Faith and Union with Christ
In seeking to answer the all-important question “What must I do to be saved?” we have come to that part of the biblical answer that finds us focusing our attention on the necessity, nature, and fruits of saving faith. The Apostle Paul speaks of this saving faith in Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” In Titus 1:1, it is described as “the faith of God’s elect.”
The faith of God’s elect that unites us to Christ is not simply a momentary act that grants us entrance into a life-encompassing, life-transforming relationship with Christ. Rather, the relationship is sustained by faith. The Scriptures describe this faith in various ways: “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17); “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7); and “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal. 2:20).
There are several inevitable and universal results from the life lived by faith in Christ. Since this faith unites us to Christ, our representative head, who died for sin and to sin, and rose from the dead as the triumphant victor over sin, our union with Him secures our death to the reigning power and dominion of sin (Rom. 6:1–14). Further, because faith unites us to the risen and enthroned Christ, this faith secures our progress in the putting to death of our remaining (but no longer reigning) sin (Col. 3:1–10).
Because of our union with Christ, who is now exalted in glory and provides spiritual life through His Spirit, we will ultimately share in that same glory. This glory culminates in the blessed vision, whereby we “shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2; see also Col. 3:4). Faith will at that point become sight.
Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray is a marvelous distillation of biblical truth. In his chapter on union with Christ, Murray writes:
Union with Christ is the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation. All to which the people of God have been predestined in the eternal election of God, all that has been secured and procured for them in the once-for-all accomplishment of redemption, all of which they become the actual partakers in the application of redemption, and all that by God’s grace they will become in the state of consummated bliss is embraced within the compass of union and communion with Christ.
It is a travesty that the faith of God’s elect that unites the believer to Christ and imparts such wonderful blessings from Christ Himself is so often reduced to a cheap “decisionism” that leaves the self-deceived, unconverted sinner still in Adam, wedded to his sins, and on his way to hell with a lie in his hands. A “decision to accept Christ” is a far cry from that God-produced faith that actually unites the sinner to Christ in life-transforming power.