Thursday, August 26, 2021

Union with Christ

Q. 30: How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
Answer: The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling. (WSC

As noted in my last post on the catechism, the redemption Christ purchased must be applied to us for us to benefit from it. This application is done by his Holy Spirit. In this question, the point is that he applies this redemption to us by uniting us to Christ. Redemption is not handed over to us apart from Christ, but through union with Christ. We receive life from Christ the way body parts receive life from the head - by being connected to him. The Spirit creates this bond and through this bond conveys what is Christ’s to us. The Bible compares our union with Christ - our being “in” Christ - to the union of body parts to the head, branches to a vine, and a wife to a husband (1 Cor. 6:15-17, 12:12-13, Eph. 5:22-33, John 15:1-11).

This union we have with Christ is legal and living. This union is legal (or forensic) in that he is accounted our representative head, whereby our sin is imputed to him (and thereby atoned for) and his righteousness is imputed to us. This union is also living (or mystical) in that we receive life and holiness from Christ, being renewed by him and conformed to his likeness. An analogy for this twofold union can be found in marriage, which is both a legal and living union. 

As this question points out, the Spirit creates this union by working faith in us. Our union with Christ can be thought of as a double bond of two cords, one from both directions: the Spirit going from Christ to us, and Spirit-produced faith from us to Christ. By faith, we receive Christ and all his benefits. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). The Spirit works this faith in us in our effectual calling, the topic of the next catechism question.

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