Lesson 19: The Positional Benefits of Union with Christ | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 19: The Positional Benefits of Union with Christ

Upon being united with Christ through faith and repentance, the believer immediately receives several benefits.

[Remember that union with Christ is another way of referring to salvation. Union with Christ highlights the idea that the benefits of Christ’s life and death have been imputed to the believer. Since the relationship between Christ and the believer could be described as a “union,” the phrase “union with Christ” is an appropriate synonym for “salvation.”]

The benefits of union with Christ, which we will study in the following three lessons, can be divided into two types:

1. The positional benefits

2. The practical benefits

Positional benefits are those blessings which the believer possesses but does not experience . That is, God brings about a change in the believer’s position or status without the believer sensing or perceiving such [i.e., feelings/emotions. The change is real but non-perceptible]. For instance, the Bible states that believers have been adopted by God into His family. A believer does not feel this adoption take place. Nonetheless, he has been legally adopted by God and is now His child.

[“Position” has to do with one’s standing before God. One’s position before salvation is that of being alienated, an enemy, under the wrath of God, etc. At salvation, that position changes. One is forgiven, justified, adopted into God’s family, etc. So positional benefits are those benefits one receives because of a change in status/standing. One does not feel or notice or empirically sense this change.]

This lesson will focus on three of the positional benefits of union with Christ:

1. Justification

2. Adoption

3. Eternal Security

[Justification and adoption are things that happen to us; at salvation, we are justified and adopted. They are changes in status/standing/position. Eternal security is a bit different. It is more like a result of salvation than a position, but it is a benefit that results from our new position.]

I. Justification

Justification is the act of God whereby He declares a sinner to be legally righteous and treats him as such. Justification does not mean “to be made righteous” but “to be declared legally righteous.” When one is saved, he does not become righteous; he is still a sinner. Rather, God declares him legally righteous because of his union with Christ.

A. Justification is a work of God .

It is God who justifies.   Romans 8:33

B. Justification is by faith .

Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.   Galatians 2:16

[“Ideas have consequences.” This idea was the cause of the Reformation. Martin Luther was convinced that a man was justified by faith in Christ rather than by obeying the RC church. This is also what sets us apart from all works-oriented religions. They believe man is justified by works. We believe man is justified by grace through faith.]

C. Justification is a result of the believer’s union with Christ.

At the moment of salvation, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer. Consequently, when God looks at him, He does not see his sinfulness; rather, He sees Christ’s righteousness. As a result, God is able to declare him righteous.

God made [Christ Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.   2 Corinthians 5:21

Through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. – Romans 5:19

[So the only righteous we have is that which is given to us at the moment of salvation. The righteousness that we have is Christ’s righteousness. Think of it as a bank transaction. Forgiveness takes away your debt and justification gives you a positive balance.]

D. Justification produces a peaceful relationship with God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.   Romans 5:1

[Before salvation, the opposite was true; we were enemies of God. This is also called reconciliation – the restoration of a positive relationship.]

II. Adoption

Adoption is the legal placement of someone into a family as a son . At the moment of salvation, God places you into His family and gives you all the rights and privileges of a son; God is your legal Father.

[Like justification, adoption is a legal or judicial concept. Whose family is one in before salvation? Satan’s. This is contra the liberal idea of the “universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.” E.g., the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” — “. . . with God as our Father, brothers all are we.” Hogwash.]

A. Adoption is the work of God .

In love [God] predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.   Ephesians 1:4 5

B. Adoption is by faith .

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.   Galatians 3:26

C. Adoption is a result of the believer’s union with Christ.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.   Galatians 3:26 27

Note: To be baptized or immersed into Christ is another way of describing union with Him.

[How is baptism comparable to our relationship with Christ? In baptism/immersion, one is engulfed, totally covered by the water. When one accepts Christ, he is totally committed to Him, it’s a total, radical life change that “covers” every aspect of life.]

D. Adoption has practical results.

1. The leading of the Holy Spirit

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.   Romans 8:14

One of the results of being an adopted son of God is the Holy Spirit’s leading. Using the Word of God , the Holy Spirit leads or guides the child of God.

[To be led by the Holy Spirit is not some sort of mystical sensation, hunch, or feeling that you ought to do something. Practically speaking, it is merely submitting to the Word of God. To be led is to be controlled, and being controlled is simple obedience. Note also that the Spirit of God will never lead someone contrary to the Word of God (contra being “slain in the Spirit”). If you want the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life, you’ve got to get the Bible in your life.]

2. Loving discipline by God the Father

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?   Hebrews 12:5 7

God does not punish believers as He does unbelievers. Rather, He disciplines believers out of love, desiring to do what is best for them. His goal for us is not necessarily happiness and prosperity , but Christ-likeness . He disciplines us with that goal in mind.

[What if one is disobedient and receives no chastening/discipline? C.f. Heb 12:8. It’s an evidence that one is not part of the family. Contra the health and wealth gospel.]

III. Eternal Security

Eternal security refers to the fact that all true believers are kept saved by God. A true believer cannot lose his salvation.

[Don’t confuse eternal security with assurance of salvation.]

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.   Philippians 1:6

A. Eternal security is a work of God .

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.   John 10:28 29

B. Eternal security is a result of the believer’s union with Christ.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:1

Note: To be “in Christ” is another way of describing union with Him.

C. Eternal security is God’s will for all believers.

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me.   John 6:39

[What are some of the things that would have to be true if eternal security were not true? 1. God was unwilling to keep us saved; 2. God was unable to keep us saved; 3. God was wrong when he elected us; 4. God has to throw us out of his family; 5. God has to take back the righteousness He imputed to us; etc, etc, etc. Obviously, it is impossible to undo salvation.]

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Justification is a positional benefit of union with Christ. Justification is the act of God whereby He declares a sinner to be legally righteous and treats him as such.

2. Adoption is a positional benefit of union with Christ. Adoption is the act of God whereby He legally places the believer into His family, giving him all the rights and privileges of a son.

3. Eternal security is a positional benefit of union with Christ. Eternal security is the work of God whereby He keeps saved those whom He has already saved.

Learning to Live It


1. During a conversation at school, a Catholic friend says to you that a person is made righteous by following Christ and the teachings of the church. Are sinners ever made righteous?

No, sinners are not “made” righteous; they don’t suddenly become sinless. They are “declared” righteous because of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to them.

Can sinners follow Christ?

no (They are unable and unwilling.)

Is one justified by following the teachings of a church?

no, unless that church teaches the gospel. (One is justified by faith in Christ alone.)

2. During a conversation with a friend, you find out that he claims to be a Christian but does not believe in eternal security. In fact, he says that he was saved, lost his salvation, and then was saved again. What should you say to him?

A Christian cannot lose his salvation because God says so in His Word (John 6:39, 10:28-29, and Philippians 1:6). Furthermore, to claim one can lose his salvation is either to call God a liar (He doesn’t do what He promises.) or to imply that He is not omnipotent (He is unable to do that which He has promised to do.). Further, I would question the validity of any salvation that could be lost. The friend has not truly understood the person and work of Christ or the positional changes that occur at salvation, and may not really be saved.

What are those who believe one can lose his salvation really trusting in? Their own power/good works/ability. If so, are they really trusting Christ? No. Of course, they could just be mistaken because they were taught wrong. That is, they really are saved, but have not been taught correctly on this matter.


  1. David osa Uhunmwangho says:

    To learn more about the word of God through the Bible study and reading.

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