“In Christ Alone”

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.”

This song, “In Christ Alone” is one of the most beautiful – and true – and powerful – contemporary religious songs. It is without doubt destined to become an all-time standard. Every church should buy the sheet music if it is not in their hymnbook.

The short phrase “in Christ” is a favorite expression of Paul. He used it many times in all except two of his epistles – 2 Thessalonians and Titus. What does it mean – what are the benefits – of being “in Christ” or “in Him?” Paul, in a theologically rich passage, (Ephesians 1:3-12) , gives what is perhaps the most extensive answer. According to these verses, God has…

  1. …blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing (v. 3).
  2. …chose us in him before the foundation of the world (v.4).
  3. …predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (vs. 5-6).
  4. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (v. 7).
  5. …made known to us the mystery of his will… which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time,
  6. …to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (vs.9-10).
  7. In him we have obtained an inheritance so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (vs.11-12).

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.”

It should be evident to us that being in Christ means that He is the center and source of all blessing to us. What does that look like to us in practical terms?

Paul wrote to the Roman saints that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1). Why is this so? The contrast Paul was drawing was between the hopelessness of being under the law to the hope, peace and assurance of being under grace. Grace does not condemn – it justifies through faith. Those who are “in Christ” are not righteous because they are perfect law-keepers, but because they are “in Him.”

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” (Philippians 3:8-10).

Being in Him may be understood in light of some of the “I am” statements of Jesus.

John 6:35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Thus, He is sustenance and the source of life for those in Him.

John 8:12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

Those who are in him are able to make their way through a dark world without groping their way or stumbling over every obstacle. The way He shows us by His life is open and plain to see.

John 10:11I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

As the good shepherd, He leads us, protects and provides for us. There is no cause for fear for those who are in His care.

John 14:6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

He does not say here that he came to show us the way – but that He IS the way. He did not come to reveal a body of truth – He IS truth embodied. He did not come to teach us about a way to live, but He IS the life. There is no life apart from Him.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

John 15:1I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

As the vine, He is the source of life to those who are in Him. We must maintain a vital connection with Him in order to bear the fruit of righteousness.

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Newness of life for the individual is found in Christ. That newness is a pledge of the newness that will characterize the whole creation when God makes “all things new.”

Galatians 3:26 “…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”

What blessedness we have because of being IN Christ! What a privilege it is to be sons of God! We presently have everything that pertains to life godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.” (Keith Getty & Stuart Townend)

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