Rebecca Stark is the author of The Good Portion: God, the second title in The Good Portion series, a series written to encourage women to immerse themselves in the depths of Christian doctrine.

The Good Portion — God explores what Scripture teaches about God in hopes that readers will see his perfection, worth, magnificence, and beauty as they study his triune nature, infinite attributes, and wondrous works. 

Rebecca also blogs at Out of the Ordinary.


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Theological Term of the Week

union with Christ
“A phrase used to summarize several different relationships between believers and Christ, through which Christians receive every benefit of salvation”1; “that intimate, vital, and spiritual union between Christ and His people, in virtue of which He is the source of their life and strength, of their blessedness and salvation”2; also called mystical union.

  • From scripture:
    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. (Galatians 2:20 ESV) 

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us  for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

    11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee  of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it,  to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14)

  • From The Westminster Larger Catechism:

    Question 66: What is that union which the elect have with Christ?

    Answer: The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace, whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband; which is done in their effectual calling.

  • From Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray:

    Union with Christ is the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation. All to which the people of God have been predestined in the eternal election of Go, all that has been secured and procured for them in the once-for-all accomplishment of redemption, all of which they become the actual partakers in the application of redemption, and all that by God’s grace they will become in the state of consummated bliss is embraced within the compass of union and communion with Christ. …[I]t is adoption into the family of God as sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty that accords to the people of God the apex of blessing an privilege. But we cannot think of adoption apart from union with Christ. It is significant that the election in Christ before the foundation of the world is election unto the adoption of sons. When Paul says that the Father chose a people in Christ before the foundation of the world that they should be holy he also adds that in love he predestined them unto adoption through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:4, 5). Apparently election to holiness is parallel to predestination to adoption—these are two ways of expressing the same great truth. They disclose to us the different facets which belong to the Father’s election. Hence union with Christ and adoption are complementary aspects of this amazing grace Union with Christ reaches its zenith in adoption and adoption has its orbit in union with Christ. The people of God are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). All things are theirs whether life or death or things present or things to come all are theirs, because they are united to him in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge and they are complete in him who is the head of all principality and power.

Learn more:

  1. Justin Taylor: Union with Christ: A Crash Course (This post came through my feed reader just as I was ready to hit the publish button on this post. It that convenient or what?)
  2. Jay Wetger: Understanding the doctrine of union with Christ
  3. Fisher’s Catechism: How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
  4. R. L. Dabney: Union with Christ
  5. Thomas Watson: Mystic Union between Christ and the Saints
  6. Sinclair Ferguson: Union with Christ in Pastoral Ministry; Union with Christ in Christian (video and audio)

Related terms:

1From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
2From Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof

Do you have a a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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