The Message of the Cross: Christ in Us
October 27, 2013 (Communion Sunday)
There are many ways to talk about the cross of Christ. Over the years I’ve not only preached the crucifixion passages, but I’ve also preached many other sermons relating to the effects and accomplishments of the cross. We’ve seen how the cross gives us access to Christ through confession and it is His covenant to us and is the foundation of ministry. For us the cross is the epitome of wisdom though it is foolishness to the world. The cross is our confident hope and our joy. It is our sole means of justification, sanctification, and glorification. On the cross Jesus fulfilled the image of the Passover lamb and propitiated the Father becoming our atonement. He is our power, by which we are reconciled to God and our sin is redeemed. He grants us new life by the power of His resurrection. He is our sacrifice, security, and substitute. And this morning I want to consider another accomplishment of the cross. It is a truth that we often allude to, but I suspect do not think adequately about it.
We who are believers in Christ are united to Christ and His cross.
When Christ died on the cross, we who are believers in Him also died. When He was buried, so were we; when He was resurrected, we were resurrected with Him. When He was made alive, so were we. Since He is an heir so are we. He is seated at the right hand of the Father and we are seated with Him.
This is the amazing work that Christ accomplished at the cross: He unified us to Him. As one writer has said, “the majority of Christians much more frequently think of Christ as a Savior outside of them, than as a Savior who dwells within.” [A. H. Strong, quoted by Demarest, The Cross and Salvation, 313.] Yet the NT emphasis is on our identity with Christ and our union with Him.
Now the NT has many ways of referring to our union with Christ —
- We are in Him; He is in us — in fact phrases like “in Christ,” “in the Lord,” and “in Him” appear 216x in Paul’s letters and 26x in John’s writings (cf. 1 John 2:6; 4:13; 5:20).
- He is with us and we are with Him
- We abide in Him and He in us
- We have been placed into Him
- We have all things through Him
What we will focus on this morning is one verse that combines the ideas of being “with Christ” and “in Him” (Gal. 2:20).
As we begin, you’ve probably mentally asked, “But what does this mean? In what way are we ‘in Christ’ or ‘united to Christ?’” An initial and short answer is that it is very similar to the relationship between a man and woman when they marry — while maintaining distinctiveness, they also are joined together in a transcendent (even “mystical”) union that is indissolvable and from which immense benefits are derived.
In Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul affirms our union with Christ by asserting three theological realities that Christ accomplished at the cross.
Our union with Christ means that His experience on the cross has become our experience.
We are united to Christ so that our sin has been removed, we have been given Christ’s new life, and we have a new way to live.