We’ve seen a renaissance in our day of literature geared toward the doctrine of Union with Christ. If John Calvin said that union with Christ has “the highest degree of importance”, and John Murray wrote of the doctrine in saying, “union with Christ is…the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation,” we had better pay attention to it. It is to this doctrine Robert Peterson turns our attention to in his newest release, Salvation Applied by the Spirit.
Here in a formidable volume the author drives us relentlessly to the biblical record in order to discover a full-armed understanding of the believers union with Christ and the implications of that union. The text is broken down in two parts. The first section deals specifically with the text and walks us from the Old Testament right on through to the Revelation. The second section deals with topics of theology and in this section we explore the themes of the Holy Spirit, The person of Christ and aspects of ecclesiology.
Peterson admits that the doctrine of union with Christ is one of delight and yet bewildering. He begins this trek by building on a solid foundation, being the Old Testament. It is in this section we see the shadow but have not yet tasted of the substance. We see the type but don’t understand the meaning behind that type until Christ takes on flesh and begins to unpack for the reader the content of special revelation.
When we see the Christ who took on flesh in the New Testament we begin to see a marvelous plan unfold. We see in this volume that “long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1:1a) We hear the voice of God through Scripture reach to the very core of our being and the heart of our existence. We see the love of a Father who in eternity past planned to redeem a people to call his own for his glory. We see a Messiah who did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped and took on flesh to purchase redemption for those called by the Father. We see, ultimately, the very essence of Christianity in the beautiful and paradoxical doctrine of union with Christ.
The church today is in desperate need of volumes like Salvation Applied by the Spirit. We have for a long time sought a center in which our faith can be anchored and this just might be it. There is a desperate cry in my generation for an answer to the questions we face everyday from our culture, our universities, even our parents. Here we have a launch pad which can propel us into new depths of understanding. If union with Christ is of the utmost importance, how can we ignore books like this?