1999 James A. Fowler
You are free to download
this outline provided it remains intact without alteration. You
are also free to transmit this outline electronically provided
that you do so in its entirety with proper citation of authorship
UNION WITH CHRIST
I. Biblical references to "union with Christ"
A. There are no Biblical usages of
the phrase "union with Christ"
B. The New Testament employs numerous
concepts in attempting to explain and illustrate the
between Christ and the Christian.
1:12 - "to as many as received Him, He gave right to become
children of God"
3:2 - "you received the Spirit...by hearing with faith"
2:6 - "as you received Christ Jesus, so walk in Him"
3:14 - "we have become partakers of Christ"
6:4 - "have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit"
Pet. 1:4 - "partakers of the divine nature"
Cor. 1:30 - "by His doing you are in Christ Jesus"
Cor. 5:17 - "if any man is in Christ..."
Jn. 2:5 - "we know that we are in Him"
4:24 - "you have put on the new man"
3:10 -"you have put on the new man"
Cor. 13:5 - "Jesus Christ is in you"
2:20 - "Christ lives in me"
1:27 - "Christ in you, the hope of glory"
Cor. 6:17 - "one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit
1:21 - "for me to live is Christ"
3:4 - "Christ, who is our life"
Jn. 5:12 - "He who has the Son has life"
11:26 - "first called Christians in Antioch"
Cor. 15:10 - "by the grace of God I am what I am"
Cor. 5:17 - "a new creature; old things passed away, all
things become new"
6:15 - "a new creation"
10. Reign of
Christ as Lord
5:17 - "reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ"
10:9 - "Jesus as Lord"
3:20 - "the power that works within us"
1:29 - "His power which mightily works within me"
Cor. 4:10,11 - "life of Jesus manifested in our body...mortal
1:10 - "bearing fruit in every good work"
II. Biblical analogies are employed to illustrate "union
God - Jn. 14:23; Jn. 17:21-23
and human race - Rom. 5:12-19; I Cor. 15:19-49
and body - Eph. 4:15,16
and its god - I Cor. 3:16; 6:19; II Cor. 6:16
and wife - Eph. 5:22-33
and contents - II Cor. 4:7
and branches - Jn. 15:1-8
and cornerstone - Eph. 2:19-22; I Pet. 2:4,5
B. All analogies are limited and inadequate
provide similitude and comparison
provide exact expression
III. Factors to consider concerning "union with Christ"
The Christian does not become deified or divinized
Christians are not made into "little gods"
Christians are not elevated to the "God-level"
Christians are not transformed into Christ
Christians are not supernaturalized
The Christian is united with Christ, who is God.
Christians retain and remain human
Christians do not rise above their humanity
Christians do not escape into the metaphysical
The humanity of the Christian individual is not obliterated,
subsumed, substituted or exchanged.
The Christian was positionally identified with the death, burial,
The Christian was historically "in Christ" as Jesus
served as our representative
The Christian is theologically "in Christ" as his placement
of status and standing
These historical and theological foundations must be maintained,
but not to the
or diminishing of the subjective realities.
The Christian's union with Christ is also an internal and actual
affecting our spiritual condition and identity
affecting our behavioral expression
Our union with Christ is not exclusively a subjective experience
merely existential impact
mystical expansion of consciousness
ecstatic feelings of rapture or communion
The distinction of Creator and creature always remains
Christ and the Christian are always distinguishable; not identical
The Christian is not depersonalized
"The container never becomes the contents"
The union of Christ and the Christian is a unique reality that
is most difficult to explain
It is more than assent to an ideology
It is sometimes explained as a "relationship"
It is a real spiritual unification; not a mere abstraction
Older theologians defined it as "consubstantiation"
It is not a fusion, coalescence, or syncretism
It does not create an equivalence making us identical with Christ
The very Being of God in Christ is united with the Christian
This is more than just receiving the "benefits" of
This is more than just an objective status or standing with God
Christ in the Christian is more than an inert entity or commodity;
a static possession
Christ in the Christian is more than a potential or ideal reality
Christ in the Christian is not just a future hope
Christ in the Christian desires to express Himself through the
This is not...
imitation of Christ's example
legalistic conformity to moralistic and ethical rules
It is a manifestation of Christ's life in Christian behavior
energized and empowered by the divine dynamic of Christ
not passively, but in active submission and subordination to
the Lordship of Christ
visibly expressing the character of God in the behavior of the
Christian to the
Each individual is responsible to respond to who Christ is and
what Christ has done
Individually we allow for the receptivity of His activity in
Our union with Christ is often called a "personal relationship"
We must beware of excessive individualism
When we are united with Christ we are part of the collective
whole of Christians
Every Christian is a member of the Body of Christ, the Church
We must beware of excessive corporateness and institutionalism
IV. Alternatives of response to "union with Christ"
A. Reject as unreasonable - absurdity,
B. Reduce to human reason - mechanical
C. Accept the revelation of God - "mystery"
reason will never explain the union with Christ
It is beyond all human logic, language and words
It can never be fully figured out and explained
All attempts at definition, description and depiction will inevitably
to accept the paradoxical antinomy of this union
is a rejection of God's intent for man
is a deification of human reason
allow latitude and variation of imprecise expression
V. Importance of attempting to understand and explain "union
A. Integral to understanding all God
has done and is doing in Christ for man
B. Essential to understanding the teleological
purpose of God for man
man can "do all to the glory of God" - I Cor.
2. By manifesting
the character of God