Essay / Misc.

Three Unions

Soon I would like to introduce and recommend the unduly neglected Adolph Saphir (1831-1891), but for now I’ll just quote him. Here is the voice of evangelical Christianity from a little over 125 years ago: clear, passionate, artful, scriptural, doctrinal, and comprehensive. If you know anybody who can still talk like this (or grow a beard like that), hang around them as much as you can.

Let us ever with adoring hearts believe in the three unions which the Church of Christ has confessed in all ages.

First, we behold Jesus, God and man, two natures in one Person; the Lord of Glory, Immanuel, God with us. Beholding Christ, God and man, we see the Father and receive the Spirit.

Thus we learn to adore, secondly, the eternal and essential union of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Saviour reveals to us the eternal love of the Father; we know Christ as the Word by whom all things were made, as the Only-begotten, loved before the foundation of the world. We know Him also as the Heir, who shall inherit all things. Accepted in the Beloved, and seated with Him in the heavenly places, we adore the love of the Father who chose us in Christ, and look forward to the glory which the heirs of God and the joint-heirs with the Son shall possess. And we know and adore also the Holy Ghost, one with the Father and the Son in eternity, in creation, and in redemption, by whose power and gracious indwelling the Father’s love and the Saviour’s grace are revealed and communicated to our souls unto eternal life.

We believe also, thirdly, the union, which, according to the will of the Father, subsists between Christ and the Church. Of God are we in Christ: the Father is the Husbandman, the Son incarnate is the Vine, we who believe are the branches. The Father is supreme Lord and King, the Son incarnate is the Bridegroom, and we who trust in Him and love Him are the bride. We are members of the Body of which Christ is the Head; and the Head of Christ is God. By the Holy Ghost Christ and the Church are one; He is in them, and they are inseparable from Him in life and death, in time and eternity.

We believe these unions, though we cannot comprehend and fathom them. We have a knowledge and experience of these mysteries in our hearts and lives, an assurance and consolation continually flowing from these eternal depths, and we wait with calmness and hope for the bright and perfect knowledge which shall be ours when we see face to face. Eternity alone can unfold the blessedness of those who know “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

— Adolph Saphir, Christ and the Church: Thoughts on the Apostolic Commission, p. 87-88.

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