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Union with Christ (1)

When discussing biblical soteriology, we often speak of the substitutionary aspect of the atonement. Less often do we think of our union with Christ as vital to our salvation. Philip Ryken writes:

img   Apart from union with Christ, it is impossible to receive any of the saving blessings of God. Not even the cross and the empty tomb can save us unless we are joined to Jesus Christ. Calvin was emphatic:
imgWe must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. . . . We also, in turn, are said to be “engrafted into him” [Rom. 11:17], and to “put on Christ” [Gal. 3:27]; for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him. [Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3.1.1.]
   Simply put, if we are not in Christ, we have no part in His death on the cross to atone for sins and no share in His resurrection from the dead. We are not justified, adopted, sanctified, or glorified without being united to Christ. “I do not see,” wrote Calvin, “how anyone can trust that he has redemption and righteousness in the cross of Christ, and life in his death, unless he relies chiefly upon a true participation in Christ himself. For those benefits would not come to us unless Christ first made himself ours.” [Ibid., 4.17.11.] Union with Christ, therefore, is nothing less than a matter of spiritual life and death.

—Philip Graham Ryken, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology, ed. Burk Parsons (Reformation Trust, 2008), 193–194.

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Posted  in: Church History · John Calvin · John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology · Philip Ryken
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