The previous essay on “Monocovenantalism” brought up this matter, so a few comments here. In this area also the mindless militants have perverted the conversation. The notion that the death of Jesus was insufficient for our justification and that we must also have an imputation of His perfect life in order to be declared just is a notion found in none of the Reformed Confessions. It was debated at the Westminster Assembly, with people on both sides, and the Assembly decided to write nothing about it and leave it as adiaphora.
Like American political liberals who find the right to abortion hidden in the Constitution, today’s militants have found this doctrine hidden in the penumbra and interstices of the Reformed faith and are determined to pronounce as heretics anyone who differs from it. Never mind that their behavior makes the entire Westminster Assembly into heretics!
I’m rather dubious about this doctrine myself, since I cannot find it in the Bible. Perhaps it is there by implication, as indeed may be the case. I do think, however, that there are some underlying issues that play into the matter, and these I wish simply to note here.
One issue is the incarnation. The early church and the Nicene Creed affirm that the incarnation was “for us” as well as “for our salvation.” The Son was not incarnated as man only to save us from sin, but also to “bring many sons to glory.” In other words, the incarnation was planned all along, sin or no sin. God created humanity as a bride for His Son, and it was always going to be the Son who would come into the world and bring His bride to full glory. Notice the Creed:
Who for us men,
And for our salvation,
Came down from heaven,
And was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
And was made man;
ALSO [etiam] was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
Together with this is the effective rejection of Romans 8:30, where “justified and glorified” are in the same tense. There is present glorification just as there is future justification. As 2 Corinthians 3:18 assures us, we are presently growing from glory to glory. The early church called glorification “deification.” The passages used nowadays to show imputed righteousness, such as the robing of Jeshua in Zechariah 3, are actually about glorification (as is obvious).
God killed an animal to cover Adam’s sin in the garden, and then clothed them in tunics, a royal garment. This “same” tunic of royal rule was stripped from Jesus at the cross and the soldiers cast lots for it.
The “day of atonement” in Leviticus 16 is actually literally the Day of Coverings, plural. Blood covers the Ark-Cover, removing sin, and then the priest is covered in his glory garments.
I lean my hand upon the sacrificial animal, but he does not turn around and put his innocent paw upon me. Rather, he dies and his blood is displayed. That’s justification. Then, however, the sacrifice enters into God’s fiery shekinah presence inside the “altar” (communion site) and ascends up to the throne. That’s glorification.
My robes are white in the BLOOD of the Lamb, not from “imputed righteousness.” The Lord’s Supper displays Jesus’ DEATH to the Father until He comes.
Jesus receives my liability to sin and thus dies, His blood displayed. What I receive from Him is union with His glorification by the Spirit. It is His new life, resurrection and transfigured life, that is given to me. It is the well nigh universal failure of the Reformed faith to take this Biblical data into account that is behind the confusion over justification. Jesus died for me. That’s why I’m forgiven. That’s enough.