Excerpted from Rivers of Living Waters by Ruth Paxson (1930):
The moment a penitent sinner puts faith in CHRIST as Saviour he steps out of life “in Adam” and enters into life “in Christ.” Through the ages upon ages to come he will be “in Christ.” We will never understand Paul’s Epistles if we do not understand the expression “In Christ.” It is the key to the whole New Testament. It or its equivalent is used one hundred and thirty times. These two words are the most important ever penned to describe the mutual relationship between the Christian and CHRIST.
To be “in Christ” determines the Christian’s position, privileges and possessions. For to be “in Christ” is to be where He is, to be what He is and to share what He has. To be “in Christ” is to be where CHRIST is. But CHRIST is in the heavenlies, so that is where the real home of the Christian is. He is a pilgrim on earth, for his real citizenship is in Heaven.
“For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
“For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:14).
Your present address is just a stopping place on a journey, yet some of you are planning for your earthly home as though you were going to live here for ever. Your heart is set on earthly things instead of heavenly.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
Do I hear some of you say, “This is too high a standard for me; it is not only impossible but unattractive. I am on this earth and in this world, therefore why should I not live as though I were and enjoy myself and leave the enjoyment of Heaven until I get there?” Such is the reasoning of vast numbers of Christians, and their lives are in full harmony with their reasoning.
Is it not necessary for us to become acclimatized to our eternal home in heaven? If the heavenly atmosphere is stifling to me here, what will it be to me there? If the heavenly pleasures and pursuits are unattractive to me now, what will they be to me then? There is music in heaven, but it is not jazz; there are pleasures there, but not those of the ballroom, the card table or the cinema; there are pursuits there, but not those of making money or a name in society.
If my heart cannot stand the higher attitude of life in the heavenlies now, how will it stand it then? It is GOD’s intention for you and me to begin to live in heaven now.
To be “in Christ” is to be what CHRIST is. CHRIST, the Head of the Body, and the Christian who is a member of that Body have one life. The blood of the human body is its life. The blood which is now in my head will soon be in my arm. It is the same blood. So the life that is in CHRIST in the heavenlies is the same life that is in the Christian on earth.
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).
Words of Grace for Strength
These words penned nearly 85 years ago were never truer than they are today. As we look at what is considered to be the Christian community today it is increasingly more difficult to identify those who are truly “in Christ.” We find folks who belong to this church or that church, who follow this preacher or that teacher, or who identify themselves as members of a certain denomination or group, or they simply say, “I’m just a Christian.”
There are many more who associate themselves as adherents to one of many other religions in the world today. And unfortunately, most do not identify themselves with any faith other than faith in themselves. And so the world is as Paul warned us it would be in these last days in his second letter to Timothy:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
In these verses Paul describes the condition of most people in the world today, even those who describe themselves as “Christian.” But what of that description, does it really describe who they are? What really is a Christian? What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
Being “in Christ” speaks of our spiritual position. When we accept Christ’s free gift of grace, offered when he paid our sin debt on Calvary, through His death, burial, and resurrection; God places us “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:6). We are no longer seen by God as children of Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22), but are now seen in the same way He sees His own Son. Apart from Christ we are nothing (John 15:5); in Christ we have “all spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:3).
Being “in Christ” today not only means that we belong to Him, or that we live in His presence, or that we are simply a part of the Body of Christ; being “in Christ” means that we are actually in Christ and He is in us. This is what Paul meant in Philippians 1:21 when he said; for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” and in Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
When we are “in Christ” we not only professes His name, or learn His doctrine, or follow His example, we exchange our life for His. Our life is not just like His life, or parallel to His life, we are actually in Him and He is in us. It is a unique position given only to those who have accepted His free gift of grace.
As Ms. Paxson so clearly explained, a Christian always moves in two spheres. While we are in this world; we are also in Christ. We live in two dimensions. We live in this world understanding our responsibilities to Christ; but above and beyond that we live “in Christ” in the heavenlies. In this world we may move from place to place; but wherever we are, we are “in Christ.”
This is why the circumstances of life should make very little difference to the true Christian; our joy and our peace are not dependent upon them. It is why the joys of this world; comfort, entertainment, wealth, fame, or position should hold no significance to one who is “in Christ.” And, it is why it does not matter what we are called to do “in Christ,” because ultimately all the glory is Christ’s.
Christ in me; and I in Him. No greater position, no greater privilege, and no greater possession! Do you identify yourself as a Christian? How do the people you work with identify you? How does your family identify you? What is your true identity? Are you “in Christ”? If so, give all glory and praise to Jesus! If not, there is no better time than now to settle the matter.
Because…Jesus is Coming Soon!
Even So Come.
Dr. Tuck Whitaker
Rafter Cross Ministries