The notion of a substitute is not difficult to grasp. We have substitute teachers, sugar substitutes, all kinds of replacements. But generally, substitutes have an underwhelming quality. They are not the same as the original and are somehow less than fulfilling. We like substitute teaches because we think we’ll just watch a movie in class, but we rarely learn as much from a sub as we do our regular teacher. We like sugar substitutes for the health benefits, but any enjoyment of real sugar is gone.
So we must dispense with popular notions of “substitute” to understand how Christ could be our substitute before a holy and righteous God while not being less-than. How could Christ stand in our place as our substitute and satisfy the wrath of God’s justice? The Confession begins by saying,
“Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in their behalf; yet, inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.”
We begin by confessing that another paid our debt. So, sin is to be considered something of a debt before God. This was a common Jewish understanding of sin, hence Jesus teaching his disciples to pray that God would forgive their debts in Matthew 5.
Hebrews 10:13 tells us, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” The debt was “fully discharg[ed]”. There is no other need for any sacrificial system to continue, now or in the future. How could one man put an end to the Levitical system by a single sacrifice?
Here we see the importance of Trinitarian theology practically applied. Jesus Christ was fully God, fully man. There was no mixture of natures or the creation of a third nature. One segment of the Athanasian creed says, “Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Yet there are not three gods; there is but one God.” It is not a trifling matter to see that God paid the debt he owed to himself. Why do we turn the other cheek? Because that’s precisely what our Savior has done. He has returned upon himself the penalty of sin.
The notion of Jesus Christ as our substitute is incredible simply because he was innocent of all sin. He did not deserve to die, especially in suffering as he did. But even more incredibly, we can say that not only did God provide a substitute, but he substituted himself in our place. God most certainly did not die on the cross; it is nonsense to say that the one being who embodies eternity in himself could come to an end. Neither did God suffer in Christ’s humiliation. As a man who shared our nature as well, he suffered and bled in his flesh, as a sinless creature, on behalf of his sinful brothers and sisters. Yet in his divinity, which was not tarnished by humanity, he successfully overcame the power of death in his resurrection. In the God-man, God the Father has “unite[d] all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).
The Confession continues,
“God did from all eternity decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did in the fullness of time die for their sins, and rise again for their justification; nevertheless, they are not justified personally, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them.”
“The fullness of time” comes directly from Ephesians 1:10, when Paul says Christ is the plan for all ages. Christ is how all things are redeemed, the source of all wisdom, the purpose behind God’s decrees, and the means of unifying heaven and earth. His bodily ascension is perhaps the greatest evidence of that.
It is necessary to say that the London Baptist Confession is the confessional document of the Particular Baptists, or, it at least has roots in that strain of Baptist theology. Particular Baptists hold to the doctrine of election, which says that God has decreed to save some and to pass over others, permitting them to live according to their own desires. In that way, God is not unjust; he simply allows some to sleep in the bed they have made and live according to their nature.
This stands in contrast to the General Baptists, which have Arminian heritage. They believe that Christ’s death, resurrection, and exaltation made salvation possible but not effectual (it only takes effect for some). They interpret passages speaking of Christ dying for the whole world to mean that Christ paid for the sins of every single person but that only some will believe it to be true.
Scripture speaks of both election, or God’s sovereign choice, and the responsibility of every person to believe. Jesus never offered an invitation. He issued commands to believe. “Repent and be baptized” is not an option. But he also spoke of the Father determining who would be sent to the Son for salvation, such as in John 6. We are creatures, not equals. God has, by his gracious appointment, determined that there will be those he pardons for their sins through the substitutionary atonement of his Son. He has also, by his judicious purpose, determined that some will be passed over and permitted to continue in their rebellion against him. You have no more authority to consign yourself to hell than you do to save yourself.
However, both Particular and General Baptists believed that the Holy Spirit applied redemption in real-time. No one is born saved. God may have appointed some to believe in eternity past, for Paul says that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4). But that does not therefore mean that we are born living in the power of the Spirit. There is still a conversion yet to take place, whether it’s at age 5 or 95. That conversion is the beginning of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God.
Speaking of the Christian life, the Confession says,
“God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure; and in that condition they have not usually the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.”
The only one who continues living without sin is Jesus Christ. Believers remain justified and forgiven, but we continue to fight the good fight. Our justification is not under threat, but our peace certainly is. Continued sin has the effect of causing us to doubt our security in Christ. In our brightest moments, we see the kindness of God in calling us into his marvelous light. In our darkest moments, when we commit the same sins with which we have struggled for so long, we must humble ourselves, repent of those particular sins, and seek the face of God again. We do so by the Spirit guiding us back to the Scriptures and the comfort found there. Believers do not make light of our sins, even if they are forgiven. We have a greater awareness of their deceitfulness and wickedness. And that awareness of the ugliness of sin and the beauty and patience of God is what draws us to return to his Son in confession again and again.
The perennial struggle of the good Christian is the relationship between faith in Jesus Christ and the life we live, or good works. Do works have a role in our salvation? Are works necessary in any capacity to inherit eternal life?
This relationship is at the root of many denominational differences. On the one hand, some churches drift toward works-based salvation, where the sinner cooperates with grace and never fully receives justification until death, if at all. This is essentially the position of the Roman Catholic Church on salvation. On the other hand, some churches drift toward a total rejection of any ethical or behavioral standard, even after salvation has taken place. This is the practical position of many evangelical/nondenominational/seeker-sensitive churches.
Are either of these positions rooted in Scripture? I’m not a proponent of always looking for a via media, because it assumes that we’ve reached the extremes on both sides and that the truth is in the middle. Who’s to say the middle way can’t be just as wrong as the extremes? If you’re asking the wrong question, every answer will be wrong, as well.
Scripture must reform our understanding of the relationship between faith and works, and the Confession is a helpful summary of Scripture’s teaching. The next paragraph on justification says,
“Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”
We must be crystal clear that justification is the declaration of righteousness by God the righteous judge. In the context of asking the question, “Who can boast about being saved?”, Paul says, “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). This is not a scenario where Paul only mentions faith or only mentions works; he clearly mentions both and says whether faith or works has a role in our being justified. Without hesitation, we are justified by grace through faith.
When speaking of the place of the rite of circumcision to the Galatians, Paul writes, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). He’s not speaking about the good works we normally think of, such as walking old ladies across the street. Christians are not Boy Scouts. He’s speaking of a clear command from the Old Testament, one that signified entrance into the covenant.
But under the new covenant made in Christ’s blood, Paul has the guts to say that circumcision is a practice that carries no significance. He doesn’t even argue that baptism has replaced circumcision, thereby making baptism necessary for salvation. He simply and clearly says that even religious good works don’t move the needle. Only faith whose object is Christ Jesus can do that. Faith “is the alone instrument of justification.”
Now we come to the reason why a middle-way is not all that useful. We must articulate a biblical position, not a pragmatic one.
Faith alone is the mechanism of salvation. No good works merit God’s action. But faith brings good works with it, which also have been decided in God’s foreknowledge. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
God gives faith, and God gives us good works to do. Faith does not even come from good works; it is a gift. From beginning to end, we live and move and have our being by grace. The good works we do are even prepared for us by the one who gave us faith. And we perform these good works, throughout the rest of our natural lives, still by grace, for Paul says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Salvation never stops being completely a gift and a work of God.
If God has prepared both faith and works, and if faith comes first, then works are evidence of faith. This helps us better understand what James means when he says that faith without works is dead. James goes on to say, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:14-17).
But what about when James ties together faith and justification? He also says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar” (James 2:21)? And what about a few verses later when he says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (v.24)?
Those two verses are often used as prooftexts that you are required to do good works to be justified. But the hinge of James’s argument is actually few verses earlier: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (v.18). James is arguing that we should not separate faith and works at all! And that is actually Paul’s argument, as well. Paul is saying that God declares us just by faith. James is saying that we demonstrate our faith by our works. Justification is both a declaration and demonstration. We must take the argument of the author in context.
You say you have faith, but it is not saving faith if it is not accompanied by the works that God has prepared or you.
Next time, we’ll try to understand how Christ’s sacrifice made our justification a reality.
Many have said that justification is the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. Martin Luther, Balthasar Meisner, and Johann Alsted are just a few of the Lutheran or Reformed theologians who acknowledged that the critical mass of Christian salvation is how one is justified before a holy and righteous God.
If there’s even a hint of truth to that statement, then we must have a clear and precise knowledge of how Scripture describes what takes place at justification, when it takes place, and to whom it takes place.
The Confession begins, “Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience in his death for their whole and sole righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.”
It would be good to be reminded presently of the golden chain of redemption of Romans 8: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (vv.29-30).
Justification is near the end of the chain. God knows those whom he will save, he predestines them to that salvation, he calls them by his Spirit, and when the Spirit indwells them, he justifies them. It is the Spirit of God who applies to individuals the redemption purchased by the Son. R.C Sproul was famous for popularizing the Reformation truth, “Regeneration precedes faith.”
We have become so accustomed to praying for the Holy Spirit to come upon us that he have entirely neglected the simple truth that the indwelling of the Spirit is what prompts those who have been called to be justified. We tell people that if they pray a prayer of repentance, then the Spirit will fill them. That’s actually backwards from the clear Scriptural witness. That is a defining tenet of revivalism and pentecostalism, which has become as common and gone unnoticed in the church as a piece of old furniture.
Acts 2:38 says, “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Is Peter saying that the Holy Spirit comes after repentance and baptism? Do we have to be baptized to receive the Spirit and so be saved? Is it left to our will to be saved?
That contradicts the rest of the book of Acts, as well as the remainder of Scripture, so we need to revisit that conclusion. For instance, when Peter is with Cornelius and his household in Acts 10, he says that as he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on them (v.44; cf. 11:16). Then in Acts 10:47, Peter tells them to be baptized with water.
Scripture interprets Scripture. Therefore, Peter must be speaking of baptism more broadly in Acts 2:38. He is speaking of baptism as if it is the sum and substance of salvation. There is a baptism of the Spirit that precedes baptism with water. We should also keep in mind that Acts 2:38 falls within the greater event of Pentecost. It was a spectacular, one-time event.
In receiving the Spirit, we have Christ’s righteousness accounted to us. In Scripture, it is an accounting term (used especially throughout the book of Romans), meaning that a certain amount of money is transferred from one ledger to another. Something of value is transferred to another, simple as that. Our salvation is premised upon Christ’s righteousness being counted as our own and our sinfulness being counted as his own.
The theological term for that is “imputation”. We actually believe in a double-imputation, or a two-way-imputation. Christ’s righteousness is granted to our account, and our sinfulness is placed in his account. If we only receive his righteousness, then our sins were never dealt with. If he only received our sinfulness, we never received his righteousness.
“Imputation” is a carefully chosen word. It is to be distinguished from “infusion”. When grace is imputed to us, God himself is justified in declaring us pardoned. The one who was offended paid for the offense himself. It is all or nothing, empty or full. There are no partially-declared court rulings. It is this or that, pardoned or imprisoned.
The Roman Catholic position is that of infusion. If you think of a blood transfusion, your blood is not being replaced. Someone else’s blood is being blended with yours, in hopes of having enough healthy blood to keep you. Good blood hopefully trumps the bad blood. In Roman Catholic theology of justification, God’s grace is blended with our works, our efforts at righteousness. We must work with the grace that we’ve been given in order to maintain or grow in righteousness. As they are prone to say, “grace perfects nature.”
The Confession also speaks of both the “active” and the “passive” obedience of Christ. Like many theological terms, they are not found in the pages of Scripture, but they are helpful categories. Think of theology as a dictionary; when you are defining a word, you don’t use that word in the definition. That’s a circular definition, and it’s not helpful.
Christ’s active obedience is his faithfulness to the law of God. By completely and perfectly fulfilling the demands of the Mosaic law, he remained perfectly righteous. It was that righteousness that was imputed to us. By giving up himself in accordance to the covenant of redemption formed between the three persons of the Trinity, he was passively obedient. This simply means that he voluntarily did nothing to stop the wickedness of evil men against him as foreordained by the Father.
Hopefully you see the richness, as well as the importance, of the doctrine of justification. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we will continue next time by looking at the place of faith in justification.
The pet rock came out in 1975. Gary Dahl joked that a perfect pet would never need fed, need walked, or die. What better pet than a rock? So he put some googly eyes on some rocks, put some straw in a cardboard box to keep the rock comfortable during transport, and sold them for $4 a piece. Dahl became a millionaire.
How ridiculous is the notion that a rock has any life at all in it, even enough to be a pet? A pet rock does not come to life, no matter how much its owner may want. In the same way, a heart of stone does not bring itself to life. A heart of stone does not make a decision to become a heart of flesh. A heart of stone is dead.
God must do something supernatural and turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh for a person to love and obey him. Revivalism, dispensationalism, and the church growth movement have together popularized the notion that salvation is just a simple decision. It’s about a one-time decision to believe in God. It’s up to you.
However, Scripture says the opposite. Regeneration precedes faith. You are elected, and because of that sovereign election, you have a new disposition and a desire to glorify God that you have never had before.
The Confession says that “Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; …”
This glorious truth is perhaps nowhere more clearly and simply articulated than in Romans 8:29-30, which says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” This has been called “the golden chain of redemption”. Where in that chain of redemption did you do something?
God foreknew, God predestined, God called, God justified, and God will glorify.
But what about evangelism and regular calls to believe in Jesus by the preaching of the gospel? Isn’t there some responsibility placed upon the individual? Well of course, and the Confession answers that concern.
"This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses, until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead."
The key to understanding man’s responsibility in salvation is in the short phrase, “until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit.” God knows those whom he will save, he predestines them to that salvation, and then he calls them at an appointed time. In being called, we mean that the Holy Spirit indwells that individual. Upon the renewing presence of the Spirit, the blood of Christ is applied to our accounts. Our sins are covered and our hearts are turned from stone to flesh. Only then does a man or woman possess the moral ability to love God, repent of sins, and confess that Jesus is Lord.
Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
Man does not accept the Spirit. We do not invite the Spirit. Inviting the Spirit is like inviting the wind to blow or a tidal wave to crash on the beach. Do you control those things? Jesus tells Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
Many times, because we have so focused on making a decision, we are worried about the salvation of those who cannot make decisions. What about infants? What about those with mental disabilities? What about those who cannot speak? Does a decision have to be vocalized to fit the criteria of “confess with your mouth”? Well, if salvation is a work of God, then the believer is comforted in this area.
Concerning these people, the Confession says, “Elect infants dying in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit; who worketh when, and where, and how he pleases; so also are all elect persons, who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”
The fact that the Spirit of God moves about like the wind is a far greater comfort than any belief that making a decision determines your destiny. Because we are frail and often do things contrary to our best interests, we are prone to undo past decisions. Only the arrogant think that they can lose their salvation but haven't done anything to lose it. But because God is unchanging, he does not un-know, un-predestine, un-call, or un-justify. So when it comes to those with lesser decision-making ability than normal, we worshipfully leave them in the hands of our heavenly Father. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Genesis 18:25).
Scripture addresses another kind of response to regeneration, that of a false conversion. In summary, the Confession says:
“Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved; …”
This is the distinction that Christ made in describing the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). Baptists believe that everyone in the true church is regenerate, or born again. It is not a mixed community where both believers and unbelievers share in the covenant blessings as was the nation of Israel. This is what makes the new covenant “not like the covenant” God made with the ethnic people of Israel at Sinai (Jeremiah 31:32). The new covenant is unbreakable (Jeremiah 31:33).
The seed, which is the gospel, is cast on all the soil. But it only takes root in certain places. Jesus summarizes the parable of the wedding feast by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).
We can rest assured that God’s decisions are pure and good and true. When we look back from eternity, we will see that nothing God did was ever unjust. If we, in our finite minds, understood now all that God was doing, we’d fall to our knees in perpetual worship. And one day, in the eternal state, we will live and worship him as we should even now.
There are perennial debates among good Christians. How old is the earth? When do you date the exodus? Sloppy wet, or unforeseen?
And of course, what is the nature of free will in man? How do we reconcile passages that talk about the plan and foreknowledge of God with passages equally inspired that tell us to choose God and live? How does the church understand the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, both for our redemption and daily living? The Confession helps us by pulling together a host of passages and categorizing them for us.
The Confession starts with a general truth about man’s responsibility. “God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty and power of acting upon choice, that it is neither forced, nor by any necessity of nature determined to do good or evil.” There are choices we make every day, many of which are moral choices. Do I break the speed limit or not? Do I give my best effort at work? Do I show my spouse the affection she deserves? Will I discipline my child with his redemption in mind?
There are wicked, evil, unrepentant people who work hard and pay their employees well. People who would otherwise say they reject biblical truth have never hit their children or their spouse. The biblical worldview says that every person is capable of both great good and great evil.
In Deuteronomy 30:19, Moses calls on the Israelites to choose life over death through obedience to the law of God. And there were instances when Israel did just that. But for every time they repented and turned to God, choosing life, there were a dozen instances where they turned to idolatry and hated God. God has set a choice before us.
But that is not the whole story. The Confession goes on to say that “Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but yet was unstable, so that he might fall from it.”
For God to call things very good, they had to have been sinless. There was a point in time when the first humans were truly innocent, sinless, and perfect. Solomon reminds us that “God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). By saying that we were unstable, the Confession is simply saying that we were able to choose life or death. The command not to eat of the tree was the mechanism by which Adam would choose life or death. Not eating from the tree would be the path to life; indulging would lead to death.
And of course, eventually man would choose death. “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto.”
There was some moral ability that was lost in the fall. As Paul says in Romans 8:7, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.” The man who is still in the flesh is necessarily not in the Spirit and therefore does not submit to God’s law. He is incapable to turn to what he hates. Not only does the Scripture say that we cannot submit to God, that we are hostile to him, but we are “dead in the trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). In the fall, we lost our ability to find joy and satisfaction in knowing God. That is spiritual death.
But because God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), that is not the end. “When God converts a sinner, and translates him into the state of grace, he freeth him from his natural bondage under sin, and by his grace alone enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good; yet so as that by reason of his remaining corruptions, he doth not perfectly, nor only will, that which is good, but doth also will that which is evil.”
Paul tells us that God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). In the fall, we became captive to sin and lost the fullness of our willingness to love God. But in the state of grace, he positions Christ as our new covenant head and forgives us of our sins. And “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).
It is God at work in us to make us holy, enabling us to do spiritual good. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). This does not mean perfection this side of the grave. Even the most devout believer is burdened with sin, even in the state of grace. If Paul can say, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15), then I am no better off. Lest we think that Paul is speaking of a non-believer in this passage, keep reading. “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:22-23). No unregenerate man can say that he delights in God’s law.
But there will be a time when all sin, as well as any desire to sin, is totally in the past. The Confession says, “This will of man is made perfectly and immutably free to good alone in the state of glory only.” What are we looking forward to, if not unfettered peace with God through Christ in the Spirit because sin is no more! Speaking of the role of pastor-teacher in the church, Paul says that we must work “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). He is speaking of a future state, one unencumbered with the cares of this world. Only then will we attain perfect unity, perfect knowledge, and perfect humanity, because of the perfect Christ.
Related to free will is the doctrine of calling, to which we will turn our attention next week.