Does Baptism Save?

Baptism Election-FeaturedMerrit asks this question.

“Two friends and I have been talking about this verse (1 Peter 3:21) and passage for quite some time today. The more we seem to talk about it the more confused I seem to get about it.”

Merritt,

It’s a difficult passage but not impossible when read in context.

Remember first of all that the context is Peter’s concern is that Christians, considered according to their profession, should live according to that profession. He’s been writing since 2:15 about how various kinds of people in the visible church should conduct themselves. Then he turns to the theme of suffering for the sake of our identity with Christ. For Peter, this naturally brings up the matter of baptism, which is our outward identity (not “union with”) with Christ (just as circumcision had once been the identification with Christ; Col 2:11-12).

In 3:18 he says “Christ also suffered.” This indicates the connection in his thought between our suffering and Christ’s. We only suffer because we’re identified with Christ. Thus we’re to give a reason for the hope of salvation we have in Christ and we should suffer for doing good, not for doing evil.

He suffered, the righteous for the unrighteous (Christ the substitute!). He was put to death in the flesh (so we should put to death the flesh) and he was made alive in the Spirit (as we have been). Now, notice the relative pronoun –“in whom,” i.e. in the Holy Spirit, which is the antecedent of the pronoun, he went and proclaimed. When did he do that? In the days of Noah. There’s nothing here about going to the place of the damned or the dead. The people to whom Jesus, in the person of the Holy Spirit, went and proclaimed weren’t dead yet. They were still alive then.

How did we, in the flow of the narrative, get to Noah? The ideas of death and deliverance through death that have been lurking in the background surface, as it were. Remember the analogy with the ark. The church went into the ark. They were saved through the flood waters not by them. This is where advocates of baptismal regeneration err. They miss the force of the analogy. The waters did not save anyone! The waters killed everyone but Noah and family. God saved his people by means of the Ark, not by means of the water.

The flood waters were a death. They were an ordeal. They were a literal death for those outside the ark. They are a metaphorical death for those inside the ark. Those inside the ark were as good as dead, except they weren’t dead. They were saved by the sovereign grace of God. Baptism “corresponds” to the flood.

By the way, [ed: Merrit also asked about the mode of baptism] Who got immersed? Everyone but Noah and family (the visible church). The church “went through on dry ground” as it were. What does baptism do? Just as the Noahic church was delivered “through” (i.e. they survived the judgment) the flood, so we now are saved through (not by but through = survival of the judgment) the “flood” which identifies us with Christ’s death.

It’s important here to see that identification is not union. The Federal Visionists err by teaching that baptism unites the baptized (ex opere operato) to Christ. Did the flood waters unite the drowning to Christ? No! Did they unite those in the ark to Christ? No. The church was identified with Christ typologically. They looked forward to the fulfillment in Christ. They were really saved, however. They didn’t drown. They got on to the ark because Noah believed. “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the whole world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Heb 11:7). The righteousness did not come instrumentally by baptism, but by faith.

That’s the “pledge of a good conscience.” Baptism doesn’t produce it but testifies to the reality of it in those who believe. Just as the flood was a sign/seal of deliverance, so baptism is now. Just as people didn’t believe Noah, they don’t often believe us. Just as they persecuted Noah for believing in Jesus so they persecute us.

The analogy of baptism and the flood helps explain why he says that baptismal waters themselves don’t make anything happen any more than the flood did. Humanity has two distinct relations to the waters. Either the the flood waters/baptism waters are a judgment, i.e. they signal condemnation (for those who are not identified with Christ) or they signal salvation for those who are identified with Christ, who are in the ark. Contra Rome and the FV, Baptism doesn’t work ex opere (automatically). Jesus’ resurrection saves us and we are united to him by faith. Jesus went through the greatest flood/death/judgment and his resurrection signals that he was righteous and survived the ordeal. Baptism is a sign of our union with him. Baptism is an outward identification with his flood-ordeal. The tomb didn’t save Jesus. He was delivered from the tomb. His righteousness saved him. His resurrection was a vindication of his righteousness. Jesus is the ark. He is the Savior. The flood waters aren’t the Savior.

So too, the righteousness of Jesus saves us How do we benefit from Jesus’ righteousness? Union (not identification!) with Christ. It’s possible to be outwardly identified with Christ and lost. It’s not possible to be united to Christ and be lost. All those for whom Christ died, in whom he creates a true union by the power of the Spirit, are made alive, given faith, justified, adopted, etc. True union with Christ is the work of the Spirit (as he’s already intimated above) which creates faith in Jesus the ark of salvation.

This is a difficult passage but not impossible if we pay attention to the analogies that Peter uses. It’s not unlike Matt 24 where Jesus says, “As in the days of Noah.” If we pay attention to the Noah story, and if we notice that Jesus says that the flood came and “took them all away.” To be taken is not a good thing. So will it be when the Son of Man comes. “Two will be working” etc. One will be “taken” and the other left. According to the analogy, to be taken is to be destroyed in judgment not “raptured” to safety!

So too, if we pay attention to the analogy with Noah it helps us a great deal with the two major difficulties in this passage in 1 Peter 3.

This post first appeared on the HB in 2009.

24 comments

  1. Baptism, immersion, descent into hell, rapture all dealt with in one article. Excellent!

  2. I agree wholeheartedly and with this part in particular:

    “Contra Rome and the FV, Baptism doesn’t work ex opere (automatically). Jesus’ resurrection saves us and we are united to him by faith. Jesus went through the greatest flood/death/judgment and his resurrection signals that he was righteous and survived the ordeal. Baptism is a sign of our union with him. Baptism is an outward identification with his flood-ordeal. The tomb didn’t save Jesus. He was delivered from the tomb. His righteousness saved him. His resurrection was a vindication of his righteousness. Jesus is the ark. He is the Savior. The flood waters aren’t the Savior.

    So too, the righteousness of Jesus saves us How do we benefit from Jesus’ righteousness? Union (not identification!) with Christ. It’s possible to be outwardly identified with Christ and lost. It’s not possible to be united to Christ and be lost. All those for whom Christ died, in whom he creates a true union by the power of the Spirit, are made alive, given faith, justified, adopted, etc. True union with Christ is the work of the Spirit (as he’s already intimated above) which creates faith in Jesus the ark of salvation.”

    I am still plowing through James W. Dale’s four volumes on “Baptizo;” the title and subtitle for volume 4 is “Christic Baptism and Patristic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word [Baptizo, Bapto] as Determined by the Usage of the Holy Scriptures and Patristic Writings.”
    It is a study, 5 volumes in 4. Vol. 1 is “Classic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word [Baptizo, Bapto] as Determined by the Usage of Classical Greek Writers.” Vol. 2 is “Judaic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word as Determined by the Usage of Jewish and Patristic Writers.” Vol. 3 is “Johannic Baptism: An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Word as Determined by the Usage of the Holy Scriptures.”

    Dale in vol. 4 asks “What is Christic Baptism?” and answers “Christic baptism as established by Christ has a twofold character: 1) Real; 2) Ritual.
    “REAL Christic baptism is a thorough change in the moral condition of the soul effected by the Holy Ghost and uniting to Christ by repentance and faith, and through Christ re-establishing filial and everlasting relation with the living God–Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
    RITUAL Christic baptism is not another and diverse baptism, but is one and the same baptism declared by word, and exhibited (as to its purifying nature) by pure water applied to the body; symbolizing the cleansing of the soul through the atoning blood of Christ by the Holy Ghost.”

    I think that much can be learned from this author, a nineteenth century pastor and Greek-Latin Classics Scholar, Dr. James Wilkinson Dale (1812 – 1881) who said that usage determined meaning which anticipated present studies in linguistics and lexical semantics.

    • Having extensively studied Dale’s works I must say I think his scholarship was horrendous, and when taken to its logical conclusion it clearly ends up “proving” too much. For example, he would have us believe that scriptures such as Acts 2:37-41, 9:18, 22:16 and even Matthew 28:19 are not in reference to water baptism. Consequently (although I do think he is at least being consistent with his own schema here) he argues that the Great Commission cannot and indeed does not inform us that the sacrament of water baptism is to be administered with the verbal formulary “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is of course directly contradictory to WCF 28.1, 2 and HC 71.

      Incidentally, I started to put together a comprehensive refutation of his scholarship and views about 10 years ago, but I stopped before it was really in a presentable format.

  3. “Contra Rome and the FV, Baptism doesn’t work ex opere (automatically).”

    If that’s the case, then it would seem Infant Baptism is pointless for even Reformed/Lutherans, for if Baptism doesn’t do something ‘automatically’ then it accomplishes nothing for the infant.

    • Right, because an oath isn’t anything at all… to people who enjoy the category they call: “mental reservation.”

      Keep trying, Nick.

    • Bruce,

      I was making a simple statement of fact: If baptism doesn’t do something ‘automatically’ (not necessarily regeneration), then Baptizing an infant doesn’t ‘automatically’ bring them into the visible Church. If Baptism is merely a public declaration of what *already* is a reality, then infant baptism makes no sense.

    • Well, your statement quotes, and thus is in direct reply to RSC’s theologically informed statement opposed to Rome’s defined doctrine. So temporizing on the meaning “does… automatically” is an equivocation.

      Of course, in such a sense as you’ve introduced, we believe baptism “does something” too. So, that’s not especially interesting. In the way of an analogy (not a *sacramental* analogy) we believe two hearts are “one in spirit” on account of an engagement, and a marriage ceremony formalizes and publicizes that union. The ceremony actually “does something” in an outward way; and it also ratifies something already in existence at a spiritual level that no pronouncement can create.

      But as far as Romish teaching on the spiritual efficacy of the sacerdotal act of a priest, irrespective of the faith of the receiver–no, the water of baptism did nothing to effect spiritual union with Christ. However, it did receive one already possessed of the right to recognition into the visible church. And made over to him a divine promise, to be received by faith. And that’s something, significant.

  4. Nick,

    I believe if you look at the language of the reformed confessions and the explanations and expositions it is quite the opposite. Children of believers ARE members of the visible church and are therefore given baptism as sign and seal of the promises of God. You dont become a covenant child by being baptized. Hence when it came to children in the womb, miscarriage and children (of believers) dying at birth before there was not an opportunity for presentation for baptism parents took hope because the extension of baptism to children was because of God’s previous stance in the covenant to be gracious to them and their children. Hence (canons of dordt) godly parents should take comfort in the salvation and election of their children whom it pleases God to call out of this life in their infancy. Hence (1 Cor 7:14) children being holy “covenatally” are given baptism as sign and seal and a pledge from God of the gospel promises, that also obligates them to the covenant. Or in the case of those who later show themselves destitute of faith it shows the even greater curses that befall them as opposed to those who were never members of the visible church.

    • Sorry, my comment was an awful butchering of language but you get the point.

  5. If I am understanding Bruce and Brian correctly, Baptism ‘declares outwardly’ what is already a reality, namely that a child of Christian parents is part of the covenant in virtue of being born to Christian parents. So baptism does nothing *to* the child in the ex opere operato sense.

    You enter the New Covenant by physical natural birth, and baptism is a completely external declaration that this has happened to you. This is logically consistent, but theologically problematic.

    • Getting closer, but no. We said that they are members of the visible Church, and its not by physical natural birth but God’s grace because God likes to administer His covenant from generation to generation, hence adopted children also receive the sign. As Bruce said, “no, the water of baptism did nothing to effect spiritual union with Christ. However, it did receive one already possessed of the right to recognition into the visible church. And made over to him a divine promise, to be received by faith. And that’s something, significant.” We judge them to be members of the Church until they show otherwise as they grow up trusting in the promises made over them in baptism and eventually publicly confessing their faith before the elders and coming to the table. The substance of covenant is embraced by faith.

    • Basically what Nick’s saying is that if baptism is meaningful, it is only meaningful and efficacious on Rome’s terms, and no others. He wants to apply “ex opere operato” across the board, ignoring that the phrasing exists specifically to describe the spiritual accomplishment of baptism in terms of Rome’s sacramental theology.

      Applying the terminology across the board is a bit of legerdemain. Our argument with Rome is and ever has been with the allegation of spiritual efficacy contained in a sacrament as a matter of intrinsic power conferred to the church, and dispensed through her (multitudinous) rites, by Religious competents with their consecrated hands on the levers.

      The sons of Abraham and the children of Israel were in covenant by virtue of their being born to a believing, circumcised Israelite. Failure to carry-through on this OT sacrament (!) was tantamount to his (the child’s) breaking covenant, Gen.17:14; cf. Ex.4:24-26.

      Clearly, the reason for circumcision was because the son was a covenant member, and not in order to make him a member; you can’t break a covenant you aren’t a party to. But acknowledging this dichotomy never evacuated the rite of significance. Nor does understanding that baptism as NT initiation functions in very much a parallel manner (Col.2:11-12) to circumcision as OT initiation make the NT rite “theologically problematic.”

      Baptism as a Word of promise, given to an infant, is practically the first witness from God addressed to him: that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. For an elect recipient (and no one knows who they are), it is his first reception of the means of grace, whereby God communicates to him the benefits of redemption (see WSC 85 & 88). Long time or short, the cumulative effect of the means of grace applied by the Spirit is salvation through faith for as many as the Lord our God shall effectually call.

      So, it’s reductionist to say of Reformed sacramentology that it a mere statement about a prior connection. Our Confessional statements are much, much more robust that that. Baptism is first and foremost a divine Oath, not a commentary on one’s parentage.

  6. Then I don’t understand what the options are. Does getting baptized cause the infant to become a member of the New Covenant? If Yes, then that seems like ex opere operato to me. If No, then that seems like they are already a member of the New Covenant and Baptism merely acknowledges that reality (similar to how a birthday party doesn’t cause you to grow one year but only recognizes you have grown one year).

    I only see two options to what makes you become a member of the Church: being born to Christian parents or being baptized (by Christian parents).

    • I think nick’s issue is less sacerdotalism and Ex opere operata (can’t spell) but more the distinction between the visible/invisible church which lying behind that is the difference between the covenant of redemption (which pertains only to the elect) and it’s historical administration in the covenant of grace and the covenant community (which is mixed elect and non elect). One can be an outward member without having the inward substance. He thinks that when we say children are member of the visible church and the covenant of grace he thinks we are baptizing them because we think they are regenerative and united Christ already, is this correct nick? I don’t want to presume. This is not the case however, rather since God, who works through families in redemptive history, has commanded that this is how his covenant is administered in history, and that the elect are gathered by he Spirit (though some non-elect are caught in the proverbial net) using the means of grace He declares to the children of believers that He stands ready to be gracious to them. Though children may already be regenerated (ex: Jeremiah, David, John the baptist) baptism in the case of infants rather looks forward to the promise being realized in that child that “these promises are for you and your children” (acts 2:39,40) as they believe by faith, even as the Spirit uses their baptism and the Word and the baptism of others to create and strengthen that faith. Just as Abraham had faith and was then was circumcised but his children were circumcised first before and yet looking forward to their exercise of faith, or in case of Ishmael and Esau their being cut off. Either way circumcision and baptism signify and seal BOTH instances. It confirms, strengthens, and assures the faith of the believers, even calling upon them “improve their baptism” and rely on the grace of God for sanctification in their death to sin in union with Christ. In the case of wayward children or the non-elect it calls them to repentance and the allegiance they owe to the God who has placed His name and them. Baptism points to God’s curse on sin pictured in the past in the flood and anticipates the eschatalogical judgment, which in second peter again is connected to Noah and the waters of creation which God will use later to judge the earth throwing the wicked are thrown into the “lake of fire.” Both circumcision and baptism pointed to God’s judgment on sinners as well the saving grace in the judgment of Christ, we are saved through the judgment that happened in Christ. Baptism shows that God is a God to us and to our children, that he offers us salvation through judgment in Christ, that this comes to us by faith in union with Christ, in the case of adults it looks back to it and in children it looks forward.

      in addition to what Dr. Clark has linked I would recommend J.V. Fesko chapter on baptism and judgment in his book: Word, Water, and Spirit

  7. According to the editors of Dale’s volumes, the latter’s intent was to research the words baptizo and bapto and to deal with the issue of the mode of baptism once and for all. There has never been a worthy response to his work by the baptists. Seeing the debate here about infant baptism and status of the infant which dies in infancy, in the mother’s womb, or still born, and in this day and age where abortion takes place at such an alarming rate, I have moved from the Roman Catholic position, to the Baptistic (or Anabaptist) position to the Presbyterian and Reformed position which I believe to be the correct one.

  8. Bruce/Brian,

    I realize there is a distinction between Covenant of Grace and it’s Administration (thought I’m still trying to fully digest the link Dr Clark posted), and I understand that not all Baptized Infants (of Believing Parents) are Elect.

    My question is more along the lines of how does one *become* a member of the visible Church. Where I originally got hung up and am still not understanding, is whether you are saying Baptism *causes* the the child to become a member of the visible Church or whether it is an outward sign/ceremony that the child is already a member (since their parents are believers).

    Bruce spoke of my claim as being reductionist, but that doesn’t clarify whether he means my claim was ‘true but not the full picture’ or whether my claim was ‘ultimately false because it was a half-truth’. Bruce did say: “Clearly, the reason for circumcision was because the son was a covenant member, and not in order to make him a member.” So I’m inclined to interpret this as saying ‘the reason for baptism was because the infant was a covenant member (in virtue of being born to believing parents), and not in order to make him a member’.

    The Westminster Confession seems to be saying the opposite though, namely that baptism *causes* one to become a member, saying Baptism was instituted by Christ “not only for the solemn admission of the party baptized into the visible Church, but also to be unto him a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins.”

    Hopefully people can see why I’m confused, because I see it as receiving two conflicting answers (though I trust the WCF over a personal opinion).

    • Nick,
      Setting aside the previous discussion around the phrasing ex opere operato,

      I understand your focused query to be on *how-one-becomes* a church member. But there is also a prior question: What is the church? It is a study that can take up volumes of exegesis and theological reflection. But simply to state three generally accepted conceptions, there is the church-militant, the church triumphant, the church-universal. Does membership in one entail membership in all three? Are there legitimately different conceptions of membership?

      Returning to your question, it is possible to analyze it from two angles:
      1) spiritual admission
      2) ritual admission
      We should also be able to discern ways in which such actions (and actors) bear relation to each other.

      Gen.17 really does function in a paradigmatic fashion, as it pertains to understanding participation in the Covenant of Grace. It provides a BOTH–AND response to your expressed confusion as to what Presbyterians & Reformed (P&R) teach baptism-by-the-church does.

      Gen.17:9 speaks of initiation into the covenant (in its Abrahamic expression) as the rite of circumcision. However, it ALSO speaks in v14 of the non-administration of this sacrament as the breaking-of-covenant by the person (even an infant) who ought to be initiated.

      Failure to treat with the child is a breach of parental duty, a faithless act; but a judgment is leveled against the non-circumcised child, because faithlessness is also being claimed for him, and/or divine faithlessness.

      So, there is a sense in which the child is already a covenant-member, by virtue of his belonging to putative believers (according to the sign of faith which they themselves received). And there is a sense in which the formal and sacramental act accomplishes its own work of membership.

      The Westminster Standards teach nothing else. The words you quoted are in unambiguous accord with the latter sense. Baptism is a “solemn admission,” a testimony to the formal and public act of worship, a place-and-time notice for the record of this temporal enrollment of a recognizable citizen of the kingdom of God as it is administrated on earth; and that “into the visible church.” The terms “visible church” and “church-militant” are basically synonymous. Baptism is indeed a “setting apart,” an engagement to be the Lord’s (WLC 165).

      Nothing in that can be taken as opposed to the concept that children of believer are, by virtue of their heritage and in that sense already “within the covenant” (language of West. Larg. Catechism #s 166 and 162). Paul’s argument in 1Cor.7:14 is clinched by the statement that the children of even one believer have prior federal holiness through birth itself, a demonstrable fact that marriage to an unbeliever does not sully the believing spouse.

      The subsequent quoted portion continues: “but also….” Here the WCF makes mention of the Covenant of Grace. The baptism is meant to be, unto the party baptized, “unto him” (sooner or later) a sign to be apprehended by his own faith of God’s saving promises, which are found in the Covenant of Grace.

      The combined spiritual/ritual ideal isn’t always realized in every person. In this life some persons only participate in one or the other administrations. So, it just isn’t accurate to state that the church’s ritual ordains a spiritual reality, simply because the church did it.

      But neither do we confess there is NO relation or connection between the sign, and the thing signified, particularly when we believe God is pleased ordinarily to work by means of them (rightly used) to bring about a true harmony of blessing, spiritual and ritual.

  9. Nick, yes I see your confusion, the same thing confused me for quite some time until I took a doctrine of the church class from WSCAL grad (I grew up dispensational baptist). I think there is an anology here somewhere, however I suck at analogy so I wont try. I think the language of the Westminster in that instance and others like it best understood as solemn ceremonial admission, it is the official admission. So it may be best understood as both/and. In abaraham’s case God insinuates that not having the children circumcised is considered a breach of the covenant, but this would imply that there was a previously existing covenantal relation, even though circumcision (now baptism) officially/ritually/ceremonial was the child’s admission to the visible covenant community. So while failure to administer the sacrament essentially amounts to an excommunication of the child, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean that baptism creates their membership by its efficacy. Does that help at all? Really I swear I have heard some really good analogies of this and I just cant remember them. Perhaps the Heidelberg will be of assistance, Q&A 74 “Are infants also to be baptized? Yes: for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult, they there by baptism, as a sign of the covenant be also admitted to the church….” even here it seems to be both/and, they, as well as the adult, ARE included…AND they there by baptism as a sign of the covenant be also admitted to the church.
    Aha! perhaps I just thought of an analogy, think of when a young man puts a ring on a woman’s finger, the ring does not engage them to each other but the man’s words spoken in the offer and in the proper context do and together with the ring, yet if the ring isn’t there the engagement is questionable, it is their confirm his love to her, pledge the loyalty he wants to offer her. Yet in shorthand we say “I put on the ring on her fingered” even though we realize that didn’t itself cause the engagement. Even the ring and the offer was a manifestation of his previous feelings for her.
    So when the Word of promise is proclaimed by the minister in the midst of the congregation and the sacrament administered– it is God’s stance and speech that stand behind the ministers words that make it effective. Baptism is God’s gift to the infant before the infant can even say God’s name God has placed it over the child to signify and seal that He is not only the God of the child’s parents but him as well. Even as Christ died for us while we were sinners he offers this grace to our children even before they can understand. God’s grace is not just for those others out there but truly for me. This then strengthens and affirms what the child hears in the preaching of the word as he grows up into maturity and an eventually official public confession of faith coming to the table truly showing God’s faithfulness to his original promise in baptism, even though have believed since he was 2! or 1!

    I confess the relationship between the sign and the thing signified to be a slightly mysterious one, and the relationship between the sacraments and the Word. If you are looking for some really thought-provoking material on it I recommend Michael Horton’s chapter on Signs and Seals in his book People and Place.

  10. All those for whom Christ died, in whom he creates a true union by the power of the Spirit, are made alive, given faith, justified, adopted, etc. True union with Christ is the work of the Spirit (as he’s already intimated above) which creates faith in Jesus the ark of salvation.

    Scott,
    How does union, as those chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world by our God and Father (Eph. 1:3-4), fit in here? Isn’t that elective union the material cause or basis of union effected by the Spirit in our effectual calling? Sometimes it seems that union with Christ is said to originate at the moment of faith without regard to what Berkhof calls our legal union. Just wanting to think through how to think about this…
    Thanks…

    • Hi Jack,

      As I understand it there are three aspects to union with Christ: federal, decretal, and mystical. Because of the revision(s) posited to third aspect of the doctrine in recent decades that is where attention has been focused but yes, certainly, because of the decree, we may be said to have been “in Christ” from eternity. Because of the decree, Christ may be said to have acted for us federally or we may be said to have been, in that sense, united to him in his substitutionary obedience, death, and resurrection but, of course, we do not come into possession of those realities until we are given new life and through faith, by the Spirit, united to Christ. We should remember that all three are true and that the mystical and federal aspects depends on the the first.

    • Thanks much, Scott. This is helpful, especially as you note the confusion that has arisen concerning mystical union. Much of the time I can’t tell what different writers who emphasize union actually mean when they use that word in that so much gets packed into it. It ends up seeming that as long as “we” say ‘union’ with Christ then doctrine is explained.

Comments are closed.