Rethinking the “Golden Chain” – Romans 8:28-30 (Part 1)

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Calvinism’s Error:

God chose (foreknew) unbelieving individuals and eternally decreed (predestined) that they would be adopted as God’s children. He not only eternally decreed the salvation of these unbelieving individuals, he also drew them to Christ by irresistible grace through new birth (called), after he gave them faith through regeneration he forgave their sins (justified) and will certainly, without any qualifications, raise them from the dead and give them eternal life (glorified).

Biblical Response:

As we jump into these encouraging verses it is always helpful to take a look at the context. The second part of Romans chapter 8 discusses the believers hope for the eventual resurrection of his body at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is the concluding section in a long summary of the main aspects of the Christian life. In chapters 1-3 (roughly) Paul discusses the corrupt and fallen nature of Man and their need for salvation. In Chapters 4 and 5 he shows that the forgiveness of sin and right-standing with God comes through Jesus Christ and is received by faith. Then in chapters 6 through the first half of 8 he discusses how the believer is freed from the controlling power of sin through identification with Christ by the indwelling of Christ’s Spirit. We will begin our detailed discussion in Romans 8 verse 1.

Romans 8:1-2

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

It cannot be emphasized enough that the book of Romans as a whole, and the 8th chapter in particular is written to believers. It is not written to the world, but to the Church. God is not writing to certain individuals, but to all those who have come to faith in Christ and have already become members of his Body. Whatever warnings or promises are presented in this chapter, they are given to the people of God, not unbelievers. It is crucial that we understand this from the beginning.

Paul begins by clarifying the two themes he is discussing in the first half of the chapter. By our identification with Christ and our union with him through the Holy Spirit two great problems have been solved for believers. The first problem is condemnation. Because of the work of Jesus Christ we have been cleansed from the guilt of sin. He identified with us in our brokenness, and now by trusting in him we are identified with his righteousness standing before God. The second enemy that is destroyed in Christ is the power of sin. By the Holy Spirit’s indwelling we are now infused with the power of Christ to overcome the bondage of sin. The Holy Spirit takes the holiness of Christ and shares it with the believer, changing us from “glory to glory” (2 Pet. 1:3-4, 2 Cor. 3:18).

Romans 8:11

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

This is a great summary of the hope that Paul will now turn his attention to in the rest of chapter 8. The Christian hope is not merely for our spirits to “go to heaven after we die,” but for our physical bodies to be raised from the dead when Jesus returns from heaven. God didn’t just come to save our souls; he came to redeem every part of our nature. Paul tells us it is the Spirit of God dwelling in us that gives us reason to hope. It was the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and he will also be the one to raise us up.

It is important to see Paul’s logic here because this is the logic of the rest of the chapter. Our identification with Christ by faith and our union with him through the Holy Spirit is the ground for any future hope. Our present position and experience in Christ gives us confidence that we will ultimately experience the redemption of our bodies and freedom from the presence of sin. We have been presently freed from the guilt and power of sin, but until we are freed from the presence of sin our salvation is not yet complete (Rom. 8:23-25).

By our faith in Christ God counts us righteous, and the gift of the Holy Spirit is the evidence of that privileged status. That is to say that because God counts us righteous in Christ we can be sure that we will one day experience complete vindication even as Christ was vindicated when God raised him from the dead and seated at God’s right hand. By giving us the Holy Spirit, which unites us with the risen and glorified Christ, God has given us evidence of our right-standing with him. Since we are presently in right-standing with God, and we know this by the Spirit which he has poured out into our hearts, then we can be assured by the same Spirit that we will one day be united with Christ in his physical resurrection as well. We know we will one day be “raised up” and “seated” at God’s right hand, because IN CHRIST we have already been “raised up” and “seated” at God’s right hand (Eph. 2:6).

Romans 8:12-17

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Paul continues to encourage the Christians in Rome that the presence of God’s Spirit in their lives is an assurance that their bodies will be raised up at the Second Coming of Christ. But he has not yet finished with the topic of sanctification (i.e. growing in holiness, experiencing a transformation of character) that he began in chapter 6. He tells us that not only is the Spirit’s presence a reason for hope, it is also a reason for active obedience to God. He tells us that since God gave us the gift of his Spirit through faith in the cleansing blood of Jesus, we are now “debtors” to submit our lives to the Holy Spirit. To whom much is given, much is required! Since God has given us the Spirit “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,” we are obligated to walk out that righteous standard (Rom. 8:3).

The transformation of our character will not happen automatically or irresistibly. We must be sanctified in the same way we were justified. We received the forgiving grace of God through faith. And as believers we must continue to receive the empowering grace of God through that same faith. The enabling power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin’s dominion in our lives must be applied by submission (i.e. living faith) to that same Spirit. One who believes in Jesus Christ cannot claim to be a “child of God” unless he is “led by the Spirit of God” (vs. 14).

Being transformed into the character of Jesus is an active process. We can only become like Christ through the power of God, but his power must be received through faith. We cannot do what God does, namely changing our hearts and renewing our minds from day to day. But God will not do what he has decided we must do, that is actively submit to the sanctifying grace of the Spirit through a living faith. Sanctification is not automatic. Though it is done by the power of God, it is done in cooperation with the faith and submission of man. We have been unified with Christ through his Spirit because of our identification with Christ through faith. And we must continue to identify ourselves with Christ by walking in unity with his Spirit by that same faith. That living faith that saves us shows itself through submission.

We might feel like rejecting this truth and say that God should just do it without requiring any participation from us, but “Who are we to answer back to God?” “God is in the heavens and does as he pleases,” we must surrender to his wisdom. We might cry “foul” and say, “Salvation is by grace alone!” And so it is, but that saving grace is received through faith alone. Again I hear an objection, “But you are saying that human faith ‘helps’ God’s grace!” On the contrary, faith is the only “work” that humans can do that gives God all the glory (Rom. 4:20). It was for this reason that God chose faith, and not the works of the law, as the means of receiving God’s grace. “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring” (Rom. 4:16).

Besides telling us that sanctification is done only with the participation and cooperation of believers, Paul also lets us know that glorification (i.e. the resurrection and future exaltation of believers with Christ) is not unconditional. In 8:13 he promises believers, “If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” In the same verse he warns believers, “If you live according to the flesh you will die.” In verse 17 he promises the Christians in Rome that they will be physically resurrected with Christ. But he makes sure to let them know that their future exaltation with Christ is conditional on their willingness to endure suffering with him in this present age. As Christ said, it is those that endure to the end that will be saved. Only by losing our lives can we hope to save them.

In these few verses Paul makes it abundantly clear that our future share in Christ’s glory is dependent on participation with the Spirit’s sanctifying work. Our sanctification is dependent on actively submitting to the Spirit’s leading. Reformed Theology will try to make all of this hypothetical by saying that those who were unconditionally chosen by God from all eternity could never do anything other than persevere in holiness. This unbiblical theology tries to tell the saints that they can never “die” if they are truly the elect. With all due respect to our Calvinist brethren, we cannot stand for this! We cannot accept that the plain warnings of the God of truth are a mere formality. God does not waste his words. As our loving Shepherd he warns us, as he did the first couple in the Garden, “You will die.” Satan tried to tell them that God’s warning was hypothetical, and they believed it. We will not make the same mistake as Adam and Eve.

Romans 8:18

“For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

In verse 18 Paul begins the next section of his teaching. This is the section where will find the verses known as the “Golden Chain of Salvation.” We will notice that Paul is contrasting the suffering of Christians in this present age with the glory that they will receive at the return of Christ. The Church in their time, and in our time throughout most of the world, suffers opposition from every angle. They could easily feel besieged and overwhelmed. These demonic attacks came to discourage them and seek to overturn their faith. But Paul wants to encourage them that these are “light and momentary” troubles. But the glory that will be revealed at the coming of Christ will last forever.

In verses 19-22 he speaks about the longing of all of creation to be set free from the corruption that came from the sin of our first parents. It is God’s plan, not only to redeem our bodies, but even to renew this fallen physical universe. Paul tells us that in some sense, the creation itself is longing for this redemption.

Romans 8:23-25

“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

Paul here turns to the longing in the believer’s heart. We thank God we have been forgiven of our sin, and freed from its power over our lives, but we are still ever troubled by its presence. The corruption of the world and the temptations we face on a daily basis make us long for the complete eradication of sin’s presence. We long to experience the complete redemption of our bodies and the absolute freedom it will bring. We are painfully aware that we are still waiting for the fullness of our salvation.

With the clear knowledge that we have not arrived and that we still see through a glass dimly, we are tempted to feel hopeless. After all, how can we overcome all the forces that assail us? The world, the devil and even the un-renewed aspects of our earthly nature are always seeking to destroy us. We seem to be outmanned and outgunned. But it is here that Paul will reveal to us the reason we have for hope!

Romans 8:26-27

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

It is not just us that longs to be transformed and finally free, but the Spirit of God himself is longing for this very thing. Many see in these verses the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues. But the problem with that is that tongues are spoken out, but the groaning of the Spirit in this passage is “too deep for words.” No, it is not the gift of tongues being spoken of here, but the inward renewing of the Holy Spirit. God is working deep in our hearts bringing change to our mindsets, perspectives and priorities. We cannot search our hearts to their very depths, but God’s Spirit can. And as he digs deep into the thoughts and intents of our hearts he cries out for transformation according to the will of God.

We will soon get to verse 29 which reveals exactly what “the will of God” is for his people, namely that we be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, but here we just want to note that we are not working alone. We are not just “trying” to become better people. We are not just following a set of religious rules that can only clean the outside of the cup; no, we are being transformed from within by God’s powerful Spirit.

Philippians 2:12-13

“Therefore, my beloved, … work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

These two verses are a great summary of Paul’s teaching about the active nature of sanctification in Romans chapter 8. In verses 12-17 we were told to work out our salvation by actively submitting to the Spirits leading. And now here in verses 26-27 we are realizing more fully why we must “strive for holiness.” Philippians verse 13 does not make verse 12 unnecessary; instead it is given as the reason to “work out” out our salvation. Both here and in Romans 8:12-17 Paul uses the work of God as the thing that obligates believers to strive for holiness. But if we look at it in another way, we can see that not only does it obligate us, but it also encourages us. After all, if God is working transformation “within us,” we have hope that our “working it out” will be effective. The fact that God’s Spirit is “groaning” and “interceding” within us, gives us hope that we are not laboring in vain. We can strive for holiness with all of our energy because we are sure that we are not striving alone!

Let us once more point out that this work of the Spirit is only possible because of our identification with Christ in his right-standing before God. Since we have been counted righteous through our faith in Christ, we have received the Spirit of adoption that bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children (Rom. 8:15-16). The Spirit assures us that we have been acquitted of our past sins by joining us to the risen and vindicated Son of God. This present experience of glory in Christ gives us confidence that we will one day experience all that Christ is presently experiencing at the Father’s right hand.

To be continued….

19 thoughts on “Rethinking the “Golden Chain” – Romans 8:28-30 (Part 1)

  1. Michael I define assurrance by Romans 8:16, and the fruit test in Galatians 5 and 1st John and so forth. I can’t say your analogy is so helpful because I would have to say eternal life is much more weighty of a matter than money.

    Let me ask you; do you know that you are saved or not right now? Yes or no

    As far as a warning being real, yet with no possiblity of it ever coming to pass. What you describe in your defense of this is nothing more than puppetry. Yet true love is a two way street. Relationship is not one telling the other your mine and then changing their mind to get this to come to pass. That’s puppetry.
    If God says to His elect repent and believe and as you state they are a means to the end, salvation of the elect, then how is faith and repentance nothing more than a rote 2nd or perhaps a 3rd causation?

    Faith is a means to salvation but it’s a gift that must be received and acted on by the recipient.

    Bless you,

    Russ

  2. Hi Michael you wrote:
    “So how is it that God makes sure the elect stay on the straight and narrow? At least one way is by means of warnings. Apparently the warnings have a two-fold purpose: They harden the reprobate in their unbelief and they are effectual in the elect. After all, God’s word does indeed accomplish the purpose for which it is sent (cf, Isaiah 55:11), right? But you don’t seem to believe that since you say, “whether they [the elect] hear them [the warnings] or not”. What we’re saying is that the elect will heed the warnings because if they don’t, then they’re not the elect. Get it?”

    Let’s follow your argument through to the end. If warnings are the means to the end (to cause the elect to persevere to the end), but at the same time could never actually happen to the true elect, then we have problem. The warnings become false warnings and even further lies.
    Bless you,
    Russ

    1. Hi Russ,

      You said: Let’s follow your argument through to the end. If warnings are the means to the end (to cause the elect to persevere to the end), but at the same time could never actually happen to the true elect, ….

      Hold up. We say that the threats are real. Hell really *is* a possibility for the elect in that they *can* choose to go there. But we also say they *will not* finally make that choice.

      Why? Because the warnings will accomplish their purpose. I know this may sound like we’re praising the stop sign for preventing the T-bone collision rather than the driver who it the breaks. But if the stop sign in question had been put there by God for that very purpose, then it all seems to fall into place. God put the stop sign there because the potential for an accident was real, even for the elect guy who hit his breaks on time.

      Blessings to you too.

      1. Hi Trichonia,

        If a warning of impending danger is given yet there’s no possibility of it actually happening, how is it a warning?

        You stated:
        “God put the stop sign there because the potential for an accident was real, even for the elect guy who hit his breaks on time.”

        Is it a real possiblility for the elect to not put on the breaks on time?

        Bless you,

        Russ

    2. Hi Russ,

      You asked: If a warning of impending danger is given yet there’s no possibility of it actually happening, how is it a warning?

      Again Russ, it’s a real warning because it is a real possibility. Also, since only God knows who the elect are, and since we can be deceived about our own assurance, the elect will heed the warnings because, from their point of view, they can’t know for absolute certain that they’re among the elect anyway. But besides even this, fear really isn’t what motivates an elect person anyway; rather it is love for Jesus and the desire to do what is right. Perfect love casts out all fear. So back to the stop sign analogy. The elect don’t hit the breaks (heeding the sign) only because they’re afraid of an accident or getting a ticket; rather they know it’s the responsible thing to do and they obey the law willingly, knowing that this is pleasing to God, because pleasing God is something they want to do anyway.

      You stated: “God put the stop sign there because the potential for an accident was real, even for the elect guy who hit his breaks on time.” Is it a real possiblility for the elect to not put on the breaks on time?

      Yes. It is a real possibility. But it is not an eventuality because the desire to hit the breaks will be greater than the desire not to in the elect. But what explains this? I think it is the power and authority of the stop sign (God’s word) itself. It really is active and powerful and accomplishes its intended purpose. So here I am attributing both the willingness and ability to hit the breaks to the divine authority that stands behind the stop sign. I (Calvinist that I am) subordinate the will of man to the will of God. “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Romans 9:16).

      Those who heed the stop sign only do so because God has had mercy upon them. Certainly the apostle rules out the inference that their stopping had anything to do with their own free will or effort, or else Romans 9:16 means nothing.

      Blessings to you!

      1. Hi Michael,

        Thanks for your response.

        You stated that the warnings are a very real possiblity. But only God knows who the elect are. Then how can the calvinist have assurance and not get caught up in trying to work to get saved?

        Back to the real possibility and the warning. How can it be a real possibility for the elect not to hit the breaks in time, but at the same time God won’t allow that to happen in the first place?

        If this is the case it’s a false warning or a lie.

        Bless you,

        Russ

      2. Hello Russ:

        You said: Then how can the calvinist have assurance and not get caught up in trying to work to get saved?

        I think you’re assuming that “assurance” means we are either 100% certain or 0% certain. I don’t think that’s how we’re to understand “assurance.” That the Bible gives us ample justification for believing that God will infallibly save the elect is undeniable. That we can be absolutely certain of our own “electness,” however is, as far as I can tell, no where taught in scripture. Why? Because there’s always the chance we can be self-deceived and therefore wrong about our standing before God.

        But does it follow that we must therefore become fearful and turn to a works-righteousness strategy? No. That, to my way of thinking, would cause us to be even more uncertain, for then we’d have to wonder whether or not we’ve done “enough” or have been “good enough” to get it. Alternatively, we might get smug thinking we’ve “done enough” or are “good enough” to get in because of our works.

        Let me offer you another analogy. There’s a chance that the cash in your wallet is counterfeit. But does that mean you ought to be worried that it is? Perhaps you ought to be if your bank is a lone shark named Louie. But if if it’s a legitimate bank, then you’re probably justified in assuming that your money is real.

        You said: Back to the real possibility and the warning. How can it be a real possibility for the elect not to hit the breaks in time, but at the same time God won’t allow that to happen in the first place? If this is the case it’s a false warning or a lie.

        Again, your objection is a non-sequitur and if reasonable, would make the doctrine of hell and the command to repent lies as well, since quite obviously at least some people will be saved. When John the Baptist warned the crowds of the coming wrath and many turned in repentance and were baptized, it wasn’t tongue-in-cheek. The warnings “worked” because the threat was “real.” Just because God was the one who gave them the grace to repent and believe, does not thereby mean that they would not have gone to hell had he not given them this grace.

        It sounds to me like you’re saying this: “Repent and believe the Gospel or else you’ll go to hell, but (wink, wink, nod, nod), you’ll find you don’t really have to because God has decided ahead of time that you’ll go to heaven anyway.” Of course, missing from this is the fact that your repentance and belief are simply among the means by which God has prevented you from going to hell. But you still had to repent and believe, right?

  3. Hi Pastor,

    You said: “But, alas, Calvinism’s devotion to determinism and synergism has made us digress.”

    I think you may have meant to say “monergism” rather than synergism.

    Also–Calvinists do take the “warnings” seriously precisely because we do not claim to know who the elect are. We see the warnings as one of the means by which God keeps the elect on the straight and narrow. So the difference between the elect and reprobate is this: Those who heed the warnings will be the elect. Those who do not will be the reprobate. Who ultimately is who only God knows. But what we do know is that the elect (whoever they are) cannot finally be deceived (Matthew 24:24), and so Calvinists are surely right to claim that the saints will persevere and will not do otherwise. (Notice the distinction between the word “will” and the word “can.”) Any one of us is capable of falling away. But God will not let that happen to the elect precisely because He has chosen to save them–and not merely make them “saveable” as Arminians and Romanists believe.

    1. Michael,
      thx for the catch, i did mean monergism.

      My point is that the elect (in calvinism’s view) will certainly keep the warnings. Is it possible that any of the elect will not to persevere? no. that is where the warnings become hypothetical. they might be the means that God uses, but whether they hear them or not, it will make no difference in the eternally predetermined number of elect. in theory they might be able to fall, but we know that is just hypothetical in reformed theology.

      thank u for admitting that the identity of the elect cannot be known for certain until the end. I have long said calvinism’s boast of “assurance” is no better than the arminian’s. both have a degree of certainty from the fruit of faith, but neither can be positive until they endure. in that sense they are both arminians;)
      Gbu

      1. “Monergism”….say it with me. Glad to be of service. No self-respecting Calvinist wants to be called a “synergist,” at least not with respect to regeneration and justification. Sanctification, on the other hand, is cooperative. But even here, I think most Calvinists would argue that our cooperation is still one of those “means-by-which” scenarios in which God is the one who sanctifies us (ala Philippians 2:13).

        That said, I have to disagree that the warnings are merely “hypothetical,” by which I think you mean “they have no real teeth.” After all, if they weren’t real warnings (with teeth), then they could not function as intended. Hell has to be a real possibility, not a theoretical one, even for the elect.

        That’s where I think the distinction between “can” and “will” is helpful. With respect to our ability to choose, we certainly “can” choose hell. Grace does not remove the ability to choose from the elect. But what is it that accounts for the fact that elect will not ultimately make this choice? This is where Arminians and Calvinists differ. The Arminian ultimately locates the answer to this question in the human being. The Calvinist, on the other hand, locates it in God. The elect “will” not be lost because God wills that they won’t be.

        So how is it that God makes sure the elect stay on the straight and narrow? At least one way is by means of warnings. Apparently the warnings have a two-fold purpose: They harden the reprobate in their unbelief and they are effectual in the elect. After all, God’s word does indeed accomplish the purpose for which it is sent (cf, Isaiah 55:11), right? But you don’t seem to believe that since you say, “whether they [the elect] hear them [the warnings] or not”. What we’re saying is that the elect will heed the warnings because if they don’t, then they’re not the elect. Get it?

        As for assurance, I don’t think it’s typically the Calvinist who “boasts” in it; rather I think it is more often the “Eternal Security” Arminian (which is to say, the inconsistent Arminian who thinks free will can get you in, but never out of heaven). What we do say, however, is that there is such a thing as a “false assurance.”

        But I think I’m with you on one point here. So long as there is such a thing as a “false assurance” then there is always the possibility that we can be deceived about our own assurance. Is this not why scripture enjoins us to examine ourselves to see if we’re in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to confirm our election (2 Peter 1:10)? Even so, isn’t there great assurance promised to us as well? Isn’t it great news that no one can snatch us out of Christ’s hand (John 10:28)? Isn’t it awesome that having been justified by faith we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)?

        Monergistic blessings to you!

    2. Michael,
      Greetings. The problem, though is Calvinism’s monergistic causation. The elect “will” because God alone causes them to will it. Calvinism’s total depravity doctrine affirms that fallen man has no free will in relation to God. But when applied to Christology you are left with Christ having no free human will. This is just a repackaging of what the 6th Ecumenical Council confronted when it dealt with mon-energism/monotheletism. If Christ did not freely will and accomplish our salvation both as God and as man, there is no salvation, yet where did he get his free human will from but his mother (exactly our nature/consubstantiality). Monergism places determination in Christ, making there to be only one will and energy that is causitive (the divine). The opposite is revealed in Gethsemene where Christ freely and without compulsion submits his human will to the Father. Monergistic regeneration is a logical necessity for the system but not revealed in scripture or in history.

      1. Hello Canadian 🙂

        You said: The problem, though is Calvinism’s monergistic causation. The elect “will” because God alone causes them to will it.

        Yes. But where you see a problem, I see the solution. God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

        You said: Calvinism’s total depravity doctrine affirms that fallen man has no free will in relation to God. But when applied to Christology you are left with Christ having no free human will.

        I don’t see how that follows. Since, Jesus’ human nature is sinless (and therefore free from the effects of concupiscence), Christ’s human will is like Adam’s prior to the fall. Calvinists do agree that Adam had a genuinely “free” will.

        You said: This is just a repackaging of what the 6th Ecumenical Council confronted when it dealt with mon-energism/monotheletism.

        Er…I think you may be confused a bit here. Constantinople condemned (read carefully) “monoenergism” (one energy — i.e., that Jesus is both human and divine, but acts through one energy), because it effectively blended his two natures into one hybrid. This is NOT (read carefully again) “monergism” (working alone), as opposed to synergism, (working together).

        You said: If Christ did not freely will and accomplish our salvation both as God and as man, there is no salvation,

        Agreed. What wasn’t assumed, wasn’t redeemed. (Gregory of Nazianzus)

        You said: yet where did he get his free human will from but his mother (exactly our nature/consubstantiality).

        An interesting question. If Jesus inherited his human will from his mother, then it would have been a will enslaved to sin. We must therefore posit an intervention of some sort. Clearly Jesus was fully human. But this was a humanity not seen since the time of Adam. So while I can affirm with you that Mary had a will and that Jesus may very well have “inherited” this (in some sense) from Mary, certainly Jesus’ will was truly free from the effects of sin. The same cannot be said of Mary (unless you’re a Roman Catholic, in which case I’d ask you if Mary’s mother was likewise free from sin, and so on, and so on.)

        You said: Monergism places determination in Christ, making there to be only one will and energy that is causitive (the divine).

        I really think you’re confusing monergism with monoenergism….

        You said: The opposite is revealed in Gethsemene where Christ freely and without compulsion submits his human will to the Father.

        Both his human and divine wills. But that’s hardly the “opposite” of what the Reformed believe. Moving right along…

        You said: Monergistic regeneration is a logical necessity for the [Calvinist] system but not revealed in scripture or in history.

        I see monergism all over scripture. But that’s probably best discussed in another venue. Of course “history” doesn’t truly “reveal” anything but it does attest to quite a bit. In my view, Augustine is fairly read as a monergist.

        Blessings to you!

      2. Thanks for your reply.
        >>>”Jesus’ human nature is sinless (and therefore free from the effects of concupiscence), Christ’s human will is like Adam’s prior to the fall. Calvinists do agree that Adam had a genuinely “free” will.”

        You confuse person and nature. Christ is sinless because he is a divine Person, not because his nature is different than ours. Persons sin, natures do not. Sin does not inhere in nature. Nature is fallen but not sinful. Also, you are making the will a faculty of person rather than of nature by making Christ’s assumed will different in him than our postlapsarian will.

        >>>”This is NOT (read carefully again) “monergism” (working alone), as opposed to synergism, (working together).”

        It is precicely what is, and was, at issue. The monothelites believed only the divine was causitive/operative and believed that two natures, wills, and energies would be in natural opposition. Many even believed Christ had both, but said the divine compelled and forced the humanity in Christ. That is monergism.

        >>>”We must therefore posit an intervention of some sort. Clearly Jesus was fully human. But this was a humanity not seen since the time of Adam……certainly Jesus’ will was truly free from the effects of sin. The same cannot be said of Mary”

        This betrays your predicament. You seem to deny that we, including the Theotokos, are fully consubstantial with Christ, and that his assumption was “without change” to our nature. Either his humanity was not really ours, or it needed a monergistic jump-start to operate freely in relation to his divinity. Both destroy Christ. If Christ assumed (from where?) some pristine prelapsarian humanity, then there was nothing to heal and he would not have died. By the way, in Calvinism Adam was really never posse non peccare, because his fall was unconditionally decreed.

        What I am trying to say is that what you do to us must apply to Christ’s humanity. The father’s of the 6th Council knew that bad Christology leads to bad anthropology. They did not espouse totally depravity and held to free will for this reason. Here are a couple relevant quotes from the Council:

        “but his human will follows and that not as resisting and reluctant, but rather as subject to his divine and omnipotent will.”

        “For should we say that the human nature of our Lord is without [free] will and operation, how could we affirm in safety the perfect humanity? For nothing else constitutes the integrity of human nature except the essential will, through which THE STRENGTH OF FREE WILL IS MARKED IN US, and this is also the case with the substantial operation [energy].”

        In Calvinism, monenergism and monotheletism, there is NATURAL opposition, resistance and reluctance. Adam loses nature and the imago dei and not just grace. If Free will is not a constituent element of human nature then Christ did not have it either. It is interesting that both Pelagianism and Calvinism are monergistic.
        Christ is the consummate man, and we should begin our anthropology after discovering it in our Christology and not begin our anthropology with man and his fall. I submit that Calvinism has failed to inform what it holds in the one hand to what it thinks it holds in the other and I speak as a former 5 point, 5 sola Reformed Baptist.

  4. I am glad you noticed that salvation is cosmic and not just about persons. In the incarnation Christ united himself not only with human nature but with all creation and all creation will be redeemed and summed up in him. He recapitulates Israel, Adam, humanity as a whole and also all of creation. Much of what you have described above, we call deification.

      1. This is also the basis for their view of the eucharist as well. Because of the union of Christ’s flesh with a divine person, his flesh becomes life-giving…..right from the womb of the Theotokos. The deified body and blood are present in the eucharist and is “the medicine of immortality” as the father’s repeat.

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