2 Corinthians 3:18, adoption, Glorification, Hebrews 12:14, imputation, Imputed righteousness, John Flavel, Lordship Salvation, Puritan, reconciliation, Redempton, Romans 4:5, The Method of Grace, Union with Christ
The previous entry will be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/john-flavel-the-method-of-grace-5/
Prop. 8. Lastly, Although the several privileges and benefits before mentioned are all true and really bestowed with Christ upon believers, yet they are not communicated to them in one and the same day and manner; but differently and divers, as their respective natures do require.
Christians have often been perplexed by the relationship between grace and holiness: other making the relationship with God solely a one paying a mountainous, unpayable debt; or one of a God who forgives and forgets. One person strives for perfection and thinks all others vicious scoff-laws. Another thinks any effort at all makes one a “legalist”. Flavel shows that both are dangerously wrong.
Flavel explains that in union with Christ we gain a whole – not a partial Christ:
That the lord Jesus Christ, with all his precious benefits, becomes ours, by God’s special and effectual application.
Thus, the believer – in Union with Christ – does receive the righteousness of Christ, but also receives wisdom, sanctification, and redemption. However, one does not receive wisdom in the same way on receives righteousness:
These four illustrious benefits are conveyed from Christ to us in three different ways and methods:
his righteousness is made ours by imputation;
his wisdom and sanctification by renovation;
his redemption by our glorification.
Flavel’s explanation helps to make sense of the seemingly difficult balance between grace and good works, between faith and perseverance. The difficulty comes from the seeming contradiction of
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 (ESV)
And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, Romans 4:5 (ESV)
How can we counted righteous in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21) and be called onto holiness (Hebrews 12:14).
Flavel explains that we are brought into a relationship with Christ by means of imputed righteous; however, that righteousness is not the end but rather the beginning of the renovation. God does not merely impute righteous, but he also imparts a transforming holiness.
An analogy may help: Imagine two children in a household, an adopted son and a neighboring child. Now, the son does not gain or lose his status as a son on the basis of his immediate behavior. The father’s act of adoption created the relationship with the child: it was an initial, gracious act of love to bring the child into a household.
It is only by such adoption that we are brought in to relationship with God in Jesus Christ, “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4b-5a). No amount of effort in the child can ever create the initial bond of adoption. Just like the neighbor’s child can never become a son merely by being quick to obey; nor will the adopted son’s disobedience undo that relationship.
However, a loving father will not leave adopted child without attention, care, concern or love. The father will train, correct and raise up his child. For instance, let us pretend a child is adopted from a country where English is not spoken, but lives in a family in the United States. Loving parents will teach the child English. The parents will impart knowledge to the child to be able to live in his new surroundings.
Likewise, God having adopted us does not leave us as we were, but rather imparts wisdom and sanctification – change – to us:
But in conveying, and communicating his wisdom and sanctification, he takes another method, for this is not imputed, but really imparted to us by the illuminating and regenerating work of the Spirit: these are graces really inherent in us: our righteousness comes from Christ as a surety but our holiness comes from him as a quickening head, sending vital influences unto all his members.
Now these gracious habits being subjected and seated in the souls of poor imperfect creatures, whose corruptions abide and work in the very same faculties where grace has its residence; it cannot be, that our sanctification should be so perfect and complete, as our justification is, which inheres only in Christ. See Gal. 5: 17
In Union with Christ, the Holy Spirit transforms the human being who has been brought into relationship with God in Jesus Christ:
16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16–18 (ESV)
The one for whom the veil is removed is the one who has been brought into relationship with Jesus Christ by the operation of the Holy Spirit. However, the Spirit’s work does not end with merely removing the veil. The veil is removed so that the change will begin.
Now, the one who does not change gives every appearance of being one who still wears the veil. While change takes place in a combustible heart which has not been freed of all corruption, the change must take place. A child who has neither breath nor heartbeat is not alive.
Finally, one receives redemption as the capstone of adoption (Romans 8:16-22):
For redemption, that is to say, absolute and plenary deliverance from all the sad remains, effects, and consequences of sin, both upon soul and body; this is made ours, (or, to keep to the terms) Christ is made redemption to us by glorification; then, and not before, are these miserable effects removed; we put off these together with the body.
Not until our bodies are redeemed (Romans 8:22) will we receive glorification – but glorification is the end which beings with justification:
So that look, as justification cures the guilt of sin, and sanctification the dominion of sin, so glorification removes, together with its existence and being, all those miseries which it let in (as at a flood-gate) upon our whole man, Eph. 5: 26, 27.
And thus of God, Christ is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption; namely, by imputation, regeneration, and glorification.