God’s Judgment Is Based on Imputation Alone, Without Respect of Persons’ Conscience
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 attitudes about God and the gospel. Guilt is based on only external imputation, and justification is based only on imputation.
Those who want to qualify imputation express outrage at the idea that God could, for example, 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.