Justification Is Not Eternal

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.

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39 Comments on “Justification Is Not Eternal”


    My conclusion to one who teaches “eternal justification” —You say to unbelievers, you may already be justified, but just don’t know it. I say to unbelievers, if you do not believe the gospel, then you can know now that you are not yet justified. You are still in your sins. You can’t know if you are elect or not now, before believing the gospel. But if you do not yet believe the gospel, then you know for sure that you are now both unregenerate and not justified.

    Now we can debate about which one of us is correct. But the one thing we CAN’T SAY is that we have the same gospel, but just a different way of saying it.

    I say to unbelievers, God has an elect and all those people will become regenerate and believe the gospel, but this believing is not what causes them to become regenerate and this believing is not what causes God to impute to them Christ’s death.

    What do you say to unbelievers? I don’t know if you tell them they might already be regenerate. You shouldn’t. Bit it seems to me that you must say to them what I say about election–you already are or are not—and yet you say this to them about justification. You say, you are already justified or you are not, but you just don’t know which. (I would assume that you would say that some of the justified know that they are, but that none of them can now know that they are not justified). But I say, if you are justified already now, then you know it already now. If you know that you now believe the gospel, then you know that you are now justified. On the other hand, if you know that you now don’t believe the gospel, then you know now that you are not justified.


    1. Justification of the ungodly ( of course you deny that they were ever ungodly in history) comes only when God imputes righteousness. Faith only comes when God imputes this righteousness. Faith is the immediate consequence of God’s public counting Christ’s righteousness as the righteousness of the elect. This “declaring” is not to the individual conscience. This imputation is legal and real and objective. But the only thing you regard as “objective” is something God did or thought or declared before the ages. Thus you beg the question.

    2. You ignore my argument and simply repeat your own conclusions, but without any argument. I am not going to waste much time with you until you make arguments and engage my arguments (not what you imagine I might say, not what you think Augustine or Marc Carpenter might).

    ej: Paul’s strong emphasis on justification by faith leads some to believe that justification is not used in the NT except for this. I do not believe you are using ‘justification’ in the full scope of NT use. You are limiting it to ‘declare righteous’ as related to individual elect persons only at the historical moment when they come to faith.

    mark: 1. You are not even reporting my view correctly. It’s only at the historical moment that God imputes. I say this again and again, but you don’t report the way I say it, perhaps because you assume that there are only two alternatives, your way and “imputation conditioned on faith”. But I clearly say that faith is conditioned on imputation, a direct result, with no time-gap, after imputation.

    2. You just keep imposing your own categories, when you say “as related to individuals”, as if this it were only a matter before our conscience. No, it’s in the mind of God, this is God’s public imputation before God, it’s real and as objective as it can be.

    3. I don’t agree with your notion of a distinction between individual and objective, but even if that distinction existed, you would need some key to tell us which verses meant the private/individual, and which meant the objective/ “before the ages”. You list some verses for what you call the “subjective”, but which verses say “justification before the ages”, and how do you know which verses they are? What are the verses? Are they the verses with the word “justify” or “Impute” but without the word ‘faith”?

    ej: Rom. 1:17, 3:25, 4:25, 5:18, 1 Cor. 1:30, 2 Cor. 5:21 present the important dimension of justification in the completion of Christ’s work of atonement historically, which is not the ‘declaring righteous’ of each individual elect sinner by name but the constituting righteous (right-wising) of all the elect in the person and work of Christ.

    mark: You keep trying to have your cake and eat it. On the hand, you want to say there is only kind of justification, but then on the other hand, you agree that it has “dimensions”. And of course you switch back and forth, not because any text demands this, but because your system needs to do that.

    To make arguments, you are going to need to give some definitions, and not simply attempt to sneak your assumptions in by the way you describe the problem. For example, your assumed difference above between “declare” and ‘constitute” simply presumes that “constitution” is something other than legal declaration. But this is what you need to argue. When God “constitutes” people guilty or righteous (Romans 5), that is legal declaration. It’s not something other than, or more than, the legal indicative based on what is true because of legal sharing. Once the elect share in Christ’s death, God is just to declare legally on this basis that they are righteous. Nothing else is more real than that, no matter what Jonathan Edwards or Augustine may say.

    ej: Further, I deny that justification in Rom. 8:28-30 is referring to the time of individual declaration of justness, it clearly refers to completed justification in God’s elect decree transcendent of human experience. No other interpretation of that scripture is even slightly reasonable.

    mark: You ignore my comments on Romans 8:28-30. We are not yet conformed to the image of Christ. We are not yet glorified. And the elect were not yet regenerated before the ages. I said all this, but you ignore it. You don’t deal with the “justification at the cross” argument. You simply repeat—“clearly” and “no other interpretation is even slightly reasonable”. How would it advance our learning to say that my own position is clear and that any other view is unreasonable? It wouldn’t.

    ej: you will see that there are more than even two dimensions. These are not separate ‘meanings’ though, they are multiple dimensions of a single meaning–God’s constituting of a just status through Christ’s person and work on behalf of the elect.

    mark: More cake and eat it—multiple meaanings of a single meaning! When I show what the text is saying, you say “well I don’t deny it”, but then you say “but it’s only one dimension”, which is other than that, more than that, but then you don’t even define what “constituting” means, and you certainly can’t give a Bible text for this “other– more than” that you presume.

    Yes, there is a difference between the righteousness and God imputing the righteousness. But Christ obtained the righteousness by satisfying His law, and God imputes that righteousness, and then declares just everyone imputed with that righteousness. This is not God changing. This is not God being a respecter of persons. This is God always demanding righteousness. This is God always justifying a person who has the righteousness imputed, not before they have it imputed.

    It would not be righteous for God to impute righteousness to a person, and then justify that person, and then for God to wait ages to give that person the new birth which is a fruit of that righteousness.

    ej: Let us not confuse the subjective realization of the realities of ‘eternal life’ and ‘justification’ with the objective certainty of them in Christ’s person and finished work.

    mark: 1. I am not talking about the “realization” of anything. I am talking about God objectively imputing in time what Christ objectively obtained in time. 2. The propitiation made by Christ Himself was NOT Christ “realizing” that Christ had always propitiated the Trinity. No, there was a before and after to the incarnation. And there was a before and after, a transition from wrath to justified status, from Christ being under the law (for imputed sins) to Christ no longer being under the law. 3. Nobody is denying that all of God’s plan is certain to be fulfilled in the future. I am denying that justification had happened for Abraham before Abraham was justified.

    You can’t say” well I don’t deny that, it’s one dimension of it”. No, you do deny that. You are saying that Abraham was never ungodly, never condemned in sins. You are saying that the only real need Abraham had was to understand that he was justified all along. But there are two things wrong with that view.

    1. Abraham’s real need was to be justified, to pass from death to life.
    2. It would be a false understanding for Abraham to ‘realize” that he was justified all along. Because he wasn’t!

    ej: The passages in John … The unbelieving are the reprobate who are unbelieving in their final state and condition

    mark: But I said no to this. Either you didn’t read what I wrote, or you plan to ignore my arguments, and simply assert your own view. The only thing you have added this time around is a reference to this being an “Augustinian view”. I don’t care about Augustine. I don’t want to talk about Augustine. I hate water regeneration and Christendom and all the rest of it, and this is a distraction from engaging the texts in John 3:18, 36. You don’t even have a quotation from Augustine talking about this.

    Besides, 95% of all Calvinists deny eternal justification, and I don’t want to talk about all of them. It doesn’t mean they are right or wrong. Look at the texts. They don’t say they are only talking about the non-elect who die in final unbelief. Besides, on your view, why couldn’t the elect die in unbelief, and still be justified “objectively”?

    ej: the common fall and common wrath is very dangerous in its implications. It leads to the doctrine of ‘common grace’ also

    mark: You know I don’t believe in common grace (or prevenient grace). The slippery slope you imagine is only in your own head. I know plenty of folks who deny common grace but who also teach that the elect in Christ begin legally in Adam. At most, you might say for yourself, that if you yuorself believed that all humans were born condemned, then you yourself would deny that any human was ever imputed with righteousness. But that’s your problem, and not a very logical one at that.

    Of course I deny that condemnation is conditioned on sin. If it were, then we would all be condemned. But this in no way demands that I deny that the elect were ever condemned. We were all born condemned, but only the elect will be justified.

    ej: It also leads to exactly where Augustine and Luther took it–some of the regenerate who are cherished by God for a time are predestined to be hated again by God eternally after they lose their regeneration. The ‘common fall’ doctrine of Augustine leads logically to all of this horrific teaching.

    mark: I am not going to get distracted by the foolishness of your attempt to do “historical theology.” Should I accuse you of logically beating your wife, and then agree that you don’t, but that your not doing is simply an “inconsistency” on your part?
    I don’t believe that people once justified lose their justification. Of course I don’t believe in justification by water, as did Augustine and Luther. So you are not really talking about those of us who say that God imputes righteousness in time, and justifies in time. The “common fall” doctrine is not “Augustine’s doctrine” but the clear teaching of Romans 5. Indeed, I thought you agreed with me that only the elect were in view there. If so, why not agree that it’s the elect who were “constituted” (imputed) sinners? Unless you have some esoteric (other dimensional?) view of what “made sinners” means?

    ej: God’s plunging of the elect into sin at the beginning of their existence in order to deliver them in regeneration later–this has nothing to do with the exercise of His wrath–

    mark: more assertion on your part. First, Romans 5 and 6 are not talking about regeneration. They are talking about justification, about “receiving the reconciliation” (5:11, 17). There’s not a word there about regeneration. 2. This is one of the many dangers of your view. You end up making the gospel ultimately be about regeneration, and ultimately not about justification. You don’t deny justification, but because for you it’s was over and done before the ages, it’s not that much a part of your gospel. So you talk about being born again to “realize” what happened before the ages. But that’s not the gospel. That’s not how the Bible talks. 3. The Bible does of course talk about the new birth, sanctification of the heart by the Spirit, but this is to believe the gospel, not to “realize something which was always true”. But specifically Romans 6, which talks about being placed into the death of Christ IS NOT ABOUT REGENERATION.

    ej: The transformation from law-based condemnation to grace-based justification i…..

    mark:. Of course there is such a thing as redemptive history, but it’s not ever about changing from law-based condemnation to non-law-based condemnation. Indeed, I suspect this is the biggest difference between us. Christ obtains righteousness by His death satisfying the law. It’s law based. Not us satisfying the law. But Christ satisfying the law. So still “law based justification”. God is both just and gracious at the time. But you can’t stand that–so you say, well for the elect, grace and the elect was never ever really under law, grace and Christ himself was never ever under law for the sake of the elect.

    ej: Augustine defined justification as ‘internal transformation’ rather than the crediting of Christ’s person and work objectively. But the point is that he defined justification as something that can only happen to individuals when they are living in time, not historically apart from them,

    mark: It’s not ‘the point. It’s a point that you think has some point to it, but it doesn’t. I might as well say, Augustine is dead, Augustine believed in election, you believe in election, therefore you are dead, and that’s “the point.” Just because a person believes one wrong thing, does not mean that the second thing he believes is wrong.

    I do NOT define justification as some ‘internal transformation’ that God then uses to justify that person. I am talking about legal real justification that takes place by God’s definition and counting in real objective history. You are the one shifting from that by talking about being “planted into death in order to become regenerate”. You are talking about regeneration (is that “constitution”?is that “internal”?) Not me.

    ej: However, the atonement is predestined on behalf of the elect and they are therefore never under condemnation.

    mark: you are wrong. The “therefore” has nothing “therefore” about it. The atonement is predestined. That does not mean that there was never any need for the atonement. The atonement (the reconciliation, the propitiation) happened in history because it was predestined to happen in history. Your logic would say that since Christ was predestined to die, that therefore Christ never died, and never had to die in history. Are you one of those folks (like Harold Camping) who deny that the God-man really died in history? Was it only some kind of “demonstration”, and not the real death? do you think the real death of Christ never happened, because it happened before history ever happened?

    Don’t keep telling me that your interpretation “is the only one that makes any sense”. It’s like pounding the pulpit when you have no arguments for what you are saying. It’s like saying ‘well all of the book of Romans shows that I am clearly right”….won’t get us anywhere

    ej:: Of course faith is not the instrumental cause, however, it seems to me that you have taught both ‘eternal imputation’ and ‘imputation only right before God grants faith’ and this is very confusing to me. Far better to say that imputation is always there in God’s disposition (and constituted historically at the cross) but the reality of it only becomes known when faith is given.

    mark: Why is it better? I think your confusion comes from not having any Bible texts that say what you want them to say, and yet somehow being dogmatic that “the receiving of reconciliation” (Romans 5:17, 9-11) is not about God’s imputation but about ‘regeneration.

    9 Since, therefore, we have NOW been justified by his BLOOD (imputed, not our faith), much more SHALL we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we WERE enemies we WERE reconciled to God by the DEATH (IMPUTED, not our faith in it) of his Son, much more, NOW that we ARE reconciled, we SHALL BE saved by his life His resurrection). 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have NOW received reconciliation (by imputation).


    Casey: not believing does not make us condemned, but only gives evidence of our condemnation

    mark: i agree, but since we unbelief is a result and evidence of condemnation, and since the elect are born without belief in the gospel, this shows that the eternally elect are not eternally justified

    I Cor 6:11 I Cor 6:11 And such WERE some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    II Cor 5: 16 From NOW ON, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we ONCE regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus NO LONGER 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

    ROMANS 5: 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have NOW received reconciliation.

    Andrew Fuller (and many infralapsarians) do say that condemnation is a result of unbelief

    But in what sense is a person who has never heard the gospel in unbelief of the gospel? in the sense that the person who never heard is still nevertheless self-righteous?

    Andrew Fuller: Faith is necessary to justification, not as being the ground or basis of justification, nor is justification a reward because of faith as a virtue, but without faith we cannot be united to a living Redeemer….If union with Christ were ‘acquired’ by faith, then such an union would be inconsistent with free justification, but if the necessity of faith merely rises from the nature of things–that is, fitness to unite…and if faith itself is a gift of God, no such consequence follows, because the union-though we be active in it–is in reality created by God.” Gospel Worthy, p 184


    Dagg, Manual of Theology, p 269—“justification is not a secret purpose in the bosom of God, but a revelation from God, and therefore it cannot be eternal. Justification is not only the legal counting of the sinner as righteous but also the declaring of the sinner as righteous.

    Justification is the opposite of condemnation. Neither justification nor condemnation can be from before the ages. God’s purpose to justify is from before the ages, and so is God’s purpose to glorify from before the ages, but it is as improper to say that believers are justified from before the ages, as it is to say they are glorified from before the ages.

    mark— God purposed before the ages that I would be born on May 20, 1955. But I was not born before the ages began.


    James Haldane, The Doctrine of the Atonement, p 115–”When does the act of justification take place? In time or before time? Like every other purpose of God, justification was God’s purpose before the ages, and like the act of creation, justification is an act carried out in time. We may as well talk of eternal resurrection as talk of eternal justification,”


    James Haldane, p 114—“Faith is not the persuasion that we are of the elect, or that our sins are pardoned. Neither of these can be known previous to our believing. Election can only be known by our calling. We are never required to believe anything but what is true independently of our believing.


    If you won’t command unbelievers to have faith in the gospel, you will end up asking them to look inside themselves to see if they feel their sins. Enough?


    We are not condemned because our conscience feels guilty. Many of those who are condemned do not feel guilty.

    We are not justified because we believe the gospel. But all of those who are now justified before God do believe the gospel. Some of the non-elect are not yet justified before God.


    Robert Haldane, Romans, p 165–“Men are ungodly in themselves, but as soon as they are justified, they cease to be ungodly.”

    Haldane is not saying we don’t sin anymore, but that there is in time a change of legal standing before God, from wrath to favor. The change is not first of all in our being turned from our sins of unbelief but in God now being legally turned from wrath toward our sins. This is the remission of sins because of the death of Christ for the elect and then that remission counted to the elect. Romans 5:11, 17–reconciliation received by imputation.


    David Clarkson, Of Faith, p 75—Faith at first relies on Christ, not as one that has pardoned my sin, but as one through whom pardon is to be obtained. The persuasion that sin is pardoned is a consequence of faith. Faith is not the persuasion that my sin is pardoned.


    Some teach that being sure that you have true faith is clinging to a
    “perceived internal work” and the solution to this is what? They want an “objective justification” of all the elect at one time, 1. But justification does not happen apart from faith. So the “objective justification” folks want to say that I sound like the Arminians, since I do not believe that I was justified before I was born.

    2. They don’t want to check to see if they are looking to Christ because that would be looking to some internal work in themselves. And who knows, the people right now who are obviously not looking to Christ, who knows, they might be already justified, already imputed with Christ’s righteousness, but as yet with no resulting life in new birth.


    Cunha, p 83—” To say that faith is merely an awareness of justification that has occurred prior to faith is to define faith in a way that is foreign to Scripture….


    Acts 26: 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

    The elect were not born with the forgiveness of sins. Though they were set apart by election, they were not born holy and godly in Christ.


    THEN is a logical time word. Colossians 3:3 If THEN you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you HAVE DIED and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, THEN you also will appear with Him in glory.


    ROMANS 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who WERE ONCE slaves of sin HAVE BECOME obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, HAVING BEEN justified from sin, HAVE BECOME slaves of righteousness.


    Ephesians 2:12 remember that you WERE AT THAT TIME separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But NOW in Christ Jesus you who ONCE were far off HAVE BEEN brought near by the blood of Christ.

    This is not only redemptive history but order of application of salvation.

  17. markmcculley Says:

    I Corinthians 2:7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the AGES for our glory.

    1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the AGES has come.

    Hebrews 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the AGES to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

    Ephesians 1: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

    Ephesians 1: 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in THIS AGE but also in the AGE TO COME

    Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the COMING AGES He will show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    Does “being seated with Him in the heavenly places” mean that all the elect are now in heaven? Does “being seated with Him in the heavenly places” mean that one day all the elect will be in heaven?

    ( I can keep asking the questions. Is heaven now where it always has been, and will heaven always be where it is now? When Revelation promises that heaven will come to earth, is that simply a parable and not a real change that God sees, since God does not change and God does not know anything about time? When the NT promises that Jesus Christ will come again to earth, do we need to see that there is no real “again” since there is no before and after with God, and since God is everywhere, do we need to discount any idea that Jesus Christ is now absent in His humanity from the earth and some place else? )

    Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

    Gnostics (not all amills!) argue from Rormans 14:17 that there is and will be no time or material reality in Christ’s kingdom.

    Now Christ the God-Man is now in heaven. None of the justified elect are now in heaven. None of the justified elect have ascended yet to a place from which they never descended.
    Hebrews 11: 39 And all these, though commended through their faith, DID NOT RECEIVE what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that APART FROM US they will not be made perfect.

    Acts 2: 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord,
    “Sit at my right hand,
    35 UNTIL I make your enemies your footstool.”’

    Colossians 3: 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 WHEN Christ who is your life appears, THEN you also will appear with him in glory.

    John 3:13–”No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.”

    Psalm 110:1–”The Lord says to my Lord; Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The justified elect do not yet sit at God’s right hand. Christ now enjoys the heavenly glory and has been “crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death. (Hebrews 2:9)

    I Corinthians 15: 5 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam BECAME a living being”; the last Adam BECAME life-giving spirit
    Sitting there at the right hand, Christ does not simply wait but intercedes for the justified elect. Christ was first resurrected (the first-fruits) and then He ascended to heaven.
    An ascent directly into heaven from the cross without a resurrection would be Plato’s pagan idea of death as the release of an immortal soul. Going to heaven is not resurrection.

    Gnostics teach going to heaven without resurrection. Gnostics teach that resurrection is going to heaven. Some of these gnostics are preterists, but most of them simply do not think much about the need for the second coming of Christ.

    Some of them claim that the second coming and the resurrection are necessary to claim our bodies from the grave, but agree with the Roman Catholics that “immortal souls” are already either in heaven, or “hell”, or “purgatory”.
    These traditionalists not only deny a final permanent punishment which ends in the second (and final death), but they also hold onto unbiblical (Platonic) ideas about what “soul” is. Since they do not know that the living soul is body plus breath (Genesis 2:7), they tend to think of the “immortal soul” and they cannot deal with reality of Christ the servant pouring out His soul unto death (Isaiah 53). Since they change Christ’s death into “spiritual death”, they also tend to change Christ’s bodily resurrection into “going to heaven.”

    Isaiah 53: 10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul (blood) an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul (blood), and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

    Teachers like Harold Camping go so far as to say that Christ’s “spiritual death” (which he located in “timeless eternity”) is the real and effective death. Camping calimed that the physical death is only a demonstration of the “eternal” real “spiritual” death. Other unthinking preachers do not go as far as Camping, but they seem to prefer talking about Christ’s “infinite soul suffering” instead of the death Christ died in history which was demanded by God’s law for the sins of the elect imputed to Christ.

    Acts 3:15–”You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead.”

    I Timothy 3:16 “He was taken up into glory”.

    I Peter 1:20 Christ was foreknown before the foundation of the ages but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

    I Peter 3:21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

    I Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, THEN AT HIS COMING those who belong to Christ.

    Bavinck, Last Things, p 133—”The resurrection of the dead is primarily a judicial act of God.”

    Daniel 12 “AT THAT TIME SHALLAt l arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a TIME OF TROUBLE , such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But AT THAT TIME your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt

    the justified elect will not be found “naked” on that day, will not be like Adam after his first sin

    II Corinthians 5—to be found “clothed” in two ways

    1. to be found resurrected (a body from heaven, not a body always to be in heaven)

    2. to be found righteous before God, justified

    but here’s the point

    If they are found resurrected, they are also found justified, and there would be no point to a future judgment after that

    if clothed with resurrection, then clothed with Christ’s righteousness

    the resurrection itself is the reward of Christ’s righteousness

    Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly WAIT FOR THE HOPE of righteousness

    This does not mean that we now hope for righteousness
    this means that we hope because we are already now counted righteous

    On resurrection day,
    we won’t be hoping to be justified at the judgment
    our justification will already be visible to all

  18. markmcculley Says:

    Colossians 2:11–In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    And then Colossians 2:20 sounds very much like Romans 6: “with Christ you died”. The circumcision of Christ is the death of Christ. When Christ died, the justified elect were NOT there, but died legally, when God the Father legally buried them in that death.

    Romans 6:5 “Since we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin would be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been justified from sin. 8 Since we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 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.

    Those who teach eternal justification cannot account for the elect being first condemned and then being justified. Nor can they account for the language of Colossians 2 and Romans 6 which speaks of God placing the elect into the death in time, with a before and an after. Nor can the theory properly account for the biblical teaching of “raised through faith”. It has to equate the circumcision and being raised from death with the idea of regeneration, even though we know good and well that Christ was not regenerated. The death of Romans 6 and Colossians 2 is Christ’s death because of sins and for sins. The death is forensic.

    The idea that “all the elect have been justified all along and just did not know it” is NOT the gospel. The idea that “all the elect were justified at the same time at the cross” is NOT the gospel.

    The “justification at the cross ” folks even say that Abraham and OT saints were not really justified until the cross. This confusion of election/atonement/justification can not do justice to Romans 4 and 5.

    Election is not justification. The death and resurrection of Christ we can speak of as His justification, but that death and resurrection is not the justification of the elect. Christ’s death and resurrection is the cause of the justification of the elect.

    Righteousness is imputed by God to the elect and God’s legal application (declaration, legal constitution) results in their justification.

    There is a before and after—the elect always in Christ in one sense are also born legally in Adam.

    Christ, always the beloved Son of God, was under the law, under sin, under death, and then after the propitiation (reconciliation), Christ is no longer under the guilt and death of the elect.

  19. markmcculley Says:

    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.

  20. markmcculley Says:

    If a person thinks all the elect have already been justified in Christ, it is very difficult for them to get to any idea of any of the elect still being condemned in Adam. For that matter it should be difficult for them to even get to the idea of any of the elect still being unregenerate in Adam.

    God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness (His death) results in faith and justification. There are no justified unbelievers. God’s declaration of justification is not apart from calling by the gospel, and hearing by faith, and this effectual calling is in the experience of the elect.

    Those who teach “eternal justification” say that the elect were never under the law but always justified. I do not see how they can fit that with any idea of Christ Himself being under the law and thus needing to die that one death in time. But I have been told that Christ “spent eternity” in his time on the cross before he died. Did Christ really die? Were we ever really condemned?

  21. markmcculley Says:

    Turretin on faith and justification. (p75, Justification, ed Dennison, P and R, 1994)

    First,the false mode of justification by faith (introduced by the Socinians and Romanists) must be removed. The act of believing is not considered as our righteousness with God by a gracious acceptation. A. Because receiving righteousness cannot be our righteousness itself formally. Rom 5:17-18)

    B. Because faith is distinguished from the righteousness itself imputed to us, both because it is said to be “of faith” and “by faith” (Rom 1:17; 3:22; Phil 3:9) and because Christ with his obedience and satisfaction is that righteousness which is imputed to us (Is 53:11; Jer 23:6; I Cor 1:30; II Cor 5;21; Gal 3:13-14). Faith has this righteousness as its object, but with which it cannot be identified.

    C. Because we are not justified except by a perfect righteousness. For we have to deal with the strict justice of God, which cannot be deceived. Now no faith here is perfect. Nor can it be considered as such by God and a gratuitous lowering of the law’s demands. For in the court of divine justice, there cannot be a room for a gracious acceptation which is an imaginary payment.

    D. If faith is counted for righteousness, we will be justified by works because this faith cannot but have the relation of a work that justifies. And yet it is clear that in this business Paul always opposes faith to works as incompatible and two antagonistic means by which man is justified either by his own obedience or by another’s obedience.

    “The faith of Abraham,” it is said, “was imputed to him for righteousness” (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3). Not properly because in this way he would have been justified by works. But metonymically, faith is taken for its object (Gal 3:25), ie, for that which faith believes. (ie the promise, Gal 3:16)

    Nor is this to wrest Scripture and to expose coldly the power of faith, as it is charged. Nay, no more clearly and truly can the genuine sense of that imputation be set forth. For since that thing which is imputed to us for righteousness ought to be our righteousness before God (that on account of which God justifies us), nor can faith be that, it is clear that this phrase is to be taken metonymically with regard to the object.

  22. markmcculley Says:

    How can somebody who has been justified from eternity actually be guilty of a sin which is imputed to Christ? What sins are there to be imputed to Christ if Christ’s elect are justified from eternity?

    In 1683, in the allegorical book, The Travels of True Godliness (pages 125-127, second edition, 1831), Benjamin Keach

    Godliness. I am afraid you are not sound. Pray, friend, what do you believe about justification?

    Antinomian. I believe all the elect are personally and actually justified from eternity, and beloved by the Lord with a love of complacency, before they believe, even as they are after being called and sanctified.

    Godliness–. You certainly are very corrupt in your judgment, and hold a doctrine Jesus Christ abhors. Besides, you talk as if you understand not common sense; can any be actually and personally justified before they actually and personally

    Antinomian. I believe the elect were all actually justified in eternity.

    Godliness-. What, actually and personally justified, and yet actually and personally condemned, at one and the same time! This is strange. Adam, for his first sin, fell under
    wrath and condemnation, and being a public person, all partake of his corrupt nature; and thus are children of wrath, as well as by their own actual transgressions, and so abide until they are transplanted o e until they are transplanted out of that dead root,
    and are implanted into Jesus Christ, and partake of a vital union with him,

    John iii. 18, 36. Can righteousness be imputed, and sin charged, upon a person at the same time? Or are unbelievers, justified persons? To justify or acquit a sinner, implies he was before guilty and condemned; and thus it was with all believers, before they were united to Christ,

  23. mark Says:

    the elect are not in Christ until God imputes Christ’s death them. This is why Paul speaks in Romans 16 of other elect sinners being “in Christ” before he was. Two sides of God’s imputation. On the one hand all the sins of the elect imputed to Christ all at one time, taken away all at one time but n the other hand, God imputed Christ’s death to the elect like Abraham in the OT before the death happened, and God imputed the death to some of the elect before God imputed that death to Paul. When you starting saying that the imputation is “eternal” pretty soon you begin to deny the importance of history, before and after propitiation, before and after the new covenant before and after Christ’s first coming, after the first death and before the second coming etc.

  24. markmcculley Says:

    I can’t tell you what Bill Parker took out of his old version,, and he certainly does not explain what was wrong with his old view, but I can tell you the stuff he added

    Even though Bill opposes the idea that “made sin” is about corruption, his view of what he calls ‘spiritual death” tends to focus on inability and not on guilt (condemnation). This is because his view of “spiritual life” is not about a transition from condemnation to lasting legal life, but instead on being given ability to believe.

    On p 48, bill even sounds like NT Wright, in denying objective guilt—-“many people describe sin as if it were a substance or a thing, like a solid liquid or a gas.”. But if sin is only corruption, and not objective guilt, then righteousness also is not objective, and not something which can be imputed, but instead is “spiritual ability”

    Instead of talking about real ONE DEATH IN TIME. Bill wrties instead about Christ “being forsaken by God in his time on the cross”. (p 49)

    If a person thinks all the elect have already been justified in Christ, it is very difficult for them to get to any idea of any of the elect still being condemned in Adam. For that matter it should be difficult for Bill to get to the idea of any of the elect still being unregenerate in Adam. But that’s the distinction Bill tries to make. Life because of righteousness, sure (Romans 5:10) but Bill thinks the righteousness has been imputed a long time ago ( “eternity”, whatever that it is, “). So he assumes “spiritual life” to not be justification but to be the new birth, which has not happened yet for many of those he thinks are already justified. It’s not clear if Bill thinks this new birth will happen before death or not, but in any case he makes no argument for why new birth would have to happen before death. If a person can be justified forever (as long as they elect) without being born again yet, why say God’s justice makes new birth happen before we die?

    Nor does Bill ever tell us which “eternal covenant of grace” he is talking about. Is there more than one “eternal” covenant? Which one of the two covenants in Galatians and in Hebrews is Bill describing?

    the new stuff

    p 13–the righteousness of God has already been imputed to everyone of God’s elect

    p 22–their sins were always imputed to Christ (quotes Ephesians 1, gives no arguments or reasons)

    p 54—Before God’s people are ever born again by the Holy Spirit, they are already justified before God

    p 55–there is a sense in which God’s children have always been God’s children in the “eternal realm”….they were all already justified in Christ.

    p 57–in the “legal realm” of salvation, God eternally justified the elect in Christ

    p 58—Justification has nothing to do with our experience

  25. markmcculley Says:

    Bill has had trouble making a distinction between imputation and justification. Therefore Bill has nothing to say about the many Bible texts which teach “justification through faith (not works)”. Bill doesn’t do what many eternal justification folks do, which is to speak of two justifications, one through faith before the conscience. Bill simply reasons from the fact that God’s imputation is before faith and not an experience to his assumption that God’s justification is also before and without faith and not an experience.

    But the imputation of Adam’s sin and condemnation are two distinct matters, and condemnation is the result of God’s imputation of Adam’s sin.

    Also God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ is distinct from God’s imputation of Chrsit’s death to the elect (baptized into the death). But Bill has nothing to say about the before and after of Romans 6 and Ephesians 2. Bill does assume that Galatians 2 (despite its context) is not talking about legal life, freedom from guilt, but about the new birth (what he calls ‘spiritual life” )

    God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness (His death) results in faith and justification. There are no justified unbelievers. God’s declaration of justification is not apart from calling by the gospel, and hearing by faith, and this effectual calling is in the experience of the elect.

    on p 60, bill says “nobody will be saved without believing”, but he certainly thinks that all the elect are justified before and without believing.” and as I suggested before, he gives no argument for why we should expect the elect to begin believing before they die.

    Of course I have focused on the negative, and there are many good things in Bill’s booklet. I agree with his discussion on “two natures” on p 85. Only Christ has a human nature and a divine nature, and Christ’s incarnation does not prove the divinization of the human elect, or that “participating in the divine nature” means us having a “perfect nature” inside us that does not want to sin.

    Bill does still agree with the pope that human spirits never die, and I assume this means also the spirits of the non-elect, In any case, Bill (p 87) uses the traditional language of still living spirits being united to “bodies resurrected from the dead”. Where John 5:28 speaks of all those who are in the grave, Bill stands with the tradition in assuming that our spirits were never dead, and those in the grave were not the real us but only our bodies.

    But if he’s not going to define “eternal” in terms of what the Bible says about the ages and permanent redemption, certainly he’s not going to define what he means by “heavenly” in terms of what the Bible says. Thus Bill uses the same language the Arminians use in this respect–“going to heaven” as short for final separation and glory, and “spending eternity” as short for “no longer under the law”.

    yes, I know that Arminians use the language of Trinity, but they don’t really believe that the Trinity has one effective purpose for salvation. And those who speak of “spending eternity” do not believe what I Cor 15 teaches about us perishing if there were no resurrection.

    The bottom line is that Bill thinks the elect were never under the law but always justified. I do not see how he can fit that with the idea of Christ Himself being under the law and thus needing to die that one death in time. I have been told that Christ “spent eternity” in this time on the cross before Christ ever died.

  26. markmcculley Says:

    Bill Parker’s book is free at Reign of Grace. http://rofgrace.com/inc/sdetail/443/1967

  27. markmcculley Says:


    James Petigru Boyce
    VII. The Time of Justification
    We may finally inquire into the time at which justification occurs.
    1. It does not occur periodically but is a single act, and not one repeated with reference to new sins. This arises from its nature as an act of God declaring the relation of the believer to the law and from the ground of that act, the never failing merits of Christ. The pardon which the Christian seeks of God is that of a child for offences against a father’s love, and not of a culprit before an avenging judge. The sufferings which Christians endure are not avenging punishments for sin, but chastisements from a Father who chastises those whom he loves and scourges those whom he receives.
    2. It is an instantaneous and not a continuing work as is sanctification. It is God’s act declaring the sinner’s relation to the law. That sinner is under condemnation until
    justified. As soon as justified his condemnation ceases. He cannot be partly condemned and partly justified. He is under condemnation until brought into that condition which secures his justification. When that moment comes God must justify.
    3. But when is that moment? The Scriptures teach that it is when man believes. It is in the moment of trust in a personal Saviour.
    It was not at the time that Christ finished his work and laid the foundation of justification in his merits and satisfaction. By these justification was secured but not bestowed. It was
    not in Eternity as is Election by which the subjects of the future justification were chosen.
    It is at the moment of belief when faith, which is its condition, is experienced. Then is consummated that which was purposed in eternity and which was made possible and
    certain by the work of Christ. The hour of faith was even the period of justification before the incarnation of Christ because of the faith which rested personally upon him through the promises of God, and the acceptance by God of the meritorious work of Christ as
    though already existing because of the absolute certainty that it would be performed.
    James Petigru Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, c. 35, VII.
    AA Hodge
    19. Are the sins of believers, committed subsequently to their justification, included in the pardon which is consequent to the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; and if so, in what way ?
    The elect, although embraced in the purpose of God, and in his covenant with his Son from eternity, are not effectively united to Christ until the time of their regeneration, when, in consequence of their union with him, and the imputation of his righteousness to them, their relation to the law is permanently changed. Although the immutable law always continues their perfect standard of experience and of action, it is no longer to them a
    condition of the covenant of life, because that covenant has been fully discharged for them by, their sponsor. God no longer imputes sin to them to the end of judicial punishment. Every suffering which they henceforth endure is of the nature of chastisement, designed for their correction and improvement, and forms in its relation to them, no part of the penalty of the law.
    A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology, (CD ROM verson
    John Calvin
    But it ought to be remembered, as I already observed, that the gift of justification is not separated from regeneration, though the two things are distinct. [Book 3, c.11, p.830]
    When puny man endeavours to penetrate to the hidden recesses of the divine wisdom, and goes back even to the remotest eternity, in order that he may understand what final determination God has made with regard to him. In this way he plunges headlong into an immense abyss, involves himself in numberless inextricable snares, and buries himself in the thickest darkness. [Book 3, c. 24, p.1078-9] But if, out of all controversy, the righteousness of Christ, and thereby life, is ours by communication, it follows that both of these were lost in Adam that they might be recovered in Christ, whereas sin and death were brought in by Adam, that they might be
    abolished in Christ. [Book 2, c.1, 5, p.298]
    Thus it appears how true it is that we are justified not without, and yet not by works, since in the participation of Christ, by which we are justified, is contained not less sanctification than justification. [Book 3, c. 16, 1, p.896)
    For how does true faith justify unless by uniting us to Christ, so that being made one with him, we may be admitted to a participation in his righteousness?

  28. David Bishop: “Some people, eager to protect salvation by grace alone, insist justification is not by faith, because they conclude that this would mean our faith is what justifies us. This is not what justified by faith means though. These people are confusing imputation with justification. Imputation is not the same thing as justification. Imputation is God making us righteous. Justification is God declaring us righteous. First comes imputation, then regeneration, then faith followed by justification. Faith is the means God has chosen to justify us. It is just like saying the preaching of the gospel (the content of faith) is the means God has chosen to call His elect. This does not mean the preaching of the gospel forces God’s hand and calls His elect. No, it simply means God has chosen to use the preaching of the gospel (the object of faith) as a vehicle to call those whom He will.”

  29. justification is not the transfer of the merit of Christ’s death to the elect

    because justification is God’s legal objective declaration that an elect person is now justified BECAUSE OF THAT TRANSFER of the merit of Christ’s death

    but then again, neither is justification a “declaration before our conscience” because that conversion of conscience is the effectual call, and the effectual call is not justification

    our conscience receiving and believing the gospel is not justification

    God’s receiving of Christ’s death offering as propitiation is reconciliation

    God is the subject and object of this reconciliation, God’s wrath is appeased by Christ’s death

    the transfer by imputation of this reconciliation results in God’s legal constitution of elect sinners as justified

    us being reconciled to God, us receiving this reconciliation (both by imputation and by faith) is necessary for God’s justification

    but our receiving this reconciliation is not God’s declaration of justification


    • markmcculley Says:

      eternal justification folk reason from the fact that God’s imputation is before faith and not an experience to an assumption that God’s justification is also before and without faith and not an experience.
      But the imputation of Adam’s sin and condemnation are two distinct matters, and condemnation is the result of God’s imputation of Adam’s sin.
      Also God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ is distinct from God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect (baptized into the death). But eternal justification folk have nothing to say about the before and after of Romans 6 and Ephesians 2. They tend to assume that Galatians 2 (despite its context) is not talking about legal life, freedom from guilt, but about the new birth (‘spiritual life” )
      God’s imputation of Christ’s righteousness (His death) results in faith and justification. There are no justified unbelievers. God’s declaration of justification is not apart from calling by the gospel, and hearing by faith. Those who think that all the elect are justified before and without believing.give no argument for why we should expect the elect to begin believing before they die

  30. markmcculley Says:

    Gary Williams, From Heaven He Came, p 511—How does John Owen avoid the accusation of Richard Baxter, that satisfaction would have to be applied immediately upon being made? For John Owen, the gift of faith is itself a certain result of the work of Christ, produced by it ipso facto, But NOT “in an immediation of time but causality.” John Owen argues for the compatiblity of identical satisfaction and delayed application on the basis of the new covenant that stipulates how the satisfaction will be applied.

  31. markmcculley Says:

    Because nobody is justified until imputation, many supposedly “Reformed” sermons would give you the impression that Christ has not already died for the elect before the “union”. They may give lip-service to union by election, or to the idea of the sins of the elect imputed to Christ at the cross, but when they say “union” they tend to mean faith, and the impression is given that atonement happens only at justification.

    But another concern would be that people on my side of the discussion collapse justification and atonement the other way back. I mean if imputation of the righteousness is before faith, why not say that the imputation of the righteousness was at the same time as the atonement?

    I would agree that John Gill has done this very thing. They have made a distinction between two justifications, one objective at the cross, and the other merely subjective to our conscience. But I reject this notion, and affirm that there is no justification without faith. “Imputation before faith” is not to be equated with “justification before faith”. We have to keep our eyes on what is being imputed. Imputation is not being imputed. Faith is not being imputed. Christ’s righteousness is imputed, and the result of that is justification.

  32. markmcculley Says:

    The only reason God would not count my sins against me is NOT because of my faith but because of Christ’s righteousness (His death which satisfied the law for the elect). To give the forensic the priority is to give first place (logically) to what Christ did outside us.

    I think both Calvin and Luther want to do that. Neither wants to locate the righteousness in what Christ by His Holy Spirit is doing in us. And yet Luther points to faith as Christ’s presence already in us, and puts this faith before justification, and that tends to put our minds on the faith and not on the object of faith (as if we could have Christ first without the benefits of His work)

    Since Luther has an universal atonement, he inherently cannot think that the atonement is decisive, and by default thus makes faith to be the deciding factor. By agreeing to the temporal priority of faith, Calvin at least seems inconsistent in making the righteousness of Christ the only basis of justification.

    At the end of the day, the logical priority of Christ’s atonement as the reason a person is justified is most important. Those who put imputation in second place after regeneration end up teaching that the Holy Spirit giving faith is the bond of union in Christ

  33. markmcculley Says:

    Jesus rejects many sinners as His guilty clients, because Jesus was never the mediator for many guilty sinners

    God’s election comes first before Christ’s atonement
    Atonement to satisfy justice is a result of God’s love for the elect
    God’s love for the elect is not a result of Atonement for the elect

    This means that election is not the same thing as the atonement
    This means that election is not the same thing as justification.

    God loved the elect before God made justice for the elect.
    God has already made justice for the elect
    God has already not made justice for the non-elect
    God has already not loved the non-elect

    God loved the elect in Christ before Christ made atonement for the elect alone
    but God does not justify God’s elect apart from the Atonement

    I find it interesting that these very same preachers who are teaching “eternal election is eternal justification” are the very same people who also like to say that “non-election is not condemnation”.

    When they say this, logically they should change their soundbites so that “election is not salvation but only unto salvation”. They quote CD Cole—“Election is not the cause of anybody going to hell, for election is unto salvation (2 Thessalonians 2: 13). Neither is non-election responsible for the damnation of sinners. Sin is the thing that sends men to hell, and all men are sinners by nature and practice. Sinners are sinners altogether apart from election or non-election. It does not follow that because election is unto salvation that non-election is unto damnation. Sin is the damning element in human life. Election harms nobody.”

    Those who refuse to give explanations like to have their cake and also eat it. On the hand, they like to reduce salvation to God’s sovereignty and equate election with justification ( and don’t talk about justification or Christ obtaining righteousness by being imputed with guilt). But on the other hand, when it comes to explaining the non-salvation of the non-elect, these same preachers don’t want to talk about God’s sovereignty but only about God’s justice.

    But guilt is not enough for destruction, because you also have to be non-elect. The elect are also born guilty in sin, under the wrath of God, but all the elect will pass from guilt to justification. But these preachers deny that the elect are ever guilty, and they minimize any idea that Christ was imputed with the guilt of the elect, and in that way obtained justification for the elect. And these same preachers deny that non-election is any factor in some sinners not being saved.

    Romans 9: 11 For though her sons had not been born yet or done anything good OR BAD, so that God’s purpose according to election would stand— 12 not from works but from the One who calls

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