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Reclaiming and Proclaiming: Capturing God’s Heart in Biblical Salvation – Going to Damascus

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Reclaiming and Proclaiming: Capturing God’s Heart in Biblical Salvation

I don’t generally publish my schoolwork, but when I do it is when I have made sure it is sound and that it will be beneficial to the church. This paper is my most recent work wherein I attempt to recapture God’s heart in Biblical salvation, and articulate why I understand its loss in meaning in our preaching is at the heart of our problems in evangelicalism today.

For the PDF version, click here.



God’s Word does not and cannot change. God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and therefore his Word and promises to us also remain the same. If this is the case, then the Church must be made to see when and where she begins to use God’s Word apart from the way it was originally intended. Like the serpent in Genesis 3, these distortions of Biblical truth are one part lie and one part truth.

One such crafty abuse of language is in the Church’s use of the word salvation. The Greek word from which salvation is derived (σωτηρία) and all its variants shows up forty-five times in the New Testament alone. It is right then for us to see that the Biblical authors had a central and high view of σωτηρία, and so too should we. Unfortunately the common understanding of salvation in the Protestant Evangelical Church has fallen far from its intended purpose.

Today, the concept of salvation and justification are often used interchangeably. Not only is this dangerous and deceptive, but it is dishonoring to the Lord. Such misunderstandings of salvation have led to a shallow Church, made up of shallow Christians, who are expanded by a half-hearted and shallow gospel. Christians today are confused about what exactly is to be found in our shared salvation. The only correction to this grievous error is in reclaiming the intended meaning of σωτηρία; as the Biblical authors used it, as the Reformers understood it, and how it should be understood in our proclamation today.

To understand the intent of salvation, the use of σωτηρία will be studied in its Biblical usage and context. But first, the doctrine of union with Christ in relation to the ordo salutis must first be briefly examined and discussed in order to set the proper framework for understanding.

Understanding Union with Christ

By what do theologians mean when they refer to the doctrine of union with Christ? Simply put, union with Christ refers to the language of “in Christ,”[1] which is common throughout the New Testament. Kevin DeYoung rightly notes that this sort of language is found 216 times in the New Testament.[2] In regards to the relationship between salvation and Union with Christ, John Murray says this, “Union with Christ is really the central truth of the whole doctrine of salvation…Indeed the whole process of salvation has its origin in one phase of union with Christ and salvation has in view the realization of other phases of Union with Christ.”[3] Murray here has in mind the language of the Apostle in his letter to the Ephesians[4], where Paul says that God the father has blessed us “in Christ, with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3). [5]

The Reformers too understood that our salvation – all spiritual blessings – are only found within our union with Christ. John Calvin says it this way,

“…that so long as we are without Christ and separated from him, nothing which he suffered and did for the salvation of the human race is of the least benefit to us. To communicate to us the blessings which he received from the Father, he must become ours and dwell in us. Accordingly…we are said to be engrafted into him and clothed with him.”[6]

Citing Romans 6:5, Calvin rightly understands the direct connection between the salvation of the human race and the blessings which Christ received from the Father. Indeed, we have been “united with him in a death like his” and “united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5). Therefore, we must understand that the totality of spiritual blessings which we receive are our salvation, and can only be found in our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. Herman Bavinck accurately sums up this concept,

“All the benefits of grace therefore lie prepared and ready for the church in the person of Christ…Atonement, forgiveness, justification, the mystical union, sanctification, glorification, and so on – they do not come into being after and as a result of faith but are objectively, actively present in Christ.”[7]

Understanding then the relationship between our salvation and union with Christ, the various facets of salvation will now be broken down and further evidenced by the Holy Scriptures.

Salvation and the Ordo Salutis

Theologians have commonly understood the various elements of our application of salvation as the ordo salutis, the order of salvation. Such an idea is helpful for us in understanding how God works in and through the believer. Each one of these acts and processes is distinct and cannot be confused or used in place of one another. There is some disagreement, both semantically and theologically, into what exactly constitutes these various categories. Anglican pastor and theologian John Stott names pieces such as justification, redemption, recreation, regeneration, and sanctification.[8] In a similar but slightly different list, John Murray lists the following facets: calling, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification and glorification.[9]

It is with Murrays naming standard that we will move forward, particularly because it is a more precise breakdown which is helpful in identifying the facets of salvation which pertain to our present and future reality. The error being addressed herein is the error of equating in our gospel proclamation the concepts of salvation and any of its corresponding pieces, particularly justification. Because this is a present proclamation and a present error, my concern is primarily with the four aspects of salvation which have present or future consequence: justification, adoption, sanctification and glorification. In one sense it can be said that all of Murray’s facets have present and future consequence, but for the concern of brevity and precision, the preceding four will only be discussed.

What follows is the Biblical evidence to show that the New Testament authors had these four categories in mind in their use of σωτηρία, beginning with the concept of justification.

Salvation and Justification

Hardly anyone today would disagree with the idea that justification is an aspect of our salvation. Indeed, the most common error in Protestant/Evangelical churches today (in regards to our salvation) is in the equating of these two terms. What makes this error so dangerous is that it contains a partial truth; for one aspect of our salvation is found in justification. However, we must not mix the two, and as John Stott clearly says, “It would be entirely mistaken to make the equation ‘salvation equals justification.’ Salvation is the comprehensive word, but it has many facets that are illustrated by different pictures, of which justification is only one.” Biblical evidence for justification in our salvation hardly needs to be defended, but for comprehensiveness one example will be briefly shown.

The word for justified/justification comes from the word δίκαιος/ δικαιοσύνηand in simple terms means “the quality, state, or practice of judicial responsibility.”[10] John Murray accurately defines justification for our purposes as “to declare to be righteous – it is a judgment based upon the recognition that a person stands in a right relation to law or justice.” [11] Justification is often mentioned separately from σωτηρία (such as in Rom. 2:13, 3:28, 5:1, Tit. 3:7), but can also be mentioned in close proximity to σωτηρία as well. One such example is in Romans 10:10, where the Apostle Paul says this, “For with the heart one believes and is justified (δικαιοσύνη), and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (σωτηρίαν).”

The two terms here are used in such close proximity and in such a way that one would be highly susceptible to switching either around, or using the two interchangeably. As such, if this were the only verse in the New Testament using σωτηρία, then it would be accurate to conclude that justification and salvation could indeed be equated! Theologian James Dunn notes this when he says that there is a “near equivalence” between justification and salvation in this context.[12]

John Calvin too noted the close link in this passage between justification and salvation. In his commentary on Romans he says,

“And surely, he who is justified has already obtained salvation: hence he no less believes with the heart unto salvation, than with the mouth makes a confession. You see that he has made this distinction,—that he refers the cause of justification to faith,—and that he then shows what is necessary to complete salvation.”[13]

What Calvin is getting at here is that justification by faith is an entry point to the realization of our salvation; when one believes in his heart he is justified and salvation is applied to him, what follows is his public confession in salvation.

This idea of the application of our salvation is important for us to remember in our gospel proclamation today. For salvation does not stop at our justification, but is only the beginning of its application manifesting in our lives. What follows next in this application is our divine adoption by a gracious and loving Father.

Salvation and Adoption

Author and Scholar Dr. John Frame says “there is nobody who is justified but not adopted.”[14] In our union with Christ, justification and adoption are necessarily linked. Adoption is the “height of our privilege as God’s people.”[15] Unfortunately, as Frame also observes, “So the doctrine of adoption deserves far more emphasis in our preaching and theological work than it has usually received.”[16]

So what does the term adoption mean in its theological context? Perhaps Romans 8:17 is the best descriptor of this term, “and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”[17] Our adoption is our co-inheritance with Christ. In our adoption as sons and daughters – as heirs – everything that is Christ’s becomes ours. How undeserving we are of such a gift, to be called sons and daughters despite our wickedness and rebellion.

Adoption in particular reminds us that in our salvation we are brought into a covenant family. While we were formerly separated from God and walking in darkness (1 John 2:8-9), we are now “called children of God, and so we are” (1 John 3:1). As we become sons and daughters in our vertical relationship to God, we become brothers and sisters in our horizontal relationship to one another. Among the many gifts the Holy Spirit gives to us, they are deemed to be used in the edification, building up, and taking care of God’s family.

How then is salvation spoken of in relation to our adoption as sons and daughters? In perhaps the longest sentence in the history of the world’s literature (Eph. 1:3-14, in the Greek of course), the Apostle Paul touches on the most important doctrines of the Christian faith. Previously discussed was the idea of our union with Christ, specifically mentioned in verses 3 and 4. Paul continues in this passage to say that God has “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ” (vs. 5), and soon follows by saying that in the belief in the gospel of our σωτηρία God seals us with the promised Holy Spirit (vs. 13).

One could show how verses 1:3 and 1:13-14 form somewhat of an inclusio in this massive sentence; how between verses 3 and 13-14 we see the result of our union with Christ and the appropriation of every spiritual blessing. However, to see the close link between salvation and adoption in this passage one only needs to turn to another Pauline text to see this close link. As Paul says in this passage in Ephesians, we have been predestined for adoption and upon believing in the gospel of our salvation we are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit. This logic is further explained in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians when he says,

“…to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ (Gal. 4:5-6).”

If we connect the dots between these two passages, we see that it is the sealing of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that causes us to cry out “Abba! Father,” and it is only upon the belief in Christ for our salvation that this sealing happens.

Herman Ridderbos understood this link between the Holy Spirit and our adoption well. He writes, “When God reveals his Son, the adoption of sons also takes effect (Gal. 4:4), and it is the Spirit of God’s Son whom God has sent forth into our hearts, who cries: ‘Abba, Father!’ (v.6). It is sonship ‘in Christ Jesus’…given with him in his advent; as the eschatological bringer of salvation…There is in the Pauline pronouncements a peculiar relationship of reciprocity between the adoption of sons and the gift of the Spirit.”[18]

Here Ridderbos is saying that because Christ is the bringer of salvation, and because it is Christ’s Spirit that dwells within us crying out to our heavenly father, we therefore become co-heirs and sons and daughters of God.

Not only can adoption not be separated from justification, but it cannot be separated from salvation either. What’s more, the blessings of salvation found in Christ do not end here. As Frame continues from his quote above, “there is nobody who is justified but not adopted, or adopted but not sanctified.” It is this next facet of salvation – our sanctification – that will now be discussed.

Salvation and Sanctification

It must be said that sanctification is a definite aspect of our salvation; there is no way to get around the fact that those who are justified are and will be sanctified. Indeed, in our salvation we will by God’s grace be conformed into the image of his Son. There is perhaps no better passage in scripture to emphasize this fact than in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, specifically in verses 2:12-13.

This passage, beginning with the words “Ὥστε, ἀγαπητοί μου,” (Therefore, my beloved), tells us that Paul is going to draw a conclusion from his preceding argument. In this particular context, Paul has just spent some forty-one verses giving us examples of joy and obedience during suffering. Beginning with his own example and moving on to the far exceeding superiority of the sufferings of Christ on the cross (vs. 2:1-11), Paul issues a command to his audience. The conclusion of Paul’s imperative command is powerful, “μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου τὴν ἑαυτῶν σωτηρίαν κατεργάζεσθε(with fear and trembling work out your own salvation).

What does it mean for Paul to say “work out your own salvation”? Could Paul really be insisting that our salvation is merited by our own works? In addition to being inconsistent with the entirety of Paul’s writings, thinking this imperative means we earn salvation for ourselves would also be inconsistent with the entirety of Philippians. Paul says later in the letter “…not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9). What we begin to see in this imperative, and will continue to see in the remainder of the letter, is that it is very important for Paul to communicate this idea: that because we have grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we must continue to devote ourselves to obedience and strive to persevere until the end.

Paul continues to explain this idea of grace-fueled obedience in verse 13. Continuing with an explanatory clause he says, “θεὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργῶν ἐν ὑμῖν” (For God is the one working in you). The primary observation to be made from this segment should be that Paul chose to put θεὸςat the beginning of the sentence, rather than ὁ ἐνεργῶν. As the latter is the subject (since it has the article), we would normally expect the subject to precede ἐστιν. It should be noted thusly that Paul chose to put θεὸςat the beginning of the sentence to provide weight, “For GOD is the one working in you”. This emphasis on God being the one working in the believer would indeed back up the idea that it is not works-based salvation Paul is speaking of in these passages, rather obedience to God who is already working in us.

So we see how these two verses show how sanctification and σωτηρία are necessarily linked; because salvation is of the Lord, it is God who continues to work in us in our salvation through the means of our sanctification. Reformed thought today has done an excellent job in communicating this very idea. Leon Morris explains it this way,

“Salvation is not only a privilege, but also a responsibility, specifically a responsibility to God. In discussing service we should emphasize what God does in the servant rather than what the servant does in serving. Thus God works in His people.”[19]

Speaking of the application of our benefits in Christ (σωτηρία), Bavinck summarizes: “The application of Christ’s benefits, accordingly, has to consist in justification but also in sanctification.”[20]

Reformed thinkers have often held that our sanctification does not speak of what we have been saved from, but what we have been saved to. Our life as Christians is a life of repentance, obedience and being molded by God into the image of his Son. Praise God that he does not leave us where he found us! The final reality of what we have been saved to will someday result in our glorification, which is the final aspect of our salvation left to be discussed in this paper.

Salvation and Glorification

There is a certain tension that exists in our salvation. For Christ has once and for all died and given those who trust in him their salvation through union with him; yet, at the same time, our salvation is yet to be attained by those who wait for Christ’s return. This eschatological tension is often referred to as the “already, but not yet.” This tension will not be relieved until Christ’s return and all saints of history past, present and future are glorified. Thus it is certain that salvation and glorification are closely linked together.

The Apostle Peter acknowledges this tension in his first epistle when he says Christians “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). Our salvation already is secured and guarded by our faith, but it is not yet fully revealed to us. Leon Morris acknowledges this tension in Peter’s epistle when he says “Salvation is a present possession, certainly. But it is also something that will be ‘revealed in the last time.’”[21]

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews also recognizes the “not yet” glorification aspect of our salvation. Multiple times in this letter σωτηρία is spoken of in relation to our glorification, such as verse 1:14 (Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit σωτηρίαν?), 5:9 (And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal σωτηρίας to all who obey him) and 9:28 (so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to σωτηρίαν those who are eagerly waiting for him). The author of Hebrews had a clear understanding that in our salvation we eagerly look forward to it being perfected upon the return of Christ.

Glorification then is the final aspect of our salvation and is the necessary conclusion of what God planned in eternity past. It is the conclusion of what God begins in the present in our justification. As Leonhard Goppelt says, “Hence salvation appeared as that end toward which expectation looked in the final judgment…based on justification in the present.”[22] Glorification caps off these four facets of salvation and so the importance of preaching and teaching this full understanding of salvation begins to take place. To measure what happens when salvation is misunderstood, I will now examine the teaching and preaching of those who would claim otherwise.

Salvation Incomplete

It has been shown, albeit briefly, how the four aspects of salvation – justification, adoption, sanctification and our future glorification – are necessarily linked and understood as aspects of our σωτηρία. It has also been shown how the Biblical authors used and Reformed theologians understand this salvation in relation to these four facets. The unfortunate reality however is that not everyone understands σωτηρία this way in their preaching and teaching today.

In his book Basic Theology, theologian Charles Ryrie begs the question, “Is commitment of life a necessary part of faith and thus of the Gospel?”[23] Ryrie would answer in the negative, and cites a few examples to back up such a claim. Ryrie states that the Bible “furnishes some clear examples of people who were saved but who lacked commitment.”[24] One of his chief arguments is the account of the Samaritan woman (John 4:10). Ryrie explains this account as follows,

“He did not require the Samaritan woman to set her sinful life in order, or even be willing to, so that she could be saved. He did not set out before her what would be expected by way of changes in her life if she believed. He simply said she needed to know who He is and to ask for the gift of eternal life.”[25]

His conclusion to this so-called lack of commitment found by Biblical characters is that proclaiming a gospel where commitment to Christ is required “fails to distinguish salvation from discipleship and makes requirements for discipleship prerequisites for salvation.”[26]

What Ryrie fails to take into account however is the radical, life-changing experience that an encounter with Christ contains. We do not read much more about this Samaritan woman, but what we do read of is a radically changed life, one where she immediately responds in obedience and tells others about Christ. While it is true that Jesus did not explain to her the details of a committed Christian life at her conversion, we can rightly assume that the Holy Spirit issued her a similar charge as Christ did to the woman caught in adultery, “…from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

In response to Ryrie’s positioned question it must be asked, “How could commitment of life not be a necessary part of faith and thus of the gospel?” If, as we have seen, salvation necessarily contains our justification, adoption, sanctification and eventual glorification, at what point could there be a total lack of commitment? Can one be adopted without being committed to the family of God? Can one be sanctified without a commitment to obedience? If our adoption and sanctification are tied to our justification, how could we be glorified without a commitment to either? This is not to say that the Christian does not still sin – of course we do! But to suggest that it is possible to not only sin but also be uncommitted to the Christian life and our salvation is completely unwarranted.

This type of “free grace” theology is not only antithetical to the gospel proclamation, but it is harmful to the people of God. There is no power for the conviction of sins and victory in the Christian life when the gospel is reduced to a “believe, but don’t worry about commitment” message. This message manifests and sneaks itself into the western church in a variety of ways. In a time where rock star pastors take the stage without any formal theological training, where a pastor’s character is measured by how likeable he is and not how mature he is in the faith, and where the church is fed a half-hearted gospel of comfort to the American dream, just about anything flies as “orthodox” today. Worse than that, the result of declaring poor or false teaching and calling people to a Biblical faith only results in attacks and chastisement from those we seek to love and help grow in their relationship with Christ. I am convinced that at the root of these problems is a fundamental misunderstanding of what exactly salvation is. When a student begins an algebra problem with the wrong equation, no matter how earnest she is she will always arrive at the wrong answer. Similarly, if we misunderstand or confuse salvation our preaching and teaching of it will always end in the wrong place.

One such example of this is in respected mega-church pastor [name removed] preaching on the meaning of being a Christian. In a recent sermon given on [date removed], Pastor [name removed] argued that it is possible to be a believer in the Christian life but not a disciple. He argued this is not only what he believes is right, but that it’s not an essential point of orthodoxy. He argues this from Luke 14:26, when Jesus says “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Pastor [name removed]’s conclusion is that there are two levels to Christianity – the entry level, and the next level: “He was calling on the crowd to take their commitment to him to a higher level, the next level, a level of discipleship.”[27] On matters of commitment and obedience in the Christian life, [name removed] goes on to say this: “salvation and discipleship are different. Salvation is for everyone. Discipleship is for those who are supremely committed. Salvation is based on coming to the cross, discipleship is based on carrying the cross.”[28] [name removed] goes on to elaborate on his views of salvation,

“Salvation is based on Christ dying for us. Discipleship is based on us being willing to die for Christ. Salvation is a free gift. But based on what Jesus says here in Luke 14, discipleship has a cost. Everybody see that. And let’s look at it from some straight up Bible verses. Salvation, what’s the Bible say? Ephesians 2:8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that salvation is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Titus, 3:5, God saved us not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his Mercy. Salvation, the Bible says, involves no human works, no human effort, no human activity, no cost to us.”[29]

Pastor [name removed] defines a disciple as someone who strives “to be Christ-like in every part of his or her life. It’s a higher level of commitment. And a deeper commitment than just believing what Jesus did for us on the cross for salvation.”[30]

So it is that Charles Ryrie’s propagated “free grace” theology is revealed in Pastor [name removed]’s teaching; our salvation is a one and done experience of simply believing in Christ, but if you want to be some form of a “Super Christian,” then you live to a higher form of obedience. After all, as [name removed] says, salvation involves nothing on our part at no cost to us. But is this not completely different than the use of salvation in the New Testament that we have previously seen? Is not salvation a complete reorientation and renewal of our lives, beginning in the present with our justification, progressing through adoption and sanctification, and eventually ending in our glorification? We have seen how God works in our lives in our justification, works out our sanctification, seals us in adoption, and will come again to perfect our salvation. What Pastor [name removed] has done instead is he has made a cheap justification equivalent to salvation, and by doing so he has completely missed the point.

Yes, justification comes at no cost to us and based on no merit on our part. But the life of salvation is one of working (sanctification) and service to our adopted family, because it is God who works in us to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13)! It pleases God to work out our salvation in us, so how could it be possible for us to preach and teach anything less? The end result of [name removed] and Ryrie’s teaching is that our obedience becomes based on human will-power rather than the working of God. When this will-power becomes the motivation for obedience, you are no longer dealing with the gospel and salvation but inefficient moralism.

Salvation Proclaimed

I imagine a young man sitting in Pastor [name removed]’s congregation during this referenced sermon who is feeling a deep, nagging feeling that his addiction to pornography is not pleasing to the Lord. I imagine a wife who has begun a workplace relationship that is bordering on adultery. I picture a husband who is abusive toward his wife and has been neglecting his kids for his work. Where is the power for the conviction of sins in a salvation that requires no effort, no will, and no cost?

Christ himself told us that there would be weeds among the harvest (Matt. 13:24-30) and goats among the sheep (Matt. 25:32). However, this eschatological reality should not come to fruition due to lack of faithful teaching on the church’s part! Church leaders have a necessary obligation to preaching the truth (Jude 3), and to handle the Word of God with care (2 Timothy 3:2). Christ will hold teachers of the Word to a higher standard (James 3:1). We owe Christ and his Church truthful, delicate and faithful exposition of God’s Word.

So it is that the Church, particularly the Church of the West, is at a crossroads. We are at a time where we must seriously measure whether it is worth continuing to attract big crowds and simply hope and pray that God will save people in spite of bad teaching, or whether we must seriously confront the errors in our ways. Theologian David F. Wells accounts for the problem this way, “Today, in the evangelical church, there are apparently many who have made decisions for Christ, who claim to be reborn, but who give little evidence of their claimed relationship to Christ. Something is seriously amiss if, as George Barna has reported, only 9 percent of those claiming rebirth have even a minimal knowledge of the Bible, if there are no discernible differences in how they live as compared with secularists, and if the born-again are dropping out of church attendance in droves. If these numbers are anywhere close to being accurate, then the gospel has become a stand-alone thing, and many who say they have embraced it have never entered the Christian life to which it was supposed to be the entry point.”[31]

Wells nails the problem right on the head, and summarizes exactly what we’ve seen in understanding Biblical salvation. When sanctification in salvation is misunderstood, then many professing Christians will have no commitment to the Word of God or a living, active obedience. When this same salvation is misunderstood in regards to our adoption, then of course professing Christians will have no obligation to the family of God. I contend with Wells that this is a problem that we cannot allow to continue to fester. As he states, if we continue to preach this kind of Gospel, then “we have completely misunderstood what it (Christian faith) is all about.”[32]

When a package is delivered from one location to another, it is not simply a one-step process. It does not just appear at its destination. The process of delivery is a multi-step process wherein a package is purchased, picked up, changes ownership, and eventually arrives at its destination. Similarly our σωτηρία – our salvation and deliverance – must be understood as more than a one-and-done deal. It is of utmost importance that the Church reclaims the proper understanding of σωτηρία as the Biblical authors used it and as the Reformers understood it. We must teach and proclaim all of the benefits of this great salvation, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism (32) explains, “They that are effectually called do in this life partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either accompany or flow from them.” Teachers of the Word cannot separate any of these benefits of salvation from one another, for they are all found and bound together in the Christian’s union with Christ.


[1] Richard B. Gaffin, By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation, second ed. (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2013), 41. Richard Gaffin notes that the primary language for union with Christ is found in the “in Christ/the Lord” language, with other variations such as “with,” “for us” and “for our sins.”

[2] Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012), 95.

[3] John Murray, Redemption, Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975, 1955), 161.

[4] In another of his writings, Murray notes that it would be “exegetically impossible” to separate the scope of spiritual blessings from those blessing mentioned in the immediate succeeding context – adoption (vs. 5), redemption and forgiveness of sins (vs. 7), the knowledge of the myster of God’s will (vs. 9) the inheritance (vs. 11), and the seal of the Holy Spirit (vss. 13, 14). John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray: Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1937-1966, vol. 2, Select Lectures in Systematic Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), 126

[5]Richard B. Gaffin, By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation, second ed. (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2013), 45. Gaffin cites Murray as particularly helpful in understanding Union with Christ. Dr. Gaffin summarizes Murray by saying “To sum up: present union with Christ – sharing with him in all he has accomplished and now is, by virtue of his death and resurrection – is, as much as anything, at the center of Paul’s soteriology.

[6] Jean Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2008), 349.

[7] Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2003- 2008, 523. In agreement with Bavinck, Kevin DeYoung says this, “Union with Christ is not a single specific blessing we receive in our salvation. Rather, it is the best phrase to describe all the blessings of salvation, whether in eternity past (election), in history (redemption), in the present (effectual calling, justification, and sanctification), or in the future (glorification).” Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2012), 94.

[8] John R W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, 20th ed. (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006), 185.

[9] John Murray, Redemption, Accomplished and Applied (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1975, 1955), 80.

[10]William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 247.

[11]John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray: Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1937-1966, vol. 2, Select Lectures in Systematic Theology (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1977), 206.

[12] James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, vol. 38B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1998), 609. “The near equivalence of “righteousness” and “salvation” in this context is wholly Jewish in character, as their frequent use in parallel in the Psalms and Second Isaiah makes clear.” This is a profound insight on the part of Dunn, but its depth and implications are out of scope for the purpose of this paper.

[13] John Calvin and John Owen, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (Bellingham, WA 2010), 394.

[14] John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2013), 971.

[15] Ibid., 980

[16] Ibid., 977

[17] WLC 74 is also a theologically and Biblically sound summation of the doctrine of adoption. “Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow heirs with Christ in glory.”

[18] Herman N. Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, pbk. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1997, ©1975), 199.

[19]Leon Morris, New Testament Theology, pbk. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Academie Books, 1990, ©1986), 36.

[20] Bavinck, Herman. Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2003- 2008, 570.

[21] Leon Morris, New Testament Theology, pbk. ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Academie Books, 1990, ©1986), 320.

[22] Goppelt, Leonhard. Theology of the New Testament, Volume 2. Edited by Jürgen Roloff. 2 vols. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1981-1982, 137.

[23] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systemic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1999), 391.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Citation removed, can be given if asked for.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] David F. Wells, God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2014), 158.

[32] Ibid., 159



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