Christianity rises or falls based on who Jesus is. Accepting the biblical declarations of the Person and Nature of Jesus, we are made aware that he was the bearer of good news. This good news offers us the privilege and responsibility of being part of the elect community for whom God has prepared great things (Ephesians 2:10).
The spirit of this essential of the faith is introduced in Paul’s statement to the Corinthians, “I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it” (1 Corinthians 9:23). Thus, the vision of this section is “Learning to participate in the Gospel,” the good news of Jesus. Since we have already discovered that the gospel is the call to participate in the elect community, the purpose of this article will be to examine the nature of this unique culture. To accomplish this task, we need to set the background for it. Thus, we will discuss the two concepts of the community elected to be “in Christ.”
The most concise statements regarding the concept of being "in Christ" is in Paul's writings to the Ephesians. He uses some form of the "in" statement ("in Christ," "in Jesus," "in the Lord," "in Him") twenty-eight times. Once he uses the term "in God" and three times "in the Spirit" in reference to the Holy Spirit (once in reference to the human spirit). Thus, it is appropriate to explore Paul’s concept in the book of Ephesians regarding being “in Christ.” It does not take very long to identify this group and tell us something of its nature. Paul does this in the first chapter. It takes only ten verses to disclose an administration suitable for this. thus, an examination of the administration he describes regarding those who are “in Christ” offers a background to our study. Paul's introduction to this "administration" is Ephesians 1:3-23.
Ephesians 1:3-14 lays the foundation for the introduction to the participation in Christ. In this passage, you will discover five distinct concepts that Paul is impressing on the Ephesians. Paul’s intent seems to be in his repetition of fundamental ideas reflecting his understanding of the elect.
As you read this passage, you will see that Paul jumps around but has reoccurring themes. Because of this, it will be beneficial for us to consider these issues together so that we can see how they occur in the text. For your convenience, I have grouped these together by topics, providing the verse numbers.
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world (4)
He predestined us to adoption (5)
having been predestined (11)
the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation (13)
holy and blameless before Him (4)
redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (7)
according to His kind intention of his will (5)
the mystery of His will (9)
according to His purpose (11)
counsel of His will (11)
View to an administration (10)
I have placed these in a logical sequence. If you examined the sections on the Gospel (Message, Election, Agency), you will see how Paul is building up to the teachings on the elect community. To explore this further, we will examine three issues: Holiness, Covenant, Koinonia (Fellowship).
There is much conversation in Christian circles about God’s will. Christians are engrossed in trying to find God’s personal will for their lives. Some want to know what God has planned for their jobs, marriages, and so on. Some want God to pick a church for them. Some will even say that a serendipitous meeting is God’s will.
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*This page is an excerpt from is my book Non-Negotiable: Focusing on the Essentials of the Faith. The book goes into more detail on many of these issues.
Last update: 6 September 2015