When the Holy Spirit unites a sinner to Christ there are certain consequences. Christ grants His people many blessings flowing forth from the union with Him. These spiritual blessings will be reflected in the consciousness of the believer. John Flavel writes in this setting: ÒThe design and end of the application of Christ to sinners is the communication of his benefits to them; but all communication of benefits necessarily imply communion, and all communion as necessarily presupposes union with his personÉÓ Many effects or blessings of union with Christ are mentioned in Scripture. Let us consider some of them.
The blessings of the imputation of ChristÕs righteousness
The righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is imputed to a sinner as an immediate consequence of his union with Christ by faith. The Lord grants forgiveness of all sins. This is the blessing of justification. We must keep in mind that the union with Christ in never the judicial grounds for justification. The ground rests only in the Lord Jesus Christ as the sole meriting cause (Rom. 3:22,23).
The blessing of sanctification
A direct effect of the union with Christ is that the walk and attitudes of GodÕs child are gradually renewed according to the image of Christ (2 Cor.3:18). As a fruit of his union with Christ GodÕs child receives many gifts and blessing which all focus upon the daily renewal and sanctification. We can mention some examples, but many more could be mentioned: knowledge (Eph.1:18), fellowship with Christ (1 Cor.1:9), unspeakable joy (1 Pet.1:8), peace (Rom.5:10), the experience of the love of God (Rom.8:39), living in the strength of Christ (Phil.4:13), daily renewing (2 Cor.4:16), light in the soul (1 Pet.2:9), fellowship with the Father and with the Son (1 Jn.1:3), inward teaching (1 Jn.2:27) and the fruit of the Spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5.
When John Flavel observes all the blessings of the union with Christ, he urges the people of God to a life of sanctification and dedication unto Christ:
The blessing of communion with the Lord Jesus Christ
The people of God have communion and fellowship with Christ. They share in his experiences, they share in His sufferings and also become a partaker of His triumph. Scripture references which teach this are Romans 6:5: ÒFor if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;Ó Romans 6:8 ÒNow if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;Ó Romans 8:17: ÒAnd if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with (him), that we may be also glorified together;Ó Philippians 3:10: ÒThat I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;Ó 1 Peter 4:13: ÒBut rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of ChristÕs sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.Ó
In this connection we may also mention the fact that GodÕs people will suffer for the sake of their union with Christ. In Mark 10:39 Christ tells His disciples that they would also drink the cup that Jesus had to drink and be baptized with the same baptism as with He was baptized. The communion with Christ implies also suffering for the sake of Christ (2 Timothy 3:12). John Flavel writes in this connection: ÒThe sympathy between Christ and believers proves a union between them: Christ and the saints smile and sigh together.Ó Flavel further underlines the fruitfulness of this union: ÒWe are married to Christ that we should bring forth fruit to GodÉAll the fruit we bear before ingrafting into Christ is worse than noneÉChrist is a fruitful root, and makes all the branches that live in him so too.Ó
Flavel emphasizes that as a consequence of the communing with Christ a child of God shares in all the wealth of Christ: ÒHow rich and great a person do the little arms of faith clasp and embrace! É All that Christ hath becomes ours, either by communication to us, or improvement for us: his Father. John 20:17; his promises, 2 Corinthians 1:20; his providences, Romans 8:28; his glory, John 17:24; all are ours by virtue of our union with him.Ó
This also applies to the special blessing of adoption, mentioned by Thomas Boston. Boston emphasizes that through their adoption GodÕs people have access to God as their Father and so may receive the fulfillment of all their wants. Speaking of the people of God he writes: ÒThey have the Spirit of adoption, Romans viii. 15, namely the Spirit of his Son, which brings them to God, as children to a Father; to pour out their complaints in his bosom, and to seek necessary suppliesÉÓ
The blessing of future glory
The believers will be raised up from the dead in likeness to ChristÕs glorified body. They will experience eternal communion with Christ in heaven. There believers will be fully consecrated to Christ in body and soul. An important aspect of the future of the people of God is their reign with Christ. He promises His people that they will reign with Him in glory. This reign is a direct consequence of their following of Christ. Scripture references which show this are 2 Timothy 2:12: ÒIf we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, he also will deny us;Ó 1 Corinthians 6:2: ÒDo ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?Ó Revelation 2:26: ÒAnd he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations; ÒRevelation 3:21:ÓTo him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.Ó
Concerning the blessed resurrection of the people of God, John Flavel writes: ÒThe manner in which that saints shall be raised at the last day, proves this mystical union between Christ and them; for they are not to be raised as others, by the virtue of ChristÕs resurrection as their Head, sending forth vital, quickening influences into their dead bodies, which are united to him as well as their souls.Ó
Flavel knows how to comfort GodÕs people concerning their future blessed resurrection, when he writes: ÒBelievers are his members, his fullness, he cannot therefore be complete without you: a part of Christ cannot perish in the grave, much less can it be left to burn in hell. Remember, when you feel the natural union dissolving, that this mystical union can never be dissolved; the pangs of death cannot break this tie.Ó
Thomas Boston writes beautifully about the victory over death which shall be given to all of the spiritual seed of Christ. He writes:
It is striking how A.W. Pink words the future glory of GodÕs people:
The blessing of spiritual unity of all believers
The union with Christ furnishes the basis for the spiritual unity of all believers and for the communion of saints. They are called to be one as they are motivated and led by the same Spirit of Christ. Referring to the people of God, L. Berkhof writes:
In conclusion we may state with John Murray:
Therefore: ÒNothing is more central or basic than union and communion with Christ.Ó