Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ephesians supplemental: Understanding “In Christ”

Ephesians supplemental: Understanding “In Christ”

The first thing one must comprehend in reading Ephesians is to understand what the phrase “in Christ” means. This phrase comes in a few different variants such as, “in Him”. “in Christ appears six times with variants “in Him” used four times. As you can see just in the 23 verses in the first chapter this phrase is used so often it must contain some significance.

To begin to understand the significance we must go to Genesis chapter seven and the creation of Adam. We see Adam is created/formed from the dust of the earth and that being the finiteness of creation itself as there is nothing as fleeting as dust. Dust can be moved by the wind yet in itself cannot even hold a seed to grow anything properly. Then, God breathes His Life giving Breath (which can be translated also as Spirit) into Adam. Note it never states an animal is “breathed into” though they contain the life giving breath, but Adam is more than a mere creature creation. It appears significance is placed on the idea that Adam was not only breathed into the Spirit of Life, but also that Adam became a living “being”.

We humans have a sense of being that may not be experience n the animal kingdom. We have a clear sense of self beyond the physical needs. We have a keen sense to ask questions beyond survival questions. We ask higher questions such as our purpose, - a monkey knows his purpose! Eat, poop, procreate, fight and die. I doubt they ask, “Why me?” when they die, or that they ponder their existence as having purpose as they gasp their last breath… but humans consider their “being” as they live as well as when they die.

Now in Genesis 2:8 it states; “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” If one takes note they will notice that God placed Adam in the garden. The Garden is symbolic of Jesus Christ. So, we see a picture of Adam, the newly created man, placed in the Garden the idea of the New Man being placed “in Christ” at his birth.

Romans 6: 3.  Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death

We see in this verse the idea that we were “baptized into Christ Jesus”. Now, we can thank good ole King James for creating a bit of confusion by imposing his phobia of bathing into our translations in English. Baptism simply means “immerse”. While I cannot find a credible source, I understand that King James had a phobia of water, so bathing was terrifying to him. So, in deference to King James the translators used the transliteration or “baptizmo” when they simply could have used “immersed”. So the phrase “baptized into Christ Jesus simply means we are immersed/placed into Christ Jesus as Adam was immersed/placed into the Garden. I have always found it strange that even today, most translators use a transliteration of a word that can be translated…, but I digress. If one simply reads this verse as “immersed into Christ Jesus” much of the confusion of ritual drops off and the meaning becomes easier to grasp. Another verse states this concept as “put on the new self” (Ephesians 4: 32) as well as being “clothed in your heavenly dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:2) or that those “who were baptized (immersed) into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3: 27).

In Christ, we have been equipped to do all God has prepared for you to do (Hebrews 13:21-22)!  In fact, 2 Peter 1: 3 states, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” The point being, that everything we need is in the Person of Jesus Christ. We come to Jesus with nothing, and God gives us everything “in Christ” and we gain all! Jesus becomes our very all. Jesus becomes our very life, for He is Life eternal. Jesus becomes our dwelling place in which we live out this life eternal. One way to understand this idea is we have died to this world’s reality at the Cross and are born into the New Reality at the Resurrection. While we maintain a citizenship in this world we are no longer of it, but born of the heavenlies. Still another way to express this idea is the idea of the Kingdom. We die to our own kingdom and now live in God’s Kingdom that is eternal. To be “in Christ” means we live in the total dependency and trust in all Jesus has done and is now doing. As Major Ian Thomas often stated, “He who gave His Life for you, gave His Life to you to Live His Life Through you.” If one begins to understand this concept, one realizes it is all Jesus and none of me. One should soon realize that there is no hierarchical idea here... it is very much relational and this relationship is very much one sided.

Reference: All translations are NIV

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