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One with Christ: An Evangelical Theology of Salvation [Kindle Edition]

Marcus Peter Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Regeneration, justification, sanctification. These are the primary words that come to mind when talking about the theology of salvation. However, the Bible teaches that each of these concepts is firmly rooted in something more foundational: our union with Christ. In this accessible book, Johnson introduces us to this neglected doctrine, arguing that it is the dominant organizing concept for salvation in the New Testament. In eight thought-provoking chapters, Johnson shows how a believer’s position “in Christ” is the lens through which other all other facets of salvation should be understood. Interacting extensively with the biblical text and drawing on lessons from church history, Johnson presents a compelling case for the unique importance of this beautiful, biblical doctrine.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 881 KB
  • Print Length: 258 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1433531496
  • Publisher: Crossway Books (31 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #232,332 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply satisfying and spiritually enriching 11 Nov. 2013
By PaulW
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a great book and should be read by all pastors, preachers and leaders. I am sure it will also feature heavily on the reading list for future theological students.

This is an outworking of what it means to be saved. All too often we evangelicals have tended to buy into a privatised version of faith and have lost sight of the vital importance of our being really and truly united to Christ. Without this reality the cross avails us nothing and we are not justified, sanctified or glorified. I particularly found the way that Johnson showed that union with Christ was central to Luther and Calvin, very helpful. This book brings together Scripture and Reformed/evangelical theology in a way that is deeply satisfying. And, what is more, it is spiritually enriching.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real union with Christ 25 Nov. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Johnson opens up many aspects of our relationship to Christ and how it all hinges on our very real and essential union with Christ as the essence of what salvation is.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief remark 28 Oct. 2013
By Guy - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A previous reviewer gave this book a scathing review which I think largely missed the point. I don't wish to argue with that reviewer, but I do want to make a clarification for others who may be perusing books. In this book, Johnson is in no way attacking the doctrine of justification as a forensic declaration. However, he is arguing that a forensic declaration and the imputation of righteousness, while certainly and blessedly true, are part of a much larger reality, that of being united to Christ Himself.

This book is not overly technical and, on the whole, it should be fairly accessible, although readers without much theological background may find certain parts difficult. I fully recommend this book as its subject matter is of the utmost importance.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A Spiritual Feast on Our Union With Jesus Christ" 14 Sept. 2013
By Dr. David P. Craig - Published on
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Marcus Peter Johnson is to be commended for providing us with the equivalent of a spiritual banquet of solid and tasty food in this offering. Admittedly this work is very ambitious in that it covers eight monumental topics with reference to our union with Christ: (1) Our nature and union with Christ; (2) How our union with Christ matters with reference to our sin and His incarnation and the doctrine of imputation; (3) Justification and our union with Christ; (4) Sanctification and our union with Christ; (5) Adoption and Sonship in union with Christ; (6) Preservation and Glorification because of our union with Christ; (7) The mystery of the church's union with Christ; (8) The Word and the Sacraments with reference to our union with Christ.

Johnson's writing style is theologically dense, profound, and rich. Reading his book reminded me of being at a luxurious banquet with an abundance and variety of delicious "spiritual" foods. I felt like I couldn't assimilate everything that the author prepared for me - it was too much, too rich, and too thought-provoking. However, the good news about all this spiritual food - is that it will never spoil. It is a meal that I can come to again and again. It's too much to assimilate quickly, but what Johnson has written about must be digested slowly, thoughtfully, meditatively, and applicationally.

I believe that Johnson's work is a condensation and summary of his doctoral dissertation whereby he discovered the delightful and practical ramifications of John Calvin's understanding of what it means for the Christian to be joined to Jesus Christ. Johnson interacts with many of the Reformers such as Calvin and Luther, but also of other weighty theologian's treatments on the Christian's union with Christ. He interacts with theologians ranging from Augustine to Edwards and many of the modern's as well. He essentially mines a ton of "union with Christ" gold that many Christians and Theologians have flat-out missed over the years. The good news is that he takes the weighty and abstract concepts of the theological giants throughout history and breaks them down so that they are understandable and applicational.

Here is just a sampling of some of the gems I gleaned from Johnson's book:

"The mysterious reality of our union with Jesus Christ, by which he dwells in us and we in him, is so utterly essential to the gospel that to obscure it inevitably leads to an obscuring of the gospel itself."

"Salvation is often conceived of as the reception of something Christ has acquired for us rather than as the reception of the living Christ. In other words, salvation is described as a gift to be apprehended rather than the apprehension of the Giver himself...the gospel is portrayed as the offer of a depersonalized benefit (e.g., grace, justification, or eternal life) rather than the offer of the very person of Christ (who is himself the grace of God, our justification, and our eternal life)."

"A retrieval of the central significance of union with Christ will provide a way for the evangelical church to see once again why the work of Christ cannot be separated from his person; why the gloriously good news about salvation rests in the church being joined to the One who is salvation himself; and why Jesus Christ is the essence of the church, or else the church is no more than a voluntaristic religious club of like-minded folk."

"The great mystery of the incarnation is that God, without ceasing to be God, became what he created in order to join us to himself. Thus, the Son of God entered into human existence to dwell among and in us, assuming our humanity into union with himself."

"The church does not await the return of Christ so that we may be united to him; rather, the church is united to Christ, and so eagerly awaits the consummation of this union."

"By virtue of being incorporated into the life of Jesus Christ, we participate in the life, love, and fellowship of the Trinity. Because the Son is one with the Father, our being joined to the Son means we are joined to the Father. And because the Spirit exists as the bond of communion between the Father and Son, he brings us into that communion by uniting us to Christ."

Johnson has written a robust theologically rich feast. It is a book that I will read again and again. Whenever I teach on the themes in this book I will be consulting this book for quotes, illustrations, and sound biblical exegesis. It is essentially an accessible encyclopedic resource on what it means to be united with Christ - theologically, historically, in the future, and practically in the now. I can't recommend this book highly enough for anyone who wants to understand, contemplate, and apply the riches of our salvation because of the union we have in Christ Jesus.

*I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and was not required to write a favorable review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You need to buy this book...NOW 25 Dec. 2014
By Ernest Swale - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is a joyous occasion when a professor's teaching influences hundreds of students for the glory of Christ...and then is published so the influence can expand to thousands!

Dr. Johnson's definition of union with Christ is in itself worth the price of admission - but this truly paradigm-shifting work also reflects rich use of church history from every major era, a wise assessment of missteps in contemporary evangelical theology and an undeterred vision of the blazing center of soteriology: Jesus Himself and our union with Him as the fountainhead out of which every last blessing of salvation flows. This book is readable, well organized, thorough and brilliant...perhaps because it recovers a forgotten, monolithic NT concept that must be recovered.

You need to buy this book, read it and pass it along! Doing so may very well lead to Christ-centered revival!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Depth 24 Oct. 2014
By Spencer M. Smith - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's not that theologians thrive to create a new gospel, but thrive to adventure into new depths to understand the work and personhood of Jesus Christ. Dr. Johnson's book is clear, concise, and pushes readers to "re-think" their soteriology through answering the question: what does it mean to be in Christ and how have we missed this foundation for faith? Truly there is conviction and depth written in this book from an obvious Reformed Theology standpoint, which holds fast to not only what Calvin asserted, but what the Word of God proclaims.
In short, when we have a correct understanding of salvation, or being in Christ, then we can have a more accurate view of sanctification and ecclesiology. From this previous statement, I will continue to use and go back to the bookshelf looking for "One with Christ."
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Discussion of Union from Calvin 6 Oct. 2013
By Jeff Manning - Published on
John Calvin, in Book Three of his Institutes, wrote, "How do we receive those benefits which the Father bestowed on his only-begotten Son - not for Christ's own private use, but that he might enrich poor and needy men? First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and 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 for us. Therefore, to share with us what he has received from the Father, he had to become ours and to dwell within us. For this reason, he is called "our Head" [Eph. 4:15], and "the first-born among many brethren" [Rom. 8:29]. We also, in turn, are said to be "engrafted into him" [Rom. 11;17], and to "put on Christ" [Gal. 3:27]; for, as I have said, all that he possesses is nothing to until we grow into one body with him. It is true that we obtain this by faith." (Institutes, III. I. 1.)

Most evangelicals only know the very last part: a person is saved by grace through faith; or, perhaps more simply, by faith. Despite the difficulties a mere knowledge of salvation can cause as it relates to lordship and discipleship, union with Christ stands as a doctrine for which evangelicals seem to lack knowledge of and, thereby, gain little encouragement from. Marcus Johnson, assistant professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute, wants to revive Calvin's language of union, which he considers to be the "consistent and ubiquitous refrain" in his writings (11).

One With Christ is a condensed version of Johnson's Ph.d dissertation Eating by Believing: Union with Christ in the Soteriology of John Calvin (condensed in language, not length). As an outline, Peterson discusses the biblical, theological, & historical perspectives as it relates to Calvin's understanding of union. The chapters are as follows:

The Nature of Union with Christ
Sin and the Incarnation
Justification in Christ
Sanctification in Christ
Adoption and Sonship in Christ
Preservation and Glorification in Christ
The Mystery of the Church in Christ
The Word and Sacraments in Christ

This outline gives the reader a good idea of the progression of the book as well as the movements found in Scripture. For such a dense subject from a dense writer, having such an outline is helpful. Peterson shows a great depth of interaction as he incorporates a number of historical figures as well as contemporaries such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, Augustine of Hippo, Karl Barth, D.A. Carson, and Fred Sanders. This sample represents a number of theological positions. So, while Peterson's text is largely based on Calvin's understanding, it also shows Calvin's influence on contemporary theology across evangelicalism.

Johnson has not added anything new to the discussion but has provided an accessible discussion on union with Christ. Evangelicalism seems to have forgotten the fullness of salvation that we have been given in Christ. While it may be for further discussion whether the central point to Calvin's theology was union, Johnson has given a robust discussion on the benefits of Christ from conversion to glorification. Particularly useful for many Christians today may be his discussion on preservation which entails assurance. He writes, "The gospel is full of inconceivably extravagant promises from our Father. He has given these promises to provide his children with the full assurance of his freely given, irrevocable love, and they are grounded in his steadfast, immovable, unchangeable faithfulness; what God promises he will infallibly bring to pass" (173-174).

This book may not gain popularity amongst average, Christian readers but it should. Union is an important doctrine that needs to be more fully expressed in churches. All of the benefits, even as it understand them in baptism and the Lord's Supper, come from one's union with Christ. The elevation of one's mind to think on these things (subjects with deep implications) will inevitably benefit them. Meditating on one's union with Christ, as Johnson certainly has, will lead one to worship and to walking with Christ in a worthy manner. Johnson says, "To properly understand the riches of salvation, we must grapple with this mystery" (37). Get to grapplin'.
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