Following the theme of the last post, I thought I would post another quotation from Vos on the relationship between Union with Christ and Justification.Â Same book Shorter Writings, same article Doctrine OfÂ The Covenant In Reformed Theology, but different page – 256. This, I think, is a much overlooked section in Vos’s writing. I’ll let him speak for himself:
“The Christian knows that he is a party in God’s covenant and as such he has all things and spans at any one moment the whole orbit of grace, both in time and for eternity. By faith he is a member of the covenant, and that faith has a wide outlook, a comprehensive character, which not only points to justification but also to all the benefits which are his in Christ. Whereas the Lutheran tends to view faith one-sidedly – only in its connection with justification – for the Reformed Christian it is saving faith in all the magnitude of the word. According to the Lutheran, the Holy Spirit first generates faith in the sinner who temporarily still remains outside of union with Christ; then justification follows faith and only the, in turn doe the mystical union with the Mediator take place. Everything depends on this justification, which s losable, so that the believer only gets to see a little of the glory of grace and lives for the day, so to speak. The covenant outlook is the reverse. One is first united to Christ, the Mediator of the covenant, by a mystical union, which finds its conscious recognition in faith. By this union with Christ all that is in Christ is simultaneously given. Faith embraces all this too; it not only grasps the instantaneous justification, but lyad hold of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King, as his rich and full Messiah.Â … Therefore faith may not be confined within the limited circle of one piece of the truth and its gaze fixed on that all the time; it must have in view, freely and broadly, the whole plan of salvation.”
Vos notes the pastoral implications of this position are that “The Lutheran lives as a child who enjoys his father’s smile for the moment; the Reformed believer lives as a man, in whose consciousness the eternal glory of God throws its radiance” (Vos, Shorter Writings, 256).