Christ Condignly Merited His Glorification

[399] But a great many Reformed theologians believed otherwise and answered the above question in the affirmative. In their opinion, the answer to Christ’s prayer (John 11:42; Heb. 5:7) and especially the entire state of exaltation from the resurrection to his coming again for judgment is a reward for the work that he accomplished as the Servant of the Lord in the days of his humiliation. And, given the teaching of Scripture, no other answer is possible. For over and over it presents the state of humiliation as the way and the means by which alone Christ can attain his exaltation (Isa. 53:10–12; Matt. 23:12; Luke 24:26; John 10:17; 17:4–5; Phil. 2:9; Heb. 2:10; 12:2). The preposition διο (therefore) in Philippians 2:9 refers not to the order and logic but specifically to the meritorious cause of the exaltation. Because Christ humbled himself so deeply, therefore God has so highly exalted him. Especially the Letter to the Hebrews repeatedly puts a heavy accent on this meritorious connection between Christ’s humiliation and exaltation (1:3; 2:9–10; 5:7–10; 10:12; 12:2). Christ himself was “sanctified” by suffering. This does not mean that he was consecrated to God or made morally perfect; it means “perfected, brought to full wisdom and maturity,” made τελειος, which consists in his now being crowned with honor and glory (2:9), being seated as high priest at the right hand of Majesty in the highest heaven (8:1), having attained the joy for which he endured the cross and despised the shame (12:2), and becoming the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (5:9).

—Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Sin and Salvation in Christ, vol. 3, trans. John Bolt and John Vriend, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 433–34.

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One comment

  1. OPC Report on Justification, on Philippians 2

    At least two “Federal Vision” proponents [James Jordan, Lusk] have argued that this passage actually rules out the notion of merit in regard to Christ’s obedience, because in Philippians 2:9 Paul uses the word echarisato, which etymologically derives from the word for “grace,” charis, to describe God’s giving the name above every name to Christ. This indicates, they claim, that the Father exalted the Son not meritoriously but graciously.

    This argument as it stands fails, however. One reason it fails is its fallacious reasoning that etymological derivation determines the meaning of a word apart from context. The context of Phil 2:5- 11 shows that MERIT CANNOT BE ELIMINATED from Paul’s teaching here. The context is one of “work rendered and value received.”The Father exalted the Son because the Son perfectly fulfilled his course of obedience. The Son obeyed, therefore the Father exalted him.

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