The Bible mentions being “in Christ,” so what does this mean, and how can we be sure to be found in Christ?
Outside of Christ
It is very clear. Those outside of Christ are outside of the will of God and have the wrath of God abiding on them as it currently stands. They are in a hopeless state. They cannot save themselves any more than Lazarus could have raised himself from the dead. He needed some help, but for all who refuse to come to Christ, they will remain outside of Christ, and that’s bad…very bad. When I hear people critique the Bible, I can say that they’re reading someone else’s mail, because it’s written “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph 1:1). It is to the faithful and those in Jesus Christ that the Book of Ephesians is written too. We are not of the world so we can’t expect the world to love us. On the contrary, they will hate us, but it’s really Jesus Who they hate and not us. It’s the message they hate more than the messenger…but make no mistake…they hate the messenger too. We must come to recognize that just like I was, “you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:1-2), and just as I was, “you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12), however, if you have trusted in Christ, “then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph 2:20). If you haven’t trusted in Christ, then you are still outside of Christ, therefore you still have the wrath of God abiding on you (John 3:36b).
Inside of Christ
The Apostle Paul writes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3), and what are some of these blessings? Paul says it was “In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph 2:4c-5). God’s purpose was that “we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:12). Our hope is not in this world or even in us, but we place our hope in Christ, and by trusting Christ we are then in Christ. We believed in His name (John 1:13-14), we believe in His purpose (John 3:16; Mark 10:45), and we believe in His sinless-ness. We are now in Christ because we have placed all our trust in Christ. God then places us into the very righteousness of Christ so that God no longer sees our sins but He sees the righteousness of His Son (2 Cor 5:21). We were chosen in Him by the Father. We were sanctified by His Word and by His Son, and even though we were once in the world (Eph 2:1-2), we are now found to be in Christ. It is only “in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21b). To be in Christ is to recognize that “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18-29).
Impossible without God
Did you realize that Jesus Christ died outside of the Old Jerusalem? He died outside of Jerusalem so we could live forever in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-4). That’s the only way that mankind could ever be reconciled back to God. Our first parents were kicked out of the Garden and banned for life. Their going back to Eden was impossible…and it would have been impossible for us too except for the sinless Son of God Who gave His life as a ransom for us (Mark 10:45). Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26), and that’s true about the physical world, but it’s also true about salvation. If someone believes they can be a good enough of a person in this life and trust in that without trusting in Christ, they will be in for a huge disappointment when they stand before God…and we all will; either at Christ’s appearance, or after death (Heb 9:27). That makes today a great day to get this settled (2 Cor 6:2). You cannot please God outside of trusting in Christ. All your works will be rejected as nothing more than filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). You and I must have the very same righteousness as Jesus has or we can’t enter the kingdom. There is absolutely no other way to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 6:44). When the guest tried to crash the wedding party, symbolic of the marriage feast of the Lamb of God and His bride, the church, he was tossed into the outer darkness (Matt 22:13). That’s because he was wearing his own clothes…or trusting in his own righteousness, but that is not acceptable to God. It must be the wedding garment; the white robs of the righteous of the saints, given by Christ Who purchased her with His own blood.
To be found in Christ means you’ve been reconciled back to God, and at death or at Christ’s return, you can enter into the eternal kingdom which descends down from heaven (Rev 21:1-4). Not only will you be in Christ…you will be in the kingdom…the glorious, eternal, and joyous kingdom, and best of all, be before the King of the kingdom. That day will see the end of all sorrow, all suffering, all pain, and even death itself because all the old things have passed away forever (Rev 21:4). Jesus has made all things new (Rev 21:5)!
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.