Book Review: Union With Christ by Rankin Wilbourne

Posted October 5, 2016 by meezcarrie in Christian, nonfiction, Rankin Wilbourne / 0 Comments

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about the book

Nothing is more basic or central to knowing and enjoying God than Union with Christ.

Have you ever had difficulty connecting what you know to be true about God with how you feel or how you live each day? Have you ever longed to change but just felt stuck?

The Bible makes a stunning claim: God has provided a way for your life to be united to Christ’s. What does that mean? Is it really possible for me, now? What would it look like?

In Union with Christ, Rankin Wilbourne makes union with Christ accessible and beautiful, for you. Union with Christ is not an abstract idea. It is a powerful reality. And recovering a sense of your union with Christ can change everything for you, like finally putting on a pair of desperately-needed glasses.

Discover how coming to see your life through the lens of union with Christ can help bridge that gap between your head and your heart, between your belief and your experience. Union with Christ is what we most need in order to know and enjoy God.

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GENRE: Nonfiction
PUBLISHER: David C. Cook
RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2016
PAGES: 224

“We may know what God has saved us from, but have we lost sight of what God has saved us for?”

Union With Christ tackles a lofty-but-vital theological truth that is difficult to wrap our minds around. In fact, it takes the author until page 43 to even really give us a clear definition of the concept of union with Christ. “…union with Christ means that you are in Christ and Christ is in you.” Scholars and theologians – both historical and contemporary – agree that this is one of the most central and basic truths of Christianity. Yet, it’s also one that most of us don’t really understand.

I really loved the discussion of imagination in the introduction – and how imagination plays an important role in faith. By “imagination”, Wilbourne is referring to “that distinctly human capacity by which we image anything and everything that is not immediately visible to our eyes.” He makes a very good Scriptural case for imagination being a vital tool in faith as well as science. This is something I hadn’t considered before, and I’m still mulling it over, to be honest.

It is revealing that the writers of Scripture, even Jesus himself, resort to word pictures, similes, and metaphors to capture the mystery of union with Christ…. [It] tells us there is no way to get at this truth directly.  Images are necessary. Your imagination must be engaged for you to lay hold of your new life in Christ.

Aside from the introduction, Chapter 3 is the one that resonated with me the most. In this chapter, Wilbourne discusses why understanding the significance of “union with Christ” IS so significant.  For many believers, the concepts of “extravagant grace” and “radical discipleship” seem to be constantly at odds in our hearts. On the one hand, we’re taught to “Believe the gospel of grace. Come and rest“… on the other hand, we’re admonished to “Obey Jesus. Come and die.” Trying to do both will only leave us confused and burned out. And yet we know that an either/or doesn’t make sense and is too dangerous anyway. A 50/50 split doesn’t make sense either. It must be 100% of each, but how is that possible? Well… it’s not. Apart from our union with Christ. Because Jesus is where extravagant grace and radical discipleship harmonize completely.

Bottom Line: This is a difficult topic to grasp, and Wilbourne has made a valiant effort to explain such a supernatural concept in terms that our natural minds can assimilate. However, the end result is still a book that I’ll have to re-read several times to properly absorb. Maybe that’s mostly due to the topic itself; we’ve already established that “union with Christ” requires our minds to stretch beyond their earth-bound capacity. Maybe it’s that sometimes the author seems to take an inordinate amount of words to say one thing. Maybe it’s that – after working for so long with brand new never-heard-of-Jesus-before believers – I am far more into “simpler” these days. (Not dumber. Just simpler.) Whatever the reason for some of my struggles to connect with this book, it did make me think. And it made me aware of the absolute importance of understanding our union with Christ as much as we are able & letting it transform how we live.  This is definitely one I will be re-reading again much more slowly!

(I received a complimentary copy of this book.)

My Rating: 3.5 stars

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about the author


Rankin Wilbourne grew up in Louisiana and was educated at the University of Mississippi and Princeton Theological Seminary. He is now the senior pastor of Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles. As a former commercial banker, Rankin understands the “gap” between the gospel preached on Sunday and the world people face on Monday. Leading a thriving church in a city driven by stories, he’s concerned with drawing connections between what we believe and how we live. Rankin and his wife, Morgen, reside in Los Angeles with their three children


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