SoteriologyYour Identity in Christ by Scott Bushey
Today, we will talk about our identity in Christ and what that means.
You have heard it said that we are in Christ; what does that mean to you?
Take a mental note and compare your definition with that to the passage I am about to read and see if it lines up.
The term ‘In Christ” is a deep term-it is confounding for many. Hopefully this short teaching will shed some light on what being “In Christ’ means and assist you to grow in grace.
Are you in Christ?
If you are a believer, you are “in Christ”. You are united to Christ! You have a relationship that exceeds the physical. It is outside of time. You have a relationship, based upon Gods decree of election.
You are forever joined to Him and the heavenlies. It is a legal contract, between the Father and the Son, better known as the Covenant of Redemption or in Latin ‘Pactum Salutis’. In this contract, God the Father has decreed to give God the Son, the elect. This agreement is made effectual at the cross of Christ and when you are regenerated. In Old Testament times, looking in faith towards the cross, in New Testament times, looking back to it. All believers are placed in the Covenant of Grace upon belief. To be accurate, the Covenant of redemption is between the Godhead, the Covenant of Grace is between the God the Father and God the Son and His bride, the elect. John Owen describes the Covenant of redemption is this fashion:
“The will of the Father appointing and designing the Son to be the head, husband, deliverer, and redeemer of his elect, his church, his people, whom he did foreknow, with the will of the Son voluntarily, freely undertaking that work and all that was required thereunto, is that compact (for in that form it is proposed in the Scripture) that we treat of.”
This contract is made effectual on the Son’s faithfulness to fulfill the contract.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Heb. 10:7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
Psalm 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
So, to be ‘in Christ’ is to say you are a believer, you have been regenerated and are eternally held by the power of Christ.
To be “In Christ” is somewhat of a mystery. It is a mystical union.
My marriage to Tina is Earthly. There really is no mystery there; although from time to time I seem to see a look in Tina’s eye that is perplexing-like she can’t figure me out-so I guess in that way, it is mysterious! The earthly marriage is the joining of the two fleshes into one-that’s interesting. I guess that is mysterious. This joining, the earthly one is not eternal. I will pass, My wife will pass. This is unavoidable. This union will cease one day. The union that believers have, being ‘In Christ’ is forever. It is written in blood. Isaiah says that we are engraved on the palms of the savior; Isaiah 49:16. Jesus tells us that nothing can remove us from His hands. (John 10:28) Did you ever try removing a scar from your body? Dermatologically speaking, it is a very difficult procedure-and painful. You are etched into the palms of your savior-He has the nails to prove it!
How does this union occur? How do you think it occurred for you?
God and the son make a contract outside of time, he elects men to Himself; He decrees the day you will come to faith. You come to faith by God gifting you that faith (Eph 2:8,9). He gives you the gift of repentance; you receive Him, You accept Him, you agree that you are lost and need to be saved. God regenerates and converts you. He changes your nature. You were a son of the devil, you are now a son of the most high. You were after the flesh, you are now after the spirit. You are now united to Christ, once and forever. Praise God for His mercies, as they are new to the believer every morning.
Those ‘In Christ’ have been given The HS!
Outside of the illumination by God’s Spirit, men are dead and blind. When regeneration occurs, the word is made alive to believers. Think John 3:3. Prior to this, men cannot perceive things relevant to the kingdom of God; yea, they may be able to do the math, but remember, spiritual things can only be perceived by the spiritual.
1Cor. 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
The Holy Spirit enables the believer to pursue righteousness according to Gods word. In the NT, the HS is called the Helper. He works in the believer to do and to will; There are many aberrant religions out there which require men to work for their salvation. Arminianism is heresy and those that hold to it’s tenets are perishing. If it takes a work to get close to God, to get into His presence, why did Christ have to die and what did it really accomplish if it is my works and Christ’s? It’s silliness when you think about it. It’s all about sacrifices. God demands perfection. A spotless lamb. Not someone with a propensity to sin. It is Christ alone and nothing else. Now, this is not to say that believers aren’t called to good works. We know we are. However, these works are outpourings of the work that Christ did first. They are fruits of love which bloom in the believer. They don’t save us-how could they?
George Whitfield writes:
Works? Works? A man get to heaven by works? I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand!
The bible says:
For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)
It is God that worketh. This is the true engine for bringing down all haughtiness — this the sword for putting an end to all pride, when we are taught that we are utterly nothing, and can do nothing, except through the grace of God alone. I mean supernatural grace, which comes forth from the spirit of regeneration. For, considered as men, we already are, and live and move in God. (Acts 17:28.) But Paul reasons here as to a kind of movement different from that universal one. Let us now observe how much he ascribes to God, and how much he leaves to us.
There are, in any action, two principal departments — the inclination, and the power to carry it into effect. Both of these he ascribes wholly to God; what more remains to us as a ground of glorying? Nor is there any reason to doubt that this division has the same force as if Paul had expressed the whole in a single word; for the inclination is the groundwork; the accomplishment of it is the summit of the building brought to a completion. He has also expressed much more than if he had said that God is the Author of the beginning and of the end.
If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit Apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5)
……and all of this, to His glory alone.
The Holy Spirit brings about the will of God. No one ‘in Christ’ is left to his own devices. All believers are ‘enveloped’ in the Holy Spirit upon regeneration. So, to be ‘in Christ’ is to have Christ in you!
There is no better a place to exemplify this fact than in Ephesians chapter 1:
Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 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 fulness 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.
Did you catch that? ‘Ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise’! The Tyndale Commentary says:
The Holy Spirit is the Christian’s seal. The experience of the Holy Spirit in their lives is the final proof to them, and indeed a demonstration to others, of the genuineness of what they have believed, and provides the inward assurance that they belong to God as children
To be ‘in Christ’ is to be in covenant, to be sealed, enveloped in the Holy Spirit and bearing fruits of that miracle. Much of this is worked out practically by having a desire to turn from sin, pursuing piety and holiness, joining oneself to a local church, acknowledging that men must have biblical over sight, submitting to your leaders even when it stings; prayer, sacrifice, servanthood. To be in Christ is to say that we are believers. A believer is someone who is forgiven. We are forgiven! The magnitude of this statement is immeasurable. Every sin of every believer, alive and passed on is forgiven. All sin has been nailed to the cross of Christ Jesus.
God has saved us from disaster for His purpose and His glory alone. Remember, as Titus tells us, not by any works of righteousness which we have done, but because of God’s mercy alone, we are and remain, in Christ. Do you deserve to be in Christ?
Does everyone know what an epistle is?
The Epistles are books of the New Testament written in the form of letters to churches or individuals. Some people call these love letters. Most of them address doctrine.
Most all the Epistles, all have a common opening statement by the writer; they mention their identity ‘In Christ’. He does not give his address or phone number, he doesn’t go into detail about his occupation prior to coming to faith; he explains about his identity ‘in Christ’.
Eph 1:1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus …
Eph ch 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. …
Phil 1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ
2 Tim Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ
1 Cor 4:15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. …
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. …
You can see the same trend by all the authors…in Christ!
Who are you in Christ?
Is it important for us to know who we are in Christ? A compass is useless without the needle! All of us have gifts, all of us have a job to do. My gift is not the same as yours. Our identity in Christ is akin to our fingerprint and DNA. God knows the numbers of hairs on my head. I don’t have the same amount of hair on my head that you do. It is my name written in the book of life-it is personal as is my relationship with the savior. Our relationship with Christ is intimate; not in a romantic fashion, mind you. It is more akin to a father to their child. I know everything about my daughter Zoe. The God head is intimately familiar with you. He would have to be. Could you imagine if He wasn’t?
The believer does not bear the load any longer. People outside of Christ are burdened. The scriptures tell us that they are weary and obviously so. Where does one go with their issues outside of Christ? This is not to imply that believers cannot have heavy loads, pain and suffering, much like the world; however, we have a redeemer who is able to understand our burdens; Christ experienced all of these things. He is God incarnate, God in flesh. We cast our burdens upon him for he cares for us.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Our load is heavy, but His is light. Are you casting your cares on Him that says to cast your cares on Him or are you holding stuff. Jesus tells the apostles, “Drop your nets and follow me”. The apostles are workman-the nets are part of their tools of their trade. Nets are expensive-they are hard to make. Dropping them means a loss of money and surely profit. They drop them, but drag them around with one foot tangled in it.
Have you dropped your nets? Completely?
To be in Christ is someone who has hope.
We have a secure future. Yea, we have the things of this life; the bills, work, car troubles, illness, family problems-but that stuff will cease one day; we no longer fear death; We, In Christ, no longer fear eternal torment. We In Christ no longer worry about that fearful day of the Lord as it approaches. It is not for us; It is for those who are outside of Christ, the enemies of the Lord; not His people. Not His saints. There is no condemnation for those who are found in Christ Jesus. No condemnation. So when the enemy points his crooked finger at you, tell him to get behind you and praise the Lord. For God is truth and the devil is a liar. Hold fast that fact. We are forgiven.
To be in Christ is someone who does not fear death.
We have assurance. Our future is no longer a cosmic mess relying on chance-we have security. Those in Christ have no dread of death. The apostle writes:
1 Cor 15:50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Do you feel less hopeless than prior to your relationship with Christ?
You may have some left over issues-God uses it for your good- Is it less? It should be les. Much of the anxiety should have passed. Life outside of Christ is full of anxiety.
Those in Christ are free of the judgment.
That day often spoken of in scripture-the one where men will cry out for rocks to even fall on them so they may hide from Christ’s fiery return is called the Day of the Lord. We have no fear of this day, of this judgment. It is not for us. We will however be judged on our good works and that which we have done in the name of the Lord, but not this most feared day. We have already been judged through Christ’s sacrifice. All of our sins were cast on Him, past, present and future. He paid that debt.
The bible says:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom’s 1)
Do you find yourself being overly critical of yourself? In light of what I said, why is that?
Those in Christ are saints.
All believers are considered saints. If we choose, we could address each other by that title. It’s a tad unorthodox from a social perspective, but surely not a biblical one. The term ‘saint’is not like the RCC and their view on sainthood. For you to be a saint in Rome, you had to perform a number of miracles in your lifetime to be considered. The word Saint in the Greek is Hagios; it is an adjective; It means to be set apart by and for God. We are set apart, much like the Holy utensils in the Temple that the Levites used-they were, and we are, for Gods holy purposes. Again, to do nothing more than illumine the son and bring Him glory. Call me Saint Scott!
You have been sainted by the Lord Jesus Christ! Stand tall!
Are you in Christ? Are you sure?
Those in Christ can call God Father.
Not everyone has this privilege. It is a special endearment reserved for the faithful alone. The bible says that if you are after the flesh, your father is the devil; if after the spirit, God is your Father. God is concerned for you; he feeds the birds of the air, surely he is concerned for His children. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? (Luke 11)
Is God your Father? Could you prove it?
God has blessed those in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.
How has God blessed you?
The distinction must be made in regards to the temporal and the spiritual blessing.
The temporal is: Health, our jobs, money, nutrition, our homes, family, our pets.
The Spiritual is: Our relationship to God and Christ, Our church, The means of grace, i.e. The Lords supper, the preaching of the word, the sacrament of baptism, the gift of repentance, the ability to confess our sins directly to the throne room, the gift of the HS.
He chose us in Him.
Are you chosen? How special is this to you?
We are Holy and without blame. Again, look at what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf. There is no blame. We are hagios, set apart, holy!
Fear not, for I have redeemed you!” Isaiah 43:1
Fear not, for I am with you!” Isaiah 41:10
Fear not, I will help you!” Isaiah 41:13
And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not! Peace be to you; be strong, yes, be strong! Dan. 10:19
Joel 2:21 Fear not, O land; Be glad and rejoice, For the LORD has done marvelous things!
John 12:15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
1) Those in Christ can have an assurance and a confidence that is real.
2) Those in Christ should rely on Gods gift of the HS. The helper is available-be filled!
3) Those in Christ are united to Christ in a greater way than an earthly marriage. We need to act like it.
4) Be blessed. Receive Gods blessings.