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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « The Power and Purpose of Money | Main | There They Preached the Gospel »

    The Christian Life by Sinclair B. Ferguson

    pg. 101


    The nature of Union with Christ

    This union is sometimes referred to as “the mystical union”. The term is not a biblical one and may be too broad a term adequately to clarify our understanding of what it means to be “in Christ”. Often “mystical” suggests the idea of a merging between oneself and God. But union with Christ should not be thought of in terms of a loss of our own identity.

    We may find some help in understanding our union with Christ if we think of it in terms of the follow categories:

    Federal union

    Federal comes from the Latin foedus, meaning a treaty or covenant. What is being emphasized here is that God has established a relationship between Christ and his people which may be thought of as a covenant. What Christ does becomes theirs by virtue of our union with him.

    Theologians used to speak about a “covenant of Works” in which all men were united to Adam as their representative, and therefore fell in his transgression (Rom. 5:12-21). Paul saw the parallel to that in the relationship of Christ to his people. Christ appeared as Adam in reverse, undoing what Adam did, regaining what Adam lost. So Paul says that through Christ’s obedience on the basic of this covenant relationship between him and ourselves, grace abounds over our sin, justification becomes a reality, and believers reign in life. All this is because one man’s act of righteousness (rom 5:18-19). But that is possible only if there is this objective union between Jesus and ourselves. The federal union is effected outside of us and in Christ.

    A carnal or flesh union

    By his incarnation the Son of God became one with us, sharing our nature. He came “being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7), “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3). These are difficult words to interpret, but they appear to suggest that in his conception Christ really took hold of our nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary, sanctified it through the spirit, and live out his life of obedience in the weakness of our flesh. He came truly to brother us, and to be tempted in all points as we are so that he might sympathise with us in our weakness (Heb 4:15). Furthermore, he established this bridge between God and us in our flesh in order that he might come into contact with our sin, being “made sin” for us (2 Cor 5:21). We are united to him by driven covenant and also by divine incarnation. Our union with Christ is therefore based on Christ union with us.

    Posted by Marco on February 4, 2015 04:19 PM

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