Union With Christ: A Sermon Review
The text of Joey's sermon from the past Sunday, which focused on our union with Christ, was Galatians 3:26-29. It was the latest sermon in our series on Galatians, From Shackles to Sonship.
These verses are the culmination of Paul’s argument; the high point of Galatians. Paul had built his argument forcefully, contradicting the Judaizers, who wanted to make Christianity a form of Judaism. They said to be a Christian you have to be a descendant of Abraham, observing the law. But Paul clearly showed that no one is justified before God by the law. We are saved because we have been declared righteous in Christ.
Joey's thesis was that our union with Christ comes through faith alone, which destroys divisions, making us equal heirs of God’s promise. Joey had three simple points he wanted to emphasize from this beautiful passage of scripture.
1. We Are Clothed with Christ
Verse 26 says: “…all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” We are children of God and heirs because of our union with Christ. Jesus beautifully portrays this in John 15, when he talks about the Vine and the branches. He is our life, our sustenance. Detached from him we have no life, we cannot produce fruit.
Paul often repeats the words “in Christ.” He is speaking of our union with Christ. How are we united with him? Through faith. Not faith plus circumcision. Not faith plus tithing. Not faith plus water baptism. Not faith plus obedience. Not faith plus anything. In Christ we are children of God through faith â€• period. Everything commanded we have fulfilled because of our union with Christ. Our good works do not unite us to Christ; they are the result of unity with Christ.
Instead of being naked sinners, with all of our filth exposed, we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. We need the whole covering of Christ. This is why Paul was so adamant that adding circumcision to the sacrifice of Christ nullified grace.
2. Division Destroyed
Being clothed with Christ provides unity that makes us equal to one another. The best example is when the sports season starts. Joey talked about playing on teams and how one of the best things that happens is that first day you get to put on the uniform. You know you’re on the team. That you belong. And everyone knows you’re on the team; the superstar wears the same uniform as the benchwarmer. Our identity is shared through wearing the same clothing. We are uniformed with Christ.
Paul tears down Judaism’s divisions and our historic divisions.
a. “There is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile)” v.28.
In the Jewish prayer book, Jews recite every day, they say, “Blessed are you, God, that I am not a Gentile. Blessed are you, God, that I am not a slave. Blessed are you, God, that I am not a woman.” On the contrary, union in Christ means there is no longer any difference between being a Jew or a Gentile. There is no benefit in either. We are united in Christ. Only he matters, not our differences.
b. “Neither slave nor free.”
For the believer, there is no such thing as classes. There should be no distinction in how we treat people. This verse implies that there is no way brothers and sisters in Christ are to treat others as equals based upon their socioeconomic status. Our behavior to others may be saying, “That guy’s too poor for me to develop a friendship with him. I like to have a nice meal or go places, but he can’t afford it, so I won’t befriend him.” We don’t say this out loud, or think it consciously, but we simply don’t take active engagement and avoid speaking to the person. If all your friends are in the same tax bracket that you are or above, you might be in a church that gives lie to the truth of our equality in Christ.
c. “Neither male nor female.”
In Christ, gender doesn’t matter. Paul says that Jewish women are equal to men in every way. This would have been head-spinning to his audience. In the Bible there is male leadership, but leadership equals servanthood. And there is partnership, but it is not subservient. But Paul is not addressing egalitarianism and complementarianism.
Marriage is under attack in our society. As believers we rightfully seek to protect it. But there’s a problem when marriage becomes the society of the church. When we expect a pastor or youth pastor must be married. Or you can’t serve or be included in our group because you’re single. Marriage is not the most important thing: Christ is. Your spouse is first and foremost your brother or sister in Christ. Our relationship with Jesus is not an ends to a means. Marriage is to spur you on as you follow Christ; not Christ is to spur you on in your marriage. Why? Because the time is short and the message we bear is critically needed.
3. Equal heirs
“If you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to promise” (v. 29). We are sons and daughters of promise. Paul is saying, if you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s children. The only qualification is being heirs to the covenant, which God made to himself by blood. We are heirs through our union with Christ. Equal heirs since we are united in him.
In John 15:12-14 Jesus says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” We are to love one another to the point of laying down our lives for each other â€• with no partiality based on gender, race or economic status. Our union with Christ destroys divisions, making us equal heirs to God’s promise.