Infused and Imparted–Esteemed among Humans, Abomination to God

That which is highly esteemed among humans is abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15

I often ask Calvinists about why they have not yet reformed from using the idea of “infused righteousness”.

I want to see the word “righteousness” in the Bible where it has the meaning of “infusion”. I am not asking to see the word “infusion”. I know it’s not there. But I want these Cavinists to show me some inner righteousness, which is not legal and imputed.

Many read Romans 6 with the assumption that it says that the Holy Spirit (or the church) unites us to Christ on the inside. The chapter does not say that, and we should not read it with that assumption.

It’s not enough to give a formal “I don’t deny that it also means the legal also”, if you then consistently look at texts and say “more than the forensic”, especially when the texts don’t mean anything other than the forensic. The legal death has effective inner consequences, but the consequences are not to be equated with the death or the righteousness.

Romans 6:20,21–”when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed. The end of those thing is death”

It is legal union with the death which has justified the elect and set them free. Before their justification, they may have already been ashamed of immorality. But they were not ashamed of their piety, their self-righteousness, or of their attempts to cooperate in the building of their own righteousness in attempts to gain assurance by a pattern of obedience to imperative. Now they count all that as trash (Philippians 3).

Christ’s righteousness is the merit of His work (His death). Christians are “servants of righteousness”. But it has not been demonstrated that “the righteousness” is both imputed and infused.

But Calvinists continue to talk like this: “I would say that the righteousness that is imputed to us in justification is the same righteousness that is also infused into us in our sanctification.”

Where does the Bible use the word “righteousness” in such a way that we should know that it means infused habits, imparted energies or “inside you” righteousness?

Many assume “if imputed, then also infused”, but if that were the case, then how could we from Scripture show any distinction between that righteousness which is “sanctification” and that righteousness which justifies? How could we avoid the path to Osiander?

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14 Comments on “Infused and Imparted–Esteemed among Humans, Abomination to God”

  1. Eileen Says:

    Great Post Mark……..thanks!


    I am still waiting for any Bible verses which prove “infused righteousness”.

    Objection: God imputes this thing Christ purchased for the elect to the elect. I don’t deny that but If that’s the case, then I have to ask, where does Christ fit into that? Why don’t you talk more about Christ in your heart?

    mark:. Christ, besides being the earner who obtained all the blessings of salvation for the elect by His obedience, now does these two things. Christ both indwells (lives in) the justified and also intercedes (in heaven) for the elect.

    The indwelling—- Where faith is, Christ is. Luther was certainly correct about that truth, but it’s a mistake to locate the righteousness in the faith, or identify the righteousness with Christ’s life inside us (as Osiander did.)

    The work to earn righteousness for the elect was done outside of the elect. The righteousness which resulted and which is imputed is always outside of the elect. Bunyan explained: the righteousness is in heaven. The righteousness belongs not to us alone in our insides but to all the elect. The righteousness also belongs still to Christ.

    objection: Because if that is indeed the case, then to be blunt about it, we don’t even need Christ Himself anymore. He bought what we need, so now He can step back, go do whatever while God hands out what He purchased. Why would we have faith in Him? Our faith would be in what He purchased instead. How does that glorify Christ?

    mark: Of course Socinians who deny forensic justification often ask this, but I understand that you are not denying any forensic thing. You are only denying the only. You are merely deny the mere imputation. You want the forensic plus more, also Christ Himself the person living in you, but not only that, but let’s say it, Christ in us our righteousness.

    I agree that Christ the person is not a something to be imputed. I agree that the true Christ is given to live in the justified elect. We don’t need false alternatives, such as “HIM vs His work”. But we also need true antithesis. The “life of God inside the of the man” IS NOT THE RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    In By Faith Not By Sight, Richard Gaffin : “Typically in the Reformation tradition the hope of salvation is expressed in terms of Christ’s righteousness, especially as imputed to the believer…however, I have to wonder if ‘Christ in you’ is not more prominent as an expression of evangelical hope…” p110

    Gaffin wants to say that both the “in us” and the “outside us” combined are our hope. His hope “as well” is Christ’s life in us defined as the power to avoid sin despite our “incomplete progress, flawed by our continued sinning”.

    Instead of making a distinction between dead works (Hebrews 6:1,9:14) and “fruit for God” (Romans 7:4), Gaffin bases assurance partly on Christ’s life in us evidenced by our imperfect but habitual obedience.

    Gaffin takes Romans 2:13 to be describing Christians. The hope for future justification is not Christ’s death, resurrection, and intercession outside us ALONE. Gaffin cautions us to remember that the obedience (works, avoidance of sin) which he thinks factor into assurance come from God living in us. He gives grace the credit for our “breach with sin”.

    I agree that the gospel is not only about what Christ did outside of the elect for the elect. The gospel is also about the effectual call which results from election in Christ. One evidence of this effectual call is that the justified elect do not put their assurance in Christ’s life in us or even in what they call God’s effectual call.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Calvin—The Fathers of Trent pretend that righteousness is twofold, as if we were justified partly by forgiveness of sins and partly by spiritual regeneration; or, to express their view in other words, as if our righteousness were composed partly of imputation, partly of quality. I maintain that it is one, and simple, and is wholly included in the gratuitous acceptance of God. I besides hold that it is without us, because we are righteous in Christ only. Let them produce evidence from Scripture, if they have any, to convince us of their doctrine. I, while I have the whole Scripture supporting me, will now be satisfied with this one reason, viz., that when mention is made of the righteousness of works, the law and the gospel place it in the perfect obedience of the law; and as that nowhere appears, they leave us no alternative but to flee to Christ alone, that we may be regarded as righteous in him, not being so in ourselves. (Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote)

  4. markmcculley Says:

    UVA first in the ACC basketball race, as of this moment. Anybody who can take out North Carolina is good in my book.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Brain Gerrish, Grace and Gratitude, p 61—The familial imagery runs along side the forensic imagery, and finally supplants it. In the end, Christ saves us reconciles us, justifies us as God’s son who takes us for his brothers and sisters.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu —
    You can’t serve two masters. If imputed (grace), then not infused (works). If infused (works), then not imputed (grace).
    As long as you esteem what is infused in you, then you will think it is the “real deal”, and you will think imputed righteousness is merely a ticket to the race which you now run to become “really and personally” righteous.
    Roman Catholics too affirm “sola Gratia” and “solus Christus” – the perfect obedience of Christ was the infinite merit that purchased infused grace which causes sinners to become righteous.
    In this case, like the Roman Catholics, you don’t think “it’s finished” means the righteousness that God demands was done. You think it means the stage is set for men now to become righteous with the power of Holy Spirit. You don’t think the story of Christ is the ultimate point, but a prelude to your own story of running and persevering, which you think glorify God more than what Christ did back then.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    To get to the real question in the debate about impartation v imputation, we need to ask: what is transferred? Is guilt transferred to Christ, or is a corrupt “old nature” also transferred to Christ? (and if so, which comes first, and why does the second follow?)”….the theological tenor of scripture would be that Christ had the sin of the elect imputed to Him,not a transfer of a sinfullnature.The same as we are imputed His perfect righteousness,but have no righteousness imparted into us

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Hebrews 13: 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

    I Peter 2:5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”

    Romans 12 I appeal to you therefore, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    God imputes Christ’s righteousness
    faith does NOT impute Christ’s righteousness

    righteousness is imputed
    faith is NOT imputed

    God’s righteousness is Christ’s death
    God’s righteousness is NOT in us

    God’s righteousness is the external objective value of Christ’s death
    Christ’s righteousness is NOT imparted or infused

    God imputes Christ’s death to create effectual calling
    God does NOT effectually call in order to imputed Christ’s death

    God imputes Christ’s death to cause faith
    God does NOT impart faith in order to cause imputation

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Theodore Zachariades –That the Christian life is one where works are present should not be contested. Moreover, this life must not be reduced to a simple equation of “works lead to sanctification” for the very reason that sanctification, or progressive growth in holiness, is an aspect of salvation… So how does it work-out?

    The works of the believer are also products of God’s grace, and so the life of a Christian will have works that God prepared beforehand for us to walk in them. Our obedient faithfulness is always a result of God’s continued infusion of grace and so our works (and their motivations) are the occasions of our sanctifying by grace.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace in me was not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:10).

    The famous English theologian, John Davenant claims that the Reformers affirm infused grace, that is, grace inhering within the souls of believers after being “poured in” (or inspired – “inbreathed”) to the soul by God. He does not claim that grace is something other than God’s favor. Rather, he says, God’s favor is never separated from his gifts that he pours into the soul to restore and direct it back to him. His proposal of inherent righteousness is not the proposal of a semi-Pelagian. On the contrary, Davenant argues that inherent righteousness is always accompanied by original sin, and so it cannot be the ground of God’s favor toward a sinner. The ground of God’s favor is always Christ’s righteousness, which is imputed to the believer. Davenant rallies Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Melanchthon, Vermigli, and Chemnitz in his defense. One may add Zanchi to that list. From what I’ve researched Davenant’s claims are accurate. The Reformed, especially the Reformed Orthodox, generally hold that righteousness is both imputed and inherent, usually using the term “infused” or “inspired” to denote God’s act of creating a new power of action within the regenerate soul. Davenant gives Scriptural evidence for his assertion of infused righteousness as well as rational explanations.

    Below I’ve listed 5 reasons why infused grace or righteousness is necessary, based on Davenant:

    The love of God always produces some lovely effect in the thing beloved. God embraces his children in love and this love necessarily imprints itself upon them. If a father loves his children, then he shows his love in his care for them, and his care for them leads them to grow and mature. So, God’s care for his children causes the development of their own holiness, which is a reflection of God’s holiness.
    It is self-evident that relationships give added definition to human persons. In the simplest terms, the relationship of a father to his child implies the inherent quality denoted by the term “child.” So, when God adopts a sinner as his child, he brings that sinner into a new relationship with him. This relationship adds a new quality to the sinner. He is now a “child” and the word “child” denotes a new quality. This quality implies a change within the person that inheres within his nature, since a “child” of God is one who has taken on the characteristics of the Father. This characteristic is referred to as “righteousness” or “being in a right relationship with the Father.”

    The effects of new righteousness presuppose a cause of that righteousness. That cause cannot be sin, since sin cannot produce good works, nor can it be God since God is not the immediate agent of man’s good works. Therefore, even though man’s righteous works are supernatural they are immediately caused by man’s cooperation with the Spirit. As Thomas (via Davenant) says, man needs “a faculty of performing spiritual actions” in order to be a cause of righteous works.

    If God were to be the sole agent of righteous action within man, then human agency would be either destroyed or absorbed within the divine agent. This would render grace destructive rather than restorative and perfective. It would also make God culpable for the presence of sin in every act of the regenerate human agent. The Father does not become the child but adopts the child and perfects him.

    Grace can only be increased in us if it inheres within us by divine infusion or inspiration. Faith does not produce more faith unless the agent is already faithful. The word “faithful” describes something accurate about the character of the one believing. The ability to increase an activity presupposes the power to act in a certain way. Likewise, a guitarist does not become a better guitarist without first becoming a guitarist. So, the act of belief presupposes a power to believe. This power does not come about by nature because it concerns a supernatural object. Therefore, the believer in Christ must possess a supernatural power of believing in order to develop his ability to believe, and this supernatural power must be inspired (or infused) by God.

    Davenant concludes with a rather strong determination: “He therefore who denies that there is an inherent grace or righteousness in the justified, may be said to have altogether denied the efficacious and internal flow of Christ the head into his members; and, thus, one of the chief benefits of our conjunction or union with Christ. But this is contrary to the received opinion of all Divines.

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Bavinck–According to Rome, then, this doctrine implies the following propositions:

    1. Since the will has indeed been weakened by sin but not deprived of all liberty, the natural human person can, under the guidance and with the help of God’s providence, also still do naturally good works.18

    2. Those who make good use of these natural powers and do what is within themselves to do, can, according to today’s most prevalent view, in no way make themselves worthy of infused grace and can prepare themselves for that grace only in the negative sense that they pose no obstacle to its reception.19

    3. Positive preparation is possible only with the aid of prevenient (actual) grace, which consists in the illumination of the mind and the immediate incitement of the will. But, if with the help of this grace people prepare themselves for infused grace, they make themselves worthy of a merit of congruity.20

    4. Those who following that preparation (or as children born in the church, immediately after birth) are baptized receive in this sacrament infused grace, that is, “a quality inhering in the soul” that delivers them from all the guilt and pollution of sin, renews them inwardly, and imparts the divine nature. It serves not only to heal persons but also to elevate them to the supernatural order and was therefore also granted to Adam in the form of the superadded gift.21

    5. Added to this infused grace are the three theological virtues—faith, hope, and love 22—which are not human but superhuman, or divine, virtues and therefore differ from human virtues. The latter are by nature present in human beings aptitudinally and inchoately but not according to perfection, and are differentiated as intellectual virtues (wisdom, science, understanding, prudence, art), as moral, or cardinal, virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance), and have as their object the final and supreme goal, a supernatural end.23

    6. By this grace, with the theological virtues that follow it, humans are enabled to do supernaturally good works and by it to merit, according to a merit of condignity, an increase of grace, eternal life in the vision of God, and within that setting a lower or higher degree of glory (crown or nimbus). The Council of Trent, accordingly, states that the one justified “by the good works he performs truly merits an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase in glory.”24 This merit, therefore, is a merit in the true sense, inasmuch as good works, proceeding from a supernatural principle, correspond to supernatural glory, and humans by their own free will accept and cooperate with the “habitual” and “actual” grace received. But it does not nullify grace since the entire juridical relationship between God and man rests on a free divine decree, and all human merit presupposes the merits of Christ and the gift of grace.25

    7. Belonging to the good works that merit such a great rew ard are especially those works that are not strictly commanded by the law but go beyond it, such as praying and fasting at set times, renouncing earthly possessions, abstaining from marriage, independence, and freedom, devoting oneself to works of mercy and mission, meditation, asceticism, contemplation, self-torture, martyrdom, and so forth. In the eyes of Rome, those who do these things are saints and “religious” par excellence.26 They do far more than they are obligated to do. They belong to the class of the “perfect,”27 store up a great treasure of merits in heaven, and by their works of supererogation 28 also acquire merits that, added to the superabundance of Christ’s satisfaction, make up the “thesaurus” of the church. And the church, out of the fullness of this treasury, can distribute merits as it sees fit. It can, by means of indulgences, transfer the merits of those who had a surplus to those who are deficient, for all the members of the church are members of one body.

  13. markmcculley Says:

    How then does this differ from Catholic theology? In what sense is this a Protestant doctrine of justification?
    It will not do to suggest that Luther had not yet shed the remnants of medieval doctrine, for this treatise is clearly Protestant in orientation, composed in the same year as The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, his polemic against Roman Catholic sacramental theology and practice. Yet this formulation appears to blur the key distinctions between Protestant and Catholic doctrine. Where are those lines?

    The lines become clear when we place Luther over against medieval soteriology and remember the Reformation protest against medieval Catholic idolatry. Luther’s construction depends on a renunciation of every notion of created grace.

    In the iron-in-the-fire illustration, Luther is closer to Lombard than to Aquinas (as the two are typically understood): the heat is dependent on the continuing presence of the fiery Word, and the Word leaves no permanent “deposit” of created grace. With the marital analogy, Luther insists that righteousness is a gift and is an alien righteousness. Nor is there any hint of a natural/supernatural scheme, no suggestion of a pure nature or an inherent incapacity to receive grace. On the contrary, the marital analogy suggests the opposite: human beings are created precisely to be united to another, as a woman created for a man; we are created as “feminine” receptors to contain our husband.

    The crucial difference between Luther’s image and the Catholic view of “infused righteousness” is that for Luther the thing infused is not substance or habitus but a Person.

    “Word” appears to mean the living and eternal Word of God, which comes to dwell in the soul of the believer. While medieval theologians conceived of grace as a substance or created gift, Protestant theologians taught that grace is simply the favor of God toward sinners, expressed in His self-giving to His people and in His many accompanying gifts. Grace, the Reformers insist, is one not multiple, and grace has a location, a name, and a human face—the face of Jesus. Jesus is the righteousness of God in Person, and when He dwells in us we are justified.

    Luther continues to offer similar explanations of the gift of righteousness in justification in later treatises. Luther insists, for example, that Jesus is the grace of God:

    Christ is God’s grace, mercy, righteousness, truth, wisdom, power, comfort, salvation, given to us by God without any merit on our part. Christ, I say, not as some express blind words, “causally,” so that he grants righteousness and remains absent himself, for that would be dead. Yes, it is not given at all unless Christ himself is present, just as the radiance of the sun and heat of fire are not present if there is no sun and no fire.

    Luther extends this into a doctrine of deification:

    We are so filled ‘with all sorts of God’s abundance,’ which is in the Hebrew manner as much as saying that we are filled in all ways in which he makes full, and, full of God we are showered with all gifts and grace and filled with his Spirit, so that it makes us courageous and illuminated by his light, and his life lives in us, his beatitude makes us blessed, his love awakens love in us. In short, that everything he is and can do be in us fully and affect us vigorously, so that we become completely divine, not having a piece or even a few pieces of God, but all abundance. Much has been written about how man is to become divine. . . . here the right and closest way to g
    et there is shown so that you may become full of God, that you may not be lacking any piece, but have everything all together, that everything you say or think, everywhere you go, in sum: that your whole life be completely divine.

    In all these quotations, Luther differs from the medieval Catholic doctrine not in the location of justifying righteousness, but in the nature of that grace

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