I’m preparing to teach on union with Christ at my church in a couple of weeks, and I decided to reread Murray’s chapter on the subject. It was time well spent.
Here are some highlights:
Nothing is more central or basic than union and communion with Christ. . . . [U]nion with Christ is in itself a very broad and embracive subject. It is not simply a step in the application of redemption; . . . it underlies every step of the application of redemption. Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also in its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ. Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in one phase of union with Christ and salvation has in view the realization of other phases or union with Christ. (161)
It is obvious that we must not reduce the nature and the mode of union with Christ to the measure of the kind of union that exists between the chief corner stone and the other stones in the building nor to the measure of the kind of union that exists between the vine and the branches, nor to that of the head and the other members of the body, nor even to that of husband and wife. The mode, nature, and kind of union differ in the different cases. There is similitude but not identity. But just as we may not reduce the union between Christ and his people to the level of the union that exists on these other strata of being, so we must not raise it to the level of the union that exists within the Godhead. Similitude here again does not mean identity. Union with Christ does not mean that we are incorporated into the life of the Godhead. (168)
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 God, 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. (170)
There is no truth, therefore, more suited to impart confidence and strength, comfort and joy in the Lord than this one of union with Christ. It also promotes sanctification, not only because all sanctifying grace is derived from Christ as the crucified and exalted Redeemer, but also because the recognition of fellowship with Christ and of the high privilege it entails incites to gratitude, obedience, and devotion. (171)