Union with Christ – Introduction

Union with Christ – Introduction

Union with Christ – Introduction.

MYSTERY: (Greek, Musterion); a sacred secret hidden in the heart of God until the appointed time of revelation; a truth that can only be known by divine disclosure; spiritual insights into God’s way of thinking and planning; hidden truths revealed by God that are beyond human intellect and reason; divine knowledge that can only be understood through the Holy Spirit; God’s thoughts and plans revealed to believers and hidden to doubters and unbelievers.

Half the Story. Imagine if someone has gone through a long life of the Christian faith, being told that one side of the story is the complete story. Yes, that’s me. I grew up being taught that the believer’s relationship with God involved God inside of me through the Holy Spirit, which of course is true. But that’s the incomplete part. I was never really instructed as to the importance of the believer being inside God. There is a double mystery here, and our union with Christ actually goes both ways… God inside of each of us, and each of us inside of God. Christ enters us through the Holy Spirit, and His Spirit delivers us into the Person of God. Christ dwells within me, and I dwell within Christ. This double mystery, God in me and me in God, is well-mentioned in the New Testament: “When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am inside my Father, and you are inside of me, and I am inside of you.” (John 14:20); “Remain inside of me, dwell in me, continue to draw life from me, and I will remain inside you.” (John 15:4-7); “God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live inside Him, and He inside us.” (1 John 4:13); “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives continually inside of me, and I live inside him.” (John 6:56); “Those who obey God’s teachings remain inside Him, and He inside them.” (1 John 3:24).

Mutual Indwelling. Our union with God is obviously full of mystery, the kind of sacred secret that the Lord needs to unpack for us. Some scholars call this the “Mystical Union,” while others refer to it as the “Double Union.” For a flesh and blood finite person to join with and into the supreme Lord of the Universe, a human being intimately united with the world’s Creator and vast spiritual presence, is way beyond our understanding. In thinking about being united with Christ, we tend to say things in faith that we ourselves don’t even comprehend, truths that we trust at some time God will reveal to us… “Our double union must mean that somehow we are inside of each other;” “When we unite with God, we are one in spirit;” “We are inside of God, which means we are welcomed into the fellowship of the Holy Trinity;” Since we are inside Christ, we can participate in the interior life of Christ;” “To pray in the Spirit might actually mean we pray inside the Spirit;” “Living inside Christ means we can acquire the very mind of Christ;” “We belong to Christ, including the fact that each member of our body are members of Christ;” “We can only become new creatures if we are enfolded into Christ;”  There is even a million-dollar word that some say sums this all up: “Christification.” That’s quite a mouthful, and one wonders if believers are truly “Christified.”

“There is no condemnation to those who are inside Christ Jesus, those who belong to Him and are joined in life-union with Him.”  (Romans 8:1).

“Now you have been united with Christ Jesus and are inside of Him. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13).

Transformation. Because we are joined with Christ, He is within us, and we are within Him. Our transformation, our sanctification, would seem to happen two ways, then… The Holy Spirit inside of us gradually transforming our nature into the image of Christ; and each of us inside of Christ, receiving an endless supply of the interior qualities of Jesus, His character, attributes, and all the spiritual riches we could ever imagine. We were created in His image, became hopelessly broken, and then in God’s love welcomed into Jesus so that we could end up like Jesus once again. Being inside of Christ and intimately joined with Him means we receive the divine sap that flows through the Vine. Inside Christ, we have an eternal supply of heavenly nutrients that enable us to change, mature and go from one level of glory to another, into the very likeness of Christ Himself.

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ inside God.” (Colossians 3:3).

God made this sinless Man be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with Him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 “Consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God, by your union with Christ Jesus, living in fellowship with God through Christ.” (Romans 6:11).

Living Within Christ:  Participating in the life of Christ; in union with Jesus; united as one with God; inseparably joined with Christ; when we started trusting in Jesus, His Holy Spirit hand-delivered (Speedy Delivery”) into the very Person of Christ; we are tightly wrapped into His nature and essence; our spirit is inside His Spirit, and He is inside of us; our human identity is hidden within Christ; we belong to Him, and He is in possession of each of us; we are intimately connected within each other; by uniting with Jesus, we married into His family, and are embraced within the fellowship of the Trinity; we have a permanent location within Christ and are not lost in the cosmos. Inside of Christ, He is stuck with us, and we go wherever He goes, including His death, resurrection, ascension, and now in the heavenly realms. We were baptized into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19), are united with Him, and thus our union with Him enables us to be with Him right now seated with Christ at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 2:4-7).

“No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor. But if we love one another, God remains united with us, and He makes His permanent home in us and we make our permanent home in Him. His love is then brought to its full expression in us. He has given us His Spirit within us so that we can have the assurance that we remain united with Him and He with us…. Those who confess and give thanks that Jesus is the Son of God remains in union with God, they live inside of God, and God lives inside of them. We have come into an intimate experience with God’s love, and we trust in the love He has for us. God is love; and those who remain in this love remain united with God, and God remains united with them.” (1 John 4:12-16, The Complete Jewish Bible and The Passion Translation).

Metaphors for Our Union with Christ: I will attempt in this series to look at this mystery of the Double Union from four different angles. When it comes to something this deep and complex, we can use some analogies to help us along. The Scripture has provided these analogies to help us understand something that is beyond our comprehension. God’s Word provided these helpful pictures of being joined into the Person of Jesus. So in the next few articles I will consider different Biblical illustrations of what it looks like to be united with God:

  1. Union of Husband and Wife;
  2. Union of Branch and Vine;
  3. Believing into Him;
  4. Communion of the Believer and the Trinity
  5. Moving into the Refuge and Shelter.