Thursday, August 26, 2010

0 Colquhoun on Union with Christ

The doctrine of Union with Christ, which Reformers and Puritans such as John Calvin and John Owen saw as absolutely foundational to our understanding of soteriology, is under serious question and even attack in some conservative circles today. There are claims among some that real, saving union with Christ is effected at baptism - and that the non-elect, who ultimately are not saved, nevertheless enter into real union with Christ if they are baptized... and then lose those saving benefits which somehow they had in Christ for a time. This is completely foreign to the theology of the Reformation, and in particular of John Calvin - whom some of those who make the above claims somehow think they can lay claim to as a forefather in their understanding of Biblical truth.

John Colquhoun, in the first sermon in a recently published collection entitled Sermons on Important Doctrines emphasizes the permanence of union with Christ. He first writes of the intimate connection between the hypostatic union of human and divine natures in the person of Christ, with the personal, mystical union of Christ and the believer:
"the Lord... declared that no gracious relation between Him and our nature could be secure and permanent unless it were assumed to a subsistence in Himself. This union (TKP: the hypostatic union), then, is the sure foundation of the church's saving relation to God as a God of grace, and of the conveyance of gracious influences to its true members; and so long as that foundation stands, the safety, holiness and happiness of believers shall be secure. Now, the only begotten of the Father assumed our nature so that it might, in personal union with Him, be secured, and that our persons might never be in danger of losing conformity to Him or communion with Him." (p. 18, Sermons on Important Doctrines)
Colquhoun, writing on the doctrine of the Incarnation, links the two unions - the hypostatic and the mystical - in a necessary relationship. He argues that our union with Christ is grounded on the fact that Christ was both God and Man - united in one person - and hence the second union cannot exist without the first. Further, the permanence of the one union (the hypostatic) is seen as a ground for the permanence of the second union (the mystical). We know Christ is coming back in the same body He arose in (witness Acts 1). We know that union, of God and Man in the person of Christ Jesus is permanent... so too is the union of Christ with His elect. Later on, Colquhoun clarifies this doctrine in the following paragraph:
"Is the union of the divine and human nature in the person of Christ a sure foundation of His people's perseverance in the union with Him and conformity to Him? Let believers then be encouraged to press toward th emark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This personal union is, and will continue to be, an everlasting security for the perpetuity of the mystical union between His person and the persons of believers. It will be as easy for an enemy to ascend the celestial throne and tear asunder the glorified humanity from the divine person of our exalted Immanuel, as it will be to dissolve the union that subsists between Him and the weakest member of His body. 'Because I live, ye shall live also.'" (p. 22, Sermons on Important Doctrines)
The idea that God might unite some to Christ who ultimately will not be glorified and have perfect, sinless communion eternally with Him in the new Heavens and Earth is inconceivable to Colquhoun, and, I should think, to any who take seriously the promises of Scripture. "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6) How can anyone seriously argue that one might attain a saving union with Christ, but then lose it at some later time? Is Christ one who abandons His sheep? Truly? Is this what people are really willing to believe, who accept the lie of the Federal Vision "temporary saving union" teaching? It is impossible for me to understand this, if Scripture is taken seriously, and Christ is given His due. That any united to Him truly might be torn away flies in the face of Scripture (e.g. John 10:27-28, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand." or John 6:37, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.") There are no lost sheep. All those in His flock are THERE - and none truly there, united with and under their Shepherd, are lost. The doctrine of "temporary saving union" is simply folly (and that's putting it lightly)



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