Propitiation and Justification Are Events in History
Justification is not a change in the elect, not a change of their substance, but an event in history which is a result of another event in history, the death and resurrection of Christ.
Christ’s death is the righteousness that God’s imputes to the elect when God justifies them. If we don’t make a distinction between Christ’s person and His one time death in History, then we will end up saying that the righteousness is in us, since the person indwells us. That is the mistake of Osiander.
Christ’s death is a divine righteousness. Christ does not become human in a way that He ever stops being divine. His death is the work of justice Christ accomplished in History. This is what is imputed. Righteousness is not imparted because the righteousness that justifies is not Christ’s inherent nature as Deity.
Becoming part of the “new creation” does not mean that I get an extra new nature. It means “the old has passed away; the new has come”. The “new creation” is something which happens in history. In justification, I am legally joined to all the other justified elect in Christ.
Galatians 2:20–”I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in regard to me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me… If justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
I am not denying that Christ is now in me, but I deny that this means that I am now divine or that I will become divine. Humans are made in the image of the Divinity, but we will never become part of the Divinity. Being “made the righteousness” does not mean some “mysterious” transformation of our insides.
Christ in me is still God. I am still not God.
In the Bible, “mystery” is about what was hidden then being revealed by God. It is not revealed that the justified elect become God, because the justified elect do not ever become God. God’s nature is not created in us. God’s nature is not created.
The “theosis” idea distracts from the legal events of time.
The good news is about Christ’s death and resurrection. We don’t need to change the definitions of faith and obedience. We need Christ’s death in history as that which retroactively saves the elect before the cross, and into which all the elect after the cross will be placed.
This justification, this placing into Christ’s death is done by God’s declaration and not by the water of some bishop who claims to represent Christ. Romans 6 says nothing about water, and the many folks who assume water are simply incorrect.
The elect were under wrath before God’s declaration, but what now saves them from this wrath is not their new insides but their new status. And they only have that new status because of Christ’s accomplished cross-work in history, the propitiation.
When I talk about the good news, in which location do I point? Do I suggest an experience of something “really” happening somewhere under my navel? Or do I point to Christ’s death and resurrection? My justification depends all together on my being credited with that one event, which happened not in the decree, but in a place and a time in history.
I am not denying a future coming. I am not denying God’s present wrath. I teach God’s future wrath on the non-elect. All of that is also a revelation of God’s righteous character. But Christ’s death is Christ’s righteousness accomplished for the elect. God gives the status of justified because of that finished cross-work. And all the elect will come to know and believe this good NEWS.