In Salvation Applied by the Spirit, Robert Peterson focuses on the doctrine of union with Christ and its wide-ranging implications to the Christian life. The author asserts that union with Christ is the foundation by which all the benefits that Christ has gained on the cross are conferred to every believer that puts their faith in Him. The first part of the book (“Union with Christ in Scripture”) aims to analyze the many references that explicitly or implicitly teach this doctrine throughout the Bible. This exercise takes up more than 60% of the book’s length so readers will need to be prepared for the extensive treatment that Peterson employs to show that union with Christ is a biblical and foundational doctrine. I appreciate how the author takes the effort to flesh out the many definitions and contexts in which “in Christ” language is used throughout Scripture. The second half of the book (“Union with Christ in Theology”) attempts to show how union with Christ is integral in understanding the Bible’s story, the works of the Holy Spirit, and the Christian life. In this section, I was encouraged by the author’s point that we are able to receive and enjoy all blessings from the Father only through the saving work of Christ and the unifying work of the Holy Spirit. This intimacy that we have with the Trinity is made possible through our union with Christ.
I would recommend this book for Christians looking to learn more about the important doctrine of union with Christ. However, I would caution that the book is advanced reading and presupposes the reader to have a good grasp of Scripture and doctrine (especially Christology). I certainly found it quite challenging going through the first part of the book although the effort is definitely worth it when one realizes how the Bible is replete with references to union with Christ. The second part is much less demanding and provides practical applications of how this doctrine impacts our daily lives. After reading this book, I encourage all believers to earnestly reflect on their union with Christ. Peterson reminds readers that our union with Christ is a present reality and foretaste of the fullness and joy that we will enjoy when Christ returns and we will be together with Him forever.
In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.