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by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Morning, May 19, 2019

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

The Christian has a deep, even intimate relationship with Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote in our text, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” This is called union with Christ. What does “union” mean? We live in the United States of America. The fifty states are not separate countries. They are tied together in a union – the United States. At a wedding, a man and woman are united in marriage. They are together in a union. And so it is with Jesus. The Christian is united with Christ, together with Him, connected to Him.

The closest relationship in life is the love and bond between husband and wife in marriage. The Bible uses marriage-love as an illustration of the love-marriage between the Christian and his Saviour, Jesus Christ. The Bible says that “a man [shall] leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31, 32). The Greek word translated “mystery” is musterion. It refers to a deep truth which can’t fully be understood by the mind. The relationship between man and wife is a picture of the union between the Christian and Christ.

The Song of Solomon says, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (2:16). Literally this shows the love of a wife for her husband. Spiritually this shows the love between a Christian and Christ. A husband and a wife love each other deeply. They are so closely connected that the Bible calls them “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Close as it is, the union between husband and wife is only a shadow of the closeness between a Christian and his highest and truest love, Jesus the Saviour. This morning I want to bring out four points about that union.

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I. First, why union with Christ does not belong to the lost.

Some of you here today are lost. You don’t trust Christ although He died on the Cross and shed His Blood for you. You come to church, but you have no connection with Christ. Because you won’t trust Jesus, you have no union with Him. The words of this sermon are not for you. You will live and die without ever being united to Christ. Why aren’t you in union with Christ? Because you don’t want to be! Jesus said, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5:40). You do not come to Jesus. So you don’t have life. You will be out, out, out forever, burning in Hell, because that’s what you choose.

Some of you don’t think much of your sin. You say, “Yes, I’m a sinner.” But you’re not convicted of your horrible crimes against God. You don’t see yourself as offensive – but God does. Your heart is wicked and evil, but it doesn’t bother you that much. You’d like Jesus to fix your thoughts and give you a little tuning. But you don’t care about your awful sin. You can live with your evil heart. And so you do – without turning to Christ. You don’t trust Christ because you don’t want Him. One day He will say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23).

Some of you don’t think much of anything at all. You sit here, it doesn’t matter. If you’re talking with your friends or watching a film – that’s fine. You can do that all day. But when you hear the Gospel, you wait for the preacher to finish so you can get away. Christ will say to you, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

Some of you don’t think much of Christ Himself. You pass Him by. You don’t want a pastor to counsel you. You don’t read the sermon manuscripts we give you. You don’t think about your sin. You don’t think about your soul during the week. You neglect Him. The word “neglect” means to let something go, to not pay attention to it. You neglect your soul. And the Bible says, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3). You will not escape. One day Christ will say to you, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

If you are lost, union with Christ has nothing to do with you, because you do not trust Him. But now I must speak to the rest of us.

II. Second, what union with Christ is not.

The Christian’s union with Christ is not a mere historical or doctrinal belief. That’s not union with Christ! Someone told me, “Trusting Jesus is the same as believing that He died for me. I depended on Him to do it [I believed that He could save me]. Millions of people believe what you do. The demons themselves believe what you do. The Bible says, “The devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). You’re not in Christ any more than the demons are!

What you have is not union with Christ! That is not a connection at all. You’re standing away from Jesus believing facts about Him. What if a man said, “I trust that she will be the right one for me”? Would that make him married? No! There’s no marriage there. There’s no love there, no union, no “one flesh,” no connection at all! It’s just thoughts in your mind.

The Christian’s union with Christ is not a matter of the human senses. Of course we don’t see Jesus with our physical eyes today. Nor do we hear His voice out loud, nor do we smell Him, nor do we touch Him with our hands. Forty days after Christ rose from the dead, He went up to Heaven and He is there now. The Bible says,

“He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).

Christ is in Heaven. We don’t see Him here today. That’s why a few years later the Apostle Paul wrote, “We walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). The word translated “faith” means “trust.” “We walk by trust, not by sight.” We trust Jesus without seeing Him. We trust Jesus without feeling Him. Thirty years later the Apostle Peter wrote to a new generation of Christians,

“Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8).

They never saw Jesus. Yet they trusted Him. They loved Him. They rejoiced. They were in union with Christ. Almost two thousand years after that someone told me what Jesus said to Thomas,

“Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

That verse spoke to me before I was saved. I could trust Jesus and be blessed without seeing Him or feeling Him.

Married people love each other even when they’re hundreds of miles apart. They don’t see, hear, or touch each other, but they’re connected anyway. They don’t have to feel each other to be together. They are united with each other, “one flesh,” even when their bodies are apart.

And it’s the same way with Christ. Some people want a feeling to prove to themselves they’re with Jesus. Or they want Him to do some mental tune-up for them. But they never find Christ that way. Union with Christ is not something that goes on in your mind. When two people get married, they unite together in a direct act of trust. That’s what coming to Jesus is like – a direct trust in Christ Himself.

III. Third, what union with Christ is.

Union with Christ begins by trusting Him, and it continues forever. I’m not speaking of a mighty feeling, like Pentecostals and charismatics talk about. You may not feel Him at all. You won’t think about Him all the time. Who can? But you’ll be connected to Him. It is a personal and spiritual union – whether you know it or feel it, or whether you don’t. It’s the deepest connection you could ever have. It’s not a feeling. It’s not something in the mind. All I can do is give you some Bible words about it.

At the Last Supper, the night before He was crucified, Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). Christ is the vine. The Christians are the branches. The branches are connected to the vine. They get their life from the vine. If they were not in the vine, they would dry up and wither away. That same night He said, “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

What does it mean that the Christian is “in” Christ, and Christ is “in” Him? Since we are on earth and Jesus is in Heaven, it can’t be something physical. Jesus is in Heaven, not physically inside of you. No, it is a spiritual union so deep, so sacred, so personal that words can only be a shadow of the reality. And yet, if you are a Christian, you are “in” Jesus, united to Christ, and He is united to you. You are married, yea, more than married, to Him. He loves you with an “everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). If you have trusted Jesus, He will never let you go. Christ said, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Jesus will never let you go. He will never let you be lost again. He will love you all your life and He will love you for all eternity!

IV. Fourth, what union with Christ does.

To put it simply, union with Christ is what keeps the believer going on. This union – whether you feel it or not – is what carries you to endure and trust to the end, even if life is unhappy and hard, even through pain and trouble, even if hope seems far away. Jesus said,

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

The Christians hear Jesus’ voice. He knows them and they know Him. And they follow Him. How could they not? How could they turn back? How could the bride turn away from the bridegroom? How could the beloved turn away from the lover? Some of you think you have to be very strong to hold out and keep going in the Christian life. But the Christian keeps on, endures, perseveres, not because of his own strength or will-power, but by the power of Christ who loves him, guides him, keeps him and carries him. How could he do anything else?

The believer will go on in trust even when all is dark. Long ago, Job was suffering and he didn’t know why. He lost his wealth, his children, and finally his health. He was a poor man, sick with a loathsome disease. He had no idea why God let this happen to him. But Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). He trusted God no matter what happened.

In the time of the prophet Habakkuk, Jerusalem was under judgment for its sin. Soon the Chaldeans would come and break down the city and take the people captive. Yet Habakkuk said, “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). He would live by his trust. And Habakkuk said,

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18).

God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation. God gave him the land of Israel. Abraham died with only a small portion of the land. He had children but never saw a great nation. But Abraham was united to God in trust. As the Bible says,

“We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).

The things of earth matter little. They are only temporary. We don’t see the things of God now, but they are eternal, forever. Abraham was saved by faith – by trust. And he died in trust without seeing the promise with his eyes. The Bible says of men like Job, Habakkuk and Abraham,

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them” (Hebrews 11:13).

God has not forgotten you. As the Bible says, “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name” (Hebrews 6:10). You may have problems. You may feel discouraged. But God has not forgotten your good work for Him. He sees and He remembers.

One day you won’t have to live and trust without seeing. One day the promises of the Bible will be fulfilled. Jesus will come again! “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:4). Christ will come back and rule the world from His throne for a thousand years! Then shall come the eternal state. We will live in the New Jerusalem, a city 1,500 miles tall. No need for faith there. You’ll see the gates of pearl and the walls of jewels. You’ll see without a light, for “there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Someone says, “Are you sure?” Yes, for God has spoken it! And as if to make it even more sure, the next verse says, “These sayings are faithful and true” (Revelation 22:6). If you have trusted Jesus, take the long view. Look ahead. Yes, “In the world ye shall have tribulation” (John 16:33), but Christ has said, “I have overcome the world” (ibid.). Thank God for Jesus! He will see you through to the very end!

But if you have not trusted Jesus, none of this is for you. If you would like to speak with me after this sermon, please come and sit in the first two rows. Amen.



by Dr. Christopher L. Cagan

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

(Ephesians 5:31, 32; Song of Solomon 2:16; Genesis 2:24)

I.    First, why union with Christ does not belong to the lost,
John 5:40; Matthew 7:23; Hebrews 2:3.

II.   Second, what union with Christ is not, James 2:19; Acts 1:9;
II Corinthians 5:7; I Peter 1:8; John 20:29.

III.  Third, what union with Christ is, John 15:5; 14:20;
Jeremiah 31:3; John 10:28.

IV.  Fourth, what union with Christ does, John 10:27; Job 13:15;
Habakkuk 2:4; 3:17, 18; II Corinthians 4:18; Hebrews 11:13;
Hebrews 6:10; Zechariah 4:4; Revelation 22:5, 6; John 16:33.