Justification is not progressive, it is instantaneous. It doesn’t change our nature or our condition. It changes our status or our legal record. It is not something that we produce. It is something outside of us. It is not our own righteousness. It is the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
As we’ve been surveying the various steps in the order of salvation (from Effectual Calling to Glorification), we have covered Effectual Calling, Regeneration, and Conversion in previous articles. In this article, we will be surveying Union with Christ and Justification.
As soon as a man believes in Christ, certain wonderful things immediately transpire as well. First of all, he is united to Jesus Christ personally, spiritually, and experientially. Second of all, he is immediately and instantaneously justified by the grace of God, through faith. Third of all, he is instantly and immediately definitely or positionally sanctified—free from the bondage of sin. And fourth of all, he is immediately, legally, spiritually, and experientially adopted into the family of God. All of those truths cluster around and are the immediate blessing and result of conversion. When a man repents and believes, he is immediately spiritually joined to Jesus Christ.
This is the big big subject. The Bible talks about our union with Christ, and directly or indirectly mentions our connection to Jesus Christ, over a hundred and fifty times in the New Testament. You know the term, “in Christ,” “in Jesus Christ,” “in him.” The vine is connected to the branches, the branches to the vine; the husband to the wife; the building to the foundation. These are some of the ways that the Bible illustrates our union with Christ. But when the Bible talks about union with Christ, it talks about it in four stages. Union with Christ is the deep subterranean truth and taproot of all blessings in the Christian life. All blessings in the Christian life come forth from our union with Christ. But when the Bible talks about union with Christ, it talks about it in four stages.
But, all blessings of the spiritual life flow out of our union with Jesus Christ. This verse (1 Corinthians 1:30) was one of Calvin’s favourite verses, and I encourage you to read Calvin. I believe it is volume two in regards to the issues of the application of salvation and justification and sanctification and union with Christ. “By his doing, not our own, by God’s doing, we are in Christ Jesus who became to us the wisdom from God and that wisdom produced righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” We have a twofold aspect of that union. One is legal by representation and the other is spiritual by regeneration. The former gives us a new position, the latter gives us a new condition. The former deals with the guilt of sin, the latter deals with the power and pollution of sin. The former is the source of our justification, our legal union. The latter is the source of our sanctification in our growth in Jesus Christ.Let me review them very quickly. First of all, We are united to Christ and in Christ in eternity past.