(408) 779-0697 | info@westhills.org

Tetelestai (It is Finished) Week 2 Study Guide: Union with Christ

Community Group Study Guide — Tetelestai (It is Finished): Union with Christ 
Ephesians 1:3-14

Study Information:
Having the right goal or outcome can make even the hardest effort worth it. We see people train their bodies to exhaustion to achieve goals in academics, work and sports. Likewise others save up for the goal of owning a new car or home. The right goal does not take away the difficulty or suffering, but can make it more endurable. When we look at the cross, we need to realize that God had a goal in mind with our atonement.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him. What was that joy? The New Testament emphasis is that Christ endured the cross so we could be united to him by faith. 

Andrew Murray wrote that “Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation not only in its application but also in its once-for-all accomplishment in the finished work of Christ (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, p 171).” The sacrifice of Jesus for our sin washed away our sin AND restored us to fellowship. Last week we looked at the history of atonement in the Hebrew Bible and saw this pattern of how sin needed to be covered over by the blood of another and that in Christ that covering over happened once and for all. This week we will learn about the goal of salvation and the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ which came about through his work on the cross and God’s electing love for his people. 

Spiritual Blessings Are All Found in Christ
Ephesians 1:3-14
The New Testament refers to believers being united to Christ over 200 times. The idea here is that in Christ we died, in Christ we are raised, in Christ we have access to God and in Christ we are part of one body, the church… and much more! God desires for you to see your primary identity is rooted and founded in Christ and what he has accomplished for us. Paul called this the mystery of faith, that Christ is in you, “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). To add to that, Ephesians 1:3-14 is one long run on sentence from Paul explaining all the spiritual blessings we have by being found in Christ. Take a moment and read those verses and circle all the times Paul referred to you being “in him,” or “in Christ,” or “in the beloved.” How many did you get? What are those spiritual blessings that we have in Christ? In Christ you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing, chosen before the foundation of the world, made holy and blameless, adopted as sons, recipients of his grace, redeemed, forgiven, lavished upon with wisdom and insight and knowing God’s will in Christ, secured a future redemption where all things will be untied to him, obtained an inheritance, heard the word of truth and received the Holy Spirit when you believed in him. This is amazing! We could accomplish none of this with our own efforts and it has all been given to us through God’s grace and by faith in Christ. 

These spiritual blessings mean that we have been loved before we could do anything good or bad. We have received the Holy Spirit who is the downpayment and foretaste of our eternity. Likewise, we receive wisdom and knowledge from God through faith, pertaining to who he is and what it means to walk as a Child of God. All this and so much more. God does not hold back on us and he has not been stingy, all of these blessings have been lavished upon us in Christ. Dane Ortlund commented on all this when he wrote “Your salvation in the gospel is far deeper, far more wondrous, than walking an aisle or praying a prayer, or raising a hand or going forward at an evangelistic rally. your salvation is to be united to the living Christ himself… the glory of Christian redemption is that it is in union with Jesus that we are given our true selves. We finally begin becoming who we were truly created to be (Deeper, 61).” 

Christ is the source of our blessing and our intimate companion whom we cannot be separate from. 

Enjoying Your Union in Christ
We can often experience a bit of a gap between what is true about us (that we are in Christ through faith) and what we feel (closeness to Christ). Life can be difficult and we can often find ourselves feeling like God is distant or we may struggle with living like who we really are as people who are “in Christ.” Theologians have made a distinction between union in Christ and communion with Christ. Union in Christ is what we talked about in the previous section, communion with Christ is the enjoyed and felt relationship you have with God on an on-going basis. There are many things that can interrupt our communion with God like unconfessed sin, bad spiritual habits, out of balance emotions and life circumstances; but it is important to recognize that nothing can interrupt your union with Christ (Romans 8:31-38). What can you do to enjoy God more?

First, confess sin. At first glance this does not seem like an enjoyment increaser, however, when John talked about confessing sin he connected it to having fellowship with God and one another (1 John 1:7-9). Confession helps us to realize the forgiveness we have in Jesus, to experience his cleansing and to walk in the light. It is hard to enjoy someone you’re hiding something from.

Second, let the Word of Christ dwell in you. Colossians 3:15-17 tells us to let the word of Christ dwell in us and that through this we experience peace, thanksgiving and fellowship. This is a great reason to be reading the scripture and to gather on Sunday mornings to hear the word of God. The word of God helps us to remember what is true about us and to know Christ more. 

Third, remind yourself that you are not alone in the difficult circumstances of life. God promises to be a God of comfort to us in our time of trial. Even though these times are challenging they are also opportunities for us to know God more through them and to comfort others later on (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

Finally, talk with God. You have access to God’s throne of grace because of Jesus (Hebrews 4:14-16). This access to God is incredible and one of the main benefits we have because of the atonement we receive in Jesus. The writer of Hebrews implored us to draw near to God in confidence, why? Because so we can receive mercy and grace in times of need. We have received mercy and grace from the cross as we put our faith in Jesus, but we also receive his mercy and grace as we draw near to him, not in a saving way but in power to endure and an awareness of who God is. 

Your union with Christ will never change, but your communion with God can go up and down throughout your life, seek to allow what is true about you (you are a new Creation in Christ Jesus) to draw you closer to God because you have access to him through the blood of Jesus. 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read Ephesians 1:3-14

How many references to being “in Christ” did you discover?

Which of these spiritual blessings do you think you need to be aware of the most right now in your life and why?

What is the difference between union and communion with Christ?

How can you grow in your communion with Christ this week?