Book III, Ch. IV
What is the effect of Christ’s death on those for whom he died? It was to sanctify them. He wrought actual sanctification for those for whom he died(Owen 137-138). The heart is purified (read: sanctified) by faith(Acts 15:9). But not everyone has faith(2 Thess. 3:2). Only the elect(Tit. 1:1). This faith is the first step of the sanctification effectually wrought by Christ for the elect. Owen demonstrates this by pointing out that death of Christ is a fulfillment of what was foreshadowed by the animal sacrifices under the Old Covenant, whose purpose it was to cleanse from external defilement in order to prevent ceremonial pollution. It was immediately and automatically efficacious for whom it was offered(Owen 138-139). It sanctified the flesh of the one for whom it was offered(Heb. 9:13). The author of Hebrews uses a lesser-to-greater argument in the next verse, reasoning that if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer, outwardly sanctified the covenant member under the Old Covenant, how much more will the blood of Christ inwardly sanctify the covenant member of the New Covenant. In both cases, the blood of the respective covenant is applied to the one for whom it is offered(Owen 138). Participation in Christ’s death qualifies us to partake of his resurrection(Rom. 6:5, 6, Owen 139). We partake of this death because he was offered up for us. The guilt and bondage of sin are effectually and automatically done away with by means of his death.
Whatever is given to us, is given to us by virtue of what he purchased with his blood, through his death(1 Pet. 1:18, 19, Isa. 53:10)(Owen 141). Did Christ purchase faith by his death? Owen argues that it is part of the nature of he New Covenant, that faith is granted unconditionally to its members(Jer. 31:33, 34; Ezek. 36:26; Heb. 8:10, 11)(Owen 143). To argue that it is by means of our free will that we obtain Christ’s saving benefits through faith, Owen argues, is to make faith the meritorious condition for these things. Grace is therefore, no longer a free gift, but a reward for the performance of a prior act. He also points out that we are chosen in Christ in order that we might be holy(Eph. 1:4)(Owen 144). The purpose of election is to sanctify us, which is the office of the Holy Spirit, who causes us to believe in Christ. We are predestined to salvation by being called to faith(Rom. 8:30)(Owen 144). God causes us to believe by means of his predestination(Acts 13:48) and sends a spirit of stupor on those whom he has not predestined to everlasting life(Rom. 11:7)(Owen 144). It is a specific, definite, select group of people for whom Christ purchased his redemptive benefits. Faith is included in these beneifits(Jer. 31:33, 34; Phil. 1:29; Heb. 8:10-12; Ezek. 36:25-27)(Owen 144-145).
Owen, John. The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007. Print. 137-139, 141, 143-144.