I just gave away the “punch line.” Why? We’ve got a lot of base-building to do and this will give you an overview of what we are building to.
At any point, you start to feel “lost in the details” and/or “losing the big picture,” come back here and get refreshed! Get grounded again!
To reiterate the slide above, God has chosen, of His own sovereign, free, will to base all of our Christianity in “Union with Christ.”
Paul said it this way (bold, underline is mine):
Eph1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
As we will study, “in Christ” is the most common way that “Union with Christ” is expressed (over 200 times in the New Testament!). And, notice that the verse says “every spiritual blessing.” “Every” means just that – every. In other words, there are NO spiritual blessing outside of Union with Christ.
Based on Ephesians 1:3 and other verses, Union with Christ is HOW God has chosen to (1) give us to Christ, (2) give Christ to us, and (3) give us EVERY spiritual blessing. The New Testament clearly teaches that we are “in Christ” (e.g. Ephesians 1:3 above) and Christ is “in us” (e.g. Colossians 1:27). We can also say that we are UNITED, ONE, with Jesus Christ.
We can boldly say that Union with Christ IS THE FOUNDATION of our Christianity. Christianity is simply “Communion with Christ” (i.e. intimate fellowship) because Union with Christ is the CORE of Christianity.
Only three times does the New Testament call us “Christians.” In the New Testament, we are called as those who are “in Christ.” That’s our identity. If you don’t believe me, go look up 2 Corinthians 12:2 and see how Paul refers to himself. He calls himself “a man in Christ.”
Finally, PLEASE don’t dismiss Union with Christ as merely representation, as Christ being our Federal head. That is merely man’s attempt to reduce this doctrine to something that he/she can understand. Union with Christ is a spiritual union, a oneness, a unity that we have with Christ that surpasses our understanding. That doesn’t make it any less real. If you’re still not sure, go read Christ’s prayer to His Father in John 17. Mark ALL the references to unity between God the Father and Himself. Then, mark all the references to our union with God the Father and Christ. And, don’t worry, the Holy Spirit is included too. You can see the Holy Trinity involved in union in the second half of John 14.