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Understanding the theology and its implications of “Christ in you” helps a believer to see the beauty and the splendor of Christian life. To get a broad and panoramic vision, one must understand the meaning, the means, and the motive of this spiritual reality.

THE MEANING The concepts of “in Christ” and “Christ in us/you” lie at the center of Pauline theology. Although it is a mystery, it is not an abstract idea but a true spiritual reality. Paul uses this “in” language to depict the truth of believers’ union with Christ. The incarnation of Christ is the kernel of this union. He assumed humanity so that in him humans can participate in the very divine life of God. In Christ, as humanity and divinity coexist, this divine-human communion is accomplished. This union is both objective and subjective. This union is objective because through the mediating life of Christ, it was already achieved in him for all humanity. This union is subjective because believers can experience this union personally when they believe Christ as their savior and Lord. Therefore, “Christ in you” means believers’ participation in the divine life that Christ had made possible through his vicarious ministry.

THE MEANS If this is a real union, then how is this accomplished in each believer? The answer is—by receiving the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings the life of Christ because he is not any Spirit but the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9). All those who have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit belong to Christ and experience this mystery of “Christ in you.”

THE MOTIVE The purpose of this union is to make each believer Christlike. In Gal 4:19, Paul says, “I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Through his vicarious life, although Christ had accomplished this union, its application by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in each believer is a gradual process. Through this process, the Holy Spirit transforms believers from glory to glory until the perfect image of Christ is reflected. While perfection awaits in the future, growth is certain in the present. In summary, the meaning of “Christ in you” is one’s union with Christ. This union is achieved through Christ’s incarnation and his mediational life. By means of the Holy Spirit, this union is subjectively realized in each believer. The whole purpose of “Christ in you” is to make each one like Christ, who is the true image of God. The perfection of this spiritual reality lies in the future, and when that happens, God’s original plan and purpose of creating humans will be fully restored.

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