Let’s return to the concept of “union” that I introduced earlier. We’ll build that into Union with Christ.
Using graphics will help as this is a subject best understood by visualizing it!
Starting with two separate circles, one to each side of the title “Concepts,” we can then do two very simple interactions with them. If you are a mathematics expert, please do not take offense here with my simple use of these concepts in a non-mathematical application! The first interaction between the circles is “intersection.” Intersection is PARTIAL overlap as you see in the middle of the graphic. This is a common mathematical term. In mathematics, the result of intersection is that center overlap section. It is the part that both circles had in common. But, when you take the two circles and COMPLETELY overlap them, it is called “union.” With union, the circles become one, new, joined circle. In our example think of mixing two cans of paint, one yellow and one blue. Once they are mixed, there is only green paint. This is actually an analogy that you can use to get a simple grasp on our union with Christ. Other words that the Bible uses for union are unity, oneness, and one. I put those there to begin our transition from a pure concept of union to the Biblical meaning of our union with Christ.
Building off that previous “Concepts” graphic, let’s now apply the biblical view of our union with Christ:
Before our salvation, i.e. becoming a Christian, our complete union with Christ has not been actualized. We’ll see later that our union with Christ began before the world was created (Ephesians 1:4), but for now consider that before salvation we are a separate circle from Christ (top of graphic on each side). Per our concept of union discussed above, when we are saved, i.e. became a Christian, our union with Christ is now realized in its completeness / fullness and we say that “Christ is in us” (E.g. Colossians 1:27) and we are “in Christ” (e.g. Ephesians 1:3-14 many times!). This is a spiritual union. It is so complete that there is no way for me to spiritually separate Christ from me, and me from Christ (remember the paint mixing above?). That middle circle is “union with Christ” in a simple, graphical representation (very simple). We’re going to cover all this with full biblical next, but I believe that these graphical views will help you grasp the biblical basis when it is taught.
In the bottom part of the graphic, there is a “But.” But what? Well, even though you are in union with Christ, you are also still in this world. This is an intersection of two realities and will play a significant role in the realities of sanctification and sin in our lives. You guessed it…to be discussed later!
But, so that we don’t forget, I’ve enlarged that last part of the graphic in both a two dimensional view and a three-dimensional view.
Remember that when we speak of the “world,” we mean not just the physical world we live in, but more importantly, the world system that we live in. The “world” is best described by Paul in Ephesians 2:1-3.
Eph2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Now you can see the problem. Even with our union with Christ, we still live in a fallen world controlled by Satan (“2…the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience”). The world is our physical realm and the world system pulls on ALL of our senses. It is our most immediate, seemingly real, reality. BUT, just as real is our union with Christ and our spiritual/supernatural reality of life with Him. Later we will see that we have to live the reality of Union with Christ as the greater, more vital, more powerful, most important reality of our moment-by-moment life!
To be continued…