“IN CHRIST” – In ROMANS
IN CHRIST in ROMANS
(1 What “In Christ” Means)
At the very opening of ROMANS 1:5, we read these words: “By whom [or, through whom] we have received grace” (i.e., through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord); and, in 3:24, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Here then we have the key to the Epistle to the Romans: Grace, justification, redemption, in and through Christ Jesus; or, to put it briefly, Justified in Christ.
This is manifestly the first step, for this conception belongs first in order. We can have, in Christ Jesus, nothing else, unless and until we have first justification –
– a new standing before God.
Paul is inspired to begin this epistle by showing that all men, Jews and Gentiles alike, are included under sin and therefore involved in condemnation.
No sinner has before him any prospect but divine wrath, until he is first freed from the law, no longer under condemnation. Hence the first unfolding of grace in the epistles is the plain revelation of God’s marvelous plan, whereby sinners get the standing of saints.
The question, how:-
- the condemned may become justified;
- the lost may become saved;
- the alienated may become reconciled;
THIS is the question first and fully answered in this epistle.
If we examine Romans 5:1-11, we shall EIGHT times meet the phrase, through, by, or in Jesus Christ; or its equivalent.And here are represented, as bestowed upon us freely, in or through Him,
- peace with God,
- access by faith,
- a gracious standing,
- rejoicing in hope of the glory of God;
- even in the experience of tribulation, the love of God shed abroad in the heart,
- salvation from wrath,
- safekeeping in His life,
- perpetual joy in God, etc.
Dr. Handley C. G. Moule, of Cambridge, England, in his matchless commentary on Romans, thus translates verses 10 and 11: “Much more being reconciled we shall be kept safe in His life; and, not only so, but we shall be kept always rejoicing in God.”
Blessed indeed to meet this first application of the phrase, in Jesus Christ:
Christ is the sphere of our justification, with all that this involves:
reconciliation, redemption, eternal life, safekeeping.
In Him the sinner at once becomes, in God’s sight, a saint, admitted to a new standing, not on the platform of law, but of grace.
Outside of Christ, is alienation – Inside this sphere, reconciliation
Outside of Christ, death; – Within Christ, life
Outside of Christ, enmity – Within Christ, peace
By faith we are taken into Christ,
By faith we are made at once safe from holy wrath against sin,
By faith we are kept safe from all perils and penalties.
He, our divine Redeemer, becomes to us the new sphere of harmony and
unity with God and His law, with His life and His holiness.
IN CHRIST in ROMANS
(2 Death, Burial, Resurrection) .
Each of Paul’s epistle has its own definite limits of application for the phrase, in Christ Jesus, and the divine truth which it conveys; and in each the range of thought is limited, in the main, by certain typical and representative events in the history and career of the God-man.
In Romans, it is to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ that the thoughts of the reader are preeminently directed, because these events belong together as forming the very foundation of our justification.
“Who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification.”
Here it is made unmistakably plain that the death and resurrection of Christ, together with the burial which lay between, accomplished the work of our justification.
DEATH was the delivering over of our vicarious Substitute and Surety to the penalty of a broken law.
BURIAL was His committal to the grave, as dead; and
RESURRECTION was the deliverance from both death and hades, as the divine sign and seal of His acceptance as our Substitute and Surety and of His vicarious atonement in our behalf.
Let us then fix in our minds that the special horizon of this epistle is bounded by Christ’s justifying work, and includes within its scope these three prominent facts:
- He died,
- He was buried,
- He rose again.
All the great lessons here taught center about the cross and the sepulcher.
Christ was the second and last Adam; the representative of the race; and so, judicially, He stands for the believer.
In His death, the believing sinner is reckoned as having died for sin, and unto sin;
In His burial, as having gone down into the grave, the place of death, decay, and corruption, there to leave as crucified, dead and buried, “the old man,” the old nature, and the old life of sin, now forever “put off” in Christ, “the time past of our life sufficing to have wrought our own will;” and,
In His resurrection, the believer is counted by God as having come forth, having “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24) endowed with a new Spirit of Life, henceforth to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 4:4).
It is that in Romans chapter 5 Christ Jesus is set forth before us as the last Adam.
The first Adam was the organic, ancestral, federal head of the race; his acts were representative acts, and, when he fell, the race which he represented fell in him –
– a truth which, when removed from the realm of mere polemic, controversial theology, is not difficult of apprehension; for it is plain that Adam could transmit to posterity no better nature or estate than he possessed.
We, therefore, inherit his moral corruption and bankruptcy.
In order to redeem the fallen race, God gave man a new Adam, another representative, the Lord Jesus Christ, all whose acts in behalf of man are, therefore, representative, not for Himself only, but for us for whom He stands in God’s sight.
Consequently, so far as we are, by faith in Him and by the new birth from above, identified with Him –
– as with Adam by sin and birth from beneath –
– Chrlst’s acts become our own.
This conception of representation threads the entire Bible.
It is so important that it belongs among the fundamental truths of redemption. Only in the light of it can redemption be understood; but both condemnation and justification become divinely luminous in the light which it throws upon these two opposite positions of man before God.
IN CHRIST in ROMANS
(3 Our Vital Union With Him)
The believer’s vital union with Christ Jesus is set forth, with great
clearness of statement, in Romans chapter 6:4-11, where his identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection is so plainly declared, and its practical bearings are shown.
In this sixth chapter of Romans seven significant statements are noticeable, and upon them the whole argument hangs and turns:
- Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father; that is, He was divinely quickened or made alive, so that His resurrection was a miracle.
- We, as believers, are planted together with Him in the likeness of His resurrection; that is, we share in the very power of God which raised Him from the dead.
- Our old man is crucified with Him; that is, the former sinful nature is judicially regarded as crucified, dead, buried, and left in the tomb of Christ.
- That the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin; that is, the power of sin as our master is practically broken, and we are released.
- We believe that we shall also live with Him. Surely, we are not to refer this only to our final resurrection; from His resurrection, onward, forevermore, our life is one with His.
- Death hath no more dominion over Him, and so we in Him are delivered from all that dominion of sin which is implied in death as its judicial penalty. Compare verse 14.
- In that He liveth, He liveth unto God, and to us also God is to be the source, channel, and goal of our new life, and so we are to manifest our unity with Him.
Compare 2 Corinthians 13:4:
“For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.”
This teaching is so wonderful that it would be incredible were it not found in the inspired Scripture, and thus sealed with the authority of the divine Teacher.
It is manifestly a revelation from God, for it never would have entered into the heart of any mere man, untaught of God, to conceive it.
IN CHRIST in ROMANS
(4 Christ Revealed in the Mind of God)
The one key-note of all these so-called sacred books is salvation by works. Our own Holy Bible is from the beginning to the end a protest against this doctrine.
The Word of God, has a unique and wholly unparalleled teaching, which we may find illustrated especially in Romans.
The question cannot but arise:
Where did the writers of this Bible get conceptions so original and unique?
The world of mankind was forty centuries old when the New Testament began to be constructed, when the earliest books first appeared in the primitive Church. At least five great world kingdoms had in their way carried civilization to remarkable heights of development: the Egyptian, Assyrian-Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman. Progress had not been long the lines of commerce, martial prowess, material grandeur, and imperial splendor, alone, but philosophy had won some of its proudest triumphs. The race had done much of its subtlest and most original thinking before the Nazarene began his career of teaching.
Now, how can it be accounted for that a few humble fishermen of Judea, or even a trained Hebrew scholar who had the advantage of Roman citizenship and Greek culture, should have given to mankind absolutely new ideas, and those, too, on the most vital themes? How came it that such new and marvelous conceptions are found in the Word of God, and nowhere else?
There is but one explanation: The world was visited by the Son of God.
He told of heavenly things.
He revealed the mind of God on subjects hitherto unveiled.
What He had heard in a celestial school — the University of God — what no scholar or philosopher of earth had even imagined —
He testified, and some received His testimony and set to their seal, experimentally, that God is true.
And so it comes to pass that the Bible — because it is what it claims to be, God’s Word, conveying God’s thought — gives us absolutely new ideas of the way of salvation, of the sinless sin bearer, of the risen Lord of life; and announces the simple terms whereby He becomes to the believer, the sphere of a new life — his Justifier, Reconciler, Saviour.
IN CHRIST in ROMANS
(4 Christ Revealed in the Mind of God)
Let us tarry at the threshold of our study of this theme, to praise
Him who in the Gospel of Christ has brought to light, life and immortality;
- HE has made the cross of Calvary – a tree of life,
- HE has made the sepulcher in the garden – a doorway of life,
- HE has made faith of a little child the condition of life, to every penitent and believing sinner.
Toplady says; “When Christ entered into Jerusalem the people spread garments in the way:-
When He enters into our hearts, we pull off our own righteousness, and not only lay it under Christ’s feet but even trample upon it ourselves.”
A quotation from a writer, referring to Isaiah 53:5, enforce this same lesson: that Christ revealed the mind of God:-
Let every poor sinner, and let every preacher to sinners put the great truth where God puts it, in the very center and midst, as the most vital and important of all truths.
How simple this verse which expresses it! It states facts, facts to which the prophet looked wonderingly forward, facts on which we look gratefully backward.
He, the mighty and the holy One,
He was wounded, bruised, chastised!
He was treated thus, not because He deserved it, but for our sakes,
He was treated thus, because we deserved it.
His punishment is our peace. His stripes are our healing. His death our life. O greatest of all facts!
Well mayest Thou have the central place in prophecy, the central place in our hearts!
This is the Gospel. To believe this is to be saved; He has borne the stripes and punishment due to each believer, who will, therefore, have none to bear.
To believe this is to be happy, for it is to see a substitute in our place of doom and death, setting us free!
To believe this is to be holy, for faith in such facts must make us love the One that suffered in our stead, and hate the sin that brought sore stripes on Him.
Brother, canst thou make it singular, and say, “He was wounded for MY transgressions; He was bruised for MY iniquities, the chastisement of MY peace was upon Him, and with His stripes I am healed?”
“He saved others; himself he cannot save” (Mark 15:31).
The Son of God and Son of Man gave Himself a ransom for many.
It was by His death, burial, and resurrection that He made
possible a sphere of life for you and me.
Life for us was purchased by death for Him.
And Romans, this first of New Testament epistles is the revelation of
the first conditions of our salvation.
His cross abolished our judgment; (salvation of the spirit)
His burial abolished for us the fear of death and the grave;
His resurrection became to us alike the hope and the pledge of life,
both salvation of the soul and salvation of the body.
Need it be said that the self-life is never wholly destroyed in us while we are in the world?
We may think that self is dead, but our very thought is an evidence of its survival, and perhaps a proof of its pride.
We slay self in one form, and it seems to be the more alive in every other, until what we think the death of self-praise, proves only the boastfulness of a conscious humility which is proven, by such consciousness, to be no humility at all. Here is the subtlest of our foes, and the most persistent of life, as well as the most multiplied of form.