The Truth As It Is In Christ
by E. H. “Jack” Sequeira
One of the great challenges that faces the
Christian Church today is how can God justify the ungodly [Romans 4:5]
and still maintain His integrity to His holy law which condemns sinners
[Galatians 3:10]? Because no law will allow an innocent person to die
for the crime of a guilty one many sincere people, especially Islamic
scholars, accuse Christianity of being an unethical religion. Their
main argument is that the doctrine of substitution, as taught by
Christianity, is based on a faulty Roman law which allowed an innocent
man, Christ, to die in place of the guilty human race. Hence they
accuse the Christians religion of “legal fiction.”
It is true that even the law of God clearly
prohibits an innocent man dying for the guilty — “the soul that sins,
it must die” [Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:1-20 emphasis supplied].
What than is the Biblical solution to the problem of “legal fiction.” The
answer is the in Christ motif or idea, the central theme of the
apostle Paul’s theology.
There is a key phrase that runs through Paul’s
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 is the
expression in Christ or in Christ Jesus. This phrase is
sometimes expressed by other similar phrases, such as, in Him, by
Him, through Him, in the Beloved, together with Him, etc. These are
all synonymous terms implying the in Christ motif.
The truth behind this phrase was first
introduced by Christ Himself, when He told His disciples to “abide in
me.” These are the under girding words of the gospel. And if we don’t
understand what the New Testament means by this expression in Christ,
we will never be able to fully understand the incredible good news of the
There is nothing we have as Christians except we
have it in Christ. Everything we enjoy and hope for, as believers,
i.e., the peace through justification by faith, the Holy Spirit
power to live holy lives through the experience of sanctification,
and the blessed hope of 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. This is especially true of
the western mind. How can I, as an individual, be in someone else? Worse
still, how could I, born in the twentieth century, have been in Christ
who lived almost 2000 years ago? This makes absolutely no sense to our
western way of thinking. As a result we miss the full blessing that God
has prepared for us in Christ.
What does Scripture mean when it tells us that we
were together with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and now,
are sitting with Him in heavenly places [Ephesians 2:5,6]? Because we cannot
fathom these facts we tend to ignore or skim over them. Yet the whole
understanding of the gospel hinges on our understanding the significance
of these two vital words in Christ.
The in Christ motif or idea 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. Two New Testament texts help us
understand Biblical solidarity. The first is Romans 9:12, a quotation
taken from Genesis 25:23 — the twins, Esau and Jacob, represent two nations,
not individuals. The second is Hebrews 7:7-l — Levi paid tithe to Melchizedek
in Abraham, since he was “in the loins” of his great grandfather
Abraham when he paid tithe to Melchizedek.
Because the Bible teaches that the human race is
the multiplication of Adam’s life the fundamental truth of Scripture is:
In order to save fallen humanity, God had to
first qualify Christ to be our substitute so that He could live and die
in our place. God did this by uniting Christ’s divinity to our corporate
humanity, that needed redeeming, in the incarnation. This is the in
Christ motif [see 1 Corinthians 1:30]. Through this union Christ
became the second or last Adam (the word adam in Hebrew has a
collective significance and means mankind).
- God created all men in one man — i.e., in Adam [Acts 17:26].
- Satan ruined all men in one man — i.e., in Adam [Romans 5:12, 18a].
- God redeemed all men in one man — i.e., in Christ [Titus 2:11;
1 John 2:2].
As our substitute and representative Christ had
to meet the full demands of the law in order to save fallen humanity. By
His perfect obedience Christ met the positive demands of the law, and by
His death He met the justice of the law. Thus, in this doing and dying He
legally justified all men and became humanity’s Savior [Romans 5:18;
Ephesians 2:5, 6]. Just as in Adam all die, likewise Scripture
declares that in Christ all shall live [1 Corinthians 15:21, 22].
Because God created man with a free will,
Christ’s identity with us has to be reciprocal to make the legal
justification He obtained for all men effective individually. This is
what justification by faith is all about. Faith is the channel
or instrument by which the believer accepts his or her united with
Christ and Him crucified (Galatians 2:19, 20). This two-sided union —
You in Christ and Christ in you — is what constitutes
true Christianity and man’s only hope of salvation: standing legally
just before God’s holy law [Romans 10:4].