“Union with Christ” is NOT a Result of Faith

IT is NOT faith which unites the elect to Christ. God’s imputation of Christ’s death puts the elect in Christ

Tom Schreiner—“Do we say that faith is our righteousness, or is it the case that faith justifies us because it unites us with Jesus Christ, who is our righteousness? I would say the latter. Our faith justifies us because it unites us with Jesus Christ, in whom we find forgiveness of sins, and the righteousness of God is given to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). In one sense, I think it is almost simple if I explain it this way. Why is it that faith justifies us? It can’t be because it is our faith. What justifies us is clearly the object of our faith. It is not our faith itself that justifies us. ”

http://www.booksataglance.com/author-interviews/interview-with-thomas-schreiner-author-of-faith-alone-the-doctrine-of-justification-what-the-reformers-taughtand-why-it-still-matters
Questions for Tom Schreiner.

Is faith also a blessing of salvation? Does faith also depend on “union”? Or does “union” depend on faith”? Is it the faith that God the Holy Spirit gives us that unites us to Christ which then causes God to impute righteousness to us?

Are we the imputers, or is God the imputer? Does God’s imputation depend on us? Does God’s imputation depend on first God regenerating us? Isn’t regeneration also a blessing of salvation? Did Christ die to purchase regeneration for the elect? Or does the Holy Spirit give us faith in order to make the death of Christ work?

Many “Reformed” people teach us that “faith unites us too Christ”, and then after that, God imputes Christ’s righteousness. Some “Reformed” even say that God counts this “uniting faith” for something it really isn’t—they say God counts faith as righteousness.

A liberal view is that faith really pleases God so that God forgets the believer’s sins. The curse for sin is not a judge passing a death sentence or an offended king showing his wrath, but a father letting his wayward son learn the hard lesson, so that the son will finally give up on himself, remember the father’s goodness, and come home. The acts of salvation in history are therefore God’s means of reminding men his mercy, of which the death of Christ is the supreme revelation. In this view, the one and only sin becomes unbelief of the “offer” of the gospel.

An Arminian view is that faith unites us to Christ, causes Christ to be present in us, and that then as a result the death of Christ covers those united from God’s judgment. In the Passover: the esinners themselves applied the blood of the lamb to their houses and escaped the plague of death. In this view, “Christ is dead for you”, and the death of Christ is sufficient enough to make an offer but not enough to cover any sin, unless one first “exercises the faith” which “unites us to Christ.

I am not saying that either of these views deny the fact that God’s election decided for whom Christ would die. I am saying that Christ’s atoning does not have decisive priority in these two false views. .In both views, faith becomes the condition of “union” and “union” the condition of imputation. The Arminian view make us the oned who impute the righteousness to ourselves. And for all practical purposes, this view makes our faith our saving righteousness.

Hanko—by making faith the condition of salvation, faith is set outside the benefits of the atonement. if the atonement is for every sinner, but faith is not for every sinner, then faith cannot be a blessing given by means of the atonement. Then faith is not one of the blessings of Christ’s death, but becomes a condition for making Christ’s death effective. One cannot have it both ways. Faith is either part of salvation or a condition to salvation; but both it cannot be.
http://www.prca.org/current/Free%20Offer/chapter6.htm

Mike Horton—Even if it is granted that justification is an exclusively forensic declaration, the rest of the order of salvation has usually been treated in Reformed theology as the consequence of an entirely different event the implantation of new life in regeneration.” (Covenant and Salvation p 216)

Calvin (3:2:10)–”Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with Him in the gifts with which he has been endowed.”

Bruce 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.” p 110, “What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”,

Jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came, p 352—”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

L Berkhof . (systematic, p 452)
“It is sometimes said that the merits of Christ cannot be imputed to us as long as we are not in Christ, since it is only on the basis of our oneness with Him that such an imputation could be reasonable. But this view fails to distinguish between our legal unity with Christ and our spiritual oneness with Him, and is a falsification of the fundamental element in the doctrine of redemption, namely, of the doctrine of justification. ”
“Justification is always a declaration of God, not on the basis of an existing (or future) condition, but on that of a gracious imputation–a declaration which is not in harmony with the existing condition of the sinner. The judicial ground for all the grace which we receive lies in the fact that the righteousness of Christ is freely imputed to us.”
What does “union” mean?

Is “union” both forensic and non-forensic?

Once you have defined “union”, will you consistently use the word “union” in the way you defined it?

Or will you be thinking of “union” only as “a result of faith”?

If “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if faith is a result of regeneration, where do faith and regeneration come from?

Is the problem with saying that “sanctification results from (is evidence of) justification” the fact that we are either justified or we are not?

Are we not also either “united to Christ” or not?

Please define “union”. Do you mean “in Christ”? Or do you mean “Christ in us”?

Is there a difference in those two phrases? Why do you say “union” when you could be saying “in Christ” and “Christ in us”?)

When you deny that “sanctification” is a “mere consequence” of the forensic, did you mean to deny that “sanctification” is a consequence of the “merely forensic”?

What do you have against any “sola” which points to merely Christ’s extrinsic righteousness imputed to the elect?

If “sanctification” is “more than” than “mere evidence”, does that mean that “sanctification” is also more than a result of “union”?

Is “sanctification” is in someway identical to “union”?

Does “union” flow result from transformation?

Is “union” the same thing as transformation?

If “union” is a result of faith, was faith a result of transformation?

If union is transformation, and union must come before God’s imputation, how is it that God is any sense justifying the ungodly?

If becoming children of God only means being born again so that we are freed by regeneration from corruption, what is the need for those who are no longer ungodly to be justified or adopted?

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20 Comments on ““Union with Christ” is NOT a Result of Faith”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/the-spirit-is-life-because-of-righteousness/

    The new birth is necessary, but it is a logical result and not a condition of God’s imputation of Christ’s death.. 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. Romans 4:17, “God gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things which do not exist.”

    The Bible gives first place to Christ and what Christ got done judicially. To look to Christ in us and to life in us (given by the Holy Spirit) is to look away from the testimony about what Christ has done at the cross and in His resurrection.

    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.”

    It is not faith that made God the source of life. It is not the Holy Spirit who made God a source of life. God not only chose the elect in Christ; in time God also judicially declares the elect to have life in Christ.

    Having Christ and having life is a result of God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect. If the elect could have life and Christ before that imputation, it would be too late for the imputation and there would be no need for the imputation or for the merits of the death which is imputed. After God’s imputation, the ungodly elect become godly and receive the Holy Spirit and the new birth. But if they could get the Spirit and life without the righteousness, they would not ever need the righteousness. Romans 8:10, “the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Paul Helm, Calvin: A Guide for the Perplexed, p 71—“It is important to grasp that for Calvin this union with Christ does not depend on anything we do or have, not even on our faith. Union with Christ is God’s immediate, gracious donation. Faith (another gift of God) is our response. Faith is not what procures the union in the first place.”….p 77.”A person’s union with Christ begins in eternity and is realized in real time. We do not receive this union by faith.”

    Jonathan Gibson, WTS, From Heaven He Came, p 358—-“Election and the Atonement do not operate on separate theological tracks. What God has joined together, let no theologian separate. Affirming union with Christ before the moment of redemption accomplished counters any disjunction between the effect of Christ’s death and the effect of His resurrection. (Those who put union later) sound as if Christ’s death might lead to the death of some sinners, but not also to their resurrection. This is not only analogy. if one, then the other. if death with, then resurrection with.”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    when you say “union with Christ”, do you mean “in Christ” or “Christ in us”? When you say that the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ, do you mean that the Spirit not the Father puts us in Christ? Do you mean that the Spirit must give us Christ before the Father can impute righteousness to us? When you say that the Holy Spirit unites us to Christ, do you mean that the Spirit puts Christ in us? Do you mean that the Spirit must give us Christ before Christ can give us the Spirit? Do you mean that the Holy Spirit is in us before Christ is in us?

    John Robbins —Our own consciences demand justice and cannot be pacified unless God’s fellowship with us is grounded on justice… Sanctification is living a life of fellowship with God. Justification is its legal basis, and without justification no fellowship with a holy God can exist… There is a direct relationship between the guilt of sin and the power of sin. If the guilt of sin is removed, the power of sin is broken. This is Paul’s point in Romans 6:14…

    The way of justification by faith alone is the only way of receiving the Spirit of God. To be justified means to be declared righteous and treat as righteous. How does God treat the forgiven sinner as righteous? By giving him the gift of the Holy Spirit. Nothing more and nothing less than perfect righteousness is necessary for the outpouring of God’s Spirit.
    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=165

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Urisnus—-And yet our application of the righteousness of Christ is from God; for God first imputes it unto us, and then works faith in us, by which we apply unto ourselves that which is imputed; from which it appears that the application of God precedes that which we make, (which is of faith) and is the cause of it, although it is not without ours, as Christ says, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” (John 15:16) http://www.seeking4truth.com/ursinus/zuquestion59-60.htm

    Berkhof: This declaration is made in the tribunal of God. This declaration is not a declaration in which God simply acquits the sinner, without taking any account of the claims of justice, but is rather a divine declaration that, in the case of the sinner under consideration, the demands of the law are met. The sinner is declared righteous in view of the fact that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him. In this transaction God appears, not as an absolute Sovereign who simply sets the law aside, but as a righteous Judge, who acknowledges the i merits of Christ as basis for justification, and as a gracious Father, who freely forgives and accepts the sinner. This active justification logically precedes faith and passive justification. Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 517

  5. markmcculley Says:

    WCF 11;4—God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them. .

    I agree with the confession that the justification happens in time, but not that it’s the Holy Spirit who applies it. Righteousness is something different from imputation, and justification is something different from (that results from) God’s imputation of righteousness.

    In his introduction to the second edition of Gaffin’s By Faith Not by Sight, Mark Jones suggests that anybody who has a different order of salvation than Gaffin has is antinomian.

    Mark Jones– “The position that faith followed imputation was not typical of Reformed thought in his day but rather was associated with antinomianism.”.

    Mark Jones—”Any view that posits faith as a consequence of imputation (John Cotton) is not the typical Reformed position.”

    Mark Jones—”The Lutheran view that justification precedes sanctification..ends up attributing to justification a renovative transformative element.”

    Mark McCulley– that’s the same accusation which Tipton made.
    Mark Jones is dogmatic that “union” precedes imputation, and that “faith” precedes “union”. Does that not end up attributing to “union” a renovative transformative element? Does that not end up attributing to “faith” a renovative transformative element? Either Jones is equating “union” with the effectual call, or Jones is saying that faith is before “union”.

    is faith before the effectual call? Is Christ’s atonement imputed to us on the basis of the Spirit’s work of giving us faith?

  6. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.johnowen.org/media/mason_union_with_christ.pdf

    Owen — “The first spring or cause of this union, and of all the other causes of it, lies in that eternal compact that was between the Father and the Son concerning the recovery and salvation of fallen mankind.” Notice he does not call this itself our union with Christ, but rather the first spring or cause of that union. He continues:

    [6.] On these foundations he undertook to be the surety of the new covenant, Hebrews 7:22, “Jesus was made a surety of a better testament.” This alone, of all the fundamental considerations of the imputation of our sins unto Christ, I shall insist upon, on purpose to obviate or remove some mistakes about the nature of his suretiship

    Garry J Williams, p 511—How does John Owen avoid the accusation of Richard Baxter, that satisfaction would have to be applied immediately upon being made? For John Owen, the gift of faith is itself a certain result of the work of Christ, produced by it ipso facto, BUT NOT “in immediation of time but causality.” John Owen argues for the compatiblity of identical satisfaction and delayed application on the basis of covenant (that stipulates how the satisfaction will be applied).

    Owen, volume 10, p 450—Of the Death of Christ, the Price He Paid, and the Purchase He Made https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/john-owen-all-the-sins-of-some-sinners/

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Mason—-In contrast to Crisp and Saltmarsh, he insists that although prior to the cross the elect are beloved, elected, and ordained to eternal life, their actual condition, which they share with all people, remains unchanged by the decree of election alone… God’s eternal purpose is not the same as the mighty act of his power. God’s decrees guarantee the certain futurition of the events decreed, but they do not accomplish their actual existence. In so distinguishing God’s decrees from his actions, Owen stands in the mainstream…

    Owen offers an exegetical argument. Scripture places all humans, prior to faith, in the same condition: guilty and under God’s wrath (citing Rom. 3:9, 19; Ephesians . 2:3; John. 3:36). Commenting on this, he explicitly addresses the claims of advocates of eternal justification: ‘The condition of all in unregeneracy is really one and the same. Those who think it is a mistaken apprehension in the elect to think so, are certainly mistaken (45)

    so I disagree with Owen here—The imputation of sin unto Christ was antecedent unto any real union between him and sinners, whereon he took their sin on him as he would, and for what ends he would; but the imputation of his righteousness unto believers is consequential in order of nature unto their union with him, whereby it becomes theirs in a peculiar manner; (V, 449)

  8. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.johnowen.org/media/mason_union_with_christ.pdf

    Mason —-According to Owen, although God’s will toward the elect was not changed upon the death of Christ, for he is immutable, Christ’s death nevertheless changed the status of the elect. On the basis of Christ’s merit, founded on God’s free engagement in the covenant of redemption with his Son, God is obliged to deliver them from the curse ipso facto. Therefore, because of Christ’s satisfaction, God is able to make out the benefits Christ purchased, without any other conditions needing to be fulfilled. In particular, Christ also purchased the condition of the covenant, faith; hence, from the time of the atonement, the elect have an absolute right to justification. Nevertheless, although they have a right to justification, they do not yet have a present enjoyment of it. To establish this, Owen makes a number of distinctions…

    [T]here are two different kinds of right to something: ius in re and ius ad rem. Ius in re is the right a father has to his estate: it is a present possession, of which he cannot justly be deprived. Ius ad rem is the right a son has to his father’s estate; he does not yet possess it, but he will do on his father’s death. Upon the death of Christ, the elect do not yet have a right to justification in re. However, they do have a right to justification ad rem and sub termino. Thus, they have an absolute right, with no further conditions required, Christ having done all that is necessary for their justification. Nevertheless, they are not yet in possession; (49-51)

  9. markmcculley Says:

    http://www.crispchristaloneexalted.com/pdf-files/s38.pdf THE ACT OF BELIEVING IS NOT OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, by Tobias Crisp

    Faith is not the instrument radically to unite Christ and the Soul together, but rather is the fruit that follows and flows from Christ the root, being united before hand to the person that do believe… Is faith the gift of Christ or no?… Doth Christ beget faith in us by virtue of our being united unto him? and shall this faith beget that union of which it was but a fruit? From whence shall persons that do believe before they are united unto Christ, receive this faith of theirs?

    Mason —-Crisp argues that John 15:4-5 demonstrates that faith is a fruit of union with Christ, the Vine, and thus must follow union with him. If faith came before union, the branch would bear fruit before being in the Vine, which directly contradicts Christ’s words…

    Crisp’s point is simple. Owing to the bondage of the will, no-one can exercise faith in and of themselves. At Calvary, Christ effectually merited salvation for the elect, and this necessarily includes the gift of faith. The elect receive every spiritual blessing in Christ, including the blessing of faith, otherwise whence is faith? Thus, it would seem that, on Crisp’s Reformed assumptions about human inability and the receipt of all blessings in Christ, faith must be a gift of God that follows and rests upon union with Christ. (29)

    For Crisp, the New Covenant is different from other biblical covenants because the others all have stipulations, conditions on both sides. However, on humanity’s side, the New Covenant is entirely unconditional. All conditions having been met in Christ, the justified sinner has no part to play in his salvation, and faith is not the condition of the covenant.

    Beeke and mark Jones describe Owen’s point—“He argued that berith could refer to a single promise without a condition, as in the Noahic covenant (Gen. 6:18; 9:9). According to Owen, this idea is no doubt present in the New Testament when the writer to the Hebrews calls the covenant a “testament,” and in a “testamentary dispensation there is not in the nature of it any mutual stipulation required, but only a mere single favor and grant or concession.”

    Beeke, Joel R.; Jones, Mark. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life

    • markmcculley Says:

      Owen argues that imputation has a double meaning It can mean to account or esteem something to us that actually was ours antecedently to imputation, and then to
      acknowledge that what is imputed is truly ours and to deal with us accordingly. However, this would either render justification impossible, as we lack true righteousness,
      or would require God to reckon us as righteous even though we are not, which would deny his justice. Alternatively, imputation can refer to something given to us that was
      not ours prior to imputation. This requires two things: first, ‘a grant or donation of this thing itself unto us, to be ours, on some just ground and foundation’; secondly, ‘A will of
      dealing with us, or an actual dealing with us, according unto that which is so made ours’.

      According to Owen, God does indeed deal with us in this way in justification. This second type of imputation, an imputation of the alien righteousness of Christ, is
      necessary, for, ‘the most holy and righteous God doth not justify any…but upon the interveniency of a true and complete righteousness, truly and completely made the
      righteousness of them that are to be justified in order of nature antecedently unto their justification.’

      Thus, the logical order is that, upon some just foundation, Christ’s righteousness is given to sinners; they are then reckoned truly to be righteousness; God
      then treats them as they truly are, and so justifies them. p 35, http://www.johnowen.org/media/mason_union_with_christ.pdf


  10. John Owen—“No blessing can be given us for Christ’s sake, unless, in order of nature, Christ be first reckoned unto us… God’s reckoning Christ, in our present sense, is the imputing of Christ unto ungodly, unbelieving sinners for whom he died, so far as to account him theirs, and to bestow faith and grace upon them for his sake. This, then, I say, at the accomplishment of the appointed time, the Lord reckons, and accounts, and makes out his Son Christ, to such and such sinners, and for his sake gives them faith.”. 10:26


  11. Lee Irons responds to Mark Jones—He correctly points to “eternal life” instead of “heaven” as more biblical language. But then he caves on conditionality, when this is done in the context of debates with paedobaptists. I quote:
    “Jones fails to mention this, but the treatise by Flavel that he cites was Vindiciarum Vindex, or, A Refutation of the Weak and Impertinent Rejoinder of Mr. Philip Cary. It wasn’t a treatise on justification but was part of a debate over paedobaptism. Philip Cary, the credobaptist, had argued that the new covenant or the gospel covenant is absolute or unconditional—a position that was even held by some paedobaptists, most notably John Owen. Flavel disagrees and argues that the gospel covenant is conditional upon faith. I happen to agree with the paedobaptist (Flavel) against the credobaptist (Cary) in this particular debate.
    Irons—“Flavel’s entire discussion of the various meanings of the word “condition” has to do with paedo- vs. credo-baptist debates over covenant theology, e.g., questions like whether the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision was the same in substance with the new or gospel covenant, and whether the new or gospel covenant is conditional. The precise question of the role of faith (instrumental vs. conditional) in justification is not directly in view (although justification is mentioned several times and Flavel even attaches an appendix critiquing the hyper-Calvinist doctrine of eternal justification, but, again, only to argue that faith is a condition in the obvious sense that it is necessary for justification).”
    http://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/2015/10/response-to-mark-jones-on-faith-as-a-condition-of-justification.html

    So I suppose it depends on the situation. When talking to baptists, you need to use the word—as long as you don’t put faith as a condition on the same line as Christ’s death as condition, , you will avoid the antinomian neonomianism of Richard Baxter. If you were ever to say that the new covenant is “unconditional”, then that would raise questions about the identity of the “Abrahamic covenant as one administration of the covenant of grace”.

    When you are talking to neonomians, you need to be more careful with “conditionality” I suppose. But what about when you are talking to neonomian baptists?

  12. markmcculley Says:

    f saying that Christ’s law keeping is imputed to us by God helps us to say that faith is not the righteousness imputed, that’s a good thing

    2 if it helps us to say that faith is not obedience to the law, that’s a good thing

    law goes with works, not with faith—–grace goes with faith, not works

    but 3. most of the people (and confessions) which teach imputed law-keeping also teach that this imputation takes place only after faith, and that it depends on faith–in other words, that God imputes righteousness (which is not faith) on the basis of faith, which means that a. faith is not a result of the righteousness and b. that “exercising faith” is still more important that the righteousness and c. that regeneration by the Holy Spirit is more important (and first) before the righteousness

    so what has been gained?

    but 4, does the Bible really teach that Christ’s incarnation, His resurrection, His water baptism, His physical circumcision, His life long suffering (to name only five acts) are imputed to the elect? If so, where does the Bible teach this?

    5. are His resurrection and incarnation Christ’s obedience to the law? If so, what law?

    6. The law taught death as retribution for sin. The law did not teach righteousness (and life) as a result of death

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Horton: Calvin refuses to choose between the forensic (justification) and the mystical-transformative (regeneration). While clearly distinguishing them, he sees both as gifts of our faith union with Christ.

    Calvin (3: 2: 24) —-Christ is not outside us but dwells within us. Not only does Christ cleave to us by an indivisible bond of fellowship, but grow more and more into one body with us, until He becomes completely one with us’ (III.ii.24).

    McCormack—One of the ‘gifts’ Calvin speaks of–regeneration–is 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 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.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    Vos—We find that there is real gospel under the theocracy. The people of God of those days did not live and die under an unworkable, unredemptive system of religion, that could not give real access to and spiritual contact with God. Nor was this gospel-element contained exclusively in the revelation that preceded, accompanied, and followed the law; it is found in the law itself. That which we call ‘the legal system’ is shot through with strands of gospel and grace and faith (Vos, 1948, 129)

    Vos–Evidence that in this sense conditions are attached to the covenant of grace: 1.The Scriptures speak in this way: John 3:16, 36; Rom 10:9; Acts 8:37; Mark 16:16; and in many other places.
    2.If there were no conditions, there would be no place for threats, for threatening only makes sense to those who reject the conditions; that is to say here, those who do not walk in the God-ordained way of the covenant.
    3.If there were no conditions, God alone would be bound by this covenant, and no bond would be placed on man. Thereby the character of the covenant would be lost. All covenants contain two parts.”

    Vos—Is faith, in its turn, again tied to something else? Evidently not, for otherwise we would get an infinite series, and nowhere would there be an absolute beginning where the grace of God intervenes. Therefore, we say that the covenant of grace is conditional with respect to its completion and final benefits, not as concerns its actual beginning.

    Vos—”The idea of commitment is employed in order to deny fellowship the name of covenant. But this whole objection immediately collapses as soon as one makes a distinction between the initial assent of faith and the ongoing exercise of faith. Faith is the ongoing activity that unlocks continual access to the good things of the covenant

    Vos—The presumption is always that the children of the covenant, who are under the covenant bond, will also be led into covenant fellowship. Election is FREE, but it is not on that account ARBITRARY. Therefore, we say: of those born under the covenant, not only is it REQUIRED WITH DOUBLE FORCE that they believe and repent, but it is likewise expected with a double confidence that they will be regenerated in order to be able to believe and repent.

    Vos–If for a long time he remains unconverted and unbelieving, the covenant relationship does not immediately end, and the requirement also does not cease, and the comfort likewise is not removed. But for the person himself, by his unbelief and impenitence, that comfort DIMINISHES with every moment

  15. markmcculley Says:

    faith alone which is not alone is not faith alone

    faith which is not alone does not justify

    faith which is alone does not justify

    faith does not justifiy

    faith does not unite anybody to Christ

    faith alone does not unite anybody to Christ

    faith which is not alone does not unite anybody to Christ

    God unites the elect to Christ by God’s legal imputation with Christ’s death

    God the Father effectually calls the elect to faith in Chrsit

    Christ’s death is Christ’s righteousness

    Christ’s death justifies

    Christ’s death imputed by God justifies

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Witness Lee- This faith is not of ourselves but of Him who imparts Himself as the believing element into us that He may believe for us” (Recovery Version, Heb. 12:2, note 3). This means that for our justification by God, we believe in Jesus Christ through Him as our faith. Paul, therefore, speaks of “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22)…

    …We would emphasize the fact that to believe in Christ is actually to believe into Him (John 3:15-16, 18, 36). When we believe in the Lord Jesus, we believe into Him. By believing into Him, we enter into Him to be one with Him, to partake of Him, and to participate in all that He has accomplished for us… Faith in Christ brings us into an organic union with Christ, and it is in this union that we are justified by God.

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/the-false-gospel-of-witness-lee-and-the-living-stream-ministries/

  17. markmcculley Says:

    had a tooth pulled today

    question was, if the tooth broke when the crown off the day before Christmas

    or in the days after, so that i “could have done something differently”

    but what does the order matter now?

    some would say this about the order of salvation
    but of course i do not agree

    2 Peter 1: 1 To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ
    Romans 8:10–”Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin,the Spirit is life BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
    Galatians 4:– And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

    Ursinus: At first view it seems absurd that we should be justified by anything without us, or by something that belongs to another. We explain how the satisfaction of Christ becomes ours. Unless Christ’s righteousness be applied unto us, we cannot be justified by it, . God himself applies Christ’s righteousness unto us, that is, God makes the righteousness of Christ over unto us, and accepts of us as righteous on account of Christ’s righteousness.

    A. A. Hodge–In Protestant Soteriology, there is– 1st. clear distinction between the change of relation signalized by justification, and the change of character signalized by regeneration. . 2nd. The change of relation, the remission of penalty, and the restoration to favor involved in justification, necessarily precedes, and makes certain the change expressed by regeneration. The continuance of judicial condemnation precludes the exercise of grace. Remission of punishment must precede the work of the Holy Spirit. We are pardoned in order to be good, never made good in order to be pardoned.

    Election is not the Atonement, but God’s election decided for whom Christ Atoned. (God does not love the elect because of Christ’s death, Christ’s death for the elect was because of God’s love). The atoning death is not the justification, but all for whom Christ died have been or will be justified.

    Romans 4: Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up because of our trespasses and raised because of our justification.

    ”Raised” is not the cause of the justification of the last elect person to be justified, but the justification of that last elect sinner is the cause of “raised”. Abraham’s justification while he was not yet circumcised is also the cause of “raised”

    One point of clarification. I deny that anybody is justified before God without believing the gospel, as I deny that any non-elect are in the new covenant. The elect are not born justified. The elect are not “eternally justified”. Christ’s righteousness is not justification. God’s imputation of righteousness results in faith. Nobody is justified (logically or temporally) before faith in the gospel. I do not teach two kinds of justification.

    Bavinck–Under the influence of…. Amyraldianism, there developed the neonomiam representation of the order of redemption which made forgiveness of sins and eternal life dependent on faith and obedience which man had to perform in accordance with the new law of the gospel. Parallel with this development, Pietism and Methodism arose which, with all their differences, also shifted the emphasis to the subject, and which either demanded a long experience or a sudden conversion as a condition for obtaining salvation.

    Bavinck–As a reaction against this came the development of anti-neonomianism, which had justification precede faith, and antinomianism which reduced justification to God’s eternal love. Reformed theologians usually tried to avoid both extremes, and for that purpose soon made use of the distinction between “active” and “passive justification.” This distinction is not found in the reformers; as a rule they speak of justification in a “concrete sense.” They do not treat of a justification from eternity, or of justification in the resurrection of Christ, or in the gospel, or before or after faith, but combine everything in a single concept.

    Bavinck–Efforts were made to keep both elements as close together as possible, while accepting only a logical and not a temporal distinction. However, even then, there were those who objected to this distinction inasmuch as the gospel mentions no names and does not say to anyone, personally: Your sins have been forgiven. Therefore it is not proper for any man to take as his starting point the belief that his sins have been forgiven.

    Bavinck– There is no reason to recommend speaking of eternal justification. If one says that “justification as an act immanent in God” must of necessity be eternal, then it should be remembered that taken in that sense everything, including creation, incarnation, atonement, calling, regeneration, is eternal. Whoever would speak of an eternal creation would give cause for great misunderstanding. Besides, the proponents of this view back off themselves, when, out of the fear of antinomianism, they assert strongly that eternal justification is not the only, full, and complete justification, but that it has a tendency and purpose to realise itself outwardly. This amounts really to the usual distinction between the decree and its execution. The counsel of God and all decrees contained therein as a unit are without doubt eternal “immanent acts”, but the external works of God, creation, preservation, governing, redemption, justification, etc., are in the nature of the case “transient acts.” As works they do not belong to the plan of God’s ordering but to the execution of it.

  18. markmcculley Says:

    Is “union” both forensic and non-forensic?
    Once a writer has defined “union”, will that writer consistently use the word “union” in the way the person first defined it?
    If “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if faith is a result of regeneration, where do faith and regeneration come from?
    If “union” is transformation, and union must come before God’s imputation, how is it that God is any sense justifying the ungodly?
    If “union” is regeneration, and if faith comes before “union”, does this mean that faith coms before “regeneration”?
    If becoming children of God means being born again so that we are freed by regeneration from corruption, what is the need for those who are no longer ungodly to at that pointed be adopted or imputed with Christ’s righteousness?
    http://rscottclark.org/2016/04/semi-pelagianism-and-faith-as-the-instrument-of-existential-mystical-union-with-christ/
    Charles Hodge—“The first effect of faith, according to the Scriptures is union with Christ. We are in him by faith. ..Included in the stipulations of that covenant, his people, so far as adults are concerned, should not receive the saving benefits of that covenant until they were united to Him by a voluntary act of faith. They are ‘by nature the children of wrath, even as others.’ (Ephesians 2:3) They remain in this state of condemnation until they believe. Their union is consummated by faith. To be in Christ, as to believe in Christ are, therefore , in the Scriptures, convertible forms of expression. They mean the same thing, and therefore, the same effects are attributed to faith as are attributed to union with Christ”
    Scott Clark argues that faith is the “instrument” of “union” (In Christ, and I guess also, Christ in us) –In Hodge’s ordo salutis, faith is not a result of mystical union. Rather, mystical union is, as Hodge said, “the first effect of faith.” “The proximate effect of this union, and consequently the second effect of faith is justification…Faith is the condition on which God promises in the covenant of redemption, to impute unto men the righteousness of Christ. As soon, therefore, as they believe, they cannot be condemned. ”
    mark mcculley–Scott Clark encourages us to ask ourselves if we believe the gospel, but we are discouraged from asking ourselves if we believe in election, because it’s assumed that asking that would mean asking ourselves to know that we ourselves are elect before believing the gospel. But believing in our own election is not the same thing as presuming that we ourselves are elect. But this idea about “don’t think about election” is a way to leave the truth just atonement (only for the elect, saving all the elect) out of the gospel which we are commanded to believe

    https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/keach-on-union-with-christ/

  19. markmcculley Says:

    Mark Jones– “The position that faith followed imputation was not typical of Reformed thought in his day but rather was associated with antinomianism….Any view that posits faith as a consequence of imputation (John Cotton) is not the typical Reformed position.
    https://theworldsruined.blogspot.com/2015/07/imputation-precedes-faith.html
    Evans: Thus Bruce McCormack takes Calvin to task for saying that justification flows from mystical union with Christ. This, according to McCormack “would seem to make justification the effect of a logically prior ‘participation’ in Christ that has been effected by the uniting action of the Holy Spirit.” This, he says, is a problem from a truly Reformational standpoint in that “the work of God ‘in us’ is, once again (and now on the soil of the Reformation!) made to be the ground of the divine forgiveness of sins.” (Bruce McCormack, “What’s At Stake in the Current Debates over Justification,” in Justification: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates, ed. Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier [IVP, 2004], pp. 101-102, 113-117).

    Is it the faith that God the Holy Spirit gives us that unites us to Christ which then causes God to impute righteousness to us? Are we the imputers, or is God the imputer?

    Does God’s imputation depend on us? Does God’s imputation depend on first God regenerating us? Isn’t regeneration also a benefit from Christ’s righteousness? Did Christ die to purchase regeneration for the elect? Or does the Holy Spirit give us faith in order to make the death of Christ work?

    Many “Reformed” people teach us that “faith unites us too Christ”, and then after that, God imputes Christ’s righteousness. Some “Reformed” even say that God counts this “uniting faith” for something it really isn’t—they say God counts that faith as the righteousness.

    Calvin (3:2:10)–”Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with Him in the gifts with which he has been endowed.”
    Bruce McCormack—”The problem with such statements is that one of the ‘gifts’ Calvin speaks of–regeneration–is very difficult to distinguish conceptually from that ‘union’ which is supposed to give rise to BOTH justification AND REGENERATION
    Jonathan Gibson, “The Glorious, Indivisible, Trinitarian Work of Christ”, From Heaven He Came, p 352—”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
    When the Westminster Confession speaks of “being baptized by the Spirit into one body”, that confession has zero biblical support. Christ is the one who baptizes into and with the Spirit. Neither I Corinthians 12: 13 or any other text says that the Holy Spirit baptizes into one body.
    I Corinthians 12 teaches that Christ gives the Spirit, not that the Spirit gives Christ—not by the Spirit, but with or into the Spirit, as so the other NT references. Ephesians 4:8 quotes Psalm 68: “when he ascended on high, he gave gifts to men.” Effectual calling by God the Father does not assume that it’s the Holy Spirit who includes us into Christ.

    In Mark and John, the Baptist proclaimed that Jesus “will baptize in the Holy Spirit”; while in Matthew and Luke, Christ “will baptize with Holy Spirit and fire”. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus Christ during his baptism, and Christ was anointed with power (certainly this is NOT a baptism by the Spirit into Christ).
    Matthew 3:11: …He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit…”
    Mark 1:8: …He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit…”
    Luke 3:16: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit…”
    Luke 24:49: …stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (see fulfillment in Acts 2).
    John 1:33: …the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”
    Acts 1:4-5: …you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…”
    Acts 2:14-18: …I will pour out my Spirit…” (quoting Joel 2:28-29).
    Acts 8:14-17: …prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit…”; …as yet the Spirit had not yet come upon any of them…”; …they received the Holy Spirit…”; …the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands….”
    Acts 10:44-48: “The Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word…”; …the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out…”; …people who have received the Holy Spirit…”
    Acts 11:15-16: …the Holy Spirit fell upon them…”; …you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…”
    Acts 19:1-6: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit…?”; …the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied…”
    1 Cor 12:13: “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free…”

    https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/lethams-book-on-union-with-christ/

    Even if it could be proven that at least one adult child born to one parent professing to be a Christian was a regenerate adult, that would not be a reason to conclude that all adult children born to parents professing to be Christians are part of the new covenant or part of the visible church. Even if it could be proven that at least one infant born to one parent professing to be a Christian was a regenerate infant, that would not be a reason to water all such infants.


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