People who are part of a particular congregation are often called church “members.” This language is profoundly biblical, and is a visible, covenantal manifestation of the believer’s union with Christ.
μέλος (melos) is the Greek word used to describe the individual parts of a body (literally “body member”). For example, the tongue is an individual member of the body (James 3:5-6). μέλος is used metaphorically to describe the relationship between believers and Christ. Individual believers are all μέλη (members) of Christ (Romans 12:4-5), because we are in Christ. This union with Christ is total: even our bodies, as part of ourselves, are μέλη of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:15, Ephesians 5:29-30). We have been united to Christ as his members through the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). The abiding of John 14 is best described in terms of our union with Christ, our membership in and with him…
…If the word [justification] should signify as much as ‘to make righteous’, as to sanctify does signify ‘to make holy’, still we could grant it, though not in the Popish way; and indeed the Apostle [in] Rom. 5. says, ‘many are made righteous by the second Adam’, which if not meant of inherent holiness, does imply, that the righteousness we have by Christ is not merely declarative, but also constitutive; and indeed one is in order before the other, for a man must be righteous before he can be pronounced or declared so to be…so that there are these two things in justifying, whereof one is the ground of the other, first to make righteous, and then to pronounce or declare so.
-Anthony Burges, The True Doctrine of Justification.
Heidelberg Catechism 20
Q. Are all people then saved through Christ
just as they were lost through Adam?
Only those are saved
who through true faith
are grafted into Christ
and receive all his benefits.
One of the interesting subtleties of the catechism is how it describes salvation. It is not actually faith that saves; faith is the mechanism by which salvation comes, but does not save in itself. Salvation comes from being grafted into Christ. Union with Christ is the essence of salvation and the fundamental distinguishing feature of the Christian.
To be lost in Adam is to be separated from God. To be saved in Jesus is greater than being found my him – it is to be joined to him…
On July 5th the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) joined the JDDJ. The WCRC’s statement of association, like the World Methodist Council, adds areas of distinct Reformed emphasis on justification. These additions are both far superior to anything produced in the original JDDJ or its subsequent additions, while simultaneously being the most disappointing additions…
Patrick Ramsey is writing a delightful series of posts over at Meet the Puritans on union and communion with Christ. It helps that Edward Reynolds makes a number of appearances in the series. “…justification and sanctification as well as every…