Just what does it mean to be “in Christ?” To answer that Biblical question, there are some Biblical answers, not from man, not associated primarily with any formal religious affiliation or tradition, but from God, found in his Word. “The faith of the church must be tried by God’s Word, and not God’s Word by the church; the same goes for my faith” (L. J. Grey, martyred 1554). So, let the Word of God reveal to us all what it means to be “in Christ” as one being born again with the Spirit of the Living God (John 3:3-ff). For starters, let’s look at two portions of Scripture that reveal one defining truth: new life from God has been given to those “in Christ.” First of all, the Bible does state “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18). So, that new life “in Christ” is OF GOD, explained in context with the old passed away; meaning that the born-again Christian is not being led by the old way of life. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). It is clear from Scripture that the “sons of God” have a spiritual direction from God and are empowered by the Spirit, made possible through the new, divine nature imparted within (2 Peter 1:4). Now, let’s look to that second portion of Scripture of being “in Christ” which speaks of the simile of new wine in new bottles, in contrast with that old bottle not being fit for that newness. Jesus tells us that pouring the new wine in that old wine skin will burst it wide open (Luke 5:37-38). Just what is the Lord speaking of regarding an old bottle? That old wineskin is none other than an unsaved “false believer” tying to live the life on his own terms, without being a new man, being born again. Trying to be a “Christian” without Holy Spirit renewal will definitely have a bursting effect: “a burst or break in an intended joy-filled life flow.” That burst then becoming an undercurrent in his life, going against and rejecting “the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). So, there is no profitable life for one in his natural state (the flesh), a life contrary to “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him … shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). That new life in Christ begins the day of repentant man’s salvation, and that “salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). Jesus said, “Ye must be born-again” (John 3:3); with that new life explained in John 1:13: “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but OF GOD.”
God’s salvation is given to repentant mankind: “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God” (Ephesian 2:8). That salvation involves the work of God, as seen in the immediate context: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” (2:1). The Word of God is clear and certain, no man can make himself alive “in Christ.” The new creation in Christ with the new wine of life comes only from our Lord as one is born of HIM, namely of the Spirit of God (John 3:3-6). With the Spirit who gives new life, the Christian (in Christ, by definition) can sing as the Psalmist: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for ever more” (16:11). His meaningful life, his fullness of joy, and pleasures for ever more do come to those who live “in thy presence,” to those living “in Christ.” His new life comes with newness of grace to enable you to live in his will, new life to enjoy obeying his Word, new life for new joy to spring up from broken chords that will vibrate once more, new life for new fellowship to spread thickly throughout the fellowship, new life for new forgiveness ready to give to those who misjudge, mistreat, laugh and scorn, and new life for new hope when we realize that all is not lost at all for those IN CHRIST. New life comes from God through the power of his Word, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever” (I Peter 1:23). Now, to those IN CHRIST, we know this: “The Word of God is always most precious to the man who lives upon it” (Charles H. Spurgeon).