Union with Christ

by Mike Ratliff

8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9 (NASB) 

We are commanded to have unity among the brethren, but that unity must be based on our union with Christ. Jesus prayed that His church would have unity through Him in John 17, but how does the Bible describe it? Here are a few passages. The first two describe union with Him as Christ being in us.

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19 (NASB)

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:24-29 (NASB) 

This passage describes our union with Christ as us being in Him.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20 (NASB) 

How is this union with Christ maintained? It is maintained by faith.

20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 (NASB) 

It is maintained by us abiding in him and His word abiding in us.

4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:4-7 (NASB) 

It is maintained by feeding on him.

56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. John 6:56 (NASB) 

It is maintained by obeying him.

24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. 1 John 3:24 (NASB) 

Let’s stop for now. What do we have so far. Those who will have unity of mind will also have union with Christ. That union with Christ is ONLY active and alive in those who are in Christ and Christ is in them. Also, these same people will maintain their union with Christ by faith. This faith is not simply believing and that’s it, but it causes those with it to live in the flesh but not be of the flesh. They have crucified their flesh and now live for their Savior and God’s glory alone. They can keep this up consistently by abiding in Christ which makes them fruitful. They are strengthened by feeding on Christ and reveal there genuineness by obeying Christ in all things.

Those who are in union with Christ will have the mind of Christ.

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NASB) 

They will also be of one spirit with Christ.

17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 1 Corinthians 6:17 (NASB) 

They will also be in the fellowship of His sufferings.

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11 (NASB) 

11 It is a trustworthy statement:
For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NASB) 

They will also have union with Christ in His death.

3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, Romans 6:3-8 (NASB) 

They will have assurance in their Union with Christ.

20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. John 14:20 (NASB) 

What do we know so far? Those in union with Christ will have unity of mind. They will have the mind of Christ. This is His values and discernment. It is describing Christlikeness in believers. They will be in one spirit with Christ. They will not be doing things against what Christ or His Apostles taught. They will discern as Christ discerned. They will love as Christ loved. They will rebuke as Christ rebuked. They will abhor hypocrisy. As a result of this, they will experience suffering from those who think that Christianity itself is evil or their form of Christianity does not match their religious traditions. Some of the worst offenders are those who think they are pleasing God by persecuting those who are actually obeying Him. Those obeying God in the face of this persecution can do so because they have died to self. They are alive to God and dead to this world. No matter how much heretics and apostates attack them, those in union with Christ will not doubt, but will be even more assured.

That’s enough for now. Do you see that unity of mind among Christians is born from our union with Christ? Those who are false disciples or false teachers or false prophets will not be in union with Christ and it will cause conflict between the two. We must never seek unity on the basis of peace alone. Instead the unity we must have is that based solely on our Union with Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!