Members of Christ – Part 1
By Rev. Jonathan B. Leach
Rev. Leach is a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, although he currently is in the process of transferring his credentials to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Rev. Leach serves as an Army chaplain and makes his home on a small spread in Seguin, TX.
In this sermon, preached June 25, 2006, at Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, TX, Rev. Leach provides the Biblical justification for church membership and explains the glorious union between Christ and Christians. The text of this sermon is posted with Rev. Leach's permission.
I Corinthians 12:1-31
There is, perhaps, no passage of Scripture that gives us a more vivid, compelling description of the mystical union existing between Christ and Christians than the one before us this morning.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part [that is in Greek, a bodily member] of it.”
I Corinthians 12:27
Now, certainly there are plenty of passages that present this doctrine of union with Christ as clearly, but each from a slightly different vantage point. It is, after all, not an obscure or marginal doctrine. Think of the many New Testament passages that drive home the Christian’s being crucified with Christ, dying with Christ, being baptized into Christ and into the Triune name, being raised up with Christ from the dead, being seated with Christ—even today!—in the heavenly places.
In every aspect of our lives, every minute of every day, without exception, the Christian is named by, and sealed with, and caught up in the eternal life and power that belong to Jesus Christ the Righteous, Jesus Christ our blessed Lord. To the extent we hold something back—to the extent we try to divorce thought or motive or practice or feeling or relationship from submission to Christ—to that extent we sin. We fall short of Biblical Christianity and the full range of blessings that attend union with Christ by faith. To that extent we grieve the Holy Spirit, whose will is that we are one with Christ and, together, one in Him.
Christianity: Life and Doctrine
Viewed from one vantage point—the subjective one, we’ll call it—Christianity is life with Christ, life in Christ. From another equally valid vantage point—the objective one, we might say—Christianity is a body of doctrine, propositional truth revealed from heaven. It’s something to study, something to embrace with the mind and believe. It’s systematic truth about God and man and the world and the relationships in which we live. If we think of Christianity in this objective way, we can place the doctrine of the believer’s union with Christ at the apex of a great theological pyramid—the very top, the high point.
The center tier of the pyramid is the work of Christ at the cross, where He secured our redemption by that substitutionary atonement which is the very heart of the gospel. And the whole structure rests on the foundation of the sovereign election of God to save a people—a determinate number of people—for His own glory.
All of which is to give us the big picture of union with Christ and where it fits into Christian doctrine. It’s not the starting place of Christian doctrine, and it’s certainly nothing we can understand apart from the cross. It is, rather, the very summit of Biblical religion. Every good thing Christ earned by His obedience to God’s law belongs, in its fullness, to the Christian. Everything you the Christian earned by your disobedience belongs no longer to you in the slightest degree—not in the slightest degree!—but to Christ, who took it all and paid for it all. So when God the Omniscient, God the Omnipotent Judge of all the earth scrutinizes your life and mine, our deeds and the motives behind them . . . He sees only the finished redemptive work of His own dear Son. And He smiles, and He says, “Well done!”
Considering these things, you’ll agree the implications for our living happily ever after are staggering. You can see for miles from atop doctrine like that!
Stay tuned for part two!
Labels: Doctrine of the Church