Reproducing the Image of the Resurrected Christ

The Reformed tradition defines justification as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the acquittal of sin’s guilt. The Spirit imputes Christ’s active and passive obedience to his people by faith alone. And therefore, by justification, God’s people share in Christ’s righteousness, one facet of the glory of the resurrected Christ. Adoption and sanctification also contribute to moving believers from one degree of glory to another. In adoption, believers are received into the family of God and become heirs according to promise. Through sanctification, the power of sin is broken, and they are set apart as holy to the Lord. Throughout the rest of their earthly lives, the Spirit applies the death and resurrection of Christ to them, making them die increasingly to sin and raising them to newness of life. These distinct salvific benefits contribute in particular ways to reproducing the image of the resurrected Christ in each individual believer.


The Premiere Event of Glorification

Bodily resurrection also marks the revealing of the sons of glory and consummates adoption through the redemption of the body (Rom 8:23). Furthermore, sanctification is completed when believers are finally redeemed. They are no longer subject to the struggles of the flesh and are finally and completely confirmed in righteousness. Each of these benefits brings increasing glory to God as his elect progressively take on the form of the man of heaven. They are being conformed to his image, reflecting his glory increasingly as the Spirit applies Christ’s death and resurrection to them. To isolate and quarantine this progress of glory within the bodily resurrection truncates the eschatological glory-dimension of each salvific benefit. Still, bodily resurrection is the premiere event of glorification; it is its capstone.


The Beginning of the General Resurrection of the Saints

As for Paul, his attitude in regard to this matter was from the outset determined by the fact, that he views the resurrection of Christ as the beginning of the general resurrection of the saints. The general resurrection of the saints being an eschatological event, indeed constituting together with the judgment the main content of the eschatological program, it follows that to Paul in this one point at least the eschatological course of events had already been set in motion, an integral piece of “the last things” has become an accomplished fact.


Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ed. Richard B. Gaffin Jr. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001), 92-93.

Indwelling of Christ in our hearts

that joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts—in short, that mystical union—are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed. We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body—in short, because he deigns to make us one with him. For this reason, we glory that we have fellowship of righteousness with him.


John Calvin, Inst 3.11.10

Importance of the Resurrection

Jesus’ death would have been of no avail in fulfilling the ends in view apart from the resurrection.


John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 1, 328-329