Download a PDF: “Union with Christ: Every Spiritual Blessing in Him.”
In a 2020 article on “The Big Thing in Salvation: Opening Our Eyes to Union with Christ,” I wrote that unpacking the mystery of union with Christ is the glorious task of preaching. This summer and fall, our church has been giving specific attention to the doctrine through a sermon series that looks at several key passages in the New Testament. The series is summarized in the attached chart.
The chart explains that union with Christ involves mutual indwelling: through the Spirit, Christ is in the believer, and the believer is in Christ (1 Jn. 4:13; Jn. 15:4; Col. 1:27; Rom. 8). See the sermon “Jesus Wants to Live in Your Heart: Introduction to Union with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:26–31).” The chart highlights three major metaphors for this union:
- The vine and the branches — As life flows from the vine to the branches, spiritual life flows from Christ to believers who are grafted into him by the Spirit (John 15; Rom. 11).
- A husband and wife — As husband and wife become “one flesh,” Christ and his Bride the Church become “one spirit” (Eph. 5; 1 Cor. 6:17). See the sermon “Holy Marriage: The One-Flesh Union as a Sign of the Church’s One-Spirit Union with Christ (Ephesians 5:22–33).”
- The head and the body — As the members (parts) of the human body are connected to one another and hold together in the human head, the members of Christ’s Body the Church are united by their common union with Christ the Head of the Church (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12; Eph. 4). See the sermon “Union with Christ the Head Means Membership in His Body the Church (1 Corinthians 12:12–27).”
The focus of the chart is on how every spiritual blessing flows from Christ (the Head) to believers (his Body, the Church):
- If we are united with the only Son of God (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:9), then we are Adopted as sons of God (Eph. 1:5; Jn. 1:12).
- If we are united with the Righteous One (Mt. 3:15; Rom. 5), then we are justified/accounted righteous (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 8:1).
- If we are united with the Holy One of God (Jn. 6:69; 17:19), then we are sanctified/saints (holy ones) (1 Cor. 1:30).
- If we are united with the Divine Son of God (Col. 1:19; 2:9), partakers in the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
- If we are united with the Chosen/Elect One (Lk. 9:35), chosen/elect (Eph. 1:4).
- If we are united with the Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16), the True Israel (Mt. 2:15; cf. Hos. 11:1), then we are sons of Abraham (Gal. 3:29), circumcised (Col. 2:11; Rom. 2:29), the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; Rom. 11).
- If we are united with the Christ/Anointed One (Acts 4:26; Lk. 4:18), then we are Christians, anointed ones (1 Jn. 2:20; 2 Cor. 1:21).
- If we are united with the Anointed Prophet, Priest, and King, then we are a royal priesthood, prophetic people (1 Pet. 2:9).
- If we are united with the Crucified, Buried, and Risen One, then we are Dead to sin, raised to newness of life, to be raised bodily (Rom. 6; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:6; Rom. 8:11).
- If we are united with the All in All, the One in Whom All Treasures Are Hidden (Col. 2:3), then we are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3).
Number ten is a catch-all, since this list just scratches the surface of a doctrine that saturates the New Testament and relates to every area of salvation and the Christian life.
Finally, the chart notes that the union of Christ the Head and his Body the Church is a spiritual reality made visible and lived out in the local church with its sacraments (1 Cor. 10:17; Jn. 6:56; Eph. 4; Rom. 6).
In the future, I may include a back side to the handout that emphasizes how we need to grow up in Christ in the context of the local church, and appropriate the benefits of our union with Christ through life in the Spirit, in community.