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.