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October 15, 2007

“WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST” Part I

by Professor Robert J. Barth

Part I

All the New Testament covenant promises and blessings are available to those who are in covenant with Christ. Another way of saying this is that the promises and blessings are for those who are “in Christ.”  What does this mean? 

Jesus said that He and the Father were one, even though Jesus was in the flesh and “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). The religious leaders of His day eventually killed Jesus because of His claim that He was the Son of God and “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus only did what He saw His Father do (John 5:19) and only did the will of the Father (John 5:30). As His Son, Jesus was of the same nature as the Father and therefore was God in the flesh. This is what infuriated the religious leaders. They could accept that Jesus may have been a prophet or teacher, but to claim that He was God was blasphemy, unless of course, it was true. Jesus proved that it was true by His resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.  (By the way, this is still the way to determine if someone is a true Christian. Do they acknowledge that Jesus was God in the flesh and that He rose from the dead? If not, the person is of the antichrist i.e. the devil. “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (I John 4:3)).

You could say that while He was in the flesh Jesus was also “in the Father.” As Jesus was to the Father, we are to be to Jesus. We are to be “in Christ” while in the flesh until we are joined with Him upon our physical death. Being “in Christ” is a complete identification with Christ, including His death, burial, and resurrection. It is crucifying our flesh and old nature with Christ and rising with Him with a new nature. The Apostle Paul described this spiritual transformation that takes place by grace through faith in several ways:

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:3-6)

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. (II Corinthians 13:4)

Are you “in Christ”? If so, this is what Jesus said about who you are in Him. 

  1. The light of the world: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16). “While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 12:36). 
  2. The salt of the earth: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13).
  3. Like a house built on a rock: “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:47-49).
  4. Fishers of men: “And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).
  5. Blessed: “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28).
  6. Confessed before the angels of God: “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8).
  7. Sons or children of God: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
  8. Not condemned: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18).
  9. A disciple of Jesus: “If ye continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31).
  10. Friends of Jesus: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:13-14). 
  11. Witnesses unto Jesus: “But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Jesus makes it clear that faith in Him as the Son of God, frees us from the condemnation of our sin. If we repent, receive the gift of salvation, and abide in Him, we are His disciples. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

In response, we want to keep His commands before us and do them so that others may also experience the light and life of Jesus. While Jesus was in the world, He was the Light (John 9:5), but now all of us who are “in Christ” are the light of the world. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Consider and believe the truth of who you are in Christ and do not let the enemy steal from you the revelation that you are a “child of God.” One of Satan’s goals is to steal or snatch away the word of truth planted in your heart about who you are in Christ, but Jesus came to give you life.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I [Jesus] am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart (Matthew 13:19).

Next time we will consider what the Apostle Paul and others said about who you are “in Christ.”

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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