Monday, October 10, 2016

Union With Christ

"[Union with Christ] is grounded in exegesis and theology and yet is lucid and supremely practical. Rankin's whole concern is to make the biblical teaching accessible and applicable to the reader. He does this with excellence."

For the church in general as well as individual believers, we need to recover the transforming power of union with Christ. Nothing else holds the power to completely free us and transform us. Because of all the benefits God provides in the gospel, the greatest is communion with him.

"I wrote this book because it was the book I was looking for both as a pastor and as a follower of Jesus. I felt stuck in my walk with God," states Wilbourne. "If nothing is more basic or central than union with Christ, why then is union with Christ neither central nor basic to so many of us? You can easily find books on any of the rich jewels of the Christian life --- justification, adoption, spiritual formation, Christian living, the hope of heaven --- but there simply has not been much written in recent decades about the necklace that holds all of those jewels together, the reality that makes all of these other gifts possible, union with Christ!"

Union with Christ means that you are in Christ and Christ is in you. This almost unfathomable truth is the central theme of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Yet few Christians ever experience it.

Union with Christ reveals the transformational power of this ancient doctrine while addressing the greatest questions of the human heart:

Who Am I? 
Why Am I Here?
Where Am I Headed? 
How Will I Get There?
The concept of being one with Jesus is spiritual and it is mysterious. Yet once it's embraced, nothing is more practical for enjoying the Christian life. Discover how union with Christ is not only possible, but it is possible now.

experience. Union with Christ is what we most need in order to know and enjoy God.

My thoughts:  (reviewed by Pastor Steve) The very first question in the Westminster Chatechism is, "What is the chief end of man."  And the answer is two-fold:  "Man's chief end is to know God, and to enjoy him forever."

Pastor Rankin Wilbourne sends forth this book with that aim in mind.

If you use your imagination, as the author suggests from the very beginning of this very challenging book, your life will never be the same again.

Rankin Wilbourne, commercial banker turned pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles, California, recognizes the necessity of union with Christ.  In his own words, “As our understanding and appreciation of union with Christ has diminished, so too has our sense of what salvation means.  We may know what we have been saved from, but have we lost sight of what we have been saved for?

1 Corinthians 1:9 declares, “God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  And throughout scripture, we find example after example of individuals who recognized the necessity – and the joy – of this union. 

Taking readers gently by the hand, author and pastor Rankin Wilbourne explores four questions as he tries to close the gap between the Creator and His creation:  "Union With Christ:  What Is It, and Why Do We Need It?" "Where Did It Come From, and Where Did It Go?"  "What Problems Does It Solve?" and "Union With Christ Day By Day."

I’m writing this review, because the review is due today.  But my journey is not complete.  I haven’t finished the book.  While I have been a believer for over 30 years, have a B.A. and M.Div. in Pastoral Studies, and am called to minister the gospel, I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone speak about our union with Christ as Pastor Wilbourne does. 

He uses the illustration of the blind man from Bethsaida, who needed a second touch to completely cure his blindness.  That’s where I’m at with this book.  It’s long, 320 pages.  It’s challenging.  It’s not a coffee table book; it’s one that belongs in the “serious study” section of one’s library.  It’s not a devotional.  This is meat, and you are going to have to chew it. 

Having said that, when you consider the spiritual plight of our nation, it’s about time a few more Christians “grew up.”  The Apostle Paul lamented the fact that “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, because you are still fleshly." 1 Corinthians 3:2 – 3 (HCSB).

Please, purchase this book.  Purchase it for your church library; purchase it for your personal library.  Every believer needs to recognize the necessity of union with Christ.  And I haven’t come across a better introduction to the subject than this book by Pastor Rankin Wilbourne.

5 stars for a challenging read

Purchase a copy:

Click here to read Rankin Wilbourne's interview with Christianity Today about Union with Christ.

Union with Christ - Rankin Wilbourne on writing Union with Christ
Rankin Wilbourne on writing Union with Christ

Rankin Wilbourne grew up in Louisiana and was educated at the University of Mississippi and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is now the senior pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles. As a former commercial banker, Rankin understands the "gap" between the gospel preached on Sunday and the world people face on Monday. Leading a thriving church in a city driven by stories, he's concerned with drawing connections between what we believe and how we live. Rankin and his wife, Morgen, reside in Los Angeles with their three children.

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