So That We Don’t Have To, Warnock’s Raised With Christ
Review of Raised With Christ, by Adrian Warnock (Crossway, 2010)
British preacher Adrian Warnock makes a very sloppy path toward his argument for the baptism with the Spirit being a second experience for Christians. He does raise some good questions about the connection between the death and resurrection of Christ, and left me with several texts to keep pondering. For example, I Peter 1:11 tells us of the Spirit’s prediction of “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” I Peter 3:21 speaks of an “appeal for a good conscience, through the resurrection.”
The point is that the gospel is not the death without the resurrection, or the resurrection without the death. The good news about one is good news about the other. Warnock quotes Calvin to this effect: “When in scripture death only is mentioned, everything peculiar to the resurrection is at the same time included, and that there is a like synecdoche in the term resurrection.” (Institutes 2:16:13, p 75 in Warnock).
Mr. Warnock does well to give us the Ephesians 4:8 quotation of Psalm 68: 18—“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men. In saying, He ascended, what does it mean but that he also descended…?” Warnock: “Paul explains that, in the one word ‘ascension’, the descent from heaven is implied.” But Warnock never quotes or comes to terms with the idea of John 3:13:“ No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.” To think about this would jeopardize his traditional assumptions about immortal souls (p243, in his very messy chapter on “our resurrection bodies”.
The Arminian-Calvinist “middle-camp” (p205) assumptions of Warnock’s gospel come into clear view in his chapter on Romans 4:24–raised because of our justification or raised in order to and for the purpose of our justification?: I do not come to this discussion as an advocate of eternal justification or of justification
at the cross (and resurrection).
Warnock begins badly by asserting that “Jesus’ resurrection was not a result of our justification” (p121) because our sin was not a result of His death. If death is a result of sin, the parallel would be to say that His resurrection is a result of the justification of the elect, even if that is a future justification.
On p 124, Warnock writes: “The answer is that God was displeased
with the sin (imputed) that Christ was bearing but remained pleased
with Jesus’ infinite goodness, which was greater than the sin.” This
is NOT how the apostle Paul explains the requirements of justice.
The sins demand not some philosophical (and non-biblical) idea of some “infinity” or “equivalent”. The sins demand death. The death of Christ was God’s justice, God’s wages for all the sins of the elect.
On p 126, Warnock writes: “The resurrection was necessary to allow the credit of Jesus’ righteousness to be shared with us, for it
demonstrated that the credit was greater than the debt.” But to glory in the cross is to see that the death of Christ cancels the debt for all the elect when they are placed into that death. Romans 6:9-10 are RESURRECTION VERSES: “We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has any dominon over him. For the death he died , he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. “
The reason that the debt of the sins of elect cannot hold Christ is
not some “greater credit”. The reason that the debt of the sins of the elect cannot hold Christ is Christ’s death. Christ died to sin. This does not mean that Christ was born again. And Romans 6 is not talking about our being born again either.
The Triune God caused Christ to die because the Triune God by legal
imputation already did or did not lay the sins of each sinner on
Christ. And this in turn means ONE that Christ is no longer imputed
with those sins, because He has died once for them and will not die
again. It means TWO that it is not sinners (nor their faith nor
their apology) who give their sins to Christ. God gave the sins of
the elect to Christ already, and God already did not give the sins of
the non-elect to Christ.
And you may say— this is all well and good, and I don’t disagree, but we don’t need to say it. The Bible doesn’t say it that way, and we can understand the Bible well enough without saying it that way. Let us see. Think of a parallel text to Romans 6:9-10. Think of II Corinthians 5:15, which is a text Warnock references on p128. “One has died for all, therefore all have died, and he died for all, that those who live would no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
Now Warnock has made a very good point about these verses earlier on p 75: one time Paul writes “died for all” but then at the end he writes “for their sake died and was raised” and so this means that when one is mentioned, the other is implied. I agree.
So what’s my problem with p 124? Am I just another “watch blogger” (p66)? No doubt I will report Warnock on his (p59) one-sided deal in which he “offered God his sinful heart and God gave me His righteousness. No doubt I will report his confusion about if it’s two or three things being imputed as the righteousness: sometimes it’s the death and the life, sometimes it’s the greater credit of the life, and then finally it’s three things, including a Piper (but not a Bible) quotation to the effect that the resurrection itself is imputed. (see p126). And I could ask: so perhaps also the intercession is imputed? Is the birth also imputed? And maybe even is it the person, and not only his work, which is imputed, even if not in the context of what God’s law requires?
But see Romans 8:3—“What the law could not do, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin-he condemned sin in the flesh.”
Back to II Corinthians 5:15 and the gospel about Christ’s death being the death of those who will be justified. This is the thing that Warnock does not say, and cannot say. And the reason he cannot say it? He cannot say it because he says something else, and this becomes clear in the next chapter on union with Christ (resurrected with Jesus). Already on p 124, he has written “so that our guilt COULD now be taken away, and we COULD be counted righteous.” This “might or might not be” continues in the chapter on union. On p141, Warnock explains: “Jesus suffered the penalty due our sins so that we do not have to.”
SO THAT WE DO NOT HAVE TO
That’s the same false gospel I have been hearing all my life. All our lives we have been hearing Arminianism, and most people who profess to be Christians profess that what Jesus did (in death and resurrection) sets up a plan which makes it possible for you to give him your sins and then for Him to save you. And this is the false gospel Warnock proclaims also, even though he boasts of being on the cutting edge of the young, restless and reformed. He not only professes to have been saved because he believed the (Arminian) gospel. He still teaches that same Arminian gospel. Or, as Piper has explained it, these people believe not only Arminianism but more!
II Corinthians 5:15 does not teach that Christ died for our sins so that we don’t have to; it says that those for whom Christ died also died with him. That is substitution, and you cannot teach substitution without confusion unless you describe which sinners Christ died for.
If Christ died for every sinner but some of these sinners will perish, then that may be a substitution but it not a saving substitution. II Corinthians 5:15 does not use the word “elect”, but the only other way to understand the identity of the “for” and the “with” is to teach an universalism in which every sinner has died to sin and will be justified.
I think most “middle-camp” tolerant Calvinists would rather live as practical de facto universalists then dare talk about election in connection with II Corinthians 5. They want a future judgment for the elect, even while they quibble with NT Wright about that not being a future justification. They fear as antinomian any good news which teaches that the elect have already died to judgment when Christ died for them. (See John Fesko’s wonderful book on Justification).
Another advantage for most “middle camp” evangelicals in not talking about election in II Cor 5 is that they can take the phrase “live for Him who died for them” and use it to lay duties on every sinner they meet. But there is no point in talking about any such duties until a sinner has obeyed the true gospel and repented from the dead works of the false gospel.
Warnock tells us (p141) that “we are saved not only by believing the fact that Christ died for our sins, but by union with the crucified and risen Savour.” But it is NOT a fact of the gospel tells any particular sinner that Christ died for their sins. The gospel does not tell sinners who the elect are; the gospel tells sinners about the elect. It IS a fact that there was one kind of “union” of the elect in Christ so that already at the cross, long before (or after) they are justified, Christ paid by death for their sins. Faith does not make this aspect of the union happen.
Warnock seems to assume that God-given faith does make this aspect of the union to happen. That’s why he thinks of giving Jesus his sins. On p 217, when he argues for the giving of the Spirit as a second blessing to be experienced after believing the gospel, he writes: “ it would be circular to interpret ‘believe and you will receive a work of the Spirit automatically without you being aware of it’, the main effect of which is to cause you to believe.”
His unquestioned assumption is that God-given faith is the cause of the first salvation. But the answer to expose his assumption we read in Galatians 3:13 (which he quotes on p 219)—“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that they would receive the Spirit through faith.” As Bruce McCormack has so ably pointed out ( What’s At Stake in Justification), regeneration does not precede justification in this redemptive-historical text. If union is by legal imputation, the forensic is the cause of the life and efficacy of faith connected with justification.
The Galatians 3 text does not start with believing to get justified, and it does not end with believing more to get the Spirit more. Galatians 3 starts with “before your eyes Christ publicly portrayed as crucified.” The opposition between works of the law and hearing by faith has everything to do with the object of faith legally constituting those who then hear. Yes, there is a promise of the Spirit through faith, but that is because first “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” SO THAT this will happen. Not so that it might happen, if conditionally….
I run long, and I wanted to briefly describe Warnock’s brief for the Lloyd-Jones view of the experience of the Spirit. I will not critique that view here, but glimpse at some of the John Piper quotations he strings together. On p 218, “If you assume we believed, why don’t you assume we received the Holy Spirit? ….You talk as if there is a way to know we’ve received the Holy Spirit different from believing… A person who has received the Spirit knows it not just because it’s an inference from his faith in Christ.”
On the Galatians 3 text, Warnock argues: “the Spirit is received by faith. THEREFORE, Paul can’t simply be referring to the Spirit’s role in bringing in faith.” (p219) As we have seen, Paul is referencing Christ crucified and redemption from the law, and not simply faith and receiving the Spirit. The “therefore” does not therefore really make a coherent argument. Piper again: “for the NT people, the Holy Spirit was a fact of experience. For many Christians today it is fact of doctrine….Don’t expect to notice any difference; just believe that you have experienced the Spirit.” There are lots of other soundbites, but I will spare you “it” in this review.
One last thing, which you would think that I as an adventist who teaches “conferred immortality” would have majored on—Warnock’s assumption that all “souls” are immortal. He even has a terrible Spurgeon soundbite for support. P 243: “The resurrection of the dead is something different from the immortality of the soul: that every Christian believes with the heathen, who believe it too… Every mortal man who ever existed shall not only live by the immortality of his soul but… the very flesh in which he walks on earth is as eternal as the soul…” Spurgeon seems to contradict his own idea of “mortal man”. For sure, he has no clue that the soul that sins shall die. He has no idea that the body and the spirit together make up the “soul”. (Genesis 2:7)
When Warnock attacks those who teach “Soul sleep”, he seems not to recognize that his label is a question-begging libel against those who with the Bible define the soul as the person who “sleeps”. Though at one point he contrasts David who stayed dead with Christ who didn’t (Acts 2), Warnock assumes what he needs to prove and that is that “raised with Christ” in Ephesians 2 (and Colossians 3) means that immortal spirits are now in heaven. Instead of glorying in the Resurrected One who has Gone ahead as our “public person” (as the old “federal theology” put it), Warnock settles for an over-realised (and Platonic, Roman Catholic, pagan) eschatology.
But that’s enough name-calling from this old “watch blogger”!
Third blizzard, winter, 2010