Grace and Peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ in whom we live and move and have our being.
I wasn’t sure how to start this letter, so I thought I’d borrow from Luke and the Apostle Paul. And I wanted you to notice the words "in whom".
We just completed our five week Summer Intensive training program. As part of this program, we ask our students to study the idea of "being in Christ". Then they select a couple of favorite in Christ verses and come up with a metaphor that describes what it means for them to be in Christ.
I tend to be more aware of the wonderful verses explaining Christ in me, and was frankly surprised to find that there are many more verses that talk about being in Christ than ones that describe Christ in me.
Looking at this imbalance, I began to suspect I might be missing something important by focusing just on Christ in me. And sure enough, I had overlooked an important truth.
Honestly, it’s easy to overlook. Why? Because the key to the truth is the deceptively simple two letter word "in". This little word has big meaning in Scripture. In the context I’m talking about, to be "in" something means to be identified with it, to take on its characteristics, to be affected by whatever happens to it, and to have it as the very source of life.
One of our students illustrated this concept beautifully with the picture of a mother and her unborn baby. Until it’s born, that baby is identified with the mother. Its characteristics come from the mother. Whatever happens to the mother happens to the baby. The baby’s very life depends on the mother. All because the baby is "in" the mother.
The Bible talks about all of humanity being "in" one of two families. Each family is signified by the family head. These two family heads are Adam and Christ.
Being human alone is what places us in Adam’s family or "in" Adam. Adam is at the top of everyone’s family tree. Human life began with him and has been passed down from him generation after generation. Being "in Adam", as a human, we are also identified with him in the fall (Romans 5:12), we take on his characteristics such as being a sinner (Romans 5:19), we are condemned like he was (Romans 5:18), and we died when he died (Romans 5:15). All because as humans we are “in” Adam.
Salvation alone is what places us in Christ’s family or "in" Christ. Christ is the oldest brother in His big family (Romans 8:29). Spiritual life began with Christ and is entered into by an act of faith. Being "in Christ", we are identified with Him in redemption (Ephesians 1:7), we take on His characteristics such as being light (Ephesians 5:8), we have every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3), and we have eternal life because life is "in" Him (1 John 5:11). All because, at the moment of salvation, we are taken out of being "in" Adam and placed "in" Christ.
Is this making sense?—that much of what we have as believers comes because we are "in" Christ? Keep your eyes open for the word "in" as you read Scripture. A great place to practice is the book of Ephesians chapters 1 and 2. You will be surprised at how many "in Christ", "in Christ Jesus", and "in Him" phrases you will find. I pray you will see how those verses apply to you as one who is in Christ.
It’s been an honor to write to you again. I’m planning to keep in touch monthly, and I hope these letters are helpful. If you’ve missed previous letters I’ve sent, you can find them on our web site at elmco.org/letters. Between now and the next time you hear from me, if I can do anything to encourage, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
God bless, and peace to you in Christ (1 Peter 5:14).
Mike Roncaglia, Executive Director