Jacob Arminius teaches: “God regards no one in Christ unless they are engrafted in him by faith.”
Ephesians 1:13 seems to agree: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
Believe in Christ --> sealed in Christ --> receive the promise of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 16:7: “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.”
Paul says that someone was in Christ “before” him. That’s because people become sealed “in Christ” only as they become Christians—not from eternity past.
What about the Old Covenant Saints?
The Old Covenant Saints were not yet “in Christ.” For if they had been, then upon death, they would have gone straight to God the Father, but instead when the Old Covenant Saints died, they went to a place Jesus called “Abraham’s Bosom.” (Luke 16:19-31) When Jesus was raised from the dead, He evacuated Abraham’s Bosom and brought the Old Covenant Saints to Heaven with God the Father. (Ephesians 4:8-10) From that time forward, anyone who dies in the Lord goes straight to Heaven. (2nd Corinthians 5:6)
The problem with Calvinism is that it imagines and fantasizes an elect body that is elected in Christ from eternity past, possessing a “secret love” directly with God the Father. That is Fake News because God would never circumvent the Mediatorship of Christ:
John 10:7: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.’”
John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”
Adrian Rogers: “Everyone is in Adam or in Christ. ... If you are in Adam, you’re going to face the wrath of God. ... I want to show you that we gain very much more in Jesus than we ever lost in Adam.” (In Jesus there is so much more: Romans 5:6-9, emphasis mine)
Romans 8:1: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Adrian Rogers: “Now what does it mean to be in Christ Jesus? Well, God wants us to be saved; He’s given us so many illustrations of salvation; one of the illustrations of salvation is Noah’s Ark. Noah’s Ark, the Bible teaches us in 2nd Peter, is an illustration, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, if you want to know what it is to be in Christ Jesus, know what it was for Noah to be in that Ark.” (Turning Hurts Into Hallelujahs: Romans 8:8-11, emphasis mine)
Question: If God foreknew all those in Christ from eternity, according to Romans 8:29, does that mean that there were actually in Christ from eternity past?
Answer: That would be like saying that because you look forward to the days when you would have a child, that you’ve already had that child. In a purely literal sense, it’s not true.
Calvinist, Peterson and Williams: “God’s choosing us ‘in him before the creation of the world’ (Eph 1:4, 11) refers to union with Christ before creation. The words cannot speak of actual union with Christ because we didn’t exist before we were created. Rather, they speak of God’s planning to join us to Christ.” (Why I Am Not An Arminian, p.58, emphasis mine)
I agree that foreknowledge does not place us in Christ, but what I take issue with is the notion that one is elect in the Father, who then “plans” to join us to His Son, because we are the secret elect of the Father. 1st John 2:24 indicates that if one is in the Father, then one is in Christ, simultaneously: “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” Secondly, if one is eternally in the Father, as the secret elect of the Father, then reconciliation first begins with the Father, who then gives His secret elect to His Son, which effectively eliminates Christ as Mediator between God and man.
John Calvin: “Christ says that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith, nor by any merit, but by pure grace; for while they are far away from him, he regards them in secret as his own.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.393, emphasis mine)
John Calvin: “This way of speaking, however, may seem to be different from many passages of Scripture which attribute to Christ the first foundation of God’s love for us and show that outside Christ we are detested by God. But we ought to remember, as I have already said, that the Heavenly Father’s secret love which embraced us is the first love given to us.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, pp.76, emphasis mine)
That reinforces the problem. Additionally, Ephesians 1:4 does not establish a secret elect class with the Father, in which He then “plans” to give His secret elect to His Son. Instead of being chosen to become in Christ, or to be in Christ, we are chosen in Christ, as in being chosen in connection with Christ, because it is Christ alone who reconciles us to the Father, and not a secret election.
Ephesians 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.”
What does Ephesians 1:4 say was “before the foundation of the world”? The answer is God’s choice. The Bible never says that anyone was “in Christ” from before the foundation of the world. Rather, anyone who is in Christ is a new creature, the old creature having passed away, as per 2nd Corinthians 5:17. In other words, you cannot be in Christ as the old creature, just as the old creature is not in Christ. For outside of Christ, we have condemnation. Romans 3:23 states: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But inside Christ, we have redemption. Romans 8:1 states: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why raise this point? Because the more you identify what kind of person is in Christ, the better you are able to discern when you become in Christ.
1st Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
Adrian Rogers: “We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. When does this take place? When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, when we receive Christ as personal Savior, two things take place at the same time: We are baptized into the Body of Christ, and we are filled with the Spirit. We’ve all been baptized into His body and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. That is, the Holy Spirit of God, when I give my heart to Jesus, and I say, ‘Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I can’t save myself. You died to save Me. You promised to save me if I would trust You. I do trust You. Once and for all, now and forever, forgive my sin, come into my heart, be my Lord and Savior,’ and then a miracle takes place, and the Holy Spirit says, ‘Now I’m placing you, Adrian, into the Body of Christ. I am baptizing you into the Body of Christ.’ Water baptism only symbolizes this Spirit baptism. I am baptized, verse 13, into the Body of Christ. But not only am I placed into the Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit is placed into me, and I’ve been made to drink into one Spirit. Just as I take a drink of water, the Holy Spirit just comes in to me. So I am in the Body of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is in me. That takes place when I get saved, and that makes the wonderful transformation, that makes the difference. And so when I am put into the Body of Christ, there I receive my spiritual gift.” (You Are Somebody in His Body: 1st Corinthians 12:12-18; emphasis mine)
Adrian Rogers: “Now, who is the Baptizer? The Holy Spirit. Who is being baptized? The believer in Jesus. Into what is he baptized? Into the Body of Christ. When is he baptized? At the moment of his conversion, the moment he gives his or her heart to Jesus Christ and no one is left out. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.” (You Are Somebody in His Body: 1st Corinthians 12:12-18; emphasis mine)
In this spiritual baptism, through which the Holy Spirit indwells the body of the believer (1st Corinthians 3:16), the believer is simultaneously placed in the Body of Christ, and that fact alone is crippling to Calvinism, which insists upon a theology that requires a preemptive placement in the Body of Christ before repentance to Christ.
When do you become in Christ?
a) From Before the foundation of the world?
b) At the cross?
c) When it is time for the elect-unbeliever to receive their Irresistible Grace?
d) After believing in the Gospel?
Which of the following do not belong?
b) In Christ
c) Born Again
Unbelievers remain condemned. (John 3:18)
Believers are no longer condemned. (John 3:18)
Those in Christ are no longer condemned. (Romans 8:1)
Those in Christ are are Born Again. (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
Believers are sealed in Christ. (Ephesians 1:13)
Therefore, it follows that one cannot be an unbeliever & in Christ. Therefore (e) is the one that does not belong. But Calvinism needs the elect-unbeliever to be placed in Christ, preemptively, in order to access Irresistible Grace. See for yourself.
Calvinist, James White: “When the time comes in God’s sovereign providence to bring to spiritual life each of those for whom Christ died, the Spirit of God will not only effectively accomplish that work of regeneration but that new creature in Christ will, unfailingly, believe in Jesus Christ (‘all that the Father gives Me will come to Me’). Hence, we are not saved ‘without’ faith, but at the same time, Christ’s atonement is not rendered useless and vain without the addition of libertarian free will.” (Debating Calvinism, p.191, emphasis mine)
So James White believes that “the elect” are already in Christ, despite being unbelievers. Why? Because he needs what is reserved in Christ alone, namely, Regeneration, to be given to unbelievers in order to become believers. He correctly recognizes that regeneration is alone reserved in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17), and that with such regeneration, comes the new birth of being made Born Again with a new heart and a new spirit. The new heart is what Calvinism needs for the decision for Christ to be rendered irresistible, as in Irresistible Grace. However, and this is where Calvinism gets in trouble, Calvinism requires that regeneration (born again, new birth, new heart) be made preemptive (given to unbelievers) in order to overcome Total Inability, and since regeneration alone comes in Christ, being in Christ, therefore, must also be rendered preemptive as well. But it’s not, since being in Christ also carries with it, Redemption (Romans 8:1), and Redemption requires faith in Christ (John 3:18), and faith precedes the sealing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:13) Therefore, when in Christ is shifted forward into a preemptive state, you can see how much damage it does to these other verses. So the answer to the initial question of “When do you become in Christ?” is d) after believing in the Gospel, which we already knew from Ephesians 1:13.
How can a condemned and judged old creature in Adam (John 3:18), simultaneously live in Christ? The answer? They cannot. You must spiritually die in Adam and become raised to new life in Christ. When we are crucified with Christ according to Galatians 2:20, Calvinist, William MacDonald, explains: “It means the end of me as a child of Adam, as a man under the condemnation of the law, as my old, unregenerate self.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.1180, emphasis mine)
Being a new creation is the mark of identification of being in Christ. Being the old creature is the mark of identification of being outside the body Christ, in Adam. Since being in Adam and being in Christ are Mutually Exclusive, you cannot simultaneously be in both. Those who are in Adam are judged. (John 3:18). Those who are in Christ are redeemed, and are free from condemnation. (Romans 8:1)
Article 5 - Arminian Remonstrance of 1610:
“That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the word of Christ (John 10:28: ‘Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand’).” (emphasis mine)
No Calvinist can say that we are incorporated “in Christ” by faith. Calvinism requires (as James White shows), that a person is incorporated in Christ by prior election with the Father, resulting in faith. For a Calvinist, we are not saved by grace through faith (as per Ephesians 2:8), but saved by Irresistible Grace for faith.