What does it mean to be “in Christ”? Is there any comfort for being “in Christ”? What about predestination?
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians explores what it means to be “in Christ.” Thirty-seven times Paul uses that phrase (or an equivalent, “in him”). Of those occurrences, 27 times are in the first three chapters, and interestingly, those chapters establish the doctrine of what it means to be “in Christ.” The last three chapters focus on the practical implications of being “in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3-14 sets the stage by giving a three-fold praise to our God (“to the praise of his glory” v. 6, v. 12, v.14). That division corresponds to the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Yesterday we focused on Ephesians 1:3-6. Notice that in v. 3 Paul reminds us that God “has blessed …with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Do we at times think we have been left short in blessings? Are we envious of those who seem to have more? For the person “in Christ” the reality is that we have received every spiritual blessing. God does not skimp. With Christ comes the peace, joy, love, etc. that marks the fullness of all that God intends for us. Looking at our neighbor and what she has does not help us understand and appreciate the blessings we do have.
Then the big P word: predestination. We hear much about it, and sometimes get sidetracked by bad teaching. There are three basic positions regarding predestination. Take a look at the accompanying chart.
The last one represents the Biblical doctrine of predestination. Most importantly for our daily walk of faith, we do not start with predestination, wondering whether we are predestined. We can’t pull back the curtain on God. Rather we start with being “in Christ,” and then Paul points us to the truth that if we are “in Christ” then we are predestined.
1:4 just as He chose us in Him
1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ
In other words, we can only speak of predestination from the perspective of being “in Christ.” Any other starting point leaves us wondering, concerned, even discouraged. However, from that perspective of being “in Christ,” predestination is a great comfort for the Christian.
“…to the praise of his glory.”