There is no phrase or formula which occurs with greater frequency in the New Testament than this, "in Christ." it sometimes varies in translations when "by" and "through" and "with" are used, and sometimes in the original text it changes in form, e.g. "in Christ Jesus," "in Him," etc., but in all the two hundred times of its occurrence the principle is the same. In the whole range of Christian dogma there is nothing more expressive, and yet nothing less understood and appreciated.
In one consummate declaration we are told that God has purposed to sum up all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:10) and that outside of Him there is nothing which has any place in the eternal purpose and intention of God. The plan, the method, the resources, the times, the eternities, are Christospheric.
The Creation is in Christ. The Life is in Christ. The acceptance is in Christ. The Redemption is in Christ. The Sanctification is in Christ. The Hope is in Christ. The Spiritual Blessings are in Christ. The Peace is in Christ. The Effectual Prayer is only in Christ. The Strength and Riches are in Christ. The Eternal Purpose is in Christ. The New Creation is in Christ. The Promises are in Christ. The Escape from Condemnation is in Christ. The One Body is in Christ. The Perseverance is in Christ. The Gathering into One is in Christ. The Bonds of Suffering Believers are in Christ. The "No Separation" is in Christ. The Perfect Man is in Christ. The Helpers Together are in Christ. There are the Churches in Christ. There are the Dead in Christ. There is the One New man and the Perfect Man in Christ. We are Complete in Christ.
The context of this formula ranges from eternity, through the ages, to eternity.
In eternity past we were chosen and elected together in Christ (Eph. 1:4; 1 Peter 5:13). Through time, by the Cross, this eternal heavenly fact is wrought in literal and experimental form expressed by different terms implying specific progressive spiritual truths, but always the same principle.
"Planted together in the likeness of His death." (Rom. 8:5)
"Quickened .. together with Christ" (Eph. 2:5).
"Raised .. up together .. in Christ" (Eph. 2:6).
"Made ... to sit together ... in Christ" (Eph. 2:6).
"All things to be gathered together .. in Christ" (Eph. 1:10).
"Perfected together" (1 Cor. 1:10).
"Fitly framed together" in Christ (Eph. 2:21).
"Knit together" (Col. 2:2).
"Builded together" in Christ (Eph. 2:20).
"Live together with Him" (1 Thess. 5:10).
"Working together with Him" (2 Cor. 6:1).
"Striving together" (Phil. 1:27).
Then comes a climax, at the end of this time, when all the foregoing is accomplished and we are "together ... caught up." (1 Thess. 4:17).
Finally, the eternity to come looms into view and we see that we are to be "glorified together" with Him. (Romans 8:17).
Then we call to mind the Pauline couplet - which is strictly not Pauline but of the Divine Spirit of truth - namely "in Adam" and "in Christ." On the one side - our relation to Adam, the old creation, by nature - we see one set of conditions; and on the other - by our incorporation in Christ - we see a new and different set.
"The Lord God ... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (Genesis 2:7). "The first man Adam became a living soul" (1 Cor. 15:45). "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:17). "As in Adam all die" (1 Cor. 15:22). "The law of sin and of death" (Rom. 8:2). "He also is flesh" (Genesis 6:3). "The flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). "I" - Failure. (Romans 7. "The old man that waxeth corrupt" (Eph. 4:22). "The mind of the flesh" (Romans 8:6). "In my flesh ... no good thing" (Romans 7:18). "Of the flesh ... corruption" (Gal. 6:8). "That which is born of the flesh is flesh" (John 3:6). "The end ... death" (Romans 6:21).
"He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit" (John 20:22). "The last Adam ... a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor. 15:45). "Newness of life" (Romans 6:4). "In Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). "The law of the Spirit of life" (Romans 8:2). "Spirit" - Victory. (Romans 8). "The new man ... created in righteousness and holiness of truth" (Eph. 4:24). "The new man" (Col. 3:10). "Newness of the Spirit" (Rom. 7:6). "In the likeness of His resurrection" (Romans 6:5). "Have crucified the flesh" (Galatians 5:24). "Our old man was crucified" (Romans 6:6).
All this, which is nothing more than quoting Scripture, will serve to emphasize the Divine inclusiveness and exclusiveness, and will help, we trust, to a recognition of the great fact that no man can live the Christian life; there is only One Who cal live that life, and that is Christ Himself. We must have such an experimental incorporation into Him that He lives His life through us as members of His one Body,so that "to me to live is Christ" and "it is no longer I ... but Christ." As the blacksmith's iron is in the fire and also the fire is in the iron, so first we must realize our position in Christ through the Cross ere Christ can manifest Himself through us.
(continued with # 2 - "Christ to be Expressed Through Believers")