Anchor # 3 - Union with Christ

The 10 Anchors of Union Church are theological convictions and philosophies of ministry that we are tied to in order to remain faithful to our core values of Gospel, Community and Mission. These Anchors inform everything from our partnerships and budget to our church government and Sunday liturgy. We believe that a strong commitment to these Anchors will create a culture that will bring God glory and us joy.

Anchor # 3 - Union with Christ

We are committed to emphasizing Union with Christ as the fullest description of the gospel. In our Bible Belt context, “gospel” is, in many ways, religious white noise – a term that is so generic and overused that it carries unnecessary connotations. We do not want to abandon this biblical language but as missionaries, we need to clarify our terms in order to be both biblically accurate and contextually appropriate.

Union with Christ is the New Testament’s primary description of the gospel. Salvation is not simply a theological event, it is the reality of being permanently and exclusively attached to the Savior, thereby receiving the rights, privileges, and benefits of the true Son of God. This idea is so massive that it necessitates multiple images and metaphors to tease out. There are over 200 references to and expressions of Union with Christ in the New Testament, representing the centerpiece of Christian theology. This phrase captures our “oneness” with Jesus – our relationship in, with and through Him. The depth of this union can be viewed from two directions: our identity in Christ and Christ’s presence in us.

Our Identity in Christ: Without Christ, our default identity is found in Adam, our forefather and representative head. His original sin triggered a curse that infected his entire lineage. This curse affects every area of our lives, tainting even our noblest attempts at righteousness and making them unacceptable before a holy God, leaving us condemned and in need of a savior outside of Adam’s line. Because of Jesus’ virgin birth, His origin remains unaffected by the curse and His perfect obedience fulfills all the requirements placed on humanity. Therefore, he is a pure representative head as well as an acceptable sacrificial substitute. In the same way that Adam’s family (humanity) was made unrighteous by their attachment to his failure, Jesus’ family (the Church) is made righteous by their attachment to His perfection. As believers, our primary identity now is found “in Christ.” His achievement is now ours, His victory is credited to us, His status as a beloved son is transferred to us. This is our justification – the root of our salvation (Rom. 6:23, Rom. 8:1, 1 Cor. 1:2, Eph. 2:5, Col. 3:1).

Christ’s Presence in Us: Not only are we saved because we are found in Him but He is intimately connected to us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our permanent connection to Christ produces the foundation of our salvation while His active presence in us produces the fruit of our salvation. His Spirit guides, directs, convicts, rebukes and comforts the believer into a deeper understanding of our identity which leads into a deeper obedience and loyalty. This is our sanctification – the fruit of our salvation (1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Cor. 6:16, Ezk. 36:27, 2 Tim. 1:14, Rom. 8:11).

To the degree that we understand our union with Christ - that our attachment to Him protects us from God's judgment - we realize that we are no longer attached to our sin, freeing us from guilt, shame, and humiliation. When we come to realize that we are credited with his obedience and clothed in his righteousness - we are no longer associated with our accomplishments, freeing us from pride, comparison, and jealousy. Union with Christ is the explanation for how believers can, with full integrity, walk in peace, joy, contentment, humility, generosity, and sacrifice. We already have everything we need. We are free to give instead of take, create instead of consume, serve instead of being served.