Why Did Jesus Even Need to Die?

The incarnation accomplished what can only a cosmic Mack Truck could do:

“The Word became flesh.” By his Incarnation Jesus restored in himself God’s creation of man and woman at the beginning of human history in his own image. Jesus is the perfect image of the Father and thus becomes the source of restoring all of humanity as the image of God. Jesus renews the original dignity of the human being, indeed now raising it to a still higher status. Recall what the priest prays during the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass when he pours a little water into the chalice of wine: “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” Humanity is called now to deeper share in the life of God and this intensifies the regard that men and women have for one another. Because of the Incarnation all human beings are connected to Christ and destined to find eternal fulfillment in him. In his Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio St. John Paul II wrote: “Jesus came to bring integral salvation, one which embraces the whole person and all mankind, and opens up the wondrous prospect of divine filiation.”

The Church’s defense and protection of all human beings and human rights flows not simply from a philosophical principle, or from the natural law, but even more profoundly from its belief in the connection of all human beings to Christ and their destiny in him because of the Incarnation. This connectedness and destiny of all humanity to and in Christ is also the foundation of the Church’s solidarity with all peoples. Respect for the dignity and rights of others entails more than just the observance of the Ten Commandments. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus commands the cultivation of virtues which ennoble not only one’s own self but, even more, enhance the well-being of others. Thus, for example, we are commanded not only not to kill another, but also not to be angry at someone or call a person a “fool” (cf. Mt. 5:21-22).

You’d never know that Jesus condemned the Pharisees, wasn’t particularly concerned to see Judas restored, or prophesied doom on Jerusalem. That’s okay. We can find a text in the Bible to support whatever virtue we like.

By the way, those Reformed Protestants inclined to the cosmic significance of the gospel should pay attention and make better arguments.

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62 thoughts on “Why Did Jesus Even Need to Die?

  1. Schreiner, Southern Baptist Seminary, (Romans, 2008, p 405)—“The work of Christ on the cross creates the platform on which believers receive the ability to keep the law.”

    John Piper—“Paul calls the effect or fruit or evidence of faith the “work of faith”) and the “obedience of faith”. These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation. No holiness, no heaven .Essential to the Christian life and necessary for final salvation is the killing of sin (Romans 8:13) and the pursuit of holiness (Hebrews 12:14).”

    David Garner, Westminster Seminary — “If you believe that God loves you and that your ongoing sin or your incremental obedience does not in any way affect God’s love for you, you just might be an antinomian…. If you believe works are not necessary for salvation, you just might be an antinomian. The Holy Spirit infuses grace within us, whereby the Spirit motivates and empowers the believer unto Christ-like faith and obedience. Complementing the grace of imputation, infused grace for necessary good works is a Reformed doctrine! We must do good works. That too is the gospel of grace.”

    mcmark–Why are you so hung up on your needs and the benefits? Sure Jesus needed to die, but’s that only Christ’s work. The priority has to be Christ the person indwelling us. No incarnation, no sacrament. Evans shows the real cosmic significance of federal theology’s hyper protection of the doctrine of forensic final (once for all time) justification https://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/substituting-water-for-wine-scott-clarks-extrinsic-covenantalism/

    Scott Clark —” On what basis does God accept us? Who earned that righteousness? How does a sinner come into possession of that righteousness? Where is that righteousness to be found relative to the sinner, within us or without?. Historically the only alternative to alien righteousness is an“intrinsic” ground of divine acceptance and in that case we’re right back in the medieval soup.”

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  2. Mark,

    I get the sense that you are conflating three (or four?) different issues:

    * covenantal nomism, or doing works to stay in the covenant
    * perseverance, or God’s work to cause those whom He has justified to persevere and produce good works,
    * Ordo salutis, and specifically the relationship of regeneration to faith and justification, and possibly
    * The sacraments, and how they confer grace.

    As it is, you are fighting on all fronts at once without distinction, and you end up postulating that your opponents have “never gotten it” — which would seem to mean that they are not Christians.

    And, you seem to be rejecting “good works are necessary for salvation” — which is pristine Reformation theology — as equivalent to covenantal nomism. Your conflation rests on a confusion between antecedent and concommitant conditions. Good works are “necessary” because they are “necessarily produced” by the Spirit as a result of our adoption, as a result of justification. A good root will produce good fruit. To say this in no way makes good works an instrument or antecedent condition for salvation.

    Fewer quotes, more clarity, my friend.

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  3. “[Jesus] wasn’t particularly concerned to see Judas restored”? I think that, if Judas had come to Jesus in true repentance (he did not, of course), Jesus would have forgiven him.

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  4. Before commenting, it’s been a while since I have interacted with the crew at OldLife. I hope you are all well, and I trust as cranky as ever. Life has been to busy and complicated for me to devote much time to commenting on blogs. But I thought I’d drop in and say hello.

    Anyhow, I would say that the gospel in its most irreducible form is articulated in 1 Cor. 15, and while it may not, in its simplest form be cosmic it certainly points to and implies the cosmic work of Christ summing up all things in himself. His cosmic work begins by inviting humanity to participate in the Divine nature (2 Peter 1) as a fundamental expression of eternal life (John 17:3), which we can and do enjoy now in the age between the advents, and which we will enjoy supremely in the New Heavens and New Earth and has dimensions that extend beyond our own experience of his work in making all things new. But, I would tie cosmology first to the Incarnation, and see it developed as a consequence of the gospel.

    I suppose there are sloppy ways to articulate this, and I am not sure I agree with the quote that Darryl has provided, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t cosmic implications and outworkings of the gospel that extend beyond soteriological matters. I’ve spent the last few years reading the Patristics (Irenaeus in particular), and I find him to be quite instructive on these matters. I also think that modern Orthodox theologians along with prominent 20th century scholars like Barth and TF Torrance do a good job of developing the cosmological dimensions of the Incarnation and consequences of the gospel – especially Torrance. (Yes I am still a Presbyterian and decidedly 2k in my orientation, no intentions to go mainline or to Constantinople, the only change has been a willingness to be more conversant with other traditions and I am probably somewhat less of a strict confessionalist than I once was)

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  5. Jed,

    Participation in divine nature? What happened to the creator-creature distinction? Jesus in my heart? Man created in the image of God?

    What did the incarnation change simply as incarnation?

    You say the patristrics are instructive on these matters. Instruct.

    When I hear participation in the divine nature, I wish I had a gun for which to reach.

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  6. D. G. Hart says: Jed, Participation in divine nature? What happened to the creator-creature distinction? When I hear participation in the divine nature, I wish I had a gun for which to reach.

    ?
    I believe he probably said it because Jesus says it:
    (NASB) 2 Peter 1: 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
    (NIV) 2Pe 1:4 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

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  7. “Participation in divine nature? What happened to the creator-creature distinction? ”

    Maximus the Confessor: “All that God is, except for an identity in being, one becomes when one is deified by grace.”
    Augustine: “If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of Grace adopting, not of nature generating”
    “So also, just as His inferior circumstances, into which He descended to us, were not in every particular exactly the same with our inferior circumstances, in which He found us here; so our superior state, into which we ascend to Him, will not be quite the same with His superior state, in which we are there to find Him. For we by His grace are to be made the sons of God, whereas He was evermore by nature the Son of God; we, when we are converted, shall cleave to God, though not as His equals; He never turned from God, and remains ever equal to God; we are partakers of eternal life, He is eternal life.”
    CathEnc: “An exaggerated theory was taught by certain mystics and quietists, a theory not free from pantheiotic taint. In this view the soul is formally changed into God, an altogether untenable and impossible hypothesis”

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  8. “Partakers of the divine nature” = nourished by things divine
    When I eat an apple, I partake of its nature. But I don’t become an apple; not even close.
    Yes, you are what you eat, in one sense. But not in every sense.
    Metaphysical speculation about all the cool-stuff that manna can *really* do for you, is… Greek to me.
    Fed upon the Word, I remain a creature. Well fed.

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  9. Put the gun down Darryl! You have so much to live for.

    Participation is not absent in Reformed theology, even if it is not a point of emphasis. Likewise, in Orthodoxy as in Reformed Protestantism the Creator-creature distinction is upheld even if it is stated and emphasized differently:

    “Let us then mark, that the end of the gospel is to render us eventually conformable to God, and, if we may so speak, to deify us. But the word nature is not here essence but quality. The Manicheans formerly dreamed that we are part of God, and that, after having run the race of life we shall at length revert to our original… But such a delerium never entered the mind of the holy Apostles; they only intended to say that when divested of all the vices of the flesh, we shall be partakers of divine and blessed immortality and glory, so as to be as it were one with God as far as our capacities will allow.” – Calvin; Comm on 2 Peter 1:4

    “Believers are said to be partakers of the divine nature (2 Pe 1:4) not univocally (by formal participation in the divine essence) but only analogically (by benefit of regeneration…since they are renewed after the image of their creator, Col 3:10)” Turretin, Elentic Theology (1:190)

    Orthodox and Reformed theology have elements of continuity in their respective reflections on theosis and glorification as Horton describes in The Christian Faith(pp. 689-695):

    It is important to point out that deification has never meant for Orthodoxy that the soul becomes one with God in essence. We have seen that the ancient theologians of the Eastern church were at great paines to emphasize the Creator-creature distinction…
    [speaking on Calvin’s interaction with theosis and participation Horton quotes Calvin’s commentary on 2 Peter 1:4, which I have quoted in brief above] Calvin here seems to affirm a sharing in the energy (“quality”) rather than the essence of God and even includes this under many of the attributes that the East has identified (divine immortality and glory through the restoration of the image of God in holiness and righteousness).
    Calvin’s interpretation bears affinities with the thought of the great Syrian theologian John of Damascus, who gave systematic expression to Eastern Orthodox teaching, when the latter expresses the goal of salvation: “becoming deified, in the way of participating in the divine glory and not that of a change into the divine being.” Through the essence-energies distinction the East was able to avoid the temptation of Western mysticism toward the more nearly Neoplatonist absorption of the “higher self” (the soul or mind) into the divine essence.

    Horton’s interaction with Orthodoxy on the matter of the Reformed theology of glorification and its continuities and discontinuities with Orthodoxy’s theology of theosis in Chapter 21 of The Christian Faith is quite good. I would also recommend Julie Canlis’ book Calvin’s Ladder which delves in great detail on this issue as she offers a comparison between Calvin and Irenaeus on the matter of participation (koinonia). So, it is not as if there is no precedent for Reformed formulae on participation, partaking in the divine nature, and even in a qualified manner, deification. We differ in some important respects with Orthodoxy on theosis, but my own interaction with Orthodoxy and the Patristics have been rather instructive on the matter, and have actually helped me have a deeper appreciation of the Reformed reflection (even if they are few and far between) on the matter.

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  10. On the other hand, once again, this, from the post link is upsetting:

    “At this point I want to suggest still another source of this teaching and the action that flows from it: popular devotion. Permit me to introduce this theme with a personal experience…..

    We entered the chapel that houses the image of Our Lady just before 9 p.m. I discovered in later days that at that time the image was exposed to the veneration of pilgrims from 6 a.m. to noon and then again at 9 p.m. when the monks who care for the shrine gather for Night Prayer.

    With recorded trumpet music the silver shield in front of the image was raised and we were able for the first time in our lives to view this icon of Polish faith, history, and unity. It was the image that had offered hope to generations of Poles, including my grandparents who had emigrated to the United States in the early twentieth century….

    …and to this day I still marvel at the fact that on the first day of my first visit to Poland I was able to venerate the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
    I have been to Czestochowa many times since then. Who are the pilgrims who pray so ardently before the image? For the most part, they are the poor. And indeed, universally, aren’t the poor the ones who have the deepest devotion to the Virgin Mary? “

    because 1) the only reasonable response from all the preceeding talk about all that Jesus has done is to glorify HIM ,but Mary always seems to get interjected and the question is why and 2) this seems so clear: Romans 1 25 they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen.
    seeming so clear too, that Jesus desired to make sure there was understanding here:
    Luke 11:27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.” 28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

    Anyway, probably not of too much value to keeping dividing with cats ‘venerate’ and ‘worship’ –the heart worships in spirit and truth (or not) – and God knows every heart.

    2 Corinthians 11: 3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

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  11. It’s easy to complain that I have not been clear enough. The implication would be that I need to keep different issues separate, and not use simple solas and antitheses. Since everything is both now and not yet, it’s now supposed to be clear that everything is gray. On the one perspective, sure, there’s justification, but on the other hand, not everything is justification. On the one hand, we are united to Christ, but on the other hand, we are “more and more” united to Christ, and unless we do enough works of faith, perhaps one day, we will no longer be united to Christ.

    But I think I have been clear enough to offend those who insist that “union” means that “justification has two aspects”. I have been clear enough to offend those who assume that “participation” is not legal but INSTEAD by the Holy Spirit indwelling us and giving us Christ. If you are a theologian teaching a future justification by works (of faith), then you just might be still be a papist.

    Calvin (3:2:20)— “Faith properly begins with the promise, rests in it, and ends in it. For in God faith seeks life: a life that is not found in commandments or declarations of penalties, but in the promise of mercy, and only in a freely given promise. For a conditional promise that sends us back to our own works does not promise life unless we discern its presence in ourselves.”

    Calvin, 3/11/4—2 Cor. 5: 18-21.— Paul, in order to designate the mode of RECONCILIATION, that Christ who knew no sin was made sin for us, undoubtedly understands by reconciliation nothing else than justification. Nor, indeed, could it be said, as he elsewhere does, that we are made righteous “by the obedience” of Christ, (Rom. 5: 19) . Osiander holds in regard to the mode of receiving Christ,that by the ministry of the external word the internal word is received. Osiander may thus lead us away from the priesthood of Christ, and his office of Mediator, to his eternal divinity. It would be incongruous to say that that which existed naturally from eternity was made ours. But granting that God was made unto us righteousness, what are we to make of Paul’s interposed statement, that he was so made by God? This certainly is peculiar to the office of mediator…

    Scott Clark–no other section in the Institutes underwent more expansion than the section against Osiander’s doctrine of justification on the basis of the indwelling Christ (think of a sort of hyper-union view). Calvin attacked Osiander precisely because Osiander threatened the doctrine of justification by sounding like an evangelical while advocating an enticing view that essentially led back to Rome—justification on the basis of the intrinsic rather than the extrinsic.

    Richard Gaffin, p 102, By Faith Not by Sight,–“This expression obedience of faith is best taken as intentionally multivalent…In other words, faith itself is an obedience, as well as other acts of obedience
    .
    Gaffin—- “For this proposition that faith without works justifies is true, yet false … according to the different senses which it bears. The proposition that faith without works justifies by itself is false. Because faith without works is void. But if the clause, “without works,” is joined with the word, “justifies,” the proposition will be true. Therefore faith cannot justify when it is without works because it is dead and a mere fiction. Thus faith can be no more separated from works than the sun from its heat… Now there is a paradox. True yet false, depending on the way it is read.

    Gaffin,– Romans 2:13—-That judgement decides the ultimate outcome for all believers and for all humanity, believers as well as unbelievers. That is, death or life. It’s a life and death situation that’s in view here. The criterion for that judgement is works, good works. The doing of the law, as that is the criterion for all human beings, again, believers as well as unbelievers. In fact, in the case of the believer a positive outcome is in view and that positive outcome is explicitly said to be justification. So, again the point on the one side of the passage is that eternal life… depends on and follows from a future justification according to works. Eternal life follows upon a future justification by doing the law.

    Julie Canlis, (“Sonship. Identity and Transformation”, Sanctification, IVP, ed Kapic, p 246) “Gratitude may not fully capture the fullness of Calvin’s vision for the redeemed…Christ’s finished work is for me—not however by application but rather by active participation.”

    John Piper—”These works of faith, and this obedience of faith, these fruits of the Spirit that come by faith, are necessary for our final salvation.”

    Scott Clark—The difficulty is that some Reformed folk are not satisfied with making Spirit-wrought sanctity, which produces obedience that comes to expression in good works, a logically necessary fruit of justification… They want that sanctification and attendant good works to do more. They want that sanctity, obedience, and fruit to be a part of the means …of our salvation (deliverance from the wrath to come), which includes our justification. As historians are wont to say, this has happened before….Norman Shepherd, who taught at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia from the 1950s until 1981….made good works more than the logically necessary evidence of our free acceptance with God in Christ.

    http://heidelblog.net/2009/10/has-the-forenisc-eclipsed-union-with-christ/

    Scott Clark—“Looking at the academic literature in recent years, it’s easier to find writers advocating the notion that Calvin didn’t teach a forensic doctrine of justification. E.g., Craig B. Carpenter argues that Calvin’s reply to session six of Trent turned to union with Christ rather than to imputation. Carl Mosser does not deny that Calvin taught a forensic doctrine of justification but claims that, because of ignorance of Patristic theology and the undue influence of von Harnack, scholars have overlooked Calvin’s doctrine of theosis through union with Christ. Following on, Julie Canlis writes that Calvin’s reaction to Osiander has blinded interpreters to his own interest in deification through union with Christ.”

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  12. Jed, as I say, I don’t have a gun. Sometimes I wish.

    You wrote:

    the Patristics have been rather instructive on the matter, and have actually helped me have a deeper appreciation of the Reformed reflection (even if they are few and far between) on the matter.

    So this is mainly an intellectual exercise? You are now aware of a part of the history of theological reflection?

    But does it make you feel like you are divine? What’s the payoff? You know how I love theology to be practical.

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  13. Darryl, I’d say understanding the implications of exploring the depths of what participation in the divine nature isn’t less than an intellectual exercise, but I think it can certainly be more than that. The history of theological reflection on 2 Peter 1 (along with similar passages in 1 John 3 and elsewhere) is rich and stretches from the earliest Patristics, down through the Reformers and into the present day, and this can help us grapple with the implications of deification. And yes, participating even now in the divine nature does affect the way I understand the Christian life, especially within the framework of word/sacrament piety. So, it deepens my understanding of my baptismal identity as I participate in the death and resurrection of Christ. Also it opens my heart and mind to the mysterious work of the Spirit through the Eucharist as I participate in the body and blood of Christ. When the Word is preached it has opened me to the reality that I am receiving more than propositional knowledge, rather I am encountering Christ in the presence of God.

    There are more practical implications, as this gives weight to our own choices as we participate in the divine life and these are elaborated upon in the near context of 2 Peter 1, where we are urged to grow in sanctity. I don’t accept the synergism of the East, and I do think that this participation occurs in a monergistic framework through the of the power of the Spirit at work in us as we strive to obey God in all things, persisting even where we fall short. I think that participation also touches how we love God and our neighbors. But, it is still a mystery and the eschatological implications of what this means for us in the new creation is beyond comprehension, yet even this can deepen our hope and anticipation of the resurrection and the life to come.

    I could go on, but suffice to say, I don’t think that participation in the divine life is something that should be avoided. It is something that the church has pondered throughout its history, and it is part of our Reformed heritage even if it has not been a point of emphasis. Sometimes Christians have reflected on this in an excessive manner that is not in line with the clear teaching in Scripture, but excess doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a truth that is in Scripture or that it does touch our life in Christ. What you do or don’t do with this is up to you I suppose, gun or no gun.

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  14. “All that God is, except for an identity in being, one becomes when one is deified by grace.” Quotes like this are entirely speculative, and illustrative of why guys like Maximus are pretty much lost to the cosmos in western circles. And why his fans like Hans von Balthasar veer off into the poetic stratosphere of HuhWhatSayAgain when rhapsodizing in imitation.

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  15. Joe,
    Theosis is not an EO-exclusive concept. Regardless, Darryl’s remark was that “partaking of the divine nature” language conflates the creature-creator distinction (Peter and other NT writers didn’t get the memo); it doesn’t as Maximus and Augustine and a host of other theologians writing on the subject agree.

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  16. my Bible note 2Peter 1:4: partakers of the divine nature:
    This expression is not different from the concepts of being born again, born from above ,(cf John 3;3; James 1:18; 1 Pet 1:23), being in Christ (cf Rom 8:1), or being the home of the Trinity (John 14:17-23). The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children in the present age (John 1:12; Rom 8:9; Gal 2:20; Col 1:27), and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of his eternal life. Christians do not become little gods, but they are new “creations” (2 Cor. 5:17) and have the Holy Spirit living in them (1 Cor 6:19-20). Moreover, believers will partake of the divine nature in a greater way when they bear a glorified body like Jesus Christ (Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:1-3)

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  17. Is there some kind of seven steps that can lead you into greater participation in and more partaking of the divine nature? Or, maybe you can only get more through sacramental infusion, mystic practices, and rigorous spiritual disciplines. I get plenty of divine energy knowing that my guilt and condemnation has been forensically dealt with by the righteous and just death of Christ. That is much better news than thinking that the responsibility for more divine energy rests on my shoulders. The mere thought of that puts a burden on my back that I cannot bear.

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  18. Jed, thanks.

    But it sounds to me like you can get all of those same benefits with regeneration and sanctification, union with Christ, or even having Jesus in your heart. And it also seems like this is another proposition about a believer’s relationship to God to put on the list of propositions about a believer’s relationship with God.

    Not putting you down. Just observing.

    I remain skeptical with a trigger finger on my phantom gun.

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  19. Robert Letham (formerly of the OPC, now in Wales) has said that the best concepts of theosis are basically equivalent to what the Reformed mean by glorification.

    Donald Fairbairn (formerly of Erskine Seminary, now at Gordon-Conwell) has argued that what people like Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius, and Irenaeus meant by theosis/deification is that we share in the relationship that God has with Christ. In other words, it’s adoption into a state where God loves us wherein He loves us with the same love He loves Christ (John 17:23).

    I think the main obstacle to talking about theosis/deification in the West are those very terms. We rightly raise eyebrows when we hear the term “deification.” But if Letham and Fairbairn are right, it’s really not a foreign concept to Reformed theology. We just use different terms.

    It also hasn’t helped that Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy have accorded certain individuals such as Mary divine prerogatives. It is admittedly hard to swallow the idea that there is no breaking of the Creator-creature distinction when Mary becomes the source of grace, that is, takes on a divine prerogative.

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  20. I thought yhe whole participation business was about eating christ’s flesh and drinking his blood with mouths of faith. Such participation sustains our spiritual life. In other words “participation” os just a metaphor for sanctification. Perhaps I’m too much of a simpleton.

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  21. Nobody is denying that Jesus needed to die. But a lot of people are denying that His death i imputed to an elect sinner so that this sinner will receive the life of the age to come, The death, which is offered as enough to save every sinner, turns out to be not sufficient for anybody and so the “not yet” aspects of atonement are located in the agency of the Holy Spirit . The way to avoid being biblicist is not to deny what already happened with the two Adams but to include along with that history a more catholic focus not only Christ’s death as the object of faith but also on the reality of the subjectivity of our faith as it is mediated to us now by the church so that there is no difference between faith and love for God and neighbor.

    Williams Evans, p 30–Nevin insisted that justification had been overemphasized in Protestantism, and hwas clearly concerned about how some had taken this emphais in an antinomian direction. But Nevin was further concerned with the abstraction of doctrine from persons. “The tendency is to over-emphasize the external side of the transaction and to ignore the organic relation.”

    William Evans p34, The New Mercersburg Review, 57
    -“In the course of his debate ever the Lord’s Supper with Charles Hodge , Nevin concluded that Calvin’s doctrine of decrees rendered the incarnation, the Atonement, and the sacraments a charade. By 1848 Nevin had publicly and decisively broken with predestinarian Calvinism.

    B B Warfield–“Though salvation is declared to be wholly of God, who alone can save, it has yet been taught in a large portion of the Church, (up to today in the larger portion of the Church), that God in working salvation does not operate upon the human …directly but indirectly; that is to say, through instrumentalities which he has established as the means by which his saving grace is communicated . As these instrumentalities are committed to human hands for their administration, a human factor is thus intruded between the saving grace of God and its effective operation.” https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/warfield/warfield_plan.html#chapter3

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  22. sdb says: In other words “participation” os just a metaphor for sanctification.

    I appreciate my bible note because it says ..”the precious promises of salvation result in…” that is, participation a metaphor for salvation – justification, sanctification, glorification.

    btw, I was reading there are ~4K promises by God in the bible. Astounding.
    -we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

    Ps, we know, we know ,John Z – you hate the word ‘diligent’ 😊

    2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.

    5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

    12 Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

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  23. Just to be clear, I have no animosity towards anyone at oldlife. I learned the Gospel here. I appreciate that you can dialog with others about issues that matter. I just want to get to the truth of the matters at hand. I’m sure a lot of you would agree with that. .

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  24. Darryl, I think the skepticism is fair, there is a Reformed way of understanding piety and I don’t think that one needs to add a new lexicon to speak to the same truths. Horton even deals with the concepts of theosis that the East has contemplated for centuries within the context of Reformed categories, and I do think glorification is perfectly sufficient. I suppose, all I am saying is that my interacting with some of these Patristic and EO theological loci has actually given me a deeper appreciation of the contours and trajectory of the Reformed tradition, and that some of their way of speaking about these matters might seem odd at first glance, but it might not be terribly far off from where we might emphasize them elsewhere (namely theosis vs. glorification).

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  25. No, Jesus did not have to die because the incarnation gave everyone a connection to Christ. Plus, people haven’t been born with a sinful human nature since Cain slew Abel. We’re all good people Dr. H!

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  26. John,

    Is there some kind of seven steps that can lead you into greater participation in and more partaking of the divine nature?

    As a matter of fact, yes there is a very easy method, and I will share it with you for a small fee. Of course you could come up with a fairly good working understanding of these concepts in my forthcoming book on sanctification entitled Try Harder Stupid.

    Seriously, if the concept is interesting to you, there might be some value in pursuing it. If not John, I don’t think you will ever go wrong receiving and resting upon Christ.

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  27. Robert,

    Donald Fairbairn (formerly of Erskine Seminary, now at Gordon-Conwell) has argued that what people like Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius, and Irenaeus meant by theosis/deification is that we share in the relationship that God has with Christ. In other words, it’s adoption into a state where God loves us wherein He loves us with the same love He loves Christ (John 17:23).

    Interesting that you bring up Fairbairn, I was reading a journal article he wrote not two days ago on the continuities of St. Cyril’s soteriology and later Reformed developments on the same. He was able to locate a high degree of similarity between Cyril’s works and the Reformers on the matter of justification. I’m not sure if there are more similar works out there, but if his thesis is correct, the Protestant doctrine of justification is not nearly as novel in the history of the church as some (especially in Rome) have made them out to be.

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  28. Jed,

    I’ve read the article of which you speak. I’m convinced that Reformed thought is on track with the best of the patristic sources. There are discontinuities of course, but part of the issue is that often we are saying the same things they were just in different ways and addressing different questions. When you have even Calvin commenting on 2 Peter 1 that we may, in a sense, be said to being “deified,” than he and Cyril et al are not so far apart. Irenaeus’ idea of Christ recapitulating Adam isn’t a whole lot different than us talking about Jesus fulfilling the covenant of works in Adam’s place. Et al.

    Part of the issue with theosis is that some of the later writers, especially in the East, started going in weird directions in terms of essence and energies and other such things. But honestly, if you just consider someone like Cyril, what he is saying is fundamentally the same as what we mean by adoption, sanctification, and glorification.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. “Paul says DGH: You don’t need a Savior . . . You just need a friend.”
    As always, don’t have to reject one truth or another/ have it be either-or – it is always ALL that the Lord says…[unless, of course, you think Jesus is a liar.]
    Jesus:
    -James 2:23 “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God.
    -John 15:14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
    btw , I looked up jedidiah = friend of God

    “John yeazel says: Reservations. Wilco. Lyrics: “How can I get closer and be further away from the truth that proves it’s beautiful to lie”
    -How do you get closer? -You can’t when you think it’s beautiful to lie. It’s not. 1 John 2:21b no lie is of the truth.
    -can’t reject one truth for another;can’t accept a lie that contains partial truth, etc.[unless, of course, you think Jesus is a liar.]

    johnyeazel says: I learned the Gospel here.
    -so, continued, other post, re: reasons one might pray about revival #9… for God’s mercy and grace and favor for salvation for all who will hear and believe, [unless, of course, you think Jesus is a liar about what He says about prayer.]

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  30. Jed says, “Seriously, if the concept is interesting to you, there might be some value in pursuing it. If not John, I don’t think you will ever go wrong receiving and resting upon Christ.”

    Ali says: “Ps, we know, we know ,John Z – you hate the word ‘diligent’ ”

    John Y: I appreciate that Jed, Maybe I will buy your book one day. I take it you were being sarcastic in your title of the book. Am i wrong? I used to be diligent (to get to Ali’s point) about lots of things between the ages of 20 and 40- even the pursuit of holiness and what I thought sanctification was at the time. I kept failing over and over again though. Now at 60 I am just happy to make it through another day. Diligence can be a cloak for selfish ambition and spiritual narcissism. So, I guess its all about what you are diligent about. These days I’m very diligent about answering the question, What is the true biblical Gospel? With so many false Gospels out there I think that is the most important question we can try to answer in this life.

    Ali, I don’t think you were getting the point of the Wilco song. I think he was lamenting in his lyrics. I know, I know you hate the word, lament.

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  31. Bruce McCormack—“The early church thought of an ontological union of a ‘person” in whom being is mixed with non-being (that’s us) with a ‘person’ in whom being is pure from non-being (Jesus). Where that occurs, the life communicated from the vine to the branches flows organically…But the difference between the relation between a vine and a branch and the relation between Christ and the believer is that the first relation is impersonal and the second is personal. The flow of nutrients from the vine to the branches take place automatically. But in the case of Christ and the individual believer,the ‘bearing of fruit’ takes place on the foundation of justification.”

    Bruce McCormack—“I do not participate in the historical humanity of Christ ( Nowadays, we are suffering from ‘creeping perichoresis’, that is, the overly expansive use of terms which have their homes in purely spiritual relations between humans who do NOT participate in a common ‘substance’ and who therefore remain distinct individuals. This surely has to be the relation of the human believer to the human Jesus as well (What’s At Stake in Current Debates Over Justification?”, p 110)

    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). Paul, therefore, speaks of “the faith of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 3:22)… 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/

    Scott Clark—“Mosser does not deny that Calvin taught a forensic doctrine of justification but claims that, because of ignorance of Patristic theology, scholars have overlooked Calvin’s doctrine of theosis through union with Christ. Following on, Julie Canlis writes that Calvin’s reaction to Osiander has blinded interpreters to Calvin’s own interest in deification through union with Christ.

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  32. Donald Mcleod, p 202, the Person of Christ, IVP, 1998– “The hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theosis of every human being. In fact, the hypostatic union did not by itself secure the theosis of even our Lord’s human nature. The Lord Jesus was glorified not because He was God incarnate but because he finished the work given him to do (John 17:4)….It is perfectly possible to be human and yet not be in Christ, because although the incarnation unites Christ to human nature it does not unite him to me.”

    Dolezal’s review of Letham’s Union with Christ—“What are we to make of this after having been repeatedly told throughout the book that the life we receive from Jesus is that divine life he received in his flesh via the hypostatic union? Inasmuch as that life was most certainly not resurrection life, how can Letham now say he agrees with Tipton that only resurrection life constitutes redemptive life?”

    Dolezal–“Letham seems to equivocate on the exact character of the life that Jesus conveys to us in union. Is it the life of Jesus deified (theosis) via personal union with his divine nature OR the new life that Jesus receives in the resurrection? Or is it a combination of the two, and if so, how might we articulate this relationship? Though I think Letham makes a turn for the better with his concluding emphasis upon Jesus’ resurrection life as the life we receive in union with him, such a turn seems to present insuperable challenges for his teaching that the life that saves us is the life Jesus received in his body from his divine nature at the point of the incarnation.”

    http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/union-with-christ.php

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  33. Enjoy your read, John. Maybe a good subtitle for that book would be ‘How to begin by the Spirit, but be perfected by the flesh and earn boasting rights!’

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  34. Jed, it still seems to me that Luther’s great insight was the danger of self-righteousness. I don’t see how thinking I am divine-like helps humility and clinging to Christ.

    That’s what ahm sayinguh.

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  35. ha ha funny John!

    HEY, btw, you were looking for ’ 7 steps’! – here you go –
    2 Peter 1: 5-7 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence,
    1)in your faith supply moral excellence
    2)and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
    3_and in your knowledge, self-control,
    4)and in your self-control, perseverance,
    5)and in your perseverance, godliness,
    6)and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
    7)and in your brotherly kindness, love.

    That pietist, legalist, boasting, self- ,works- righteousness guy Peter!.

    And are you boasting about being a lamenter? – all believers lament, by the power of the Spirit.

    James 4: 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

    🙂

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  36. Romans 7: 6-13- 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

    7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14

    1 John 3: 2-10 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

    John Y: Go figure. Perhaps someone at oldlife can resolve the apparent contradiction of these two differing texts of Scripture. The staying balanced approach between antinomianism and legalism seems unsatisfactory to me. There has got to be a better explanation. I do have my own assumptions about how to resolve these issues but Ali has her assumptions too. So, instead of continually talking past each other without really communicating is there a solid truth and explanation that can be relied upon? Could one of us still be believing a false Gospel?

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  37. I John 3: 9 Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin because he has been born of God. 10 This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother. 11 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, 12 unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did Cain murder Abel? Because Cain’s works were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

    I John chapter Three is about the difference between a religious Cain and a religious Abel. Think of the context. It is not about Abel having a better inside unified with the divine. The problem is that the religion of Cain is nothing but evil deeds. Cain has a religion which depends on what Cain will be enabled to do and not about God’s promise to Adam and Eve about the coming seed. Cain is a dead worker, and his worship is a dead work.

    John 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? ….“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 was not transforming and they will not be saved.” (Future Grace, p 366)

    Cain hated Abel because Cain wanted to glory/ worship/ rejoice in (Phil 3:3) the deeds done done in Cain. Cain refused to put to death (not count) his evil deeds (Rom 8:13) but instead wanted to worship a god who WOULD accept Cain’s credit for producing life in Cain. To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new man, to be given a new legal state, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God did in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

    The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of their morality. They are Pharisees who contrast well with other sinners. But these Cains “do not practice righteousness” (I John 3;10). These Cains will not come to the light, because they love darkness. The light of the gospel (God remembers the sins of justified sinners no more by means of Christ’s death) keeps telling these Cains that their deeds are evil. All their deeds, both moral and religious. (John 3:19).

    These Cains want to thank their god not only for the deeds they do but also for putting them in union with the divine. . But the true God would accept Cain’s worship. That is why Cain hated Abel. Puritans who advocate “the practical syllogism” read II Peter 1 as teaching that we must add works to our lives in order to gain and maintain assurance. But II Peter 1 teaches that we have to make our calling and election sure in order to even know if our added virtues are acceptable and pleasing to God. We need to consider what gospel it was by which we were called. Were we called by a gospel which conditioned our part in the age to come on God giving us enough virtue in this age? Or were we called by the good news which informs us that we must be accepted by God in Christ’s righteousness before we can do anything good or acceptable to God? We do not maintain our acceptance by obeying divine commands. Those who are now justified will be glorified. Those who will not be glorified were never justified (or elected or died for by Christ).

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  38. Ali says: Enjoy your read, John. Maybe a good subtitle for that book would be ‘How to begin by the Spirit, but be perfected by the flesh and earn boasting rights!’

    John Y: Can you explain to me what you think beginning by the Spirit and being perfected by the flesh means? Does the Spirit have an enabling role that causes us to obey the commandments? Is it a faith that works that gives us this power to defeat sin? Where does the power to defeat sin originate from? How does this work in our day to day lives?

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  39. JY: The staying balanced approach between antinomianism and legalism seems unsatisfactory to me.

    Amen to that! Antinomianism and legalism are two sides of the same sin nature per Gal 3 and Gal 5. “Staying balanced” between them is simply finding a self-satisfying point on the flesh continuum.

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  40. @ McM: I’m not sold on the full package you offer.

    On the one hand, amen to this:

    McM: Were we called by a gospel which conditioned our part in the age to come on God giving us enough virtue in this age? Or were we called by the good news which informs us that we must be accepted by God in Christ’s righteousness before we can do anything good or acceptable to God? We do not maintain our acceptance by obeying divine commands. Those who are now justified will be glorified. Those who will not be glorified were never justified (or elected or died for by Christ).

    In particular, I would join you in emphasizing that

    * Our works are only accepted in Christ, and cannot increase or maintain our acceptance.
    * Our works are fruit, not fertilizer — that is, our works are the result of God’s grace and not the cause of it.

    On the other, you draw implications by means of limited (false) alternatives:

    McM: To pass over from death to life is to be put into the new man, to be given a new legal state, in which one’s confidence is not in what God does in you but rather in what God did in Christ outside you. Only in this way can we be in the world as Christ was in the world.

    You seem to say that the entire essence of the new man is to be in a new legal state. But Paul does not limit the new man in this way.

    Gal 3: Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by[a] the flesh? 4 Did you suffer[b] so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith

    Gal 4: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

    The work God does is not limited to redemption, nor even to redemption and then adoption, but includes redemption, adoption, and the sending of the Spirit into the heart.

    And the work of the Spirit is, in part, to strengthen our faith in what Christ has already done:

    Gal 5: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified[a] by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

    and in part to change us so that we are sanctified:

    Gal 5: 16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

    So it is not the case that having a new man is limited to or equivalent to having a new legal status. Rather, that new legal status is the sole ground of adoption, whence the indwelling of the Spirit.

    Nor is it the case that we must choose between a false alternative of what God does in us vs. what God does outside of us. Rather, what God does outside of us is the ground for what God does in us; and one of the things that God works in us through the Spirit is the confidence to cry “Abba!” Another is love, out of which we obey the law not as those under the law, but as those redeemed from the curse of the law.

    Where we might agree in criticizing some unionists for failing to differentiate the ordo of forensic and vital categories, here I would criticize you for dismissing the vital category altogether as being “of Cain.”

    If everyone who speaks of having hope through the indwelling Spirit is “of Cain”, then Paul was “of Cain.”

    That said, we agree that our ground and final hope is in the imputed righteousness of Christ.

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  41. John Yz – I know we agree what a gift salvation -will leave it at that. Take care.

    btw, good post here this am: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/loveofgod/

    CHRISTIANS ARE OFTEN TAUGHT to memorize Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” Certainly wonderful truths are expressed in these lines. But I shall focus on some of the things Paul says in the surrounding verses.

    (1) Before our conversion, we, like the Ephesians, were dead in our “transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1). Because of our addiction to transgression and sin, because of our habit of following the ways of the world (Eph. 2:2), because we were simultaneously deceived by the Devil (Eph. 2:2) and committed to gratifying the desires and thoughts of our sinful natures (Eph. 2:3), there was simply no way we could respond positively to the Gospel. Worse, our tragic inability was a moral inability: “Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). There was no hope for us unless God himself intervened and brought life where there was only death, and showed mercy where his own justice demanded wrath.

    (2) That is what God did: while we were still dead, out of his great love for us, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5). This was out of his sheer grace: we certainly could not help ourselves, for “we were dead” (Eph. 2:5).

    (3) Indeed, God so unites us to Christ that in his eyes we are already raised with him and seated “in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6). God has taken these steps “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7). So our ultimate hope and expectation is what still awaits us. No Christian is stable who does not see and value this futurist perspective.

    (4) At this point Paul stresses the sheer graciousness of the gift of salvation, a gift received by faith that is itself the gift of God, and is quite apart from any works that we could perform. For if we could, we would boast of them.

    (5) But none of this means that we continue to live as we did before–dead in transgressions, following our own desires and thoughts. Far from it: we who have received God’s grace, and the faith to apprehend it, are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10). One can no more enjoy saving grace without performing good works, than one can experience saving grace without ever knowing the incomparable riches that await us in the age to come. This great salvation is one superb package!

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  42. Darryl,

    I don’t see how thinking I am divine-like helps humility and clinging to Christ.

    Your concerns are valid, and there are probably many ways that pondering theosis (or Reformed glorification) can become imbalanced and lead to pride. But, I think it’s actually important to have some grasp of the concept, and should lead to humility. Whether you want to couch our future glory in terms of deification or glorification or even eternal inheritance, it is as Paul says a gift of God stemming from his grace, so that all boasting is nullified. It’s simply a matter of holding two realities that Scripture speaks to in our minds, and the balancing act can be a normal part of our sanctification.

    I do think that it is important to understand future glory in light of a theology of the cross as opposed to an over-realized eschatology. Paul links future glory with suffering in the present age (Phil. 3), as well as weakness (2 Cor. 12). So, whatever we think of our participation in the divine nature as Peter describes, it must be linked to an understanding that none of this comes from us, it is a grace given to us, and it should serve as a motivation to endure through life’s many trials.

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  43. Jeff, I would expect that you would actually go to texts that use the language “new man”, but in the texts that you do use, the forensic (in time) has priority over indwelling (space) and organic union with the divine. It is the Father who gives the Son, and the Son who gives the Holy Spirit. It is not the Holy Spirit indwelling who first gives us Christ the person, nor is it the Holy Spirit transforming us who gives us Christ’s righteousness.

    Gal 4: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, in order that we receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts

    Unless you want to equate adoption with regeneration, and thus deny the legal priority, Galatians 4 makes it clear that the giving of the Spirit (of the Son) is because of sonship. Sonship is because of Christ’s death imputed, and the giving of the Spirit is a result of that imputation and adoption.

    Galatians 3—“by works of the law, or by hearing with faith.” This is not an inclusive but an antithesis. Which gospel did you hear? Is a papist false gospel which makes a distinction between works, so that some of our works are of the law, but other of our works are by done by the Spirit in us between two aspects of our justification? Or is it a gospel about what Christ has already done, with this gospel itself the power of salvation, not only in some first state of justification but also as saints wait for resurrection and glorification? The true gospel about Christ’s death for the elect creates hearing in the elect.

    Cunha–Acceptance of Silva’s teaching that “faith” in Habakkuk 2:4 comprehends faithfulness or a life of persevering in obedience to God’s commandments would lead to an interpretation of Romans 1:16, 17 and Galatians 3:10-13 that makes works of evangelical obedience produced through faith, in some way effectual in justification. Contrary to Silva, “faith” in Romans 1:16, 17 and Galatians 3:10-12 is exclusively belief in Jesus Christ alone and what He accomplished in his propitiating death and resurrection.

    David Garner—“ The vital and intimate union between the sons and the Son remains unyieldingly robust….In Christ the forensic and the transformative are ONE. Justification, sanctification, and glorification are ONE. Declaratory, transformatory and consummatory COALESCE …

    Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness

    mcmark–This does not mean that we now hope for righteousness given by the Spirit in us. . Galatians 5 means that we hope because we are already now counted righteous

    If justification in the end is also by works (the kind of works not seeking merits), this means justification is also by works But justification is not by works, not by works before justification, and not by works after justification.

    Jeff, you seem to be identifying the word “sanctification” with “change”. But adopted and justified sinners have already changed from being outside Christ to being in Christ. Christ is not “in us” until we are “in Christ”. And we are either “in Christ” or we are not.

    Hebrews 10: 10 By this will of God, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of JESUS CHRIST once for all time… 14 For by one offering CHRIST HAS perfected forever those who are sanctified.

    Jeff, I am glad that we agree on so much, even if we don’t agree on words like “sanctification” and “union”. If we don’t begin to define what we mean by those words, we won’t know the location of the antithesis. Those who agree with the following three quotations might just still be papists.

    Letham—“Union with Christ in the Theology of John Calvin’, p 80, In Christ Alone: Perspectives on Union, ed by Clark and Evans—“Horton seems to imply that God’s speech-act of imputation brings about faith, which would be more of a case of justification by decree. It would also suggest that imputation effects union with Christ, which in turn would mean that imputation occurs before and without union.”

    Mark Jones– “John Cotton’s position that faith followed imputation was not typical of Reformed thought but rather was associated with antinomianism….Any view that posits faith as a consequence of imputation leads to antinomianism.

    Julie Canlis, (“Sonship. Identity and Transformation”, Sanctification, IVP, ed Kapic, p 246) “Gratitude may not fully capture the fullness of Calvin’s vision for the redeemed…Christ’s finished work is for me—not however by application but rather by active participation.”

    http://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/2017/07/justification-and-union-with-christ-part-6.html

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  44. Machen—-“Must not Jesus, if He be true man, have been more than the object of religious faith; must He not have had a religion of His own? Certainly Jesus had a religion of His own; His prayer was real prayer, His faith was real religious faith. His relation to His heavenly Father was not merely that of a child to a father; it was that of a man to his God. Certainly Jesus had a religion; without it His humanity would indeed have been but incomplete. But it is equally important to observe that that religion which Jesus had was NOT Christianity. Christianity is a way of getting rid of sin, and Jesus was without sin. The religion of Jesus was a religion of untroubled sonship; Christianity is a religion of the attainment of sonship by the redeeming work of Christ.”

    http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/review/the-incarnation-of-god-mystery-of-gospel-foundation-of-evangelical-theology

    Letham review of Marcus Johnson’ s (and John Clark’s) book—“The thesis is that for Christ to identify with us in our fallen condition, it was necessary for Christ to have a fallen human nature. Otherwise he could not have saved us in our actual state as fallen human beings. This is akin to the teachings of Torrance. An unfallen nature, it is held, would mean his humanity was not a real one for it would be detached from the world in which we find ourselves. Rather, Christ acted in redeeming love from within our own nature, sanctifying it and offering it up to the Father. They argue that Christ’s triumph is magnified by his living a sinless life from out of the depths of our own fallen nature.”

    Letham–“There are a range of problems with the claim. At best, it entails a Nestorian separation of the human nature from the person of Christ. The eternal Son—the person who takes humanity into union—is absolutely free from sin but the assumed humanity is fallen. If that were to be avoided, another hazard lurks— since Christ’s humanity never exists by itself any attribution of fallenness to that nature is a statement about Christ, the eternal Son.”

    Letham–“The authors do not consider biblical passages that tell against their views. Romans 5:12–21, crucial for understanding Paul’s gospel, is not mentioned. If Christ had a fallen human nature it is unavoidable that he would be included in the sin of Adam and its consequences. In short, he could not have saved us since he would have needed atonement himself, if only for his inclusion in the sin of Adam. The authors …acknowledge that a sinful nature and original sin are inextricably linked and that Christ himself needed healing. Such a Christ cannot save us for he needed saving himself.

    Letham–“The book’s argument can be turned on its head. For it to be sustained Christ should have a complete identity with fallen human nature and be a sinner. In this case he really would have been just like us. This Clark and Johnson, quite rightly, find unacceptable. A line has to be drawn somewhere. Throughout, the authors oppose the idea that Christ took into union a nature like Adam’s before the fall. However, this is not the only alternative. Reformed theology has taught that Christ lived in a state of humiliation, sinless and righteous but with a nature bearing the consequences of the fall in its mortality, its vulnerability and its suffering—but not fallen.”

    mcmark–Torrance argued that Christ repented for us, believed for us, was born again for us, was converted for us, and worships for us. “We must think of him as taking our place even in our acts of repentance” (The Mediation of Christ, p 95) According to Torrance, Christ condemned sin by saying no to the flesh and living a life of perfect faith, worship and obedience. But this would mean that the condemnation of sin did not take place on the cross, but in the daily life of Christ. But Romans 8:3 says that it not Jesus but God the Father who condemns sin in the flesh. While it was indeed in the flesh of his Son that God condemned sin but it was not only in his Son as incarnate, but in his Son as a sin-offering.. God condemned sin by passing judgement on his Son (who replaces the elect in the deserved death, not merely representing the elect). We are justified as ungodly (Romans 4:5), not as partakers of a nature which has been united with the divine.

    Donald Macleod —There is a great discontinuity between Christ and sinners. They were sinners and Christ was not. He could not trust in God’s forgiveness because he had no need of forgiveness. He could not be born again because he required no changed of heart. He could not be converted because His life demanded no change of direction.

    If we move from the idea of Jesus as a believer to the idea of Jesus as the one who is believed IN, does Jesus believe, vicariously, in Himself?….It is not his faith that covers the deficiencies of our faith (as it is given to us by God). It is Christ’s death that covers the deficiencies of our faith…Our faith is not in the Son of God who believed for us, but in the Son of God who gave Himself for us.

    p 214, Donald Macleod, Christ Crucified, IVP, 2014—-“Christ never fell, had not guilt, and knew no sin. Human nature as individualized in Christ was not fallen. Christ did not suffer from the disease of sin. In what sense then did Christ heal human nature by becoming the patient and taking the disease? As Christ faced temptation and suffering, Christ did so with a mind unclouded by sin…Human nature after the cross remains as it was before the cross. If Christ healed our humanity by taking our humanity, then Christ was crucified by the very nature he had healed….”

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  45. and John Yz ‘here some go again’ eg (this TGC post this am). http://amicalled.com/2017/09/wwjd-and-the-law/
    giving faller-aways justification/excuse. The reason for fall-away-ship =other than this:

    John 8: 31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

    John 10: 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

    Jeremiah 31: 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

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  46. McM: Jeff, I would expect that you would actually go to texts that use the language “new man”, but in the texts that you do use, the forensic (in time) has priority over indwelling (space) and organic union with the divine.

    The post was long enough already. I have no problem with saying that forensic has a logical priority over transformative. As to temporal — that’s speculation. Who’s to say whether we can slip a credit card between the moment of effectual calling and the moment of justification?

    McM: Galatians 4 makes it clear that the giving of the Spirit (of the Son) is because of sonship.

    Agreed. This was the import of the sentence Rather, that new legal status is the sole ground of adoption, whence the indwelling of the Spirit.

    JRC: And the work of the Spirit is, in part, to strengthen our faith in what Christ has already done

    McM: Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness

    This does not mean that we now hope for righteousness given by the Spirit in us. . Galatians 5 means that we hope because we are already now counted righteous

    You mistook my meaning. I was not focusing on the work of the Spirit to produce righteousness, but on the work of the Spirit to produce hope. Yes, our being counted righteous is the ground of our hope. That was the “what Christ has already done” part of my sentence. But the agent who creates hope in us is the Spirit, not we ourselves.

    McM: Jeff, you seem to be identifying the word “sanctification” with “change”.

    No. Rather, sanctification is a species of change.

    McM: Those who agree with the following three quotations might just still be papists. …

    Mark Jones– “John Cotton’s position that faith followed imputation was not typical of Reformed thought but rather was associated with antinomianism….Any view that posits faith as a consequence of imputation leads to antinomianism.

    If I may be blunt, I think you and Jones are committing the same error in mirror reflection.

    Jones wants to use the logical priority of faith and imputation as a marker for a larger theological error of antinomianism. He is, apparently, ignorant of Ursinus and AA Hodge, both of whom give imputation priority to faith.

    You on the other hand want to use the logical priority of faith and imputation as a marker for the larger theological error of legalism. Or “papism”, which is a yuuuge stretch. You seem to have accepted McCormack’s notion that not even Calvin was Reformed enough.

    The error for both you and Jones is one of slippery-slopism.

    You want to argue that the priority

    effectual calling => faith => justification via imputation

    must entail justification via works, or a crypto-Osianderism. That’s a slippery-slope claim, and it’s not valid. Calvin, who provided you with the arguments against Osiander, held to exactly that priority.

    Jones is the same way. He wants to claim that

    imputation => faith

    leads to a rejection of the binding moral nature of the law. That’s also a slippery-slope claim, and it’s also not valid. Ursinus argued for that priority in Comm. Heid. Cat. (thanks, David R wherever you are).

    Maybe it’s time to leave off calling everyone a papist?

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  47. Thanks, Jeff, I think we would agree that the truth is not found in only reacting to Mark Jones (or to baptists).

    As for “slippery slopes”, I have no problem with such arguments. The most practical use of the word “union” for most Reformed folks is that it allows them not to only to confuse “in Christ” with “Christ in us” but also to have an universal atonement which is then more narrowly distributed, because nothing legal happens until after regeneration (the word regeneration being used to show that the Holy Spirit gives some of the people for whom Christ died the person of Christ and His benefit).

    But despite confessional ambiguity, the sins of the elect have already been imputed by God to Christ. And in time, the Spirit is distributed by means of God’s imputation of Christ’s death. II 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.

    I certainly agree with Mccormack (and Horton) that Calvin was inconsistent—he had it both ways about forensic priority.

    Letham—“Union with Christ in the Theology of John Calvin’, p 80, In Christ Alone: Perspectives on Union, ed by Clark and Evans—“Horton seems to imply that God’s speech-act of imputation brings about faith, which would suggest that imputation effects union with Christ, which in turn would mean that imputation occurs before and without union. The fact that imputation is the main hinge on which religion turns is different than it being prior to union.”

    Your “the same error in mirror reflection” is tricky. It’s more of a rhetorical tick than an argument. It’s like saying that paedocommunion is the mirror image of anti-paedobaptism—a conclusion without the necessary examination and analysis. It’s more of a “two extremes—but I am in in the middle” Goldilocks things—-Some focus on the one, others on the many, but I am just right…..

    Don’t you love leading questions?

    Ron Sider–is God a Marxist?

    David Garner, “If you believe that God loves you and that your ongoing sin or your incremental obedience does not in any way affect God’s love for you, you just might be an antinomian…. The Holy Spirit infuses grace within us, whereby the Spirit motivates and empowers the believer unto Christ-like faith and obedience. Complementing the grace of imputation, infused grace for necessary good works is a Reformed doctrine.” http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/antinomianism-reformed-theologys-unwelcome-guest.php

    Robert Traill— –“he that will not be Antichristian must be called an Antinomian.

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  48. Ali:

    No doubt you’ve read where A.T. Robertson renders John 15:14, “You are my friends if you keep on doing what I command.” The verb “do” expresses continuous action.

    John 15:14 is also conditional. How do you measure up? Are you a “friend” of Jesus?

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