religion, christianity, articles

In Christ - 2

By Robert R. Taylor Jr.

religion, articles, christianity

The marvelous blessing of being in Christ was portrayed in the initial article of this extended series. Several great passages were quoted relative to this strikingly beautiful blessing. Now we turn to another facet - a negative consideration.

The Sad, Pitiful State of One Out of Christ

What it means to be in Christ is heightened and sharpened by contemplation of what it means to be out of Christ. This is the sad state of the alien; it is also the sad state of one who formerly was in Christ but has apostatized, and no longer loves and serves him, having lost his link with the Lord of life.

Several of the Pauline epistles depict one who knows not the Lord or who has rejected him after once knowing and obeying the system of truth that saves.

The Galatian epistle speaks this way in marvelous fashion. We come into Christ by baptism (Gal. 3:27). In that act we put on the Christ. By gospel obedience we become Christ's; we become Abraham's spiritual seed; we become heirs according to the Abrahamic promise (Gen. 12:3; Gal. 3:29). The implications from this leap up from Galatians 3:27, 29. If we are not in Christ, we have not put Christ on; we do not belong to him; we are not clothed with him; we are not Abraham's spiritual seed (Gen. 12:3); we are not heirs according to the Abrahamic promise. In Galatians 2:16ff Paul teaches justification "by the faith of Christ." This means that it is found in the gospel, or the "one faith" of Ephesians 4:5 and Jude 3. Justification is, therefore, in Christ - not out of Christ. This being the case, then no one, absolutely no one, is justified who is out of Christ.

Spiritual life is in Christ - not out of him. Paul so stated in precious, picturesque language in Galatians 2:20. Paul was not alive in Christ in Acts 7 when he witnessed Stephen's stoning. He was not living in Christ when he consented to his death and made havoc of the church as reported in the early verses of Acts 8. He was not alive in the Lord when he sought to imprison every Christian man and woman he could find in the Jerusalem area. He was not a recipient of spiritual life in Christ when he left Jerusalem for Damascus "breathing out threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1). He was not in the Lord when he was doing many things contrary to the name of the Christ: when he was shutting the saints up in prison giving his consent to their death, punishing them in every synagogue, attempting to make them blaspheme God, being constantly mad against them, and persecuting them even into foreign cities (Acts 26:9-11). While so engaged, Paul could not have written and would not have written Galatians in general or Galatians 2:20 in particular.

Galatians chapter four talks of the pitiful plight of the Galatians prior to their accepting and obeying Christ. Note what is said in Galatians 4:8, "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods." Outside of Christ they did not know God. Before they were in Christ, they were pagan idolaters. They yielded service to what they thought were gods but in reality were dead idols - lifeless deities, objects that could not see, hear, nor bless them. In Galatians 4:9 Paul mourns over the fact that they were being swayed away from the Savior. They were upon the threshold of turning "again to the weak and beggarly elements, where unto ye desire again to be in bondage." The implication is plain. They were about to return to what they knew when they were outside Christ. This was the sinful sphere of weak and beggarly elements; it was the sinful state of spiritual bondage and galling serfdom.

Galatians chapter five speaks of liberty in the Lord. In Christ is freedom; in the Lord is liberty (Gal. 5:1,13). Outside of him there is bondage; there is no liberty.

Those once in Christ can apostatize from him. The Galatians were about to do this. If they forsook Christ to return to Judaism, Christ would be of no profit to them (Gal. 5:2); they would fall away from grace (Gal. 5:4). Peter says the state of the apostate is worse than that of the alien who never knew God (2 Pet. 2:20-22).

To be outside Christ is to major in the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). To be in Christ means to major in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). I shall say more about this in the next installment of this extended study.

Published November 1993