Life and Union

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Scripture never speaks of union with Christ while on earth—never. It always speaks of union with an exalted Head. And it is evident to me that, when Christ breathed on them after His resurrection, He conveyed an accession of living power. The second Adam is a life-giving Spirit; and as God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life, so here Christ breathes upon them. He does not send down the Holy Ghost from heaven, so that they should be the habitation of God through the Spirit; but He does what He never did before the resurrection; and I have no doubt that this was life more abundantly.
The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus it is that has made us free from the law of sin and death. He quickened Lazarus; yet it was not a question of his soul, but victory over death by power, in answer to His cry to the Father, though He were in living power then the resurrection and the life. But His resurrection was another thing. It was according to the power of an endless life; and this was not Lazarus' case. We are quickened together with Him; and this is so true, that (notwithstanding Lazarus, and other persons raised to life during the period recorded in the Old Testament) He is the first-fruits of them that slept. All these cases belonged to, and were brought to pass in, the old thing, through the power of God in it. If man had not been in the state he really was, totally and fundamentally corrupt, so that atonement was absolutely necessary, there was power, living power, in Him (the Father had given Him to have life in Himself; in Him was life) to restore all.
Adam was not, in fact, the head of the race, till fallen and in sin; so Christ is not a corporate Head till He has wrought out righteousness, and we can be made it in Him; and then we belong to the new creation. Whereas, divine and perfect as He was, He, supposing He was the new thing, was come into, and dealing with, the old-God's last dealing, we may say, with it (save a peculiar special intervention with Israel), and therefore abode alone till the foundation was laid of the new thing, the new creation, in His death (by which He passed out of and closed the old) and His resurrection (by which He began in power the new, breaking the bonds of Satan, who had conquered in the old, in his last strong hold-strong by God's judgment). Hence when, in instructing us what the church is, the apostle speaks of the new creation, he speaks of our being risen and quickened together with Christ, and set in heavenly places in Him, the middle wall of partition being broken down to make both one, making peace, and to present both in one body by the cross.... Accordingly, it is a serious thing to make the death of Christ necessary only to the ordering of the church, and not to its founding and existence, and to make Christ alive in the earth before that solemn, and, in the literal sense of the word, all-important act, the center of union, when the apostle says it could not be till after-nay, when Christ says that He abode alone till then.
It has been urged, and rightly urged, that incarnation was not union. But the Lord affirms there could not be union without death: He was to die, to gather. We are baptized into one body. That life was communicated, I fully recognize; but I do not see that this is necessarily union, in the sense of forming the body, which is everything to the church. I find it distinguished from heavenly things in Christ's conversation with Nicodemus. He had spoken of earthly things, when speaking of regeneration; for the Jews, taking earthly things of God, must be regenerate. But with this He contrasts the heavenly things, and, when He mentions these, states to Nicodemus that the Son of man must be lifted up.
That God forgave from Adam's sin downwards in respect of the cross is plain, and stated in Rom. 3:2525Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:25); and that He communicated life to the O.T. saints I do not doubt. It is too clear to reason on it here; for, without it, none shall see nor enter the kingdom of God. But Christ is never spoken of as the Head of the body, the church united to Him, until He was Himself exalted to the right hand of God, and had accomplished the work which made the church's whole place before God. It was not, therefore, merely arranging the church's form that was in question; it was doing the work which could give it a place before God, lay the foundation for its existence, and make the peace, reconciling Jew and Gentile in one body unto God by the cross.
J. N. D.