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Justification: Sonship and Grace

Adam’s fall or rather loss of grace was a break in a special relationship with the Spirit. It is the Spirit that is the mark of Sonship. As the Spirit eternally rests on the Son marking Him as Son, so the Kings of Israel were anointed and called Sons of God, as psalms 2 says “Kiss the Son.” Being marked with grace puts one in a relationship of Sonship where they by the Spirit please the Father and are rewarded, given a gift, which the Father is under no obligation to give. After the Fall, grace still keeps this relationship of Sonship and means that the baptised human being is empowered to please the Father and when they do fall/sin grace means the law is not destroyed, but loses its power to punish. The Father/Son relationship is maintained due to the Spirit/grace.

It is only if one removes the Spirit that they now have law with no grace. This is the one in the Flesh. Who is under strict justice. This is the one who must fulfill every iota because they do not wish to be Son, they must be a servant. They must be in a Judge/Accused relationship. Where the Master will give a just wage and the Judge a just sentence. Scripture already being clear on what the wages of sin are.

So the issue of justification is not:

Adam/Law, Christ/Grace, such that anything on our part means Law, but we can’t do it perfectly and are condemned. So then it must be Christ who must do everything, from imputing his work, and monergistically bringing the will to salvation, such that grace has 100% of the work and saved humanity is a passive outworking of grace.

Rather it is Adam sans the Spirit, and Christ who is by nature grace and in whom the Spirit rests. In fact Christ who picks up where Adam fell, is “marked” with the Spirit at Baptism and declared Son. Christ was always Son. Christ did not need to be given grace. But since he was preparing the way for our salvation, which is nothing more than a participation in His life, he was declared Son, so that we could be declared Sons. He received the Spirit that we would receive the Spirit. He died so that in Him we would die. And rose so that in Him we would rise.

Christ shows us how it was in the beginning, Spirit/Grace on humanity. So that those in Him would likewise by participation in His baptism be graced and be empowered to fulfill the law in their lives. But grace also pardons and forgives when failure occurs, just as we see in the prodigal Son, the Sonship remains. Since the law has lost its power to punish, because death, has been defeated and transformed.

So to say that justification doesn’t include the human/divine synergy since it is by grace, would imply that the Spirit, was not on Adam to mark him as Son, but that Adam had Sonship by nature. Which would imply that all people have the Sonship of Christ by virtue of having Adam’s nature. But since that is not what is typically taught, the only option is to say that nature was changed into something presumably not good/evil. How can it not be, since this new nature is depicted as being in opposition to grace/the Spirit.

Mere corruption, which is an accidental change, whilst keeping the essence wouldn’t be sufficient to rid the essential Sonship. Only an essential change would. Which means we do not share Adam’s original essential nature, which would mean the image of God has been changed/destroyed. It would also imply that the incarnation either Christ received the image of God in his humanity or did not. If he did, he wasn’t consubstantial with us. If he did not, then how is he like the first Adam was supposed to be, since he doesn’t share the same nature?

Therefore the lack of Sonship, only restored by Christ, whom according to John gives people the power to become “Sons of God”, has much to do with the Spirit and Grace. Which means even from the beginning Adam was co-operating with grace in order to be virtuous, that is, to fulfill his telos, the imago dei. It was always a matter of grace.

The human co-operation too is demonstrated by Christ who freely brought his human will to work with his divine will. And Christ is both the Last Adam, final humanity, and the examplar of humanity. His human will was not passive. Neither was Adam’s, neither is ours.

As such, a view of justification which assumes that all works are under strict law, so require perfection which we can’t do 100%, and so requires that another does it 100%, which then leads to monergism, implicitly assumes:

1) Sonship by nature not by Spirit (grace and nature become mixed – which is a pelagian anthropology)

2) An essential change, not just accidental, in human nature. From upright presumably to wicked (which is Manichean)

3) A passive humanity in the saved, which would mean a passive humanity in Christ (which implies Arianism or Nestorianism)

The issue then isn’t Grace/Works per se, but Works of Grace vs Works of the Flesh. The former being about gift and promise, but still involving the working and changing of the individual as well as their pardon when the fall. Whilst the latter removes grace, which not only means no ability to fulfill the law but also no mercy when it is broken.

The take-away though is that Adam pre-fall was neither in a relationship of Laws sans grace or grace qua imputation and monergism. It’s to this state that the believer is drawn to. This isn’t the whole picture (Christ’s work brings far greater blessing than Adam’s original state), but it’s a key part in order to understand justification.


3 comments on “Justification: Sonship and Grace

  1. Pingback: Saving One’s Self: The Mornegist Objection | Irish With A Tan

  2. Pingback: Saving One’s Self: The Monergist Objection | Irish With A Tan

  3. Pingback: Saving Oneself: The Monergist Objection – Irish Orthoblogger

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This entry was posted on November 1, 2016 by in Theology and tagged , , , , , .
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