Union With Christ

Grace For The Journey

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6July  Ever been to a Union Station terminal?  Maybe you have had the privilege of visiting a Union Station railroad terminal in a major city like Washington DC or Chicago, or maybe you have shopped at the restored historic Union Station in Nashville, Tennessee.  A Union Station is a railway station used by two or more railroad companies.  The companies share the tracks as well as the facilities of the station.  So, a union station is the place of connectivity where two or more parties join together in friendly, amicable union which results in a number of positive benefits.

The believer’s union with Christ

Is the greatest and most glorious reality

Of the Christian experience.

Christ’s atoning work was completed on a cross at Mount Calvary, which was the location of the “union station” that made possible the Christian’s uniting together with Him in a friendly, amicable union that results in many wonderful benefits or blessings.  We are going to look at those blessings in today’s blog:

1) We Have Eternal Fellowship With Christ.

Jesus used a helpful metaphor to describe the Christian’s being united with Him in John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches.”  If you are a believer, then you are united with Christ as a branch is united to a vine.  You are connected to Him and have fellowship with Him.  Jesus says this is how you bear fruit.  You are connected to the life-source.

So . . . If you are not connected to the vine, you can’t produce fruit, just as an apple branch broken off an apple tree can no longer bear apples.  It has to be connected in order to have a “fruitful” fellowship.

What Jesus teaches about fellowship with Him is the same thing the Apostle Paul stresses in Colossians 2:11-12.  Like Jesus, Paul teaches by way of metaphor, using the metaphors of circumcision and baptism to illustrate the Christian’s connection to Christ.  Verse 11 tells us, “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.”  You can read more about the Old Testament rite of circumcision in the opening books of the Bible.  Circumcision was a physical way of illustrating a spiritual reality.  The removal of physical flesh, the cutting away of flesh, identified God’s people as His specially chosen people who had entered into fellowship with Him.

So what Paul does in verse 11 is to use something that was very familiar to his initial audience – a largely Jewish audience who knew the Old Testament – and he uses the rite of circumcision to illustrate their new life in Christ.  Paul describes their new life in Christ as a spiritual circumcision – not a physical, but spiritual kind of circumcision.  He says that when a believer comes to faith in Christ, it’s not as though merely one piece of flesh is removed, but rather the whole body of flesh is removed in a kind of “circumcision.”  See it again in verse 11: “In Him (Christ) you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands (so it is not physical, but spiritual), by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.”

Paul is teaching that

When we place

Our faith in Christ,

God “brands us as His own,”

Spiritually circumcising us,

Removing the body of flesh from us.

He cuts away that which

Identified us before as a sinner

Who was previously united

Together with Adam,

Our first father.

Romans 5 teaches that every person is connected either to Adam or to Christ.  We are born connected to Adam and when we come to faith in Christ, God “disconnects us” from Adam and “connects us” to Jesus Christ.

Put another way . . .

The Christian is transferred

From the rule and

Reign of sin under Adam

And transferred To

A new rule and reign;

A new kingdom.

The believer “changes residence,”

No longer living in the old

Neighborhood of life in Adam,

But moving across the tracks

Into the good side of town,

Now living in Christ’s neighborhood;

Living under the rule

And reign of Jesus Christ.

When the believer comes to faith in Christ, God conducts a spiritual kind of “cutting away” of the old way of life, providing new life in Christ.

This is what Paul is teaching in verse 11.  When you come to faith in Christ, God circumcises, or cuts away, the “old you” – a life dominated by sin and fleshly desires – and connects you to Christ to enjoy fellowship with Him as the “new you,” a new creation with a new nature, a nature empowered to live in a way that pleases God.

That’s the first picture, or metaphor, of the spiritual work God does in the believer; the metaphor of circumcision.

The second metaphor is the picture of baptism in verse 12, “Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”  Paul now uses baptism as a metaphor for fellowship with Christ.   The believer identifies with Christ through the ordinance of baptism.  Baptism, which is taught by Jesus in Matthew 28 as well as by Paul in Romans 6, is . . .

The means by which a Christian demonstrates

That he or she now identifies with Christ as Lord.

Paul uses baptism as a metaphor because the Christians at Colossae had been baptized.  So, they were in a position to rightly understand what Paul is doing.  The New Testament era was unlike our modern era where people say they are followers of Christ, but have never been baptized.  In the Bible, however, baptism occurred very quickly once a person came to know Christ.  Baptism was the principal confession of one’s faith in Christ and the way one showed he or she had a new identity.

Baptism pictures the Christian’s union with Christ.

The Christian is connected to Christ

Through His death, burial, and resurrection.

To be clear, salvation does not come through baptism.  Salvation comes only through faith in Christ, believing in Jesus Christ.  One is saved by believing Christ lived for us and died for us and rose for us.  That’s why Paul says verse 12, “You were raised with Him through faith in the working of God.”  That’s how one is saved, “through faith in the working of God,” the God “who raised Christ from the dead.”  Baptism does not save, but baptism is what the Christian does once he or see has been saved.

Baptism is an outward expression

Of an inward transformation.

If you are a believer your baptism pictures death to the old you and life in the new you.  That’s why ministers speak the way they do when they baptize new believers.  As the believer goes down into the water, the minister often says, “Buried with Christ in baptism (Dying to the old way of life)” and as the believer comes up out of the water, the minister says, “Raised to walk in a new way of life.”  Baptism reflects the wonderful union of the Christian with Christ.  The Christian shares in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

Paul goes on in the next couple verses to provide the second blessing Christian’s enjoy because of their union with Christ.  Not only do we have Eternal Fellowship With Christ, but:

2) We Have Eternal Forgiveness Through Christ.

What a joy to know that all of our sins are forgiven in Christ.  We will talk more about that in tomorrow’s post!

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

 

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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