Joy-sharing: Helpful Resources on Union with Christ (Vol. 1)

Over the past two years I have been reading and learning more about union with Christ. For a recovering perfectionist with strong introspective tendencies, it has been very life-giving to become a serious student of the One who is perfection. Jesus has, by a ridiculous act of grace to a very undeserving sinner, bound His life to mine forever. To know Him and Him crucified has become the obsession of my soul. Here are a few articles, sermons, interviews and a song that have helped me in my study of this glorious reality.

Union Theology

This website is chock-full of articles and other resources.

Michael Reeves’ talks on union with Christ

This is the first of 3 talks by M. Reeves. These talks had many thought-provoking insights into union with Christ. One of the things I love about Reeves is that this is not academic for him. He truly enjoys God and you can tell by the way he passionately talks about him. Check other things by him on that website.

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Michael Reeves interview on Union with Christ 

You can read the whole interview (please do yourself a favor and do read it). Here’s a little excerpt (just to whet your appetite) about the mind-blowing covenant union Christ has made with us:

“Paul says: This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christians and the Church. He is saying that the relationship that the Church has with Christ is a marital union. And actually Martin Luther used this image as the first way in which he articulated his reformation discovery in 1520. He used marriage to explain the gospel to the world for the very first time properly. It is in a little work called The Freedom of the Christian. And he said what happens is this. It is rather like the story of a great king marrying a harlot. And what happens is this harlot can’t make herself the great king’s wife by anything she does or her performance, but by his wedding vow she becomes his. And he says to her: All that I am I give to you. All that I have I share with you. And so gives to her the status of royalty and all that is his. And she turns to him and says: All that I am I give to you. All that I have I share with you. And so the poor sinner shares with King Jesus all her sin, all her death, all her damnation. And when Luther had articulated this he said: Therefore, the sinner can consider her sins in the face of death and hell and say: If I have sinned, yet my Christ who is mine has not sinned. And all his is mine and all mine, my sins, my death, my damnation, is his.” This just makes me want to fall on my face and weep, overwhelmed by  such grace.

Sinclair Ferguson on Union with Christ

Here’s an excerpt from the article (you can click on the link to listen to Sinclair’s sermon):

“We do not know what the apostle Paul says we know.

So says Sinclair Ferguson on Romans 6:6. Speaking to a gathering of pastors a couple years ago, Ferguson shared his sentiment that most people who sit before the preached word each week do not know what it means to be united to Jesus. And yet this doctrine is so central in how Paul conceives of what it means to be a Christian and a minister of the gospel. We want to know what it means.”

What Does It Mean to Be One with Christ?

This is a Q & A that Tony Reinke does with Sinclair Ferguson. Here’s one of the quotes that struck me most:

“The concept of one union with many dimensions is helpful. Of all people, Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) said that the preposition into (εἰς in Greek) — into Christ — has no parallel to be found in classical Greek for that kind of language, in terms of the relationship between two people (Romans 6:3Galatians 3:27). The relationship attaches to the whole question of the mystery of this reality. What Paul sees in the gospel is such a multi-dimensional singularity that it creates a new style of language, without parallel.

Of all people, Bultmann lifted my soul to the heavens and caused me to think: What a glorious thing it is to be united to Christ! It was one of those unexpected moments in life.

Lastly, here’s a song by The Gray Havens (have I told you they are one of my favorite groups these days?!). This song is a poem about the reality of Romans 5 : man is either in Adam or in Christ. Union with Christ is such a personal truth – not an abstract heady concept…and this song does a great job of driving that fact home.

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Songs of Encouragement

God has used two songs to ingrain in me what He has been teaching me these past two years.

high and lifted up

One of them is High and Lifted Up by Zac Hicks. I can’t find a youtube video for it! Such a bummer. But here are the lyrics.

High and Lifted Up 

1. In the wilderness we wander
Bitten by our sin
We cry out for resurrection
Finding none within

2. Weak and fainting from our sickness
Feeling death’s dark sting
We behold our Substitution
Jesus Christ our King 

Come, come, see Him
Come, come, see Him

High and lifted up
Our Salvation’s come
Look on Jesus
forever, forever

3. Gazing at my bleeding Savior
Lifted, crucified
There I see my plague and poison
Traded for His life 

Bridge:
Look upon Him and believe He’s redeemed us
Look upon Him and believe He will heal us
Look upon Him for His scars show He loves us
Look upon Him and live

Words & Music: Zac Hicks & Julie Anne Vargas, 2015
©2015 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP); Julie Anne Vargas
CCLI #7056907

Love the invitation to come see Him – This is what I want for this series.

gray havens

The other song is by a group that quickly became a favorite: The Gray HavensStole my Fame: (To Grace) by Gray Havens has been really encouraging to me.

I think my favorite verses are:

“So please throw me down
And steal my fame
Please don’t stop until
You crucify my name

Take my boast
Put it in the ground
Bury it in water
Now the water’s showin’ how”

If the Lord has done anything while living away from home is to teach me to lose the love of seeing myself as strong. It has been humbling and hard and so good for Him to crucify my name and teach me to boast in Christ. Praise God my boast is buried in the ground! What a mercy that He would set my heart afire for the only One who is worthy of my praise.

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So, come with me, sister! Will you join me these next few weeks? Let’s see Him – let’s catch glimpses of the riches of His glory that give hope to the fainting, homesick heart. Let’s look upon Him over and over and over again. He is bound to thrill our hearts.

 

Flashback Friday

Today is Friday, our day of worship since we moved to this part of the world. Our girls have both been sick this week. Ethan kindly offered to stay home with them so I could go and worship with our church this morning. What a gift from the Lord to join His people in praise!

When I got back, Ethan told me he and the girls had been listening to chapel songs from our Cedarville days, 14  years ago. We started comparing notes on which were our favorites. Music holds so many memories. As we stood there in the kitchen YouTubing those songs, we had so much fun remembering His work in our lives. It was a gift to praise again, this time joining Ethan, alongside whom I love to worship Jesus the most.

One of our favorites is The First Place. Do you remember these wonderful lyrics?

The First Place

Jesus, the perfect picture of the unseen God
Maker of things we cannot comprehend.
Wisdom, the earth displays Your strength and beauty.
Sovereign, yes, every throne knows You are God.

Chorus
Every inch of this universe belongs to You, O Christ.
For through You and for You it was made.
Your creation endures by the order of Your hand.
So You must have in all things the first place.

Victor, over sin and death You triumphed.
Firstborn, You’ve shown us life beyond the grave.
Bridegroom, we long for You in expectation.
Jesus, Your church rejoices to proclaim.
© 1999 Matthew Westerholm

Our Heart Our Desire.

Salvation Belongs to Our God

This one was not a chapel song but played often at events– Testify to Love

And of course–In Christ Alone, our class song!

And since it is Flashback Friday, here are two more pictures in honor of our college days…

Traditional Finger Food dinner before finals week

Encouragement Through Song

I am taking Dynamics of Biblical Change, an online counseling course via CCEF. I am only in week 2 so far, but I already am forever grateful for it. I have found my heart singing as I have delighted in all that God is showing me He is for me in Christ.

In both of the lectures so far we have started worshiping Christ in song. In today’s class I sang the song below with great joy. David Powlison added two stanzas (4 & 7) to this song which reflect how we, as new covenant believers, should sing this psalm. The psalm begins by asking, who can stand before you if you look at our sins? As the song dwells on the grace and mercy of Christ, it ends with the joy of a soul that can stand and does stand gladly before its Savior.

This song was so timely– reflecting the work the Lord has been deepening in my heart, even the last two weeks. As He turns my sight away from my sin and fills it with Himself, He is freeing my heart with overflowing joy and living hope.
Psalm 130–From the Depths of Woe (written by Martin Luther, “From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee,”–contemporary melody & arrangement by Christopher Miner. Stanzas 4 & 7 added by David Powlison).

From depths of woe I raise to thee a voice of lamentation.
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me and hear my supplication.
If thou iniquities dost mark, our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
[lead] O who shall stand before thee?
[echo] Who shall stand?
[lead] O who shall stand before thee?
[echo] Who shall stand?
[Together] Who shall stand before thee?

To wash away the crimson stain, grace, grace alone, availeth.
Our works, alas, are all in vain; in much the best life faileth.
No man can glory in thy sight, all must alike confess thy might
[lead] And live alone by mercy
[echo] Live alone
[lead] And live alone by mercy
[echo] Live alone
[Together] Live alone by mercy.

Therefore my trust is in the Lord and not in mine own merit.
On him my soul shall rest; his Word upholds my fainting spirit.
His promised mercy is my fort, my comfort, and my sweet support.
[lead] I wait for him with patience
[echo] Wait for him
[lead] I wait for him with patience
[echo] Wait for him
[Together] Wait for him with patience

And though my sorrows dark may be, Christ is my consolation.
He is my refuge day by day, high fortress of salvation.
He’ll take away my tears of pain, wash dust of death away with rain.
[lead] And now I sing before thee
[echo] Now I sing
[lead] And now I sing before thee
[echo] Now I sing
[Together] Now I sing before thee.

And though I wait the livelong night, until the dawn appeareth,
My heart still trusteth in his might; it doubteth not nor feareth.
Do thus, O you of Israel’s seed, you of the Spirit born indeed,
[lead] And wait till God appeareth
[echo] Wait till God
[lead] And wait till God appeareth
[echo] Wait till God
[Together] Wait till God appeareth.

Though great our sin and sore our woes, his grace much more aboundeth.
His helping love no limit knows, our utmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is he who will at last set Israel free
[lead] From all their sin and sorrow
[echo] All their sin
[lead] From all their sin and sorrow
[echo] All their sin
[Together] All their sin and sorrow.

On heights of joy I’ll raise to thee a voice of exultation.
Lord, turn thy glorious face to me; receive my adoration.
Thy mercies triumph full and free through Jesus Christ who rescued me.
[lead] I gladly stand before thee
[echo] Gladly stand
[lead] I gladly stand before thee
[echo] Gladly stand
[Together] Gladly stand before thee