The Object of Faith Both the Person and the Righteousness

I do not know a single person who claims that it is enough to only know about Christ. Every person I know who professes to be a Christian says that we must “believe in” the person identified by the doctrines We all agree that doctrine is not sufficient.

Doctrine vs person doctrine persons are assuming a difference between
doctrine and person which they cannot explain. That “difference” can be deconstructed simply by pointing out that their difference is itself a doctrine.

So all they have is a cheap rhetorical trick: they think if they say FIRST they have the person not the doctrine, then you don’t get to say that what they have is just as much doctrine as anybody else (or that their doctrine is wrong).

But I do not hope for now to cure preachers of indulging in cheap rhetorical tricks. It is not sufficient to know about (and agree with) the deity of Christ to know Christ. But that does not change the fact that it is necessary to know something about the deity of Christ to know the person Christ.

The good news is not simply who Christ is but also what Christ did in obtaining a righteousness.

I am not saying that it is sufficient to know about this. We know that a person who knows that Christ died only for the elect may not be elect. But it is necessary for the elect to know that Christ’s righteousness is His death for the elect alone. This is not a condition of election, since God elected the elect before they knew or believed the gospel.

Christ obtained a righteousness for the elect, not conditioned on the elect’s knowledge of that obtaining of righteousness. But the elect will learn that they need the righteousness which Christ obtained.

Before Christ obtained that righteousness, Abraham knew about that righteousness, and believed unto that righteousness. Romans 4 does not say that Abraham’s faith was a condition for the obtaining of righteousness, but it does teach that Abraham gave evidence of being elect by having faith unto that righteousness.

A person is not justified before God by placing her faith in Jesus, but by the righteousness obtained by Jesus. True faith has as its object the person who obtained a righteousness which is not faith but which is Christ’s death and resurrection. God’s love for His foreknown sheep is election, and Christ’s righteousness is the reason those so loved are given faith in the gospel.

True faith comes by hearing the word of Christ but the word of Christ speaks of what He has ACCOMPLISHED by His sacrifice and His resurrection from the dead. Arminian DOCTRINE sees faith as a contribution man must make, a condition man must fulfill, as something which makes the work of Christ (whatever that is or isn’t!) “real” and “effective” and “sufficient” for the one who meets that condition.

“Faith in the person without faith in the righteousness” is a religion that glorifies and flatters man. It does not demand that the sinner know and submit to the gospel. It does not demand that the sinner repent of all false gospels. It lets every man say for himself if he “knows the person”.

To be seeking justification by the works of the law while claiming to “know the person” is to be under God’s curse. Escape from the curse comes only by the righteousness Christ obtained. There is really no good news apart from the proclamation of of what Christ Jesus DID as the God-man mediator.

Instead of pointing our consciences to the righteousness obtained by Christ which satisfies God’s law, the “person only” doctrine POINT US AWAY FROM THAT RIGHTEOUSNESS. We are told to stop emphasizing the righteousness obtained in order to “know the person”.

The false teachers to the Galatians never said that they were against the righteousness obtained; they only said that it should not be emphasized at the expense of circumcision. Even so, the “person only” folks are not against the righteousness, they say, but only for the person.

When the doctrine vs person doctrine says that a man does not need to know about righteousness obtained in order to know that he is saved, the doctrine being taught is that Christ did not obtain for the elect a knowledge of righteousness obtained.

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5 Comments on “The Object of Faith Both the Person and the Righteousness”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    Johnson is concerned about the “objectification of salvation,” as he puts it. In short, many evangelical reformed-types (a category in which I happily place myself) are in danger of separating the person of Christ from the work of Christ

    Johnson observes, “If the objection to the doctrine of imputation rests on the notion that Christ’s righteousness is transferred mechanically and extrinsically from him to believers–that is, the ‘righteousness of Christ’ is a quality or commodity that can exist apart from Christ’s person–then I believe the objection is legitimate” (p.108). This of course brings to mind the well-known objection from Wright that “it makes no sense whatever to say that the judge imputes, imparts, bequeaths, conveys or otherwise transfers his righteousness to either the plaintiff or the defendant. Righteousness is not an object, a substance or a gas which can be passed across the courtroom.” (2) Johnson’s citation from Calvin, however, is devastating to this caricature: “We do not . . . 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.” (3) That is to say, we have his righteousness because we have him.

    First they say, there is no priority between Christ’s person and Christ’s work

    second they say, you must be united to Christ’s person before you can have the benefit of Christ’s work

    so they have contradicted what they said about person and work

    third I ask, but how can you be united to Christ without first being imputed with the righteousness which Christ obtained by the work of His death?

    how can the holy Christ live in you before you are declared righteous?

    how could the Holy Spirit regenerate you and give you life before you even share in Christ’s death?

    fourth is what is almost never said, well Jesus died for everybody, Jesus has available righteousness enough for everybody

    assumed but not said, election is not about Christ’s death but about who the Holy Spirit chooses to give to so they can exercise faith and then that makes Christ’s death work

    assumed but not said, if the Holy Spirit does not choose to give you faith, you can still be fairly condemned because at least jesus died for everybody including

    so jesus died to make if just for God to damn you?

  2. markmcculley Says:

    tolerant—people are saved by believing and trusting in Christ, and not by believing in a logically consistent, perfectly true set of propositions about Christ. In the background to the above is a distinction between the object of our faith — Christ — and the content of our faith — propositions about Christ. I’ve noticed that you tend to use the terms interchangeably, but they are not actually interchangeable. Propositions are not objects in either 0-order or 1st-order logic.

  3. markmcculley Says:

    Circumcision was NOT a preliminary sign for those in the Abrahamic covenant. Everybody circumcised was by that seal in the Abrahamic covenant.

    But God’s imputation of Christ’s circumcision (His death) and the Father’s gift of the Holy Spirit to Christ, and Christ’s gift of the Holy Spirit to those imputed with His death is the seal for those who have left Adam and who have now come into the NEW COVENANT.

    Galatians 3: 26 for you are all sons of God THROUGH FAITH IN Christ Jesus. 27 For AS MANY OF YOU as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment
    Even though paedos put most of the Jews out of the covenant, they still want to put their own infants in the covenant. But when they do this, do they tell their infants that they are now already children of God through faith? Do they tell their infants that they have already put on Christ? Do they tell every infant in their household that they shall be watered or do they tell every infant in your household that they shall be saved?

  4. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Mahan– The Calvinistic professor stands rigidly in his pulpit of pious
    orthodoxy, daring not to weep lest he be called emotional, daring not
    to laugh lest he be thought frivolous, daring not to call mourners or
    seekers lest he be called a free-willer, daring not to let people know
    him or get close to him lest he lose their respect and awe. Someone
    may find out he is only a sinner saved by grace. Lord, send me an
    Elijah of like passions who will minister to my heart and to my head. The Arminian cheerleader sings joyful hymns, weeps, laughs, rejoices, and calls for men to commit themselves to a movement with no message of hope nor assurance.

    Henry Mahan–
    “Men and women are not going to come to hear you preach the doctrines of grace. But if needy sinners get wind of the fact that you are preaching the grace of Christ, they will give you a hearing. When you only preach to my head in facts so numerous and terms so tedious, you weary me, and forget that I am a human with emotions and a hungry heart! I laugh, I cry, I love, I feel, I sorrow, I doubt, I fear, and I need a minister with whom I can identify in all these, who has the message of God’s mercy; not cold, calculated creeds which ignore these human traits.

    Contrad Murrel had a doctrine that rejected
    doctinral teaching “because it doesn’t put sinners in the dust enough”

    Conrad Murrel –“God raised him from the dead, and exalted Him as
    Lord…This is the gospel set before lost men by the early church…If we attempt to evangelize with lectures on theology, while viciously
    slapping at our Arminian brothers, we should not be surprised when we beget arrogant Calvinists rather than humble Christians..My heart must first be crushed, then enlarged with the awesome revelation that HE DIED FOR ME . INFORMATION on the scarcity of for whom else He died is not very impressive. I alone am responsible for His death. My sins caused him to die.

    Click to access 16-1%20Grace%20and%20Humility.pdf

  5. Mark Mcculley Says:

    Giovanni-The false gospel teaches that God just wants you to believe, and then Jesus will make up for your failures of belief even when you don’t believe.

    It treats the act of believing as a threshold, the touching of which is measured by some undefined, minimal criteria (usually “Jesus is God” or Jesus is my savior”). The content of the belief is secondary, if not tertiary to the act of “believing.” In some ways, the false gospel presents the act of believing [the false gospel] as the one righteous act that man can do. To the extent that man is not righteous, his sincerity makes the act of believing righteous, or at least acceptable as a basis to exchange eternal life.

    But this approach betrays a misunderstanding about both the nature and purpose of “believing.”

    First, believing is  something that requires understanding of the object of faith FIRST. One cannot “believe” what they don’t first understand, which means that this sort of doctrine is simply teaching people to believe whatever they want and that the act of deluding themselves is actually what God wants (or is the bare minimum He wants) to do God’s  job.

     It’s almost like getting a new puppy to complete his first trick “come on, that’s it, you can do it…[poorly executes]…yay you did it.” It’s almost like they think they need to give God something He can work with and that He will take care of the rest.

    These positions both deny the benefits of believing the TRUTH. The TRUTH, which must be revealed and cannot be believed by the unconverted, provides the scriptural basis for assurance of salvation. Believing the gospel is not found in checking off a checklist or a set of criteria per se. Rather, believing the gospel is a benefit which Christ purchased by His death on the cross. The elect believe what they believe as a RESULT of what God has done, not in exchange or in conditional hope for God to do something.

    Further issue is with the purpose of believing. Fallen man looks at the act of believing as a quid pro quo transaction-I will believe in exchange for eternal life. This false belief is common amongst those who call themselves “Christians.” They see “believing” as a command that they must follow in trade for eternal life. This is why they are perpetually discussing whether someone “has to” believe something, or whether any point of doctrine is a “gospel issue.” The phrase “gospel issue” (found nowhere in the text) is  a made up term that stems directly from this type of mercenary logic.  It’s almost like bartering .

     The purpose of belief is not to trade. It is to hear and accept God’s pronouncement of what He has done and rejoice! The gospel believer doesn’t see the gospel as a list of different issues which can be negotiated. The gospel believer sees the gospel is an inextricable whole, where it’s content is a woven thread, rather than a checklist.

    As a believer, I don’t really read the Bible looking for what is gospel v. not gospel and then measuring what I believe to see if I believe the gospel. Instead, I look at the text as the whole counsel of God. I believe everything in that text BECAUSE it is God’s counsel, not because issue “X” is a “gospel issue” and issue “Y” is not.  Yes,  there are distinctions between what is gospel and what is not, but I’m never looking for the “bare minimum gospel.”
    God doesn’t give the law as gospel, and yet the law is indispensable from a correct understanding of the whole counsel of  God. Likewise, the gospel is not the law, and yet the content of the gospel is part of what all men are commanded to believe about God.

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