Calvin: ‘We must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, are we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value to us. Therefore, to share in what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell with us … for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to us until we grow into one body with him.’ (Institutes, 3.1.1) [I counted five occasions in which this quote is cited in the book!]
Robert Letham: ‘Strictly speaking, we are united to [Christ’s] humanity, but his humanity is inseparable from his deity, due to the hypostatic union. Thus, union with his humanity is union with his person. Moreover, since the person of Christ is that of the eternal Son, we are united to God. Once again, this does not mean any blurring of the Creator-creature distinction, any more than the assumption of humanity by the Son in the incarnation does. His humanity remains his humanity (without confusion, without mixture). So, we remain, creatures.’ (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, P&R, 468.)
John 6:54 says: ‘Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’ Some (such as Roman Catholics) interpret this as meaning we are saved by partaking of the body and blood of Jesus in communion. Other (such as Zwingli) equate eating Christ’s flesh and drinking his blood simply with faith. So ‘whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood’ is seen as synonymous with ‘whoever believes’. But Calvin rejected this equation of partaking of Jesus with faith. Johnson says: ‘Saving intimacy or union with Christ is not the same thing as faith; rather, our saving union with him is the result of faith. The insight here, of Johannine and Pauline origin, is that while faith is surely saving, faith is not salvation; Christ is salvation.’ (52)
‘We are saved … not because of some intrinsic merit of our faith, but because we actually become united to the object of our faith Christ himself.’ (52)
Martin Luther: ‘And if they are one flesh and there is between them a true marriage … it follows that everything they have they hold in common, the good as well as the evil. Accordingly, the believing soul can boast of and glory in whatever Christ has as though it were its own, and whatever the soul has Christ claims as his own. Let us compare these and we shall see inestimable benefits. Christ is full of grace, life, and salvation. The soul is full of sins, death, and damnation. Now let faith come between them and sins, death, and damnation will be Christ’s, while grace, life, and salvation will be the soul’s; for if Christ is a bridegroom, he must take upon himself all the things which are his bride’s and bestow upon her the things that are his. If he gives her his body and very self, how shall he not give her all that is his? And if he takes the body of the bride, how shall he not take all that is hers?’ (The Freedom of a Christian)
J. I. Packer: ‘ God declares [believers] to be righteous, because he reckons them to be righteous; and he reckons righteousness to them, not because he accounts them to have kept the law personally (which would be false judgment), but because he accounts them to be united to the one who kept it representatively (and that is a true judgment). For Paul union with Christ is not fancy but fact – the basic fact, indeed, in Christianity; and the doctrine of imputed righteousness is simply Paul’s exposition of the forensic aspect of it.’ (‘Justification,’ Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker, 596)
‘Once joined to Christ, believers well never be separated from him. This is not because our grasp on Christ is so strong, but because his grip on us is unbreakable. We are not only perfectly and eternally preserved in Christ because his grasp is insuperable, but, should we need even greater assurance, Jesus tells us that his hold on us is undergirded by the invincible grasp of his Father: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:28-30) The Son and the Father have a common and mutually re-enforcing grasp on those who belong to them.’ (157)
Note, too, In Christ: In Him Together for the World by Steve Timmis and Christopher de la Hoyde which is part of the Porterbrook Network imprint with Christian Focus. It’s available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.