A little bit late, but here is a review for “Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God” by Rankin Wilbourne.
I read this book earlier in the year (July) and thoroughly enjoyed it. The brevity of this review is due to the long gap in time from reading the book and writing this review! After reading it, I am not surprised that it came in 2nd on Desiring God’s, “Top 16 Books of 2016.” Honestly, I was drawn to this book because Amazon had it on sale for the Kindle. After hearing good things about I jumped on the deal and was delighted that I decided to read it.
Content: The title itself is self explanatory. It uncovers the strangely forgotten doctrine of union with Christ. I call it strangely forgotten because the book points out that it isn’t discussed nearly enough. There are many reasons for this, but the bottom line is that union with Christ is a core aspect of the believer’s life it cannot continue to remain forgotten! The book has four sections: (1) what is union with Christ and why do we need it?; (2) why was union with Christ “forgotten”?; (3) how is union with Christ applied; and (4) how do you apply union with Christ? While Wilbourne will encourage you to jump to the section most applicable to you, I believe reading the book in its entirety won’t disappoint and I would encourage it.
The description, defense, and application of union with Christ was informative and challenging while also having moments of strong devotional reflection. The ability to write in a spiritually and thought provoking way made this such an enjoyable read. I could feel the gears in mind turning as it wrestled with what was in my heart.
The practical application section (section 4) felt more like a section on spiritual disciplines. It was very similar to what you may find in Mathis’ book “Habits of Grace” (which I reviewed here) or Donald Whitney’s book, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.”
Recommendations: I would put this on the growing Christian’s reading list. It would be helpful, but probably overwhelming, for a new believer to read. Yet, its content is so deeply relevant that I would love to challenge a new believer to read it and re-read it throughout his or her lifetime. It is a lengthier book than I thought (I guess one of the downfalls of an electronic copy is the inability to physically measure out the book and how long it’ll take to read it), but still worthwhile.
“Undiluted grace and uncompromising obedience meet in the person of Jesus. He is always full of both” (Loc 835-38).
” . . . union with Christ displaces us from the center of our own lives. It tells us we can discover who God created us to be only through living in vital union with his Son. It tell sus the work of Christ for us cannot be separated from the person of Christ in us. Otherwise, we run the risk of loving his benefits more than we love the Benefactor” (Loc 880-82).
“Every life is better with Christ at its center, but that means Christ must become, more and more, the animating center of all you do and say—that’s union with Christ” (Loc 952-53).
“God’s purposes have never changed. His original intent is his final intent: that the people of God might dwell in the place of God, enjoying the presence of God—this is the arc of the whole biblical story, from Genesis to Revelation (Loc 987-88).
“This means your relationship to Christ is closer, more central, more defining, and more important than any other relationship you have or ever could have—closer than your relationship with your parents, your spouse, your children, even your own body!” (Loc 1188-1192).
“And so long as the Holy Spirit remains unknown or underappreciated, or where his primary role is obscured, so too will union with Christ be minimized and marginalized” (Loc 1511-14).
“When we make the gospel primarily about us, we make it small” (Loc 1516).
“Union with Christ gives us a new identity, but to accept it requires leaving behind the life we have always known” (Loc 1796-97).
“Contrary to what the prevailing Western mindset tells you, you don’t have to make your own destiny. Your destiny is not left for you to carve out or create for yourself, which is only a recipe for depression when you’ve failed, pride when you’ve succeeded, or exhaustion when you see all that’s left to do” (Loc 1936).
“The real change that we need is this conversion from worshiping ourselves to worshiping God, from being guilty in ourselves before God to being forgiven in Christ” (Loc 2057-59).
“Just as an anchor gives a ship confidence that it will not flaot away or be overturned, so our union with Christ gives us confidence that our holiness does not fall with our failures or rise with our successes. It’s not up to you to keep it up. Remember, union with Christ means that when God looks at you, he sees your life hidden in Christ’s perfect life and perfect obedience. It is finished. Thank God! You are safe. You are secure. You are anchored. You are completely holy in Christ” (Loc 2183-88).
“No relationship can cure our loneliness but the one we were made for, the one that is more central, more defining, and closer to you than any other relationship you could ever have: your relationship with Christ” (Loc 2622-24).
“You may think you’re not moving forward with God because you don’t want it enough. But perhaps it’s because God is not your true God. He is not really the one your heart is after. You may profess faith in God but be attempting to use him as a means to your own ends, obeying him in order to get what your heart is really seeking. Whatever your heart seeks most—that is your real god” (Loc 2675-76).
“Union with Christ means being united not only to Christ but also to all others who are in him, and so abiding in him can’t be separated form abiding in Christian community, as difficult as that can be at times” (Loc 2871-73).