Faith that I have Been Justified, or Faith as a Lost Person Needing Justification?

Faith in the gospel, being the immediate result of imputation, is involved in justification, and it needs to be there or the person is not yet justified. 2. This leads to a question: faith in what? Is it faith that the righteousness has been imputed to me? NO. Since faith is a result (not a cause or condition) of the imputation, that cannot be.

If you wait to believe the gospel until you know that you have been justified, you will never believe the gospel. So this is where the “in order to be” comes in.

I know that nobody is justified unless they believe the gospel, I also know that believing the gospel is NOT the cause or condition of justification, therefore I know that I am not believing the gospel yet, and that I am not yet justified, so I believe the gospel.

I believe in what? Not in my believing. And yet some who teach eternal justification (Gill) say that, as long as I explain it this way, believing cannot help being the condition, and my assurance will be partly in my believing.

In my experience it’s the eternal justifications folks who lack assurance. They only wish they knew if Jesus died for them.  Though they can talk about the elect in general, they seem to never know if it’s true for them. But the Bible does NOT teach the idea of a justification for all the elect at the same time..

1. Assurance involves knowing that you have believed the gospel.
2. Lots of “experimental Calvinists” don’t think you can know—the evidence of works is never in yet and so they are always on probation.

We know if we don’t believe and we know if we do believe.  When I was “lost Calvinist”, it wasn’t a matter of finding out I was not sincere or that I did not really believe. I learned a different gospel. I believed in a different God.

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30 Comments on “Faith that I have Been Justified, or Faith as a Lost Person Needing Justification?”

  1. David Bishop Says:

    In other words, Adam knew that he knew.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Patrick, I don’t know about the “contra Gill” part for tonight, and also I would like to know how you define “faith” so that I would know if we are even on the same page there. But it seems undeniable to me that a great many texts in the Bible (not only in Ephesians 2 or Romans 3-5) speak of justification by faith or justification through faith. The mainstream tends to think this means that faith is the cause or condition of justification. But it’s important to deny that without over-reacting and denying or ignoring the fact that faith is involved in justification as a necessary result. (Again, I think we agree that faith is assent to the propositions of the gospel, and not assent to some subjective notion that I know that I am elect or already justified)

    Some folks are so unhappy with the idea that faith is a condition that also deny that faith is the human act of believing, when the human’s will has been changed by God’s grace.. (Here I am talking about friends, people who taught me the gospel.)

    I too deny that faith is an instrumental condition before justification. But read Gal 2:16, 3:22; Romans
    3:22,26; Phil 3:9; Ephesians 3:12. When I look at all the texts together, I cannot deny that faith often means the human act of believing.

    Faith does not only mean “not works”. Often in key gospel texts, (like Romans 3 -5), faith refers to an individual elect person hearing, understanding, and believing the gospel.

    Here’s the question. Is Christ the subject or object of faith? The view I oppose says we should read all these verses as saying, “Christ’s faith.” Some of the Reformed people who say this remind us that God gives us faith, that God is the source of faith.

    Of course I agree that faith is God’s gift to the elect. But Christ does not believe for us. Christ makes us both able and willing to believe the gospel so that we do believe the gospel. Christ indwelling in us does not believe, and so I disagree with Primitive Baptists who deny that the elect need to hear or understand or believe the gospel.

    But many who agree with me that the elect need to believe the gospel still insist that “faith” in these texts means “Christ’s faith”, either in the sense that He is the source of my faith, or in the sense of Christ Himself believing. But no other texts refer to the act of Christ believing, unless these texts do.

    James 2:1 tells us, “show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” I think that Christ is the object of faith, and that our faith is in/toward Christ and not toward His act of believing.

    Romans 3:25,26. “God put forward Christ as a propitiation by his blood to show God’s righteousness, to be received by faith.” (Most of) my friends who would read Rom 3:22 as teaching the faith of Christ will agree that the receiving here is the human act of believing.

    Yes, God is faithful to His law and to His righteousness, and therefore just, but also God does not justify all sinners, but only of those sinners who have faith in Christ and His propitiation. This language no more makes faith the condition of salvation than does John 3:16.

    God does not love everybody. God only loves the elect, and the elect are identified as those who believe the gospel. In John 3:16 “world” does not mean everybody, and God does not love everybody. There is no reason not to talk about election in John 3 or Romans 3, but also there is no reason not to talk about “as many as” believe the gospel.

    Some Reformed people, to avoid making faith a condition of
    salvation, tell us that the continual faith in the gospel by the elect is a work. They do this in order to prove that the elect are saved not by believing but by the work of Christ.

    For example, Harold Camping quotes John 6:28-28, “ What shall we do to do the works of God? “ Jesus answered and said unto them, “This is the work of God, that ye believe in Him whom He has sent.” Then Camping quotes Phil 2:13, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

    Then Camping goes to James about faith working and then says this proves that our human act of believing is no part of salvation. He claims that it’s Christ’s faith that saves. The logic is clear. The elect are saved by Christ’s work. And then Camping says that Christ’s faith is Christ’s work.

    II Peter 1:1,“ To those who have obtained faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

    Romans 4:24-25 “IT will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised up for our justification.”

    1. Christ and His death are the IT. Faith is not the IT. Christ and His death are the object of faith. But Christ and His death are the IT credited by God.

    2. We can distinguish but never separate His person and work. Also we can distinguish but never separate his death and his resurrection.

    3. God counts according to truth. God counts righteousness as righteousness! a. The righteousness counted as righteousness is not our righteousness (not our acts of faith) but Christ’s death legally “transferred” to us when Christ legally marries us, so that what is His is still His but now ours also. b. Justification is not simply the righteousness, but the righteousness imputed in time to the elect.


    • That was a long comment arguing against position(s) I don’t hold.

      Let me be more specific in my questions: How is faith an “immediate result” of justification?

      You also claim that “it needs to be there or the person is not yet justified.” Gill explained verses about “justification by faith” by describing how through belief in the gospel, one receives or puts on the garment of justification — a justification which has existed from eternity. Can you demonstrate from Scripture why your opinion is right, and why Gill is wrong?

  3. markmcculley Says:

    1. Everything is related to everything else. So it is important for me to know what you think faith is. If you agree that faith is the human act of believing (as it seems you do), then we can begin there. But if you didn’t agree with that, we would have to back up and talk about that.

    2. It seems to me that you need to make a distinction between the righteousness obtained by Christ and what happens after that righteousness is imputed. a. The death and resurrection of Christ is not “justification” but the righteousness. b. Roman 4 and Gal 3 are clear that there is both imputation and faith when a person is justified. I would like to hear if you think that what I have written about Romans 3:25-26 is in any way wrong. c. It’s also clear that faith is not the righteousness. The object of faith is the righteousness. Christ and His work are the righteousness. d. But since it also clear that faith is involved, either that faith is a result or a cause. So what are you objecting to? I can’t think that you would be saying that faith is a cause. So you must agree that it’s a result. So is your objection to the idea that the regeneration and faith are IMMEDIATE results?

    3. It may be as simple as you begging the question. You think that the righteousness has existed from before the ages. I don’t. I think the elect have been loved in Christ from before the creation, but I don’t think Christ had obtained the righteousness until he earned it by His incarnate obedience even to death. So I am asking you? Do you have a problem with that? Do you think the righteousness which is imputed is the inherent righteousness of Christ that He has always had? I really am not trying to argue with you here, or to put words in your mouth. I am trying to understand your objection. Is it as simply as you equating the plan for Christ to obtain a righteousness for His elect with the actual obtaining of that righteousness?

    Abraham was justified by that righteousness, before that righteousness was obtained, because God imputed that righteousness to Abraham. Romans 4 seems clear about that, and you cannot and should not leave faith out of that.


    • I think you’re trying to guess my motive for asking the questions, instead of just answering the questions. It’s clarity I want, not an argument.

      1. The word ‘faith’ can be either objective or subjective. Used subjectively, it refers to the person’s act of believing. Used objectively, it refers to the propositions believed.

      2. Christ earned righteousness for us by His life and death. This righteousness is imputed to us, as our sin is imputed to Him.

      2a. Ok.

      2b. Are you referring to when you stated that “faith” refers to the act of the believer, not the act of Christ? If so, I agree with you, unless I missed something.

      2c. Dunno if I’d word it like that, but ok.

      2d. Faith is not the cause of justification, imputation of righteousness, nor is it righteousness itself. I’m also not objecting that where faith is, imputation is as well. I’m asking, how is faith an immediate result of imputation? I do not believe they are related in this way; one does not logically immediately flow from the other. You still haven’t answered the question.

      3. What question am I begging? I’ve stated that I agree with Gill’s position on Justification from Eternity. You’ve said that you are familiar with his position. What do you do with Revelation 13:8? If Christ was slain from eternity, our sins must have been imputed to Him. So are you saying that we existed in a neutral state until Christ came and lived and died and rose in time? What about OT saints? Did they not have Christ’s righteousness imputed to them, because He had not earned it yet, or what? Apparently you don’t think so, because you admit that God imputed the righteousness (that didn’t apparently exist yet) to Abraham. So which is it? Did the righteousness by which we are justified exist before Christ came in time, or did it exist in the mind of God from eternity, since God is outside of time (thus, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth)? Make up your mind.

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Faith is a result of life (regeneration). Life is a result of righteousness imputed. Romans 8:10. Therefore, faith is a result of righteousness imputed. II Peter 1:1. Question answered.

    Galatians 3: adoption, then life.You say that you are not objecting to the idea that where faith is, imputation is. But if that so, and if you are not making faith a condition or cause of the righteousness, then you must be objecting to the immediate life. You must be saying that a time-lag between righteousness and life is possible.

    I am not at all asking about your motives. I am asking if you believe in eternal justification. You could have simply answered that question. Sure, you would agree, if imputation of the righteousness is eternal, somewhere along the line, there will be faith. But you seem to want to leave open the possibility that, where there is imputation, they may be no life.

    Clarify if I don’t understand what you are saying. Remember that I have several essays on this blog, not only objecting to the idea of a timeless justification, but also positively talking about the justification of Abraham before he was circumcised.

    Btw, I am grateful that we agree that faith is a human exercise, and that we agree that this faith is not the righteousness.

    Simply because we don’t agree doesn’t mean that I haven’t answered or understood the question. In several answers and essays, I have taken the position that God imputed the righteousness to Abraham before Christ earned it. What possible alternative could you have to that? Either you deny that Abraham was justified at that time, or you deny that Christ earned the righteousness in history. I suppose you could be like Camping and say that the “real” propitiation and obtaining of the righteousness was before history started and that the incarnation and physical death were mere “demonstrations” of that.

    But I have no desire to impute to you any position or logic that you do not hold. Do you equate the decree to justify with justifying itself? You need to make up your mind on this. I have said clearly that God imputed the righteousness before Christ earned it. You can disagree with that, but there’s no way to say that I haven’t made up my mind about the question.

    Do you want to say that the righteousness existed in the mind of God before Christ earned it? That to me is the same as equating the plan to glorify the elect with a glorification of the elect before history started. If that’s your position, I reject the unbiblical philosophy you have about God not being able to tell time, and not being able to act in time.

    Yes, the new birth is God’s act in the sinner, and thus in time. But that does not prove that the act of imputing guilt and righteousness in God’s mind to sinners is something timeless (or before time, make up your mind which).


  5. “Faith is a result of life (regeneration). Life is a result of righteousness imputed. Romans 8:10. Therefore, faith is a result of righteousness imputed. II Peter 1:1. Question answered.”

    Great. Except that’s mediate, not immediate.

    “You say that you are not objecting to the idea that where faith is, imputation is. But if that so, and if you are not making faith a condition or cause of the righteousness, then you must be objecting to the immediate life. You must be saying that a time-lag between righteousness and life is possible.”

    Only in the sense that justification is from eternity (as we have discussed elsewhere), and that regeneration happens in time.

    “I am asking if you believe in eternal justification. You could have simply answered that question.”

    I am honestly confused by this. Isn’t that why you contacted me in the first place? I thought I had made it clear very early that I agreed with Gill’s view of justification from eternity.

    “Sure, you would agree, if imputation of the righteousness is eternal, somewhere along the line, there will be faith. But you seem to want to leave open the possibility that, where there is imputation, they [sic] may be no life.”

    I don’t know how you’re getting that, unless you’re talking about my belief that justification (and imputation) is from eternity, and regeneration happens in time. I by no means claim that an elect person, having Christ’s righteousness imputed to him, and his sins imputed to Christ, can go through his whole life unregenerate and unbelieving.

    “In several answers and essays, I have taken the position that God imputed the righteousness to Abraham before Christ earned it. What possible alternative could you have to that? Either you deny that Abraham was justified at that time, or you deny that Christ earned the righteousness in history. I suppose you could be like Camping and say that the “real” propitiation and obtaining of the righteousness was before history started and that the incarnation and physical death were mere “demonstrations” of that.”

    I don’t deny that Abraham had Christ’s righteousness imputed to him before Christ came to die. I hold to eternal justification, remember?

    “Do you equate the decree to justify with justifying itself? You need to make up your mind on this.”

    Justification itself IS a declaration of God, residing in His eternal mind. He doesn’t say, “I declare that in the future I will declare Patrick to be just.” He simply declares it, eternally, in His unchanging mind. I haven’t wavered from this position since I first met you, so I don’t know why you’re telling me to make up my mind.

    “I have said clearly that God imputed the righteousness before Christ earned it. You can disagree with that, but there’s no way to say that I haven’t made up my mind about the question.”

    I. Don’t. Disagree.

    “Do you want to say that the righteousness existed in the mind of God before Christ earned it? That to me is the same as equating the plan to glorify the elect with a glorification of the elect before history started.”

    You wish to claim two contradictory things: First, that Christ’s righteousness did not exist in the mind of God prior to Christ’s life on earth. Second, God imputed Christ’s righteousness to Abraham before Christ’s life on earth. Either the righteousness existed in God’s mind, or it didn’t.

    As for me, yes, I do say that Christ’s righteous life has existed in God’s mind eternally (which is different from saying “before Christ earned it.”) And, it is not the same as equating the plan to glorify, with glorification itself. God is eternal and unchanging; we are created beings, with time being a function of our minds.

    “If that’s your position, I reject the unbiblical philosophy you have about God not being able to tell time, and not being able to act in time.”

    I never said either of those things.

    “Yes, the new birth is God’s act in the sinner, and thus in time. But that does not prove that the act of imputing guilt and righteousness in God’s mind to sinners is something timeless (or before time, make up your mind which).”

    I know that A does not prove B. I never said it did. I happen to believe both A & B are true, but I never tried to prove one by the other. Also, there is no such thing as “before time.” Did I ever say there was? Why are you telling me to make up my mind?

    Look, I really have ZERO interest in arguing about any of this with you, or trying to convince you of my views. If you want to disagree, you go right ahead and do so. You popped up on facebook and began asking me tons of questions about my views, which I have tried my best to answer. You spammed my wall with about ten of your own blog posts, which I actually took the time to read, and commented on a few asking questions TO CLARIFY, NOT TO ARGUE.

    If you want to ask me questions about what I believe, fine! If you have a problem with something I said on my blog, fine, comment on it there. But don’t tell me to “make up my mind” on things I haven’t even said, and stop putting me on the defensive as if I’m seeking an argument with you. I frankly don’t care if you agree or not.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    “Sure, you would agree, if imputation of the righteousness is eternal, somewhere along the line, there will be faith. But you seem to want to leave open the possibility that, where there is imputation, there may be no life.”

    I don’t know how you’re getting that, unless you’re talking about my belief that justification (and imputation) is from eternity, and regeneration happens in time. I by no means claim that an elect person, having Christ’s righteousness imputed to him, and his sins imputed to Christ, can go through his whole life unregenerate and unbelieving.

    mark: Thanks, Patrick, for the clarification that you think the justified elect will believe the gospel before they die. So your view is that where there is imputation (before the ages), there may be no regeneration yet, but there will be one day, and that before the justified elect person dies.

    “In several answers and essays, I have taken the position that God imputed the righteousness to Abraham before Christ earned it. What possible alternative could you have to that? Either you deny that Abraham was justified at that time, or you deny that Christ earned the righteousness in history.

    patrick: I don’t deny that Abraham had Christ’s righteousness imputed to him before Christ came to die. I hold to eternal justification, remember?

    mark: But the question is about if Christ earned that righteousness in time. The question is about if you equate election with the atonement, so that if election is before the ages, then the atonement must also before the ages. Of course you can (like Gill) qualify this, by saying in two senses, so there is the one Platonic systematic sense, where there is no before and after to the propitiation in history, and then there is “another sense”, which is the way the Bible sounds, but your mind knows that that is not the way God’s mind really works, so the “second sense” is only in our conscience.

    “Do you equate the decree to justify with justifying itself? You need to make up your mind on this.”

    patrick:Justification itself IS a declaration of God, residing in His eternal mind. He doesn’t say, “I declare that in the future I will declare Patrick to be just.” He simply declares it, eternally, in His unchanging mind. I haven’t wavered from this position since I first met you, so I don’t know why you’re telling me to make up my mind.

    mark: thank you for the answer, and sorry for the way I dealt with your declaration. You have indeed been unwavering in your identification of the decree/plan to declare the elect righteousness with the actual declaration of that righteousness. I so much disagree with your idea, that it seems I even found it incredible that you would be saying it. But as you say, clearly you were saying it.

    So when Romans 4 says that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, then according to your idea, we should say 1. of course he was, since all the elect were justified before they were born, and before circumcision was even commanded. and 2. in terms of this counting the years between Gen 12/15 and chapter 17, that is not the real and objective “justification” in God’s mind, but only a “second sense” that is taking place in Abraham’s conscience. (See the Gill study Bible for the particulars)

    “I have said clearly that God imputed the righteousness before Christ earned it. You can disagree with that, but there’s no way to say that I haven’t made up my mind about the question.”

    patrick: You wish to claim two contradictory things: First, that Christ’s righteousness did not exist in the mind of God prior to Christ’s life on earth. Second, God imputed Christ’s righteousness to Abraham before Christ’s life on earth. Either the righteousness existed in God’s mind, or it didn’t.

    mark: This is very much like saying that the elect existed in God’s mind before they were born or existed on earth. Either they were already created, or they were never created. I know I say that as if were self-evidently incorrect, but I realize that you wouldn’t think so. It does seem to me that this system seriously undermines the “reality” of Christ’s incarnation and obedient death. I Tim 3:16–He was vindicated. There was a before and a after. I Cor 15: He became life-giving Spirit. But you won’t allow that kind of biblical language to challenge your metaphysics. If Christ has not always been the life-giving Spirit, then He will never be the life-giving Spirit. That’s what your system would say if it’s consistent. And I guess you do say it, because it seems you are consistent. Christ must have always been resurrected, because if Christ has not always been resurrected, then Christ will never be resurrected. Christ was under the wrath of God forever, and will always will under the wrath of God forever, because God is timeless and Christ is timeless and the death is timeless. And so on.

    Patrick: I do say that Christ’s righteous life has existed in God’s mind eternally (which is different from saying “before Christ earned it.”)

    mark: How is it different? What does it matter if it’s different? Do you want to have your cake and eat it also? If it’s to be earned, how can it already exist? I am not looking for “common sense”. I am looking for the sense of Scriptures like the letter to the Hebrews.

    Patrick: And, it is not the same as equating the plan to glorify, with glorification itself. God is eternal and unchanging; we are created beings, with time being a function of our minds.

    mark: Saying that the eternal plan to glorify is not the finished deed of glorification is correct. But then you would have to explain the difference. And it will not be enough to simply say that glorification is something God does in us, whereas justification is something that God declares about us. Surely true, but how is the plan to do something (for example, earn the righteousness) the same as doing something in history? I think you have not defined how it is that God is unchanging. I am not sure that Plato or Gill can tell you how it is that the immutability of God can allow for God’s incarnation. Perhaps that is because Plato and Gill have human minds which cannot explain how the divine mind is not like the human mind.


    • “…your mind knows that that is not the way God’s mind really works, so the “second sense” is only in our conscience.”

      In Him we live and move and have our being.

      “So when Romans 4 says that Abraham was justified before he was circumcised, then according to your idea, we should say 1. of course he was, since all the elect were justified before they were born, and before circumcision was even commanded. and 2. in terms of this counting the years between Gen 12/15 and chapter 17, that is not the real and objective “justification” in God’s mind, but only a “second sense” that is taking place in Abraham’s conscience.”

      You’re twisting the position. Nobody said that Abraham’s justification in Romans 4 wasn’t real. If you have an issue with Gill’s explanation, how about you demonstrate how he is wrong, by Scripture, instead of trying to make him say something he doesn’t.

      It seems that you do not understand the difference between eternity and “forever past and future, aka endless time.” You seem to want to place God entirely in time. You use phrases like “before the ages”… there is no “before the ages” because that would imply time before time, which is nonsense.

      “Saying that the eternal plan to glorify is not the finished deed of glorification is correct. But then you would have to explain the difference. And it will not be enough to simply say that glorification is something God does in us, whereas justification is something that God declares about us.”

      The difference is that glorification is something that is done to temporal beings in the course of their temporal existence. Justification is a thought, a position, a declaration in the mind of God. Neither I, nor Gill, denied the temporal aspect of justification. Gill simply picked up on the logical necessity of a justification from eternity, from which flows all temporal justification, etc. You may not be satisfied with the answer, but you can’t simply reject it without showing how it’s wrong.

      “surely true, but how is the plan to do something (for example, earn the righteousness) the same as doing something in history?”

      I never said that God’s plan for Christ to live and die is the same as His living and dying. Gill dealt with that exact accusation. I am convinced that if you did indeed read Gill’s treatise, you did not understand it.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Patrick: It seems that you do not understand the difference between eternity and “forever past and future, aka endless time.” You seem to want to place God entirely in time. You use phrases like “before the ages”… there is no “before the ages” because that would imply time before time, which is nonsense.

    mark: You are correct that I do not understand the difference. Gill (and you) constantly beg the question by assuming the difference, but without defining the difference. Of course you can retreat and say that you can’t explain the difference because you are entirely in time but God is not, but so far you have failed to give even one Bible text which would support your position that there is a thing called “eternity” and which is “timeless”.

    It’s not me who put the idea of the “ages” in the Scriptures. Now you can simply continue to translate age to come as “eternity” or you can begin to question what it is you mean by “eternity”. If “eternity” is that which is neither before nor after the ages, and if “eternity” is also “now”, then you need to think through what you mean by “eternal life”. Does it mean that the elect always existed? Haven’t the non-elect always “existed in God’s mind”?

    I agree that an eternity before time is nonsense. That’s why I don’t talk the way you do.

  8. markmcculley Says:

    Jude 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before the ages and now and after the ages. Amen.

    or if you prefer tradition: to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before eternity and eternity now and eternity future. Amen.

    Ephesians 2:7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

    II Timothy 1:9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

    Romans 16:25-26 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the God of the ages, to bring about the obedience of faith—

    or if you prefer tradition, Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for eternity but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the ages, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–
    1

    Titus 1:22 in the hope of age to come life that God, who never lies, promised before the ages began—

    or if you prefer tradition–in the hope of eternity that God, who never lies, promised before eternity began—

    I Corinthians 10:11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

    I Corinthians 2:7 But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

    Hebrews 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also created the ages

    • markmcculley Says:

      Dabney: Some infer: Since all God’s thoughts are ever equally present with Him, he can have no succession of His consciousnesses; and so, no relation to successive time. But the analysis is false and would not prove the conclusion as to God, if correct. …

      In all the acts and changes of creatures, the relation of succession is actual and true. Now, although God’s knowledge of these as it is subjective to Him, is unsuccessive [I take him to mean here that God does not first learn about them as the creature thinks and acts these changes — author], yet it [his knowledge] is doubtless correct, i.e. true to the objective facts. But these [the objective facts] have actual succession. So that the idea of successive duration must be in God’s thinking.

    • markmcculley Says:

      Nicholas Wolterstorff — If a being is truly timeless, it should be impossible for it to exist simultaneously with anything else, or before anything else, or after anything else. Ascriptions to God of timelessness (understood as the absence of a divine consciousness of successive duration with respect to his own existence) cannot be supported from Scripture nor is it self-consistent. It is a fallacious inference from Scripture.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Gill, The Doctrine of Justification: And now, that it may appear that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, observe,

    1. That we are in our own persons ungodly, who are justified, for God justifieth the ungodly; (Rom. 4:5) if ungodly, then without a righteousness, as all Adam’s posterity are; and if without a righteousness, then if we are justified, it must he by some righteousness imputed to us, or placed to our account; which can be no other than the righteousness of Christ.

    2. We are justified either by an inherent, or by an imputed righteousness; not by an inherent one, because that is imperfect, and nothing that is imperfect can justify us. Besides, this is a righteousness within us, whereas the righteousness by which we are justified is a righteousness without us; it is unto all, and upon all them that believe. (Rom. 3:22) And, if we are not justified by an inherent righteousness, then it must be by an imputed one, because there remains no other.

    3. The righteousness by which we are justified is not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of another, even the righteousness of Christ: That I may be found in Christ, says the apostle, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ. (Phil. 3:9) Now, the righteousness of another cannot be made ours, or we he justified by it, any other way than by an imputation of it.

    4. The same way that Adam’s sin becomes ours, or we are made sinners by it, the same way Christ’s righteousness becomes ours, or we are made righteous by it. Now, Adam’s sin becomes ours by imputation, and so does Christ’s righteousness, according to the apostle: As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so, by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous.

    5. The same way that our sins became Christ’s, his righteousness becomes ours. Now our sins became Christ’s by imputation only; the Father laid them on him by imputation, and he took them to himself by voluntary susception; they were placed to his account, and he looked upon himself as answerable to justice for them. Now, in the same way his righteousness becomes ours: For he, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Corinthians 5:21.

  10. markmcculley Says:

    if you are justified, you are forgiven of your sins before you ask, and even if you don’t ask. This is not saying it’s wrong to ask, but in our ‘confession”, we agree with God (against ourselves) not only about our sins but also about the gospel..

    Benjamin Keach, The Marrow of True Justification: The Biblical Doctrine of Justification Without Works, Solid Ground Books, Birmingham, Alabama USA, 2007, p 80—”None have an evangelical righteousness, but those who are justified before they have it. Christ is our legal righteousness by a proper imputation of His righteousness to us, and only then is our evangelical righteousness also.

    “Once we are justified, we need not inquire how a man is justified after he is justified. God has not appointed this personal evangelical righteousness, in order to our Justification before Him. By that righteousness of Christ which is out of us, though imputed to us, the Justice of God is satisfied; therefore all Works done by us, or inherent in us, are excluded in our Justification before God.”

    Paul Helm–Justification is not a mere threshold blessing; something which applies to people at their conversion and not subsequently. It is operative at all times, an, objective, perfect, judicial death of Christ, which is complete that is the ground of Christian assurance. So there is a sense in which the JUSTIFIED SINNER never leaves the law-court in which the judge declares them righteous for Christ’s sake. We need that declaration of forgiveness always to stand, and never to be relegated into something over and done with, or requiring to be supplemented by some other righteousness God now works in us. The one declaration of justification, grounded in Christ’s righteousness, must be enough o carry the believer to the final judgment and to vindicate us there. Once justified, always justified. A justification that requires in addition a faithful life makes no sense and gives no joy.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    There is not only “justification”. There is also Christ’s righteousness. God justifies elect sinners by legally sharing with them Christ’s righteousness. No imputation of Christ’s righteousness (Christ’s death), no justification of elect sinners. Without the righteousness being imputed, we are left with an “as if” version of justification. Saying that our faith is the righteousness is also an “as if” version of justification. But saying that Abraham was justified but that there was no righteousness of Christ to impute yet also results in an “as if” (pretend) version of justification. God justifies elect sinners according to truth. And the elect born after Abraham are born in condemnation, and need to be justified by God, and this does not happen until God’s imputes Christ to them so that they hear and believe the gospel. Like Abraham did.

  12. markmcculley Says:

    Is the message “you are justified” or is it “you might be already justified”? If the preacher takes this message to the prison and says “ej, you are justified and you are always were”. on what basis does the preacher give that message? The Bible does not ever say “ej was born justified”. The gospel does not say—you are elect. The gospel does not say–you are justified.

    ej–They might not even know at first if Christ has died for them, nevertheless they hope in the cross.

    mark: is this “hope in the cross” something like faith in the cross? if not, how is it different? If the message can’t tell them that they are already justified, what is this “hope” and how is it different than “believing the gospel”?

    ej—That is, seeking and hoping one is justified, not by works but by clinging to what Jesus did at the cross for His people.

    mark: and how is this “seeking and hoping” different than faith in the gospel? How is this “clinging” to what Jesus did different than believing the gospel? And how is “not by works” different from “through faith” Romans 3: 25 God presented Him as a propitiation THROUGH FAITH IN His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness AT THE PRESENT TIME, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who HAS FAITH IN JESUS 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. 28 For we conclude that a man is justified BY FAITH apart from the works of the law

  13. markmcculley Says:

    Galatians 2: 15 We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” 16 know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. And we have believed in Christ Jesus in order that WE WILL BE justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being WILL BE justified. I suppose this makes Paul an “existentialist”. Not only does Paul talk about “by faith” but he talks about seeking to be justified and “will be justified”. So here we need a study Bible to explain that there is more than one justification, and that the justification in Galatians 2:16 is not the real justification before God but something else, And while he is at it, he might tell you that the “faith” here is not “in Christ” but instead Christ’s faithfulness. Those who teach that we are born justified (so there can be no seeking but only finding out we always were) do not understand the difference between a finished work of righteousness and the application of that righteousness which results in justification by faith. Instead of calling Christ’s finished work “reconciliation” or “the righteousness”, those who teach not only permanent justification but that the elect have always been justified say that Christ’s blood work is “justification”, But the blood is not justification, because Christ’s blood is the reason for justification. Those who teach “eternal justification” ignore that Bible distinction, and also the distinction between justification by the blood and justification by faith. It can’t be both, they say, and then ignores what the Bible says. The blood is not justification, but the blood is imputed for justification. Faith in Christ is not justification, and faith is not imputed, but faith in Christ is given when God joins the elect to the blood by imputation.


  14. Mark, feel free to delete my comments and discontinue this interaction. My view has changed a bit over the last four years since I last commented.

  15. markmcculley Says:

    The Galatians 2:16 text is emphasizing not only faith alone (not works) but also that the promise of the gospel is for everybody who has faith–the focus is on “as many as believe” are justified. If you read the second faith as faithfulness, then that second faith would be imputed. But it’s not faith which is imputed, but the object of faith which is imputed. Justification is what happens when the blood of Christ is imputed, when the death of Christ is legally joined to the elect. https://markmcculley.wordpress.com/2011/07/13/the-faith-of-christ-means-faith-in-christ-and-not-christs-faith/

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Patrick, i found your disagreements before helpful –an incentive to thought. I would appreciate hearing your new thinking. If you could send me links to where you have written about this, I would appreciate it. I find people who never change their mind very foolish, but if we change our minds without reasons we can articulate, I worry about motives or simple “arbitariness”. For example, I find it interesting when people like Strimple change their position on water baptism, just as they are being offered some job if they have another view…. But I will delete the comments if you prefer.

  17. markmcculley Says:

    even though only ungodly sinners are justified
    or need to be justified
    this does not mean that God justifies all ungodly sinners
    you can be a sinner without being justified
    you can know you are a sinner without being justified
    God never will justify all sinners
    Jesus rejects many sinners as His guilty clients, because Jesus was never the mediator for many guilty sinners

  18. markmcculley Says:

    contra Barth and the “timeless justification” folks–who teach that God is not reconciled
    who teach that God is the subject, the one who reconciles, but never also the one reconciled

    Barthians teach that all sinners are already born reconciled but simply don’t know it yet
    Barthians who reduce God to a “nominalist” (sovereignty but not just, boss of you) revealing in which God has no character but is only whoever God now happens to say God is

    sample of this false gospel—“The Atonement is not about a change in God, because God loves all humans from eternity. But there is a change in us when the Holy Spirit causes us to appropriate (hook up with) Christ’s work. The change is not in God from wrath to grace, because the change is only in our belief that we were under the wrath, because now we believe that we were never under the wrath, and that nobody was ever under the wrath.”

  19. markmcculley Says:

    Titus 2:14 Christ gave Himself FOR US to REDEEM US from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works.
    Matthew 1: 20 An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Jospeh in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus BECAUSE HE WILL save HIS PEOPLE from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant
    and give birth to a son,
    and they will name Him “God is with us.”
    Giovanni Camacho–The message of the gospel never comes as a personal message. The Bible, in no place, says “Jesus died for YOU.” It also never says “IF YOU believe that JESUS died for YOUR sins, THEN you will be saved.” The gospel, as presented in scripture, always comes as an objective and declarative message.. The gospel is a declarative statement. It puts forward a proposition that is true regardless of what one thinks about it. It doesn’t require anything from the person reading it to make it true. It is a statement about what Christ has done and will do .. . Christ will save His people from their sins. Will save-not “might save” if they agree to it.

  20. markmcculley Says:

    David Alvord on “taking sides against himself” –For the first time the truth of the Calvinism I ‘knew’ was turned against me and my old false testimony. I had always, even as a Calvinist, looked back at my childhood conversion experience or religious dedication for my assurance. I had never APPLIED THE TRUTH I knew AGAINST my old religion. I was finally looking past the ‘thing I did to get saved’ and now looking all the way back to the cross and what Jesus did to save HIS people. Once I became convinced that my Arminian testimony was that of a false gospel, I shared my new testimony and alienated a lot of people. Conversion was NO a joyous experience for me. I was reduced to desperation, clinging to the cross as my only hope. My trust continues. I make no presumptions.

  21. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 4: when was righteousness credited—while Abraham was circumcised, or while Abraham was uncircumcised? Not while he was circumcised, but uncircumcised.

    when did Abraham “obey the truth”?

    Romans 2: 8 wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth

    Romans 6:17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were handed over to
    Romans 10:16 But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?

  22. markmcculley Says:

    Cotton’s challenge to Shepard “If a man has only his own sanctification as[proof of his justification, then his faith is not set on Christ’s righteousness, nor on the free promise of grace, but only on his own works.”6

    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. Stoever,

  23. markmcculley Says:

    works are not evidence of justification

    condemned sinners have works

    justified sinners have works

    but only the works of justified sinners are acceptable as worship to God

    therefore, justification is evidence of works being accceptable

    continuing to believe the gospel is evidence of having been justified (at one time having passed from life to death)

    works are not evidence of having been justified

    faith in the gospel is not “instrumental in efficacy”

    faith in the gospel is evidence of God having placed an elect person into Christ’s death

    continuing faith in the gospel is evidence of God having imputed an elect person with Christ’s righteousness

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=330

    http://www.trinityfoundation.org/journal.php?id=319


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