Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. (Eph 1:3, GNB)
You may know that you are blessed in your new life, but you may not know that 100 percent of your blessings come as the result of being one with Christ. Let us consider some of these blessings, starting with salvation.
What exactly is the basis for your salvation? It is your union with Christ. You are not saved because you said the magic words of a sinner’s prayer. You are saved because you are one with the Lord and his saving life is your life. Paul said he endured all things so others may “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:10).
We mislead people when we sell salvation as a ticket to heaven. It’s not that it’s wrong, it’s just woefully incomplete. Salvation is not about being put into a lifeboat but being put into Jesus (Ephesians 1:13). Besides, those in lifeboats aren’t really saved. They still need to be rescued. This is why Christians with a lifeboat mentality are anxious and fearful. Bobbing around in the ocean of their insecurity, they have no assurance that they are actually saved. Perversely, they fear Judgment Day more than the average sinner. Not us. We are as secure as the Savior himself. We fear no condemnation because there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).
How is it that we dare to call ourselves a holy people? It is because Jesus is holy and we are in him. Paul said of the most misbehaving bunch of Christians in the Bible that they were “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:2). So were you. When did this happen? It didn’t happen when you attended that holiness retreat. It happened when you were dipped into the Holy One by the Holy Spirit. Some Christians act holier-than-thou, as if there were levels to holiness, but there’s only one level and it’s his level. Jesus is your holiness. You don’t have to sweat your way to sainthood for you are already numbered among the saints in Christ Jesus.
Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21, GNB)
How can we presume to call ourselves righteous? Because the vine is righteous and he shares his righteousness with his branches. How could he not? Since we are inextricably joined together it is meaningless to speak of one kind of righteousness for the vine and another for the branches. We are just as righteous as he is.
These New Testament revelations exceed the wildest dreams of the Old Testament prophets. Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah spoke of the righteous One and foresaw a righteous Branch (Is 24:16 and Jer 23:5, 33:15). They could not imagine that the Branch would become a vine reproducing itself in millions upon millions of little righteous branches. They saw the coming Christ but not the coming Christians who now carry his life and nature and who have been made the very righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
The blessings of our union are many and I could keep going. Indeed, I will. Like Paul, my prayer is that you will have “a deeper understanding of every blessing which we have in our life in union with Christ” (Phm 1:6, GNB).
How is it that we can live free from the demands of the law? The Gentile believers who walked in this revelation scandalized the Jews of the first century. “Who are these Johnny-come-latelies who dare to claim all the blessings of the law while ignoring all of its curses?” We are the happy branches of a vine who fulfilled the law on our behalf. It’s really not that complicated. Since the vine is blessed, his branches must be blessed too. How could it be otherwise?
What about our authority? On what grounds can we call ourselves the head and not the tail? What right do we have to speak to storms, cast out demons, and heal the sick? All together now—it is because we are wedded to the One who holds all authority in heaven and earth. Our bodies may be here, but we are seated together with God in heaven in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6).
We read that Jesus sits waiting for his enemies to be placed under his feet (1 Cor 15:25). We also read that the God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet (Rom 16:20). So under whose feet is the enemy going? His. Ours. All of the above. Since we are in union with the One who has defeated the enemy, we are already victorious in Christ Jesus. Our part is to stomp.
6. And many more…
The list of benefits goes on and on. We have forgiveness in him. We are perfect in him. We are reconciled through him. Peace, joy, provision, and everything besides, comes to us through our union with Jesus Christ.
For in union with Christ you have become rich in all things … (1 Corinthians 1:5, GNB)
Do you see it yet? You are mightily blessed because of your union with the Lord. Your needs are not met through prayer, fasting, and Bible study. Neither are they met by sowing into this ministry or signing up for that class. Whatever your need, your abundant supply is found in Christ Jesus.
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
The purpose of union
The blessings of our union with Christ are many and wonderful, but they pale in comparison to the ultimate purpose of union, which is to share in his life. Why did God make us? It was so we could participate in the abundant and overflowing life found within the Godhead. We were created to love and be loved and to enjoy fellowship with the One who made us.
For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name … (Isaiah 54:5)
In a word, it’s all about Jesus. Jesus is both the means for our union and union’s true object. Life without Jesus doesn’t satisfy and doesn’t last. Only in him do we live and move and have our being.
Jesus came to give us abundant life, and that life is found in him. Again, we can miss it when we seek the gifts independently of the Giver. Eternal life, for instance, is not more of the same old, broken-down life we inherited from Adam. It is a wholly new life that comes from knowing God and walking in the new way of the Spirit.
When Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20), he was rejoicing in his co-baptism and resurrection with Jesus. Paul understood there is no real life outside of Christ and those who seek to live independently on the basis of their own wits and resources ultimately lose their true selves. But when you abandon yourself totally to him, then you discover who you really are. Then you really live.
Extracted from chapter 4 “Union,” The Gospel in Ten Words.