In a mysterious and beautiful way, if you are a Christian, you and Christ are one as a result of God’s saving work in your life. You are spiritually identified with him, and he with you. Of all the blessings that Christ brings into the lives of his people, this is surely the greatest. For it means that what is true for Christ is true for you, as well.
I think it is helpful to consider the past, present, and future implications of this.
Before the foundation of the earth, God the Father lovingly chose his people in Christ (see Eph 1:4). From this perspective, the genesis of our union with Christ is nothing that transpires on the timeline of human history. Instead, our union with Christ emerges first and foremost from the loving heart of our Heavenly Father.
However that is not the only past dimension of our union with Christ. While Christ lived on earth, the Father saw him and thought of us. When Christ perfectly obeyed the law, the Father thought of us doing those same things. When Christ acted in complete love and obedience to the Father, the Father thought of us doing those same things. When Christ suffered for sin on the cross, the Father thought of us being on the cross suffering for our sin. Christ’s death was counted as our death. His burial was counted as our burial. Then his glorious resurrection was counted as our resurrection. All this is true because of our union with Christ.
At present, Christ has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realms. He has received his just reward for his perfect, righteous life and sacrificial death: he enjoys again perfect fellowship and communion with the Father. According to Ephesians 2, the Father has “raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). Consequently, the just reward that Christ is receiving for his perfect life is presently ours, through union with Christ. Like Christ, we are welcome at the Father’s right hand (the place where joy is infinite and pleasures exist forevermore – see Psalm 16:11). Through our union with Christ, we can sit – resting from the labor of salvation, for his work is finished.
Finally, there remain future implications of our union with Christ. The resurrection of Jesus means at present that sin’s power has been defeated and that there is newness of life for those who are in Christ. Yet through union with Christ the resurrection means much more for our future. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). While we already enjoy the benefits of the resurrection spiritually, the Bible promises a physical resurrection for those who are in Christ. After death and Christ’s return, we will rise from the grave in Christ into a glorious experience of our union with him that will endure for all eternity!
This article is adapted from the message Redemption Applied, preached at Capitol City Christian Church on 5/19/2019.