In Him, In Him, In Him
Over the past weekend, I joined a large television audience to watch the USGA golf championship taking place in Carmel, California. There was much to admire in the telecast. The course, itself, is stunningly beautiful as it stretches along cliffs adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. Aggressive shot-making and low scores were possible because of benign weather conditions. The imaginative and golf ball manipulative skills of the golfers were fun to observe. Over 9200 accomplished players battled through weeks of qualifying rounds, until a lone victor emerged Father’s Day evening. Gary Woodland used a consistently pure swing to secure the victory.
Any golfer worth his salt knows consistency is the most important trait of any golf swing. Successful rounds are all about repetition. Being able to repeat a good swing, whether it be over championship links or at the local municipal course, is the key.
The Apostle Paul knew and understood the value of repetition. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul constantly repeated the foundational truths of biblical doctrine, and he did so not only within each of his epistles, but sometimes within the same sentence. An example of this is found in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. As he unfolds the glorious mystery of our salvation, Paul repeats the phrase “in Christ” or “in Him” throughout the first chapter and nearly ten times in verses 3-14, which is one long, doxological sentence in the original language.
It seems that God, through His instrument, Paul, wants this truth embedded in our hearts. “In Christ” is used again and again to cause us to remember one of the most foundational aspects of salvation - our union with Christ.
The believer’s union with Christ is a central doctrine in Scripture. God’s Word teaches us that we are chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and that we are united to Christ by God’s justifying grace, alone, through our faith, alone, because of the atoning death of Christ, alone. The nature of this union is not only that we are in Christ, but that He is in us! (Sidebar - Check out Rankin Wilbourne’s very helpful book, Union with Christ.)
The implications of this inviolable connection are astounding. Jesus, Himself, teaches us those implications. In John 15, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5). At the root of our sanctification is our union with Christ. As branches, we bear fruit precisely because we are united to Christ the vine, and we are connected to the vine because of the work of God the Father, who is “the vinedresser” (John 15.1). Also, in His high-priestly prayer, Jesus expressed the profound union He has with believers, saying, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17.23). Here, Jesus reveals that our union with Him - God the Son - has the direct implication that, in Christ, the Father loves us as He loves His only begotten Son. And, since we are united to Christ, we are united with Him in His death, and, therefore, we shall also be united with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6.5).
In Him, In Him, In Him….we are the victor. (Romans 8.37)