Saturday, August 28, 2010
Richard Sibbes on Union
I was reading Richard Sibbes and this section jumped out at me. Sibbes almost completely parrots Calvin on this point, but it is interesting how Sibbes frames the importance of Union. The Spirit in uniting us to Christ is spoken of as granting faith, assurance and making the purchased benefits of Christ's ours. For Sibbes, Union seems like another way of speaking of imputation and how imputation is a reality and not merely a legal fiction. I'm not quite sure about Sibbes' full thoughts on imputation and union, comments are welcome:
"But you will say, the liberty of justification is wrought by Christ; we are justified by the obedience of Christ; and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us.
Answer: It is true that Christ is our righteousness. But what is that to us unless we have something to put it on? Unless we are united to Christ, what good do we have by Christ, if Christ is not ours? If there is not a spiritual marriage, what benefit do we have by him if we do not have him to pay our debt? For his riches to be ours and our debt to be his, there must first be a union.
Now this union is wrought by the Spirit. It is begun in effectual calling. From this union there comes a change: his righteousness is mine, as if I had obeyed and done it myself; and my debts and sins are his. This is by the Spirit, because the union between Christ and me is by the Spirit. For whatever Christ has done, it is nothing to me till there is a union.
And likewise, freedom is by the Spirit, because the Spirit of God works faith in me not only to unite and knit me to Christ, but to persuade me that Christ is mine, that all his is mine, and that my debts are his...so with this reflexive action [faith], the Spirit brings liberty in justification; just as it is a means of union by which all that is Christ's becomes mine, and mine becomes Christ's."
-Richard Sibbes. Glorious Freedom: The Excellency of the Gospel above the Law. pg 34-35