Mar 8, 2009

Haldane - Justification to Life

I believe that Robert Haldane wrote one of the best commentaries on the Book of Romans. I believe he got it right, as a Calvinist, in not putting regeneration before either faith or justification. Those who put regeneration before justification err.

In the following excerpts from Haldane on Romans chapter six, and on what is meant to be "dead to sin," it is clear that Haldane, like all the great original "Reformers," put union with Christ prior to justification, and justification prior to regeneration and sanctification, and they always taught that actual union with Christ in time is "by faith." Thus, their "ordo" is election, faith, union with Christ, justification, regeneration and sanctification.

Haldane wrote: (emphasis mine - SG)

"We that are dead to sin. — The meaning of this expression is very generally misunderstood, and extended to include death to the power of sin, to which it has not the smallest reference. It exclusively indicates the justification of believers, and their freedom from the guilt of sin, having no allusion to their sanctification (or regeneration - SG), which, however, as the Apostle immediately proceeds to prove, necessarily follows. It was indispensable, in the view of obviating the objection proposed, distinctly to characterize both the persons, and their state of justification, to whom the answer he was about to give applied."


"Their justification he expresses by the term dead to sin, which, though only a part of justification, implies all that it includes. No other designation could have been so well adapted to introduce the development of their state, and its inseparable consequences, as contained in the following verses. This term, then, is most appropriately employed."


"Formerly, the persons spoken of were dead in sin, but now they were dead to it, as it is said in the 7th verse, they are justified from it. In the seventh chapter, it is affirmed that believers are dead to the law. They are therefore dead to sin, for the strength of sin is the law; and consequently sin has lost its power to condemn them, their connection with it, in respect to its guilt, being for ever broken. In the 10th verse, it is said that Christ died unto sin, and liveth to God; and in the same way believers have died to sin, and are alive to God, (i.e. justification before regeneration - SG) to serve Him in newness of life."


"It has indeed been argued, that if the expression dead to sin does not comprehend death to the power of sin, it does not contain an answer to the objection urged in the preceding verse. Even, however, though the power of sin were included, it could not be considered as an answer by which the objection was removed, but simply a denial of its validity. But it is not intended as an answer, though it clearly infers that union with Jesus Christ which is immediately after exhibited as the complete answer. Without this union we cannot be dead to sin; but, being united to Him, believers are not only dead to it, but also, by necessary consequence, risen with Him to walk in newness of life(i.e. regeneration or life resulting from justification - SG). Nothing could be more conclusive than in this manner to show that, so far from the doctrine of justification leading to the evil supposed, on the contrary, it provides full security against it. Paul accordingly presents that very aspect of this doctrine, namely, death to sin, which peculiarly bears on the point and this for the purpose of introducing that union by which it takes place, which is at once the cause both of justification and sanctification. So far, therefore, from these being contrary the one to the other, or of the first being in the smallest degree opposed to the last, they are in separable; and thus the possibility of those who are justified continuing in sin, that grace may abound, is absolutely precluded."


"But when the expression is understood as exclusively signifying dead to the GUILT of sin, it may and must be taken in the full sense of what death imparts, being nothing less than absolute, total, and final deliverance from its guilt. To suppose, then, that in these words there is the smallest reference to the character or conduct of believers — to their freedom from the love or power of sin — to conjoin these in any respect or in any degree with their freedom from its guilt, — in other words, with their justified state, — is not merely to misapprehend the meaning of the Apostle, but to represent him as stating that to be a fact which has no existence; while it deprives the passage of the consolation to believers which, when properly understood, it is so eminently calculated to impart."


"In proof of the correctness of this view of the subject, let it be remembered that the Apostle’s refutation, in the following verses, of the supposed objection, does not rest on the supposition that sin is mortified in himself and those whom he is addressing, or that they are released from any propensity to it, but on the fact of their being one with Jesus Christ. They are united to Him in His death, and consequently in His life (i.e. justification then life - SG), which was communicated to them by Him who is a ‘quickening Spirit;’ and thus their walking with Him in newness of life, as well as their resurrection with Him, are secured. These ideas are exhibited in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses. In the 7th verse, the reason of the whole is summed up, — ’For he who is dead (with Christ) is justified from sin;’ and in the 8th verse, that which will afterwards follow our being justified from sin is stated, — ’If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him."


"Finally, in the 9th and 10th verses, the Apostle declares the consequence of Christ’s dying to sin to be, that He liveth unto God. The same effect in respect to the members must follow as to the Head with whom believers are one; and therefore he immediately proceeds to assure them, in the 14th verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them. The result, then, of the doctrine of justification by grace is the very reverse of giving not merely license, but even place, to continue in sin. On the contrary, according to that doctrine, the power of God is engaged to secure to those who are dead to sin — i.e., justified — a life of holiness, corresponding with that state into which, by their union with His Son, He has brought them."


"Ver. 3. — Know ye not, that so many of was were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death?

In this and the following verses, Paul proceeds to give his full answer to the objection he had supposed, by showing that the sanctification (and regeneration - SG) believers rests on the same foundation, and springs from the same source, as their justification, namely, their union was Jesus Christ, and therefore, so far from their being contrary to each other, they are not merely in perfect harmony, but absolutely inseparable; and not only so, but the one cannot exist without the other.

In the verse before us, the Apostle proves that Christians are dead to sin, because they died with Christ. The rite of baptism exhibits Christians as dying, as buried, and as risen with Christ.

By faith believers are made one with Christ: they become members of His body. This oneness is represented emblematically by baptism. Baptized into His death. — In baptism, they are also represented as dying with Christ. This rite, then, proceeds on the fact that they have died with Him who bore their sins.

The believer is one with Christ as truly as he was one with Adam — he dies with Christ as truly as he died with Adam. Christ’s righteousness is his as truly as Adam’s sin was his. By a Divine constitution, all Adam’s posterity are one with him, and so his first sin is really and truly theirs.

By a similar Divine constitution, all Christ’s people are one with Him, and His obedience is as truly theirs as if they had yielded it, and His death as if they had suffered it. When it is said that Christians have died with Christ, there is no more figure than when it is said that they have died in Adam.

The figure of baptism was very early mistaken for a reality, and accordingly some of the fathers speak of the baptized person as truly born again in the water. They supposed him to go into the water with all his sins upon him, and to come out of it without them. This indeed is the case with baptism figuratively. But the carnal mind soon turned the figure into a reality. It appears to the impatience of man too tedious and ineffectual a way to wait on God’s method of converting sinners by His Holy Spirit through the truth, and therefore they have effected this much more extensively by the performance of external rites. When, according to many, the rite is observed, it cannot be doubted that the truth denoted by it has been accomplished. The same disposition has been the origin of Transubstantiation. The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are figuratively the body and blood of Christ; but they have been turned into the real body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lord, and the external rite has become salvation.

Ver. 4. — Therefore we are buried with him baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

The death of Christ was the means by which sin was destroyed, and His burial the proof of the reality of His death. Christians are therefore represented as buried with Him by baptism into His death, in token that they really died with Him; and if buried with Him, it is not that they shall remain in the grave, but that, as Christ arose from the dead, they should also rise. Their baptism, then, is the figure of their complete deliverance from the guilt of sin, signifying that God places to their account the death of Christ as their own death: it is also a figure of their purification and resurrection for the service of God.

Ver. 7. — For he that is dead is freed from sin.

The original word, which is here translated freed, different from that rendered free in verses 18, 20, 22, is literally justified. It occurs fifteen times in this Epistle, and twenty-five times in other parts of the New Testament; and, except in this verse, and one other where it is translated righteous, is uniformly rendered by the word justified. In this verse, as in all the other passages its proper rendering ought to be retained, instead of being exchanged for the term ‘freed,’ which has evidently been selected to convey a different sense. To retain its proper translation in this place is absolutely necessary, in order clearly to perceive the great and cheering truth here announced, as well as to apprehend the full force of the Apostle’s answer to the objection stated in the first verse. As to the phrase, ‘justified from sin,’ we find the Apostle expressing himself in the same manner ( Acts 13:39), ‘ By Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.’ "


"No objection can be made to the use of the expression ‘justified,' since the Apostle is speaking of the state of believers, to which it is strictly applicable. In justification, which is a judicial and irrevocable sentence pronounced by God, there are two parts: the one includes absolution from the guilt of the breach of the law; the other, the possession of that obedience to its precepts which the law demands. These being inseparable, they are both included in the expression justified from sin. If a man be dead with Christ, he possesses, as has been observed, all the blessings which, according to the tenor of the new covenant, are included in, and connected with, the state of justification by grace. Instead, then, of encouraging him to continue in sin, it furnishes absolute security against such a result, and ensures the certainty that he shall walk in newness of life until he attains the possession of eternal glory. The Apostle, therefore, is so far from admitting that, according to the supposed objection which he is combating, gratuitous justification is opposed to sanctification, that, after having shown in the preceding verses that sanctification springs from union with Christ, he here asserts, as he had formerly proved, that on the very same ground the doctrine of justification is established. The one cannot, therefore, be hostile to the interests of the other."


FolloweroftheLamb said...

"Those who put regeneration before justification err." Amen!

Our union with Christ is the source of all spiritual blessings.

"But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." 1 Cor 1:30, 31

"By faith believers are made one with Christ: they become members of His body."
They come to know that they are as a result of their union, but not as a cause of that union. The cause of our union with Christ is God the Father's giving of us to him. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit, the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Follower:

I agree with you as long as we distinguish between the hypothetical or decreed union, which is by the eternal decree of election, and actual vital union that occurs when one is made a believer or regenerated.

God bless,