Readings at Croydon.

6. Union with Christ and the result.

Ephesians 2:1-6.

Our subject this evening is union with Christ and the result of union. We start with the fact that everyone is united, though everyone does not know it. Every Christian who has received the Spirit of God is united to Christ. "Now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him." We cannot alter our position, though we all do not know it. The epistle to the Ephesians was written that you may know it. Some are not looking for conscious union, because they think that there will be no union till the ceremony takes place, namely, the marriage of the Lamb. (Rev. 19.) You are not a confidential servant if you do not know union with Christ.

Do you connect the knowledge of union with the Head?

You never understand union if you do not hold the Head. It is remarkable that when the truth was recovered, Mr. Darby woke up to the fact, - I have a Head in heaven; and if I have a Head in heaven, every Christian has the same Head in heaven; and one Head involves one body. That is how he got it. He began with the Head, not with the House. This is important, because the House is in ruins, the body is not.

Then you would connect union with our subject last evening?

Certainly. I think if you do not hold the Head you cannot understand the unity of the Spirit. My foot moves to the spot that my head indicates.

Does union now go beyond the body? That is, that we are united to Christ as Head and to one another by the Spirit?

You will find that it is by the Spirit you are brought into union. The difference between this and Colossians is, it is life in Colossians, not the power of the Spirit as it is here.

I was thinking, with regard to the marriage of the Lamb, would that be union in another form?

The Bride will be in heaven before the marriage takes place. It is to establish her position before she comes with Christ to reign. In all the types there is nothing said about the ceremony. All the types refer to her place here on earth. Take Abigail. She is the wife of Nabal, and she ministers of his substance to the rejected king. That is the last type of the Bride. In the last churches of the Revelation it is occupied with the kingdom. Laodicea gets the lowest place. The youngest believer will get a place on the throne.

So reigning is beyond sitting on the throne?

To be sure it is. Philadelphia goes immensely beyond that. The first great thing is that there is union. The first fourteen verses of Ephesians 1 is FITNESS. It is individual. That is the first point - you must be fit. I think the great lack of souls is fitness. You are not ready for union if you have not fitness.

Fitness for what?

Fitness for the Bridegroom. It is not salvation, but it is fitness. The type will make it plain. The only thing Abram's steward was sworn to was kindred. You must be of His kindred. The flesh is not of Christ's kindred. It is very beautiful to see how he found out her kindred. How did he find it out? He asked the Lord that he might find her by her grace - the steward finds out her kindred by her grace. Many would have said, "I shall be very happy to give you a drink of water"; but she says, "I will give your camels drink also." It was grace. "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers." Therefore, I say, that though every Christian is united to Christ, I do not think every Christian is fit for conscious union, ready to be conducted to where Isaac is. There is no knowledge of union till you come to the Person.

You have already said we are united. You are speaking now of the conscious enjoyment of it?

Yes. You are to have the conscious enjoyment of it. Do you agree that every Christian is not ready for the conscious enjoyment of it?

Oh, quite!

The great thing is fitness. You are of the same stock. You do not get union in Hebrews, but fitness for companionship. You are His brother. You cannot speak of Christ's brethren sinning. I believe some would like the divine nature to sin sometimes, because they do not like to think it is the old man. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." The flesh and the Spirit are distinct, and when one is in the ascendant the other is not.

Then do you mean that being conducted to Isaac is farther than fitness?

Yes. You are not ready to be conducted until you have fitness. The steward delivers his message; he wants to conduct Rebekah to Isaac.

Now from verse 15 to the end is the counsel of God. Here you are ready to go. Verse 19 is "that ye may know [conscious knowledge] … what is the exceeding greatness of His power." We all were raised up together, but we do not all know it. I remember Mr. Darby used to say, Christ would not be complete without His body. I used to mutter to myself, He would be complete without anything. Who was right, he or I? He was. I imagined that the body was an addition to Him; but no, it came from Him. It is no addition, it is a development. We all come from Himself. This is the secret of God. A great many who are well up in Ephesians do not understand God's counsel. Someone has said it is not only that you have to be enlightened, but you have to get the "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" before you are enlightened.

You began with the knowledge of Him,

Exactly. But if you have not a conception of God's mind you will never take in Ephesians. It is not studying Ephesians that will do it. Suppose I was talking to a builder about a building, he would say - "I could do it if I knew the plan. I have bricks and timber in plenty, and good workmen, but I do not understand the plan." Nothing but the "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" can give you an idea of the plan.

Do I understand you that as a preliminary to our understanding Ephesians we must have the "spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him"?


What is the plan?

You must get the "spirit of wisdom and revelation," and then you will find out the plan. You will be a good architect. You will comprehend God's mind.

Can anyone form a conception of the mass of people required to form the complement to Christ?

It includes all the saints; the weakest is necessary.

I do not understand the Church coming out of Him. If His body does not come from Himself where does it come from? Where did Eve come from?

Out of Adam.

There you have it. Of whose flesh is His body?

Do you mean of His origin?

Yes; you are of Him. Either He is of you, or you are of Him. We read, "Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one." Put a noun to "one" and you limit it. Therefore Abraham's servant was sworn as to kindred. Souls must first learn that they are of one kindred with Christ. He is not your "elder brother," as is sometimes said, but through grace you are His brother, and that makes a very great difference.

Now that we have seen our fitness, and have apprehended the counsel of God, we will turn to the passage read, and there we get the realization of union. You are raised up together, and made to sit together. You must come to Him, like Rebekah. She was conducted all the way to Isaac, and then there is the realisation of union. I do not say the journey was accomplished in a minute. She had to encounter two great obstacles. Nine-tenths of saints, though true, are stopped by the first hindrance - family influence. Rebekah's family proposed that she should remain "ten days." The steward said, "Hinder me not." Rebekah was called, and she said, "I will go." She is decided now. There is great decision - purpose of heart before you will be conducted to Him.

God's purpose for us is the greatest distinction ever vouchsafed to any, even that every believer now should be united to Christ in heaven, and should realise it now while on the earth. In all the types we find the Bride a comfort in a day of trial.

Then the Church ministers to the heart of Christ?

Quite so. Next, consequent on decision, having overcome family influence (nothing baulks a man like family influence), you have to encounter another obstacle. Rebekah had to go through the wilderness to get to Isaac. Every step she took in the wilderness was a step away from her family. There is no way to heaven but through the wilderness. She did not realise union until she saw Isaac. Now she is united to him.

Now that we have come as far as realisation, you might read from the 14th verse of chapter 3, "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the Church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

Well, there you have what I may call the endowment; that is, your gain from union. I heard a man once say that the youngest believer could understand this. Surely he had no conception of the magnitude of the truth here. There are three great things which no one can know until he is united to Christ.

What are they?

The first, "That the Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." This is not the same as Christ living in you. You have now a new set of interests. There is in your hearts by faith "the Christ" - all His. You never saw a good wife yet whose individuality was not merged in her husband.

Would you say a word about the Christ?

It means, all that belongs to Him.

Himself and His interests?

But they are one. God never separates the body from the Head.

You take it then to be "the Christ" of God's counsels?

Quite so. Now it is by the power of the Spirit, who has conducted you into the realisation of union, like Rebekah coming to Isaac, that your individuality is merged in Christ. You have a new circle of interests. Next, you are made acquainted with the scope of His glory. "The breadth and length and depth and height." Thirdly, that you may know His love which passeth knowledge. Now you are to know it. No one ever knows what is the fulness of Christ's love until he knows union. Do you understand me?

Yes; I think you mean that there is no question here of the love of Christ in salvation, but you know His love when you realise union. Is it the truth that the Holy Spirit conducts me to Christ where He is?

Yes. You could not know union otherwise. Now you are enjoying the good of it - the endowment. We know in the type it was on earth, but now the Spirit of God conducts the soul to where He is.

Certainly. How could you know union if you were not where He is? If you had the sense of union, you would have the sense of being "in His pavilion free from the strife of tongues."

What you said about being outside of man.

Here it is outside of the world. Christ has gone to another place. Many would read "heavenly things" here, but no, it is a place.

In a word, What are the three things? The endowment?

First, His interests are your interests. Next, the scope of His glory occupies your vision; and lastly, the knowledge of His love crowns all. You are filled "into [not with] all the fulness of God." The more I know the love of Christ the better I know Christ.

Would you say that you cannot apprehend the love of Christ unless Christ is dwelling in your heart by faith?

I think the order is; first, the Christ dwelling in your heart by faith. Rebekah first lost her individuality because of Isaac, then she could survey his property, and she knew his love.

But inasmuch as this follows upon union, why did the apostle pray for it?

He prayed that the Spirit might work, and that He might give the endowment. They could not be entitled to it otherwise.

Is the Christ dwelling in your heart continuous? Yes. It is by faith you have it.

If faith is in exercise?

Yes. Christ lives in you by the grace of God for your own comfort. Here it is the calling of the saints - "your hearts." It is plural.

Then it is not individual?

No. It is collective, though known individually.

I think it is important to see that, because some consider that it refers to your individual state.

It is only consequent on union. Now you can understand how a believer united to Christ is endowed. Christ's interests are yours, the scope of His glory is your scope, and you know His love.

What answers now to Rebekah's crossing the wilderness?

No one gets to heaven without realising that this world is a wilderness. Are you ready for it?


At any time. She had to break with her family and to travel through the wilderness unto Isaac.

You mean, "in spirit there already?"

Yes, you come to that; but I say that if you do not accept the wilderness, you will not get to heaven - while here.

Then domestic happiness might be a great hindrance at times?

In one way, but not in another.

I mean to the realisation of the wilderness.

If you are contenting yourself with any natural blessing you have not accepted the wilderness. When you make too much of anything here you are hindered by it. But as you accept the wilderness you will find nothing here.

"A dry and thirsty land where no water is?"

Yes. -

"This world is a wilderness wide,
I have nothing to seek or to choose."

I can say that much, but the next lines embrace more. -

"No thought in the waste to abide,
I have nought to regret nor to lose."

You can sing it as desiring it?

Are we up to it?

Do we not know joy until we realise heaven? Is there none in the wilderness?

The moment you have Christ formed in you you have joy. "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." "Joy unspeakable, and full of glory," is not union. Union realised is that. you belong to Christ, and when you know that, you will come out in quite a new way. The one who knows union with Christ, though once active in natural things, will now have a new set of interests, and will come out in a new way.

Would such an one realise crossing the desert? You wish to bring before us what we should by grace do.

Yes; you never can get to heaven without accepting the desert. You must break with your family and also with the world. That is; the "young man" who has "overcome the wicked one" (1 John 2) has to overcome the world.

The general interpretation is that we are all on the way.

Exactly, and that when you come to Jordan you -

"Stand shivering on the brink,
And fear to launch away!"

It is making it gospel that has hindered the perception of this chapter.

Quite true. But it is not the gospel.

It is only the Spirit who can make this world a wilderness?

Naturally, we are looking for something to suit us in it. We have to learn that there is not a green thing in all the land of Egypt. Look at Paul and John. Where did they end their days? In some happy retreat? No. One in prison, and the other in exile. That is a great help to me, because as you are here for Christ natural things do not improve, and yet you never were happier.

If we are in the right place I suppose?

Yes. Would you like to be there?

Would you say, What is the object of the Church?

That is the next step. Read verse 20 again.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end."

There is your answer. The church is to be always the display of Christ to the glory of God.

"According to the power that worketh in us." Is that resurrection power?

The power that raised up Christ. The same power that raised up the bird, so to speak, raised up every feather in the bird. That is our comfort!

Now you come to chapter 4, and there are two great circles of testimony. One is the church, and the other your own family.

The first circle is the church?

Yes. If a man does not behave well in the church, he never will in his own family. You must begin at the top; it is a great mistake to begin at the bottom. Men try to work from man to God. Work from God down, and you will soon see where you are.

Now in the first circle the great thing is "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" - a full-grown man.

It is simply the object of the ministry?

Yes. You have not done your work until you bring every saint to that. The gifts are given for that purpose. This we see in a remarkable way in John 15:26. The Holy Ghost was to be sent to the disciples to testify of Christ-" He shall testify of Me." Then we get "ye" afterwards - "Ye also shall bear witness."

That refers to the twelve. That was only up to the resurrection.

The other applies to us all.

Yes; the testimony of the heavenly Man. It is Ephesian ground. We should be descriptive of the exalted Man at God's right hand; you a part and I a part. It is the calling of the whole body.

Is that the ministration of the mystery?

It would come out that way. This testimony of Christ (see John 16) would be very effective. The brethren at first gave up their position in the world in order to be in this testimony. No man holding a position in this world can be a witness of Christ exalted. It is possible to be a servant, but not a witness.

What do you mean by a position in this world?

Any recognized position. A postman's badge will not help him to be a witness of Christ.

To receive a testimony from the world would destroy your testimony of Christ?

Yes; surely such an one could not be a witness of Christ because he has a position in the world. Do you understand me? Do you agree?

I do indeed.

Well, next, the heavenly man is to be described in your own family. You get nothing about your family under law. I have not seen many fathers who have brought up their own children. Some allege that because of circumstances they could not do so. The Scripture makes no exception, and therefore I cannot.

You have to state the truth.

You would not get this information under the law. Now that you are united to Christ in heaven you are able to carry out every ordinance of God in the fullest way. Under the law you only get, "Children, obey your parents."

The heavenly man would not delegate it?

He would keep his children under his own eye.

But if man and wife are one, could you not delegate them to her?

Scripture does not tell the mother to bring them up, because she would naturally do so. The fathers are responsible.

There is one subject more, and that is in chapter 6. Read verses 10-13.

"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Now you see that in the circle of testimony we have to confront the combined force of Satan. If you seek an easy life on earth you will not touch the heavenly side of truth.

But it would not be good to seek that?

No, certainly not. If you suffer with Christ you will reign with Him; and if you do not realise union with Him you are not a confidential servant. I might say to a civil engineer, Can you do that work? Yes, he would reply, if the money is forthcoming. If you are in the power of the heavenly Man you can overcome everything. Difficulties are only opportunities to display the power of Christ. You may have seen a child cry at a fly. But by-and-by he gets power, and he kills the fly. The difficulty has vanished. Some think that because they are interested in this scripture they are experimentally in it. There are, I should say, but few who know this conflict. You lose the power of scripture if you misapply it. Here you encounter the full force of Satan. Satan has worked up man to cast Christ out of this world, and now he cannot tolerate that anyone should be descriptive of Him here as the exalted Man. Satan always throws something in your way to allure you from the heavenly path.

Do you make a distinction between the power of the enemy and his wiles?

Yes; I think he begins by wiles. If he can get you into a bye-path he is satisfied. It is well to remember your history, what you did, and how you got turned off, and how you came back again.

Only histories never tell you how you got turned off.

As a rule they always recount the best things. But we read, "Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee," and when you look back there is enough to cast you down - how you have been hindered and turned aside. Satan has only two barrels to his gun. He will allure you if he can, and if that will not do he will try the other, that is, he will crush you. With the blessed Lord, he came to allure Him, and then in Gethsemane he came to crush Him. If you refuse the allurement which Satan throws in your way, so surely will he subject you to persecution. As was said to Mr. Darby, "You would not mind if the newspapers abused you, but for God's people to disparage you, that is very painful."

It is a great mercy we always have the power of God.

You will never enjoy it until you know union with Christ.

What is "as thy days, so shall thy strength be"? That is where you put yourself.

How does "crushing" come to us now?

By persecution. If you step out as a heavenly man, the first thing will be Satan will throw something in your way to allure you, and if you do not take the bait, he will subject you to the opposition and enmity of even Christians.

It will not take a moment, if you would just go over the headings to gather it together.

Fitness, counsel, realization, endowment, result in the Church, testimony, and opposition - conflict with the enemy. J. B. Stoney.