The Benefits of the Gospel Are In Christ

In his superb book The Whole Christ, Sinclair Ferguson reminds us of an absolutely critical point of salvation:

The benefits of the gospel (justification, reconciliation, redemption, adoption) were being separated from Christ, who is himself the gospel. The benefits of the gospel are in ChristThey do not exist apart from him. They are ours only in him. They cannot be abstracted from him as if we ourselves could possess them independently of him (Ferguson, 44).

Dr. Ferguson is addressing the early 18th century’s Marrow Controversy, the theological and historical lessons of which apply directly to the Church’s present struggles over legalism, antinomianism, and gospel assurance. The thesis of the selection above may seem too basic to mention. Yet in our theologizing, we can have the tendency to drift away from the central truth that we are saved in and through the person and work of Jesus Christ. While it is imperative that we understand the precise biblical doctrine of each benefit, we must never turn our gaze away from Christ unto an abstracted doctrine.

The Whole Christ is an absolute must read for visitors of this site. Buy it, read it, mark it up, meditate upon it, and share it with others.

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Richard

3 years ago

Thanks Camden. This book is wonderful in its simplicity and clarity. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Bill

3 years ago

I believe Sinclair Ferguson is a great Reformed theologian. I heard a while a few hours of him explaining the doctrine of sanctification. There are 9 MP3 that outline the doctrine of sanctification in a clearly reformed way https://www.monergism.com/blog/studies-sanctification-sinclair-ferguson-9-part-mp3-lecture-series First of all it is my goal to highlight that he is a great theologian and defender of the faith. A christian that one delights in hearing. With that said I think he misses that the whole Christ is embodied in the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. This is the whole Christ. Through God declaring us righteous on account of Christ everything else follows, when we are justified by grace through faith we become his children , we do good works etc. So everything is driven by the forensic. it’s like when a judge declares us not – guilty, all the judge does and the only benefit we receive from the judge is the non-guilty verdict. And the same thing from Christ there is only one and one only benefit we received a non-guilty verdict, our sins are forgiven, nothing else. This is the gospel, it is simple, and yet we complicated it by adding other benefits which do not come from Christ but instead are a consequence of justification by grace through faith. Just like with a judge all the judge does is give us a non-guilty verdict. So i receive no other benefit except a declaration of non-guilty. Now this declaration results obviously in many other benefits, for example now I can walk out of jail, look for a job, apply for a passport and travel out of the country, enjoy life now that I am free without having to spend the rest of my life in jail. The same thing with God, justification by grace through faith is the mother of many other benefits such as adoption , sanctification, reconciliation, peace with God etc.) . here’s the thing guys the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law teaches Paul 1 Corinthians 15:56 . So sin is strictly a forensic problem , and Christ sets us free solely in a forensic way. That as a result of this forensic liberation , renovative aspects in the life of the believer follow, nobody disputes. Romans 7 is clear that the law caused Paul to commit more sins, not because the law is bad , but because due to the weakness of the flesh sin increased as a result of the law of God. So the remedy for sin had to be forensic only, so that we may die to the law and be married to Christ. This is what I love about the simplicity of lutheranism, there is only one benefit justification (we are declared not guilty), and from this benefit all other benefits flow from.

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