Ames: Redemption Is The Execution Of The Sentence

Redemption is a real deliverance from the evils of punishment, which is actually nothing but the carrying out of the sentence of justification. For in justification we are pronounced just and awarded the judgement of life. In glorification the life that results from the pronouncement and award is given to us: We have it in actual possession.

—William Ames, The Marrow of Theology, 1.30.4

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  1. Wow, this is great stuff! And what is sanctification but the slow steady already of glorification’s not yet!

    I’ve been reading a lot on the issues of justifications relation to sanctification and the rest of the ordo-salutis and in the context of union. I have a lot friends who would more fall in line with Bill Evans and those guys and see almost no relationship between the two other than that they come through union with Christ. Most of them balk and scoff at the idea of a logical priority at all! I think this quote is fantastic though, this the true sense of why justification is ground of sanctification not just in sense of historia salutis but for the believer in the ordo. I remember Dr. Lane in those Reformed Forum interviews kind of had a problem with any kind of “grounds” or “basis” statements that were not talking about the historia salutis being the forensic ground of the ordo-salutis, but this is clear–even for the believer the forensic ground of his sanctification is his own justification, even as that happens and comes to him in union with Christ!

    This quote really gets at what I think Horton has tried to get at in writings especially Lord and Servant and Covenant and Salvation, but it just goes over peoples head and all they want to hear is “Lutheran, Lutheran, Lutheran…” Why is this so hard?!

    • There are two methods, at least, at work here. One reads Scripture with the Reformed tradition and the other is more biblicist in orientation. The latter begins with the Bible and the assumption that the way it is read now must be the way it was read then. The past is seen as a way to justify rather than to correct the present.

      I began my doctoral research with the strong, unquestioned assumption that what I had been taught must have been what the Reformed churches had always believed. It was difficult and even painful at times to discover that there were significant ways in which what I had been taught and experienced did not quite match the tradition (e.g., on worship). When I began to notice that the earlier Reformed writers did not seem to regard Calvin the way we tend to regard him now (as the be all and end all of Reformed theology) I was surprised and began to formulate ways to explain why they must have viewed him as we do today but why they couldn’t say so. Of course the theory was wrong because it was not based on what was but upon what I thought must have been. It was only when I realized that my a priori assumption about what must be was wrong that I was able to make progress in understanding what was. That process of correction is difficult and one has to be prepared to be corrected.

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