Presentation on theme: "Presentation 06. Introduction In our last study we examined the doctrine of Justification- we now look at a related doctrine that is indissolubly linked."— Presentation transcript:
Introduction In our last study we examined the doctrine of Justification- we now look at a related doctrine that is indissolubly linked to it and which provides another important facet on the diamond of salvation - our union with Christ. It finds its classic expression in v20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Presentation 06
Introduction We need to remind ourselves of the context into which Paul speaks these words. He has unpacked for us the glorious provision of the gospel whereby God brings us into a right relationship with himself. The source of this activity has been shown to be Gods grace, the basis of it is found in Christ’s death upon the cross, and the means by which men enter into it is by faith. The major criticism of Paul’s opponents was that this gospel was surely nothing less than a licence to sin. In answering that accusation Paul now turns to unpack the glorious doctrine of the believer’s union with Christ. Presentation 06
What Is Meant By Union With Christ? In his instruction of his disciples Jesus often referred to the relationship which he would have with his people as one of union. But what precisely was the nature of the union to which Jesus referred. First, it was an organic union. Children have been known to tie items onto Christmas trees hoping that they might grow, but nothing happened. Growth on a tree can only take place if the object is organically united to it thus drawing upon the life source of the tree. Loose attachment is not the same as organic union. Jesus reinforces this thought in Jn 15v5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit”. Presentation 06
What Is Meant By Union With Christ? The reason why some people fail in their attempts at godly living is that they have not grasped that a prerequisite to bearing the fruit of godliness in their lives is to be united to the life source of Christ. It is not enough to be loosely attached. Jesus says we require to be united to him in the same way that a branch is united to a tree. At this point some people ask, “What hope do I have of such a union?” In reply we consider a second aspect of this union. Presentation 06
Secondly, it is a federal union. This idea is most simply explained as a relationship between a man and the people he represents, so that the life and actions of one man then affect all of his people. This idea is helpfully illustrated in the story of David and Goliath. David’s victory was viewed as a victory for Israel. David fought as their federal head. Now in precisely the same way the N.T. teaches that Jesus is our federal head cf Rom. 5v12-21. Just as in Adam [the federal head of our old humanity] we entered into a relationship with sin as a result of his actions, so too we enter into the benefits of Christ’s life and death quite legitimately – his is the federal head of a new humanity. His victory over the power and guilt of sin becomes his people’s victory. But you ask how does one benefit from this union? Presentation 06 What Is Meant By Union With Christ?
Thirdly, it is a faith union. How do we get “into Christ”? The Bible answers, ‘by faith’. The significance of this is sometimes overlooked. Occasionally the N.T. describes becoming a Christian in terms of receiving Christ of getting Christ into our lives but the greater emphasis is on the need to be taken out of ourselves and our sin and to be found “in Christ”. Union with Christ is not a primarily a subjective experience that encourages us to look in and down. Rather it is something which lifts us up and out and draws us on to the glorious liberty of the children of God. Returning to the vine metaphor, the chief need of the branch is to be grafted in so that it draws its nourishment from the vine. And so Christians of a former age described faith in relation to their union with Christ as a “drawing grace.” Presentation 06 What Is Meant By Union With Christ?
Fourthly it is an extensive union - in the totality of Jesus’ human experience. Paul makes great use of this idea. If we are united to Christ, then we are united to him in all that he has done for us. Gal.2v20 gives some idea of how far reaching this is. We share in his life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and heavenly session. So extensive is this union that we read, Christ “is our life” Col. 3v4. This is why we have been grafted into the vine, in order that the life of the Vine might become clearly visible in our lives. So that it is “no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us. The life we now live is through faith in the Son of God”. The blessings of this union are not blessings to which faith aspires but blessings that are bestowed the moment we believe. Presentation 06 What Is Meant By Union With Christ?
What Is The Result Of This Union Through our union with Christ, all that is his by incarnation becomes ours by faith. In particular, we must grasp the sense in which his life and power become available to us to transform our lives. The whole of Christ’s past life is made available to us to sanctify our present lives, so that our own past does not dominate our present Christian life. What Jesus seeks to do is to reproduce in our lives what took place in his, so that we too bear the cross, are crucified, die and are raised to newness of life with Christ. Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union The implications of this are far-reaching. Union with Christ implies commitment to him principally as a crucified and risen Lord. During his own ministry this was central to his teaching cf. Mk.8v34. Here is Bonheoffer’s comment: “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christian suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death- we give up our lives to death... When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.” Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union In other words, the privilege of being united to a risen and ascended Christ who showers us with spiritual blessings has ONE condition. It cannot be separated from belonging to a crucified Christ, and sharing in the death that we must die with him to self and to the world. It is as we enter more deeply into this fellowship with Christ that our lives bear spiritual fruit. On the other side of the cross lies the resurrection. That pattern is inevitable. Through union with Christ in his death comes union with him in his resurrection and a share in his triumph cf. Eph. 1v18-21. The knowledge of our amazing union with Christ provides us with great dignity. In what way? Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union As I look at myself I see failure and sin, shame and disgrace. But that is not the whole truth about me as a Christian. No I am united to Christ, a joint heir of his riches, a child of God. Knowing this to be the REAL truth about me lends grace and power to my life. Knowledge of our union with Christ gives us confidence in prayer. cf Jn. 15. 4-7. It is as Christ abides in us and we abide in him and his word dwells in us and we pray in his name and so God hears us. If I am united to Christ then all that is his is mine. So long as my mind and heart and will are one with Christ’s and his word, I can approach God with the confidence that my prayer will be heard. Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union Knowledge of this union helps me in my struggle against sin. In Rom. 6v10 we read, “The death he died he died to sin, once for all,” Jesus death severed any relationship with sin as a sin-bearer. But what of the Christian united to Christ by faith? He too has, through Christ’s death, severed his relationship with sin. He is no longer related to sin in the way he once was. In 2v20 Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ”. He is speaking of the sinful “I”, our old sinful nature that has caused us so much trouble. And a new “I” appears in its place, “nevertheless I live” a reference to the new man Christ has made him, a man shorn of that which twisted his identity is still preserved. Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union Indeed, for the first time Paul was able to become his true self unencumbered by the domineering intrusion of a sinful nature. What a glorious truth this is for the Christian to grasp, “the man I once was died when Christ died”. Because our old sinful nature has been crucified upon Christ’s cross we are no longer related to sin in the way that we once were. Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union As a result of Christ’s death, union with Christ means an end to sin’s dominion. The N.T. does not suggest that indwelling sin has been destroyed but that its power has been broken in our lives- there is a new relationship. Formerly, it reigned like a king, but now it is no more than a brigand fighting a guerrilla war in the jungle of our heart. There it will seek to intimidate and frighten us claiming an authority that it does not possess. We are no longer slaves crushed by a tyrannical master, but citizens of another kingdom, chasing a usurper who no longer has any authority over us. Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union Knowledge of this union helps me in my relationship to the law. cf Gal. 2v19... What does Paul mean by ‘for I through the law died to the law’? He means that the law's demand of the death penalty for sin was satisfied through the death of Christ. Those who are united to him have their sinful past blotted out. Christ’s death means that there is now a new relationship to the law for those who are united to him. It no longer stands to condemn. And because of my union with Christ and the access that I have to his resurrection life I am both motivated and equipped to live for God. Presentation 06
What Is The Result Of This Union Knowledge of our union with Christ also protects us in temptation. When we realise that we are indissolubly united to Christ we have in our possession one of the strongest weapons against temptation. We ask, “How can I, if I am united to Christ, give way to this temptation?” This is the line of argument which Paul develops when writing to the church at Corinth in 1Cor. 6v5-20... The reminder of what we have become by grace is a constant defence against slipping back into what we were by nature. Presentation 06
Conclusion We have hardly begun to touch upon the glorious benefits of the believer’s union with Christ. What I hope we have shown is that the gospel, far from providing a licence to sin, in fact provides the enabling to triumph over the sin’s stranglehold in our lives. And this through our union with Christ. Sin’s powerful hands are no longer squeezing our windpipes and choking all of the air out of our bodies, thus weakening us so that we cannot live for God. If we are in Christ, sin has been shorn of its power, sin’s muscles begin to atrophy, its strong grip loosened because its authority has been crushed. Presentation 06
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