Charles Spurgeon never ceased to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout his ministry. At the center of this gospel message was the doctrinal and experiential understanding of union with Christ.
For the Prince of Preachers, union with Christ was the lifeblood of the trinitarian work of salvation. He proclaimed, “The first cause of your union with Christ lies in the purposes of God who gave you grace in Christ Jesus from before the foundation of the world.” Being united to Christ through faith was a work “of the will of God and by the operation of the Holy Ghost.” This was the objective, doctrinal foundation of Spurgeon’s conception of the believer’s union with Christ.
But this doctrine is never to be divorced from the experience of the Christian. “[Noting] the essence of the Christian life. ‘Of God are ye in Christ.’ You have no life before the Lord, except as you are in Christ Jesus,” declared Spurgeon. Union with Christ is to be experienced by the Christian in such a way that he has died and been raised with Christ. His life has been hidden with Christ in God. In Christ, he knows true life so that he may join with Spurgeon in saying, “…there is no joy in this world like union with Christ.”
Whether in the depths of theology or the trenches of the Christian life, union with Christ is vital. Charles Spurgeon has words to stir the affections of the Christian seeking to know his status as one united to Christ and exhortation to the Christian being spurred on from his union with Christ.
“The mystery of the life within the believer, and the root of that life, that vital union with Christ…”
The radix of the Christian is as secret as the life itself. Who can comprehend the mystery of the life within the believer, and the root of that life, that vital union with Christ, that reception of divine grace may, of his very soul out of the wounds of the Savior, who shall explain this? Only this we must say, however grace flows there from Jesus, it must be there, and it must come from Christ, for all the trees of the Lord are full of sap.
“One marvellous privilege which has been bestowed upon us is of peculiar significance; we are one with Christ by close, vital, spiritual union.”
One marvellous privilege which has been bestowed upon us is of peculiar significance; we are one with Christ by close, vital, spiritual union. We are taught of the Spirit that we enjoy a marriage union with Christ Jesus our Lord-shall that union be dissolved? We are married to him. Has he ever given a bill of divorce? There never has been such a case as the heavenly bridegroom divorcing from his heart a chosen soul to whom he has been united in the bonds of grace.
“Our union with Christ is not only lasting, it is everlasting.”
Our union with Christ is not only lasting, it is everlasting. With great boldness we utter the challenge. “Who shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord?” It is true that we hold Christ, and that we will hold him tighter still; but the greater mercy is that he holds us, and he will never let us go.
“He that hath union with Christ has union with perfection, omnipotence and glory.”
If thou believest, thou mayest doubt and fear as to thy state, as a man on board a ship may be tossed about; but thou hast gotten on board a ship that never can be wrecked. He that hath union with Christ has union with perfection, omnipotence and glory. He that believeth is a member of Christ: will Christ lose his members? How should Christ be perfect if he lost even his little finger? Are Christ’s members to rot off, or to be cut off? Impossible. If thou hast faith in Christ thou art a partaker of Christ’s life, and thou canst not perish.
“The life in you is Christ in you the hope of glory; and your life is sustained by the fact that you are one with Christ…”
If so, the life in you is Christ in you the hope of glory; and your life is sustained by the fact that you are one with Christ, and suck the nourishment of your life from him just as the branch draws from the trunk the sap whereby it is invigorated and made to live. I trust, brethren, that we are in union with Christ, not in theory, but in fact; not as a matter of doctrine, but as a matter of experience, till we can say, “Christ is in me, and I am in him; the life that I live in the flesh is no more I, but Christ that liveth in me.”
“Our union with Christ is not subject to degrees.”
If, however, you live depending upon the cross of Jesus you can walk with equable comfort at all times; for the cross never shifts its place, the Atonement never fluctuates, it never rises or falls in value. Our union with Christ is not subject to degrees. We are always in him accepted in the Beloved.
“He brought you into Christ; you were a stranger, he brought you near; you were an enemy, he reconciled you.”
And as to the purpose, so to the power of God is your union with Christ to be attributed. He brought you into Christ; you were a stranger, he brought you near; you were an enemy, he reconciled you. You had never come to Christ to seek for mercy if first of all the Spirit of God had not appeared to you to show you your need, and to lead you to cry for the mercy that you needed. Through God’s operation as well as through God’s decree you are this day in Christ Jesus.
“Union with Christ makes you live; keep up your enjoyment of that union, that you may clearly perceive and enjoy your life.”
Union with Christ makes you live; keep up your enjoyment of that union, that you may clearly perceive and enjoy your life. Begin this year with the prayer, “Nearer to thee, my Lord, nearer to thee.” Think much of the spiritual life and less of this poor carnal life, which will so soon be over. Go to the source of life for an increase of spiritual life. Go to Jesus.
Aaron is a Master of Divinity student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. He is a member or Emmaus Church. He also serves as a research assistant at the Spurgeon Library.