Friday, September 21, 2012

Encouragement through our union with Christ

"It was several years after I became a Christian that I began to understand the significance of our union with Christ and consciously experience the reality of that union in my daily life.  I knew Christ as my Savior, and I also knew how to practice the basic essentials of the Christian life.  I had a regular quiet time, led a Bible study, memorized Scripture, shared the gospel with others and sought to live an obedient Christian life.  I even memorized many verses of Scripture containing the phrase 'in Christ,' yet I did not realize the significance of that marvelous expression.  My concept of praying for the power to live the Christian life was somewhat akin to a college student writing home for more money.  I might get it and I might not.  I felt destitute, like a spiritual pauper.

Then one day I grasped the significance of what Paul meant when he said that we are 'in Christ.'  The Holy Spirit helped me realize that I was a branch intimately and vitally joined to the vine - not just tacked to the vine but actually a part of it.  I understood that just as the life of that vine flows naturally into the branch, so the life of Jesus Christ flows supernaturally into me.

I later realized that every expression of the Christian life in and through me since the day of my conversion was the result of my union with Christ and, consequently, of His life at work in me.  Every desire to read the Bible and to do God's will, every manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, be it ever so small, was the living result of my being 'in Christ.'

Our union with Christ is an objective fact that is true whether we realize it or not.  It is also true that, to a degree, we experience the fruit of that union apart from any conscious effort on our part.  For example, at conversion we begin to experience a degree of spiritual enlightenment and understanding of the Scriptures, a degree of change in our desires and affections and some inclination of our wills to live lives pleasing to God.  It is true that just as the life of the vine flows naturally into the branch, so the life of Jesus Christ flows naturally into you and me, causing these changes in our lives."

- Jerry Bridges, True Community, pp. 24-25

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