From Your Pastor: John Calvin on the Benefits of Union with Jesus Christ

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” [ESV John 15:4-5].

“If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of Him’ [1 Cor. 1:30]. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in His anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in His dominion; if purity, in His conception; if gentleness, it appears in His birth. For by His birth He was made like us in all respects [Heb. 2:17] that He might learn to feel our pain [Heb. 5:2].

If we seek redemption, it lies in His passion; if acquittal, in His condemnation; if remission of the curse, in His cross [Gal. 3:13]; if satisfaction, in His sacrifice; if purification, in His blood; if reconciliation, in His descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in His tomb; if newness of life, in His resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in His entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in His Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given Him to judge.

In short, since rich store of every kind of goods abounds in Him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”

Amen.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” [ESV Psalm 90:14].

From Your Pastor: A Biblical Spirituality

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A Biblical spirituality is basically a seeking to be holy as God the Father is holy in an intimate communion or relationship with Him through union with Christ by His Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14; John 14:21, 23; 1 Pet. 1:16-17). True Biblical spirituality is knowing that God in Christ has made His “home” with and in His people by His Spirit, and seeking to live out a life that reveals and demonstrates this amazing truth and wonderful grace. As our Lord says beautifully:

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

A Biblical spirituality is a desire to know, love, obey, and experience God as Father from the heart while fearing and reverencing Him as Supreme God and Lord (John 17:3; John 15:9-11; Rom. 6:4-6, 11-17; Eph. 3:14-21). Spirituality is taking Jesus as Savior and Lord, and living a life of seeking communion with Him through the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:18). Biblical spirituality expresses itself in the words of our forefather John Calvin: “I offer Thee my heart, O LORD, promptly and sincerely.”

Biblical Spirituality.  A Biblical spiritual is just that, it is Biblical. It is not first and foremost an emotional experience; it is not always necessarily an emotional experience (although there is nothing wrong with praying for this). But true Biblical spirituality is a seeking to know, love, obey, and experience God as He is revealed in Holy Scripture, and especially as He has revealed Himself in Christ, and seeking to understand, as well as be transformed by this truth (Rom. 12:2).

All of our experiences should be rooted in the Bible. When we seek Biblical spirituality through Scripture, it must be what God commands and gives His people grace to do. Yet in knowing and understanding all Biblical truth, we should expect an experience of that truth (think of all the Psalms that teach us to rejoice and be joyful in God our Savior!). If we believe something truly, we will act on it, and we should expect to feel it to some degree. If we truly know and believe something in our heads, it should influence our hearts, affections, our wills. Biblical spirituality is the interface between what we believe about the triune God, and how we live. Biblical spirituality is about both our faith in God, and our works that should accompany and follow true saving faith (Rom. 4:18-21; James 2:17-20).

But there have been many errors and excesses in Christian history with even good believers untethering themselves from Holy Scripture, or being imbalanced in their approach to spirituality. For instance, just to name a few examples, there have been those who desired a life of self-denial in humility, but unintentionally placed too much focus on self apart from Christ. There have been those who have had a misunderstanding of salvation being received by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. Those who have been guilty of seeking mere emotional experiences (read: “ecstasies”) apart from the Word of God. Those who have not made a proper distinction between the Creator and the creature, and use language of being “swallowed up” into the deity. Those who have been guilty of making lists that sometimes can (and often do!) take the place of Scripture, and set up legalistic tendencies that are not robustly focused on the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. Those with an unhealthy withdrawal from the world that requires a monastic lifestyle functionally in order to live according to the teachings (or “rules” of the monastery).

As we understand a Biblical spirituality, it is important to be Biblical. We are called to evaluate ourselves, but always with our eyes on Christ as Savior. We are to understand that salvation is by grace alone apart from our works, through faith, because of Christ alone, and any relationship, any true and saving knowledge of God, any good works that we do that are pleasing to God, all are because of the grace and power of the Holy Spirit given to us in our union with Christ! In any true experience of God, we are never to forget that we are sinners approaching God’s holy presence clothed in the righteousness of Christ, coming to Him through the Mediator He has provided, and thus we must make an important and proper distinction from this day and for all eternity between the Creator and we as creatures, and never “lose ourselves and identities” in the Godhead.

We are to seek to follow and obey God in light of the grace that has been given to us in Christ. As those seeking true Biblical spirituality, we are not called to go out of the world, but to fulfill our callings graciously given to us by God, enjoying the created gifts that God has provided for us, while being wholly consecrated from the heart to Him (1 Tim. 4:1-5; cf. 1 Cor. 5:10; Col. 3:17-4:2). Though we should have a wise and healthy contempt for the world compared to the new world that is coming and that has dawned with the coming of the Spirit, we are not to hate the world. We are to seek to glorify God and enjoy and delight in Him in this world, while not falling into worldiness (1 John 2:12-18). This is a paradox. We are to mourn for our sins and brokenness, and the world’s fallen estate, but we are to also rejoice, for the joy of the LORD is our strength (Neh. 8:10; Matt. 5:3-11; Phil. 4:4-9). Maintaining this balance of living in the world as pilgrims and exiles, we are to seek to know, love, obey, and experience God.

Trinitarian Spirituality. A Biblical spirituality is always Trinitarian. The goal of Biblical spirituality is to glorify and delight in the triune God and to enjoy Him (Eph. 1:3-14; Rom. 11:33-36; 1 Cor. 10:31). There are false and dangerous spiritualties bandied about today that seek false hopes through false gods and saviors. This is not Biblical spirituality but demonic spirituality of which we must be careful (1 Cor. 10:19-22; Acts 13:10, 16:16-18; 1 Tim. 3:7, 4:1; Rev. 9:20, 16:14). A Biblical, Trinitarian spirituality teaches believers to go boldly and courageously to the Father, through the Son, our provided Mediator, by the Spirit (Eph. 2:18; cf. 1 Tim. 2:5). The Son is “from the Father” as the Savior and hope of mankind (John 1:14-18). God sent the Son into the world out of His deep and faithful and undying love to His people. Christ was sent “from the Father” to live, die, be raised, and enthroned at God’s right hand, and to then pour out His Spirit in His fullness upon His people (John 3:16-19; Acts 2:33-36). The Father is the fountain of love from which all of the works of the triune God flow forth!

All Persons are equal in substance, power and being, and yet they all three perform specific aspects of our salvation as the one God. In Biblical spirituality, this should be recognized. We should seek to have a relationship with the one God through each Person of the Trinity by praising and enjoying God the Father’s love for us in Christ, adoring the grace of the Son as our Savior, Bridegroom, Mediator, Friend, and King, and living in fellowship with the Holy Spirit and in communion with one another as members of Christ’s one Church! As the Apostle Paul summarizes this Trinitarian spirituality:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Let us remember that the goal of all Biblical spirituality is the glory of God the Father, through the Son our Mediator, by the power and grace of the Spirit. The practice of all spirituality begins with a humble submission to Christ through regeneration by the Spirit, and a daily humble submission in denying oneself and taking up one’s cross and following Him (Matt. 16:24; Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 2:1-5). The heart of all spirituality is honesty from the heart before God and man, being nothing more, nothing less than a lost and broken sinner saved by grace, who is being transformed by the work of God’s Spirit to be renewed in the image of Christ (Psa. 139:23-24; 2 Cor. 6:6-7; 1 John 3:18; cf. 1 Tim. 1:12-17). Biblical spirituality is considering oneself as a sinner who is being changed daily by the power and grace of God the Spirit and through one’s faithful, God-given, Holy-Spirit empowered striving to work out of this salvation in union with Christ (Phil. 2:12-13; John 15:1-11). It is aspiring to perfection while realistically knowing that as long as you are in this world you will have an agonizing struggle with remaining sin, though you’re a beloved child of God (Rom. 7:21-25; Rom. 8:11-15; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 Cor. 9:27; Titus 2:11-14; Heb. 12:4; 1 John 3:1-3).

Christ-focused Spirituality. Though some spiritualties in Christian history have emphasized the importance of the imitation of Christ, they have sometimes failed to place Christ first and central in our reflection upon this imitation. Biblical spirituality is a Christ-focused spirituality. Christ is our Savior first. He is the Savior of our souls, but He is also our example. The Apostle Peter wrote: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21; cf. 1 Cor. 11:1). In light of the mercies of God in Christ, all that we do in imitation, we are to do as “living sacrifices” (Rom. 12:1-2), running the race with endurance, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our Faith! (Heb. 12:1-2). In a truly Biblical spiritual Christ is central to our knowing God, loving God, obeying God, and experience God. Let us never forget this focus upon the Person and Work of our blessed Mediator, and then go and live for Him in imitation of Him by the Spirit!

Communal and Personal/Public and Private Spirituality. A Biblical spirituality is both communal and personal, it is concerned with the church and with our personal pursuits of “quiet time” with God. Biblical spirituality steers a clear path through the Scylla of Sacramentalism, and the Charybdis of Individualism. Biblical spirituality in its public dimension is an external, outward spirituality that is involved with the visible church (Rom. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 12:4-14). This involves professing one’s faith, confessing one’s faith publicly before believers and unbelievers in evangelism (Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 10:9-17; Acts 2:47; 4:4; 5:1-5; 6:7; 11:21). It is seeking to observe and remember the Lord’s Day in order to keep it holy, so that one can participate in the primary means of grace, or the primary means the exalted, enthroned Christ uses to grow and mature His people through the faithful preaching of the word, the biblical administration of the sacraments, and being formally accountable for discipline as members of Christ’s Church (Eph. 4:11-16; Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Cor. 5:1-5). This public aspect is in living in community in a local congregation of saints, while growing up in Christ, and seeking and growing in one’s spirituality through loving and serving one’s neighbor as oneself (Gal. 6:1-2; Rom. 12:5-13; 1 Peter 4:9-11).

Biblical spirituality in its private dimension is an internal, inward spiritualty that seeks daily to deny self, bear one’s cross, memorize and mediate upon Holy Scripture. It seeks to take one’s sin serious, and to be faithful to God, useful in His service, watchful, and prayerful. This private dimension involves a private “closet” or secret place where only God sees (cf. Matthew 6:1-18). Our Lord Jesus promises a reward of grace (not merit!) in the practice of this: “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matt. 6:18). This private dimension of spirituality includes daily repentance for sins, a walking closely with God, or keeping in step with the Spirit, praying continually, and in general living with God-given, Spirit-induced, Biblical-focused, Christ-centered zeal for God and His work (Gal. 5:25; Rom. 12:11-12). To walk this way privately is to involve oneself in a difficult spiritual battle as a pilgrim on the way of the King. It is to involve oneself in cosmic warfare that requires the upmost seriousness, sober-mindedness, and watchfulness, while confidently and courageously that your King has won the battle, and all you are to do is to stand in His victory and conquering strength by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:10-20).

A Spirituality for Everyone! Do you desire to be spiritual? Do you desire to be spiritual as you are called to be (Gal. 6:1-2)? If you are united to Christ Jesus by His Spirit, and if you are a child of the Heavenly Father through faith in Christ, then you are indeed “spiritual”. In fact, the term “spiritual” in the Bible refers to Christians united to Christ by faith, and usually means “Holy-Spiritual” (Rom. 8:9-11; 12:1; 1 Cor. 2:13, 15, 3:1, 14:37; Gal. 6:1-2).

Do you want to be spiritual? Are you united to Christ by faith? Then earnestly live this biblical spirituality out in your daily life in reliance upon His grace. In Christian history, there were times where the truly “spiritual” folks were those who withdrew themselves from the world to seek spirituality out of the world (even out of the church for some of the excessive spiritualists). These would seek to get the “meat of the word” while the “common” Christians would feed on the “milk” (cf. 1 Peter 2:2, 5). But true Biblical spirituality is really becoming who you are already are in Christ. Christ has “purchased a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). This grace teaches us to renounce ungodliness and worldliness and spiritually trains us to live “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). This grace, this love of God, this spiritual reality should be sought by us in Christ because we are spiritual!

The Bible teaches that there are no “spiritual elites” within the church of Christ. Christians are indeed the spiritual elites within the world no doubt, because we possess, or are possessed by Christ’s Spirit, but within the church we all have the Spirit of God, and this makes us truly and biblically “spiritual”. Do we seek this spirituality? Do we seek to know, love, obey, and experience our Heavenly Father in Christ by His Glorious Spirit? In other words, like the Apostle Paul, do you desire to leave your sinful works of self-centeredness behind, and press earnestly forward to take hold of Christ because He has taken hold of you? (Phil. 3:12-16).

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Phil. 3:12-16).

Do you desire to grow? This is an important part of being a Christian (2 Peter 1:3-12). Within the church, there are definitely different gifts, graces, functions, and callings (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12), but no spiritual elite where only a few can attain to holiness in Christ, and make progress in the Christian life. No, the Bible clearly teaches that “spiritual” is what defines those who possess the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit helps us to live like Christ, knowing, loving, obeying, and experiencing the Triune God. The question is not whether or not you are spiritual in Christ, it is whether or not you are maturing and growing in that spirituality in reliance upon His grace.

Do you want to know more of God’s love for you in Christ? Do you want to possess more of the fullness of grace that is found within Christ? Do you want to be filled with joy in the Spirit as you grow in Him?

Ask Him for it.

In reliance upon His grace, go for it!

This is my prayer for you, dear Ketoctin:

That “you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…” (Col. 1:9-11).

 

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: To Live Is Christ

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” –ESV Philippians 1:21

As Christians we must learn not merely to live for Christ, but to realize that Christ is our life.

If we have Christ, we have everything we need and we can lose nothing. Even death will be our gain, not a loss. Having the mindset “Christ is my life” will help us to make progress in our faith and grow in our joy.

 “TO LIVE IS CHRIST…” (v. 21a) – Means simply living seeking Jesus with all your heart because Jesus has sought and saved you! Christ has given Hife in exchange for yours. You are no longer your own. You are His.

Don’t merely live for Christ, but realize that Christ is your life.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul is imprisoned, in chains for Christ and His Kingdom. Yet He can also rejoice because for him “to live—Christ” (v. 21).

For Paul, to live is Christ.

Paul has nothing to lose- -HE HAS EVERYTHING IN JESUS. Not even death can move him. In fact, to die is gain!

Whatever place the Apostle Paul found himself, wherever he is, it is for Jesus; it is with Jesus; it is in Jesus!

Nothing to lose and everything to gain! (v. 21) – -REJOICE!!

Paul lives his life in a moment-by-moment “win-win” situation; there are not good times and bad times- -every moment is a good moment where Christ can enter in by virtue of Paul’s real and Holy-Spiritual union with Him and be transformed- -made more like him- -and to become more and more fruitful as he progresses in his faith.

For the Apostle Paul, “to live is Christ” is THEOLOGICAL and very PRACTICAL.

THEOLOGICALLY Paul is in union with Jesus Christ.

Union with Christ:

Paul is: “Buried with Christ” (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12); “United with Christ” (Rom. 6:5); “Crucified with Christ” (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20); Alive with Christ” (Rom. 6:7); “Heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Suffers with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Glorified with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Have the same form as Christ- -be like him” (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:21); “Be conformed with Christ” in every way: life, death, and resurrection (Phil. 3:10ff).

Because of God’s grace and mercy toward sinners in Jesus Christ, we have been united to Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection; Jesus is our life! (Col. 3:1-4). So, because He is our life, we are to seek the things that are above in Him because our lives have been hid with God in Jesus!

“The central soteriological reality is union with the exalted Christ by Spirit-created faith. That is the nub, the essence, of the way or order of salvation for Paul.” -Richard B. Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation

PRACTICALLY (theology lived out), Paul knows that Christ is the most important person, thing, possession and reality in his life. Period. All of Paul’s “meaning of life” or what it means to live for Paul is about Christ.

Paul cannot fathom a life that is truly a life being without Jesus Christ.

 

CHRIST IS HIS LIFE.

Paul’s mind, affections, and will are filled and directed by Christ; Jesus defines Paul.

 

How about you? What or who defines you?

What brings you the greatest joy? Honestly.

What is your heart’s greatest longing?

What’s most important to you? Right now.

What is your most important goal?

What could you never live without?

What fills your daydreams and captures your imagination?

What possesses you? (We often says what “possesses that person to do that?!”)

What is your most valuable asset? What is most precious and “worthy” to you?

Does Jesus bring you the greatest joy? When you say the name JESUS does your heart beat harder within you? Do you sense his presence and think of His goodness towards you?

Can you say with the Psalmist:

ESV Psalm 16:2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

ESV Psalm 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Do you believe this?

Is this obvious in your life that you believe this? How about to your family? Can your friends and neighbors see that what brings you the greatest joy is to live- -CHRIST!? As the great Robert Murray M’Cheyne encouraged Christians to live unto Jesus:

“Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne.

 

Christ Jesus is the chief end of our lives. We are to glorify and enjoy God forever. We can only do this when we live by faith with Christ Jesus as the chief end, aim, and/or hope of our lives.

Whatever your confession, what you live for is what  you most “glory in” or “value” as being best– -what is most worthy of your time, money, and investment of energy.

What you value most is what you long for- -you hope for- -what your affections are set on and what you dream about.

Some live for self. “To live is Me”

Some live for pleasure. “To live is joy, happiness, peace and escape.”

Some live for money. “To live is possessing more so that I am secure.”

Some live for family. “To live is my family.”

Some live for career. “To live my career; what I do most defines me.”

Some live for ministry or for religion. “To live is my performance for God, my reputations of what I am doing in my service.”

What do you ultimately prize?

Could what is most important to you ever be taken away?

Where is your hope?

What do you spend most of your time pursuing?

What do you spend your quite moments daydreaming about?

What do you long for?

Where do you “put” your money?

What you value most will be what you glory in, ‘LIVE FOR’, and from that (or those things) you will derive your joy, hope, peace, happiness, etc.

But if what you live for is not Christ, it will never fully satisfy, and you will constantly be threatened that you will lose it.

How do you know if you are functionally living for something or someone other than Christ?

You lose your joy when it is threatened, or you lose it momentarily or permanently.

 

For Paul, and for all believers, if Christ our life, our all, then we have nothing EVER to worry about losing! That which is most worthy, glorious and valuable to us is JESUS and we cannot lose Him.

And whatever loss we are going through, whatever affliction, whatever the trying circumstance, with Jesus, in union with Jesus, we can rejoice even more knowing this truth- -HE IS WITH US- -AND WHILE OTHERS LOSE EVERYTHING, WE CAN ONLY GAIN MORE OF HIM ‘IN IT’!!

No true joy is possible UNLESS JESUS CHRIST is everything (as the hymn we sing reminds us):

“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride…

…Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God: all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood…

…Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”

Jesus Christ must be our life! Jesus must be dearer to us than our richest gain; Jesus Christ must be more dear to us than our jobs, our careers, our families, friends, reputations, finances, homes…

If we have this, we can lose NO thing- -nothing.

If we have Jesus as our life, we can lose nothing; if we have not Jesus as our life we will lose everything.

This will bring us true joy. But we must understand that joy is not happiness, it is a much richer and deeper soul-satisfying gladness that comes from our union with Jesus Christ!

Joy is a God-given grace in response to our need for communion and fellowship with him; it is NOT mere happiness that changes with circumstances.

Joy cannot be bought; it can never be taken away.

Joy is found in the Person of Jesus Christ; Joy in many ways is a Person.

Joy is found in seeking Christ—knowing Christ. My prayer for our congregation here at KCPC is often from Ephesians 3:19:

“…And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

 

“TO LIVE IS CHRIST”

This is to say: CHRIST IS THE CHIEF END OF OUR LIVES.

 

To say this is to say:

“Christ is my hope.”

Christ is my greatest treasure and pleasure.”

Christ is my greatest friend.”

Christ is my end, my goal.

Christ Jesus is the one thing, the one person I can never lose; Christ is my richest gain- -and I can never lose him. He is with me always…I will never leave you nor forsake you!

 

This is what is meant by TO LIVE IS CHRIST.

 Let CHRIST be THE CHIEF END OF YOUR LIFE.

If you’re a believer, the Lord is your portion; he is your possession; he is all you need and will ever need and you have him now.

Let us rejoice! There is JOY in Christ!

“Can you be sad when you have all possible treasures in Christ laid up in heavenly places for ever and ever? O vain man! Show me your faith by your joy. If you say you have faith and live a life of sadness, I will not believe you. Use your faith and increase your joy.” – Samuel Ward

Here is the believers’ hope- -let us all confess this to one another as often as we have the opportunity!

ESV Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

In God’s presence there is fullness of joy!

At God’s right hand is the Glorified, Enthroned Savior and Lord of All! There in Him, we will find all the pleasures we have ever desired or wanted- -or knew we could want!

Christ has given His life for us and shed His blood for our salvation, how could we not give ourselves wholly unto Him?

How could we as believers NOT see Jesus as the very life-power of our day to day pursuits?

How could we as believers NOT have what is most important to God most important to us!

How could we as believers NOT make Christ’s goals our goals; Christ life our life; Christ’s beauty our beauty?

Let us as a congregation at KCPC to learn to pray for one another for the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ to fill us and that we might be overflowing with God’s joy and hope in Him!  Let us pray to know Christ better- -his love, his work for us, his priestly intercession, his sufferings for and with us- -and to know Christ more intimately, closely, adoringly, affectionately. Let us at KCPC come to Christ more and by your grace, O Father, let us leave with more of Christ. Grant that we might be a congregation characterized by “TO LIVE IS CHRIST.” For Christ’s sake and His glory alone! Amen.

 

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

Westminster Shorter Catechism: Q30 (Part 2)

Question: WSC 30, Part 2: How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?

Answer: The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

 

More on Union with Christ

Scripture Memory: ESV Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

 

An Explanation:* “Uniting us to Christ…” Union with Christ is the fount from which all blessings of eternity and time flow forth by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:3-14). Christ is the Reservoir of all blessing from the Father through the Spirit (1 Cor. 1:9). Believers have union and communion with Christ in grace and glory (WLC, 65-66). What are the practical implications of our union?

  1. The church has union with Christ in the Father’s eternal election. This is a union that precedes our birth and conversion, back into the eternal electing mercies of God. Union with Christ includes union in eternity, in history in the fullness of the times, and the Spirit’s union in the application of our salvation. This covenant theology recognizes that union with Christ is not merely a present experience, but an eternal reality in the plan of God. A covenant of grace was made with Christ as the Second Adam, and all the elect in Him as His seed (Heb. 13:20-21).
  2. The church has union with Christ in the Son’s incarnation. No higher honor was given to humanity than when God the Son took our nature into permanent union with God. The purpose of Christ’s incarnation is particularly His priestly office and work to make propitiation for His people, and intercede for them (Heb. 1:1-2; 2:17; 7:25). The incarnation forms a necessary link with Christ, so that we might have His righteousness to us. Christ joins with us in our nature and this incarnational union makes possible all of the righteousness that He earned and will give to us as we receive it by faith. Only those who are sanctified in Christ can all ourselves “brethren” of God’s Son (Heb. 2:11). This is important as part of God’s promise of being “with us”; the incarnational union impresses upon us that He is not merely God for us, but God with us.
  3. The church has union with Christ in His death, resurrection, and ascension. This is particularly Paul’s theme in his writings (Rom. 6-8). We died with Christ on the cross, were buried with Him, rose from the dead with Him, seated with Him in Heavenly Places, etc (Col. 3:1-4; Gal. 2:20). All of the believer’s experiences of saving faith flow from his union with Christ in these great, redemptive-historical events. Whatever Christ did and received, belong to us as God’s children. As believers, we should count all of these blessings as our own possessions. This union with Christ is an abiding reality that believers must live out of by faith. In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15: “One died for all, then all died, therefore we should live not for ourselves, but for Him who died and has risen from the dead.” Christians died with Christ 2000 years ago with Christ on the cross, but we experientially live this out being transformed in time by God’s Spirit.
  4. The church has union with Christ in the Spirit’s works of personal salvation. The Spirit establishes a vital union with Christ through effectual calling and regeneration. We are in space and time united to Jesus Christ. In Romans 8:30, Paul wrote: Romans 8:30 “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Freedom from condemnation belongs to those who are “in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8). The Spirit of Life liberates us from sin to live for Christ.
  5. Communion with God in love flows out of union. Spirit, faith, and love are the three “chains of union” (William Ames). The Spirit from God to unites us; faith from us to unite us; love to give ourselves wholly to Christ as His Beloved. All that Christ has or has done is ours by faith in Christ Jesus. The Christian is a fruitful branch, an eating and drinking guest at the banquet, a beloved bride, clothed in His righteousness and glory. All these will be realized at the Consummation of all things, and we will live blessedly (Rev. 19:7ff; 21:1ff)! We shall have total, unhindered, intimacy with Christ in heaven for all eternity! We shall realize fully the Lord’s love for His bride!

* Compiled from Dr. J. R. Beeke’s lectures on soteriology.

 

A Prayer: Thank you, dear Jesus, that you loved me and gave yourself for me. I am grateful to confess: “I am crucified with Christ…and the life I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).

 

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Biggs