“What am I missing?”
“What is wrong with me?”
“Why isn’t the gospel doing its deep work in my heart?”
These questions and more are addressed in a powerful book, Union with Christ.
Rankin Wilbourne, the author of Union with Christ, writes that many Christians experience a “gap” between their acceptance of the Gospel and its transformative effects in their lives.
“What was wrong with me?” he writes, reflecting on a time in his life when he felt that gap with painful awareness. “Why wasn’t the gospel doing its deep work in my heart?”
This gap can affect our “spiritual progress” and relationship with Christ, as well as our understanding of who we are as new creations.
“The gap loomed large between what the gospel said was true of me (I’m forgiven, accepted, and secure) and how I saw myself. There was a chasm between what I said I believed and what I was experiencing,” continues Wilbourne.
A Christian who’s trapped in this chasm between belief and actions might question their salvation and wonder if they are really loved by God. Can they truly live as new people?
“I had seen enough of Jesus to spoil my enjoyment of the world but not enough to be content with Jesus alone. And I didn’t know how to move forward,” Wilbourne admits. “I felt like a fraud.”
God’s amazing grace is strong enough to bring us out of sin and death. But Wilbourne seeks to remind his readers of grace’s potential—and promise—to make us blossom into flourishing, beautiful instruments of love.
For that to happen, though, we need to shift our understanding of the Gospel from our brains to our souls. We need to understand that God’s truth should impact our daily lives.
“It’s been said, ‘The longest journey a man will ever make is the journey from his head to his heart,’” writes Wilbourne. “This book is about that journey and the unparalleled power of our union with Christ to help us along the way.”
With that, Wilbourne dives into the key question of his readers: “How do I connect God to my daily life?”
Wilbourne’s writing revolves around the fundamental concept of union with Christ (Ephesians 5:32).
“Union with Christ means that you are in Christ and Christ is in you,” Wilbourne writes. “Your life, your story, [has been] enfolded by another story—Another’s story.”
When we embrace the truth of the Gospel and turn to Christ in faith, we become eternally and irrefutably united with Christ. He is our hope, our strength, our Savior.
In other words, the Christian life is more personal than many of us have ever dreamed. Far from an academic endeavor, it’s a deep relationship with a God Who desires our full selves.
“The Christian life is not a self-improvement project,” Wilbourne warns. “It’s not about reforming the old self. We are talking about a new self.”
We are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and His Spirit dwells inside us. Wilbourne admits that this is a great mystery—even to those of us who have read the Bible for most of our lives!
Throughout the book, Wilbourne strives to help readers understand what this unity with Christ actually looks like, and how it changes our lives.
“You are precious and unique—God dreamed up the one and only you and knit you together Himself—but He created you to be united to Him. You are more and most yourself when united to Christ,” he writes.
He goes on to describe the fullness of life that God intended for His children.
“He covers you, He shields you, He represents you before the Father. He also fills you, illuminates you, and animates you, making you more yourself and more human than you could ever be on your own.”
This is not just a rosy promise, Wilbourne assures his readers. “It is an objective reality to live into.”
But how can we “live into” the reality of our union with Christ? Wilbourne addresses this question throughout the rest of the book, writing about the tension of living in the physical world but focusing on a spiritual reality.
He also addresses “the art of abiding,” writing about our deep need to abide in Christ as those who are one with Him and how we can move ever closer to this reality.
Union with Christ is a deep dive into a crucial doctrine that many Christians don’t think about on a daily basis, and Wilbourne writes in a compelling, understandable way.
This book is a must-read for Christians of all ages and maturity levels. It can be used for small groups, family discussions, or individual study.