As stated in the first blog post regarding soteriology, the “in Christ” motif is primarily concerned with soteriology. Though “in Christ” will relate to other systematic categories, salvation and sanctification nuances far outweigh the evidences presented. A plethora of other soteriological elements are involved with the concept of “in Christ”
Redemption as the forgiveness of sins
More often than not, the description of redemption is portrayed or explained along with the idea of “purchasing back” or a ransom. However, the two passages describing the redemption of sinners with “union with Christ,” the idea of ransom is not clearly brought to the forefront. Rather, redemption, in both cases, is further refined to mean “the forgiveness of our trespasses.”
The salvation of mankind is the direct product of God’s election. The electing choice of God was determined prior to the foundation of the world and not bound by foreseen choices but on the basis of His purposes and grace. Yet the concept of “union with Christ” is predominantly seen in relation to an event simultaneous with conversion and rarely seen in relation to the electing purposes of God.
The great Trinitarian discussion, by Paul, in Ephesians 1:3–14 begins with a call to bless God (v.3a). Reasons for the blessings are because God is the one blessing people. As God being described as the blesser, the text follows with three statements to further refine his blessing: “with all spiritual blessings,” “in the heavenly realms,” and “in Christ.” This spiritual blessing is most likely defined by the subsequent benefits of election, sanctification, redemption, being an inheritance for God, and having the Holy Spirit provide the seal for the elect (Eph 1:3–14). All spiritual elements needed are provided through God who blesses us. Moreover, the placement of these blessings is most likely given from “the heavenly realms.” That is, God, who is in heaven (locale), provides the place of disseminating these blessings. However, what is vital for the understanding how to inherit these blessings comes to fruition in the final phrase, “in Christ.” Those who are enjoined to Christ are the direct recipients of blessings of God. Only those united to Christ are the beneficiaries of God’s blessings; as Paul defines, are all spiritual blessings needed for man.
As unbelievers, under the constant state of oppression by sin, living as “dead” sinners, and under the continual wrath of God, the “in Christ” motif breaks all spiritual barriers. As argued in Part I, the “in Christ” motif extends beyond a single systematic theological concept; it extends beyond a purely Christological understanding. Rather, “in Christ” is a “linking” concept into multiple systematic categories. In the following post, observations of “in Christ” as it relates to soteriology (salvation) will be given.
After all the New Testament verses have been analyzed, the “in Christ” motif is primarily concerned with concepts under soteriology and a close second being sanctification. Moreover, a primary element of the “in Christ” motif and soteriology is the idea of a believers “union with Christ.” As unbelievers obey and are controlled by the powers of the air, those that are “united with Christ” experience an abundance of blessings. For starters, their identity is changed, the granting of redemption and declaration of righteousness are closely associated, and sanctification is now possible.