Archive for the ‘John Owen’ Tag

Christ’s Death Effects Our Glorification

Eph. 1:7, 2:4-7 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

John Owen writes in his book, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, that Christ’s death effects our glorification. Grasping this truth  is very similar in difficulty to grasping the truth that Christ’s death effects our sanctification. For we can easily see Christ’s death bringing us reconciliation with God and bringing us justification we so desperately need and adoption as children of God.  However, the connection between Christ’s death and our glorification is often overlooked because it, like our sanctification, does not appear to us as directly connected to Christ’s death on the cross. In the believer’s experience, glorification, like sanctification, is not an immediately realized benefit. This is primarily why it is helpful for the Christian to consider ultimate things and the death of Christ purchasing those ultimate things for us.

The crucial question in this matter is what kind of connection does the scripture make between Christ’s death on the cross and the ultimate glorification of those who are in Christ. In other words, did Christ’s death on the cross purchase the glorification of those who are in Christ? If Christ’s death did purchase the glorification of those who are in Christ, then those who are in Christ are ultimately secure in their salvation. However, if Christ’s death only made it possible for those who are in Christ to be glorified then what, if anything, ultimately secures the salvation of those who are in Christ? Did Christ’s death secure the believer’s glorification or merely make it possible for them to be glorified? The New Testament’s answer? – Christ’s death on the cross secures the ultimate glorification of those who, in faith, look to Christ’s death on the cross as the only acceptable satisfaction of the penalty for our sins in the eyes of God.

Read John 6 and you’ll see the phrase used by Jesus himself over and over that he “will raise it/him up on the last day”

v. 39 – And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
v. 40 – For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
v. 44 – No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
v. 54 – Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

The use of the word “him” or “it” above refers to those whom the Father has given to the Son, who look on the Son in faith, who are drawn by the Father to come to Jesus, and whose life comes from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Notice the definite language that Christ uses. He doesn’t say it is a possibility that he will raise these up on the last day. He says he WILL raise these up on the last day.

You can see the connection in the first two chapters of Ephesians. The phrase that makes the connection appears in 1:7 and 2:7 – “riches of his grace.” In 1:7 the phrase is used to point the reader to the blood of Christ, shed on the cross, for our redemption – Christ’s death. Then in 2:7, Paul uses the same phrase to describe for us the kindness of God toward us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul explicitly proclaims to the reader of the epistle that part of God’s work in Christ was to raise up with Christ those who are redeemed by his blood and to seat them with him in the heavenly places – our glorification. Christ’s primary work is accomplished at the cross. This was Christ’s focus in his earthly ministry and it is what we will behold in our glorified state for all eternity as we sing the songs proclaiming the worth of the Lamb who was slain. Christ’s death effects our glorification.

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Christ’s Death and Sanctification

Romans 6:15-23

John Owen says that Christ’s death effects our sanctification.  So what is “sanctification”?  Wayne Grudem‘s definition of sanctification – “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.”  Now, how does Christ’s death effect the progressive work of God and man making us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives?  To see how Christ’s death effects our reconciliation and justification is obvious.  However, it is not immediately obvious how Christ’s death effects our sanctification.  Spending some time in Romans 6 is helpful in trying to understand this connection though.

As I had been struggling with this for a few days, the Lord providentially brought it together for me on Sunday morning as I listened to the preacher.  He spoke of an individual’s perpetual state of enslavement – the preacher said, “We never stop being slaves.”  This thought does not occur to many Christians.  Yet this is the word picture Paul uses in Romans 6.  Either you are a slave to sin or to righteousness but you never stop being a slave.  It seems that many “Christians” love to speak of the freedom we have in Christ and, as a result, conveniently forget that when we were granted freedom from sin we became slaves of righteousness.  That is the key here to understanding why John Owen says that Christ’s death effects our sanctification.

Though I’m not at all familiar with the details, I’m aware that some believe a Christian to be sinless once they are regenerate.  From what I understand of the false-teaching is that when someone is saved from their sins, they no longer sin.  That kind of theology doesn’t fly when you consider what Paul writes in Romans 6 and 7.

Yes, the Christian is set free from sin by Christ’s death.  But the Christian doesn’t get set free from sin so that he/she can be in a state of spiritual anarchy.  We are set free from sin so that we can be free to obey God.  Christ’s death purchased our freedom from sin and made us slaves to righteousness when, by faith, we trust in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins.  Without this freedom from slavery to sin, the process of sanctification can never start.  I used to serve sin but God saved me from that fruitless way of life so that I could serve Him, as I was created to do, for all eternity.  So once we are saved from sin, we spend the rest of our lives proving it by living according to the Spirit and His sanctifying power at work in our lives.  Verse 22 sums it up for us – “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”  Christ’s death effects our sanctification.

The Effects of the Death of Death (introduction)

I got John Owen‘s, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, for Christmas.  I spent many hours in J.I. Packer‘s introduction to the book and Owen’s note “To The Reader” (where Owen says, “If thou art, as many in this pretending age, a sign or title gazer, and comest into books as Cato into the theatre, to go out again, -thou hast had thy entertainment; farewell!”).  Packer’s intro is very instructive and if you get this book you should definitely get the one that has Packer’s introduction.  I’ll post more from Packer’s intro at at another time, although you can get a taste of it here.

After reading the first couple of chapters – and believe me…it is slow reading, I was just struck by this notion:  If you walked into your local Christian bookstore and went to the best seller rack you would not find as many scripture references in all the books on that shelf combined as there are in Owen’s first couple of chapters.  Every other sentence is straight out of the Bible.  It is remarkable.  What kind of Christianity is being sold to us on the best sellers rack in the Christian bookstore?  You could possibly make a case that it is not a biblical Christianity.

Anyways, back to Owen and his book…In the first chapter he talks about the end and the effect of Christ’s death.  Here are the effects that he lists:  Reconciliation, Justification, Sanctification, Adoption, and Glorification (though Owen does not use the word.  Instead he says it like this: “Neither do the effects of the death of Christ rest here; they leave us not until we are settled in heaven, in glory and immortality for ever.”)