Union with God

Men’s Small Group // January 23, 2023
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This is a lesson I prepared for a men’s small group and is based on the book “True Community” by Jerry Bridges (Chapter 2)

1 Corinthians 1:4–9 (ESV)
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.


  • As we learned last week we have a common life together – partners in a common pursuit. This partnership is a relationship we have with each other and it is vitally important.
  • But our common life, our relationship with one another is built upon the foundational relationship that we have with Jesus – fellowship from the passage we just read.
  • With Jesus as our foundation, it is essential that we understand what this relationship means. There are two ways we are to think about our fellowship with Jesus:
    • Objective – this is the condition or fact or truth of the matter.
      • Objectively, I am in a marriage relationship with my wife.
    • Experiential – these are the subjective day-to-day experiences we have with each other.
      • Experientially, I had an enjoyable meal and conversation with my wife on Sunday afternoon.
  • When we think about our relationship with Christ, there are two distinctions:
    • Union – the objective truth of the relationship
    • Communion – the subjective, experiential parts of the relationship.
  • Why is this distinction important?
    • Bridges, “Only as we understand our objective union with Christ will we be able to enter fully into the experiential joys of communion with him.”
  • Illustration
    • Phases of the moon demonstrate the difference between objective (union) and experiential (communion). We experience the full moon, bright and large in the sky, differently than we do a new moon, dark and seemingly missing in the sky. Yet, the objective truth of the matter is that the moon is always the same distance from the earth, no matter what our experience may tell us.

Vine and Branches

John 15:1–5
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (ESV)

  • We have been grafted into this vine. Fully integrated and firmly established. We are not nailed onto the vine or placed in a haphazard manner. We have been intimately joined with the vine. We are actually part of the vine and the vine is a part of us.

Abiding in Christ

  • Often when we talk about abiding, we focus exclusively on the pathways to fellowship with Christ.
    Prayer & Word.
    • We concentrate on the how-to and the task itself. How we experience Christ.
    • This can lead us to neglect the object of our abiding… Christ himself.
    • These means of grace are there for us to deepen our relationship/fellowship with Jesus.

Four Ways to Live

  1. We attempt to do everything on our own.
    • Bridges, ” We may have lots of Christian activity and even apparent Christian success, but we will possess little genuine Sprit-produced fruit.”
    • John 15:5 “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
    • Key motivation: Pride… arrogance
  2. We decide to do nothing at all.
    • Typically this is the overreaction someone has when they discover that option 1 was a failure.
    • Bridges, “We conclude that we should not work at living the Christian life but simply trust God, who does the work for us.”
    • Key motivation: Apathy… Fear of failure
  3. We develop a partial dependence on the Lord.
    • Characterized by the notion that I only approach God for the truly deep spiritual or difficult things of life.
    • Bridges, “…within my own character that I should draw on for the ordinary duties of life but that beyond that, I need the Lord’s help.
    • We too easily move from a prayer of dependence and a need of God’s strength and grace in the morning to then living out each moment of the day in our own strength and wisdom.
  4. The abiding in Christ way.
    • Living each and every moment focused on Jesus.
    • Example of moving a heavy log.
      • One – I can figure out how to move this log and make it happen.
      • Two – God will move this log himself if it needs to be moved.
      • Three – I can move this log. When I reach a point of difficulty, I will ask for God’s help.
      • Four – Prayer for God’s strength to move this log and acknowledge it was God who moved it through my efforts. It may have looked as though I moved that log, but we should all praise the Lord for enabling me to do that.
    • Difference between “Lord help me” and “Lord enable me”

Bridges, ” Abiding in Christ does not denote an absence of conscious effort on our part; rather, it indicates an all-out effort on our part, but an effort made in total dependence on the Holy Spirit to mediate the life of Christ to us.


  • Share your thoughts about how the objective truth of your union with Christ impacts every area of life.
  • Share about the Four Ways to Live and how you see them being fleshed out in your life.
  • Bonus: How can you move toward a life of, “Lord, enable me!”

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