We urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14, NIV Discernment isn’t easy, but God has given us two gifts that can help us. The impulse of the Spirit Thank God for the gift of the Spirit....
“I am the vine, you are the branches.” John 15:5 (NIV)
There are two pictures in the New Testament that help us understand what “union with Christ” means.
A Grafted Branch
In the Old Testament God’s redeeming work flowed through the descendants of Abraham. They were like the branches of God’s tree.
Here is what God has done: “Some of the branches have been broken off, and you… have been grafted in… and now share in the nourishing sap” (Rom. 11:17). Then he tells us how it happened: “They were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith” (Rom. 11:20).
Faith is the means by which you have been grafted into God’s tree so that the life of Jesus Christ flows in you. Christ said, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). How do we come to be branches in the vine of Christ? Faith grafts you into this vine.
If you are grafted to Christ, you will bear the fruit of Christ. Faith grafts us to Christ so that His life is in you. That’s why the Bible talks about being “in Christ,” or Christ being in us.
A Joined Bride
Paul describes believers as the bride of Christ, and the Christian life as a marriage in which two become one (Eph. 5). Martin Luther says in The Freedom of a Christian: “Faith unites the soul with Christ, as a bride is united with her bridegroom. Christ and the soul become one flesh. And if there is between them a true marriage, it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. The believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own.”
Marriage changes your life. And how it changes your life depends entirely on whom you marry.
Which picture do you find most helpful? Why?