This week at Donuts & Doctrine we are looking at the Union of the Believer with Christ. This is not a subject that is frequently preached on the Church today, but it is a primary doctrine and one that really move us on to maturity in Christ. Audio will be posted after the meeting on Saturday, but for now, here is the text of the lesson from my final paper for the class, Salvation and Regeneration which I am taking through The North American Reformed Seminary. Check it out!
Union With Christ – AUDIO
Your Life is Hid with Christ in God
God’s providence is evident as I have committed myself to my studies. While I am studying the doctrines of salvation and regeneration, I am also preaching through Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Having spent 14 weeks examining the first two chapters of that letter I have looked deeply at the basis of salvation. It is rooted in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ as Creator, Sovereign Ruler, Head, Redeemer, Justifier, and Sanctifier. In a powerful description of Christ’s redemptive work the Apostle tells the Colossian Christians “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” (Col 1:15-22 ESV) What an amazing truth. The Creator and Ruler of all has come and offered Himself for His rebellious creation and caused them to stand faultless in His presence. He has reconciled them in the body of His flesh.
The Application of Redemption
This is indeed the “short list” but all of the things mentioned above are very important attributes, offices or works of Christ. All of them were in some way imparted to us as we were “reconciled in the body of His flesh” and it is our union with Him that allows us to partake of those glorious benefits. So many Evangelicals think of salvation as a simple transaction that involves no more than mere assent to some basic truths related to these offices and works of Christ, and yet it is infinitely more. That would be like saying, “If I believe that food is good and nutritious, it will sustain my body and give me the energy that I need to live, though it never enters my mouth and passes through my body.” What a foolish notion! The life and death of Christ must be applied to us or we are no better off than the hungry man who looks through a restaurant window having nothing in his pocket with which he might be able to buy the food that he sees. In his Condensed Theology lecture, Union with Christ, R. W. Glenn quotes John Calvin from his Institutes of the Christian Religion saying,
“We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us and we are separated from Him, all that He has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us… all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with Him” (III. i. 1).
It must certainly be that we cannot purchase our salvation with our own resources. What we need is an interest in the One who is providing it. When the owner of the restaurant is our Big Brother, our money means nothing whether we have it or not. Thank God that He says through the Prophet Isaiah, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.” (Isa 55:1-3 ESV) What an invitation! What a blessed call to the starving and poverty stricken soul to partake of the “rich food” of the Gospel! This rich and abundant food and drink which is spoken of here is given to God’s people through the merits of another, given without price, given to sustain the true, eternal, spiritual lives of God’s elect. Not just a snack or enough to get us by, but good and rich food that we can delight in. Food in plenty! Fed to the full! It is spoken of here as coming through union with “David,” as a result of God’s love given to him. It is according to the eternal covenant, that we receive these benefits. They come by faith in Christ as Redeemer (the Descendant of David who was a type). That faith is not a man-generated assent to the facts, but a relationship that is begun in eternity past and applied to the sinner in time, to bring him, not only to faith, but into a real union with His Redeemer. It is a union by way of covenant. A union by way of headship. A union by being, quite literally, joined to Christ.
Amazingly, this union is possible because of; the union within Christ of the natures of Deity and humanity, because of the union between the Father and the Son in the eternal covenant, and through that covenant, as Christ is made our new Head when we are united to Him by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This whole idea of our union with Christ deepens our understanding of redemption. Christ paid our debt, but He did not just pay it and let us go on in our own strength or even a strength, aided by the Holy Spirit. Many man-centered forms of the Christian Faith have taught that this was so, including Roman Catholicismi which teaches that Christ’s redemption only purchased man’s freedom from Original Sin and that life and the hope of heaven are essentially up to their own abilities after that. Men are allegedly given a new disposition and inclination, but if Adam didn’t make it, not having a sin nature and being in a pristine environment, we who are born in sin, and in a world of sinners, are destined to be mired in hopelessness and misery! Rather than being united to Christ and receiving what He has accomplished in our place as He lived in obedience to the Law of God and the requirements of His office as Redeemer (The Eternal Covenant), they only receive the opportunity to make themselves holy. As they sanctify themselves, they work toward justification. Though this is not far from how many, even in the Evangelical Church, understand the Gospel, this is not what the Scriptures teach.
The New Testament is filled with the idea of our union with Christ and makes it very clear that it is on the basis of that union that we have hope of forgiveness (justification) but also, hope to be who God has called us to be (sanctification). Jesus said to His disciples, just before His death, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. (Joh 14:16-20 ESV) By the regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Christ is united to His Followers just as He is to the Father. He comes to us in the Holy Spirit, as Paul tells the Galatians “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (4:6 ESV)What an amazing and profound concept! Our union with the Godhead by the plan of the Father, the work of the Son and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. John Calvin says this in his commentary on John 14:20 (In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.);
“Some refer this to the day of Pentecost; but it rather denotes the uninterrupted course, as it were, of a single day, from the time when Christ exerted the power of his Spirit till the last resurrection. From that time they began to know, but it was a sort of feeble beginning, because the Spirit had not yet wrought so powerfully in them. For the object of these words is, to show that we cannot, by indolent speculation, know what is the sacred and mystical union between us and him, and again, between him and the Father; but that the only way of knowing it is, when he diffuses his life in us by the secret efficacy of the Spirit….
….For Christ does not speak merely of his eternal essence, but of that Divine power which was manifested in him. As the Father has laid up in the Son all fullness of blessings, so, on the other hand, the Son has conveyed himself entirely into us. He is said to be in us, because he plainly shows, by the efficacy of his Spirit, that he is the Author and the cause of our life.”
As the Holy Spirit was given to those first disciples, uniting them to Christ, He is also given to all who come to faith in Christ. Titus 3:4-7 tells us “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (ESV) This aspect of that union is (or was) accomplished in time, but there is an aspect of our union with Christ which was accomplished in eternity past. In His omniscience and omnipotence, God has, before the foundation of the world, chosen us “in Christ.” The first chapter of the letter to the Ephesians is dominated with the idea that all we have as Christians is due to our union with Christ.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Eph 1:3-14 ESV )
Here we see that our salvation, every “spiritual blessing” our election, redemption, forgiveness, the revelation of the mystery of the Gospel, union with God, our inheritance, our faith and the sealing of the Holy Spirit are all said to be “in Him.” We also see that this began before the world was made “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world…” Seminary professor, Michael Horton, says, “…this doctrine is the wheel which unites the spokes of salvation and keeps them in proper perspective. “In Christ” (i.e. through union with Him) appears, by my accounting, nine times in the first chapter of Ephesians. Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, God has thus, “made us accepted in the Beloved.” He cannot love us directly because of our sinfulness, but He can love us in union with Christ, because He is the One the Father loves. “In Him we have redemption,” “In Him we have an inheritance,” and so on.” (Union With Christ) Therefore we must not just believe in Him intellectually (even really, really believe!), but we must be united to Him in reality.
Paul speaks of this “uniting” to Christ in the sixth chapter of the Letter to the Romans where he says,
“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 6:4-11 ESV)
Christ died our deaths and lived our lives. John Owen speaks of this in his work Communion with God where he puts it this way, “He lived for us and He died for us. He was ours in all He did and in all He suffered.” (p. 124) As we are “in Him” we are free from sin and death and free to live for Him. R.W. Glenn says “You have to get into Christ and Christ has to get into you in order for you to be saved.”(Ibid) The Apostle Paul says we need to “consider” ourselves as dead to sin and alive in Christ. To take into account that this is the case. Not to pretend that it is so, not to imagine that we are, but to actually consider that this is a fact. This is essential as we strive to live above sin. We are in Him. We are in Him as He is in the Father. We are called to live as though this is true because it is! This is not only the source of our justification but the substance of and the power that drives our sanctification.
As Believers, we already have Christ, His sacrificial death and His perfect life credited to us by our union with Him. We do not need to obtain more in order to become who He has called us to be. R. W. Glenn speaks of the Ordo Salutis at the beginning of his lesson. This is the order that redemption is applied to us and it is important to consider. It is not as much a chronological order, but a logical order. Paul tells the Roman Christians, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:29-30 ESV) We already saw, concerning our union with Christ, that though it happened in time (when we were regenerated) it is also something that happened before the foundation of the world. We were first foreknown and predestined (that was before time), we were also called and justified (that was in time, as we heard the Gospel and responded to it in faith), finally, (at the end of time), we will be glorified.
All of this is given to us “in Christ.” Christ has purchased it and given it to His elect, applying it by the regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is where the language of the letter to the Colossians is so important. After explaining the Divine Nature of Christ and the work of redemption in the first chapter and declaring Believers to be “complete in Him” in Colossians 2:10, the Apostle begins to command certain behaviors for these Christians in chapter three. These behaviors are actually outgrowths of this relationship to, or union with, Christ. He says,
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:1-5 ESV)
There is a mystical union going on here! Just as certainly as Christ will appear in glory, just as sure as He is, and will be, in the presence of the Father, we are already there. We are with Him, in God! What an amazing and humbling truth! I was the “enemy and alien” of Colossians 1:21, yet, reconciled in Christ, I am with Christ in God. My life is hidden there even now. As noted earlier from the first chapter of Colossians, “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Col 1:18-20 ESV) His headship is an important aspect of our union. It is possible because of His humanity. But the “fullness of God” was also, “pleased to dwell in Him.” These are both crucial to our relationship to Him and to the Father through Him. His righteousness is the “righteousness of God.” It is not only the satisfaction of the debt of sin, but the positive righteousness credited to my account to make me stand before God fully justified. Paul continues, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” (Col 1:21-22 ESV) This is vital to our relationship to God. As John Owen states earlier in his aforementioned work,
“Whatever Christ did as Mediator He did for those whose Mediator He was or in whose place and for whose good He carried out the office of Mediator before God (Rom 8:3-4). What His people could not do because of sin, Christ did for them. He did it so that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.
The whole purpose of Christ’s obedience cannot be said to be merely to fit Him for His death and oblation, because He was in Himself the Lamb without spot or blemish and therefore quite fit to be the Sacrifice for sin. He did not need to make Himself a fit sacrifice for sin by a course of obedience.
If Christ’s obedience is not imputed to us, having been done on our behalf, then there is no reason why He should have lived so long in the world as He did in perfect obedience to all the laws of God. Had He died earlier, His death would have been a sufficient atonement in itself for our sins.
If Christ’s perfect obedience had not been for us, then all that would have been required of Him was obedience to the law of nature, the only law to which He, a sinless man, could have been subject. His obedience to this law was a voluntary act of His in becoming man.
Christ’s obedience cannot be reckoned among His sufferings but is clearly distinct from His sufferings. Doing is one thing. Suffering is quite another.” (p. 120)
This is all a part of that covenant that I mentioned earlier. It was, as God and Man, in accordance with the Eternal Covenant that Christ was able to act as Mediator for His elect. It was by the transcendence of His deity and the imminence of His humanity that He could be the Perfect, Sacrificial Lamb of God. Through His humanity He could be the Sacrifice for men. Again, “He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” Through His deity, His Sacrifice was sufficient and efficient “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things,”
Putting it in Shoe Leather, (or Maybe a Wedding Dress?)
But we must be in that covenant. We must be related to the One in whom are all the “spiritual blessings in the heavenly places.” The “love of David” must be given to us. Though we have seen that it is a work of the Spirit in us, this idea can seem almost impossible and very ethereal. It is by the regeneration and indwelling of the Holy Spirit that this union is made. But there is more to it than an act of God upon an impotent man. The union is mystical and spiritual, but it is real and practical. We have seen that it is the basis of our justification as well as our sanctification and so it is a very practical doctrine. Another aspect of this union is illustrated by the marriage relationship. I believe that this will make this idea more tangible. It will also make the motivation toward sanctification to be grounded in more familiar concepts. It seems that the Scriptures use it this way with some frequency. Much as we saw in Romans 6 and the letter to the Colossians, as the Apostle Peter gives this profound truth, he ties it to intentional holiness and spiritual growth;
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2Pe 1:3-8 ESV)
The promises contained in our union with Christ, here related to us as being “partakers of the Divine Nature,” Peter gives as the impetus to sanctification, “For this very reason…..” But the Apostle Paul gives it even more shoe leather as he tells the Corinthian Believers;
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1Co 6:14-20 ESV)
We are not only united to Christ because of the indwelling of the Spirit which we saw in John 14, Romans 6, Galatians 3 and Titus 3, or because of the covenant between the Father and Son that brought about our reconciliation, but just as one is united in love and by covenant in the marriage relationship, we are also united to Christ in this way. Just as we become “one flesh” with our spouse, we become “one spirit” with Jesus when we are born again. Our entire being is united to Him at our conversion as we become one body with Him (Vs. 14). We become His Body. Paul addresses the idea of sexual sin here and he declares that we who are joined to Christ cannot think so little of that union as to join ourselves, simultaneously, to a prostitute. This would mean that Christ, Himself is joined to that prostitute. What an abhorrent thought! To begin to think seriously about all that Christ has invested into my salvation, to imagine that He not only took on my nature, but took me on, took me into Himself, has to make my relationship to Him all the more profound. Just as the scandal of sin rocks a school or a government, it mars the reputation of our Covenant Head. Yet knowing the weakness of my flesh and my propensity to be unfaithful, He joins Himself to me by uniting my nature to God by His Holy Spirit, by uniting Himself to me by becoming a man that He might die as the innocent Victim for my rebellion, and by entering into a covenant with me to extend to me the “sure love for David” which I, so infinitely and immeasurably, do not deserve.
Having spent the last couple of weeks studying this great truth I just have to ask, how could I ever have missed this? How could I read the Bible in such a selfish way so as to see that Jesus would be the provider of salvation like Walmart is the provider of merchandise? Can I look to the Gospel so that I see it as, “I just need to come to Him and want what He has and make the right arrangements so that I can go and spend what He has given as I see fit,” when in reality, He desires the intimacy of being “one spirit” with me? When in reality He desires to give me wine and milk and rich food to the full while instead, I satisfy myself with a hot dog because that is what I can afford!? This kind of relationship with Christ has been short-sold by people who value human will more than God. It has turned the Gospel into nothing more than a self-help program and gutted it of the love of God which is its very heart. It has produced a bunch of nominal Christians who have no power over sin because the power of God is not present in their lives, because this beautiful and full union is not a part of that relationship. The irony is, that in an effort to have the Gospel and personal satisfaction, we sacrifice the greatest satisfaction we could possibly have for the sake of maintaining our self-worth.
In our sinfulness, we struggle hard to submit. We struggle hard to submit in every area, but especially to God. In our sinfulness we battle to hold back a piece of our hearts because we are afraid to trust and afraid to be honest about what is in our hearts. Yet, Christ laid His heart bare for us. This loving union is based solely upon God’s love, laid bare in the Person of Jesus Christ. What more could the Creator of the Universe have given? He gave His Son, His Spirit, His Righteousness, His covenant, and through this, He united us to Himself in the bonds of love , through this, He gave us all we need for life and godliness, He gave us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, He gave us an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, reserved in heaven. But more than this, He united us to Himself by nature and by covenant and guaranteed our presence in the presence of God for all eternity. What a far cry from removing original sin and giving us the opportunity to get ourselves to heaven by belonging to the right church and performing the right rituals as we try to remain pure.
As I mentioned earlier, this complete giving of self and assets, of complete trust and submission is pictured in the marriage relationship. As His Saints, we are married to Christ and this union is modeled in human marriage. Paul wrote to the Ephesians;
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5:22-33 ESV)
Here is the description of that relationship. The wives first submit because of the man’s role as head, but also because he is the savior. (Vs 22-24) Husbands love with a sacrificial love that induces a devotion that purifies the desires through the obvious love that cherishes its beloved (Vs. 25-31) We see in verse thirty-two that, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” That is, that as His bride, we are united to Him through His great love and as a result of our union, He bestows all of His wealth upon us. He is our Savior, not only from sin, but our Protector and Provider. In Him we have an inheritance, every spiritual blessing, etc. In Him, we are lead to singleness of devotion as He purifies and presents us. By His great love and our union with Him in flesh and in spirit, we are free to yield ourselves completely to Him. It is our response to His loving generosity. Just as the husband is supposed to invest himself fully into the marriage relationship, Christ has already done so for His Bride. Just as Her response is loving submission, not only to His authority, but to His care, we are to lay ourselves fully upon Him without reservation. This is the ideal of marriage in the earthly realm. This is the reality of what Christ gives to us as we enter into this covenant with Him and become His Bride.
As I look at myself in light of this, I begin to understand all the more clearly the words of the Epistle of James when he says, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?” (Jas 4:4-5 ESV) Considering the anger and lust, the envy and pride that still resides in me, thinking of this union that I am in with Christ and all the He has devoted to it, I really, for the first time, feel the full import of that word, “adulterous” in verse four. It always seemed like a metaphor in the past, but I believe it is nothing more and nothing less than an accurate description. Yet, as the loving Husband that He is, the words that follow are filled with hope and the reminder of the endless supply of love that flows from my Savior! “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (Jas 4:6-10 ESV)
The cleansing love of the Savior triumphs for those who know Him. The sanctification process is driven by the blessings of our union. The Spirit that He has put within longs for His presence. The Covenant that He has entered into with this “Gomer” is the token of His unfailing love. The fact that, as the Creator, He would condescend to come to me at all, let alone take on my nature, infinitely more! to take me, individually, into Himself is the ultimate act of mercy. His grace humbles and calls us to submit. It draws us to purify our hearts and set our focus on Him, It causes us to mourn over our sin.
This makes the idea of salvation without submission as ridiculous as digestion without eating! It takes the matter of easy-believerism and neutralizes it completely. How can I imagine to enter into this intricate relationship with God and claim that He is merely providing a commodity to me with no strings attached? Why would I want that kind of relationship with Him if it was not to receive His love so that I could live as though He does not care? What an oxymoron. What an amazing God we serve and what greater proof of my own corruption than to try and exploit Him for my own ends?
Lord, help me to never forget all that I have received in Christ. As the Puritan great, Richard Baxter exhorts his readers in his 17th century Gospel tract, A Call to the Unconverted to Turn and Live, let me always consider what I have attained in Christ. He lists them as follows;
“You shall immediately be made living members of Christ, and have an interest in Him, and be renewed after the image of God, and be adorned with all His graces, and quickened with a new and heavenly life, and saved from the tyranny of Satan and the dominion of sin, and be justified from the curse of the law, and have the pardon of all the sins of your whole lives, and be accepted of God, and made His sons, and have liberty with boldness to call Him Father, and go to Him by prayer in all your needs, with a promise of acceptance; you shall have the Holy Ghost to dwell in you, to sanctify and guide you; you shall have a part in the brotherhood, communion, and prayers of the saints, you shall be fitted for God’s service, and be freed from the dominion of sin, and be useful, and a blessing to the place where you live; and shall have the promise of this life, and that which is to come: you shall want nothing that is truly good for you, and your necessary afflictions you will be enabled to bear; you may have some taste of communion with God in the Spirit, especially in all holy ordinances, where God prepareth a feast for your souls; you shall be heirs of heaven while you live on earth, and may foresee by faith the everlasting glory, and so may live and die in peace; and you shall never be so low but your happiness will be incomparably greater than your misery.” (p. 169-170)
Notice that he begins with being made members of Christ and having an interest in Him. All other attainments flow from this great truth. And what great attainments they are! What a glorious God! What a blessed Gospel!
Baxter, Richard. A Call to the Unconverted. New York: American Tract Society, 1800’s. Print.
Glenn, R.W. Union With Christ. Audio Lecture ed. Minnetonka, MN: Solid Food Media, 2005. N. pag. Web. 26 Sept. 2011
Horton, Michael. Union With Christ. Article ed. Escondido, CA: Michael Horton, 1992. Web. 30 Sept. 2011.
Owen, John. Communion With God. Puritan Paperbacks ed. Edinburgh, Scotland: Banner of Truth Trust, 1991. Print.
FOOTNOTE i: To receive the free gift of salvation, Catholics must until their last breath, maintain the righteousness that they received during the Sacrament of Baptism. Ongoing righteousness is maintained through the reception of the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. While belonging to the invisible Body of Christ, Catholics recognize that they absolutely need the Sacraments of the visible Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, as their assurance of righteousness and salvation. Hence, believers require the Catholic Church as the “fullness of the means of salvation.”
30. In the case of non-Catholics, while through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, they are admitted into the invisible Body of Christ as their first instalment towards salvation, once they have committed mortal sins, they possess no means of reinstating the righteousness that they had originally received during the Sacrament of Baptism. Such a status holds serious consequences, the unrighteous sinners being unable to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Within the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states, “If (mortal sin) is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back.” (C.C.C. # 1861)
Union With Christ – AUDIO