The Believer’s Position In Christ -- By: Elmer L. Towns

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 14:41 (Apr 2010)
Article: The Believer’s Position In Christ
Author: Elmer L. Towns

The Believer’s Position In Christ1

Elmer L. Towns

* Elmer L. Towns, D.Min., co-founder, Liberty University; and, dean, B. R. Lakin School of Religion at Liberty University

A dispensational interpretation of Scripture reveals the believer in the Church Age (also called the Age of Grace) has many privileges that were not afforded in previous dispensations. When viewing the exalted place of New Testament believers, there is no room for the continuation of the influence of the old covenant in their life. The believer’s position “in Christ,” is one of the most important distinctives between the old and new covenants.

The night before Jesus died He revealed much of the believer’s new position in embryonic form. Among the most important things He promised, Jesus said believers would enjoy a new relationship to Him described as “You in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). Almost no one misunderstands the part that says Christ would dwell in believers (i.e. “I in you”) (cf. Gal 2:20; Col 1:2, 7; Eph 3:17). However, perhaps the most inscrutable mystery is the promise, “You in me.” What does it mean to be “in Christ”? The believer’s position “in Christ,” is also described as “the believer’s standing,” “the believer’s union,” or “in the heavenlies.”

In recent history the doctrine of “in Christ” has been almost exclusively identified with what is commonly known as the Keswick movement. Though the movement is not without its critics, it is generally conceded to have been an asset to evangelical Christianity because it has popularized this doctrine. James M. Campbell observed:

In recent years certain groups of Christian students and workers, like the Keswick school in England, have made the doctrine of the believer’s union with Christ central in their teaching; and while they may not have been always free from exegetical vagaries and from exaggerated representations of truth, they have done not a little to quicken and edify the lives of Christians. To their gatherings many have repaired to find a spiritual uplift which they have failed to find elsewhere. In the region which they explore, and over which they sometimes seem to claim proprietary rights, lie the treasures of truth by which the spiritual life is enriched. Perhaps the main service which they have rendered to the religious thought and life of the times has been the emphasizing of the mystical side of the Pauline theology. While preserving the doctrine of justification by faith in its forensic setting, they ...

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