For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.1 Corinthians 15:21-22
At the heart of Christianity is a coming to Christ, or more specifically, coming to God in Christ. The way the Bible most often refers to Christians or believers is as those who are “in Christ” (over 100 times). These are individuals who have come to Christ Jesus with true faith in him as rightful Lord and sufficient Savior, and now have as their position and status and identity as “in Christ.”
And being in Christ, they now have all the blessings that flow from him, that are secured by his life, death and resurrection: peace with God, forgiveness of sins, adoption as God’s child, the confidence that God is working all things together for their good, the hope of being resurrected to new life with him.
And yet there is a common tendency to separate—subtlety or overtly—the blessings of Christ from Christ. To present Christianity as mainly about the benefits it brings, with Christ merely as a means to an end, at best. This is simply the longstanding human temptation to make God man-centered rather than make man God-centered.
But God’s purpose is not only to save humankind, but to glorify his Son, and himself. Romans 11:36 speaks of this purpose, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.”
J.I. Packer puts it nicely, “The Father is as concerned to exalt the Son as he is to rescue the lost.”
And so to this end, the benefits of God’s salvation are only found in Christ, only found as we personally come to, cling to, and are joined to Christ by faith.
As Sinclair Ferguson puts it,
“The benefits of the gospel are in Christ. They do not exist apart from him. They are ours only in him. They cannot be abstracted from him as if we ourselves could possess them independently of him.”
In other words, there’s no receiving the work of Christ without coming to the person of Christ. There’s no receiving the benefits of Christ without coming to love, enjoy and worship Christ. There’s no living with the hope of salvation while living indifferent to the glory and goodness of Christ.
And so the great burden and question of your life, of every life, is are you in Christ or apart from Christ? Have you come to Christ, or, more specifically, come to God, in Christ?