When I first became a Bible Worker I began studying with a young woman who went to a Methodist AME Church. She invited me to her church one Sunday so I could hear her sing in the choir. After the choir sang, a lady guest speaker stood up to preach and to this day, that Methodist woman gave the best ever “Adventist” sermon I have heard on the book of Ephesians. She spoke about how the first part of Ephesians begins with us “in Christ.”
In Christ is where we find our justification, which is our deliverance from the penalty of sin and is our title to heaven. She then explained how the second part of Ephesians talks about “Christ in us” which is where we find our sanctification, which is our deliverance from the power of sin and is out fitness for heaven.
Let’s take a look at us “in Christ” and see why that is so powerfully important.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 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 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-14 NKJV Emphases supplied.
Why is this idea of in “in Christ” so important? Because again our justification is in Christ. We can only be accepted in the Beloved. We can only be saved in Christ. This is why it is so important to appreciate the humanity of Christ.
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3-4 NKJV
Jesus took on my flesh so that He could not only die for me, but so He could also die as me. God only has one solution for human flesh. It must be crucified. I have now been crucified in Christ and with Christ. See Romans 6:3-6 and Galatians 2:20. What else has Christ accomplished by taking my humanity?
When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 NKJV
When Jesus went into the water He had taken upon Himself all humanity, and was thus being baptized and repenting for and on behalf of the entire human race. When the Father said “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus was representing the entire human race. Therefore when the Father accepted His Son the Beloved, He was accepting all humanity in the Beloved. See Ephesians 1:6. Jesus repented on behalf of the entire human race and the Father has accepted the entire human race on behalf of Jesus.
For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Romans 5:10,12,19 NKJV
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV
Let’s summarize what we have learned so far.
All humanity sinned in Adam. Romans 5:12
All humanity was crucified in Christ. Romans 6:3-6, Romans 8:3-4 and Galatians 2:20.
All humanity repented in Christ. Matthew 3:15-16,
All humanity has lived a perfect life in Christ. Romans 5:10.
All humanity is accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:6.
This is how all humanity is predestined to become adopted as God’s children in Ephesians 1:4. However God never turns any of His children into robots and so everyone is free to reject this plan if they choose. Unless they resist or reject this plan they will be saved,
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32 NKJV
The sinner may resist this love, may refuse to be drawn to Christ; but if he does not resist he will be drawn to Jesus; a knowledge of the plan of salvation will lead him to the foot of the cross in repentance for his sins, which have caused the sufferings of God’s dear Son.-Ellen White, Steps to Christ, Page 28.
In Ephesians 1 we see that we have been accepted in Christ. Next week in Ephesians 2 we will see how we all sit in heavenly places right now-in Christ Jesus. See Ephesians 2:6.