Archive for the ‘baptism’ category

The Priority of Christ’s Death

November 12, 2017

Why do I keep writing each month on this blog? Why do I care? What’s it really about? What I most care about is God imputing elect sinners with Christ’s death. To me, all my contention is not only about “justification priority”. It all comes down, for me, to “atonement priority”.

Yes, I am against “ecclesiology” becoming the gospel (whether it’s NT Wright or Carl Truman dismissing the “Zwinglians”) But my basic concern is that Christ’s atoning death is outside us sinners. Atonement is not what happens in us experimentally. God’s imputation of Christ’s atonement is not the atonement. The gospel is first of all about Christ’s death for the sins of the elect imputed. If it’s not about that, it’s not the gospel. I object to any idea that we believe in Christ “as a person” without knowing something about the nature of Christ’s atonement. I object to the “experimental” focus on “more and more heartfelt trust” because that “in me” displaces the good news about the the success of Christ’s death.

The atonement has to be defined.—propitiatory offering, satisfaction of God’s law

WCF—“The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience, and sacrifice of himself, which he, through the eternal Spirit, ONCE OFFERED UP up to God, hath fully SATISFIED the justice of His Father; and PURCHASED, not only reconciliation, but everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all THOSE WHOM THE FATHER HAS GIVEN UNTO HIM. ”

Whatever it is that joins us to Christ’s atonement (even if it’s “personal presence” as the unionists say), is not the atonement, and is not the object of faith. Christ’s righteousness was obtained once for all time, and is not being accomplished by the Holy Spirit regenerating us or indwelling us. In that sense Christ’s “finished work” has priority over the present intercession or the coming Resurrection Day. God’s present work is based on God’s work already done in Christ. This is not to deny the necessity or importance of the Holy Spirit but to say that Christ gives the Holy Spirit. It is not the Holy Spirit who gives Christ.

The law-gospel antithesis is not about saying the law is not necessary. The law-gospel antithesis is about saying that the gospel is not the law. The gospel is not about the sinner’s unfinished and incomplete obedience to the law. The “unionists” oppose this as “false polarization”. But to include the works of Christians into the final declared justification is to include the works of Christians into the “atonement”.

There has always been a view among some Reformed that they can teach “the indicative of what Christ has accomplished” without addressing the question of the extent of the atonement. But the nature of Christ’s righteousness cannot be clearly taught without saying that only the sins of the elect were imputed to Christ.

If Christ in some sense bore the sins of sinners who are eventually not justified, then Christ’s death cannot be taught as that which totally satisfies the demands of God’s law in a “complete” atonement” . Not talking about Christ’s death in terms of election (but only in terms of “covenant”) results in a very GRAY “now but not yet ” gospel which brings into the mix ( in our conscience and before God) books of the works of sinners (enabled somewhat by the Holy Spirit) .

Calvin — “When in scripture death only is mentioned, everything peculiar to the resurrection is at the same time included, and that there is a like synecdoche in the term resurrection.” (Institutes 2:16:13)

Fesko—“The resurrection does more than prepare its object for undergoing the judgment. The resurrection of the church is not the anticipation of the issue of judgment, but is de jure the final judgment.”

1 Timothy 3:16 “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

If you are going to put your hope in two kinds of righteousness, it certainly would make sense to have two aspects of justification. But there is only one justification, and it is based on Christ’s death (and resurrection).

How was Christ justified? Not by becoming born again by the Holy Spirit. Christ was justified by satisfying the righteous requirement of the law for the sins imputed to Christ. Christ was justified by His death. Christ needed to be justified because Christ legally took the guilt of His elect, and this guilt demanded His death. Christ was not justified because of His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was God’s declaration because of Christ’s death.

Romans 6:9–“We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.”

Christ was declared to be just, not simply by who He was as an incarnate person, but by what Christ had done in satisfaction to the law. No righteousness was shared to Christ from others, because Christ earned His own justification by His own death. Romans 4:24-25 –Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was handed over because of our sins and raised because of our justification.

The legal value and merit of Christ’s death is shared by God with the elect sinner, as Romans 6 says, when they are placed into that death. So there’s only the one righteousness. In the case of the justified elect, Christ’s one death is legally shared with them by God, and this one death is enough, because counted to them that one death completely satisfies the law for righteousness. (Romans 10:4)

Romans 6:7–“For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

The Norman Shepherd (“federal vision”) problem creeps in when people begin to think that since Christ was justified by what Christ did, then the elect also must be justified by what they are enabled to do. But there are NOT two justifications, one now by imputation, and another in the future, where we will be justified like Christ was. We are ONLY justified by what Christ did, and NOT by what Christ is now doing in us. Christ is not to be justified by what Christ will do, because Christ has already been justified by His obedience to law (even to death)

Hebrews 9: 26 now Christ has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (27 as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, the judgment) 28 so also the Messiah, HAVING BEEN offered ONCE to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

When Hebrews 9:28 tells us that Christ “appears a second time not to deal with sin,” this is not a denial of a future judgment after death for the non-elect. The Triune God will deal with the sin of the non-elect.

The point of Hebrews 9:28 is that the sins of the elect have already been dealt with once at the cross. This was not a provisional dealing with, the efficacy of which is yet to be determined by what God does in some of the sinners for whom Christ died.. Even the elect sinner’s faith in the gospel is a result and not a condition of Christ’s past dealing with sin and God having placed that sinner into Christ’s death.

Hebrews 9:26-28 depends on this one time dealing with sins in the past. The point is eliminated by those who teach that Christ was given for everybody and that sins now are dealt with by the Holy Spirit’s giving to some what was done for all. https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=111514231124

Our faith does not impute Christ’s righteousness to us. Nor does God wait for our faith before God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us.

What is imputed to us? Christ’s atonement is imputed to us. It’s not the present status and work of Christ which is imputed to us. It’s the merit of Christ’s finished work of law satisfaction which is imputed to us. “Merely” Christ’s atonement. “Only” Christ’s righteousness.

I am not interested at all in any “common grace” or “prevenient grace” in which “baptism” fails to save those joined to Christ’s death.

“therefore all died.” 2 Corinthians 5:14 Smeaton—Paul uses two expressions interchangeably; that is, “He died for all”, and “all died in Him.” Paul is describing the same thing from two different points of view. The first of these expressions describes the vicarious death of Christ as an objective fact. The second phrase speaks of the same great transaction, in terms that indicate that we too have done it. So then, we may either say, “Christ died for us”, or “we died in Him.” Both are true. We can equally affirm that He was crucified for us, or we were co-crucified with Him. We are not referring here to two acts-one on Christ’s side and another on ours. Rather,we have but one public representative, corporate act performed by the Son of God, in which we share as truly as if we had accomplished the atonement ourselves.

Theopolis Institute– “Baptism didn’t fit nicely in an order of salvation chain in Reformed theology. But now that we understand baptism to bring one into union with Christ, it means the person baptized has all the benefits of Christ as long as he abides and remains in that union.”

Gaffin — “Paul does not view the justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification of the believer as separate, distinct acts but as different facets or aspects of the one act of incorporation with the resurrected Christ….
“A person is engrafted into union with the resurrected Christ. As a result of this union, one is justified, adopted, sanctified, glorified–and all the other benefits of this union—at the moment one has faith in Christ. BUT“…for Paul the justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification of the believer are future as well as present.”

Theopolis Institute—Most people are taught in Reformed churches to think linearly about salvation but “…if ‘washing’ on which ‘regeneration’ is directly dependent in Titus 3:5, refers to BAPTISM, then what Romans 6:3 teaches concerning BAPTISM as a sign and seal of incorporation with the resurrected Christ, and so the implications of that incorporation, will have to be brought to bear. Soteriology didn’t simply have “implications” on ecclesiology. Soteriology is ecclesiology. To be BAPTIZED into the Christian church is to be BAPTIZED into Jesus Christ. Historically, Reformed theology had a significant amount of ambiguity over what BAPTISM accomplished. If BAPTISM justified the child then, the child would be in the “golden CHAIN” and couldn’t fall away. Yet, the fact remained that many who are baptized did (and still do) fall away.

https://theopolisinstitute.com/the-changing-face-of-reformed-theology/

As I have argued many times in this blog, nobody gets away from “causal relationships” between “links”. One side can say the other side has “links” and their own side is “organic” (no causes, no links) but then they assume that “union” means “Christ in us” has priority and then they have to answer the question about what “causes” union. Does the Spirit’s gift of faith cause the union, or is the Spirit’s gift of faith the result of union? If the Spirit baptizes us into Christ, is that “Baptism” that which is administrated by church clergy? One side can accuse the other side—you look within, we look outside, but if neither side is pointing to Christ’s finished atonement outside us but instead pointing to “more and more indwelling and enabling”, they are both looking at the life of sinners, of Christians, instead of looking to Christ’s death.

Most Lutherans and Reformed folks are NOT looking to Christ’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ. Many of them are telling us to “look to our baptism”. Some Reformed and “sovereign grace” folks seem to think that God saves without the gospel. Some even have the patronizing sectarian idea that “others are not as well well taught ”…

Do we need to know the nature of the atonement to know the gospel? Yes. Do we need to know the extent of the atonement to know the nature of the atonement? Yes. If we think that the nature of the atonement is what God does by grace “in us”, does knowing the extent of such an “atonement” teach us the gospel? No.

Christ’s atoning death is outside us sinners. God’s imputation of Christ’s atonement is not the atonement. Whatever it is that joins us to Christ’s atonement (even if it’s regeneration or indwelling or “personal participation” as the unionists say), is not the atonement , and not the object of faith. The gospel is about Christ’s death for the sins of the elect imputed. I object to the objection to “different links” because “union” tends to turn out to always mean “ Christ in me” instead of “I died in Christ” or I am “justified in Christ”. The “union” party often does not deny but simply displaces the good news about the justice and the success of Christ’s death.

Beale—“initial justification and consummative justification (twofold justification) are grounded in believers’ union with Christ, the former coming by faith, and the latter through the threefold demonstration of the bodily resurrection, evaluation of works, and public announcement to the cosmos.” (525 NTBT)

Westminster Confession, Chapter 3: VI. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

Without the clear teaching (in the WCF) about redemption for the elect only, the propitiatory offering (Ephesians 5) will continue to be seen (as it is by “evangelicals”) as something conditioned on what God does in the sinner. God has offered to God a righteousness in Christ so that God’s justice requires each person for whom Christ died be given all the blessings of “salvation”, including the effectual call and faith in the true gospel.

Machen: From the cold universalism of the Arminian creed we turn ever again with a new thankfulness to the warm and tender individualism of …the gospel. Thank God we can say, as we contemplate Christ upon the Cross, not just: “He died for the mass of humanity, and how glad I am that I am amid that mass,” but: “He loved me and gave Himself for me; my name was written from all eternity upon His heart, and when He hung and suffered there on the Cross He thought of me, even me, as one for whom in His grace He was willing to die.

If we go back behind NT Wright and Gaffin (meeting with Federal Visionists, Faith not Sight) or even Daniel Fuller and Cranfield (the law misunderstood) we get to Norman Shepherd “The prophets and apostles viewed election from the perspective of the covenant of grace, whereas Reformed theologians of a later day have tended to view the covenant of grace from the perspective of election. The result of this, is that the reformed preacher no longer says “Christ died for you” – but, when these words are construed, not from the point of view of election, but of the covenant, then The Reformed evangelist can and must say on the basis of John 3:16,”Christ died for you.”

http://basketoffigs.org/NewPerspectives/Jones.htm

But Christ did not die “for you”. Christ died only for the elect. You cannot know if you are elect until you believe the gospel. And the good news is that Christ died only for the elect, and this is good news because the death of Christ really really did take away the sins of the elect (both guilt and punishment). Does this mean that elect people don’t sin? No. It means that their sins are paid for in advance. I realize that this is not good news for most people who describe themselves Christian. They want a religion that really makes people better than they otherwise would be. But the good news (only for those who believe the gospel is that our salvation is not conditional on our ever in this age getting any better.

Jeremiah 32:40 “I will put fear of Me in their hearts so they will never again turn away from Me.”

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Justified From Sin

March 1, 2017

All Christ’s elect will one day be Justified by God from guilt because of Christ’s life taken as the satisfaction of God’s law. Justification is a declaration, not a transformation. Justification is a declaration based on Christ’s death as law-satisfaction. Justification is a declaration not based on our transformation, because justification is not a declaration based on a fiction

I Corinthians 7: 22 For he who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s free man. Likewise he who is called as a free man is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price. Do not become slaves of men

Romans 6: 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that doctrine you were transferred to, 18 and HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED FROM SIN, you became enslaved to righteousness.

Acts 13:38 Therefore, let it be known to you, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, 39 and everyone who believes in Him is JUSTIFIED FROM everything that you could not be justified from through the law of Moses

Christ was never under the power of sin in the sense of being able to sin. Christ was always unable to sin. The only way Christ was ever under the power of sin is by being under the guilt of sin. The guilt of the elect’s sin was legally transferred by God to Christ.

Christ’s death to sin was death to the guilt of sin, and since the elect are united with a death like Christ’s death (the very same death!), the death of the elect is also a death to the guilt of sin. This is what Romans 6:7 teaches: “For one who has died has been justified from sin.” Yet many commentators tell us that “set free from sin” must mean the elect’s gracious transformation by the Holy Spirit so that the justified elect cannot habitually sin .They tell us that justification was in chapter five and that chapter six must be about something more if it’s to be a real answer to the question “why not sin?”.

But Christ was never under the power of habitual sin or any sin, and the death by which the elect are justified is HIS DEATH. Romans 6:10, “For the death He died He died to sin.” When the elect consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God, they think of themselves as dead to the guilt of sin. Death to the guilt of sin means justification before God and God’s satisfied law Sin loses its legal power over us after there is no more law guilt credited to us

I Cor 15: 56
Now the sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.

Colossians 1;13-14 God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”

Revelation 12–The salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of His Messiah
have NOW COME
BECAUSE the ACCUSER of our brothers
has been thrown out:
11 They conquered the ACCUSER
BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not love their lives
in the face of death.

The accusations of guilt against the elect are not set aside or erased without satisfaction of God’s law. The blood of the Lamb, Christ’s death, satisfies God’s law concerning all the guilt of all the elect, and when God justifies the elect, God places the elect into this satisfaction.

God justifies the elect throughout history at various points of time, some before Christ even established and brought in an everlasting righteousness and others after that one time only offering to God by God. With the once in time permanent sacrifice of Christ for His people. Christ gave His life to God. Not only sinners but God took His life. God the Son gave His life for the elect. God gives each elect person individually this perfect righteousness by imputing Christ’s death once to their account, which results in their permanent justification at once before God.

Being placed into Christ’s death, Romans 6 is NOT God’s imputation of sins to Christ

Being placed into Christ’s death is God’s imputation of Christ”s death to the elect. This “baptism by imputation” takes place sometimes before and sometimes after Christ’s death.

Colossians 2: 11 You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh,in the circumcision of the Messiah. 12 Having been buried with Him in BAPTISM, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

Romans 6:3 all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, in order that we too wil walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been JOINED WITH HIM in the likeness of His DEATH ,we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body[ be abolished, so that we are no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is JUSTIFIED FROM SIN

Justification is a declaration, not a transformation. Christ was not morally transformed by His death and resurrection. Christ had no need for moral transformation. The vindication declared by Christ’s resurrection is BECAUSE OF JUSTIFICATION. Christ died one time only because of imputed guilt and now justification is a declaration based on Christ’s death as law-satisfaction. Justification is a declaration not based on Christ’s moral transformation and is not based on the moral transformation of Christ’s elect, because justification is not a declaration based on a FICTION. And the notion of some imperfect moral transformation satisfying God’s law is a FICTION.

I Peter 3: 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

We cannot assume water in every “baptism” in the Bible . I Peter 3 and Colossians 2 and Romans 6 are not about water baptism. There is a BAPTISM WHICH SAVES and that is God’s legal placing of the elect into Christ’s death (and thus into justification) Water does not save anybody in I Peter 3, but “baptism” does save in I Peter 3 , which means that “baptism” in I Peter 3 is not water. Baptism in I Peter 3 is not in the Holy Spirit or by the Holy Spirit , but by context in reference to death (water judgment, ark, Noah)

One Circumcision–Circumcised by Christ in Christ in Christ’s circumcision–

July 3, 2016

Tianqi Wu– We are in a dead end Law problem with no other hope except for Christ’s satisfaction of law. There is no other solution apart from Christ’s death being counted as our death, so that it becomes a fact that we legally died when Christ died.

Christ’s death was a legal accomplishment. Christ’s death was Christ’s great work. The imputation of the elect’s sins to Christ and the imputation of Christ’s death to the elect are two different imputations

Romans 6: 6 For we know that our old self was CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST in order that sin’s dominion over the body be abolished, in order that we be no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is justified from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in light of the fact that He died, He died to sin once for all time—- 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin

The elect become crucified by Christ when God places them into Christ’s death.

Galatians 2: 19 For through the law I have died to the law, in order that I live for God. I have been CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST 20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives with regard to me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Colossians 2: For IN CHRIST all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and IN CHRIST you have been brought to fullness. Christ is the head over every power and authority. IN CHRIST you were also CIRCUMCISED with a circumcision NOT performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were CIRCUMCISED BY CHRIST, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

The Baptism which saves the Christian is not with water or even with the Holy Spirit. The baptism into Christ’s death is being placed into “the circumcision of Christ”. Christ’s circumcision is not His new birth but His death .

“Christ’s circumcision” is not “by the Spirit” but His death. There are different baptisms, some in water and some in/with the Holy Spirit, but NO “baptism by the Spirit”. But to be circumcised by Christ in Colossians 2 is not baptism with the Spirit but to be legally identified with Christ’s death.

The Colossians 2 identification or “union” (in Christ) of elect sinners is not about the Holy Spirit in us , because “the circumcision of Christ” is His death and God’s “baptism” (Romans 6) places us into Christ’s death. :

Galatians does NOT say that

1. circumcision was both law and gospel

or 2 that circumcision has been fulfilled both as law and promise

so that 3, as gospel, circumcision has been fulfilled by regeneration and mysterious indwelling of the Holy Spirit (not fulfilled by the righteousness of Christ’s death)

so that 4. as law, circumcision with hands has been fulfilled by water baptism with hands.

Neither Galatians nor Colossians teach any of these assumptions.

Mike Horton—”Covenant theology doesn’t teach that the covenant of grace itself is “breakable” (67). God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. … The word proclaimed and sealed in the sacraments is valid, regardless of our response, but we don’t enjoy the blessings apart from receiving Christ with all of his benefits. …..To be claimed as part of God’s holy field comes with threats as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. How can they fall under the curses of a covenant to which they didn’t belong? ”

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/kingdom-through-covenant-a-review-by-michael-horton

Romans 9:7 “For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his children.”

Are these warnings law or gospel? Are they warnings to Ishmael that he many not have ever “really internally” been part of the covenant but only “externally” related to “the covenant”? Is it a possibility that many who enter the covenant are not promised they will be kept in the covenant?

Although the signs have changed, we are still in the same “the covenant” and therefore it’s possible that the law or gospel questions have not changed.

As law, circumcision with hands has been fulfilled by water baptism with hands?

So don’t do circumcision with hands anymore, do water with hands?

Like law, water baptism is done by human hands is not our decision but God’s command and claim on Ishmael and Esau. So paedobaptists know that, even if they don’t know yet if it’s law or gospel? So there’s no need now to find out if God’s oath is about law or gospel? And as long as we live, we can’t ever find out if we are Isaac or Ishmael? Both were heirs of the covenant? Both received the promises of the conditional covenant?

In God’s act of water baptism, as in the preaching of the universal “offer”, God pledges His commitment to us who are “in the covenant”. But is that commitment law or gospel? Is that commitment the same for each and every person “in the covenant”? Even if it turns out that little Esau is never justified, it certainly feels good to think that Esau has been promised the same grace as Abraham has. Of course, if that means of grace turns out to be ineffectual in the face of human failure to meet conditions, then some of us begin to wonder about the nature of the grace promised.

Do we regard our babies as born under the law or do we assure them they are already not under the law? Do we cling to God’s promise to work by His Spirit to keep Esau in “the covenant” in which he was born, or do we have to fall back on some desperate notion of forensic imputation (with resulting conversion) in which every person begins life under condemnation and outside the new covenant? Even though we want to maintain God’s freedom in election (perhaps God will maintain that freedom for Himself), and we do not deny election. we see no need to mention election when we could be emphasizing “the conditional covenant” instead.

Colossians 2 and Romans 6 are parallels. Why does Paul use the “baptized into the DEATH” language in Romans 6 instead of talking about “inward circumcision of the heart” as Paul did in Romans 2? You can say, well Paul in Romans 6 didn’t use the word “imputed”. But Romans 6:7 does say “justified from sin” even though the people who want to read inward regeneration by the Holy Spirit into Romans 6 are so convinced that Paul has “moved on” from justification that they insist that 6:7 should read “freed from sin” and that it JUST HAS TO BE MORE than justification, because THEY JUST KNOW THAT THE POWER OF SIN IS MORE THAN GUILT, and they just know that the answer to “why not sin” CAN’T MERELY BE “NOT UNDER THE LAW”.

As long as you are saying that “possibly” Romans 6 is about being in the Spirit and not about Christ’s death ALONE, as long as you are saying that Romans 6 is also “possibly” about water with hands so that “baptism” in Romans 6 is possibly not about Christ’s death ALONE but also possibly about the new birth which gives faith, then you can say well “possibly” since infants were physically circumcised then “possibly” physical circumcision is the outward part of “saving circumcision” which means that “possibly” water baptism done with hands is the anti-type which fulfills physical circumcision even though the water is not the part that saves…

But none of that “possibly” is a logical inference from what Colossians 2 actually says. Why doesn’t Paul use the inward/outward language of Romans 2 in Colossians 2

Water does not replace physical circumcision in Colossians 2. That’s an assumption read into the text. Many commentaries (Bruce, Dunn, Garland, O’Brien) understand the “circumcision of Christ” as metaphor for Christ’s death by crucifixion. Two different circumcisions doesn’t work in the context of Colossians 2. It’s the same circumcision, both for Christ and for the elect, Christ’s one death. Our death is His death, not some other death done in us. It’s not Christ died and then we died. It’s we died when Christ died (by means of imputation) . Two different deaths don’t work in Romans 6. It’s one death. Being legally placed IN Christ’s death results in regeneration, faith, and justification.

Stephen Walton—Romans 6:7 reads “For one who has died has been set free from sin”. The verb translated “set free” is the perfect passive of dikaioo, which everywhere else in Paul is translated “justify”. Almost all the English translations that I have been able to check translate it as some variation upon “set free” in Romans 6:7 This is because Protestant commentators have traditionally seen a shift from justification in chapters 1-5 to “sanctification” in chapters 6-8; from release from the penalty of sin in 1-5 to release from the power of sin in 6-8.

This translation is misleading. The Vulgate and Tyndale were on the right lines in translating dedikaiotai as “iustificatus est” and “is justified”. The best translation is “has been justified from sin”. This interpretation is powerfully argued by Robert Haldane in his 1839 commentary, and by John Murray and John Stott. It has recently been defended by Peter Jensen….

In his Romans commentary, Thomas Schreiner argued that dedikaiotai “is not merely forensic in verse 7… The use of the verb in this context, however, suggests that righteousness is MORE THAN FORENSIC for Paul”. However, in Paul Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ, Schreiner changed his mind and argued for the interpretation given here.

The evidence against the traditional view (found in Calvin for instance) and for the Haldane-Murray-Stott-Jensen reading is overwhelming. In every other case where Paul uses the verb dikaioo,it is normally translated “justify”, in the sense of “declare righteous”. This creates an extremely strong presumption in favor of translating it to mean “declare righteous” in Romans 6:7. We would need very strong lexical and contextual evidence to translate it otherwise, and such evidence is not forthcoming.

Secondly, a few verses later when Paul wishes to speak of having been set free from slavery to sin, he uses the verb eleutheroo in v18…. Third, the lexical evidence is against “set free” as part of the semantic range of dikaioo. Liddell & Scott do not list it as a possible meaning, and Louw-Nida lists Romans 6:7 as the only place in the New Testament where it has this meaning[39]. BAGD (1957) lists Acts 13:38 as a possible example where dikaioo is followed by apo plus a genitive noun, as in Romans 6:7. However, in this case a forensic reading seems to make equally good sense, if not better.

Therefore, to translate dedikaiotai in Romans 6:7 as “having been set free” is completely arbitrary. The only possible reason for it would be if “having been justified” made no sense in context, and “having been set free” made very good sense. .. However, the forensic interpretation makes very good sense in context, and enables us to see how being freed from the penalty of sin also releases us from the power of sin.

If the traditional interpretation of verse 7 is correct, it simply restates verse 6 in rather confusing and unclear terms However, if the interpretation of verse 7 that I have offered is correct, it gives the grounds of Paul’s statement in verse 6: the believer who has been crucified with Christ has been freed from the power of sin because a person who has died (with Christ) has been justified from sin – that is, freed from its penalty.

This reading is confirmed by 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. Here Paul speaks in substitutionary terms of Christ dying on behalf of the all (huper panton, verse 15), and of reconciliation between God and believers being effected by the “great exchange” that took place on the cross, resulting in righteousness for Christians (v 21). In verse 14 he writes that “one has died for all, therefore all have died”. The result of Christ’s act of dying as a substitute for all believers is that the beneficiaries of his death are considered to have died. Here dying with Christ is surely seen in forensic terms… The assurance of salvation that comes from Christ’s death and the free gift of justification, far from encouraging complacency, encourages the believer to live a life that is not selfish, but centered on someone else: God. On this basis, Paul can exhort his readers to live as people who have been freed from sin (Romans 6:18-23).

http://www.theologian.org.uk/doctrine/penalsubsocialtrans.html

No One Time Justification? The Efficacy of Water

January 21, 2016

Alastair Roberts –For Baptists the grace signified in water baptism is typically understood to be grace already received: For Baptists, water baptism is predominantly retrospective, looking back to a salvation largely completed.

http://www.reformation21.org/articles/infant-baptism-and-the-when-of-baptismal-grace.php#sthash.SNY6T0Ud.dpuf

mark—So Roberts thinks that there is a “not yet aspect to justification” not only for infants but for all of us, because he agrees with the Lutherans that God’s justification happens again every day, and the “old man” has to pass from death to life over and over again, and that what causes this is the continuing “efficacy of water baptism”

Roberts—“The force of the grace of adoption summons thee adopted to live out of that grace and not to turn their backs on it. Adoption is never only a completed event of the past, but is an enduring reality enjoyed by those who continue to receive it. Adoption is much less about its initial reception than it is about its lifelong reception. The faith water baptism calls for is not present faith so much as future faith.”

Roberts—-“The magisterial Reformers presented a higher and more efficacious doctrine of water baptism than their Roman Catholic interlocutors.”

Roberts–“The Canons of Trent reveal that, the grace of water baptism being easily forfeited by sinners who failed to persevere in it, it was necessary to supplement its grace with that of another sacrament–penance. The result was the diminishment of water baptismal grace within the sacramental economy. Beyond giving an initial impetus, water baptism was swiftly substituted for by other sources of grace.”

mark—Roberts is saying that the Reformed are not like that, not just looking for the water to wipe out original sin, but believing that the water will continue to have “efficacy”. But this “efficacy” of water will be conditioned on the sinner, not so much on the sinner not sinning, but on the sinner continuing to believe as a condition of remaining in the covenant.

Roberts—“The grace water baptism signifies is neither chiefly a grace already received nor merely a grace limited to the time immediately following the reception of the sacrament.”

Roberts—Tertullian argues that the delay of water baptism should be preferred, especially in the case of young children and the unmarried, who are particularly vulnerable to temptation and falling from water baptismal grace.

mark—But it is not yet quite politically correct in some Presbyterian denominations to talk about “being justified every day” or the “not yet aspect of justification” so often people who believe in that refer to “salvation” or “sanctification” as being the “not yet”. Roberts talks about “adoption”

Roberts—“Martin Luther’s resistance to the ‘linear model’ of the Christian life, with an one time conversion followed by progress beyond that point. Luther maintained that we never move beyond the point of water baptism. . Conversion is an ongoing reality in the Christian life, a continual act of going back to water baptism as the beginning. The efficacy of water baptism day after day makes death and resurrection a reality that has not yet been fully accomplished IN US.”

Roberts–“The magisterial Reformed were concerned to emphasize that the grace of water baptism is the grace of a promissory seal, with an efficacy that extends throughout our lives. ”

Roberts—“The force of the grace of adoption summons thee adopted to live out of that grace and not to turn their backs on it. Adoption is never only a completed event of the past, but is an enduring reality enjoyed by those who continue to receive it. Adoption is much less about its initial reception than it is about its lifelong reception. The faith water baptism calls for is not present faith so much as future faith.”

mark—But the “efficacy” of the water continues to depend on the condition of faith. And this means that ‘effectual grace” can later turn into “:effectual curse”. No antinomian “eternal security” here.

Not only is the efficacy of the death of Christ distributed by means of the efficacy of water baptism but the efficacy of water baptism continues to be dependent on the object of your faith, but the object of your faith is your continuing faith, which you believe is not totally alone, which faith you believe continually exists in you along with your hating sin and loving God (enough).

Meredith Kline–The newness of the New Covenant does not consist in a reduction of the Covenant of Redemption to the principle of election and guaranteed blessing. Its law character is seen in this, too, that it continues to be a covenant with dual sanctions….There is no reason to regard Jeremiah’s description of the New Covenant as a comprehensive analysis or to exclude the curse sanction from a place in New Covenant administration.”

Mike Horton—”To be claimed by water baptism as part of God’s holy field comes with THREATS as well as blessings. Covenant members who do not believe are under the covenant curse. HOW CAN THEY FALL UNDER THE CURSES OF A COVENANT TO WHICH THEY DID NOT BELONG? God promises his saving grace in Christ to each person in baptism, whether they embrace this promise or not. Yet the instrumental A condition is that they must embrace the promise in faith. Otherwise, they fall under the covenant curse without Christ as their mediator.”

Jonathan Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity THAT FAITH GIVES TO salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

Mark asks– How could we possibly give thanks, when the future hangs in the balance and depends on our future acts of faith?

John Piper—”The Bible rarely, if ever, motivates Christian living with gratitude…Could it be that gratitude for bygone grace has been pressed to serve as the power for holiness, which only faith in future grace was designed to perform?… some popular notions of grace are so skewed and so pervasive that certain biblical teachings are almost impossible to communicate. For example, the biblical concept of unmerited, conditional grace is nearly unintelligible to Christians who assume that unconditionality is the essence of all grace.”

mark—Piper’s Future Grace teaches works not only as evidence for us and other people but works as evidence for God

Piper—“How then can I say that the judgment of believers will not only be the public declaration of our differing rewards in the kingdom of God, according to our deeds, but will also be the public declaration of our salvation – our entering the kingdom – according to our deeds? The answer is that our deeds will be the public evidence brought forth in Christ’s courtroom to demonstrate that our faith is real. And our deeds will be the public evidence brought fourth to demonstrate the varying measures of our obedience of faith. In other words, salvation is by grace through faith, and rewards are by grace through faith, but the evidence of invisible faith in the judgment hall of Christ will be a transformed life.” (Future Grace, p 364)

Several times Paul listed certain kinds of deeds and said, “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In other words, when these deeds are exposed at the judgment as a person’s way of life, they will be the evidence that their faith is dead and he will not be saved. As James said, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). That is what will be shown at the judgment. (Future Grace, p 366)

http://oldlife.org/2014/09/gratitude-basis-obedience/

http://www.meredithkline.com/klines-works/by-oath-consigned/

Meredith Kline—By circumcision, the sign of the consecratory oath of the Abrahamic Covenant, a man confessed himself to be under the juridical authority of Yahweb and consigned himself to the ordeal of his Lord’s judgment for the final verdict on his life. The sign of circumcision thus pointed to the eschatological judicial ordeal with its awful sanctions of eternal weal or woe. In the case of a covenant with the fallen sons of Adam, their nature as covenant breakers from their youth would seem to preclude any outcome for the divine ordeal other than condemnation. Yet the very fact that Cod makes a covenant with such subjects reveals that along with justice the principle of redemptive grace is operative here with its totally new and unpredictable possibilities. The covenant is a law covenant but it is a redemptive law covenant.

John Fesko —“Even though we can talk about a distinction between the visible and the invisible, or between the external and internal, why should we have to choose between water and the Spirit (Word, Water and Spirit, p 241, “Baptism as Covenant Judgment)

mark—Most people don’t say “water baptism”, because the Bible does not say “water baptism”, but then most people also add that “baptism” in the Bible is always water and many of the paedobaptists (and some of the “Reformed Baptists”)teach that there is a “sacramental union” between water as the sign and the “efficacy” as the thing signified.

And then almost all of them say that the water baptism of John was about the Holy Spirit, and therefore baptism by Jesus and by the church is about both the water and about the Spirit, but NOT about legal identity with Christ’s atoning death or about justification.

And then they explain there is one gospel only, there is only one church, and therefore the baptism by John is not water only and the baptism by Jesus is not with the Spirit only

And in this way they know that it’s not Jesus who baptized with the Holy Spirit, but rather that the Holy Spirit “baptizes us into Christ” and so we know that water baptism is not about Christ’s death or righteousness but about the Spirit uniting us to Christ’s righteousness .

John Fesko, 322— “It is unnecessary to choose between water baptism and Spirit baptism”

And then Fesko on the same page (322) finds it necessary to conclude (without arguments) that Spirit baptism is not God’s imputation. Fesko also explains that baptism (both water and by the Spirit) is NOT Christ’s giving the Spirit, because the Westminster Confession teaches us that Spirit baptism is the Spirit giving us Christ by uniting us to Christ by faith.