One with Christ [eBook]
An Evangelical Theology of Salvation
Despite our love for the Bible, emphasis on the cross, and passion for evangelism, many evangelicals ironically neglect that which is central to the gospel. In our preaching, teaching, and witnessing, we often separate salvation from the Savior.
Looking to the Scriptures and church history, Marcus Johnson reveals the true riches of our salvation by reintroducing us to the foundation of our redemption—our mysterious union with the living Christ.
Marcus Peter Johnson (PhD, University of Toronto) is assistant professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute. Along with writing his doctoral dissertation on union with Christ in the theology of John Calvin, he is also the author of several scholarly essays. He and his wife, Stacie, live in Chicago with their son, Peter, and are members of Grace Lutheran Church.
“Theologian Johnson is a Reformed thinker who restates for us Luther’s and Calvin’s Bible-based insistence that union with Christ is the framing fact within which, and whereby, all the specifics of salvation reach us. His book merits careful study, for he does his job outstandingly well.”
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College
“Johnson has produced an excellent discussion of union with Christ. I am sure it will be consulted widely and contribute effectively to the church’s understanding of salvation.”
—Robert Letham, Director of Research and Senior Lecturer in Systematic and Historical Theology, Wales Evangelical School of Theology; author, The Holy Trinity and Union with Christ
“Evangelicals certainly love Jesus, but for too long they have loved him from a distance. He is the beloved man of the Gospels who did great deeds ‘back then,’ or the glorious Christ who reigns on his throne ‘up there.’ Marcus Johnson puts the Savior back where he belongs: in our midst as the one to whom we are truly united. This book is a timely reminder that our union with Christ is actual, mystical, and sacramental. Are we ready for that?”
—Bryan M. Litfin, Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute; author, The Sword, The Gift, and Getting to Know the Church Fathers
“Inspired by the theology of John Calvin, evangelical Marcus Johnson offers up a timely and articulate manifesto on that most central of soteriological mysteries: union with Christ. Christ is beautiful, the gospel is beautiful, and at the heart of that beauty is the reality of our union with Christ by the Spirit. Johnson weaves together Biblical, theological, and pastoral theology into a rich tapestry, which deserves a wide reading.”
—Myk Habets, Head of Carey Graduate School, Carey Baptist College, Auckland, New Zealand
“This fine book rightly expounds union with Christ as the heart of Scripture’s approach to the Christian life. Every aspect of Christian understanding is formed and informed by it; every aspect of faith, discipleship, and service radiates from it. Johnson reminds us that our proper preoccupation ought always to be the fostering of intimacy with Jesus Christ, who has been given to needy sinners for the sake of including them in his mercy and mission. This book will convince readers that all that the church believes, does, and aspires to coheres in our union with the One who remains the blessing, and whose including us in his life is the definitive truth of our lives.”
—Victor A. Shepherd, Professor of Theology, Tyndale University College and Seminary; author, Interpreting Martin Luther and The Nature and Function of Faith in the Theology of John Calvin
“Thoroughly biblical, historically informed, and practically challenging, Johnson confronts the misconception that Christians receive the benefits of the work of Christ without taking into account that we receive the person of Christ in faith. Most helpful are his sections on how the mystery of the believer’s union with Christ more fully explains our justification and sanctification. This is a compelling work for those in the church and the academy, and, if you are not careful, it might just change the way you think and talk about salvation.”
—Nicholas Gatzke, Senior Pastor, Osterville Baptist Church, Osterville, Massachusetts
“In this historically well-informed, theologically careful, and pastorally sensitive volume, Dr. Marcus Johnson seeks to remedy what he rightly calls ‘the glaring omission of the theme of union with Christ in the soteriological understanding of the contemporary evangelical church.’ He convincingly demonstrates that the recovery of this central biblical theme helps us as Christians to understand better and more deeply the relation of Christ’s person and work, the church as the body of Christ, and the glorious unity of our salvation in Christ. I am happy to recommend this book as an important addition to the growing body of literature on this significant topic.”
—William B. Evans, Eunice Witherspoon Bell Younts and Willie Camp Younts Professor of Bible and Religion, Erskine College; author, What Is the Incarnation?
“Johnson is a master mystery writer. Chapter by chapter he unfolds the mystery of our new life in Christ. He does not solve the mystery, but rather draws us into its wonders.”
—Bruce K. Modahl, Senior Pastor, Grace Lutheran Church, River Forest, Illinois
“Seeking the core of biblical Christianity, Marcus Johnson probes the understanding of salvation, focusing on restoring to keen awareness the reality of believers’ union in Christ as ‘the essence and foundation of salvation.’ Pointed out among the factors contributing to the sad neglect of this essential doctrine is a too-timid fear of mystery and a too-bold confidence in reason. And in describing his own pilgrimage, Johnson considers persuasively that our union with Christ suffers from overemphasis on the work of Christ to the detriment of his person. Likewise, strong emphasis on the legal and forensic dimensions of justification has led to weak recognition of personal and participatory categories. Special care is paid to the salutary nature of the church. This book written from the heart speaks to the heart.”
—Charles Partee, P. C. Rossin Professor of Church History, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
“The tendency in much contemporary evangelical thought is to view salvation as if it were the reception of an abstract and objectified commodity given on account of Christ yet apart from him, as if Christ were the agent and condition of our salvation, but not that salvation itself. Marcus Johnson demonstrates that this is neither the witness of the apostles nor the confession of the Protestant Reformers, who proclaimed salvation to be a life-giving, life-transforming participation in our incarnate substitute. Immensely important and timely, this volume provides a richly textured theology of salvation couched in the only context that allows soteriology to be truly intelligible, pastoral, and doxological—the context constituted by the church and her sacraments.”
—John C. Clark, Assistant Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute