Calvin: No Salvation without Sanctification |

Posted: October 25, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Christianity, Reformation Theology, Reformed Theology

For Calvin, salvation flows from our union with the living and exalted Jesus. Unless he dwells in us, and we in him, his death, resurrection, and exaltation are of no value to us. In other words, the Spirit unites us to Jesus, our Benefactor, who bestows on us the benefits won through his accomplishment.

Calvin applies these biblical and theological insights to the relation of justification and sanctification:

Although we may distinguish them, Christ contains both of them inseparably in himself. Do you wish, then, to attain righteousness in Christ? You must first possess Christ; but you cannot possess him without being made partaker in his sanctification, because he cannot be divided into pieces (1 Cor. 1:13). Since, therefore, it is solely by expending himself that the Lord gives us these benefits to enjoy, he bestows both of them at the same time, the one never without the other. Thus it is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness (Institutes, 3.16.1).

Read the whole piece here

  1. Pete Black says:

    Doulos…do you characterize “Union with Christ” as a component part of the doctrine of Soteriology—along with predestination, regeneration, repentance, faith, justification, etc. etc.?

  2. Pete Black says:

    Thank you for your exhaustive and comprehensive listing of a large number of theologians’ discussions of the matter of sanctification and of union with Christ.

    My question was (not clarified by me) actually about whether “union with Christ” stands alone with the well-known tally of John Murray’s listing of the “elements” of salvation. He does not identify “union with Christ” as a distinct component part of salvation separately from sanctification.

    Do you?

    I find some tendency to confuse sanctification with justification in Calvin, as in some more modern writers. But the main issue, I think, is whether “union with Christ” ought to be understood as a matter of standing just as much as is adoption [again, Murray’s view of adoption].

    Adoption and union with Christ are clearly distinct, just as in modern human experience a child may be closely bound together with foster parents who have legal custody (the “standing”) of that juvenile, but distinct from another child who has been legally adopted into a parental family. Are these mere legal technicalities? Perhaps. Is it the wider notion of sanctification which really accounts for the “alien” righteousness of the believer?

    No, obviously not. The precept of I Corinthians 1:30 describes the “in Christ” relationship as the basis upon which the believer acquires the righteousness of Christ. Is “in Christ” equal to justification? Is “in Christ” equivalent to sanctification? Neither of these categories appear to me to be precisely identical to union with Christ, though none of the three may or should be treated as separate from the others or from the overall concept of salvation. Nonetheless, I still ask whether there is a distinction here which deserves attention. That is why I asked you whether you regard “union with Christ” as a distinct element of the whole unity of salvation.

    If there is any overlap in the matter it may be with adoption instead of sanctification. Even so, I see adoption as different from union with Christ: perhaps one is the legal basis for the other, which (union with Christ) describes the outcome rather than the means.

    I take “union with Christ” to be different from and distinct from justification, sanctification, and adoption. Kindly re-direct my thinking if I have wandered off the path to understanding.

    Pete Black

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s