tithe to Melchizedek.

Scripture presents three fundamental truths concerning the human race.  All these three facts are based on Biblical solidarity.  The first is that God created all men in one man, Adam.

Genesis 2:7:
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

We read that God breathed into Adam’s nostrils “the breath of life.”  In the original Hebrew text, the word “life” is in the plural form — “lives” — and not singular, as our English Bible renders it.  That is why God named that first man Adam.  In Hebrew, “Adam” means “mankind.”  Of the 510 times the word “Adam” is found in Scripture, in the majority of cases, it refers to mankind rather than the individual Adam.

Secondly, Scripture clearly teaches that Satan ruined all men in one man, Adam.

Romans 5:12:
Therefore, just as sin entered the world [human race] through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned....

And in verse 18 Paul concludes:

Romans 5:18:
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

It is for this reason Paul can point to Adam as the source of our death problem:

1 Corinthians 15:22:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

But the third fundamental truth of Scripture, which constitutes the fantastic good news of the gospel, is that God redeemed all men in one man, Jesus Christ.  In order for Christ to legally or lawfully save fallen man, He had to first qualify to be our Saviour or substitute.  God did this by uniting the divine life of His Son to the corporate life of the human race that needed redeeming.

1 Corinthians 1:30:
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

This is what made Christ to be the second or last Adam.

1 Corinthians 15:45-48:
So it is written:  “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.

That is why, we must never look at Christ as just one man among many men, but as the One in whom all humanity was gathered up.

Once the divinity of Christ and the human race He came to redeem were united in one person, Jesus was then able to re-write our history, by His life, death, and resurrection.  In doing this, He changed mankind’s status from condemnation to justification to life.

Romans 5:18:
Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

This is how the apostle Paul describes this incredible good news:

Ephesians 2:5-6:
[God] made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus....

This is the truth on which the doctrine of righteousness by faith is founded:

Ephesians 1:3:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

When we put these two facts together — the unconditional agape love of God and the truth as it is “in Christ” — we have the everlasting gospel that comprises the three angels message of Revelation 14.

Revelation 14:6-12:
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people.  He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.  Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

A second angel followed and said, “‘Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice:  “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath.  They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever.  There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.

And when this message is preached into all the world for a witness, accompanied by the power of the fourth angel of Revelation 18, this earth will be lightened with the glory of God and there will be no excuse for anyone to be lost.

Revelation 18:1-3:
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven.  He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor.  With a mighty voice he shouted:  “‘Fallen!  Fallen is Babylon the Great!’ She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.  For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries.  The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

Then the end can come.

Revelation 22:17:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!”  Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Amen.


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