All of us come to God at one point or another for some sort of help; we have a need, problem, guilt, angst, or longing we think he might be able to deal with. Some of us find it and some don’t. The difference between the Christian and the seeker who eventually walks away is whether we come to see, as Calvin put it, that there is no benefit from God that isn’t attached to Christ, “as if he alone did not contain all things in himself.”
In order to show the futility of such thinking Calvin’s comments expansively on 1 Corinthians 1:30 (“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,righteousness and sanctification and redemption”) and demonstrates that the sum of our salvation–our righteousness, wisdom, holiness, and redemption–are only had in Christ. Christ does not simply give these differing elements to us as separate gifts, but rather, he gives us himself, he unites us to his glorious person and in him we have and become all of these things. They are not infused from without or accounted to us in an external, extrinsic fashion, but are made ours because we have been knit by the Spirit through faith into Christ’s living body:
- First, he is made unto us wisdom, by which he means, that we obtain in him an absolute perfection of wisdom, inasmuch as the Father has fully revealed himself to us in him, that we may not desire to know any thing besides him. There is a similar passage in Colossians 2:3: “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Of this we shall have occasion to speak afterwards when we come to the next chapter.
- Secondly, made unto us righteousness, by which he means that we are on his account acceptable to God, inasmuch as he expiated our sins by his death, and his obedience is imputed to us for righteousness. For as the righteousness of faith consists in remission of sins and a gracious acceptance, we obtain both through Christ.
- Thirdly, he calls him our sanctification, by which he means, that we who are otherwise unholy by nature, are by his Spirit renewed unto holiness, that we may serve God. From this, also, we infer, that we cannot be justified freely through faith alone without at the same time living holily. For these fruits of grace are connected together, as it were, by an indissoluble tie, so that he who attempts to sever them does in a manner tear Christ in pieces. Let therefore the man who seeks to be justified through Christ, by God’s unmerited goodness, consider that this cannot be attained without his taking him at the same time for , or, in other words, being renewed to innocence and purity of life. Those, however, that slander us, as if by preaching a free justification through faith we called men off from good works, are amply refuted from this passage, which intimates that faith apprehends in Christ regeneration equally with forgiveness of sins...
- Fourthly, he teaches us that he is given to us for redemption, by which he means, that through his goodness we are delivered at once from all bondage to sin, and from all the misery that flows from it. Thus redemption is the first gift of Christ that is begun in us, and the last that is completed. For the commencement of salvation consists in our being drawn out of the labyrinth of sin and death; yet in the meantime, until the final day of the resurrection, we groan redemption, (as we read in Romans 8:23.) If it is asked in what way Christ is given to us for redemption, I answer — “Because he made himself a ransom.”
Calvin concludes that in the end, “we must seek in Christ not the half, or merely a part, but the entire completion. For Paul does not say that he has been given to us by way of filling up, or eking out righteousness, holiness, wisdom, and redemption, but assigns to him exclusively the entire accomplishment of the whole.” This is why we place our faith in Christ alone. God can deal with our issues, but he does it through Christ. The Christian is the one who looks to Christ and finally confesses with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68)
In Christ it’s all there.
Soli Deo Gloria