When I preached through Galatians a couple of years ago I read and re-read some book on Union with Christ and even noticed another on recently came out that I want to read, Paul and Union with Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study by Constantine R. Campbell. This one also looks interesting although not as exhaustive. Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ by Jeremy Walker.
Referring to the doctrine of union with Christ, Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “If you have got hold of this idea you will have discovered the most glorious truth you will ever know in your life” (Romans: The Law’s Function and Limits: Exposition of 7:1–8:4 [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973], 277). In Life in Christ, Jeremy Walker handles this great motif, stating that his aim is to provide a framework for understanding our “ongoing experience of the grace of God” in Christ. He achieves his aim by tracing our experience from regeneration to glorification, stopping along the way to ponder—among other things—the nature of faith, beauty of Christ, wonder of adoption, jewel of assurance, and duty of sanctification.
The book is well organized — each of its eight chapters based on a specific text of Scripture. Chapter 1 (Isa. 45:22) contains an excellent discussion of the relationship between the two essential bonds that knit Christ and His people together; Christ takes hold of us by His Spirit, and we take hold of Christ by our faith.
Chapter 2 (2 Cor. 5:17) provides a timely challenge to those for whom the gospel is strictly about what Christ does for us but not in us. It emphasizes the fact that union with Christ is transformative — that is, it entails a “radical,” “thorough,” and “divinely worked” change.
Chapter 3 (Eph. 3:8) demonstrates that Christ possesses everything necessary to save and satisfy us. It mines the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” focusing on His love, grace, forgiveness, wisdom, power, joy, truth, assurance, hope, and mercy. Further, it demonstrates how these unsearchable riches sparkle in the light of Christ’s true deity, true humanity, true agony, and true glory.
Chapter 4 (1 Jn. 3:1) paints a beautiful picture of God’s love as “everlasting and unchangeable,” “abounding and unlimited,” “overwhelming and undeserved.” God has expressed this love by publicly acknowledging us as His children.
Chapters 5 & 6 (1 Jn. 5:13) provide essential reading for both the presumptuous and the apprehensive, as it deals with the sensitive issue of assurance. It makes a pivotal distinction between “inconclusive” and “indispensable” indications of salvation. Under the latter stand faith in Christ, repentance from sin, devotion to God, growth in holiness, and love for the saints.
Chapter 7 (Phil. 2:12–13) balances the indicative and imperative in Christian experience by emphasizing that we must avoid spiritual laziness and cultivate spiritual diligence as we “work out” what God is “working in” us.
Chapter 8 (2 Tim. 4:6–8) demonstrates what it means to live in the hope of glory by turning to the apostle Paul as an exemplar of one who faced death confidently and expectantly.
Many of these topics are paths fraught with hazards, but Walker keeps his footing throughout, and proves himself a very safe guide. His expositions are exegetically and doctrinally sound, enriched by insights from towering Puritans such as John Owen, John Flavel, and Stephen Charnock. Equally important, Walker is pastorally grounded, meaning he writes with a very clear audience in view — God’s people. The result is an edifying and encouraging book, which will prove useful to all — whether in the pulpit or the pew.
Dr. J. Stephen Yuille is Pastor of Grace Community Church in Glen Rose, TX, and he is Book Review Editor for Spirituality and Christian Living here at Books At a Glance.