“In saying that Christ is life-giving Spirit in the sense of the Holy Spirit [1 Cor. 15:45], Paul is not introducing Trinitarian confusion. Essential, eternal, innertrinitarian relationships are outside his purview here. Rather his perspective is historical. He is speaking about what Christ became in his identity as the last Adam and second man (v. 47). The oneness or unity in view is economic, functional, eschatological. Paul’s point is that by virtue of his exaltation (resurrection and ascension), Christ as last Adam and second man, has come into such permanent and complete possession of the Spirit that the two are equated in their activity. The two are seen as one, as they have been made one in the eschatological work of giving life to the church, that life which has its visible ‘firstfruits’ in Christ’s own resurrection.” Richard Gaffin, Perspectives on Pentecost: The New Testament Teaching on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, pg. 18-19.
Category Archives: Pauline Corpus
Does Jesus’ (Continuing) Heavenly Intercession Matter for Our Justification?
Yes. Yes, it does. Here are some helpful thoughts from Richard Gaffin:
“But here Paul does not stop with his death. In the matter of Christ’s work that is pertinent to our justification, he does not punctuate his reference to Christ’s death with a period. ‘More than that…’ he continues [Romans 8:34]. Is more than Christ’s death, past and definitive as it is, integral to our justification and even necessary for it? ‘Yes’ is Paul’s apparent answer, for he goes on to speak of his resurrection with its enduring consequences. He points his readers to what is presently the case, and in this passage at least that is where his emphasis lies: on the continuing intercessory presence of the resurrected Christ at God’s right hand ‘for us.’
For Paul, justification is bound up with this ongoing intercessory presence, in the sense that our remaining, infallibly, in ‘the state of justification’-our not being separated from the love of God in CHrist, not even by death or whatever the future brings (vv.38-39)–depends upon this continuing and unfailing intercession. Christ, exalted to God’s right hand, is the exhibition of that finished and perfect righteousness that is ours as it is reckoned as ours. So, his presence in that place of ultimate and final judgment, as the righteousness which he ‘became for us…from God’ (1 Cor. 1:30), is the permanently effective answer to any charge brought against already justified believers–that ‘answer,’ it should not be missed, that is provided by God the Father out of his great love for the elect.”
Richard Gaffin, By Faith, Not by Sight, pg. 122
J. G. Machen on Paul and James on Faith and Works (on Rye with Mayo…)
Jesus’ Resurrection as His Justification
“In the light of the immediate and broader context of Paul’s teaching, that connection [between Jesus’ justification and his resurrection] is best understood as follows. As the representative sin bearer and righteous substitute (Rom. 3:25; 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21), in his full obedience culminating in his death (Phil. 2:8), Christ’s resurrection is his own justification in the sense that the resurrection is God’s de facto declarative recognition, on the ground of that obedience, of his righteousness (cf. 1 Cor. 1:30). As an event, his resurrection ‘speaks,’ and it does so judicially, in a legal manner. For Christians, then, Christ’s justification, given with his resurrection, becomes theirs. When they are united to the resurrected and justified by faith, his righteousness is reckoned as theirs, or imputed to them.” Richard Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight, pg. 97
Whose Good Works Are They?
“In fact, as we have already seen, sanctification is an aspect and outcome of the reality of the resurrection already experienced by the believer, and the process of its realization has no deeper perspective from which it can be viewed than that it is a continual “living to God” by those who are “alive from the dead” (to be sure, “in the mortal body,” Rom. 6:11-13). Or, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 2:10…sanctification is a matter of those… who “have been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The point here is that “the path of good works runs not from man to God, says Paul, but from God to man” [Berkouwer]. Ultimately, in the deepest sense, for Paul “our good works” are not ours, but God’s.” Richard Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight, pg. 88
Gaffin on the ‘Math’ of Sanctification
“Perhaps the deepest perspective in Paul on the indicative-imperative relationship is provided in Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (NIV)…
Here is what may fairly be called a synergy, but it is not that of a divine-human partnership, in the sense of a cooperative enterprise with each side making its own contribution. It is not a 50/50 undertaking (nor even 99.44 percent God and 0.56 person ourselves). Involved here is, as it could be put, the ‘mysterious math’ of God’s covenant, of the relationship, restored in Christ, between the Creator and his image-bearing creature, whereby 100% + 100%= 100%. Sanctification is 100 percent the work of God and, just for that reason, it is to engage 100 percent of the activity of the believer.” Richard Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight, pg. 83
Dick Gaffin on the Indicative and the Imperative in Scripture
“There are two important and related points to be made about the indicative-imperative relationship. First, that relationship is irreversible. The indicative has priority in the sense that it is the foundation that grounds the imperative. The imperative is the fruit of the indicative, not the reverse. If it needs saying, Paul’s gospel, as gospel, stands or falls with this irreversibility… But this irreversible relationship is at the same time an inseparable relationship. Paul, we may also generalize, never writes in the indicative without having the imperative in view, at least implicitly. On balance, the imperative without the indicative leads into soteriological legalism, to using the imperative either to achieve or to secure one’s salvation; it leaves us with Paul the moralist. On the other hand, the indicative without the imperative tens to antinomianism; it leaves us with Paul the mystic.” Richard Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight, pg. 82
Illustrations Are Our Friends: Paul’s Epistles
“An analogy I have found useful over the years is to compare Paul’s letters to the visible portion of an iceberg. What projects above the surface is but a small fraction of the total mass, which remains largely submerged, so that what is taken in, particularly at a first glance, may prove deceptive.” –Richard Gaffin