I know as a preacher I’m prone to exaggeration, but I honestly don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God is one of the best books I’ve ever read on the Christian life. This 285-page book is by Rankin Wilbourne, pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles. It was the winner of the 2017 Christian Book Award for New Author and also named one of the top books of 2016 by John Piper’s Desiring God ministry.
The author focuses on union with Christ, believing it is one of the most important yet least understood themes in the Bible, and he shows us how valuable this truth is to our Christian walk. Did you realize that the term “in Christ” occurs 165 times in the New Testament? In addition, it’s taught using many other metaphors throughout the Bible, for example, Jesus’ teaching on the vine and the branches in John 15.
Donna and I read Union with Christ aloud together and discussed it as we went along. We found it meaty, yet readable. After we read it, we passed on our copy to members of our family.
Rankin Wilbourne is an excellent writer. He is extremely well read in both Christian and secular works, and he knows how to communicate deep biblical truths in a clear and practical way. This book is deep, yet clear. It will not only make you think, but it will challenge you to put what you have read into practice in your life.
Wilbourne is a youngish man that I hope we will hear much more from in the future. To learn about him and see his picture check out the following:
Below is the official publisher’s overview of Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God:
To experience why the gospel is good news and answer life’s most foundational questions about identity, destiny, and purpose, we must understand what it means to be united to Christ.
If you are a Christian, the Bible says that Christ has united his life to yours, that you are now in Christ and Christ is in you. This almost unfathomable truth is the central theme of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Yet few Christians today experience or enjoy this reality. Union with Christ reveals the transformational power of this ancient doctrine while addressing the basic questions of the human heart:
- Who Am I?
- Why Am I Here?
- Where Am I Headed?
- How Will I Get There?
Nothing is more practical for living the Christian life than union with Christ. The recovery of this reality provides the anchor and engine for your life with God—for your destiny is not only to see Christ, but to actually become like him.
Here’s a sample quote by Wilbourne from the Introduction. It should make you want to see how he fleshes out this great biblical theme:
“This truth (union with Christ) can change everything for you, but living in this new reality will require your imagination. The Christian message is simple enough for a child to understand. At the same time, the Bible says that because of the new life you have been given in Christ, ‘from now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view’ (2 Cor. 5:16 NASV). Coming to see your union with Christ is like finally putting on a pair of desperately needed glasses – Wow! Look at that! We see ourselves, and everything else, with new eyes.”
I will end my review with testimonials by two greatly respected men of God:
Pastor John Ortberg concludes his foreword to the book with these words:
“Rankin does a masterful job of articulating what union with Christ consists of, how central it is to the writers of Scripture and to great thinkers through the centuries, why it has been lost in our day, and most importantly how to pursue it in a concrete reality in daily life for ordinary people. So that’s why I’m excited for you to meet Rankin and enter a new world. Enough overture. Time to get to the good stuff.”
If you need one more endorsement, here’s what Pastor Tim Keller wrote:
“Everyone seems to agree that union with Christ is a biblical teaching crucial to understanding and communicating the gospel, but preachers today do not give it the same emphasis that the New Testament does. One reason is that, unlike the new birth, justification, and adoption, it requires multiple metaphors to draw out its rich meaning. Rankin does so clearly and compellingly. This is simply the best book for laypeople on this subject. It is grounded in exegesis and theology and yet is lucid and supremely practical. While not unaware of the recent controversies about union and justification, which are briefly sketched in the endnotes, Rankin’s whole concern is to make the biblical teaching accessible and applicable to the reader. He does this with excellence.”