Even our standing at the Final Judgment is by faith alone, since in Christ we have already received all that we will need for that Day which is not yet here.
The debate over faith and works at the Final Judgment has been steadily brewing for awhile now. Launched by John Piper’s controversial “Does God Really Save Us By Faith Alone?“, the article has received a steady back and forth from Mark Jones (The Calvinist International) and Scott Clark (Heidelblog), as well as important contributions from other confessional voices (see here [With Heart and Mouth] and here [Kyle Borg | Gentle Reformation]). Now that the heat of these articles has died down some (I saw too much personality and not enough careful reading), I think one more observation is worth making. I bring this up not because it is original to myself (the rest of this post merely elaborates others’ ideas), but simply because I haven’t seen much of the eschatological nature of Reformed soteriology brought up.
Eschatology of Justification
Many New Testament scholars have pointed to the “already/not yet” pattern in Scripture, where God’s future blessings are already experienced by believers now, even though the fullness is not yet experienced. A classic example of this in Scripture in Jesus’ work with the Kingdom of God. In Christ’s first coming, the Kingdom has already been inaugurated among us (“the kingdom is in your midst,” Luke 17:21), but we await the day when the Kingdom will come in its fullness (“Your Kingdom come,” Matthew 6:10). Scripture repeatedly points to an eschatological fulfillment of present realities.
What if this eschatological fulfillment was also applicable to justification? Throughout Scripture, we often see the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, as being responsible for this eschatological character. So we should not be surprised when “justifying” language and the Spirit come together in Scripture to point to an eschatological character, even for justification. We see I Timothy 3:16 stating that Jesus was “justified” or “vindicated in the Spirit” (ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι). Clearly Jesus did not have a need to be justified like sinful humanity does, so understanding the eschatological role the Spirit plays in Christ’s vindication/justification is important for understanding this passage. Continue reading →
There’s no use denying it any longer: 2012 is here! As we enter into this “New Year,” all sorts of new experiences come with it: new hopes and new fears for what the new year may bring; new possibilities – as well as the feelings of regret and loss that can come as time marches on. With all of the unknowns in the future, feelings of anxiety, fear, curiosity, or hope can settle into all of our hearts. But no matter what 2012 brings with it for good or for bad, Christians have a rock-solid confidence in two important doctrines: God’s sovereignty over 2012, and God’s providence for 2012.
The Sovereignty of God over 2012
No matter what the new year brings, we can be sure of this: God is in control of 2012. All times are in His hand, and since He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last (Revelation 1:8), we know that He makes the ends known from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Every day that we live in 2012 has already been written in His book (Psalm 139:16), and nothing that happens to us can happen apart from His will. Life and death, health and sickness are in His hands (Deuteronomy 32:39). Neither a sparrow (Matthew 10:29 – 31) nor a hair from your head (Luke 21:16 – 18) can fall apart from God’s will. So for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, the future of the new year doesn’t need to be a scary thing, because He has promised that all things will work together for our good (Romans 8:28). As we make our plans for 2012, we should recognize God’s absolute power and control over all the decisions we make, and ultimately entrust ourselves and our plans to Him (James 4:13 – 17).
Sometimes you run out of room or time in your Lord’s Day sermon, and so “Monday Morning Pulpit” is a chance to expand upon or reinforce ideas you didn’t have a chance to finish during the sermon.
We wrapped up a short, topical series on God’s Judgments and Judging at Zion Ev. & Reformed Church. Especially in the second sermon in the series, we looked at what it means for God to Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25; Psalm 50:1 – 6). After demonstrating his judgments in Creation by issuing divine decrees on His own handiwork (“it was good,” “it was very good”) God shows His just judgments in salvation history. God’s judgment climaxes in condemning our sin at the cross, and vindicating Christ at His resurrection (Romans 4:25; I Timothy 3:16), and thus pronouncing us to be justified by faith in Christ (Romans 8:1).
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In lovehe predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
Adoption according to unconditional election based on God’s choice in eternity past
History of redemption
They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.
A temporal adoption based on the Mosaic Covenant
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Adoption corresponding to salvation in general based on Christ’s redemption
Individual experience in human history
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Adoption applied individually as conversion or regeneration
The Future Day of the Lord and Second Coming
And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Glorification of people and creation as the fulfillment of God’s election (see top)
Every instance of υἱοθεσία (“adoption”) in Scripture. (Acts 7:21 is actually ἀνaipεὼ, “to take up.”) Based off of reflections from here.