The Staggering Reality of Union with Christ

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I would contend Colossians 2:9-10 is one of the most staggering passages in all of Scripture. It states, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.” This teaches a beautiful New Testament reality: union with Christ.

A lot of emphasis and explanation in discipleship is given to the teaching of double imputation. That is the teaching that Jesus lived for me and Jesus died for me. All that his death and life provided, has been chalked up to my account. The teaching of double imputation is usually a conversation set in the past.

But union with Christ is about now. The teaching of union with Christ spells out how Christ is in each believer and each believer is in Christ. If double imputation puts the emphasis on the proposition for, union with Christ emphasizes the preposition in. Every Christian can declare, “I am in him and he is in me.”

The implications of this reality upon discipleship are rich. Especially in the context of Colossians 2 (which you should read here) has such practical and galactic meaning.

When we see Jesus, we are seeing God. When we understand who Jesus is and what he has done, we are witnesses to the work of God. Our union with Christ, makes all who God is and all that God is doing, present with us. We have been given full access to God. There is nothing held back. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ.”

Can you think of anything more staggering than that?

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Scattering Gold Dust

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Bering Sea Gold is a show on the Discovery Channel about dredging for gold. Have you seen any episodes? I had not heard of it until I read about it in a book my wife is reading about motherhood. (Don’t judge me. It’s a good book.) These guys dredge for gold using scoop equipment and big hoses to suck up sand and sediment from the sea floor. Screening through all the sediment they somehow draw out the flecks of gold, melt it down, and collect their fortune.

Hearing about this, one wonders why everyone doesn’t get into this business. However, before each segment a warning is given that reads: “Offshore dredging for gold is not a get-rich-quick opportunity. It is expensive and dangerous. Most people who try, fail. Some have died. You do not want to dredge without extensive knowledge and training.” After watching part of an episode, I believe it.

The author of the motherhood book uses this for an illustration about parenting. But I thought how this connects to ministry too. Living in the midst of a community being formed in Christ is like spreading gold dust on a silty seabed. One hopes after these lives are unearthed and fiery trials assault the mud and dust strewn around that something of real value emerges–the life of Jesus.

As we work in the church we like to try to drop hunks of gold onto people. We attempt to deposit in big lumps. But the life of Christ is not dropped on people like that. The gold of Jesus comes in flecks and dustings. It is the short prayer. It is a personal note. It is an unscripted comment in a sermon. It is a phone call. It is a breakfast meeting. It is an affirming word. It is an acknowledged wrong. It is the conversation after church. It is the challenge. It is a pointed question. It is remembering. It is being confronted. It is consistency. It is knowing people. It is life.

So keep scattering gold dust. Working in the church is not a get-rich-quick opportunity. It is costly and hazardous. A lot of people fail. Some have died. You don’t want to do it without knowledge and training and the power of the Spirit. But if we keep at it we’ll end up with something pretty valuable.

Book Summary: Knowing Jesus is Enough for Joy, Period!

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The Mission Exchange and CrossGlobal Link have merged, forming Missio Nexus. You can visit their website here. Access for individuals starts at under $30. The services include:

  • 52 book reviews (electronically delivered – 1 per week)
  • 36 book summaries (electronically delivered – 3 per month)
  • 24 live webinars (average 2 per month)
  • 12 author interviews (monthly mp3 downloads)
  • 6 Global Issues Updates (bi-monthly downloadable webinar)
  • 3 Web Workshops (4-6 week training series)
  • discounted access to the most extensive library of mission-focused webinars in the English language
  • discounted access to three annual live conferences

Accessing their services just for the book summaries is well worth the cost. Below is a sample from the September edition of Leader’s Edge Book Summary of Steve Wibberley’s recent book Knowing Jesus is Enough for Joy, Period! Each book summary includes the content of the book by category of:

  • Best chapter
  • Best quotes
  • Best illustration
  • Best idea
  • Best take away
  • Recommendation

Knowing Jesus is Enough for Joy, Period!
Lessons from the Battle Lines
(Study Guide Edition)

Author: S. M. Wibberley

Publisher: Edifying Services Press, 2011, 296 pages

ISBN: 978-1609572280


S. M. Wibberley writes from his ministry experience in both the States and a hostile Middle East environment. Using parables, life illustrations, Scripture and repetition the author weaves together tools for equipping believers to live out the Christian life and to engage in ongoing spiritual warfare. “The good tools I will pass on to you, however, can become ineffective and even destructive when used outside of a relationship with God” (p. 2). Steve Wibberley divides his thirty-two chapters into 8 “Parts,” which will be noted in the quotes below.

 Best chapter

Seven short chapters make up “Part 7: Deeper Thoughts on Putting on the Armor.”

The following are the chapter titles followed by a synopsis of those chapters: Background; The Belt of Truth; The Breastplate of Righteousness; The Shoes of Peace; The Shield of Faith; The Helmet of Salvation; The Sword of the Spirit. Putting on the whole armor of God is essential for living a life of godliness. It enables us to combat temptations to meet our deepest needs of significance and security in sinful ways, and aligns our perspective with God’s truth. Putting on truth is the means needed to remember who and whose we are. Adorned in the righteousness of Christ allows us to forgive others and ourselves. Shod with peace, we carry God’s forgiveness to others and confront them out of love when needed (pp. 177-220). Armed with praise to God our trust in Him through all circumstances brings our “thoughts and actions in line with Scripture” extinguishing the evil one’s attacks to quench our faith (pp. 221-233). Guarding our minds, our significance and security rests in God’s character, His provision, salvation and promises (pp. 234-246). Finally, spending time in God’s word in devotions, study and meditation is necessary to effectively stand against Satan and in spiritually helping others (pp. 247-249).

Best quotes

Part 1 – Living the Truth that Jesus is Enough for Joy
“One’s worldview, starts with: beliefs about God, from which flow: personal beliefs > values > behavior.” (p. 8)

“Our part (resting in God’s sovereignty) is to worship, pray and trust our great God – and to be involved as He directs.” (p. 43)

Part 2 – Spiritual Warfare: Situation Normal
“In order to activate delusion, doubt, diversions, and division in our lives, Satan uses lies, fear and violence as weapons against us.” (p. 48)

“… the spiritual weapons of truth, faith, and love appear to be much weaker than Satan’s. In reality, though, they are far more effective because they tap into the great power of God.” (p. 51)

“Each morning I must submit myself and my plans to His guidance and therefore go forth in His power.” (p. 56)

“… we can raise the shield of faith, by praising God in and for all things; put on the helmet of salvation, draw in our significance and security from Him; and take up the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.” (p. 71)

Part 3 – Worship
“Thanksgiving usually has to do with what we can see and touch…. praise – is on a higher level because… it focuses on God’s character as revealed by His Word and His acts.” (p. 81)

“Knowing God through worship helps us trust Him so that when unpleasant or dangerous things come, we can continue to praise.” (p. 95)

“Worship opens our eyes to both sides of the picture; where we have come from, and what we are becoming; how much we have been forgiven, and how much we are loved.” (p. 101)

Part 4 – Confession
The author’s suggested prayer relating to pornography: “Help us to live in your power; to be different from the world in living a life pure in thought, word, and deed, and to be quick to confess and renounce when we fail. Help us to discern the layers of sin that underlie the obvious ones and to confess and renounce them.” (p. 121)

“Wisdom is doing the right thing, for the right motive, at the right time, and in the right way.” (p. 124)

“Confessing ahead helps me be prepared. It is the concept of confessing to God my tendency to sin in the areas of my weakness before I do so.” (p. 129)

Part 5 – Lifting Our Souls
“The struggles in our souls can be deceptive and confusing at time. The root causes can be hidden so that only God in His grace can reveal them to us as we cooperate with Him in lifting our souls and meditating.” (p. 152)

Part 6 – Filling with the Holy Spirit
“Worship leads to confession, which leads to surrender, which leads to being filled with the Spirit and transformation.” (p. 160)

Part 7 – Deeper Thoughts on Putting on the Armor
See Best Chapters above.

Part 8 – Essential, Lifelong Practices
“It is not that meditation is magic, but that meditation is cooperation with God in bringing transformation that allows Him to empower, guide, and protect in a greater way than for those who fail to take the time to meditate.” (pp. 254-255)

“Prayer is God’s invitation to join Him in His plan for the universe.” (p. 261)

“Prayer is first of all God’s way of involving us in changing the world…. it is His invitation to us to join Him in what He is doing.” (p. 270)

Best illustration

“If we confess only the top sin, it’s like mowing grass: the plant immediately begins to grow back. But if we pull it out by the roots, confessing all the way down to the bottom, then that plant is gone.” (p. 108)

 Best idea

“When we grasp the context of knowing our glorious, all-powerful, gracious God, we can have deep, solid, unshakable joy in any circumstance – joy as unshakable as His character.” (p. 22)

Best take away

“Whatever enters our lives cannot take away the deep, positive, abiding rest and joy we can have in Christ – if we are making the decision to find them in Him.” (p. 30)


This is a very practical book on spiritual living/warfare forged from the author’s lifetime of service in the trenches in the Middle East. We recommend it for a multiple of applications: missionary orientation, missionary teams, or as a basis of lessons on spiritual living in formal or informal teaching situations. Make use of the study guide found at the end of the book.

Visit Missio Nexus to learn more about their Leader’s Edge Book Summaries and their other resources.

None but Christ

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“To have all the clouds and darkness that are raised by sin between us and the throne of God dispelled; to have the fire, and storms, and tempests, that are kindled and stirred up about Him by the law removed; to have His glorious face unveiled, and His holy heart laid open, and a view given of those infinite treasures and stores of goodness, mercy, love, and kindness which have had an unchangeable habitation therein from all eternity; to have a discovery of these eternal springs of forbearance and forgiveness,– is that which none but Christ can accomplish and bring about (John 17:6).”

–John Owen, “Temptation and Sin” The Works of John Owen, ed. William Goold, 24 vols. (Edinburgh: Johnson & Hunter; 1850-1855; reprint by Banner of Truth, 1966), Vol. 6:401.

via “None but Christ” by John Owen | Tolle Lege.