The Scriptures declare that, through the operation of God, there is constituted a union of the soul with Christ different in kind from God?s natural and providential concursus with all spirits, as well as from all unions of mere association or sympathy, moral likeness, or moral influence. A union of life, in which the human spirit, while then most truly possessing its own individuality and personal distinctness, is interpenetrated and energized by the Spirit of Christ. It is made inscrutably but indestructibly one with him and so becomes a member and partaker of that regenerated, believing, and justified humanity of which he is the head.
Union with Christ is not union with a system of doctrine nor with external religious influences nor with an organized church nor with an ideal man, but rather, with a personal, risen, living, omnipresent Lord (J. W. A. Stewart). Dr. J. W. Alexander well calls this doctrine of the Union of the Believer with Christ ?the central truth of all theology and of all religion.? Yet it receives little of formal recognition, either in dogmatic treatises or in common religious experience. Quenstedt, 886-912, has devoted a section to it;
A. A. Hodge gives to it a chapter, in his Outlines of Theology, 369 sq ., to which we are indebted for valuable suggestions. H.
B. Smith treats of it, not however, as a separate topic but under the head of Justification (System, 531-539).
The majority of printed systems of doctrine, however, contain no chapter or section on Union within Christ and the majority of Christians much more frequently think of Christ as a Savior outside of them than as a Savior who dwells within. This comparative neglect of the doctrine is doubtless a reaction from the exaggerations of a false mysticism. But there is great need of rescuing the doctrine from neglect. For this we rely wholly upon Scripture. Doctrines, which reason can neither discover nor prove, need large support from the Bible. It is a mark of divine wisdom that the doctrine of the Trinity, for example, is so inwoven with the whole fabric of the New Testament, that the rejection of the former is the virtual rejection of the latter. The doctrine of Union within Christ, in like manner, is taught so variously and abundantly, that to deny it is to deny inspiration itself. See Kahnis, Luth. Dogmatik-, 3:447-450.
1. Scripture Representations of this Union.
A. Figurative teaching. It is illustrated:
(a) From the union of a building and its foundation.
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