Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Lloyd-Jones on our union with Christ

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the well-known expository preacher of Westminster Chapel, addresses the topic of union with Christ in a sermon entitled In Christ Jesus. He engages this doctrine as he expounds Ephesians 2:4-7 which reads, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

Of this doctrine, Lloyd-Jones declares:
Here we are undoubtedly face-to-face with one of the greatest and most marvelous of all the Christian doctrines, one of the most glorious beyond any question at all. It is the whole teaching of the Scripture with regard to our union with Christ. It is a teaching that you find in many places. I would refer you to the fifth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, which is in many ways the most extended statement of the doctrine to be found anywhere. But it is to be found in exactly the same way in the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. It is likewise found in 1 Corinthians 15, the great chapter that is read so often at funeral services; but it is seen equally clearly in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5. Similarly it is the teaching found in those beautiful words at the end of the second chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). This is the most wonderful and the most amazing thing of all, and to me it is always a matter of great surprise that this blessed doctrine should receive so little attention! For some reason or other, Christian people seem to be afraid of it… [Yet] according to this teaching in Ephesians 2 and elsewhere, you are not Christians at all unless you are joined to Christ and “in Him”…
This preacher excitement and joy is evident in the words of his address. Lloyd-Jones recognizes, as many Christians before and after him have realized, that union with Christ is a doctrine that forms the basis for our relationship with Christ and therefore the entire Christian faith.

Lloyd-Jones sees two ways in which we can understand our union with Christ. The first he calls "federal sense, or, in other words, a covenant sense." This sense considers the representative nature that Christ demonstrated in his life, death, and resurrection. Lloyd-Jones proclaims:
Adam was constituted and regarded by God as the head and the representative of the human race. He was the federal head, the federal representative, the covenant head. God made covenant with Adam, made an agreement with him, made certain statements to him as to what He would do, and so on. Now that is the first sense in which this doctrine of union is taught. And what is said, therefore, about the Lord Jesus Christ is that He is our Federal Head, He is our Representative. Adam, our representative, rebelled against God: he sinned, he was punished, and certain consequences followed. But because Adam was our representative and our head, what happened to Adam also therefore happened to all his posterity and to us.
The second aspect of our union with Christ that Lloyd-Jones points out is what he calls a "mystical" or "vital" union. He preaches:
This is something that was taught by our Lord Himself in the famous words in the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel according to John, where He says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). The union between the branches and the vine is not mechanical: it is vital and organic. They are bound together: the same sap, the same life is in the stock as in the branches.
Thus, Lloyd-Jones sees in our union with Christ a two-fold understanding of how this union works. His exhilaration is heard again as summarizes this section of the sermon exalting that,
All these blessings that we enjoy become ours because we are joined to Christ in this double manner: in the forensic, federal, covenant manner, but also in this vital and living manner. We can therefore claim that what has happened to Christ has happened to us. This is the marvel and mystery of our salvation, and it is the most glorious thing we can ever contemplate!
I have engaged our union with Christ this past week after having touched upon it during a sermon I gave last week. It is clearly something I need to study more, and Lloyd-Jones has me excited to do just that.

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