The Doctrine of Union With Christ

Had a great conversation with a friend tonight and he was telling me about how he did not understand what it means to be “in Christ.”  Paul uses this phrase constantly in his writing and for many of us we just kind of gloss right over it.  Yet there might not be anymore precious, practical doctrine that a Christian can live in than that of our Union with Christ through the reconciliation that took place on the Cross.

It reminded me of how much I have profited from learning about what our Union in Christ means.  If you are looking to really delve into it listen to Phil Ryken’s talk from the Gospel Coalition on the topic.

First let me say that this doctrine is somewhat mysterious, just like the teaching of a husband and wife becoming one (Eph. 5:32) so to is the union between us and Jesus.  We must be humble in speaking about our union with Christ as it does have a mystical component that we must leave open to the will of the Holy Spirit.  This does not mean we can not say anything in fact there are some glorious truths we can state confidently.

1. First our union with Jesus is legal.  When we our viewed by God the Father it is through Christ and his righteousness that he sees us.  This does not mean he does not see us and only Jesus, but that when he sees us it is in union with Christ and therefore Creator God views us as justified.

2. Our union with Christ is spiritual.  The Holy Spirit which dwells in us is the bond that holds us in Christ.  Through the work of the Holy Spirit we die with Christ, are reborn with Christ, and live new life with Christ.  The Holy Spirit unites us to Christ in a supernatural way in that as we grow over time to imitate Jesus and look more like him, it is done by the work of the Holy Spirit.

3. Our union with Christ is powerful.  Because of our union with Christ Jesus’ life flows through us renewing our minds, hearts, and desires (Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 4).  We are transformed to be like Jesus, not through our own power (which we could never have) but because of our union with Christ.

4. Our union with Christ sustains us.  In John 15 Jesus unpacks how he is the vine and we are the branches.  Jesus tells us we can do nothing.  Grasp that you can do nothing outside of your union with Christ.  As a branch Jesus will prune you so that you can bear fruit which is our last one.

5.  Our union with Christ allows us to bear spiritual fruit.  Jesus allows intended to reconcile all things to himself through us and his Great Commission.  Your relationship with Jesus is incomplete and not meant to be just you and him.  Jesus was clear that as his branches he always intended that we bear fruit, that is spiritual fruit.

Our union with Christ is the Christian life, it is our salvation.