alien righteousness

John 15:3 – “then calls them to bear fruit that is consistent with this forensic justification”

“In regeneration we are passive. We hear the Gospel, and the Spirit creates faith in our hearts to embrace it. However, in conversion we are active. We have seen that the Spirit is the sanctifier not only in the narrow sense (viz., progressive growth in Christ), but in every external work of the Trinity. The Spirit is identified in the prophetic writings as the harbinger of the future. And now the Spirit is at work within us, causing us to bear the fruit of the Spirit and to grow up into Christ with his body. In spite of the fact that the Corinthian church had become filled with immorality, strife, division and immaturity, Paul begins both letters to this body by addressing them as ‘saints’ (holy ones) and reintroduces the wonder of the gospel. To be united to Christ by the Spirit through the word is not only to be justified; it is also to be renewed and to be conformed gradually to Christ’s image. The Corinthian saints are holy because of the fiat declaration of justification, which Paul compares with ex nihilo creation (Rom 4:17), so now they may bear the fruit of righteousness: ‘Let the earth bring forth…’ Just as the Spirit is at work in our hearts to bring about faith in Christ through the gospel, the Spirit is at work in us ‘both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Phil 2:13). The same point can be discerned in John 15:3, where Jesus says, ‘You are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you,’ and only then calls them to bear fruit that is consistent with this forensic declaration.” (145-146) Taken from Michael Horton’s chapter titled “Let the Earth Bring Forth: The Spirit and Human Agency in Sanctification” in the book titled “Sanctification: Exploration in Theology and Practice” edited by Kelly M. Kapic.

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