“For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Paul was stating a general truth to unbelievers when he said this; namely, that all of creation is continually in the presence of God because He is always aware of everything that is happening in all realms of the universe. But for those who have been born spiritually into the family of God, we have the profound reality of being “in Christ”. Let’s consider a little of what this means.
First of all, our salvation is in Christ; that is, we have been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and the perfect and holy God the Father accepts us. Ephesians 1:5-7: (He) “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself…to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”. When we had our spiritual birth, we became new creations in Christ, which has always been the plan of God for “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Furthermore, God’s grand, eternal purpose for all of creation centers in Jesus Christ: “In the dispensation of the fullness of the times He (will) gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth.” (Ephesians 1:10) At the consummation of the ages, all of creation in both physical and spiritual realms will be under Christ’s perfect headship and complete rule.
As believers, our present times as well are in Christ. We are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”, and “in Him we have obtained an inheritance” (Ephesians 1:3,11). Part of this inheritance is heaven and in the future, but we are already spiritually, positionally “seated…in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). In short, “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20), but that doesn’t mean (as the saying goes) that we’re to be “so heavenly-minded that (we’re) no earthly good”! God leaves believers on earth as a practical testimony of how He progressively changes us from sinners to saints in Christ to do His will. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Furthermore, Colossians tells us that all the fullness of God dwells in Jesus and that believers are “complete in Him” (2:10). Since God is outside of time and His word is unchanging and true, the future is the same as the past to Him and our perfection is a “done deal” in His sight. Even though we do not yet experience this completion in our life on earth (practically), to God we are already whole and holy, victorious over our flesh, perfect in all ways, and lacking nothing (positionally) because He sees us IN CHRIST! This not only applies to each of us individually, but to all believers collectively as “one body in Christ” (Romans 12:5). In Him we have the present blessing of fellowship with one another, that sweet, harmonious unity we experience in the Spirit of Christ.
So the enormous benefits of being in Christ are not all future. In fact, the moment we placed our faith in Jesus we were sealed and secured in Him by the Holy Spirit, and there is absolutely nothing in the entire universe that can “separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) Also, the Scriptures assure us that we are constantly in God’s thoughts (Psalm 139:17,18), which are benevolent toward us. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We are in His hands (Psalm 139:7-10). The hands that shaped a universe for our inhabitance and were nailed on Calvary’s cross for our redemption now hold and shape us. How secure is that! And, while God loves all of humanity (John 3:16), believers have a special place in His heart. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you”, Jesus said (John 15:9).
There is still more because being in Christ means we have been given an understanding and knowledge of God, which is eternal life (John 17:3). “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20) That eternal life includes the here and now! “And the life I now life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20b). This verse expresses the dual reality that our trust is in Christ, and also that we presently live in Christ by means of faith.
Isaiah tells us that righteousness and strength, justification and glory belong to those who are in the LORD (45:24,25). Also, there is unity, freedom and equality amongst believers in Christ (Galatians 3:28), and we have the authority and power in Jesus to reject sin and live for God (Romans 6:11). Ah, but there’s the rub! Believers need to repeatedly, purposefully CHOOSE to abide in Christ in order to be spiritually fruitful (John 15:1-8), in order to experience the practical reality of our eternal position in Christ. We do this by being obedient to His commands, His word. “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (1 John 2:5,6) This will inevitably bring about another manifest blessing of this awesome communion with our Savior and God: “Peace to all of you who are in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Peter 5:14b)