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John Murray on Union With Christ

In the current debate overJustification) it is argued l?J those holding to the "neJVparadigm}} that Ch17stians are those united

Jvith Christ through baptisJlJ) thtls eqttating tlltion Jvith Christ to membership in the visible or "histmica/" chllrch) and that this

tlnion can actNalIY be broken through aposta!),.

In contrast, the

folloJvingpassages l?J the great theologian John Mtlrrqy offer the orthodox vieJv if the Biblical doctnne if Union Jvith Christ.

U nion 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 of union with Christ. This can be readily seen if we remember that brief expression which is so common in the New Testament, namely, "in Christ." It is that which is meant by "in Christ" that we have in mind when we speak of "union with Christ." It is quite apparent that the Scripture applies the expression "in Christ" to much more than the application of redemption. A certain aspect of union with Christ, it is true, belongs strictly to the application of redemption. With that we shall deal later. But we would not deal properly with the subject of union with Christ unless we set forth, first of all, its broader meaning. We would not be able to appreciate that which falls within the application of redemption if we did not relate it to that which is broader.

The breadth of union with Christ can be seen if we survey the teaching of Scripture respecting it. When we do this we see how far back it goes and how far forward

We thus see that union with Christ has its source in the election of God the Father before the foundation of the world and it has its fruition in the glorification of the sons of God. The perspective of God's people is not narrow; it is broad and it is long. It is not confined to space and time; it has the expanse of eternity. Its orbit has two foci, one the electing love of God the Father in the counsels of eternity, the other glorification with Christ in the manifestation


of his glory. The former has no beginning, the latter has no end. Glorification with Christ at his coming will be but the beginning of a consummation that will encompass the ages of the ages. "So shall we ever be with the Lord" (1. Thess 4:17). It is a perspective with

a past and with a future, but neither the past nor the future is bounded by what we know as our temporal history. And because temporal history falls within such a perspective it has meaning and hope. What is it that binds past and present and future together in the life of faith and in the hope of glory? Why does the believer entertain the thought of God's determinate counsel with such joy? Why can he have patience in the perplexities and adversities of the present? Why can he have confident assurance with reference to the future and rejoice in hope of the glory of God? It is because he cannot think of past, present, or future apart from union with Christ. It is union with Christ now in the virtue of his death and the power of his resurrection that certifies to him the reality of his election in Christ before the foundation of the world

- he is blessed by the Father with all spiritual blessings

in the heavenlies in Christ just as he was chosen in Christ from eternal ages (cf. Eph. 1:3,4). And he has the seal of an eternal inheritance because it is in Christ that he is sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise as the earnest of his inheritance unto the redemption of the purchased possession (cf. Eph. 1:13, 14). Apart from

union with Christ we cannot view past, present, or future with anything but dismay and Christless dread. By union with Christ the whole complexion of time and eternity is changed and the people of God may rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Union with Christ is a very inclusive subject. It embraces the wide span of salvation from its ultimate

source in the eternal election of God to its final fruition in the glorification of the elect. It is not simply a phase of the application of redemption;

it underlies every aspect of redemption both in its

accomplishment and in its application. Union with Christ binds all together and insures that to all for whom Christ has purchased redemption he effectively applies and communicates the same.

Excerpted from John Murray's Redemption Accomplished

and Applied. Wm. B. Eerdmans

Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1955. pp. 161-162,164-165.

Publishing Company.