Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Christian Union

Where would you go to explain the gospel from the Bible. I can honestly say that Romans 7 isn't high on my list of places to try. But that was where Peter Kingston took us.... held within the context of chapters 6-8 of the same letter.

Romans 7:1-6

So the image is marriage. The union between people, a fading image in our culture but one that still does exist. The image needs to have remembered that marriage is supposed to be "until death us do part". Our culture might have forgotten that but take that as an underlying assumption for the sake of argument here.

So it starts with a marriage. Not with some way of living but a question of identity. And it starts with us married to law. Married to a bad spouse whose best guesture is to make us feel bad and guilty, and lead us into soul-destroying rebellion against God. And we're stuck in that marriage. Why? Because marriage is until death us do part, and that spouse ain't dying.

If we try to escape and live with Jesus we'll be committing spiritual adultery (see the book of Hosea for what that looks like when people married to God go off with sin). Why? Because its adultery to be with someone else if you're married.

Only death can break this. And for now, sin and law aren't dying. So the only option is this. Jesus comes into our marriage with sin and takes us all down. We all die.

So the old marriage is finished, but we're dead. Until, Jesus rises from the dead and brings us with him - in a new marriage to him. And now because of Jesus' death on the Cross we're union with Jesus. A new marriage in which we're in union with him.

And being "in Christ" we have everything that is his. We belong to him (and not to sin). Like him we reign. We will inherit all things. We gain eternal life. We gain God. We belong to righteousness not to sin. In fact to sin we have to commit spiritual adultery, walking back past the cross to rekindle sin's dying corpse. Of course we do that, and then must return again to the cross and to our new life in Christ.

Further, since our relationship with Christ is union with him nothing can separate us from him - we're joined inseparably. And now our new life in Christ is lived in the Holy Spirit - a new existence tied up with God.

In this we must recognise our sin, remember we're in union with Christ, repent of sin, renounce it as worthless, receieve Christ's acceptance and then rejoice and rejoice! This is a gospel that transcends cultures - we bring much of our culture into our union with Christ (whilst rejecting some what is sin). And this gospel transcends any other offer. It transcends the oppression of struggle in sin, the monotony of life, the offers of religiosity. Life in Christ is better. We don't have all its benefits and blessings tangibly now, but they will be ours!

Life that includes a share in the father's glory: John 17:20. Nothing gets better than that. Lloyd-Jones was right, the gospel is union with Christ. John Piper is right, God is the gospel. The good news is Jesus.
"So turn me tender again
Fold me into you
Turn me tender again
And mould me to new
Faith lost it's promise
And bruised me deep blue
Turn me tender again
Through union with you."
- Martyn Joseph


  1. Sounds like a really refreshing, and encouraging talk. I like the r's you have on the end.

    Just wondering one thing though, have I ever been married to the law? In-Adam certainly, but as a gentile I am surely one of those 'who do not have the law' (Rom 3). And sure Israel in its relationship represented the whole world in some sense, but....

    Then again, maybe through being united with Christ who took the curse of the law, maybe we are brought into a relationship with it....but married?

    (I'm fresh from the Coffee Bible Club, which may explain my pickiness).

  2. i think i would probably want to argue that i've not been married to the law... but having studied Galatians this morning, I was married to "this present evil age" which was its own kind of slavery to those that are not gods...

  3. Sounds good to me - or should I say bad?