Jonathan Edwards: Justified Now because of what God will Do In Us

Dan Fuller (the Unity of the Bible) quotes Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.”

This same Jonathan Edwards quotation shows up in Schreiner’s new little book Run to Win the Prize (p20, 70, 92).

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18 Comments on “Jonathan Edwards: Justified Now because of what God will Do In Us”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Richard Gaffin, p102, By Faith Not by Sight,–“This expression obedience of faith is best taken as intentionally multivalent…In other words, faith itself is an obedience, as well as other acts of obedience that stem from faith.”

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Edwards thinks that the “personal union” between Christ and the elect who are justified (based in part on their future perseverance) means that Christ does in them makes them fit for what Christ did for them, so in the end there will be no “justification of the ungodly”.

    McDermott: “for Edwards,God has decided that at the moment when a person trusts in Christ, that person becomes so really united with Christ’s person, that imputation is not merely legal but based on God’s perception of a new real fact, which is the new moral character of the person called Christ who now includes (by real union) what used to be the sinner.”

    Edwards seems to agree with Osiander (and the early Luther) that the righteousness of Christ which justifies us is not legal foundationally but instead the presence of Christ indwelling our faith.

    the tradition of Jonathan Edwards tends to identify regeneration as the “real union” and also to identify this “application” with the atonement itself. What many Calvinists mean by definite atonement is that the “real union” makes the atonement definite. Thus they make the Spirit’s work to be the real difference instead of Christ’s death.

    Edwards in his book on justification asks “whether any other act of faith besides the first act has any concern in our justification, or how far perseverance in faith, or the continued and renewed acts of faith, have influence in this affair?” When Edwards answers that no other acts are required, Edwards means that works after justification should not be considered separate from the initial act of faith. Edwards thought of perseverance as a part of the original act of saving faith, “the qualification on which the congruity of an interest in the righteousness of Christ depends, or wherein such a fitness consists.”

    By virtue of “union” with Christ, faith —Edwards claims– “is a very excellent qualification” (p. 154), “one chief part of the inherent holiness of a Christian”

    “The act of justification has no regard to anything in the person justified BEFORE THIS ACT. God beholds him only as an ungodly or wicked creature; so that godliness IN the person TO BE justified is not ANTECEDENT to his justification as to be the ground of it” (p. 147)

    justification finds its primary ground “in Christ,” in Christ’s righteousness, and its secondary or derivative ground “in us,” that is, in faith defined as a disposition, as a “habit and principle in the heart” (p. 204).

    Faith AFTER justification, along with the works and love that result from faith, is described as “THAT IN US BY WHICH WE ARE JUSTIFIED” (p. 222 ).


    The rectoral doctrine offers misleading talk of sin being punished, since it denies the transfer of our sins to Christ—there was no sin on the Crucified to perish. the “price paid” metaphor refers to the legal transaction itself, not to the later application (either by God’s imputation or effectual calling or the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration). If there were no specific sinners in view when the “price was paid”, how can there have been punishment?

  4. markmcculley Says:

    ospel Reformation Network Affirmations and Denials

    Article IV – Union with Christ and Sanctification
    • We affirm that both justification and sanctification are distinct, necessary, inseparable and simultaneous graces of union with Christ though faith.
    • We deny that sanctification flows DIRECTLY from justification, or that the transformative elements of salvation are MERE consequences of the forensic elements.

    my questions

    1. Who is the Gospel Reformation Network? Is it a conference of friends who think alike, or does it agree to certain confessions, and does it have ecclesiastical and sacramental authority?

    2. Why is it a problem to deny that “sanctification” flows from justification, as long as “sanctification” result (flows)?

    3. Is the problem that “justification” is defined, but that “sanctification” and “union” are not?

    4. What does “sanctification” mean in Hebrews 10:10-14?

    5. What does “union” mean? Is “union” non-forensic? Is “union” both forensic and non-forensic?

    6. Once you have defined “union”, will you consistently use the word “union” in the way you defined it? Will you be thinking of “union” only as a result “flowing from” faith?

    7. If “faith-union” is a result of faith, and if faith is a result of regeneration, where do faith and regeneration come from?

    8. Is the problem with saying that “sanctification” results from “justification” the fact that we are either justified or we are not? Are we not also either “united to Christ” or not? (Please define “union”. Do you mean “in Christ”? Or do you mean “Christ in us”? Is there a difference in those two phrases? Why do you say “union” when you could be saying “in Christ” and “Christ in us”?)

    9.When you deny that “sanctification” is a “mere consequence” of the forensic, did you mean to deny that “sanctification” is a consequence of the “merely forensic”? What do you have against “merely” or any “sola” which points to Christ’s earned outside righteousness imputed to the elect?

    10. Is the point of the Gospel Reformation Network denial that “union” is not forensic or is the point that it is not “merely forensic”? Is this a question-begging point?

    11. If “sanctification” is “more than” than a “mere consequence”, does that mean that “sanctification” is also more than a result of “union”, so that “sanctification” is in someway identical to “union”, or at least a necessary “condition” for “union”?

    12. Does “union” flow from merely the transformative elements? If union is transformation, and union must come before justification, how is it that God is still justifying the ungodly?

    13. If becoming children of God only means being born again so that we are freed from the power of corruption, what is the need for those who are no longer ungodly to be justified or adopted?

    14. Is “union” a cause or a result of sacramental efficacy? It’s too late now to tell us that the order of application does not matter so much, since you insisted on denying that “justification” was a result of “sanctification”.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Click to access 14-1_mcdermott.pdf

    Gerald R. McDermott, “Jonathan Edwards on Justification: Closer to Luther or Aquinas?,” Reformation & Revival 14, no. 1 (2005): 11, writing in support of the “new perspective”

    from Armstrong’s parachurch (about Armstrong) journal—-

    “Jonathan Edwards’s supreme devotion to Petrus van Mastricht, the late-seventeenth-century Dutch Reformed theologian who was steeped in Suarez, was not without effect. Edwards agreed with Thomas Aquinas -more than with many of his evangelical followers and that faith is inherently related to Christian living,hat justification changes the regenerate soul.”, p 132

    “Edwards would have agreed with the New Perspective that, for Paul, faith and works are not mutually exclusive, and justification has an eschatological (not yet) dimension. We have seen
    that Edwards understood justification as dependent, in one sense, on sanctification (or “perseverance,” as he put it). He also spoke of a two-fold justification, distinguishing between
    the judge’s approbation and the public manifestation of that approbation at the last judgment.”, p 134

    “Faith is not the instrument that gets members attached to the body, but is the act of
    union itself, and so is the badge identifying the members. Since these are members of the person of Christ, they will gradually begin to resemble that person. Any discussion of justification must therefore include both juridical and participationist language…, faith cannot be abstracted from works of love. Edwards suggests that we must eschew false dichotomies between faith and works, imputation and infusion, justification and sanctification, soteriology and ecclesiology.” p 135

    Edwards—Virtues are inner dispositions toward certain goods). The grace of “infusion” is for at least three reasons: 1) it is not an exterior or physical reality of the person but rather an invisible internal reality, 2) it is the effect of God’s indwelling and thus originates outside of the person ), and 3) it is beyond the natural capacities of that person to acquire

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Sproul seems utterly unaware that Finney lauded Edwards as his great model and indignantly identified himself as a Calvinist in the struggle of Calvinism with “low Arminianism,” and deployed precisely the argument Edwards had made on natural and moral ability throughout his great revival campaigns in upstate New York and New York City from 1826 to 1835 (and cited chapter and verse from Freedom of the Will to prove it).

    That Finney had a particularly coarse and brash way of using Edwards is true, but it is also beside the point. Even Finney’s notorious claim that revival was “a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means and not a miracle” was simply to say what Edwards had said about human choices being the right responses to motives. Some of Finney’s other unorthodoxies have similar Edwardsian roots, although there is no account of them here, either.

    Sproul takes no notice of how Edwards’s doctrine in Original Sin has no concept of immediate imputation, nor does he recall that in 1750 Edwards explicitly endorsed Joseph Bellamy’s teaching on unlimited atonement as “the proper Essence and distinguishing Nature of saving Religion.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    John Wesley—“The righteousness of Christ is doubtless necessary for any person that enters into glory. But so is personal holiness, too, for every child of man. The righteousness is necessary to entitle us to heaven, but the personal holiness is necessary to qualify us for heaven. “On the Wedding Garment, works 4:144

    Is Wesley talking about glorification or is Wesley warning about our need to do enough works of obedient faith in order not to lose our justification?

    Jonathan Edwards—“The doctrine of justification by faith alone–does in no wise diminish the necessity of obedience. Man’s salvation is not only indissolubly connected with obedience, and damnation with the lack of obedience….Even in accepting us as entitled to life in our justification, God has respect to our obedience, as that on which the fitness of justification depends, so that our salvation does truly depend on it.” p 236, Justification by Faith

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Jonathan Edwards:—His “infinite” condescension marvelously appeared in the manner of his birth. He was brought forth in a stable because there was no room for them in the inn. The inn was taken up by others, that were looked upon as persons of greater account. The Blessed Virgin, being poor and despised, was turned or shut out. Though she was in such necessitous circumstances, yet those that counted themselves her betters would not give place to her; and therefore, in the time of her travail, she was forced to betake herself to a stable; and when the child was born, it was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. There Christ lay a little infant, and there he eminently appeared as a lamb. But yet this feeble infant, born thus in a stable, and laid in a manger, was born to conquer and triumph over Satan, that roaring lion. He came to subdue the mighty powers of darkness, and make a show of them openly, and so to restore peace on earth, and to manifest God’s good-will towards men, and to bring glory to God in the highest, according as the end of his birth was declared by the joyful songs of the glorious hosts of angels appearing to the shepherds at the same time that the infant lay in the manger; whereby his divine dignity was manifested.
    Excerpted from The Excellency of Christ.

    • markmcculley Says:

      After we are justified through faith, does God then also justify our faith?
      For what reason would our faith need to be justified, after we are justified?
      Our faith is not perfect, which is another way of saying that none of our faith is the righteousness God imputes to us for our justification. God gave us faith, but the object of our faith is not that our faith has been justified. Our faith is not perfect, which is another way of saying that sinners believe the gospel , and sin even in our believing the gospel. And since our faith is not perfect, God does not count our faith as perfect.

      it’s not faith which unites us to Christ. Faith is a result of righteousness imputed.

      on what percentage of our hope is in what Christ did outside us, and what percentage of our hope is in what Christ is now working in us?

      Click to access dispositional-soteriology-george-hunsinger.pdf

      if after we are justified, God then also justifies our works, is this true also of faith? Does God justify our faith?

      For what reason would our works or our faith need to be justified, after we are justified?

      1. our works are not perfect, which is another way of saying, even our works are sins. Our faith is not perfect, which is another way of saying that sinners believe, and sin even in our believng.

      2. We do not need our works or our faith to be justified because we a. are already justified and b. justification of sinners is not by works

      3. so what makes our works and our faith acceptable? Acceptable for what?

      Jonathan Edwards—-Though it be true that the saints are rewarded for their good works, yet it is for Christ’s sake only, and not for the excellency of their works IN THEMSELVES CONSIDERED (p. 213)

      Edwards—Not only higher degrees of glory in heaven, but heaven itself, is in some respect given in reward for holiness, and good works of the saints, in this secondary and derivative sense (p. 215)

      Turretin— if righteousness becomes inherent in us after justification then that righteousnss is no longer another’s righteousness

      Justice is Counting. 1. Christ’s death was offered only for the elect and will count only for the elect. 2. But Christ’s death did not count for the elect all at one time. Christ’s death is imputed by God (not by the sinner, not by the church) to individuals one at a time, both before and after Christ’s death. This view best fits the evidence which says that the elect are both loved and also born under the wrath of God. It fits the evidence that Abraham was not simply tolerated but justified (before his circumcision!)

      The soundbite that “Abraham was saved 2000 years ago when I was saved ” is more misleading than helpful. Christ obtained by His death the justice God imputed to Abraham . Christ by His death justly obtained justice for every last ungodly elect sinner who will ever be counted just by God.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Click to access dispositional-soteriology-george-hunsinger.pdf

    WTJ 66:1 (Spring 2004) p. 111]
    Jonathan Edwards—-Though it be true that the saints are rewarded for their good works, yet it is for Christ’s sake only, and not for the excellency of their works IN THEMSELVES CONSIDERED (p. 213)

    Edwards—Not only higher degrees of glory in heaven, but heaven itself, is in some respect given in reward for holiness, and good works of the saints, in this secondary and derivative sense (p. 215)

    Turretin— if righteousness becomes inherent in us after justification then that righteousnss is no longer another’s righteousness

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Mark Jones–If God is never disappointed in his child’s lack of holiness, then he isn’t actually a very good Father (see Heb. 12), and we are not actually responsible agents in our Christian life….. Duguid presents a misguided view of the Holy Spirit’s goal in our sanctification. She contends that if the Holy Spirit’s “chief work” in sanctification is making us more and more sin-free, “then he isn’t doing a very good job”; after all, she claims there are unbelievers who are “morally superior” to Christians (p. 30). This view makes a mockery of the New Testament’s teaching on the moral difference between Christians and non-Christians (see Col. 1:21-22; Eph. 2:1-10; Rom. 6; 8:1-14), Duiguid’s book contains some rather strange statements, like the following: “If the sovereign God’s primary goal in sanctifying believers is simply to make us more holy, it is hard to explain why most of us make only ‘small beginnings’ on the road to personal holiness in this life” (p. 29).

  11. markmcculley Says:

    Jonathan Edwards “He That Believeth Will be Saved”, Sermons 115 : “We can’t be saved without being good…All whose hearts come to Christ will be good, and if men aren’t good, their hearts never will come to Christ…They whose hearts come to Christ, they are joined to Christ, and so they belong to him and therefore are saved for his sake.”

    Douglas Sweeney, “Justification by Faith Alone?, in Jonathan Edwards and Justification, ed Josh Moody, 2012, Crossway, p 148—-“God requires all His people to cooperate with Him to increase in
    sanctification. They accomplish this, however, as they abide in the
    Lord, letting God govern their hearts and bear divine fruit in their
    lives. For Edwards, there are levels of grace and laurels for the

    Sam Logan highlights how it was becoming a custom, largely through the influence of Edwards’s grandfather and predecessor Solomon Stoddard, to minimize the visibility of God’s saving work and thus relax the criteria for admission to the Lord’s Supper. In effect, the visible connection between justification and sanctification was being severed.

    Sam Logan–The Half-way Covenant, championed by Edwards’ influential grandfather minimized the importance of a holy life as necessary evidence of conversion by allowing unregenerate persons to partake of the Lord’s Supper. When Edwards took over for his grandfather in 1729, he began moving back to a more Puritan practice of stressing the need for visible sanctification. This would mean a direct assault on the growing

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way, p 64 – Cotton professed himself unable to believe it possible for a person to maintain that grace works a condition in him, reveals it, makes a promise to it, and applies it to him, and still not to trust in the work. If a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he would at least be tempted to trust in the right of it to the promise, and he probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work.

    Piper–How then can I say that the judgment of believers will not only be the public declaration of our differing rewards in the kingdom of God, according to our deeds, but will also be the public declaration of our salvation – our entering the kingdom – according to our deeds? The answer is that our deeds will be the public evidence brought forth in Christ’s courtroom to demonstrate that our faith is real. …Several times Paul listed certain kinds of deeds and said, “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In other words, when these deeds are exposed at the judgment as a person’s way of life, they will be the evidence that their faith was not transforming and they will not be saved.” (Future Grace, p 366)

    II Peter 1:1 To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours BY THE RIGHTEOUSNESS of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:…. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall

    Philippians 1: 23 I am pressured by BOTH. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will REMAIN AND CONTINUE with all of you for your PROGRESS and joy in the faith, 26 so that, BECAUSE OF ME, your confidence may GROW in Christ Jesus when I come to you again. 27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ

    Packer, Knowing God, 249—Arminian atonement is like a loaded gun, only potentially explosive, and your act on the trigger is needed to make it happen

    Puritans who advocate “the practical syllogism” read II Peter 1 as teaching that we must add works to our lives in order to gain and maintain assurance. But II Peter 1 teaches that we have to make our calling and election sure in order to even know if our added virtues are acceptable and pleasing to God. We need to think about what gospel it was by which we were called. Were we called by a gospel which conditioned our part in the age to come on God giving us enough virtue? Or were we called by the good news which informs us that we must be accepted by God in Christ’s righteousness before we can do anything good or acceptable to God? We do not maintain our acceptance by obeying the commands of I Peter.

    There are those today who call themselves “hedonists” but who keep scolding us about the need to turn our present lives into purgatory —gratitude is not enough, they saying, because we have to be adding more works of love into the mix.. In some experimental fashion, they “just know” that THEIR works NOW are the evidence of Christ’s work in them. But they do not test their works by the gospel doctrine of righteousness. Before they began working, were they effectually called by the power of the gospel? Or is it the case that the works with which they crowd out the “sola” are still “dead works”?

  13. markmcculley Says:

    1 Peter 1:17 says, “If the father you call upon is the one who judges according to each one’s work, then conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your (earthly) sojourn.

    Piper–Admit that not legalistic moral effort but a change of heart is demanded. To that end we will “be sober unto prayer” (4:7), and girding up our minds (1:13) will direct our attention to the reality of the Lord’s kindness in the living word (2:2, 3; 1:23). Thus by the grace of God we may experience a renewal of hope so that in all sincerity and earnestness (1:22) we can speak and act toward our enemy from a hopeful, humble and loving heart that truly desires his blessedness.

  14. markmcculley Says:

    Williams Evans– Number Ten: You define the “gospel” primarily in terms of freedom from the condemnation of sin (justification) rather than freedom from both the condemnation and the power of sin (justification and sanctification).
    Number Nine: You are much more much more concerned about legalism than antinomianism.
    Number Eight: You view sanctification as a more or less optional add-on to justification (or maybe as an evidence of justification, though you are concerned that even that concession to necessity might be potentially legalistic) rather than as grace parallel to justification that comes with our union with Christ and that is essential to the walk of faith and the path of salvation.
    Number Seven: You sense a tension between the Christ pro nobis (Christ for us) and the Christ in nobis (Christ in us).

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