The “In-Christ” Position of the Believer :: by Vernon Gray

You will notice the terms “in Christ” “in whom” “in Him “or similar phrases in the New Testament. The key phrase in Ephesians as an example is the term “in Christ” which occurs 28 times in Ephesians alone. Paul mentions it 146 times, and it is mentioned over 200 times in the New Testament, surely in the light of it being repeated so many times, we must conclude that this is an important message.

Paul, Peter and John use the term to convey the thought that we are “IN CHRIST.”

2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

What does that mean, exactly?

Someone might say: “I thought that the Holy Spirit was in me. Is Christ in me too?”

It is such a key issue to Christian maturity that Paul instructs us to examine what we believe. Do we believe that we have Christ in us?

Colossians 2:6 says: “As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.”

Verses 9-10 say: “For in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him…”

A study of the “In Christ” position of the believer will reveal that we are literally in Christ” (as members of His body) but that Christ is literally in us. I can hear someone say: “But I thought that Jesus was now at the right hand of God in heaven.”

Yes, He is. But because He is God, He is also within every believer. We are His body on this earth until He comes for us at the Rapture.

Notice if you will what Jesus said in the Lord’s Prayer in John 17:23 “…I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

Then in verse 26: “And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

What was Jesus speaking about? He was speaking about the “in Christ” position of the believer.

All people, of all the ages were put into Christ at the cross. His sacrifice covers every sin that ever was, and ever will be committed. But when exactly did this take place? The answer is found in the account of what happened in the garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:39, 42: “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

At the garden of Gethsemane Peter tried to defend Jesus when they came to arrest Him, but Jesus said:

“Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18: 11).

The first “In-Christ” position:

The Cross is the central theme of Christianity; even time is measured by this momentous event. In the cup at the garden of Gethsemane was every man’s sin. The prospect of Jesus having to take into His body our sin must have been dreadful. But it was here that the first “in Christ” position of the believer took place. We were all placed into Christ before His crucifixion in order that in a spiritual sense, we could die with Him at the Cross. His death on the Cross was our death too in the spiritual sense.

All of mankind was with Him at the Cross.

All of mankind died with Him on the Cross.

All of mankind was raised with Him at His resurrection.

All of mankind can have His Life as their life.

(That is why no one can go to hell because of their sin…it was paid for on the Cross. Man goes to hell because of unbelief.)

It is not generally understood by Christians that in a spiritual sense they were crucified on the Cross with Jesus of Nazareth. Not only was Jesus crucified on the Cross, you too were crucified with Him. In a very real sense His death was your death, His burial was your burial, and His resurrection is your resurrection. As a result, His life becomes your life.

Romans 6:3-5: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

To be “in Christ” describes every believer’s new position and new sphere of existence.

Before we were born again into the Kingdom of God, our existence was in Adam…

John 3: 3, 5: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

1 Corinthians 15:22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned…”

1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slave or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.”

The work of the Cross is now complete; nothing further needs to be done on Christ’s part for our salvation. All sin is paid for, and all of mankind is included in the sacrificial redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The full understanding of the In-Christ message was first given to Paul, and can only be fully illuminated to our understanding by the Holy Spirit.

Most Christians give mental assent to the In-Christ position of the believer. The problem with a casual acknowledgement of this truth is that they have a hollow concept of this and it is not a reality in their everyday life.

To be in Christ is to walk in the resurrection life. Having the knowledge that Christ is in you, is not the same as having a deep and personal understanding of what this really means for your everyday life.

This is what Paul was at pains to convey throughout his writings. Peter and John confirmed that which Paul had expressed over, and over again. Paul did not teach much on healing, miracles, or prosperity. He did however repeat many times over, that…


Paul knew that if the believer grasped this truth, and understood it in his heart, all the outer peripheral things like healing, miracles, and prosperity, would automatically slot into their correct and proper place in the Christian’s life.

1 John 4:9: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

Jesus died that we might live through Him. The grasping, and subsequent understanding of this truth will completely change your Christian walk, revolutionize your thinking, and transform your prayer life.

Let us read 1 Corinthians 2: 7-16, look specifically at verses 7-12:

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages of our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, but as is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’

But (For) God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of man except the spirit of man which is in him?

Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

Paul is saying that the “In-Christ” position of the believer was hidden from the world until it was revealed to him. God reveals this truth to us, not through the natural senses, (eyes, ears etc.) but through the Holy Spirit, or revelation knowledge. See what he says in…

Romans 16:25-26: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God…”

In Titus 2:14 God refers to Christians as, “His own special people.” The King James Version translates the word as “…a peculiar people.” The word in the Greek is periousios which is made up of two other Greek words which in turn mean, to be, and around, as in a circle. If you can imagine a circle with a dot in it, it will give you an idea of what the word periousios is meant to convey.

You are the dot in the circle, and God surrounds you, with His Love and protection. The “in Christ” position is exactly like this; you were placed in Christ at the Cross. Christ is in you, and nothing can come into your life without it being Father-filtered. Every circumstance and situation, every trial and tribulation will be used and allowed by God in order for you to come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. ALL things in your life are allowed in order that you may express the life of the One in you.


Being “in Christ” is not like belonging to a group who share the same basic doctrine about Christ; it is a literal state of spirituality where Christ is literally living within the believer as the believer. God has placed a part of Himself in the believer in the form of His Son. Until this was revealed to Paul the world was unaware of what God would do through the cross at Calvary.

Most assuredly I am telling you this; it is vital that you get this concept fixed in your thinking and have it as the basis of your theology.

Acts 17: 28 says, “…for in Him we live and move and have our being.”

If you can come to the understanding that Jesus is not only a billion miles away on a throne in heaven (though He is and you are seated with Him, Ephesians 1:19-23) but He is also very much within your very being; you will grasp what Paul is saying in his writings. Jesus sticks closer than a brother; He said that He would never leave you. He is with you right now as you read this.

Knowing Christ within You:

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Notice that the entire verse is pivoted on an “if.”

Paul is speaking to believers in this verse; he is not speaking to the unsaved.

What then does he mean by “if anyone”? This verse could be paraphrased as follows:

If anyone “knows” that he is in Christ, he will come to the realization that he is a new creation.

It is of little benefit to you if you have the divine nature, and the power to live the Christian life through Christ, if you don’t know about it. If some generous person deposited a few million into your bank account without telling you, you will not benefit from it until you are aware of what has happened. Only knowing about the deposit will be of any benefit to you.

Do an exercise for yourself and go through the Pauline epistles noting every place where he says “in Christ,” “in Christ Jesus,” “in Jesus,” “in the Lord” etc. you will be astounded at how many times Paul emphasizes this doctrine. Yet it is not taught by most churches. Why?

Perhaps a study of 1 Corinthians 2: 6-16 will reveal the answer. The primary thrust of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth what was known as the “Kingdom Message.” Jesus declared that “The Kingdom of God was at hand.” Paul’s thrust however, was “Christ in you,” or the “In-Christ” position.

Let us go back to 1 Corinthians 2: 6 -16 and look specifically at verses nine and ten:

“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.”

Paul tells us that there are things, which are to be revealed to us only by the Holy Spirit.

In other words you cannot use your intellect to learn them, they can only be revealed to you by revelation knowledge or “illumination” by the Holy Spirit as we discussed earlier.

Now look at Romans 16: 25, 26: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God…”

What mystery is Paul speaking of here?

“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Every believer is in Christ and Christ is in every believer whether they know it or not; whether they believe it or not. The Holy Spirit will reveal this vital fact to the believer because He was sent to reveal Christ to us. Not only is Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, but more importantly for now, Christ is within us…literally.

Christ Jesus seated in heaven is beyond our imagination and grasp, but the Christ within is life eternal. Jesus said, “I am the life.” He is indeed our life.

He is the only life that matters to God. When God looks at us now, He not only sees us through the blood of Calvary, He sees Christ within. It is Christ within us that makes us what we are: CHRISTIANS!

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to coax us to Christ, to teach us Christ. This He has been doing from without ourselves since our first breath and He continues to do this from within once we are saved.

The Holy Spirit is a “doer” in that He performs a work in our lives. He is ever guiding us through our circumstances and our conscience leading us to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus on the other hand is not a “doer.”

He has already accomplished the Father’s will at the Cross. When Jesus declared, “It is finished,” on the Cross (Luke 19:30), He completed all that was needed for God’s plan of redemption; His work was done, and He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father and He lives within every believer.

How God does this is a mystery, yet most of what God does is unknown to us.

John 17:20, 21: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father,are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”


Sometimes God will give us sight rather than explain why we became blind in the first place. We simply trust Him as a child trusts a father without understanding or having a logical reason or explanation for everything. Nothing else is required for Jesus to do in order for you to be saved and to receive the blessings of salvation. What is required however, is for you to believe and trust in Him, and this is where the Holy Spirit’s ministry works in your life by giving you the faith to believe.

The faith that you had to believe in Jesus was not something that you produced from within yourself; it was something that the Holy Spirit gave to you as a gift. Many times when faced with inexplicable hardships I have cried out in my anguish, “Why Father why? Is it something I’ve done?”

I figured that knowing the reason for a calamity would ease the burden. But this thinking is a throwback to the Garden of Eden where Adam chose to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now, 6000 years later, “We simply have to know everything,” and this has become more than mere curiosity; this is an attitude we got from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.

Luke 12:2: “…there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.”

Knowing everything is not always beneficial to us. The world has entered the Information Age where information is worshipped like a god. Indeed it is a god, if you are relying on the world system for all your wants and needs. I am not advocating that we avoid the benefits of modern technology or the Information Age; but rather that we do not come to rely on it as if our life depended on it.

It can so easily become an idol if we misplace our faith in it. We have a better way according to Scripture, we would rather trust our Father to the extent of giving Him our life for safekeeping; we no longer have a life of our own, what used to be our life, is His life. Paul on the other hand said,

1 Corinthians 4: 5: “…judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness…”

We cannot know all things in this life as we can see from this passage:

1 Corinthians 13:12: “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known.”

New Life in Christ

Let us return to 2 Corinthians 5:17 “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

The Greek word ktisis translated: “creation” here means the formation of a new creation.


Perhaps the biggest problem in the Christian walk is not life after death; the problem is life after birth. Too many evangelistic/church organizations portray the “giving of your life to Christ” as the culmination of your spiritual life. It is as if getting saved is finally getting it right and the climax of your spirituality. This is simply not true!

Getting saved is only the beginning of your walk in faith. It is the first step in a long walk with God in this world. One cannot get “saved” and think that the matter ends there.

Getting “saved” is the first of a three stage process.

Justification: “Getting saved”- past tense. It was done.

Sanctification: A lifelong learning process – present tense. It is being done.

Glorification: The final stage of your salvation to be determined at the Bema Seat of Christ-future tense. It is still to come.

Death is taken care of because you are justified in Christ, but the sanctification process is a lifelong experience. Originally God made the heavens and the earth; this would include angels and the unseen world. Then God made the animals, and vegetation before creating a brand new creature called “Man.” Man was unique because he had the Spirit of God breathed into him making him a “Living Soul” with the free will to make moral choices.

Man is God-conscious and has a conscience, whereas animals do not. Jesus said something interesting in Matthew 8:22: “…follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

What did He mean? As stated twice before on these pages, death is not an extinction of being, it is a separation. In other words if you were separated from your body, you were considered physically dead. Spiritual death is no different. If you are spiritually separated from God, you are spiritually dead.

What Jesus said in effect was “Let the spiritually separated from God, (spiritually dead) bury those that are separated from their own bodies (physically dead).” It was a play on words, which we often do in the English language today.

Now, since the creation of Adam we see that once again God has created an entirely new being. This new creation is human, as Adam was, but this being has something that Adam did not have. This entirely new creation has God’s own nature living within, and has eternal life, which makes this new being part of God to the point where God calls His new creation His “children.”

This new creation is made possible by one thing only: THE CHRIST WITHIN. In his translation of 2 Corinthians 5:17, Johnson, the Greek scholar translates a new creation, as a new race. In many respects we are a new race.


This new race has one single identifying trait: Christ as their lives and God has called them “Christians” in honor of the One who gives them the life they have within.

Romans 8:29 says that Jesus is the firstborn of this race, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Colossians 1:18 declares that at the resurrection He was the firstborn of this company of beings, “He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He might have preeminence.”

Also look at the following Scriptures:

2 Corinthians 5:20: “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…”

Ephesians 2:19: “…you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but members of the household of God…”

Philippians 3:20: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…”

Hebrews 11:13 “…strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Verse 16, “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”


2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

Take note of the tense here, “is a new,” “have passed away,” “have become new.” All are in the present tense, which means that we have present possession now.

This verse is not for the future. We have this right now!

Eternity does not begin with your death; you were in eternity before the foundation of the world, but now you have life in Christ.

Many believers battling with the flesh look at their life and feel that they do not match up to this Scripture. They feel that they are not doing what they should, because as far as they are concerned old things have not passed away. In their thinking this has not happened to them.

And they are right, in their thinking it has not happened; but it is only in their thinking that it has not happened. Their thinking has not been renewed. God has done the work in their life whether they think otherwise or not.

There is no male of female in Christ; no Methodists, Full Gospel, Assembly of God, or any other denomination in Christ. There is no such thing as a Jewish Christian or a Messianic Jew in Christ. There are only Christians in Christ.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Your servant in Christ,

Vernon Gray