Bro. Tom’s Weekly Bible Study
  Week #45
Posted: May 19, 2005

IN CHRIST
A Study of Positional Truths

In the verses II Corinthians 5:17-21 we are confronted with four ‘In Christ’ phrases.  They are found in verse 17 when Paul says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ…”  The next is in verse 19 where the text says, “To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself…”  The next is in verse 20 which says, “…we pray you in Christ stead be ye reconciled to God.”  The last is in verse 21 which says, “…that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”.  The phrase of being “In Christ” is a Pauline phrase he used over 130 times.  It was not original with him.  It found it’s origin in Christ’ teaching in John 15 when He said, “He that abideth in me and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit”. 

The verses before us teach the two great doctrines of “Regeneration” and “Reconciliation”.  Doctrine is defined as what a man believes about a particular subject.  This text would imply what we believe about God as the subject.  Many steer clear of doctrine and concern themselves only with the behavior of man.  The only thing that will change and keep the behavior of man in check is his doctrine. (what he believes about God) 

Let us begin by looking at a great text about ‘Regeneration’.  We are confronted first of all in this text with the ‘Mystery of Regeneration’.  Paul says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ…” (Vs 17)  This ‘In Christ’ position is not a circle that we go in and out of.  It is an invisible, mysterious sphere that has no exit doors.  We realize from our own human thinking the mystery of regeneration began to dawn at our conversion.  It opens to us, though not fully, at our salvation.  Little did we know it was much larger, a mystery, than we first glimpsed at our conversion.  Paul tells us that God chose us and placed us in Christ before He ever laid the mud seal foundations of this world. 

This mystery leads to the ‘Merriment of Regeneration’.  Paul says the one ‘In Christ’ is a new creation.  This is the grounds for great joy that I am not the person I was and neither am I the person that I will one day be.  I am headed for total transformation into Christ’ likeness.  John Phillips said, “The change is greater than the transformation of a earth bound caterpillar into a heaven-born butterfly”.  This ‘Merriment’ leads to the ‘Mercy of Regeneration’ when Paul says, ‘old things are gone and all things are becoming new’.  This is truly mercy, God withholding from us what we deserve.  We deserve to suffer all that the old life afforded but instead our Redeemer took the old away and gave us the new person. 

In verse 19 we are confronted with ‘Reconciliation’.  The word means to cover in purity and innocence.  In verse 19 we are confronted with the ‘Manner of Reconciliation’.  What exactly happens at ‘Reconciliation’?  We notice that it is a joint work of deity.  The text says, ‘God was In Christ reconciling us to Him’.  This tells us God the Father, God the Son are one.  If I am ‘In Christ’ I am one with them.  I do notice He doesn’t need to be reconciled to us.  He was not at odds with me.  He has loved me with an everlasting love.  I needed to be reconciled to Him.    This manner also would involve the removal of all my sins when Paul said in verse 19, “…not imputing their trespasses unto them”.  The ‘Manner of Reconciliation’ declares me ‘Not Guilty’.  I no longer have a sin account with God.  This ‘Manner’ will lead to the ‘Ministry of Reconciliation’.  Because we have been reconciled, it is our duty to go to the world as Paul says, “…we pray you in Christ stead, be ye reconciled to God”.  This phrase is an imperative command.  This gospel message of reconciliation demands that we make things right with God.

This ‘Ministry’ has a ‘Message of Reconciliation’ of which we find in verse 21.  Paul tells us that Christ has become all that we were on Calvary’s hill.  Paul said, “…for He hath made Him to be sin for us”.  I cannot imagine the horror Christ felt who never knew sin, to become sin for me.  No wonder in the garden of Gethsemane that night He shuddered at the cup He was to drink.  This Message of Reconciliation is a two-part message.  Not only did He become all that I am but He made me all that He is.  The more we study our position ‘In Christ’ I realize we are a long way from the shore in waters over our heads.  I guess we could float on top of these truths or we could let go and drown in the fact of our oneness with Him.

 

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