1When you describe your faith to someone, you would probably describe yourself as a “Christian.” After all most people in the world understand the term even if it is in a limited sense.
But you might be interested to know that when Paul writes to believers in various churches he never calls them, “Christians.” The word itself only occurs 3 times in the Bible and it seems that it was used as a kind of put down for them.
When the Apostle addresses his letters, he does not call the recipients of the various cities as “Christians,” but he writes to those “in Christ.”2 This expression, in one form or another, occurs well over one hundred times in Paul’s thirteen letters.
Why does he do this? Because being “in Christ” lies at the very heart of the Christian life. From the beginning to the end of the believer’s life we are Christ centered. This implies that we constantly look to him for our identity and all the spiritual provision we need. We are saved in him, we are upheld in him, every blessing we receive is in him, and finally we will be glorified in him.
What does it mean to be “in Christ”?
Romans 5 teaches that the essence of being a human being is that we are “in Adam.”When Adam sinned, therefore, we all sinned. When Adam fell from his glorious state with God in the Garden of Eden, the whole human race fell with him.
The believer, however, has been taken out of Adam and placed into Christ. Our most defining characteristic was that we were in Adam. Now, our most definitive characteristic, the most important thing about us, is that we are in Christ. This, our union with Christ, is so fundamental that in Colossians 3:4 we read that Christ is “our life”. Without him we are dead.
This means that when Jesus Christ in his death died to sin, we died to sin. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, we were raised from the dead.
We can look at it in another way: when we believe in Jesus Christ