Christian Standing and Condition

A brief enquiry as to the teaching of Holy Scripture on these subjects.

C E Stuart

Publisher: Blatchley.

Introduction to the Fifth Edition.

In sending forth a fifth edition of this pamphlet, a fitting opportunity is afforded its author of saying a few words with reference to it. To anything that has been written about it, or about the truth of which it professes to treat, which has come under the writer’s notice, he has not been indifferent; yet he has seen nothing that has led him to change his thoughts as to the Scriptural teaching on the subject. So the pamphlet is sent forth afresh, with its doctrine unchanged; a few notes only being added, and a sentence or two expressed more clearly.

Some remarks, however, may be made to meet certain objections which have been raised. First – Disappointment has been expressed by some that other lines of Scripture teaching had not been dwelt upon. It will be sufficient, in reply, to remind the reader of the object of the pamphlet, as originally stated:

“We would now consider Scripture teaching about the believer’s standing, and about his condition as being in Christ.” It must be obvious that all Christian teaching cannot be summed up under these two heads. To look for other lines to be dwelt on in a pamphlet treating of the two just named, would be surely unreasonable. And, had such been introduced, confusion, not distinctness, would have been fostered.

Second. – It has struck the author more than once, in perusing remarks on his paper, how helpful it is to observe carefully the language of Rom. 5: 2. The Apostle writes, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.” This grace, not the grace, is the language of Paul, the demonstrative pronoun surely thus drawing attention to something that he had already introduced, and not to a subject of which as yet he had not treated. Further, this grace, not the grace, intimates that he referred not to favour in general, but to some particular display of it with which he had made his readers acquainted.

Third. – Great objection has been taken to the thought of standing before the throne of God. Now, if it is remembered that the mercy-seat was the place of God’s throne on earth – for He dwelt between the cherubim – it will be evident, if the types of Leviticus are to teach us, where it is the saint stands, as well as the ground on which he stands, in the presence of God; for the earthly tabernacle was the antitype (Heb. 9: 24) of the heavenly sanctuary. And since Christians, members of the holy priesthood, have entrance into the holiest (Heb, 10: 19), all sanctuary worship must be conducted before the throne of God. As the hymn expresses it:
“Within the holiest of all,
Cleansed by His precious blood,
Before the throne we prostrate fall,
And worship Thee, O God.”
If the reader bears this in mind it is hoped he will see the unreasonableness of the cry that has been raised. We cannot enter the holiest without being before Him who sits on the throne.

But there is a difficulty which some have found, and it is one which may require a few words of explanation. We are said in Gal. 2: 17, to be justified by or in Christ. Now this expression does not mean that we must be what Scripture calls “in Christ,” in order to be justified. There are three prepositions in Greek used in connection with the verb to justify. We meet with them all three in Gal. 2: 16, 17. We are said to be justified by,or on the principle of (en), faith, in contrast to works. We are said to be justified instrumentally by (dia) faith. We are said to be justified by, or in (en), Christ, in contrast to the being justified by, or in (en), law (Gal. 3: 11; 5: 4). That is to say, we are justified in virtue of, or by, Christ; nor in virtue of, or by, law. We meet with this phrase in the Apostle’s address, in Acts 13: 39. “By Him (literally, in this one) all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by (or in) the law of Moses.” In Romans 5: 9, we meet with the same phrase, “justified by” or in; i.e., in virtue of, in the power of, “His blood.” Again, we read in 1 Cor. 4: 4, “Yet am I not hereby [lit., in this] justified.” These examples will make it plain, it is hoped, what the phrase means. As we do not mean, by being justified in law, or in blood, that we were in the law, or in the blood of Christ; so, justified in Christ means, as contrasted with justified in the law, by, or in virtue of, the one, and not by, or in virtue of, the other.

Here one might stop, and would gladly have done so, were it not for a professed review of the pamphlet in a periodical entitled, Words of Faith; “a monthly magazine intended for the help and comfort of believers in the Lord Jesus.” The article in question is from the pen of the Editor himself. And the grave indictment (for it is a very grave one) therein set forth, shall be given in the reviewer’s own words: – "We think many of our readers will be unable to refrain from asking themselves the question, Did the writer not know that they (i.e., certain words) were not represented in the original? and if he did not, was he not, in good faith, bound to have made a thorough investigation of the real value of these terms, before, in so dogmatic and critical a manner, making statements that so fundamentally affect the blessing of souls? Is there not a moral wrong in this way of dealing with divine truth, that quotes, as Scripture, words for which there is no equivalent in the original, and even calls especial attention to the word ‘state’ by putting it into italics, while the actual word or words in the phrase which are represented in the original are left in ordinary type” (p. 281).

Such is the indictment. Next let us hear what is the Editor’s competency to frame it, for what comes from an editor’s pen is generally supposed to rest on good authority. He shall tell us himself. The passage might be spoilt if expressed in the language of another. “With no pretension to scholarship ourselves, but as having, in a Berean spirit, looked up and examined these passages, we give our readers the result of our investigations, that they may form for themselves a judgment of the verbal basis upon which the author founds his doctrine as to ‘Christian standing and condition,’ and, we cannot help adding, the reliance to be attached in this instance to his critical use of words so fundamentally affecting the believer’s blessing and joy” (p. 256).

On this one would remark: a Berean spirit all would admire. But an essential condition for acting in that spirit is, surely, a little acquaintance with the language upon which one is writing. One presumes the Bereans conducted their investigations in a tongue they themselves understood. Further, it is difficult to see, if the Editor had been the most accomplished Shemitic and classical scholar in the world (though he takes pains to dispel any such illusion), what more he could have done, than have furnished his readers, whom he regards as unacquainted with such subjects, with the result of his investigations, that they might form for themselves a judgment on the questions on which he writes. But now for the results of his investigations. “The Hebrew word [query, verb] kum used here (Ps. i. 5), has not properly, the force of standing, in the sense of a fixed standing, or position, but of rising up, and would more justly be rendered, shall not rise.” One turns to Dr. Julius Fuerst’s Hebrew Lexicon, and reads, at the very outset of his article on that verb, “kum, properly the same as chun, to be, to stand in a place, to stand fast.” Thereupon, developing the various meanings of the verb, we learn it is used like, amad, to stand fast, to subsist, to have continuance; and, like yatsab, to stand, before the judgment (Ps. i. 5). But the reviewer proceeds, “The Hebrew word [query, verb] yatsab used here (Ps. v. 5), has not the force of a fixed or settled position.” Turning again to Fuerst, we read it means, “to be firmly in a place, to stand firm or sit, to lie firmly in a place,” &c. Very like a settled position most would suppose. Consulting Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon, we are told it means, “to stand firm before anyone, whether a victor before an enemy, or a just person before a judge” (Ps. v. 6). Looking into Lee’s Hebrew Lexicon, we are told it means “to be, become, set up, stand fast, variously applied.” Again the reviewer speaks, and tells us, “The Hebrew word [query, verb] amad [it should be, not amach, as he has written it; a root, if it be one, with which the dictionaries are unacquainted] has the force of settled, fixed position, or continuance, whether in rest or motion; hence, as a noun, is used for a standing-place, station, or state.” Unable to find such a noun as amad, one presumes the Editor meant omed: but that is never translated state, either in the Lexicons already referred to, or in the Authorised Version. Thus far, Hebrew lexicographers, – whose scholarship, and, therefore, competency to express an opinion, none would question – are at variance with the Editor of the Words of Faith, as to statements which he has advanced apparently on his mere ipse dixit.

But to proceed. Yatsab, we are told, is not used in a judicial sense, nor has amad anywhere the force of a judicial standing before a throne of judgment. Very definite statements, certainly. But are they correct? Gesenius, one presumes, would demur to that as regards yatsab. What would say Delitzsch, in his notes on the Psalms, to the Editor’s statements? Writing on Ps. i. 4-6, as given in “Clark’s Foreign Theological Library,” we read, “In this judgment the ungodly cannot stand [kum, to continue to stand, like amad, Ps. cxxx. 3, to keep one’s self erect] nor sinners.” We have seen Fuerst does not agree with the reviewer’s dictum about kum. Delitzsch, we here learn, is also opposed to him. Again, on Ps. v. 5, where yatsab is the verb, Delitzsch thus writes, “Of such it is said, that they are not able to maintain their position when they become manifest before the eye of God.” Again, writing on Ps. cxxx. 3, where amad is the verb used by the Psalmist, he says, “The inevitable consequence of this is the destruction of the sinner, for nothing can stand against the punitive justice of God (Nah. i. 6; Mal. iii. 2; Ezra ix. 15). If God should show Himself as Jah, no creature would be able to stand before Him who is Adonaj, and can, therefore, carry out His judicial will or purpose (Isa. li. 16). He does not, however, act thus. He does not proceed according to the legal stringency of recompensative justice.”

Turning to Phillips on the Psalms, we read, on Ps. i. 5, “Accordingly we perceive that the Chaldee has got in the great day for the rendering, in the judgment: and Ewald and Hengstenberg both speak of the conclusion of this Psalm as prophetical of the ultimate condition of the righteous and the wicked, as determined by the judge of all the earth, when mankind will be summoned to their account. The force of shall not stand, therefore, is, that the wicked shall not stand before God, so as to be accepted by Him as justified; and this, again, is well given by the Chaldee in the words, they shall not be pure, or innocent.” Enough, probably, has been adduced to show the groundlessness of the reviewer’s statements, when compared with the writings of those who do know something of Oriental learning. If C. W. is correct, the others are all in the dark. If he is competent to correct such men as Fuerst, Gesenius, Lee, Delitzsch, and others, on subjects in which they are confessedly at home, it must be owing to some recent discoveries in linguistic learning. But then he should acquaint us with them.

Of course one could conceive a case, in which all former labourers had been pursuing a wrong scent, hence the mere array of names might not in itself be sufficient to determine the matter in question. Corroboration might be needed. In this case we have it. Examining the context of the passages we shall get help. In Ps. i. the righteous one is compared to a tree, which abides in a fixed position surely; whilst the wicked are compared to chaff, which the wind drives away. “Therefore,” is the conclusion of the Psalmist, “the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of righteous ones.” Driven away like chaff, the wicked have no fixed standing in the judgment. The context, then, not only fails to support the Editor, but refutes his assertion, and verse 5 is seen to be a just conclusion from what has gone before. If we examine Ps. v., we shall arrive at a similar result. In verse 4 we read: “evil,” or, as some would translate, “an evil man shall not dwell with Thee;” so, as a consequence, it follows, “the foolish shall not stand in Thy sight.” Looking at Ps. lxxvi. we learn how death in judgment, prophetically described as having taken place, will overtake the enemies of God. “The stout-hearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands. At Thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.” Hence follows, if that takes place, “Thou, even Thou, art to be feared, and who may stand in Thy sight when once Thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.” One had thought that the question, “Who may stand in Thy sight when once Thou art angry?” had reference to something judicial. Probably those who thus thought, will think so still; and surely the words of Ps. cxxx. 3, “If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” must dispel all lingering doubt, if any remains, that the Hebrew verb, amad, met with here, and in Ps. lxxvi. 7, certainly has reference to a forensic standing before God.

Calling the reader’s attention to yet one other passage, we may then pass on to notice more editorial statements. “Who can stand [amad] before His indignation? who can abide, or subsist [kum] in the fierceness of His anger?” (Nahum. i. 6). The most sceptical will probably admit that amad is here used in connection with judicial action, and that hum here, as elsewhere (see Ps. xxiv. 3), has the force which the Editor denies to it. One thing, then, is clear: If the Editor is to be accepted as our guide, the labours and learning of those really conversant with such subjects must be flung to the winds, and the context even of the different passages must be disregarded. At present who is prepared for such a wholesale surrender? But more, we shall see, is required of us.

The reviewer’s remarks on the Greek verb histemi are brief, so they need not detain us long. The passages referred to in the pamphlet (p. 7) speak for themselves in support of the remarks which accompanied them. Certainly none of them suggest the thought of the individual standing erect on his feet, as we are told the verb generally signifies. And the references to Rom. iii. 31, x. 3, by the reviewer, are not to the point. Rom. xiv. 4 should be translated simply, “he shall be made to stand.” One would only add here that care should be taken, when quoting Scripture, at least to quote it correctly. On page 282 he quotes Rom. v. 2 as if it were “access into the grace wherein we stand,” unconscious, we must suppose, of the importance there of the demonstrative pronoun this. Quoting Eph. i. 3, he gives us a new and quite an unsupported reading: “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in the heavenlies in Christ;” and why does he quote Phil. iii. 9 as he has done – "That which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith?” For English readers we must say: “the righteousness which is of God,” or something equivalent, else the force of the preposition ek is lost, the teaching of the passage is in danger of being misrepresented, and bad doctrine is encouraged. Such handling of the Scriptures is hardly what one would have looked for in a review professedly designed to uphold the true teaching of the Divine Word.

We now approach what would be, certainly, in the author’s judgment, a charge of flagrant dishonesty in his dealings with God’s word, if it could be supported by evidence. Very probably the reviewer, from not understanding the subject on which he is writing, has no idea of the gravity of the accusation implied in his statements. But is it true?” In not one instance,” he writes, “as the simple reader would surely have expected to have found, is the word ‘state’ represented in the original, either in the Hebrew or in the Greek.” Again, “Is there not a moral wrong in this way of dealing with divine truth, that quotes, as Scripture, words for which there is no equivalent in the original, and even calls special attention to the word ‘state’ by putting it into italics, while the actual word or words in the phrase which are represented in the original are left in ordinary type” (p. 281). One might well reply to such statements in a very summary way. But as God’s truth is involved, and simple souls may be stumbled by such bold assertions, one is forced to disprove them.

And first it may be pointed out, that a very little attention to the text of the Authorised Version would have kept the reviewer from thus committing himself. For the simple reader may see for himself, and in a language he can understand, that in Gen xliii. 7, Esther i. 19, Ps. cxxxvi. 23, Ezek. xvi. 55, Luke i. 48, Phil. ii. 19, iv. 11, the Authorised Version prints the word “state” in ordinary type, a proof that in the judgment of the translators there was an equivalent for it found in the original. With Matt. xii. 45, Luke xi. 26, they acted differently, printing “state” in italics. Fortunately the reviewer has spared one the necessity of saying a word on these two passages, for he admits (p. 259) “the thought of condition may be supplied,” an admission which goes far to show that, without the word “state” being directly expressed in the original, the passage may imply it, and a translation should express it.

Now it is quite true that there is not in any of those passages cited above, a particular word in the original for which “state” is the simple and only equivalent. But this is only an admission of that with which one thought most, not excepting the reviewer, were acquainted, viz., that the sacred writers wrote, not in English, but in Biblical Hebrew and Hellenistic Greek. This fact, too, the Authorised Version has for nearly three centuries persistently proclaimed on its title-page, on which we read, “The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, translated out of the original tongues.” One had thought, too, everybody, who had any little understanding of languages, knew well that you could not always find in one language a separate verbal equivalent for every word in another. This is no new discovery; strange would it be were it otherwise. Simple, surely, will those be, who suffer themselves to be misled by the bold, but unsupported, assertions of the reviewer. To such shall proof be afforded of what has just been stated.

“Why,” he asks, “was not ‘royal’ the word actually in the original (Esther 1: 19), put in italics?” Will the Editor of Words of Faith suffer himself to be informed that “royal” is not the word “actually in the original,” and that what the original meant to convey by malcuthah (not malcuah, as he writes it – a combination of letters, which, as far as one’s memory goes, forms no word in Biblical Hebrew at all) was just “her royal estate,” or “royal dignity”: malcuth being a substantive, not an adjective, as any Hebrew dictionary would show. And in accordance with this, one of the latest translations, the new French version by M. J. N. Darby expresses the one Hebrew word in his text by “la dignite royale de Vashti,” and in his note puts “litt. sa dignite royale.” One might ask in passing, will the reviewer have no word of condemnation for the moral wrong, as he would call it surely, of thus inserting “de Vashti” in the text in the place of the more literal “sa”?

But at this point we are confronted by a difficulty. In the October number of his magazine (p. 258), the Editor writes that the word translated “royal estate” signifies simply kingdom. In the November number (p. 281) we are taught on the same unsupported authority, that royal is the word actually in the original. If the simple reader to whom the Editor appeals followed his guidance in October, where will he be in November? Different authorities might contradict each other. But for the same authority to write so dogmatically one thing one month, and another in the next, apparently oblivious of his former remark, is perplexing surely. In one thing, however, on both occasions he manifests consistency, in that no account is taken of the possessive pronoun, which is in the original, and forms part of the word malcuthah. Another thing which will perhaps strike the simplest reader is, that Vashti, as the book of Esther shows, was queen-consort, and not queen regnant. “Her kingdom,” then, would never do as the translation of the original. And, if Xerxes of profane history is the Ahasuerus of Esther, as seems most probable, every school-boy could tell us, that he who invaded Greece with his enormous host, was King of Persia, not in name only, but in reality. The kingdom was his, not Vashti’s. He was not king-consort. Nor would any of his subjects, we may well believe, have expressed themselves to him in language which could by any possibility have implied such a thing. Grammar, then, and history, both sacred and profane, must also be flung to the winds, if the reviewer is correct in what he writes. We must make a clean sweep of everything that has been taught on these subjects, and begin with our minds as a tabula rasa to receive the impressions the reviewer is pleased to make on them. Who is prepared for this?

Next of Ps. cxxxvi 23, we are told that there is no word in the original for estate, and that the Hebrew word shephel simply means lowness, or low place. One must beg the Editor’s pardon. Shephel does mean low estate, as lexicographers and scholars would tell any who consulted them; and the French Version referred to above is in perfect agreement with such, as it translates the one Hebrew word by the two French words, “bas etat.” Of what moral wrong must all the authorities indicated have been guilty! What a vast conspiracy against the truth has by the reviewer been unearthed!! For about two thousand years it has been thought that the saints in that Psalm could give thanks for being remembered by God in their low estate. And, probably, those really competent to speak of such matters will hold to that opinion as long as the Psalm remains unchanged. Coming to Ezekiel xvi. 55, we are necessarily again in collision with the reviewer. Kadmah (not Karmah, as C. W. prints it) should be rendered, if Fuerst may instruct us, by “earlier condition,” or as Gesenius gives it, “a former, pristine state.” With these, Lee, Henderson, &c., and the French Version above named all agree. The context, too, requires and confirms it.

Not less unfortunate is the reviewer in his remarks on the passages quoted from the New Testament, for he is again found in direct conflict with those who might be supposed, and surely would generally be considered, to know what they were about. According to him, the Greek word, tapeinosis, must be translated, in Luke i. 48, by humiliation; whereas, those who may be supposed to know the language translate it by low estate as the reader may see by reference to the Revised Version, the translations of Alford, Wordsworth, Darby, and others. It is plain, too, that it was the Virgin’s condition, and not the state of her soul, of which she spoke on that occasion in the fulness of her heart to God.

We now come to instances of idiomatic phrases (Phil. ii. 19, iv. 11; Gen. xliii. 7), where a literal translation cannot, in the nature of things, always express the mind of the speaker or writer. Let us hear the Editor express himself: “There is no word for ‘state’ in the original (Phil. ii. 19). The Greek words (ta peri humon) simply meaning concerning you (‘how ye go on’ – new translation).” We should live and learn doubtless. Ta peri humon, we are told, simply means “concerning you.” Probably a schoolboy, thus simply translating the words, would learn, to his cost, that he had omitted to give the force of the article ta. Unfortunately for the Editor, his guide as to Phil. ii. 19-20, who has certainly translated the Greek phrase in these places in a very free way, renders the same words in Col. iv. 8, by “that he might know your state.” Assuredly, then, we shall not deal unfairly by the Divine Word, in retaining the rendering of the Authorised Version in Phil. ii, 19, in common with the Revised Version, Alford, and Ellicott, &c., and confirmed as it is by the translation of the New Version, of Col. iv. 8. Unfortunately, too, for the reviewer, Col. iv. 8 witnesses against him in another way. He states, “nor are the word, or words, so rendered in these passages, even similarly rendered into English in the other instances in which they occur in the originals” (p. 281). Col. iv. 8 witnesses to the contrary. Of Phil. iv. 11, little need be said. Idiomatic phrases, as remarked above, cannot always be rendered word for word into another tongue. The “how ye get on,” which meets with the reviewer’s marked approval, illustrates this. And one would have thought that the rendering of Phil. iv. 11, which, we are told, is “more simply and expressively translated by, I have learned in those circumstances in which I am to be satisfied,” should have made him more careful of formulating an indictment, which the rendering he quotes with approval goes far to upset. So, in Gen. xliii. 7, the translation of the Authorised Version expresses the sense of the original. In all these passages state is referred to; to that attention, therefore, was drawn by italicizing the word. “Royal,” “low,” “former,” characterise the state in the respective places, but the thought common to all is that of condition or state.

Thus far to meet the grave imputation of dishonest dealing with the Word of God. For, whatever the reviewer may say, if his statements had been true, the author in this matter would certainly have laid himself open to the charge of flagrant dishonesty. Since writing the above, nearly twenty pages more of remarks from the Editor’s pen have appeared in the December number of his magazine. Were one writing a review of his paper one would fearlessly grapple with them. But having no intention to do more than to repel the grave imputations already dealt with, one passes them by. The Scriptures quoted therein at length by C. W., and his own remarks, are sufficient on nearly every point he takes up to show any careful reader what value to attach to his statements.

A few remarks may now be added on other points. One quite understands, and appreciates, the feeling of jealousy with which alterations in the English version of the Divine Word are regarded by some. We ought to be careful that we do not hastily accept suggested improvements, even if sanctioned by revered and honoured names. One would, therefore, respect the feeling which may prompt people at first to view with suspicion the alteration of the reading of Eph. i. 6. But one maybe permitted to remark, that few now, if any, would defend Tyndale’s translation of the Greek verb echaritosen by “made accepted,” which was followed by the Authorised Version; for to him, it seems we must trace that rendering into English. If any keep to the reading of the common Greek text, and translate the verb by “shown us grace, or favour,” a warning would be needed lest “in the Beloved” be viewed, as Whitby, Locke, Macknight, etc., seem to have done, merely as an instrument. Accepting, on the other hand, the reading now generally followed, “to the praise of the glory of His grace which He hath freely bestowed on us in the Beloved,” that mistake is really obviated. It will then be seen, that the display of grace referred to is what has been already mentioned in verses 3-5, and not some new display for the first time now introduced. “In the Beloved,” then, will, following the better reading, necessarily have its proper force. The more the passage is examined with the context, the more, we believe, the best attested reading will recommend itself to the student of the Word. And much of controversy and misunderstanding would disappear, if Scripture were taken simply, and read carefully. Some, surely, have in measure proved this. Were it more generally done, the abstract statement of Rom. vi. 7 (to take an instance), “he that is dead is freed, or justified, from sin,” would not be confounded, as sometimes it seems to be, with the truth of God justifying the ungodly. Its connection, too, with the context would help to clear up its meaning. And, to take another instance, some of the confusion (will the reader pardon one for saying it?) that exists as to “new creation,” would be dispelled, were the difference always remembered between the new man of Eph. iv. 24, which after God is created “in righteousness and holiness of truth,” and new creation. The new man is in the saint. The saint in Christ is new creation. December, 1884.

Christian Standing and Condition.

“The opening* [rather than entrance] of Thy word giveth light: it giveth understanding to the simple” (Ps. cxix. 130.) This was the Psalmist’s experience, as he pondered over God’s testimonies, which to him were wonderful. It will ever be the same with those subject to the teaching of the divine Word. But on looking into that Word all must see that it is not arranged as man might have wished, like a text-book of systematic divinity. Nevertheless, the more it is studied, the more it is apparent that it is the product of one mind, however many may have been the penmen employed, revealing, as it does, truth needful for the creature’s profit, and intimating, in the way in which the truth comes out in its pages, that the One who has given it bit by bit could, at any period of man’s history, have communicated, had He been so minded, still more. We see this abundantly illustrated in the teaching of the Old Testament when compared with the fuller revelation in that of the New.

{*Such is the generally acknowledged translation of the Hebrew p?thach. With that in substance, ancient versions, as the Septuagint and Vulgate, agree. Gesenius, Lee, Fuerst, Delitzsch, and others agree in translating it by “opening.” By the Authorised Version it was translated “entrance,” i.e., gate, as if equivalent to a word p?thach, gate. Calvin’s remarks may illustrate the meaning of the English version, “Not only those who have attained an accurate acquaintance with the whole law, and who have made the study of it the business of their lives, discern there a clear light, but also those who have studied it very imperfectly, and who have only, so to speak, entered the porch.” His translation, in common with the Authorised Version, really confounds p?thach with p?thach. But, unquestionably, by “entrance” was never intended the entering in of the Word into the soul. Such a meaning could not rightly be evolved from the original.}

The typical teaching of the former had especially for its object truth about the Lord Jesus Christ, but that teaching was but the shadow of things to come, the body of which was of Christ. So when He came it was seen that the shadows, all correct as they were, did not fully delineate all that would be seen in Christ. Types they were of Him, and of no one else; but as types they could not fully represent all that would be set forth in connection with His person, and the sacrifice of Himself, which we learn by them was ever present to the eye of God. Headship of race, typified in Adam;* heirship in resurrection, typified in Isaac; the firstborn, with the privileges connected with it, portrayed in Joseph, David, and Solomon — these and other types delineated something of Him that was to come, who, as Son of God, born in time, and conceived of the Holy Ghost, was a man different from all who preceded, or ever will come after Him. For none of those men who are types of Him were, what He was, holy, spotless, and undefiled. If we turn to the sacrifices we find the same thing. Bulls, goats, lambs, birds — all were types of Him as the sacrificial victim, yet none of these could depict that the true and only, but all-sufficient, sacrifice would be a man born of a woman; nor could they shadow forth that the true sacrifice would come from heaven.

{* Adam is called in Rom. v. 14, the type, or figure, of him that was to come. }

So too of the subjects of divine revelation. Counsels of God, in His mind before the foundation of the world, have been only revealed in the end of the age preceding Messiah’s appearance in power and glory. Yet God’s previous revelations, as we now see, were framed with reference to this fuller one that was to be brought out subsequent to that feast of Pentecost, at which the Holy Ghost was poured out on the company gathered together in the upper room on that morning in Jerusalem. And the types and ordinances, previously set forth, now show us that those counsels were always in God’s thoughts. He willed, indeed, to have an earthly redeemed people, but ere that people shall inherit without risk of forfeiture what He has in store for them, God would people the throne of His Son in the heavenlies with co-heirs in the kingdom; and would call out that company which for ever in glory will manifest as the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, and as the temple, and tabernacle of God, to what special blessing, and to what nearness to Himself, God can bring those who are the subject of the heavenly calling, partakers in that better thing which He has foreseen for them, referred to in Heb. xi. 40. All this the Old Testament revelation left room for between the taking up of Israel as God’s earthly people and their entrance upon final blessing.

A depth, then, there is, and a fulness in the inspired volume called the Bible, which at first sight might not be apparent. It is a revelation from One who has not revealed all that He knows, but only all that is good for the creature to know. So in studying the written Word we are brought into intercourse with the thoughts of Him whose mind is not fathomed by the revelation He has vouchsafed, though He must always speak from the height and fulness of His own knowledge and purposes. Hence the conviction must force itself on the subject mind of the necessity for considering, both the form in which the truth is revealed, and the teaching also contained in the revelation, which is not always apparent on its surface. An illustration may help to make this last remark more clear.

The resurrection of the body was denied by the Sadducees, who professed, in common with the Pharisees, to accept the Pentateuch as authoritative divine revelation. With what an air of triumph — we can picture it — a Sadducee might hold the roll of the law in his hands, and challenge the Pharisee to point out one passage in which the term resurrection could be found, or in which man’s existence after death was affirmed. No such formal teaching on that subject like that in 1 Cor. xv. could be found in any one of the five books of the law; yet the truth of the resurrection of the dead was really to be found imbedded in the Mosaic writings, as the Lord brought out in a way which at once and effectually put the Sadducees to silence. Teaching there was which implied it, though the subject was not one formally treated of by the law giver.

Similarly there may be other truths in different parts of the sacred volume really implied, and to be understood, though not formally expressed by name. On the one hand we may be quite correct in stating that such or such a truth is not directly mentioned in some particular part of the Bible; but, on the other hand, to go further, and to say it is not implied, or to be understood in that portion may be to arrogate to ourselves an acquaintance with the fulness of the Word to which we can lay no just claim, and to find ourselves convicted of a serious mistake, like the Sadducees in the presence of the Lord. For instance, should we say, Paul never names the Church as the Bride. This, true as to the actual term, the Bride, would be clearly a mistake with Ephesians v. before us. Or should we say the truth of sealing is in the Ephesians, but not in the Romans? Here again we should be wrong. True it is that the term sealing is not met with in the Romans, yet it is distinctly implied (Rom. v. 5; viii. 15.) Again if we said that, though the old man is mentioned in the Romans, the new man is not implied therein, should we be correct? The term is not there met with; but its being in the believer is assumed in vi. 18-22 and elsewhere, since its characteristics — viz., righteousness and holiness — are spoken of. How be righteous and holy without it? But, of course, it may be equally presumptuous to assume that certain truths are implied, unless the teaching of Scripture can be adduced in support of the assertion.

We have said the form in which truth is expressed must be considered. Now this will lead to an accuracy of thought about it which might not otherwise have occurred to us. The use of Scripture terms will then force themselves on our attention, and both the wisdom of their selection and their special value we shall be able, as taught of God, in some measure to apprehend. Instances of this we are familiar with, such as the phrase “Righteousness of God,” not “Righteousness of Christ;” and “Resurrection from the dead,” in contrast to “Resurrection of the dead.”

We would now consider Scripture teaching about the believer’s standing and about his condition as being in Christ.

We speak of the believer’s standing before God, but in what connection of thought is that term used in the Word? In both Testaments the term is found; for the truth expressed by it concerns God’s earthly saints as well as Christians. The term, however, is more frequently met with in the Old Testament than it is in the New, though the real ground of our standing is only actually declared in the latter. But this need not surprise us. The word atonement, for instance, so frequently found in the Hebrew Scriptures, occurs nowhere in the Greek Testament. On the other hand, the term propitiation, one essential element in atonement, is only found in the portion of the inspired volume written in Greek, and not at all in the earlier revelation, written chiefly in Hebrew, but part also in Chaldee. Let us now turn to the Old Testament, to see how it speaks of standing before God.

“The ungodly,” writes the Psalmist, “shall not stand in the judgment” (i. 5.) “The foolish shall not stand in thy sight” (v. 5.) “Who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?” (lxxvi. 7.) “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (cxxx. 3.) It is plain that these passages connect the thought of standing with the throne of God, the acting of which must go out in judgment against the sinner unless, as the last psalm we have quoted shows, God can forgive the guilty one. “But there is forgiveness with thee,” we read, “that thou mayest be feared” (v. 4): Before that throne, then, the sinner in his sins cannot stand. “He shall not stand in the judgment.” It is not here taught that his standing has been a bad one, or that he must change it. It is, on the contrary, distinctly affirmed that as a sinner, as a foolish person, he has no standing before a God of judgment; i.e., before His throne. For how, unless forgiven, can he stand in God’s sight when once He is angry? What the Psalmist has expressed the prophets confirm: “Who can stand before His indignation?” (Nahum i. 6.) “Who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap” (Mal. iii. 2.) The truth that the sinner is unable to stand before His throne apart from grace manifested to him the man of Bethshemesh felt, and owned, when, beholding their fellow-townsmen slain by the Lord for looking into the ark, which, with the mercy-seat covering it, was the place of God’s throne on earth, they exclaimed, “Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” (1 Sam. vi. 20.) And the same truth Ezra expressed in his prayer to Jehovah — “Behold, we are before thee in our trespasses; for we cannot stand before thee because of this” (ix. 15.) “In their trespasses.” That was their condition that day, as placed by God on the ground of law; so he owned that, having broken it, they could not stand before their God. Clearly in his mind the people’s condition and their standing were thoughts quite distinct. Having sinned, being in their trespasses, according to the revelation vouchsafed them, they could not stand in the divine presence. They could not stand in the judgment.

The quotations given above will make it clear, it is hoped, that the standing of the responsible creature before God in the Old Testament is connected with the thought of the throne. The sinner apart from redemption and atonement has no standing before God’s throne. It is not that he must get a better one; for by nature he has none. What he needs is to acquire one. Turning now to the New Testament, we see that its teaching is in perfect harmony with that of the Old. The standing of the Christian, as is the case with that of the Israelites, is connected with the throne. So in Romans v. 2 we meet with the term standing, which does not occur again in that epistle till xi. 20 and xiv. 4. That is to say, that in that part of it (v. 12 — viii. 11) which treats of the Christian condition or state, as in Christ and Christ in him, the term standing never occurs. The same may be said of the other portions of the Word in which the line of teaching of our being in Christ and Christ in us is especially dwelt upon, as the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, save as we meet with it in the exhortations to saints to maintain their ground. (Eph. vi. 11, 13, 14; Col. iv. 12. *) But that is, of course, a different matter. Where then the action of the throne is mentioned, as in Romans iii. — v. 11, standing is spoken of. See also Rev. vi. 17: “For the great day of His (or, Their) wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Where the saint’s condition, or state as in Christ before God is the theme, his standing is not the subject of divine teaching. Standing before the throne connects itself with forgiveness and justification, which last is true for us meritoriously by blood (Rom v. 9), and instrumentally by faith (v. 1).

{*To these may be added 1 Peter v. 12, when rightly read, “In which stand ye.”}

Now our standing before God’s throne rests solely on that which the Lord has endured for us, and its abiding efficacy is assured to us, if we believe on Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Rom. iv. 24, 25.) To that which has been done for us nothing can be added to increase its efficacy, or to enhance its value. “For by one offering He hath perfected for ever” (or in perpetuity) “them that are sanctified” (Heb. x. 14.) The perfectness of the standing is taught us likewise by the enumeration of blessings connected with, and consequent on, justification by faith. We have peace with God, every question between the guilty one and God being settled, and that for ever. We rejoice, too, in hope of the glory of God. The day of the display of God’s glory, when the King shall come forth in power, and establish God’s authority on earth by the execution of judgments, the saint no longer fears, but on the contrary looks forward to it as a hope. We joy also, or boast in God, knowing, too, that He will listen to no charge that may be brought against us, however true such a charge might be (Rom. v. 1—11; viii. 33, 34.) Nothing in this line of blessings is lacking to the one who is justified by faith. An unchallengeable title to be in God’s presence, and peace with God, are blessings which in their order cannot be surpassed, nor be increased. By one offering perfected for ever, speaks for itself of the character of the believer’s standing before God’s throne, and all flows from what the Lord Jesus Christ has suffered, and is ours who believe on God that raised Him from the dead, apart from Christian experience, or realisation of any kind beyond simply receiving the testimony of God about it.

But more. If nothing can be added to make our standing more perfect, nothing can be added to give us any higher position as saints before God. Nothing is higher in the universe than the throne of the majesty in the heavens. This the place of the mercy-seat at the extreme end of the holiest shadowed forth, and Heb. xii. 23 and Rev. iv., v. plainly teach. No higher position can the saint have than a standing before that throne; for there is no higher position except to be on the throne of God, a place, or position which of course no mere creature can ever have. Many of course are the blessings which we possess through grace besides that of justification by faith. We are God’s children, His sons, too, His heirs likewise, and joint-heirs with Christ. God’s purpose, too, is, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. Yet none of these, nor all of them together, nor the being in Christ, who is the beginning of the creation of God, the Head of a new race, can give us a higher position before God than the standing before His throne, which is ours now in consequence of the death and resurrection of His Son. Relationship to God is one thing, standing before His throne is another. Relationship by birth speaks of nearness to Him as being His children, and having the Father’s house as our home. Stones in the temple in which God will dwell for ever tells us how close Christians are brought to Him. But there is no higher place in the universe for a creature to occupy than being before that throne, on which God alone must only and always sit. Of course the reader will bear in mind the difference between God’s throne and Christ’s throne. We shall sit with the Lord in His throne (Rev. iii. 21.) But no one who ever walked on earth, save He who is both God and man, will ever sit on Jehovah’s throne, that throne before which as saints we have our standing, and around which we shall be seated on thrones as kings and priests to God, and crowned in His presence. Our standing, then, before the throne is seen in Romans to be complete before one word is said of our being in Christ, which takes us into quite a different line of things.

Now it has been questioned, whether one justified by faith is in Spirit, as Scripture characterises the Christian’s condition, and not rather still in flesh. On this point the teaching of the divine Word is clear. By the Lord’s death and resurrection — we would repeat it — we, believing on God who raised Him from the dead, are justified, or reckoned righteous, on the principle of faith. This, as we have already remarked, flows to us from what Christ has done for us. But the change from being in the flesh to being, what Scripture terms in the Spirit, is effected by the Holy Ghost given to us, and not simply by what the Lord has done for us. “For ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Rom. viii. 9.) Now, for this blessing to be ours, the Lord Jesus Christ had not only to be raised from the dead, but to ascend to heaven. “If I go not away,” He said, “the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” (John xvi. 7.) Again, “The Holy Ghost was not yet” (i.e., not dwelling on earth), “because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” (vii. 39.) The Lord’s ascension being necessary ere any one could receive the Spirit, and be indwelt by Him, we are further told how, and when, a saint can receive that gift. The reception of it is consequent on obeying God (Acts v. 32) in receiving remission of sins by believing on His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (x. 43, 44); or, as Paul puts it, the person who has heard the word of truth, the gospel of his salvation, believing in Christ is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise (Eph. i. 13.) Now it is clear that the one justified by faith, as the very words show, has heard the gospel of his salvation, and does believe in Him who was delivered for his offences, and was raised again for his justification. He is justified by faith. A man so justified has clearly received the Spirit; for the reception of this gift is not a matter of experience; it is bestowed on him as one who has believed the testimony of God concerning His Son as to the efficacy of His atoning death.* And the apostle puts this beyond the possibility of doubt, when he writes a few verses lower down in that same chapter of the Romans of the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost given to us (Rom, v. 5.) Such a one is clearly no longer in the flesh, but is in the Spirit. But this is seen to be true of him before a word is introduced of his being in Christ, and Christ in him; though if a person has received the Spirit, he is clearly in Christ, and the correlative truth can be stated likewise, Christ is in him. Further the justified one is also one with Christ, and so a member of His body. All this is, and must be, true of him, if he is justified by faith, yet he does not receive the Spirit because he is justified, nor is he justified because he has received the Holy Ghost. These are concurrent blessings, and not dependent the one on the other.

{*Every Christian, as Scripture always views a Christian, the reader must remember, has been the subject of two operations of God by the Spirit. First, he has been born of the Spirit (John iii. 6); secondly, and quite distinct from that, he has been sealed by God with the Spirit on believing the gospel of his salvation.}

The reception of the Spirit is connected with, and consequent on, as already stated, the receiving forgiveness of sins, so that a man justified by faith is as much in the Spirit as, whilst on earth certainly, he ever can be; for if justified by faith he has received remission of sins. And it is manifest, that if he is in the Spirit he is in Christ, and Christ is in him. “For ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Rom. viii. 9, 10.) Hence the being in Christ adds nothing to a man’s justification. It is a distinct line of teaching, and a different character of blessing. The person who was unrighteous and ungodly needs, and finds provided for him, justification on the principle of faith. He is henceforth by God reckoned righteous, and so can stand before His throne. The one formerly dead in offences and sins, and ranged under the headship of Adam, learns that he is in Christ, and Christ in him. Yet the one justified by faith really shares in all the blessings which are consequent on the gift of the Spirit, and though the truth of justification does not speak of any of them, no one justified by faith is lacking in even one of them.

It is true that in the part of the Romans (iii. — v. 11) which treats of justification, we read not of being in Christ, any more than in the portion which treats of being in Christ (v. 12 — viii. 11) have we a word of membership of the body of Christ, though it is quite certain, that the one who is in Christ is also united to Christ as a member of his body. Now the absence of all mention of this last truth in the second section of the epistle does not imply that it is not true of those already in Christ, but rather that the truth of being in Christ, and of union with Him, are quite different lines of teaching, though closely connected; so that the Spirit is free to speak of the one at length without so much as mentioning the other. So with justification by faith, and the being in Christ. The one justified by faith is really in Christ, but this last truth is not taken up till the other has been definitely set forth, and the teaching about it for the time being concluded. The silence then of the apostle up to Rom. v. 11 on the truth of being in Christ does not proceed from the fact that the justified one is not in Him, for clearly he is. It proceeds really from a different cause; viz., that the being in Christ forms no part of Scripture teaching as to the believer’s perfect standing, or justification before the throne of God, and it is with the action of the throne, let the reader remember it, that standing, as we have seen, is connected in the Word.

Further, the great importance of keeping this clear will be apparent, when it is seen, that the making the truth of being in Christ to be an essential part of the believer’s standing would be really to add something to the value of the atoning sacrifice; viz., our receiving the Holy Ghost to perfect our standing before the throne. For it is by the indwelling of the Spirit that we come to be in Christ. Into this we will look presently. Meantime: it will be sufficient to say, that in proportion as we add anything to that sacrifice to complete the ground of our standing, we necessarily detract from its value as God has set it forth. People may not be aware of this, yet that is the evil of it.

But what wisdom in the way God teaches, setting the believer perfectly and for ever free before His throne by virtue of that sacrifice, assuring us that nothing more is needed than what it supplies to provide a title to be in God’s presence, and a standing which no one shall ever call in question, and telling us of peace with God now by virtue of it, and the ability to rejoice too now in the hope of the glory of God, before one word is written about proper Christian condition. How instructive is the order of the Gospel of God as set forth in Rom. i. — viii. First, deliverance from the guilt of sin by what the Lord has suffered for us (iii. — v. 11); next, deliverance from the Power of sin by the present application in practice by each Christian of the death of Christ to sin, and freedom from the law (v. 12 – viii. 11); and finally deliverance from the presence of sin by the power of God (viii. 12-39.) In this last deliverance creation will also share. Mixing up the teaching about the two former parts of the gospel is a graver mistake than by some may be supposed. It makes them consecutive, the second to be an advance on the first, a higher thing than justification, whereas they are really concurrent. God puts forward in His written word the sacrifice of His Son as the only but all-sufficient ground of our standing, and desires it as such to have its proper place in our hearts. Now the keeping these two parts of the gospel really distinct helps to give the sacrifice of Christ its proper prominence in the soul. We stand before the throne of God, we repeat it, simply and solely by virtue of the abiding value of the sacrifice of Christ for us, and our standing there is viewed as settled, before one word is said about being in Christ. Yet this last is an integral part of the gospel.

For there are two lights in which the sinner is viewed. In the one, he is seen as a responsible, guilty creature, who needs a standing before the throne, but has it not; in the other, he is seen as one dead in sins, who needs quickening. Rom. i. — v. 11 treats of the former: Eph. ii. 1-7 of the latter. Now, where being dead in sins and quickening are treated of, condition or state, not standing before the throne, is the theme, and the truth of “in Christ” is then made prominent. This we see in Ephesians. Where standing is the theme, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ for us is brought into full relief, as we have seen. But in Romans we learn that we are to be fruitful, as well as justified by faith; to be set free from the power of sin in order to serve God, as well as to be set free from the guilt of sin. Now the being fruitful is consequent on being in Christ, and Christ in us. So the teaching about being in Christ is developed in the Romans, and that at some length (v. 12 — viii. 11) as it is also elsewhere, when the manifestation of Christian life in the saint is the subject of the apostle Paul’s teaching. Let us look at it. We may take it up in order.

There are two men in Scripture heads of races – the first man, the first Adam, our forefather after the flesh; the second Man, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. iii. 14.) We were all by nature in Adam, and still somewhat share, and might have been left to share for ever, in the bitter consequences of his one act of disobedience. Christians are taught that they are in Christ, and share now, and shall share for ever, in the blessed results of His one act of obedience unto death, the death of the cross (Rom. v. 12-18.) “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: for until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them who had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is a type of Him to come.” Adam was head of a race, and as such is a type of another Man, the second Man (Rom, v. 14); for there are but two men heads of races in God’s eyes-Adam and the Lord Jesus Christ; as it is written, “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second Man is [‘the Lord’ should be omitted] from heaven” (1 Cor. xv. 45-49.)

The two heads thus introduced, the apostle in Romans traces out the comparison and contrast of the persons (v. 15), their acts (v. 16), and the results (v. 17). By one man, Adam, the many died; by one, the Lord Jesus Christ, the grace of God, and the gift by grace, has abounded unto many. By the one act of disobedience judgment came upon all men to condemnation; by the one act of obedience the free gift came upon all men unto justification. And as to the results. By one man’s offence death reigned through one; on the other hand, “they that receive abundance of grace, and of the free gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. So then as by one offence towards all men to condemnation; so also by one righteousness towards all men unto justification of life. For as by the disobedience of the one man the many were constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the One the many shall be constituted righteous” (vv. 17-19.) The doctrine of headship of race, so helpful to us and so completely cutting away all ground to charge God with injustice for making us suffer from the consequences of Adam’s disobedience, seeing that it is on that very principle that we can share in the blessed results of the Lord’s act of obedience to death, this doctrine of headship of race we must keep quite distinct in our minds from another most important and blessed truth — headship of the body. With reference to this latter, we can speak of union with Christ. We are members of the body of Christ. With reference to the former, that tells us we who were in Adam are in Christ; and in the Word these blessings which are both effected by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in the believer; viz., being in Christ, and our being joined to him, members of His body, are shown to be distinct by the use of the term “Christ’s” when speaking of the former, and “the Christ” when speaking of the latter (1 Cor. xii. 12; Eph. iii. 4.) Where the body is treated of, the head and the members together make up what is called “the Christ.” On the other hand, where those ranged under Christ’s headship are spoken of, God’s word can designate them as “Christ’s”; i.e., of Him, belonging to Him, the head of the race (Rom. viii. 9; 1 Cor. iii. 23; xv. 23; 2 Cor. x. 7; Gal. iii. 29; v. 24.) As members of the body of Christ we are part of Christ; as belonging to the race of which He is Head, we are in Christ, or Christ’s, as Galatians connects the terms — “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, etc. (iii. 28, 29.)

Whilst on this point, these different headships, and the teaching connected with them, it may help to clear up the matter to some, to remark, that being in Christ necessarily puts us in the heavenlies. We could not be in Christ without being there, for He is there. But as members of His body, we are viewed now as being on earth, not in heaven, though united to the Head who is in heaven. This Paul first learnt from those words, “Why persecutest thou me?” This is also doctrinally taught in 1 Cor. x. 17: “We” (i.e. all believers on earth) “being many, are one body.” Again, 1 Cor. xii. 27: “Ye” (i.e. the Corinthian saints) “are Christ’s body.” The body, when its members are spoken of, is always viewed as at present on earth — perfect as to the possession of all its members, yet as a body being edified and still increasing (Eph. iv. 16; Col. ii. 19.) The Head in heaven, and the body on earth, the two are connected in the closest possible way; but the members are always viewed as at present on earth, though united to the Head in heaven. By-and-by the body will be displayed in heaven, when God’s purposes about His Son shall be accomplished (Eph. i. 22, 23.) For that we wait; meanwhile, as Christians, we are in the heavenlies in Christ. As members of the body, on the other hand, we are viewed as, and have a service as such to do, upon earth.

But how do we come to be in Christ? Scripture tells us in a few words — "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him (i.e. is not of Christ, or Christ’s). And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (Rom. viii. 9, 10.) It is by the indwelling of the Spirit that we come to be in Christ, and Christ in us.* Now, this was consequent on His ascension. His ascension was needful for the Holy Ghost to come — "If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” (John xvi. 7.) The Spirit which dwelt in Him, called the Spirit of Christ, dwelling in us, we are thereby brought consciously into connection with Him as Head of the race. On the ground of His death and resurrection we have a standing before God’s throne; but His ascension was absolutely needful for us to know that we are in Him. The Lord on the day of His resurrection announced to His disciples the grace that would flow out to guilty ones consequent on His atoning sacrifice having then taken place, and having been accepted (Luke xxiv. 47); but only consequent on the Comforter coming they would know that He was in the Father, they in Him, and He in them (John xiv. 20.) It was on that night before His cross that the Lord first told His disciples that they would be in Him, and would know it. What then are we to understand by being in Him and He in us? The verse just referred to, the first place where it is mentioned, may surely help us to understand something of the thought of being in a person. The Son in the Father, we in Him, and He in us, does this speak of standing, as Scripture presents that thought, in connection with the throne of God? Could we speak of the Son’s standing in the Father when we speak of His being in the Father? Surely all would recoil from such a thought. Could we speak of His position as in the Father? We must remember the correlative truth given us in that same chapter; if He is in the Father, the Father is also in Him. Could we speak of the Father’s position as being in the Son? Surely all will agree, that both standing and position are terms we must dismiss, when such a truth is before us; but we could say, we can say, that it is an essential condition of Godhead that the Father should be in the Son, and the Son in the Father. Condition we could speak of in relation to this truth. This passage then throws light on what being in a person, and that one reciprocally in him, must mean. It is a condition of Godhead, since there are plurality of persons in the Godhead, that the Son should be in the Father, and the Father in the Son; it is a condition of saints through grace that they are in Christ, and Christ in them. And this is made the more apparent, when we remember that in Christ is used in contrast to being in Adam, the two heads of races, under which those belonging to each are ranged. Condition then, or state (though we should scarcely like to use the word state of the Father or of the Son) is the thought implied by being in Christ; and if we are in Him the correlative truth must be remembered that He is in us. Condition or state, not standing, as Scripture uses the word, the term “in Christ” means.

{*This is plain from the context, since in vv. 9, 11, the apostle speaks of the indwelling of the Spirit, which did not take place till Pentecost. Till then, the having the Spirit of Christ, as here mentioned, was not true of any saint. Hence, John xx. 22 does not treat of the indwelling of the Spirit, a blessing then future (Acts i. 4.) It does not teach about being in Christ. }

But here an objection might by some be raised to what has just been advanced, and Eph. i. 6 quoted to disprove it as teaching that we are “accepted in the Beloved.” To this it will be sufficient merely to reply, that the Authorised Version does not give what is now generally accepted as the true reading of the passage; viz., “Having predestinated us unto adoption by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He hath freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved.”* This passage when rightly read, affords no warrant for the thought, that our standing before the throne as believers can only be rightly expressed by the term “in Christ.” And what other passage can be quoted to prove it, when this fails?**

{*So Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alford, and Westcott and Hort read the passage, on the authority of the uncials A B P and the Codex Sinaiticus, as it was doubtless originally written.

**Besides if our standing is not complete without the indwelling of the Spirit, by which we come to be in Christ, we might just as well say, that all that flows from His indwelling, and not one result of it only, is needful to perfect our standing before God’s throne. Into what confusion should we get from not distinguishing things that differ; viz., the result of the sacrifice of Christ for us; and the operation of God by the dwelling of the Spirit in us!}

“In Christ.” Humbling, yet blessed, and most practical truth. Humbling, because it tells us in the plainest way of the utter and hopeless ruin of man, viewed as a child of Adam; for, if any man be in Christ, there is a new creation, or he is a new creature. Blessed, because God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ. Most practical, because the condition of the Head of the race, as regards sin and the world, is the absolute condition of every one of that race, and should be made good practically in every one of them; for if they are in Christ, Christ is also in them.

But let us look at this a little more in detail. “If any man be in Christ, there is new creation,” or he is a new creature. Now, new creation, as the very term teaches us, is fundamental truth, and Eph. ii. 10 acquaints us with the purpose of it; for we learn, we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them”; and Gal. vi. 15 declares, that “neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” No fruit, then, for God can be produced by any one of us on earth, apart from our being a new creation. It is of one once dead in sins that this is predicated, his former condition showing the necessity for it, and any thought of subjection to ordinances, to perfect his standing before the throne, betraying an ignorance of apprehension of it. Hence in 2 Cor. v. 17, after the condition of all men as dead, proved by Christ’s death on behalf of all, has been stated, the truth of new creation is taught; and the saints in Galatia, who were in danger of turning to Jewish ordinances, are distinctly reminded of it. And if we want to learn about the fruits of it, the display of it in the saints — for they are created in Christ Jesus unto good works — we have to read those parts of the different epistles which treat of the outflow of Christian life, and there we shall find them. Hence the truth of new creation underlies all the New Testament teaching about the saint’s walk and conversation; for the fruits of it, as Eph. ii. 10 teaches us, are seen wherever that which becomes us as in Christ is set before us. All such teaching implies it, seeing that good works cannot be produced by us without it. So all exhortation for walk, and the display of Christian life are connected in the closest way with this truth of new creation. True it is that we may read through most of the epistles without once meeting with the term in question; for it is only really stated in 2 Corinthians and in Galatians; but it is implied in every one of them which speak of the display of Christ in us; for if He is in us, we must be in Him. And “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation,” or a new creature. Therefore, just as the truth of the resurrection is found in the Pentateuch, its teaching implying it, and as the truth of the sealing of the saint is implied in the Romans, fruits of it being there stated (v. 5, viii. 15), so the truth of new creation is implied and assumed in it, as it is of course in the Philippians and other apostolic writings.

But what is new creation? What are we to understand by it? The one in Christ is a new creature, or new creation, and this is a real and a present thing. Are the heavenly places, as it is sometimes affirmed, new creation? The devil and his angels are there still (Rev. xii. 7, 8); principalities and powers of evil agency, we learn, are there (Eph. vi. 12.) Can they have part in new creation? Have the heavenly places been re-created since the Lord Jesus died, rose, and ascended? Did the Lord by entering heaven on His ascension enter into new creation? One would not ask such questions did not the statements sometimes met with indicate where minds want clearing. Again, will our person be re-created; viz., our spirit, soul, and body? 1 Thess. v. 23 settles that question as regards the saints, when Paul prays that their whole spirit, soul, and body may be preserved blameless unto (rather, at) the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. If the person of the saint then is not to be re-created, will that of the wicked be re-created? Could we predicate of such a new creation? We must remember it is a present thing, as taught us in 2 Cor. v., Gal. vi., Eph. ii. 10; for the one in Christ is new creation, or a new creature. If it is not material things that have been re-created, if it is not the person of the saint which is, or ever will be re-created, what are we to understand by new creation, but that it is a spiritual race different from anything that had before been produced as the result of divine creatorial power? How well named new (????), a new kind of creation, different from anything that had been previously known. Of this race the Lord Jesus Christ is Head, called, as He is, “the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev: iii. 14.)

A reference to Gen. i, may help souls much in the understanding of this. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” How long that was before the creation of man, which was a distinct and subsequent act of creatorial power, we know not. Man was created on the sixth day after earth emerged by divine fiat from a state of chaos, into which, for causes unknown to us, it had been allowed to get, for God created it not a waste (Isa. xlv. 18.) Was earth re-created for man? No. It was made in those six days for him (Ex. xx. 11),* and he, a fresh creation of God, appeared on the scene, and found earth was the appointed sphere for him as man (Ps. cxv. 16.) Hence the creation of a race does not of necessity involve the re-creation of a place, or sphere, in which that race is to find its home. As it was then so it is now. The one in Christ is a new creature, and the heavenlies are the sphere in which that creation can find its home, and has its proper place according to God’s appointment. Now there in Christ, we shall ere long be there with Him, after which the heavens will be cleared for ever from the presence of the devil and his angels. And now to return to our more immediate subject, what it is to be in Christ.

{*This is the language of Scripture. See also Ex. xxxi. 17, “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth.” So Isaiah xlv. 12, “I have made the earth, and created man upon it.”}

“In Christ.” How blessed! It speaks, as we have said, of connection with Him who is the beginning of the creation of God. He in the heavenlies, we are there in Him; and since He has perfectly glorified God by His act of obedience unto death, and has taken His rightful place on high, we can be blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ. He in person is in the heavenlies, we are seated there in Him, and by-and-by shall be there with Him, when the trumpet shall have sounded, and we shall be caught up to meet Him in the air. At present we are at home in the body, and so are absent from the Lord (2 Cor. v. 6.) So now we are there, but as in Him; i.e. in spirit, not in person. In that region, in which the Head of the race actually is, all ranged under His headship are viewed as now being, but in Him. And the order in which this truth is expressed — “in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus” — is corrective of mistaken thoughts. We are not there in our persons, we are there in Christ Jesus. And we are there in Him as saints, those once Jews and those once Gentiles together one in Him, but thus viewed as saints, not as members of His body. This the order of the Ephesians makes plain. With that with which we are blessed as saints, and what our calling is as saints, is mentioned in i. 3-5; but the body of Christ comes in only at the close of the chapter (vv. 22, 23). So in chapter ii. the body is mentioned in verse 16; but what is true of us as saints in Christ Jesus (Phil: iv. 21) we read of in v. 6. Wonderful it is to be in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Shall we exalt ourselves in our own eyes because of it? How that is rebuked by the reason on God’s part for putting us there; viz., “that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

But the heavenlies are an extensive region, and at present are not only the dwelling-place of God and the home of the elect angels, but they are also inhabited by wicked spirits, and will be till Satan is cast “out of heaven” (Rev. xii. 8, 9.) Being in the heavenlies, then, speaks of being in a region beyond and above earth. His place there is accurately defined. He has a place which we have not, nor ever can have; for He is there at the right hand of God, which is explained to us as “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” This, as the teaching of the Ephesians shows, is true of Him and of Him only. We are in Him who is there* (i.e. at the right hand of God), but we can never sit down at the right hand of God. Of Him the epistle declares the very place where He is (i. 20). Of us it states that we (i.e. those once Jews and those once Gentiles) sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus (ii. 6).

{*The reader is requested to bear in mind that we must necessarily be very guarded in our language when speaking of Him who is both God and man. Thus with reference to His death, He who died is God. But we could not say, God died. We must say, He who is God died. So of the truth of being in Him. We are in Him as man, not as God — "In His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John v. 20.) But he sits in heaven in a place we can never occupy; viz., at the right hand of God. Only He who is God can be there, though He who is there is really a man likewise.}

And is there not a danger, lest in the contemplation of the magnitude of the grace bestowed on us through the exercise of that mighty power, which has quickened us (i.e. those once Jews and those once Gentiles) with Christ, and has raised us up together, and has made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus — is there not a danger, it may be asked, lest we put ourselves in thought on an equality with Him who is the Head? He as Head, because He is the Head, must always have a place and pre-eminence above those of whom He is the Head, whether it be Head of the race, or Head of the body — "that in all things He might have the pre-eminence,” or first place (Col. i. 18.) The body is the body to the Head, but it is not the Head, though it is the fulness, or complement, of Him who fills all in all. So of the race. They have not the place which the Head has, as Ps. viii. describes, and Heb. ii. 8 and 1 Cor. xv. 27 interpret it.

So in other things. We shall inherit the kingdom, but it is the kingdom of the Son of God’s love and God’s kingdom too, not our kingdom. We shall sit, too, on Christ’s throne, but we could not say, speaking of Him and us, our throne, any more than we could say of Him and us, our Father. He is His Father and our Father (John xx. 17.) So of the glory. The glory given Him He has given us (John xvii. 22.) Yet there is a glory given Him which we shall behold, but not personally share in (v. 24). As another has expressed it, He “shall be glorified with a glory above all other glory, save His who has put all things under Him. For He here speaks of given glory.” In all things He must have the pre-eminence.

Blessed indeed is it to be in Christ. For God has revealed to us that we are now blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. i. 3), having, as part of this fulness of blessing, a calling, of which we are to know now the hope (i. l8), and an inheritance such as none of Adam’s race could ever have expected (4 -14). Besides this, the truth of “in Christ” has special value for those who were once Gentiles after the flesh, since the relative distance from God, once dispensationally true of the Gentile, is abrogated for those of them, but only for those of them, who are in Christ; for in Christ such are brought nigh by the blood of Christ (Eph. ii. 13.) Reading these words, we probably have a very faint idea of that which they must have been to Christians in apostolic times. The centurion of Luke vii., and the Syrophoenician woman, had both known, and the latter must have keenly felt, that dispensational difference between Jews and others, established of old by God in favour of the former. The Jews, as Peter declares (Acts ii. 39), and Paul also (Eph. ii. 13), were dispensationally nigh, and the Gentiles dispensationally far off. Now, for those of the latter who are in Christ that dispensational difference is for ever abrogated by virtue of the blood of Christ. There is for such now no favoured nation, to which they can never belong. There is a favoured race, but all in Christ constitute it.

Nor was this all. Another privilege was theirs who were not Abraham’s children after the flesh; for as in Christ, being Christ’s they were also Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise (Gal. iii. 29.) To get into association with Abraham the Galatian saints saw was needful, but how to accomplish that was the question. Judaizing teachers professed to explain it, insisting on the rite of circumcision and the keeping the law of Moses. Paul showed them the error of all this, and how subversive such teaching was of all Christian blessing, and indeed of salvation itself (Gal. v. 2-4); and told them that they were Abraham’s seed already, because they were in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (iii. 28, 29.)

“In Christ” then speaks to us of present blessing. “In Christ” too carries us back in thought to God’s choice of us in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. i. 4.) “In Christ,” too, carries us on in expectation to the future, when, in glory with Him, all will see that we are become God’s righteousness in Him (2 Cor. v. 21.) A mere sketch of this subject being all that is attempted, we must now pass on to the practical teaching about it. For most practical, too, is the truth we are considering, since, if in Christ Jesus, His condition as regards sin and the world is ours likewise. On this the apostle dwells in the Romans and in the Colossians. He has died to sin (Rom. vi. 10.) We have died to sin (vi. 2), having died with Christ, as Scripture expresses it (vi. 8). This is our actual state or condition as in Him; for we thereby partake of the condition in which the Head of the race is now. And this is absolute. For condition or state, it should be remembered, may be viewed in two lights; the one, that which is absolutely true; the other, that which is the consequence of practice. Romans vi. 2-11 clears this up. We have died to sin. So to this our practical state or condition should be conformed. Hence the exhortation, not to die to sin, for that is absolutely true of every Christian already, but to reckon ourselves dead indeed unto it, and alive unto God in Christ Jesus (vi. 11.) To try to die to sin is the spirit of monkery; to reckon ourselves dead to it is true Christian practice, and the only way to be practically free from its thraldom. In Colossians we find the same truth expressed, as the apostle writes, “In whom also ye have been circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in the putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ” (Col. ii. 11.)

But the apostle proceeds further in the Colossians. In the Romans, since it is sin that is in question, we learn that we have died with Christ to it. In Colossians, where the world is in question, a moral order of things around us which is not of the Father, and the friendship of which is enmity with God, to be above it is requisite; hence we learn we have not only died with Christ, but we are risen with Him as well (ii. 20, iii. 1.) For us then to be free from the dominion of sin, and from the law, and from the influence of the world, we need to be in Christ, and to own His condition as regards them to be that which is really, and which should be practically, true of each one of us. But this can only be carried out, it must ever be remembered, as the correlative truth of Christ in us is laid hold of, and in the power of the Spirit is displayed in us. We can only really manifest that we are in Christ as we show that Christ is in us. One traces then a progressive order in connection with this truth, as we compare Romans, Colossians, and Ephesians; and can recognise their characteristic differences clearly marked by the Spirit of God. As we read in Romans, in words already quoted, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness” (viii. 9, 10.) What is proper for those risen with Christ, Col. iii. 1-4 states. Added to this we learn in Ephesians that we are in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Hence warfare there with evil angelic agency should be experimentally known, and how to meet it, and what to do, is definitely stated (vi. 10-20.) Seeing then from the Word something of what it is to be in Christ, we are in a position to determine whether or not we should view it as forming an integral part of our standing, as Scripture uses that term. By standing is meant the title and ability through grace for a fallen, and once guilty creature to be before the throne of God without judgment overtaking him. By state or condition is meant what the person is, or the circumstances in which he is. With this the Scripture use of the term state is seen to agree. “The man,” said Israel’s sons, “asked us straitly of our state, and of our kindred.” (Gen. xliii. 7.) “Let the king give her royal estate to another” (Esther i. 19.) “Who remembered us in our low estate” (Ps. cxxxvi. 23.) “Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate” (Ezek. xvi. 55.) “The last state, or condition of that man is worse than the first” (Matt. xii. 45; Luke xi. 26.) “He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” (Luke i. 48.) “I may be of good comfort when I know your state” (Phil. ii. 19.) “I have learned in whatsoever state I am to be content,” etc. (Phil. iv. 11.) Is then, we may ask, being a new creation, or a new creature, part of the saint’s standing? It speaks surely of a new kind of existence, true of the saint who is in Christ. Can sitting in the heavenlies, and in conflict there with evil spirits, be viewed as our standing before God’s throne? And since a Christian, as a man in Christ, is one who has died, is risen, and has been circumcised, are these truths descriptive of his standing, or of his condition? Surely simple answers, if Scripture is to guide us, can be given to these questions; and if the being indwelt by wicked spirits speaks of such a person’s condition or state (Matt. xii. 45), the being indwelt by the Spirit of God must speak of the Christian’s condition. Now our being in Christ flows from our being indwelt by the Spirit. Is our standing the consequence of our condition as thus indwelt? If not— and it is not, as we have seen in a former part of this article — then the results of being in Christ as new creation, having died, being risen, and being circumcised, tell not of what constitutes our standing before God’s throne, but of the condition, or state in which He views us.

Accordingly, Christian practice is in the epistles closely connected with the truth of being in Christ, as the order of subjects in the Romans illustrates (v. 12 — viii. 11), and as the purpose for which we are created in Christ Jesus, stated in the Ephesians (ii. 10), sets forth. To rest in the knowledge of a perfect standing before God’s throne is not all that He desires. He looks for fruit-bearing from those thus blessed. Hence the Word dwells so much on being in Christ, which with the correlative truth Christ in us really owned, can alone enable us to be fruitful, and to be profitable servants. But our state as Christians, and practical conformity to it, are very different matters. The former is absolutely true of every Christian; the latter depends on our walk.

But here a difficulty arises in some minds. If our standing before the throne is viewed as complete by virtue of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, as brought out in the first part of the gospel in the Romans (iii. — v. 11), why have we mention of justification (dikaioma) and justification of life (dikaiosin zoes) in that part of the epistle which treats of our condition; i.e. our being in Christ? The answer is simple. Justification or righteousness (dikaioma), spoken of in chapter v. 16, is not the same thought as righteousness (dikaiosune) in chapter iv., which is imputed to us. It implies, to use the language of another, “a state of accomplished subsisting righteousness before God in which justification places us,” and is contrasted, as the reader may see, with condemnation (katakrima). In this condition all share, who are ranged under the headship of the second Man, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. Now it is with this part of the epistle, namely, v. 12-18, that viii. 1 is closely connected. The former portion dwells on the doctrine of headship of race; the latter tells us of the blessed condition of those in connection with the Head, the second Man. For such there is, there can be, no condemnation. Now this is more than the fact that none shall condemn us (viii. 34), the assurance of which rests on the knowledge of the beneficial results of the Lord’s death and resurrection. For those in Christ there is no condemnation. In that condition He now is not, nor ever will be. In that condition those in Him are not, nor ever can be; and from all dread of it such are to be free, whatever discoveries they may have to make of their sinful nature. It is everlasting deliverance from a condition, which would justly have been theirs for ever, that viii. 1 refers to. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” It is deliverance then from a state, not the provision about a standing, that the apostle is here teaching. And as to the term “justification of life,” it explains itself; for since this phrase is contrasted with condemnation in verse 18, no doubt can be left in the mind that it is condition, not standing, which is the subject in hand.

A word more ere closing. Is not the truth of being in Christ sometimes, if not often, confounded with another truth — the being united to Christ as members of His body? In a word, is not headship of race often confounded with headship of the body? Does Scripture use the term union with Christ when speaking of the former truth? What union with Christ is the Word explains: “He that is joined to an harlot is one body; for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit” (1 Cor. vi. 16, 17.) Union in Scripture is the making of two one, and union with Christ is taught us by two illustrations taken from natural life; namely, marriage and the human body. The Church will be united to Christ as His wife; that same company of saints is also called His body. Keeping these simple truths before us we must all see, that being in Christ must not be confounded with the truth of the body of Christ. The incongruity of such ideas every thoughtful reader must see at a glance. Further, as united to Christ, members of His body, Christians stand out apart from all other saints, yet in a connection with Him than which none can be closer, and such as no other saints can share in. Hence distinctive Christian doctrine would be upset by confounding the teaching as to the race and the body.* By the former (i.e. by being in Christ) we become Abraham’s seed (Gal. iii. 29), and are thus brought into association with him. As belonging to the assembly, and members of Christ, we are separated in the most marked way from Abraham. Church truth (and by this is meant the Church’s position, portion, and special relations to God and to the Lord Jesus Christ, in time and for eternity) teaches us of separateness from the patriarch; truth about us simply as saints teaches us of association with him. This distinction kept in mind may help souls. And if we mark how Scripture speaks of our standing before God’s throne, of what it is to be in Christ and Christ in us, and what it is to be members of His body, we shall get right thoughts on these three important lines of teaching; above all, what the Lord has done for us will have its proper place in our hearts, and the need of being in Him and He in us will be better understood, and, it may be, the full gospel more clearly apprehended.

{*Nor does Rom. xii. 5 — “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” — militate against this. It is commonly agreed that we have not union of the body with Christ contemplated in Romans; but the practical effect of union amongst ourselves is treated of. Hence probably the way the apostle here writes, reminding the saints of all that would further that object.}