Union with Christ: Count on it

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life …. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves [count on it] to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:4,10,11 NKJV


“Union with Christ is the distinctive blessing of the gospel dispensation in which every other is comprised, —justification, sanctification, adoption, and the future glorifying of our bodies ; all these are but different aspects of the one great truth, that the Christian is one with Christ.”- Edward Arthur Litton.

Recognizing now the realness of this union with Christ in His death, and the fullness of blessing that grows therefrom, it only remains for the believer to make the truth real to his own experience. Beholding how God has set Christ’s death to our account, through our partnership with Him, set it also yourself to your account and take possession of the riches of grace and mercy which are thus made
yours. “In that He died, He died unto sin once … Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin.”

We will by no means say that this reckoning will be painless. Adam’s nature [the self-life] dies hard within us; and before we can own the justice of its sentence … there will doubtless be wrought within us, by the Holy Spirit, some bitter experimental fellowship with Christ’s sufferings [Phil 3:10]. Our sins will find us out, and the death that is by sin. We shall feel the terrible dealing of our Judge with our consciences. There will be strong crying and tears; perhaps the darkness of desertion, the rending of the rocky heart, and the sense of deserved wrath piercing the soul as with a two-edged sword [Heb. 4:12].  It may be long before we can yield up the ghost of the natural man [the flesh] and renounce all trust in him forever. But once enabled to account ourselves dead in Him, what a deliverance is ours!

Standing by the cross now [see Matthew ch. 27], we discern in the gloom and power of darkness that gather round it, that “outer darkness” which had been ours forever out of Christ. In that plaintive ” Eloi, Eloi” [“My God, my God…”] we hear what had been our cry of despair unanswered forever, except we had been found in Him [through receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, Phil 3:9]. In that dreadful rending cry which delivers up the spirit, we own the due reward of our deeds, while confessing that this Man hath done nothing amiss. But now all these things are passed forever both for Him and for us, as soon as the “It is finished” has, been spoken.

And lo! the foregleams of the resurrection break upon us. The light of a certain and triumphant hope enters our heart. Remembering that we are joined to Him who said, “I lay down my life that I may take it again,” we cease from tears and follow Him, saying as we hasten onward, “Now if we be dead with
Him, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” [John 10:17; Rom. 6:8]

One with Christ in His dying, we must be one with Him also in His resurrection. For the bands of this mystic union are not dissolved or weakened while the Saviour lies in the tomb. Joined to His
people, that He might carry them with Him through the pains and penalties of death, He
now in the same gracious partnership of being brings them up again from the dead. And so “He spreads the mighty miracle of his own regeneration from the dead, along the whole line of history. He repeats it in every true believer. The Church’s is an everlasting Easter.”…

It [the resurrection of Jesus Christ] is a judicial power, and it is a regenerative power. The first [judicial] only as crowning and sealing the judgment of the cross, so that whereas Christ’s death was our justification procured, His rising was our justification justified [Rom. 4:25]. And the second [regenerative] only as related to the Spirit, so that while it is the Holy Spirit that renews, it is clearly only from the risen Christ that the soul derives its life in renewal. “Because I live, ye shall live also”[John 14:19]…

Walking with Him in the same resurrection, we are as yet like Lazarus bound hand and foot with the grave-clothes [John ch. 11] — the habits of sin that still cling to us, the power of evil that enthralls us; and we wait in eager expectancy the last resurrection word that shall say, “Loose him, and let him go.” But [as Lazarus was raised from the dead] not the less truly are we alive with Christ from the dead, and death, the penalty of sin, can have no more dominion over us.

An excerpt from In Christ: The  Believer’s Union with His Lord  (Boston:
Gould and Lincoln, 1872). pp. 45-51,54

Bracketed content and introductory Scripture added.

Adoniram Judson “A. J.” Gordon (1836–1895) was an American Baptist preacher, writer, composer, and founder of Gordon College and Gordon–Conwell Theological Seminary.

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