NOT ABOUT CONSTRUCTS AND ALL ABOUT YOU ALIVE
The reality that is Christ is not abstraction. The wellness of your person does not depend on constructs. You may be familiar with the saying, ‘Justification is the work of a moment and sanctification is the work of a life-time.’ But it’s not that dichotomised. The reason being that justification and sanctification are not abstractions. ‘They’ are Christ our life. The locus of both is Christ.
Both words are analytically distinct but are not separate. The person of Jesus is our sanctification and our justification because He is our life. All this is ours by way of atonement and incarnation. We must understand that we are not drawn into Christ by a legalised arrangement. The atonement is the result of real-time intervention by God. Adamic separation has been undone and we have been drawn into communion with the trinity by divine enterprise. This is enterprise which has resulted in a change of status for you and for us all. We have been made one with God in Christ and are one in communion with God here in ordinary life and one with Christ beside our Father in the heavenly courts.
Our life in God is a state of being.
A BLURRED NON-GOSPEL
The inversion of life in the spirit to life in the law, as common as it is, makes for a gross perversion of the Gospel of the Kingdom. If ever there was a non-gospel, this would be it. Reductionism reduces something greater to something smaller. Like the reduction of life in the Spirit to lies in the letter.
The reduction of Christ our life to law-mongering undoes spirit and life. Such life cannot be replaced by the anointing of the gifts. This is because such life is a function of the at-one-ment wrought by Christ on the cross. Since the cross, we and Father are one. This is the source of the flow of our life from God and the locus of the anointing and the gifts.
We can gifts a mile high but if we remain contained in the law, ‘Christ died for nothing’ as Paul warns in Galatians 2.21. Religion does not always make us close to Christ. It can separate us from Christ and each other, with a wall of abstraction or a mindset based on false doctrine. The result is that some Believers wallow in a diluted gospel. Others spend their lives in beliefs that are ‘no gospel at all’.
SPIRIT OF LIFE
Gregory Boyd writes, “The church as a whole has not failed to preach the message that salvation is by grace, not by works. Generally speaking, Christians don’t try to be saved by meticulously carrying out the Old Testament law. Yet we must wonder if we have adhered to the letter of Paul’s teaching and missed its spirit (2 Cor. 3:6). For as much as we claim that our relationship with God is based totally on the work of Christ, it seems that many of us nevertheless continue to try to get life from the rightness of our beliefs and goodness of our behavior. We continue to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which the law, leading us to Christ, was meant to abolish.” (1) 76
ADAM’S SEPARATION AND LEGALISTIC DICHOTOMIES ABOLISHED
It is abolished in Christ and has been replaced by Christ our life which is incarnation. This is Christ come in our flesh to express Himself as each of us and as the church. A friend who had been raised in a law based Christian community that made a cult of the law, observed to me that adherence to the law is wide-spread and subtle in the Body of Christ. As Boyd implies, if we are living from a version of the knowledge of good and evil, we are not living from the new covenant and our inheritance of oneness with Christ. We are living from a culture of the law. This both insulates us from Christ and turns many of us into idealogues.
‘Christ our life’ is not just poetic. It is the substance of the new creation.
NOT JUST ABOUT SIN BUT ABOUT LIFE
“Torrance’s doctrine of justification [is far] from being simply a forensic non-imputation of sin, the flaw he sees in Western (Latin) doctrines of atonement. It also explains the relationship between justification and sanctification in his theology. On the basis of the unity between the active and passive obedience of Christ, Torrance contends that in our justification: we have imputed to us not only the passive righteousness of Christ in which he satisfied for our sins in suffering the judgment of God in his death on the Cross, but the active righteousness of Christ in which he positively fulfilled the Father’s holy will in an obedient life.” This denotes the infinite life of God that is His and which He shares with us by the person of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
“The only possible conclusion for Torrance therefore is that justification means more than the non-imputation of our sins through the pardon of Christ, but in its place a positive sharing in his divine-human righteousness. Sanctification is correlative with justification so that to receive the one is to receive the other. (2)
Christ our life is much more than the non-imputation of sin because it is infinitely more than the law. The life that Jesus offers comes not from the law. It’s His life as our life. The river of life is the flow of divine life that is the trinity alive in us. This is why Paul speaks of Christ our life and not Christ our law.
In C. S Lewis’s Last Battle, the dwarves refuse to eat what appears as slops but is actually a feast. We can reject the incarnation as Christ our life and munch on bits of law, but as sure as we do, we will remain spiritual dwarves rather than grow as sons of God.
(1) Boyd Gregory, Repenting of Religion. P.76
(2) Habets Myk, Theosis in the Theology of Thomas Torrance. P124