In 1872, Adoniram Judson Gordon (1836-1895) managed to spin a book out of two words of Scripture: In Christ . The book is a ten-chapter gem, and as an opening gambit, Gordon freely admitted that the phrase “in Christ” points to a great mystery. Though he had plenty to say in describing the ramifications and effects of being in Christ, Gordon did not attempt to explain the thing itself: how is it that our lives take place in the life of Jesus? How does God implicate us in events that took place so long ago and so far away, “under Pontius Pilate?”
“‘Tis mystery all,” says Gordon:
No words of Scripture, if we except these, ‘God manifest in the flesh,’ hold within themselves a deeper mystery than this simple formula of the Christian life, ‘in Christ.’
Indeed, God’s taking upon himself humanity, and yet remaining God, is hardly more inexplicable to human thought than man’s becoming a “partaker of the divine nature,” and yet remaining man. Both are of those secret things that belong wholly unto God.
Yet, great as is the mystery of these words, they are the key to the whole system of doctrinal mysteries. Like the famous Rosetta stone, itself a partial hieroglyph, and thereby furnishing the long-sought clue to the Egyptian hieroglyphics, these words, by their very mystery, unlock all mysteries of the divine life, letting us into secrets that were “hidden from ages and from generations.”
As the key to the secret things of God, the mystery hid from the foundation of the world but made known to those who are “in Christ,” our inclusion in the messiah is also characterized, partly, by mystery.
File this under “Evangelicalism a little over 100 years ago.” How firm a grasp on the fundamental things!