Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Spirit in the OT vs NT

What is the significance of the coming of the Holy Spirit in the NT, and how does it differ from the way God worked in the OT? One thing I find helpful in thinking about this question is to distinguish between the corporate body and the individual. In the NC the Spirit is given corporately, so that every member has the Spirit (cf Acts 2:17-18, Heb 8:10-11), and as a body they have the Spirit. In the OT, only some individuals had the Spirit, but as a whole, Israel was bereft of the Spirit and unfaithful, generally they were unregenerate (cf Deut 5:29, Deut 31:27-29). The promise and hope of the NC is for a people who were no longer stiff-necked, and who had circumcised hearts (cf Deut 30:6). This awaited the giving of the Spirit (cf Ezekiel 36:24-27; also note Luke 11:13 and Luke's general perspective on the coming of the Spirit and how that coming is linked to the solution to Israel's problem of deep-seated wickedness and unfaithfulness).

Of course, this doesn't mean that every individual in the "visible church" has the indwelling of the Spirit. I think that has to do with "inaugurated eschatology", in that the Spirit has indeed come upon God's people, but perfection still awaits the consummation...

John Owen and Future Justification?

I was reading some John Owen and came across this intriguing reference to future justification, where he seems to distinguish between present and future justification. Given some of the current controversies about future justification, it caught my eye. The context is Owen interacting with Baxter concerning the intention of Christ's death. Owen is arguing that one should distinguish between the right of justification purchased by Christ's death, though justification is not possessed except by faith. Baxter apparently wants to say that the right to justification and its possession are one and the same thing. In the midst of this argumentation Owen seems to bring up the idea of future justification by way of analogy, to bolster his point in distinguishing between right and possession. Here is the quote:
If he shall say, that a right to a future justification at the day of judgment is the same with the possession of present actual justification, it is neither true nor any thing to the business in hand. [from Of the Death of Christ in Works, Vol. 10, p.476]