Our generation is learning afresh the rich significance of the doctrine of union with Christ. Our union with Christ through faith by the Spirit is the hub of every saving blessing. Our regeneration, adoption, justification, sanctification, preservation, perseverance, resurrection, glorification – all these come to us only because we have been joined to Jesus Christ. It is “in him” that we are blessed with “every blessing” (Eph. 1:3). Accordingly, although we refer to ourselves as “Christians,” the New Testament more regularly refers to us as men and women who are “in Christ.” So much more than a mere teaching of the church, this is our truest identity marker. This is who we are, and this – our union with Christ – is what shapes our life present and future.
In their In Christ: In Him Together for the World Steve Timmis and Christopher de la Hoyde demonstrate clearly and popularly how this doctrine lies at the core of Christian identity and Christian behavior. They helpfully unpack union with Christ in four dimensions:
- Presence with God
And through all this they demonstrate two things:
- “that union with Christ is not simply a New Testament idea: rather, it is a great truth which echoes and fulfils themes that have been running all the way through the Bible.”
- “that our union with Christ in the Spirit is the foundation of all our security and blessing in the gospel.”
Table of Contents
1. Safe in Christ
2. Connected in Christ
3. Growing in Christ
4. Together in Christ
5. On Mission in Christ
6. Everyday in Christ
Here’s how they begin:
Imagine a painting of a house. The house is engulfed by threatening storm clouds and lightning, and is being buffeted by the weather. One brilliant white flash of lightning strikes a large tree in the background, the surrounding scenery is blown about by the wind and there are lashes of rain hitting the sides of the house. But in the midst of that dangerous storm, the sturdy house is a secure and peaceful place. It is a haven in the storm. The lights are on inside, and they shine golden through the windows.
This scene of storm and threat is a biblical image of judgement. The house represents Christ. The gospel invites us into that house, so that we might be hidden from the storm of God’s judgement. In that house we find peace and safety – absolute protection from the deadly storm outside.
That is the gospel invitation: come into Christ, escape from judgement and enjoy great blessing. Outside is the threat of deluge, of being struck by lightning or blown away by a typhoon. Every conceivable image of danger is outside of the house. But in that house, you are secure. Nothing is going to break through the shelter of that house. Inside, there is blessing. There is food, warmth, comfort. Everything is to be enjoyed there, inside the house.
Timmis and de la Hoyde remind us in this wonderful book of the inestimable blessing of union with Christ. The book is theologically rich but also accessible to the ordinary reader. In Christ isn’t merely unpacked and explained but is also applied to our lives, so that we are strengthened to grow in Christ.
The New Testament rarely calls believers ‘Christians’; we modern believers almost never call ourselves anything else. The New Testament regularly describes believers as those who are ‘in Christ’; modern believers almost never do. The result? A widespread loss of the sheer grandeur of what it means to belong to Jesus Christ.
Thankfully, Steve Timmis and Christopher de la Hoyde ‘get it’. The infectious enthusiasm, pastoral sensitivity, and enviable clarity with which this book has been written will help you to ‘get it’ too. If you do not daily think of yourself as someone who is ‘in Christ’ you simply MUST read this book.
Brief, simple, engaging, to the point, rich, and informative, easily accessible to all Christian readers. A great little book on a vastly important Christian doctrine. Highly recommended!