CALLED TO BE “IN CHRIST”

The Christian vocation is the Christian calling; the vocation that God honors the most; and the only vocation for which heaven pays wages. We are introduced to the Christian calling with the word “vocation” in Ephesians 4:1-3, which is all one sentence.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Listen and Read. 

Ephesians can easily be divided for ease to study and understanding into two parts: (1) Ephesians 4 thru 6 which is how to live worthy of the Christian calling or vocation with the key word being “walk” which is a summary of individual life style; and (2) Ephesians 1-3 which defines and establishes in God’s Word the reality of the Christian calling with the two key words “IN CHRIST”. Actually the word Christian is not found in the book of Ephesians, and only 3 times in the whole Bible. If we would get back to the Bible for the real calling and meaning of Christian, we must take a look at “IN CHRIST” in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians.

1. You find it even in the first verse of the first chapter as Paul writes to both the local church at Ephesus but also to all the “faithful IN CHRIST”.

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 1:1)

2. Then in verse 3:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:3)

3. Then 3 more “IN CHRIST” in chapter 1, which Paul does so naturally that you might have missed the significance of “In Christ” as defining the Christian vocation or calling.

a. In Ephesians 1:10 where both “in Christ” and “in Him” are mentioned as in the one purpose of God for the whole universe.

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him…” (Ephesians 1:10)

b. Ephesians 1:12 speaks of the first Christian including Paul that first trusted “in Christ”.

“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:12

c. How careful Paul is always to give God the glory like in Ephesians 1:19,20, even as the famous commentary on Ephesians by W. O. Carver is entitled ‘The Glory of God in the Christian Calling”. Paul as he also does in Hebrews, gets US of the Christian calling together with the doctrine of Christ as it is the “power to us-ward who believe” “which he wrought in Christ”.

“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 1:19,20)

4. Now in Ephesians chapter 2 Paul and God through Paul get really serious about the “In Christ” calling or vocation, no only with 3 more of the “in Christ” verses, but primarily with a chapter 2 title which would have to be called BIC and AIC for Before In Christ and After in Christ.

a. Even before we were in Christ or AIC, as we were BIC dead to God in trespasses and sins, God of the same power as mentioned before raised us AIC in sit with Christ in heavenly places.

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:5,6)

b. AIC, After In Christ, we become God’s workmanship but that was what God intended and ordained from before the foundation of the earth.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)

c. Ephesians 2:12 and 13 also mention the BIC and AIC with the “at that {previous} time” and “now in Christ Jesus”

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:12,13)

5. It was originally established according to the Word of God in Ephesians 4:1-3 that every Christian which we now know to really be “IN CHRIST” has the same vocation or calling and yet each has some unique gifts. Ephesians chapter 3 molds us as individual Christians of the Christian vocation into to the whole body of Christ. In chapter 3 with the inclusion of the Jews and Gentiles in the same church body, the church of the firstborn written in heaven, Paul is able to advance with only two of the in Christ; however he will continue even more of how the Christian vocation fits into the gifts of the total church body with chapter 4.

NOTE: A lot of our problems in churches, denominations, and the whole body of Christ is when some preacher wants all of the gifts, or some preacher claims 3 or more of the gifts, effectively saying to the rest of the body, “I don’t need you.”

a. The outstanding mystery made known through apostles and prophets that the Gentiles and in the same body with the Jews, and the Gentiles are likewise “partakers” of God’s “promise in Christ” by way of the Gospel.

“Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” (Ephesians 3:5,6)

b. Again it is the church in the sense of the total body of Christ, not the local ecclesia but in the church of the firstborn written in heaven.

NOTE: Much of the haughtiness between churches and denominations and preachers come when they refuse to distinguish between the ecclesia as the church of the firstborn written in heaven and the ecclesia of the local church at 5th and main in any city.

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…” (Ephesians 3:10,11)

Conclusion:

a. And so we have a more enlightened understanding of the Christian vocation or calling as more a matter of being “IN CHRIST”. In Christ is the Christian calling or vocation for those that are faithful in Christ; the Christian calling is to be blessed by God the Father through Christ His Son with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, like eternal money in the bank; the Christian calling or vocation is part of something much bigger, it is part of the gigantic effort by God through Christ of bringing all things in the universe together in ONE in Christ.

IN CHRIST is trust in Christ, the way the individual Christian calling becomes one with Paul, with first century Christians, with all Gentile and Jewish believers of all time.
It is the “power to us-ward who believe” “which {God first} wrought in Christ”. Finally it is the BIC and AIC, the before in Christ of no hope in the world, dead in trespasses and sins, and out of fellowship with God and His Christ; and the After in Christ of fellowship with God and Christ in heavenly places.

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