The date was April 15, 1912: As the Titanic was listing, having been broken, and beginning to take her final bows, only a limited number of people had made their ways onto the life boats—not everyone was going to make their way to safety—most would perish in the final cold plunge.
In the midst of the ensuing chaos, the band would elect to play an old hymn, intentionally to calm the anxiety and fear of those who were facing a perilous future—to quell the panic of death. They chose to play the hymn “Nearer my God to Thee.” The hymn is well known, and was also sung by the crew and passengers of the SS Valencia, six years earlier as it sank off the Canadian coast in 1906. The lyrics follow:
“Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be nearer, my God, to Thee,
Chorus: Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!”
Obviously, the sentiments were that those left aboard anticipated, at their deaths to be “Nearer to God”—they would be “meeting” Him shortly.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary took issue with some of the theology in the song, (as he did with other songs) and penned some alternate words as he took it to task as not being quite theologically accurate enough… “Nearer to God, Nearer—I cannot be, for in the person of His Son, I am as near as He.”
Chafer was insisting that as a person is “in Christ” he is as close as he is going to ever get to God. Sure, we will get home and be in His presence in an amazing eternity. But we are allowed in proximity to a holy God only by the grace, and by wearing the righteous mantle of Christ. When we will speak of our positions in Christwe identify where God has—for His glory—positioned us right now… and that is “In Christ”.
In the first chapter of Ephesians Paul by inspiration of the Holy Spirit was led to remind this church of who they were “In Christ”! This is our position as well, Church, and we too need to be reminded. Our position “In Christ” “In Him”, and “In the Lord” are phrases which are used some 39 times in the book of Ephesians.
When we come to faith in Christ, we are baptized into the Body of Christ, and we are the Body of Christ. So, to be “In Christ” is a very amazing subset of humanity into which we are placed. At salvation we were positioned into Christ—wrapped into Christ; we would be set apart, sanctified, consecrated in Christ—all to the glory of the Godhead.
Galatians 3:26-28 says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
As we stand regenerated before God, He sees Christ; God sees us standing, dressed, cloaked in Christ. And as He looks upon us, He sees not our sin, but the righteousness of Christ. The very things He sees about His Son, He sees about you, Christian! Therefore, being in Christ is the pinnacle of anyone’s existence… to be in Christ affirms our security. It affirms His ownership of us. And it preserves our eternal destiny—Every spiritual blessing!
Being in Christ speaks to our new identity. Being in Christ surrenders our old identity. Being clothed in Christ, we are dressed for success!
We are granted a positional holiness in Christ; a holiness which we could never achieve on our own merits. Now, in the remainder of our courses on Earth we move into sanctification—along paths of righteousness; this is our experiential holiness as we are being conformed into the image of Christ. But our given positional holiness, and our experiential holiness will not converge until we occupy our glorified bodies.
In order to enter into the presence of a holy God, we must be clothed in the righteousness of Christ—that means that as we approach Him, He no longer sees our sins, but He looks upon the righteousness of His Son. Only in Christ is our debt of sin canceled, our relationship with God restored, and the promise of eternity with Him secured.
To God be the Glory!