“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. ”
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.
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?