Greet Mary, who bestowed much labor on us.…
These words were very familiar and very precious to the early Christians. So much so, that they inscribed them on the tombs of their departed friends, as the catacombs in Rome and other ancient burial places still show you. And it was thought enough to wipe away a mourner's tears to see on his friend's grave the inscription, "In Christ." The preposition "in," as found in our New Testament, has a variety of significations in accordance with the various meanings of the word which it translates. It is hero employed to represent presence, or inclosure; as, when we say, "in a kingdom," "in a family," "in a house," "in the body." Not as when we say "in a valley," meaning upon the surface; thus, you say, "a house in a valley," meaning upon the surface of the ground constituting a valley; but, as when you say, "in a mountain," or "in a river," representing the idea that the thing of which you speak is contained or inclosed. "In Christ," is used in our New Testament not unfrequently with this signification; as, when we read of "faith in Christ," "hope in Christ," "truth in Christ." And persons are said elsewhere to be in Christ — thus, "babes in Christ" — "fallen asleep in Christ." There you see the word can have no other idea connected with it than that of inclusion — that of being contained; it cannot be by Christ, or after Christ, or before Christ; "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." You will observe that this is distinct from, and something in advance of, faith in Christ, and truth in Christ. Although the two things in reality are connected, yet you will see that there is a distinction between saying that a man's faith rests in Christ, and that the man himself is in Christ. The two things we know are in reality connected, but you will observe that the ideas are distinct. The words, "In Christ," represent some personal relation and connection; for you will observe the phrase is not "hope in Christ," or, as elsewhere, "faith in Christ." The idea is not that of any particular faculty or susceptibility having Christ for its object. The idea is that of the individual, in all his life, being intimately connected with Christ. Notice that this connection is begun in time. There was a time when, according to Paul's own idea, he was not in Christ. Now, very close union is indicated by Christ Himself, as existing between Himself and His disciples. "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him." "At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye," mark, "ye in Me." Elsewhere, by His apostle, Christ teaches, "He that is joined unto the Lord, is one spirit, for," he adds, "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." There are certain analogies which will here assist us. You know that Christ is called "the last man"; "the last Adam"; "the second Adam." Adam was a representative man. And there are particular ideas involved in these general thoughts. For example, as an advocate, Christ represents us; and, if Christ as an advocate represents us, we appear before God in Him. Again, Christ is called "the chief corner-stone." As the several stones are one in the corner, so are believers one in Christ; and the same thought, you observe, is involved in Christ being the "Head." Again, He is called "the true vine"; and His disciples "are the branches." But there are certain doctrines which throw light upon this expression. Let me just remind you that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"; and, except we are redeemed by the Saviour, we are ungodly. We are not in the spiritual, and in the most blessed, sense living in God. In the lowest sense we all "live, and move, and have our being" in Him-just as plants, and trees, and flowers, the grass of the field, the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, live in Him; but in the highest sense, the ungodly cannot live in Him while they are ungodly. Instead of being of the Father, they are of the world. Their element is not God, And this is our great fault; this is the source of our wretchedness; this is the root of all our wickedness. Look further. God loves the world, and desires, in the most blessed sense, that men should be brought back to Him. Then, to restore them to union with Himself, He gives His Son to be a Mediator. Now suppose that I receive this truth, what have I done? I have not my own case in hand as a suffering, sinful man. I am not trying to be my own advocate. My case is in Christ; it is entirely represented in Him. It is not only in His hand, but it is involved in His very position; because unless there were sinners there could not be a Mediator. "In Christ" — then your iniquities are forgiven, and your transgression is covered. "In Christ" — then by His obedience you are accounted righteous. "In Christ" — then the Spirit of Christ dwells with you. "In Christ" — then you are joint heirs with Christ. "In Christ" — then your life is hid with Christ, and it cannot be taken away.
Parallel VersesKJV: Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us.