Archive for March 2011

The Law-Gospel Antithesis, Faith And/Or Works?

March 31, 2011

In The God of Promise and the Life of Faith: Understanding the Heart of the Bible (Paperback) footnote 6 on p244, Hafemann writes: ” The position I am advocating is based on a reassessment of the traditional Lutheran, Calvinistic and dispensational view of the relationship between the Law and the Gospel. The traditional view saw a conflict between the two, with the law viewed narrowly as God’s demand for sinless obedience as the ground of our salvation, while the gospel called for faith In God’s grace in Christ, who kept the Law perfectly in our place.”

Hafemann does not understand correctly the antithesis he is opposing. Yes, the law is the divine demand for perfection (and also for satisfaction for sins). But he is wrong to focus on a demand for perfection being replaced by a demand for faith. The proper difference would not be a new or different demand (for faith) but the righteousness obtained and imputed by God. .

Hafemann is inattentive to three facts about the divine alien righteousness. First, Christ died under the curse of God’s law only for the elect alone. Second, faith has as its object not just any ” Christ”or any “grace”, but the Christ who satisfied the law for all who will be justified (and not for the non-elect). Third, this faith is not only a sovereign gift but a righteous gift, given on behalf of Christ and His law-work (Philippians 1:29; John 17).

When Hafemann makes the difference to be between a demand for faith and a demand for obedience, the only thing left for him to discuss is the nature of faith. Does faith include works or not? If faith works and faith is an instrument, why can’t works of faith be an instrument? Since faith is a result of regeneration, won’t that faith include works?

Hafemann does discuss the object of faith. His complaint is that the law/gospel antithesis is wrong to put all the emphasis on the past. He denies that the past work of Christ is sufficient or the only object of faith. In insisting that we give priority to the person of Christ, Hafeman wants us to look also to the (present and future) life of Christ in us.

At least he is honest about his differences with Calvin and Luther. Hafemann openly acknowledges his rejection of the law/grace antithesis. He thinks his different gospel is more biblical.

My own position is that it would help us see the difference between the two gospels if we stopped explaining the antithesis by talking only about “faith alone”. The real point of the law-gospel antithesis is not “conflict”. It is non-identity. The law is not the gospel. The gospel is not the law. The gospel, however, is about the satisfaction of God’s law for God’s elect.

Though law and gospel are not the same thing, they are not opposed because they never claim to have the same function. Law says what God demands. Gospel says how Christ satisfied that demand for the elect. The law never offered life off probation; not only one sin would put you under its curse, no matter how many acts of obedience to the law, the law could never promise everlasting life.

Hafemann thinks that the antithesis understands “Christ to bring the law to an end in the sense of abolishment”. But the antithesis does NOT understand Romans 10:4 in terms of redemptive-historical abrogation. The “end of the law” is Christ completing all that the law demanded, so that there is no remainder left for the Spirit enabled Christian to do. Romans 10:4 is about redemptive-historical fulfillment.

The gospel says DONE. The gospel does not say “to be done by the life of Christ in the elect”.

Hafemann reduces the law/gospel antithesis to the abolishment of strict law, and says that what the Spirit does in us helps satisfy the law enough. This misses what the gospel says about Christ’s perfect and complete satisfaction of the law for the elect.

Christians sin, and therefore their “fulfillment of the law” (see for example, Romans 13) cannot ever satisfy the law. But the law will not go unsatisfied.

In a footnote 6 on page 244, Hafeman writes: “In this Lutheran view, the law itself taught a legalism that Adam and Israel failed to keep but that God continues to demand in order to drive us to the gospel”.

Is “legalism” a demand for perfection? If God demands perfection, is God therefore a “legalist”? It seems to me that the only alternative to a demand for perfection is either no law at all or a “new” demand which calls only for imperfect righteousness so that “grace” makes up the difference.

Hafemann is following in the wake of Barth, Torrance, and Daniel fuller who reject the “contract God” who demands perfection and operates by justice. They think that even talking about law’s demand for perfection is “legalism”. But God has told us that the law is not the gospel and that it never was the gospel. Romans 11:5–”So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.”

It is Hafemann who is both legalist ( because he identifies law and gospel) and antinomian (because he then reduces the demand to including what the Spirit does in the elect. What God does in us keeps us believing the gospel, but our believing the gospel is not what satisfies the law.

Read carefully what Hafemann writes about the “obedience of faith” (p188): “Still others consider obedience to God’s law to be the necessary evidence of faith. For them, if one believes, then obedience becomes the mandatory sign of something else, namely faith, which is the human response to God’s grace that actually saves us. Faith must lead to obedience as a sign that it is real.”

While that it is an accurate description of many Calvinists about assurance, it is not biblical assurance. We do not work to get assurance. We must have assurance before our works are acceptable to God.

Most Calvinists, along with the Arminians, teach “faithalone” as if faith were the response that saves us. Yes, they disagree about the cause and source of faith, but even most of the Calvinists leave election out of their “atonement” and out of their “gospel”.

The Atonement Happened in Time, and the Justification of the Elect at Different Times

March 29, 2011

Christ’s propitiation and the justification of the elect are different events in history. But that does not mean that justification is conditioned on the faith that God gives the elect.

Most Calvinists have not yet considered the idea of a “justification
through faith” in which the regeneration and faith of the elect are the immediate result of God’s imputation and act of justification.

Of course they have heard of federal union (which they may equate with eternal justification), but they seem to see no other alternative to a justification conditioned on what God does in the elect sinner in causing that sinner to believe. (But see the essays by Bruce McCormack and Carl Braaten about Calvin putting regeneration in first place before justification, or see Edward Boehl’s discussion of John Owen in his The Reformed Doctrine of Justification.)

Yes, it’s true that the elect are only justified when they believe, but it is not being honest to the truth of eternal election in union with Christ to say that faith is the instrumental condition of justification. But it does make it easier for tolerant Calvinists to preach the same false gospel as the Arminians.

Faith is the immediate result of imputation, not its condition. If you think about it that way, it will help you think more clearly about the nature of faith. We believe the gospel, not knowing if we are elect. We believe the gospel, knowing in the gospel that our believing is not the condition of either election or justification. The gospel tells us that.

Justification Is Not Eternal

March 29, 2011

What does the imputation of Christ’s work mean? First, it means that God imputes that work (not only the reward, but the righteousness) to the elect. Before the cross, God imputed the work to some of the elect. After the cross, God continues to impute the work to some of the elect.

So there is a difference (not only in time) between the work and the imputation of the work. For example, Romans 6 describes being placed into the death of Christ. There is a difference between the federal union of all the elect in Christ before the beginning of the world and the legal union of the elect with Christ when they are justified.

Second, the application of Christ’s (purchased by Christ for the elect, and thus their inheritance one day) includes the conversion which immediately follows the imputation.

We could go to every text in the New Testament about the effectual calling into fellowship, but let us think now of only two. Galatians 3:13-14: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come…, so that we would receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

And here’s a second text which teaches us that regeneration and conversion immediately follow the imputation. Romans 8:10–but if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Because the work (righteousness) is imputed, the next result will be life, not only legal forensic life but also the life the Holy Spirit gives by means of the gospel, so that the elect understand and believe, and are converted. II Peter 1:1 starts, “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

I don’t believe in “faith-union” if that means or implies that faith is the cause of “union”. Instead of exploring any definition or distinction between Christ being in us or us being in Christ, most Calvinists merely stipulate that “union” is preceded by faith. First, this eliminates the alternative that God’s imputation precedes “union”. Second, it decides in advance what “union” is. “Union” is assumed to be “union conditioned on faith” and this means there can be no union by imputation Thus the majority “faith-union” tradition begins with its conclusion, which is that effectual calling is not an immediate result of imputation but instead a condition for God’s imputation.

I do not agree with either “eternal justification” or even the idea of some “objective active justification” (Berkhof). I don’t think we should equivocate with the word “justify”, so that sometimes we read it as “before our conscience” and other times we read it as “legally real before the tribunal of God”. When God imputed Christ’s righteousness to Abraham before Abraham was circumcised, that thought/imputation of God was not a “fiction” but a legal sharing at that time which immediately resulted in effectual calling, believing the gospel, and justification.

Many people seem to never really think though the distinction between imputation and justification. There are not two kinds of justification. There are different kinds of imputation, but no imputation is the same as justification. Some imputations result in condemnations (from Adam to humans, from the elect to Christ). God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect results in their justification.

Romans 4:24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

1. There is “cause” between our trespasses and delivered up, also “cause” between our justification and raised up. But there is some question about the order of the “cause”. Which is first? Is it raised up as a cause of justification, or is it justification as a cause of raised up?

2. I agree with Smeaton that there must be a parallel in the order. Since trespass is before delivered up, then justification is before raised up. But there are other gospel commentators who see the order two different ways. John Murray argues that trespass causes delivered up, but that raised up is in order to justification. And yet other commentators argue that the parallel that the cross is the reason for sin ( a supralapsarian reading), and that the resurrection is in order to justification (most supralapsarians don’t teach eternal justification).

3. What’s my point? if your basic philosophy is that God is timeless and therefore there is no before and after to God, the entire question about which is the cause of which does not make much sense. It seems foolish for those who push for eternal justification to argue that justification is before the resurrection, because if God does all things outside of time or before time, then those who are justified have always been justified, and those who have been resurrected have always been resurrected.

4. The reality is that those who argue for eternal justification, even though they can’t prove their ideas about timelessness from the Bible, do end up using before and after when it suits them. They say election is before the ages, and since the equate justification and election, they say justification is before the ages.

Was Christ always incarnate?

Galatians 3: 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

Was Christ always sin, since time means nothing, and there if no before or after, since Christ cannot be “made” anything different or new?

Galatians 4:4
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised BEFOREHAND (though this word means nothing to God) through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and WAS DECLARED to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness BY HIS RESURRECTION from the dead (though this had always been so in timeless eternity because God does not change His mind), Jesus Christ our Lord

Romans 6: 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

When God says, I will create the world, does this mean that the world has always been created, or that there was never a time when God created the world? When God in time bring forth fruit by the word of truth, has this fruit always been brought forth, without any before or after, so that the word “first-fruits” means nothing to God but can only mean something to humans ( while some humans know what it means for God to be timeless even though these humans are not God)? (James 1:18)

It’s not enough to say that Abraham was justified before the cross. It’s also necessary to say that Abraham was condemned before the cross. Abraham was justified in time. To get to an even more important gospel issue in Romans 6, it’s not enough to say that death now has no more power over Christ, but also necessary to say that the law and death once did have power over Christ.

At Ease in Exile

March 29, 2011

Amos 3: I have known only you
out of all the clans of the earth;
therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.

Amos 6: Woe to those who are at ease in Zion

and to those who feel secure on the hill of Samaria—
the notable people in this first of the nations,
those the house of Israel comes to.
Cross over to Calneh and see;
go from there to great Hamath;
then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
Is their territory larger than yours?
You dismiss any thought of the evil day
and bring in a reign of violence.

They lie on beds inlaid with ivory,
sprawled out on their couches,
and dine on lambs from the flock
and calves from the stall.
They improvise songs to the sound of the harp
and invent their own musical instruments like David.
They drink wine by the bowlful
and anoint themselves with the finest oils
but do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
Therefore, they will now go into exile
as the first of the captives,
and the feasting of those who sprawl out
will come to an end.

 

It’s ok to not work all the time. I like Stellman’s chapter 11 against the puritans, even though I wish he could have found somebody besides the Romanist (Calvinist-hating) Chesterton to make his case. But he does quote a book I like: How to be Idle by the British writer, Tom Hodgkinson.

We don’t need to talk about “common grace” to make this point. Read Protestant Reformed leader Englesma’s plea against profaning grace in his answer to Mouw .

I do want to recommend some better books on the topic of living in exile in the world. I will only list one Mennonite book: For the Nations, by John Howard Yoder (Eerdmans), expecially the chapter on diaspora, “See How they Go with Their Faces”. And one book by a Quaker, A Biblical Theology of Exile, by Daniel Smith-Christopher( Fortress). And by the premill evangelical Robert H Gundry, Jesus the Word According to John the Sectarian (Eerdmans).

On the land, read Reformed amill The Israel of God, by Palmer Robertson (P and R). On weakness, read the Lutheran (and expert on Ellul) Marva Dawn, Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God. For Romans 6, read Robert Haldane. If you want something very short on Romans 6, read Steele and Thomas, Outline on Romans , p46.

Federal visionists (Leithart, James Jordan) use Hauerwas to defend something a lot more Constantinian than what I think Stellman would approve. But Stellman seems to agree on sacrament holding the church together .

I am not sure that Hauerwas and Stellman would be agreed on what to say about the Exodus 32 ordeal/ intrusion. After the golden calf, Moses asked: who is on the Lord’s side? Go forth, and kill your brother… Today you have ordained yourselves for service. “ Even though they want to follow the OT (the covenant) model for worship, they are not agreed about what is legitimate for the people of God when they operate in another kingdom.

Stellman has an interesting note about being guilty as a member of what he thinks is the “legitimate” (natural law) second kingdom because of the guilt of the innocent killed in Iraq.(p71)

But he still interprets God’s protection from the death penalty (on earth) as being about God’s “common grace” giving the state to protect us. (p56) I guess he thinks it’s good to kill for the state (or the economy), just so long as we don’t make the mistake of thinking this is redemptive.

As a pacifist, of course, I don’t find much to get excited about in this distinction. It’s like talking about talking about the glories of the new covenant, as a chaplain in the military!

Christ’s Work Does not Depend on You

March 27, 2011

Unconverted professing Christians worship some other person than the Christ described in the Bible. They worship somebody whose work depends on the sinner to accept it. But the true Christ was imputed with the sins of the elect, and bore these sins one time in the past.

The true Christ is not bearing sins now.

The true Christ did not bear the sins of those who will one day bear their own sins. The cross was not a general or infinite bearing of sins with the meaning and success to be determined later by what sinners thought about it. Christ did not come to save more than Christ will save. When Christ comes a second time, He will save the elect.

So there is a future salvation, but there is not a future determination of who will be saved by the cross. The non-elect will bear their own sins.

Christ is no longer bearing the sins of the elect. All the sins of the elect will have been taken away by the cross. Romans 5:9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by the blood, much more shall we be saved from the wrath of God.”

The New Testament has a difference between election, the death of Christ, and justification. All the elect have not yet been justified and none of the elect has been resurrected on the last Day. But these facts do not change the truth that Christ has either already died for a sinner or has not, and that this is not the sinner’s decision.

Even though non-elect sinners were involved in putting Christ to death, Christ never died for them. The purpose of Christ’s death was the salvation of only the elect alone.

Certainly we should think about Roman politics and Jewish religion when we think of the human means God used to accomplish His purpose, but there has never ever been any purpose to give Christ without also a purpose for elect sinners. Christ was not given first, before the election of sinners second. The elect were always chosen in Christ, and Christ’s incarnate glory was always about Him being given for the elect.

Sacraments Do Not Dispense Grace

March 16, 2011

I do not agree that, when we hear Christ preached, that we then hear Christ preaching. I do not agree that when we hear an “ordained” “minister” absolving our sins, that we then hear Christ forgiving our sins.

WHO IS HEARING? Are the non-elect not hearing, because they don’t care about their sins? Are the non-elect hearing “you are forgiven”?

Is it “pietism” (or “being a baptist”) to warn people that the New Testament is written only to Christians? It’s ironic to say that Christians doing politics must do so as if they were not Christians, but then not make such a distinction for those “taking the sacrament”.

The assumption, the pretense, the official lie, is that everybody observing the sacrament is an exile from the world and a Christian. Otherwise the sacramentalist would have to speak to the church as if were the world.

And then the sacramentalist would need to think more about water giving salvation to pagans who are not children, and about the supper being converting for those halfway in. Even if there is no faith, is there no blessing?

To the extent sacramentalists use “the covenant” to argue for sacraments, the redemptive-historical political distinction between the old and new covenants collapses. And no attention is given to the differences between the promises of a covenant. Reformed folks tend to focus on one undefined positive promise (is it that my child should assume already that he is a Christian?) and to ignore the fine print about “covenant curses” for those who “participate in the sacrament. Call them “negative sanctions”— God may break you off if you don’t observe the sacramental rituals.

They do not want us to talk about “dead” Christians as if some internal work of the Spirit needed to be done, but rather asks if people are “observant” at the sacraments. I am glad that not all paedobaptists agree with him on that. If you are faking it at the “sacrament”, then God can kill you. That argument in itself does not prove that it is a sacrament or that God is the agent in the Supper or in the water. Those questions have to be answered biblically and not by confessional presupposition.

Now that You Have Professed Faith, You Cannot Trust the Promise Until You See Works?

March 16, 2011

Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way, explains that “John 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 trust in the work. Even if a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he still probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work?”

“Grace and works (not only in the case of justification) but in the whole course of our salvation, are not subordinate to each other but opposite:as that whatsoever is of grace is not of works, and whatsoever is of works is not of grace.”

Effectual Atonement Does not Reduce the Number of the Elect Who Believe the Gospel

March 15, 2011

I read today a blog which asks Calvinists to “stick to the basics”. I checked to see what those basics were. Should we stick to saying that Jesus is the Lord who tells us what to do? Or did we need to talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus?

It turns out that this blogger thinks that “the basics” is the Arminian double-talk which says a. don’t even think about how many people Jesus died for, just know that He died for sinners. And then says b. just know that He died for you, since He loves every sinner.

So don’t think about it. Just agree with most everybody that the atonement is not only universal but also ineffectual. In other words, we are not universalists, and that means we are on the same side as the Arminians who are not universalists.

II Thess 2:9. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all powers, signs, and lying, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they DID NOT RECEIVE THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, that THEY MAY BE SAVED and for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.”

For some, universalism or open theism are the current strong
delusions. I agree with Toplady that the strongest delusion is the “Calvinist” who speaks peace to the idolatry of ineffectual atonement.

“Stick to the basics” may sound good. But it is a terrible thing to have people name the name of Jesus Christ and think they are saved when they do not yet even know the purpose and effect of Christ’s death.

It is a very mean and intolerant thing to claim that Philip baptised the Ethiopian after explaining Isaiah 53 with no mention of effectual atonement.

“He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper His hand. He shall see the travail of His soul, and be satisfied. by His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many For he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great…

The “stick to the basics gospel” leaves out the glory of the God-man bringing to freedom to all those for whom He was punished. It teaches that justification depends not only on the travail of the Son but on the faith of some of the sinners for whom the Son was in travail.

Shame on us, the “moderates” posture, beating their chests to pose as
“doctrinal experts now”, we do “growth by transfer” but those good old Arminians they sure can make a lot of Christians with their “stick to the basics” gospel!

These same Calvinists are adamant that the “non-lordship” gospel results in lots of false converts, but they also think that the good old “gospel” preached by good old Arminians like Moody and Tozer and Wesley produced more converts to the true Christ than talking about effectual atonement.

It seems that such talk will scare off the elect! It makes you wonder what these “Calvinists” believe about election if less will be saved if some of us don’t accept the responsibility of not talking about effectual atonement.

God’s Love is not the Whole Story? Rob Bell and the Gospel Coalition

March 14, 2011

Since I was saved about ten years ago from the false good news of universalism, I am glad to see Deyong’s negative review of Bell’s book. But I can’t help notice the inherent Arminianism of the Gospel Coalition’s brand of evangelicalism.

gc: It reminds me of the T-shirt, “Jesus Loves You. Then Again He Loves Everybody.” There’s no good news in announcing that God loves everyone in the same way just because he wants to. The good news is that in love God sent his Son to live for our lives and die for our deaths”

mark: notice what gospel coalition does not say, will not say about election: that God does not love everybody, that God did not die for everybody. They will only deny that the love doesn’t need Christ’s death. They still retain the old formula retained by Dordt (sufficient for everybody).

What’s with the ambiguity of “just because he wants to”?
1. God loves the elect in a holy way, not just any old way, yes.

2. But does this deny that God loves “just because he wants to”? God loves because He wants to, and His nature requires justice for all those He loves. There is no love apart from Christ and His substitution for the elect. Christ has no love for the non-elect.

I take sides with John Owen against John Calvin on God’s justice, and thus the necessary nature of Christ’s death, but that does not deny the sovereignty of God’s love. God does not love the non-elect. That’s a little different from the Packer nuance, which says “God’s love is not the whole story” when it comes to the non-elect.

But this is something you can’t say, when you are on the same side with Arminians against the universalists.

God’s Judgment Is Based on Imputation Alone, Without Respect of Persons’ Conscience

March 2, 2011

Justification is not based on our lack of self-righteousness. Even though those who are justified do believe the gospel, God imputes Christ’s death to the elect without respect to their conscience. Our conscience is a result and not a condition for either justification or condemnation.

Self-righteousness is the fruit of condemnation, and not the basis for it. God condemns even non-elect infants, but not because they are self-righteous. We do not have to have an aware conscience in order for God to be at wrath with us because of imputed guilt.

The guilty become self-righteous, yes, but guilt is not based on our internal self-righteous attitudes about God . The problem of condemnation is not our enmity toward God’s law and God’s gospel. Guilt before God (God’s legal enmity) is based on God’s external imputation of Adam’s sin (and our sins) to us, and justification before God is based on God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect. (Christ’s death not only satisfies God’s attribute of righteousness, Christ’s death is God’s righteousness obtained for the elect and given to the elect. )

Those who want to qualify imputation express outrage at the idea that God could, hate Esau before he was born (Romans 9), or that the Psalmist could speak of dashing the little ones of God’s enemies against the rock (Psalm 137:9).

God is seen to be horribly unjust to condemn those who “don’t even have a chance” at being saved, including infants, those who have never heard the gospel and rejected it, and people who are mentally incapacitated.

This is respect of persons. The idea is that nobody should be condemned “merely” because of the imputation of Adam’s sin to everybody.

Some preacher tells us to trust him that “all who leave this world as babies are saved”. Carnal reasoning concludes that since babies are in some sense innocent or even “less sinners” than grown ups, God recognizes this and rewards it with his salvation, and all babies who die are saved.

Why, then, are not all adults who die in adulthood saved “by the mighty operations of God’s free grace” if all infants who die in infancy are so saved?

Why does God eternally elect unto salvation every infant who dies in infancy but does not elect to save every adult who dies in adulthood?

Somebody explains that babies cannot be said to have expressed “willful transgression of the law” as “responsible, reasonable, and accountable beings” and thus are guilty only of Adam’s transgression.
Babies are not self-righteous. Babies are not trying to build their own righteousness.

This false doctrine ties justification to the physical, emotional, and intellectual development of a person’s conscience. If one is an infant and dies, he is elect- no exceptions. If one is an adult and dies, he may either be elect or non-elect, depending on the good pleasure and purpose of God, but it is always, without exception, according to this not-only-imputation doctrine, the good pleasure and purpose of God to elect infants who will die in infancy.

The Bible does not condition justification on the conscience of the sinner, but on the sovereign justice and grace of God, who conditions His salvation on the Person and the work of Jesus Christ.

Somebody writes that “the Bible seems to imply that God will not eternally condemn anyone solely upon the basis of Adam’s transgression.” The children shall not be put to death for the fathers; ergo, “covenant children” will not be put to death for Adam’s sin.

To put in simple terms the idea of this false teaching: if all you have is imputed guilt, it is covered by Christ’s atonement. Imputed guilt
“alone” can not condemn a person, for all persons who bear
“only” the imputed guilt of Adam (presumably dying infants) are
saved. The non-elect are only found among the adult population
who become self-righteous.

Somebody writes: “Knowing my heavenly Father’s character, that he is just, righteous, and good, when I read statements such
as David made about his son, and consider the whole
Revelation of God in Scripture, I can, with confidence
and joy say, yes, those babies who die in infancy do
go to heaven. They are chosen of God, redeemed by
Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Like all
of God’s elect, they are saved by the pure, free,
sovereign grace of God.”

According to this false gospel, it would somehow be inconsistent with the “just, righteous, and good” character of God to do other than to save an infant who dies in infancy. Why? Because an infant has
not committed “willful transgressions” of the law of God. What this amounts to is that a non-religious sinner (the infant) is less sinful than a grown up religious adult.

Adam’s guilt is imputed to all humans. We are not sinners because we are self-righteous. We are self-righteous because we are sinners. We are sinners from the moment of our conception (Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3).

When the work of Christ is seen as something “justly”
or “righteously” applied to a particular class of individuals
because they are less guilty than another class, then the work of Christ is no longer seen as that which saves sinners but rather
as that which rewards those who are not self-righteous about it.

This internal (conscience) vs external (imputation) antithesis is against the Bible’s message concerning the Person and work of Christ, who did not come to save the not self-righteous, but to save guilty sinners.