Chapter 30 - Union with Christ, Justification and Regeneration
The Puritans saw our union with Christ as the chief blessing from which all our blessing from God flows. Calvin said this at the beginning of book 3 of his Institutes, too.
Our union is threefold, or can be said to happen at three different points of time: before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), at the cross (Rom 6:3-11), and when we come to faith in Christ (Eph 2:5-6). We're talking here mainly about the last one.
Where does union with Christ fit, when we talk about regeneration and justification?
In one sense, it is Christ's joining Himself to us that causes our regeneration by the Spirit.
In another sense, our faith (which happens as a result of regeneration) completes the union.
We are joined to Him first, then made clean.
Both justification and regeneration happen because of our union with Christ. Justification is our relation to God; regeneration is the change in us.
Union with Christ also answers the objection, "How can someone else's righteousness become ours?" Isn't that a legal fiction, as Rome says? The answer is that it can't, when two different people are involved. But since we are members and Christ is the head of the same body, this is legitimate.
This was a good, if technical, chapter. At one point it is said that regeneration is the implantation of the soul into Christ" (487), which put me in mind of a birds and bees analogy. Union happens first, then we are regenerated - fertilization and conception. I'm sure that analogy breaks down somewhere!
The authors critique Bill Evans for saying the Puritans displace union with Christ for communion with Him. I thought their rejection of him a bit harsh, though I haven't read Evans. It seems the Puritans did FOCUS more on communion experientially than on the doctrine of union with Christ, and this may have been Evans' point, more than that they didn't think union important.