Back to communion and union with Christ and the benefits that flow from it...
These benefits are union and communion with Christ in grace and glory. These two classifications: (1) Union and communion with Christ in grace; and (2) Union and
1. As we have seen, by the invisible church the Westminster Standards mean the whole number of the elect that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one under Christ the Head. See Eph. 1:10, 22, 23; John 10:16; John 11:52. communion with Christ in glory, describe all the rich blessings Christ bought for us with His own blood, in this life and in the life to come.
Christ not only purchased these benefits for us in His death, He arose from the dead to bring them personally into the lives of everyone He died to save. (638-639)
...believers in Jesus are “in Christ,” i.e., inseparably, representatively, vitally, and consciously united to Christ. This saving union is not due to our own efforts or wishes or prayers. We are united to Christ “by His doing.” God Himself created this union by His grace. We enjoy this relationship, not because we are wiser or better than others, but because of the sheer grace of God. (639-640)
This is not simply to say that because Christ is the true wisdom, in Christ the
believer is truly wise. It is to say far more. “Wisdom” is immediately interpreted in historical-redemptive language, righteousness, sanctification and redemption....“True wisdom is to be understood in terms of the three illustrative metaphors, which refer to the saving event of Christ.… Wisdom does not have to do with ‘getting smart,’ nor with status or rhetoric. God’s wisdom—the real thing—has to do with salvation through Christ Jesus.”4 Gordon Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1987), 86–87. (640)
“Righteousness” equals justification in Paul’s epistles. It is not an ethical term here, but rather a forensic one, referring to the believer’s right legal standing in Christ before God, despite his guilt from having broken God’s law. “sanctification” (1:2) is an ethical term (6:11). As “righteousness” is that which satisfies the demands of God’s Law as a rule of justification; “Sanctification” is that which satisfies the demands of God’s Law as a rule of duty. (641)
In justification Christ credits His own righteousness to our account, paying our debt with God; and in sanctification, Christ by His Spirit imparts His own righteousness to us, conforming us more and more into His image. (641)
Fallen man is ignorant of spiritual realities, and therefore in need of “wisdom.” He is guilty, in need of “righteousness.” He is depraved, in need of “holiness.” He is a slave to sin and Satan, in need of “redemption.” All these become ours the instant God places us “in Christ,” because Christ and His benefits are inseparable....Because of our union with Christ, whatever He deserves, we receive; and whatever He did, we enjoy its consequences.
The totality of the Christian’s existence and experience is viewed in the New Testament as being “in Christ.” (462)
“The life of faith is one of living union and communion with the exalted and ever-present Redeemer.”9 This is the point of Jesus’ sermon in John 15 about the Vine and the Branches. He is the daily source of our life, strength, and fruitfulness as Christians. Without Him our lives would be rootless, sapless and fruitless.9. John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955), 169. (643)
First, it is like the union of a vine with its branches (John 15:5) or the trunk of an olive tree and its limbs (Rom. 11: 16–24)....It is only as the branches are connected to the stock of the vine or tree that the life-sustaining, fruit-producing sap flows
from the trunk to the limbs.
Second, it is also like the union that exists between God the Father and God the Son. This, of course, is a mystery. Jesus prayed for His people “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us” (John 17:21). This is NOT a union of essence, resulting in the deification of man. It is a
spiritual union between Christ and believers that is described, but it is one which is like the intimacy, profundity, and indissolubility of the union that exists between the Persons of the Trinity.
Third, our union with Christ is like the union between the head of the body, the body itself, and the members of the body...This pictures the church as a community
of feeling, life and emotion, energized by the Head, who is Christ, the source of the body’s vitality and volition.
Fourth, it is also like the precious union between husband and wife....As husband and wife, Christ and His church are united by a sacred bond, constituting them one
legal person, with Christ as the head.
Fifth, this spiritual union is like the union of bricks in a house to their foundation and cornerstone: “So then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, IN WHOM the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a
holy temple IN THE LORD” (Eph. 2:19–21). The Cornerstone sustains the rest.
Sixth, this union is like the nourishment which the physical body receives by the food it digests.
Seventh, “the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). This difficult verse denotes the closeness of this union, “inasmuch as the same spirit dwells in believers which dwelt in Christ, though with different views and designs,
they are wrought up, in their measure, to the same temper and disposition; or as it is expressed elsewhere, ‘the same mind is in them that was in Christ.’”11. Thomas Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 2 vols. (Canada:Still Waters Revival Books,  1993), 2:47 (645-646)
From these figures certain attributes of our union with Christ become evident.
It is A UNION OF PROFOUND AND LOVING INTIMACY...
It is A SPIRITUAL UNION, not a metaphysical one, because the created can never become one in essence with the Uncreated, nor the finite with the Infinite.
It is A VITAL UNION, in which Christ is the source of our life, strength, vitality, blessedness and salvation...
It is A MYSTICAL UNION: “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). This is not to imply that it is something vague and unintelligible, or that it is some irrational emotion that overtakes us. It is to say that this union was hidden in the mind of God until He revealed it to us in the Bible by His Spirit.
It is A RECIPROCAL UNION. Christ, by His Spirit acts first and unites us to Himself, then, by His grace, we respond, and unite ourselves to Him by faith...
It is AN INDISSOLUBLE AND ETERNAL UNION.
Union with Christ establishes a LEGAL UNION between Christ and those who belong to Him: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are IN CHRIST JESUS” (Rom. 8:1). By virtue of our close and vital union with Christ, we have His righteousness credited to us and we are “accepted in the Beloved.” This is justification.
To be accepted with God, God demands of us payment for our sins as well as a sinlessly perfect life, neither of which are we able to give. Therefore, in sheer grace, God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins, and to provide that perfectly righteous obedience to God in His own life for all those who are united to Him by faith. So that, by grace through faith, His righteousness, His obedience unto
death, and His sacrifice become ours, and we enjoy the benefits of what He accomplished. (648)
Our mystical union with Christ establishes a SPIRITUAL UNION, in which we participate in the influences of Christ’s endless life in our own life; and by which the qualities and virtues of Christ’s human life become the fruit of the Spirit in our life. (649)
Our union with Christ establishes a COMMUNION OF SAINTS. As bricks in a temple, we are related to each other as well as to Christ. As members of Christ’s body, we are organically dependent upon each other in the one body. (649)
First, Communion in Grace:
Our communion in grace means that, in fellowship with Christ, and by virtue of the accomplishments of His work as the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace, redeeming us from our sins and reconciling us to God, believers are justified (Q. 70), adopted (Q. 74), and sanctified (Q. 75). Because of our union with Christ, we commune, fellowship and participate in all those saving benefits which He purchased for
us with His own blood....Such a communion of grace which believers have with Christ implies, on His part, infinite and merciful condescension in which He was pleased to communicate such magnificent blessings to us, and, on our part, unfathomable honors and privileges which we enjoy from His hand. (651-652)
The communion which believers have with Christ in glory is the highest honor we are capable of receiving from God. Our communion in glory (Q. 82), begins in
this life, in the enjoyment of foretastes of the life to come (Q. 83), and continues after death into the eternal bliss of the immediate presence of God (Q. 86). (654)
...those in Christ experience in this life:
(1) An exhilarating sense of God’s love for them: “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5).
(2) Peace of conscience: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
(3) Joy in the Holy Spirit: “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).
(4) Hope of glory: Through Christ “we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:2).
All of these blessings are firstfruits of glory with Christ, or as the hymn has it, “foretastes of glory divine,” which will be perfected after death for us, so that even now, we are complete in Christ, in whom God’s fulness dwells (Col. 2:9, 10; Eph. 2:5; Rom. 5:5, 6; Rom. 5:1, 2; Rom. 14:17). God gives us these foretastes so that we “may love and long for Christ’s appearing, when [we] shall reap the full harvest of glory.” 17 Ridgeley, Commentary on the Larger Catechism, 2:219. (655)
The point is that, whereas all human beings have a craving for community, their efforts at creating it are self-destructive because of their spiritual schizophrenia. And more importantly, community is impossible without communion; and communion between human beings is impossible apart from communion with Jesus Christ. (659)
In Christ” the punishment and tyrannical power of sin are dealt with sufficiently and finally; therefore only in Christ can true communion with God and true community among men be experienced. Only those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will participate in this one, true communion. (660)