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A BIG LITTLE PREPOSITION
by Philip Owen

          Nouns may be interesting. Verbs may be exciting. Adjectives and adverbs are colorful. But prepositions? (If I haven’t lost you already, I will now.) Much of the time, prepositions are nearly invisible to most of us; we rarely if ever think about them the way we do the seemingly more vigorous parts of speech. But prepositions convey significant, even critical, pieces of information. I remember my tenth-grade English teacher laughing as she handed back an essay I had written. “You use prepositions like an Amishman,” she grinned. I knew we had lived around the Amish where I had been born, but I had no idea what she meant at the time. And even though at the time of her remarks, we were living several years and several hundred miles beyond those somewhat remote associations, like Peter, my words (specifically the prepositions, apparently) had “bewrayed” me; though not Amish, I had imbibed some of their expressions.

            Take the tiny preposition in, for example. What does it mean? Just try to define it without using some form of the word—“within,”inside [of].” It is so small and seemingly colorless that we pass over the word with scarcely a thought. Yet it is a word that we must reckon with if we are to be saved. It is a word that holds the key to our victory, our deliverance, our peace, our joy, our eternal hope and blessing. It is the fulcrum on which swings every blessing of our salvation. Without that little word, we would remain utterly lost and without hope. For the essential reality of salvation and all it affords comes as a consequence of our being found in Christ and not having a righteousness of our own manufacture (Phil. 3:9).

            In the mystery and miracle of redemption, there is such a uniting and identifying of Christ with the believing sinner that the Word of God describes the new reality, the fresh relationship, both as Christ being in the believer (Col. 1:27) and as the believer being in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). Those are physical impossibilities, of course, but God is speaking of the metaphysical. And on that plane, the relationship is both real and true. Christ and the believer have become so identified as one in God’s mind, that He reckons the sinner to have died in and with Christ so that his debt of sin is fully paid, and to have been raised up together in and with Christ so that he is fully justified in God’s sight.

            It would be challenging to find a better summary of the new reality and experience of a believer than to describe it simply as “in Christ.” Even a partial list of the blessings enjoyed by a believer solely as a result of being in Christ boggles the mind. Perhaps the place to start is with Paul’s observation to the believers in Corinth that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). The “new things” that believers may enjoy (in no particular order except as they appear according to the arrangement of Paul’s epistles) include: redemption (Rom. 3:24); life (Rom. 6:23); no condemnation (Rom. 8:1); the reception of God’s love (Rom. 8:39); unity in one body of believers (Rom. 12:5); sanctification (1 Cor. 1:2); triumph (2 Cor. 2:14); liberty (Gal. 2:4); justification (Gal. 2:17); faith (Gal. 3:26); every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3); hope (Eph. 1:12); a current seat in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6); kindness (Eph. 2:7); fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise (Eph. 3:6); forgiveness (Eph. 4:32); encouragement (Phil. 2:1); completeness (Col. 1:28); grace (2 Tim. 1:9); love (2 Tim. 1:13); and salvation (2 Tim. 2:10).

            That incomplete list includes only some of the blessings that are mentioned specifically as being “in Christ.” The truth is that, whether or not explicitly stated, every blessing the believer enjoys in time or will experience throughout eternity comes as a result of his being reckoned to be in Christ in His vicarious suffering, death, and resurrection. Will you take a moment today and meditate on some of the blessings promised to those who are in Christ? And will you meditate deeply enough that thanksgiving wells up in your heart and praise bursts from your lips, and long enough that your life will reflect a holy in-Christ-ness?

 

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