The Work of the Spirit Necessary
Sometimes I get heard as saying that only the death and resurrection of Christ are necessary and that the work of the Spirit (in us) is not important. I do play the two works off against each other. I do make a distinction. But this is not because I don’t think the Holy Spirit is needed.
My concerns are these. 1. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit, and Christ’s gift. Christ puts us into the Spirit; the Spirit does not put us in Christ (even though this is what most Calvinists seem to say, when they put faith before God’s imputation of righteousness). “Because you are sons, then Christ gives you the Spirit.” Galatians 4.
God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the ungodly elect results in their new birth. I Cor 6:11 “you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” By the Spirit? I Tim 3:16–Christ’s justification is by the Spirit, it’s His resurrection. His resurrection is because justification (depending on if we are born before or Christ’s justification, our justification is before and after His justification, but always because of His justification.
2. The work of the Spirit is needed but not as the righteousness God accepts to justify the ungodly. It is necessary for a different reason One part of the gospel tells us the source of faith and the nature of faith. John 3:1-12 tells us about the new birth being necessary. John 3:13-18 tells us about God’s love in giving the Son for elect sinners.
II Peter 1:1 To those who have obtained a faith equal with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
3. I therefore do not deny that the work of the Spirit (the new birth) is also part of the gospel and thus the object of faith. (When unthinking preachers deny that election is part of the gospel, and reduce it to only being the reason why people believe the gospel, they end up leaving election out.)
I don’t want to leave the new birth out of the gospel, but I want to say that faith is the result and not the condition, that– in the true gospel– faith excludes itself as being the cause or condition or any part of the righteousness earned by Christ for the elect and imputed in time to the elect.