Christ’s Life in Us, the Result of Being in Christ’s Death

I John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Chris

I John 5: 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Colossians 3:1 So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. 3 For you have died, and your LIFE is hidden with the Messiah in God. 4 When the Messiah, who is YOUR LIFE, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory

John Bunyan—I saw Jesus at the Father’s right hand. ‘There,’ I said, ‘is my righteousness!’ So that wherever I was or whatever I was doing, God could not say to me, ‘Where is your righteousness?’ For it is always right before him. I saw that it is not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was brought in by Christ. Now my chains fell off indeed. and I lived sweetly at peace with God. Now I could look from myself to him I saw that my precious hope was indeed in a very safe trunk, not in me but in Christ my Lord. Now Christ was all: my righteousness, sanctification, redemption. (Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners)

In Christ, there is true transfer of blessing and benefit, and this transfer is not by infusion or impartation. The elect move from a condemned state to a justified state because of God’s legal imputation. They are no longer part of the “old man”; they are now part of the “new man”.
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?

Our hope is not ultimately a “new nature” which still leaves us sinners, along with an “old nature”. Our hope as sinners is that we be counted righteous on the basis of imputation, and thus legally constituted (declared) as righteous, in a new legal state.

What is transferred to the elect? The strict baptists (along with Ella and Fortner) who define “union” as the indwelling presence, need to be asked if the merit of Christ’s death is legally transferred to the elect. If so, what does that mean, and why does it matter, if the more basic question is not the transfer of guilt or merit? If Christ is “made sin” by “more than” guilt-transfer, then is it Christ’s life in us (or some “new nature”, and not the merit of Christ’s death, which finally matters?

We need to question the idea that “union with Christ” is only about Christ’s indwelling presence in us. God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect justifies them. There is union by election from before the ages, but in our lifetimes, nothing is more fundamental than justification by God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness.

1. We need to define what we mean by “regeneration”. Since the Bible word is “new birth”, we need to think about this new birth in terms of “effectual calling” by the power of the Holy Spirit with the word of the gospel. We need to get away from the idea that “regeneration” is a “change in substance or nature” and then a time gap between that and the hearing of the gospel.

2. We need to define “in Christ” in terms of justification. Although the Bible does teach that the sheep are always in Christ by election, Romans 16 teaches that some of the sheep are in Christ before other of the sheep. This change is not a first of all a change of regeneration or birth but legally a change of state before God. As a result of this legal change, the Shepherd comes into the sheep, indwelling them as they believe the gospel. But “union with Christ” does not precede justification, except “union by election”.

3. God justifies the ungodly. God does not justify because of Christ’s indwelling presence. God does not justify because God knows that God is going to live inside a the person. Christ’s life is in a person because God has justified the person.

Romans 6 describes two legal states, one of which is “free from righteousness”. We tend to judge people (even ourselves) to be saved on the evidence of morality. But God sees that morality as something to be ashamed of, when those moral people are still in their sins, still not yet justified.

Romans 6 defines the “in Christ” in terms of legally being placed into the death of Christ. Instead of a “sacrament” which makes us “participate” in Christ (or makes Christ live in us ), our hope as the justified is that God has counted the death of Christ as our death.

I want to keep thinking and talking about Christ’s indwelling presence in us. I want to focus on our need for Christ in us and the wonders and glories of that reality. But Christ’s life in us is not all there is to being in the “new man”. The “new creation” has to do with a change in legal state, and not only with a new birth so that Christ can indwell our hearts.

II Corinthians 5:14 “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. From now on, we regard no one according to the flesh (judging by morality or immorality or by other non-gospel standards)….If anyone is in Christ, there is a NEW CREATION. The old has passed; the new has come.”

“Those who live” means first of all those who are justified. The category of “we died” is not about life in us, not even Christ’s life in us. “We died” is about an imputed legal reality. Christ is here now in our hearts, yes, but also, Christ is not here, not yet, and we believe and hope, waiting for the day when Christ will be here. Christ is not now coming down from heaven, but Christ will come down from heaven someday. Though we are legally “seated in the heavens now”, that is only because our legal surety is now seated there. Nobody has now ascended to heaven who was not there before. (John 3:13) We are in Christ legally. The old has passed. The legal verdict has already been declared. One day, our resurrection, will be the visible evidence of that verdict.

Romans 5:19 describes two events in history as our “being constituted”. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were APPOINTED sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be APPOINTED righteous.”

Notice, first, that “the many” are the elect in Christ. Like I Corinthians 15, Romans 5 is not talking about the non-elect who are also constituted sinners by Adam’s disobedience. The same exact number who are chosen in Christ were also all born legally dead in Adam and constituted as sinners. Even though they are elect in Christ, they are born into this world needing Christ and needing life.

Trying to understand these imputation events in Romans 5 without talking about election is impossible, but almost everybody tries to do it. They end up changing God’s freely GIVEN salvation into something caused by sinners actively “receiving”, even though “receive” in Romans 5:17 is passive and does not refer to the consent of sinners.

Man does not become a sinner by consenting to Adam’s sin, and the elect in Christ do not become appointed righteous by consenting to Christ’s obedience. The elect in Christ become righteous by imputation. This legal events results in new birth, but it does not include new birth.

Why does this distinction matter? Even if you agree with me that sinners are made guilty in Adam by legal imputation,why does it matter? Don’t I agree that the moral corruption of sinners is the immediate result of the imputation of guilt? Am I just being picky, just arguing for argument’s sake?

NO! If the only problem elect sinners have is corruption and inability to believe, then the only need they have is for the Holy Spirit and the new birth. Then it finally does not matter what Christ did, and it certainly makes no sense to argue about for whom Christ did it.

If “eternal life” in the Bible is ONLY about the ability to believe God’s testimony about the Son, then the good news is no longer what the Son did or did not do, but only about the new birth and the Holy Spirit. And when we focus only on the new birth, the good news tends to become our believing, and being careful to give God all the praise for our believing. The new birth is absolutely necessary, but the new birth is a logical result and not a condition of God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect.. The elect don’t become united to Christ by believing. Nor do the elect become united to Christ by water baptism. The new birth does not unite the elect to Christ. The Holy Spirit does not unite the elect to Christ. God unites the elect to Christ by judicial declaration.

John 4: 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

I John 1: 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

I Corinthians 1:28-30, “God chose even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no flesh can boast in the presence of God. God is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”

Having Christ’s life in us is a result of justification. If the elect could have Christ’s life in them before justification, it would be too late for justification, and there would be no need for justification or for the cross. If we could get Christ’s life in us without the righteousness, we would not ever need the righteousness. Romans 8:10, “the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

If Jesus Christ is simply everywhere, who cares if He comes back here in the future, since we have Him by His Spirit already in our hearts? I am suggesting that we talk about Christ’s kingdom without placing the present time into competition with what Christ got done at the cross. Whether I am talking to a five year old or to a old old man on his death bed, I don’t want only the omnipresent God, even though God surely has always been and is anywhere and everywhere. And I don’t want only the God who lives in the hearts of justified sinners, even though Christ in us surely is the hope of glory, a real reason to eagerly expect Christ’s second coming to heart. (Hebrews 9:28) But we also want and need the Christ who is now seated “over there” in heaven, because of His accomplished sacrificial death.

Romans 8: 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also WITH HIM graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—WHO IS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, who indeed is interceding for us

Hebrews 9: 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Yes, even now God’s love is present in our hearts because Christ’s life is present in our hearts, but that amazing reality is only ours because we have legally received the reconciliation Christ made when Christ came to earth the first time.

Romans 5: 5 has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

I look to Christ in heaven for my righteousness, not simply because the God-man who died with the imputed sins of all the elect has ascended there, but also He is coming from there. These historical events are not below my bellybutton or under my chest. The righteousness by which the justified REIGN is NOT a righteousness imparted (or infused) into us by Christ’s life in us.

Romans 8:10 If Christ is IN YOU, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the Spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Because of righteousness. Is that righteousness what you think God is doing in you? Do you agree with Osiander in thinking that the righteousness is Christ’s life in you? Or is that righteousness what God did in Christ’s satisfaction of the law? What is the “righteousness of faith” ?

Romans 10:6 But the righteousness of faith says: Do not say in your heart, who will ascend into heaven (to bring Christ down), or who will descend (to bring Christ up from the dead). The word is the news about what Christ did to satisfy the law?) is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.

The word, the news in the hearts of the justified elect is not only Christ’s life in them, the Living Word, because that word, that news is the written word of the gospel which tells the justified elect about Christ accomplished outside them . That gospel tells the justified elect that the Christ who died for them and who is given to them to live in their hearts is the same Christ who is now seated at the right hand in heaven, resurrected because the justification of all the elect is sure.

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17 Comments on “Christ’s Life in Us, the Result of Being in Christ’s Death”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came, p 355—on II Cor 5:14-15 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    ”Some conclude that the efficacy of Christ’s work occurs only at the point of faith, and not before. This ignores the fact that union with Christ precedes any reception of Christ’s work by faith. It is union with Christ that leads to the efficacy of Christ’s work to those who belong to Him.”

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Lemke equates regeneration with eternal life On Lemke’s interpretation of key passages which suggest faith precedes regeneration (John 3:16, 36; 6:51, 53-54, 57; 11:25; 20:31), Lemke gets it wrong by assuming he equates regeneration with eternal life. Quoting Schreiner and Caneday, Barrett suggests “eternal life” is not only a present reality but an eschatological reality and “by definition is life of the age to come.” Therefore, Lemke cannot be right. Barrett goes on to suggest some passages would simply not make sense if regeneration were equated with eternal life.

    The point is made clear when one examines other passages (which Lemke does not mention) that use the phrase eternal life to refer to a gift to be received in the age to come (Mark 10:17, 29-30; Romans 2:6-7, 23; Galatians 6:8; 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).Notice how it sounds if we equate, as Lemke does, eternal life in these passages with regeneration. For example, Jesus, responding to the rich young ruler states, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers…for my sake and the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time…and in the age to come regeneration (eternal life)” (Mark 10:29-30).

    An Examination of Tulip. Robert Sumner

    The Word of God teaches that, while man is totally depraved and totally unable to help himself, our Lord draws every man sufficiently and enlightens every man as much as necessary for that individual to make a decision of his own free will. ). Five-point Calvinism erroneously insists that man’s spiritual deadness makes such a voluntary decision impossible short of the actual reception of spiritual life.

    Proponents of this position fondly illustrate by pointing to the total inability of a man physically dead. They argue that such a man cannot speak, cannot hear, cannot move a hand or a foot. cannot do anything at all. Since man is dead in trespasses and sins, they reason, he is hopeless to even hear the Gospel with spiritual perception or move a finger to act upon it.

    The kind of “deadness” they describe is unlike any of the three forms of deadness found in the Bible. The deadness envisioned by the Word of God is a “separation” deadness. For example, physical deadness is simply the separation of the spirit and the soul from the body. James wrote: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). It is true that the dead corpse cannot hear, speak, or move. But the corps is not the man! The man, even though physically dead, is still able to hear, see, move, act and be cognizant of things.

    Our dear Lord certainly gave us ample evidence of this in His story of the rich man and Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-31 Our Saviour clearly stated that the rich man, after departing this life, was able to lift up his eyes, he saw, he cried, he prayed, and was apparently in full possession of all his faculties. The same is true with spiritual deadness.

    Spiritual death is simply separation from God, Paul was describing this spiritual deadness when he wrote to Timothy, saying, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1Tim.5:6). Those outside of Christ are spiritually dead, yes; but they eat, talk, think, move, act, work, play, sleep and react in every way just as do the saved people who have spiritual life.

    It is no different with the third type of Biblical death, namely, the “second death” so called because it is the second and final form of spiritual death. The second death is simply a complete, final and eternal separation from God in the lake of fire (Gehenna) because of sin and because of rejection of Christ. Sinners in Hell will think, move, act, and otherwise manifest full sense of their faculties.

    So it is a strange sort of deadness; one completely foreign to any type described in the Word of God that the five-point Calvinist describes in his doctrine of total inability. It is certainly true that no sinner can come to Christ unless drawn by the Spirit of God; but the blessed Holy Spirit draws every man (John 12:32), giving man enough light so that he is, as Romans 1 :20 says, “without excuse.” And John says about Jcsus, ‘’That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).

    http://heraldofhope.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/T.U.L.I.P.-Examined.pdf

  3. markmcculley Says:

    The grace bestowed in John one verse 12 is “adoption” in contrast with the grace effected in verse 13, which is “regeneration.” Since verse 13 stands grammatically in subordination to verse 12, the emphasis is not so much upon God’s inward work of regeneration but rather upon God’s subsequent conferral of legal status

    Trevor Burke, Adopted into God’s Family, IVP, 2006—“Adoption is a forensic term and denotes a legal transfer from an alien family into
    the family of God….Revivalism has long emphasized the concept of regeneration but has overlooked the Pauline theme of adoption.

    Berkhof, systematic theology 1981, Banner of Truth-“sonship by adoption should be carefully distinguished from…sonship by regeneration.”, p 516

  4. markmcculley Says:

    it s not the case that progressive sanctification follows from the imperatives given to those indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It will first be demonstrated that the burden of proof is on Murray to prove that the imperatives given to the believer entail the believer’s ability to obey them. A potential set of counter objections from Murray will then be introduced and be responded to.
    Murray writes: “the sanctified are not passive or quiescent in this process. Nothing shows this more clearly than the exhortation of the apostle: ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13) (Murray, 148). Murray wishes to acknowledge that the commands in Scripture demand human responsibility – not least Paul’s exhortation to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). However, one must ask what relevance the imperatives have in proving the progressive nature of sanctification? Unless one is ready to make the Pelagian presupposition that God would not give us a command unless we were able to keep it, one cannot assume that just because believers are given a command that the believer has the ability to keep them. Murray would agree with Berkhof that uncoverted man is commanded to be perfect, to do good, to not sin, to believe and be saved, but simultaneously “cannot do any act, however insignificant, whichfundamentally meets with God’s approval and answers to the demands of God’s holy law…In a word, he is unable to do any spiritual good” (Berkhof, 247, emphasis mine). If responsibility does not entail ability in the pre-converted state, then it is the burden of proof of Murray to demonstrate that responsibility entails ability in the post-converted state. Murray clearly fails to demonstrate this by his exegesis of Romans 6. One cannot simply assume that God gave the believer commandments and thus man is able – or guaranteed – to keep them.
    Murray would probably indicate that the difference between post-conversion and pre-conversion is the presence of the Spirit in the regenerate man (which is clearly absent in the unregenerate man). Murray would then state that the Spirit then “enables” the believer to perform the requirements of the Law. However, he must demonstrate how regeneration or the presence of the Holy Spirit grants the believer an ability which the unbeliever does not have. One cannot assume, as Murray does, that the Holy Spirit’s presence grants this ability.

    In Heidelberg 60 we say, in part:

    …that is, although my conscience accuse me, that I have grievously sinned against all the commandments of God, and have never kept any of them….

    This is the testimony of the Christian, not the unbeliever.

    http://heidelblog.net/2016/03/why-should-i-love-god/#comment-470397

  5. markmcculley Says:

    I John 5: 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us the lasting life of the age to come , and this life is in His Son. 12 The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have the lasting life of the age to come

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Adam had the tree of life

    if you have the tree, you have life

    Adam had life

    if you lose the tree, you lose life

    John 20: 31 these are written so that you will believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you will have life in His name.

    if you have Christ, you have life

    if you have Christ, you will always have Christ

    if you have Christ, you will always have life

    God did not want Adam and Eve to know everything God knows True
    God does not want us to know everything God knows True
    God was afraid of Adam and Eve False
    God is afraid of us False
    Adam and Eve were not yet allowed to kill snakes False
    Adam and Eve were not yet allowed to eat from the Tree of Life False

    • markmcculley Says:

      Liam Goligher—-“All future covenants will be variations of the covenant with Adam…. Adam was in a state of rectitude, perfectly capable of obeying this law, and this law is not a terribly restricting law…If Adam had obeyed, he would have presumably gone on to have children for many years and then presumably, at some point, Adam and his children would have been granted access to the tree of life and given transformed eternal glorious bodies….” God, Adam and You, Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, P and R, p 73-74

      • markmcculley Says:

        ot the death alone, but also the suffering

        not the death alone, but also the active obedience to the law of Moses

        Joel Beeke, p 148, God Adam and You, P and R, 2015—–“The work of the second Adam was not merely to die but to obey in all things.

        Jonathan Edwards–“What Christ did brought life, not ONLY as a sacrifice but it had the nature of meriting….Christ’s active obedience was JUST AS NECESSARY to satisfy the honor of God’s law as was His death.”

        After you first tell me that the passive was also the active, and then you tell me that we must not divide or separate the passive from the active, and then after you separate the passive from the active by saying it was not enough alone…..

        Did what Christ did in His death alone have the nature of meriting?

        Is Christ’s death what Christ Did, or is the Death only what was done to Christ?

  7. markmcculley Says:

    I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order: Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death.

    Romans 5: 17 Since by the one man’s trespass,DEATH reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. 18 So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation …., so also through one righteous act there is LIFE-GIVING justification… just as sin reigned in DEATH, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in the lasting LIFE of the age to come through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    First death and second dath alike and also different, in terms of both quality and quantity. I would not equate the “quality” of “the lasting life of the age to come” with “immorality”. Those who have now already been justified NOW HAVE the lasting life of the age to come, but they do not yet have immortality. And, looking to the parallel, those who are born condemned into this world include the elect, but none of them has been given the “second death” yet. Those who are justified will never be given the second death, but those who remain condemned will not only be ruined or excluded but will terminally die, permanently perish. 16 “For God gave His One and Only Son, so that as many as who believe in Him will NOT perish but have lasting life. John 3:36 the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.”

    Matthew 10:28 Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    This guy says that being put out of the garden is on the basis of works, and that staying in the garden is on the basis of works, but that getting back into the garden is not on the basis of works. But he doesn’t give any reason for the contrast he assumes. If you confuse law and mercy at the beginning, there is no reason to stop confusing law and mercy later on.

    To compare Adam being put out of the garden to somebody being put out of “the church” or out of “the covenant” is to claim that the punishment for sin is “mercy”. To say that God’s mercy keeps you from breaking the law is not to depend on God’s mercy in Christ.

    To say that Adam already had ‘spiritual life” and that Adam could have and would have earned justification by works is to make Christ plan B. There is no reason to deny that Adam ate from the tree of life before he sinned, but there is also no reason to think that the tree of life was the tree of justification.

    Those who assume that all humans will always exist deny that any humans ever really die. So they deny that being separated from the tree of life is the death which is the wages of sin. They only make a distinction between living in the presence of God, or living in “hell where God is not present”. But this guy knows that ‘returning to the dust” does not mean non-existence but something bad like exile or “spiritual death”

    The next time you hear somebody say that “eternal life” is not about continuing to exist in time but about “quality of life”, ask them why “eternal life” cannot be BOTH knowing Christ and knowing Christ in time forever. A false logic gives us false alternatives.

    http://westsidereformed.org/reflections-on-the-two-trees/

  9. markmcculley Says:

    God’s sovereignty—something happened to me, not my doing

    God’s atonement—something happened for me, but not in me, outside of me, at a distance from me—at another time and in another place

    God’s justification of the elect—Christ’s humanity is not always dying, but the value of His one time death is imputed by God to the elect

    our life does not come from God’s life imparted or infused into us

    our life comes from Christ’s death credited to us

    our life does not come from sacramental medicine or sacramental union

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/sacramental-union-and-communion-with-christ

    Bruce McCormack—-“The work of the Holy Spirit does not complete a work of Jesus Christ which was incomplete without it. The work of the Holy Spirit does not make effective a work of Jesus Christ which is ineffective without it.”, p 229, “The Actuality of God, Engaging the Doctrine of God“

    In “What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”, p 110, McCormack argues for the priority of the legal over the “organic”

    “I do not participate in the historical humanity of Christ ( a thought which would require an unity on the level of ‘substance’. Rather, I participate in the kind of humanity which Jesus embodies… Nowadays, we are suffering from ‘creeping perichoresis’, that is, the overly expansive use of terms which have their homes in purely spiritual relations between humans who do NOT participate in a common ‘substance’ and who therefore remain distinct individuals. This surely has to be the relation of the human believer to the human Jesus as well.

    “What has prevented us from seeing this is, I think, the degree of residual Catholic content in the Reformation understanding of eucharistic feeding. It is in the context of his treatment of eucharistic feeding that Calvin borrows rhetoric from the early church that brings him into conflict with his own doctrine of justification.

    “The image of vine and branches might easily be seen to connote an organic connectedness of Christ to the believer. The early church thought of an ontological union of a ‘person” in whom being is mixed with non-being (that’s us) with a ‘person’ in whom being is pure from non-being (Jesus). …The difference between the relation between a vine and a branch and the relation between Christ and the believer is that the first relation is impersonal and the second is personal. The flow of nutrients from the vine to the branches take place automatically. It does not require a legal act of the will. But in the case of Christ and the believer, we are dealing with a willed relation. The ethical ‘bearing of fruit’ takes place on the foundation of justification. John 15:3–‘You are already clean BECAUSE OF THE WORD I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU.’

    “The term ‘ingrafting’ is used in Romans 9-11 to speak of a share in gifts and privileges. That Paul would preface his use of the horticultural image with the affirmation that the adoption belonged to the Israelites before the Gentiles suggests that the image of ‘ingrafting’ is used as a synonym for adoption. The horticultural image is subordinated to the legal.. Since the gift of the Holy Spirit is itself a consequence of adoption (Romans 8:15) and not the condition of adoption, a legal metaphor is used to describe the objective side of the act in which God turns toward the individual in his grace without respect for the subjective consequences of that turning IN US.

    McCormack—”The problem with such statements is that one of the ‘gifts’ he speaks of–regeneration–is very difficult to distinguish conceptually from that ‘union’ which is supposed to give rise to BOTH justification AND REGENERATION….Calvin’s break with Medieval Catholic views was not as clean and complete as he himself obviously thought. For where regeneration is made— if only logically–to be the root of justification, then the work of God in us is once again made to be the ground of the divine forgiveness of sins.”

  10. markmcculley Says:

    it’s not me asking “what would be the point of eating God the Son while He’s still living?”

    it’s that the Bible does not teach it
    and if that makes me a biblicist and a rationalist and modernist, I don’t care

    God the Son offered Himself in death once for all time, not to us but to God

    yes, I believe in the unfinished work of God the Son
    His present intercession and His future coming to earth to raise the justified from the dead

    but the real humanity of God the Son is now seated in heaven
    neither the deity or the humanity of God the Son is seated in my stomach

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Calvin
    “That human life is like smoke or shadow is not only obvious to the learned, but even ordinary folk have no proverb more commonplace than this…But there is almost nothing that we regard more negligently or remember less. For we undertake all things as if we were establishing immortality for ourselves on earth. If some corpse is being buried, or we walk among graves, because the likeness of death then meets our eyes, we, I confess, philosophize brilliantly concerning the vanity of this life. Yet even this we do not do consistently, for often all these things affect us not one bit.

    When it happens, our philosophy is for the moment; it vanishes as soon as we turn our backs, and leaves not a trace of remembrance behind it. In the end, like applause in the theater for some pleasing spectacle, it evaporates. Forgetful not only of death but also of mortality itself, as if no inkling of it had ever reached us, we return to our thoughtless assurance of earthly immortality.” (Institutes 1:714)

  12. Ryan Stennes Says:

    If God has chosen the elect before time began, and we know that God’s will is unvarying, then can the elect be considered equally as condemned as the non-elect before hearing the call? If It is God’s will that the elect shall be saved, then by saying that there is ANY chance of them not being saved is to doubt the will of God. So if the name John Doe is on the list, John is going to hear the general call before dying. There is not a way that someone can be of the elect without ever coming to know it, correct? John was always on the list since before time began, so how could he be considered truly condemned and then truly saved?

    • markmcculley Says:

      Saying that the elect are born in Adam, and born by nature guilty under the wrath of God is NOT at all saying that there is a possibility (or a chance) of them not being justified. By way of analogy, since God predestined you to be born, did this mean that you were born already before your parents even met each other?

      Predestination does not remove the history from history. Notice the verb tenses and the adverbs

      Ephesians 2 you WERE dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you PREVIOUSLY walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority …We too all previously LIVED among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we WERE BY nature children UNDER WRATH as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 MADE US ALIVE with the Messiah even WHEN WE WERE dead in trespasses.

      Some preachers who equate God’s election with God’s justification, and who teach that the elect were never not justified, attempt to explain Ephesians 2 by saying that wrath is what the elect deserve but that at no point in history were they ever under God’s wrath But, at least to me, this seems like reading AGAINST THE TEXT, and not trying to understand what Ephesians is saying. Ephesians is not only saying that the elect were not “born again” yet. The death and life in question are about either condemnation OR the “life of the age to come” (justification before God).

      Yes, God has always loved the elect. But they cannot know they are elect until they are justified, and they will not be justified until God imputes Christ’s death to them. When this happens in time, then God no longer imputes their sins to them—at that point there is no condemnation for the elect, and they are “in Christ” not only by God’s love ( election) bur also by God’s justice. II Corinthians 5:21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, in order that would become the righteousness of God in Him.

      Ryan, I would ask you to think about two great matters, and not only about the fact that at one time you were not born yet even though you were predestined to be born.

      Great matter one—-Christ is the One God “made to be sin”. By imputation in time, Christ (God the Son) came under God’s wrath because of sins imputed to Christ. Since we know that Christ Himself is not only God but also God’s elect “special loved one”, how could we possibly say that Christ was ever “really” under the law, so that Christ “had to” die for sins? Since His resurrection was predestined, is it His death (or the satisfaction of justice) something that really matters? I would love to talk about this with you? Is the “propitiation” fake, since God’s plan has already determined how sucessfully things will turn out? Sins are no longer imputed to Christ, because Christ’s death satisfied for them

      Is your objection to God having already decided everything or is your objection to the idea that God is the kind of God who “demands death and justice” (even from Christ)?

      I Peter 1: 20 Christ was chosen BEFORE the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the ages for those who through Christ are believers in God

      Second great matter—-Did God love the elect because Christ was going to die for them, or did Christ die for the elect because God first loved the elect? The answer is that the love comes first, but in order for God to transfer those God loves from being under wrath in Adam to being safe in Christ’s death, then the justice of Christ’s death is necessary.

      I John 4: 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

      Ryan, I welcome your further comments, and hopefully they won’t get kicked to spam, after my approving your comment above

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Philippians 3: 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of Him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them filth, in order that I gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is THROUGH FAITH in Christ—the righteousness FROM God

    among those of us who agree that there is a difference between the imputation of the righteousness and the righteousness, and who also agree that RIGHTEOUSNESS IS THE JUDICIAL BASIS FOR JUSTIFICATION, is there agreement about the nature of the righteousness?

    Does Christ have a righteousness of His own from His keeping the law?

    Or does the righteousness of Christ come from His death as satisfaction of the law?

    Or Both?

    so that the death only gets us forgiveness?

    so that the death only get us back to where Adam was before Adam was before Adam sinned?

    so that the death gets us back to only sinless but not righteous?

    but didn’t Adam before Adam sin have righteous fellowship with God?

    yes, God not only commanded Adam not to eat from the tree but also to “have dominion”, but did Adam need more than Adam to be righteous? Did Adam have to do something to stay righteous? Or did Adam have to NOT DO something to stay righteous?

    Genesis 2: 15 The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat[m] from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

    Genesis 1: 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.

    even though Christ’s death was successful , did it only “accomplish” getting our old clothes off and getting us clean

    so that Christ’s death does not give us new clothes?
    so that only Christ’s acts of resisting Satan’s three temptations are what give us the new clothes? or was it the physical circumcision and water baptism of Christ which gives us the new clothes?

    Christ’s death is not “obedience to the law”. Christ’s death is satisfaction of the law (the law requires obedience or death, the law does not say that death is obedience)

    Genesis 3: 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

    Genesis 3: 17 the ground is cursed because of you.

    Genesis 3: 21 The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.


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