Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ordination #2, Art. 6c: The Benefits of Salvation

The first benefit of conversion is regeneration, which is to be born of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1.12-13; 3.5-8), and it is the starting point of one’s spiritual life and transformation (Titus 3.5). The believer becomes a new person (2 Cor. 5.17), alive to God whereas they were previously dead to Him (Rom. 3.10-11). In addition to being “born again,” the status of the believer has changed from being their own entity to being “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5.17) and Christ also abides in them (Gal. 2.20). This union with Christ is key to our justification, a forensic declaration of righteousness, before God (Rom. 8.1, 33-34), which is made possible by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (Rom. 4.3, 6; 5.17). This justification is entirely a gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2.8-9; Rom. 3.23-24).

Reading Erickson’s theology (see margin) on our union with Christ has been the most encouraging aspect of my study on theology over the last several months. I had never made a big deal of it, but it was tremendous to think of how, when we are joined to Christ, we become partners with Him. In that partnership we pool resources (talk about a bum deal for Him!). When it comes time to judge sin, I produce the goods in the partnership, but Jesus bears them in my place, as my partner. Likewise, when righteousness is demanded, God sees our union and recognizes “our” righteousness because Christ’s righteousness is accounted to me – we’re partners.

It’s like saying the partnership between myself and Hank Aaron resulted in 755 home runs. It’s pretty one-sided, but, if it were true that we had some kind of partnership, it would be factually true that we had 755 home runs between us. In the same way, in my union with Christ, "We're" righteous - even though He's the great one who is bringing all the righteousness.

I probably should have known this stuff, and maybe it was in the recesses of my brain somewhere, but it was powerful to dwell upon and wrestle with.


Wacky Weavers said...

reading this hit home to challenge me to truly act like a partner with Christ. As I sit and ponder this partnership, it really is beyond my comprehension of understanding the depth of God's love and desire for, not just man kind, but for sinful, unwise, immature little being. What a challenge to really see it as a partnership.

Justin said...

That makes sense. But we have to make sure that we view it as a partnership of grace. That is, we don't earn anything in this partnership. It is the benevolent gift of a gracious God who is glorified as we rely on Him and draw resources from Him to live well - not in a prosperity kind of way, but in a resource for living in a way that honors Him (like the vine & branches).