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Chapter 27: Of the Communion of Saints

What does it mean that we are in union with Christ? What are our obligations toward fellow believers?

This is a very short chapter with likewise a short commentary.


§1 Union With Jesus Christ

  1. All saints that are united to Jesus Christ, their head, by his Spirit, and faith, 2 although they are not made thereby one person with him, have fellowship in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory; 4 and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each others gifts and graces, 5 and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, in an orderly way, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man. 6
    1. Eph. 1:4; John 17:2, 6; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 6:8; 8:17; 8:2; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Peter 1:4[1]
    2. Eph. 3:16-17; Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 3:17-18
    3. 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:18-19; 1 Tim. 6:15-16; Isa. 42:8; Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:8-9
    4. 1 John 1:3; John 1:16; 15:1-6; Eph.2:4-6; Rom. 4:25; 6:1-6; Phil. 3:10; Col. 3:3-4
    5. John 13:34-35; 14:15; Eph. 4:15; 1 Peter 4:10; Rom. 14:7-8; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; 12:7, 25-27
    6. Rom. 1:12; 12:10-13; 1 Thess. 5:11,14; 1 Peter 3:8; 1 John 3:17-18; Col. 6:10; Gal. 6:10

All the elect are united to Christ, were united in His death (Gal 2:20) and share the undeserved blessings coming from his perfect life, death, resurrection and ascension in glory. This union with Christ does not make us one person with Him or with God, that is blasphemy, rather we become one with Him in spirit, love and communion.

The union of Christ with His people begins before time began. In eternity past, the Father gave Him a people to save from their sins (Eph 1:4). He would perfectly obey the Law on their behalf and take the punishment for their law-breaking upon Himself. What the Lord Christ did, He did not do for Himself, but for His people. He is our covenant head. What He did in fulfilling the Covenant of Redemption, He did for His elect, not for Himself. This means that His obedience to the law becomes our obedience, and His taking on the curse of the law upon Himself removes the offense of the law which stood against us. Union with Christ begins in eternity past and will not have an end in eternity future.

The Bible teaches that we were united with Him in His death (Rom 6:5-6, 8; Gal 2:20). The curse of the law was removed for us and the wrath of God satisfied on behalf of the elect. The Bible also teaches that we are now in the present united with Christ in His life (Rom 6:4, 8; Eph 2:6; Col 2:12-13). The elect not only were united with Christ in His death in the past, but also in the present through faith. Paul speaks of us having fellowship in Christ's sufferings (Phil 3:10). Then there is the future aspect of union with Christ. We will be glorified together with Christ (Rom 8:17) and we will share in a resurrection like His (Rom 6:5). We will always be in intimate relationship and communion with our precious Lord and Savior. From eternity past to eternity future, the elect of God are in union with Christ. His obedience is our obedience. His death, our death. His resurrection, our resurrection. His glorification, our glorification. What an unspeakable privilege and blessing that the Father has poured upon us. It is truly amazing grace. We were rebels and God-haters just like the rest of mankind, but God, instead of sending us all to hell, the place were we belong and the only thing that we deserve from God, yet He chose to bless us with blessings incomprehensible. How Deep The Father's Love For Us…


§2 Holy Fellowship And Communion

  1. Saints by profession are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things according to their several abilities, and necessities; 2 which communion, according to the rule of the gospel, though especially to be exercised by them, in the relation wherein they stand, whether in families, or churches, yet, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended to all the household of faith, even all those who in every place call upon the name of the Lord Jesus; nevertheless their communion one with another as saints, doth not take away or infringe the title or propriety which each man hath in his goods and possessions. 5
    1. Heb. 3:12-13; 10:24-25
    2. Acts 11:29-30; 2 Cor. 8-9; Gal. 2; Rom. 15
    3. 1 Tim. 5:8, 16; Eph. 6:4; 1 Cor. 12:27
    4. Acts 11:29-30; 2 Cor. 8-9; Gal. 2; 6:10; Rom. 15
    5. Acts 5:4; Eph. 4:28; Exod. 20:15

“Saints by profession” refers to those who claim to be believers. It refers to visible saints. It refers to those who are, according to man's understanding, true Christians, but they may not be so in their hearts. They are professing believers. The point is, everyone who professes to be a believer ought to maintain the holy fellowship and convocation of God's people for the worship of God.

Our Lord called upon us to love each other (John 13:34-35) and that should be a mark which distinguishes Christians, as our Lord intended. As the Lord has blessed us with various gifts, so, we must use these gifts to serve each other. The Spirit supplies His people with His gifts for the purpose of serving each other (1Cor 12:7). The gifts of God are not to be used selfishly, but in order to serve and love each other. Sometimes we may minister to people spiritually, giving them good counsel about spiritual matters, but other times we may minister to them in physical manners. Giving them food, helping them at home, giving them money and so on. We must display our authentic love to each other for Christ's sake. For Christ's love has been poured out in our hearts and so we should not hold it in, but let Christ minister to others through us and glorify His holy Name.

Christians should act like brothers and sisters, because they are in fact so. Therefore, they should be ready to share their belongings with each other just as the early church did so:

Acts 2:44-45 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 

They were ready to sell their belongings and thereby serve their brethren. Are we ready for such sacrifices, even giving monetary help to our brethren, lending them things without cost? Such should be our Christian fellowship. It should be motivated by brotherly love, for the sake of Christ, in the family of God. John tells those who love God that they ought to love the brothers:

1John 4:10-12 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. 

There is an obligation on Christians to love fellow Christians even to the point of death, as did our Lord (1John 3:6). This obligation to love one another sacrificially is spoken of in strong words. The Greek word for “ought” here is the verb ὀφειλω (opheilo, G3784), which means "to owe, be in debt; be bound by oath; be obligated, ought, must”[2]. We are obligated and we owe it to God to love His children. Mutual Christian love is not only something which the Lord demonstrated toward us, His people, but also an obligation upon His people to demonstrate to each other. It is not something optional, something that we do when we are comfortable, but it is an obligation—something that is not optional. This love should be demonstrated to all the saints of God, especially those of our own congregation.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

(1 John 4:7)

Footnotes

  1. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  2. ^ William D. Mounceὀφειλω.


Edited:     Sunday 12th of February 2017 09:24 by Simon Wartanian
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