No More Judgment After the Resurrection For the Justified Elect

Paul on Justification and the Final Judgment

J. V. Fesko

In recent years there has been much controversy surrounding the exact
relationship between justification by faith alone and the final judgment. While it is certainly important to establish Paul’s understanding of the law, it seems that few take into account the nature of the final judgment itself. There appears to be an
unchecked assumption regarding the final judgment, namely that the
parousia, resurrection, and final judgment are separate events.

The final judgment is not a separate event on the last day but is part of the single organic event of parousia-resurrection-final judgment. The final judgment is the resurrection.

We see the paradigmatic nature of the resurrection of Christ when Paul calls him “the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18; cf. Rev. 1:5). Christ is, of course, the firstborn of many brothers (Rom. 8:29). The connection between the resurrection of Christ and the church is especially evident when Paul calls Christ “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20b).

What often receives little attention regarding the resurrection of Christ is its declarative or forensic character. The first place we see the forensic emerge in connection with the resurrection of Christ is in the opening verses of Paul’s epistle to Rome: “Concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom.1:3-4).

Historically, Reformed interpreters have explained these verses in terms of Christ’s ontological constitution: that Christ was descended from David according to the flesh refers to his humanity, and that he was raised from the dead refers to and is evidence of his deity. But Vos concludes, and rightly so, that, “The resurrection is to Paul
the beginning of a new status of sonship: hence as Jesus derived His
sonship, kata sarka, from the seed of David, He can be said to have derived His divine-sonship-in-power from the resurrection.”

The resurrection is not simply an event but is invested with forensic
significance. We find confirmation of this conclusion in Paul’s first
epistle to Timothy when he writes: “He was manifested in the flesh,
justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16).

In Rom. 4:25 Paul states that Christ was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Recall that Paul has elsewhere stated that, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). In other words, if Christ remains dead in the tomb, then the powers of sin and death have not been conquered.

Vos explains: “Christ’s resurrection was the de facto declaration of God in regard to his being just. His quickening bears in itself the testimony of his justification.” Once again we see the declarative, connected to the resurrection of Christ.

In Romans 8:23 we read that we, “Who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” Here Paul explicitly relates the forensic category of adoption to the redemption of the body, or the resurrection from the dead (cf. Luke 20:35).

Believers have the “firstfruits of the Spirit,” which is essentially synonymous with the word arrabōn, which Paul uses to describe the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as guarantee or pledge of the believer’s future resurrection (2 Cor. 5:5; Eph. 1:4). Romans 8:23 means that we will be declared sons of God by the resurrection of our bodies, when what is sown perishable is raised imperishable (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

Just as Christ was declared to be the son
of God by his resurrection, those who are in Christ will likewise be
declared to be sons of God. When we consider that the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), then those who are raised from the dead are
righteous in the sight of God.

“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked” (2 Cor. 5:2-3). Paul does not want to be naked on the day of judgment; to be naked is to be in the state of shame and guilt. The resurrection of the believer, then, is a de facto declaration of righteousness because death has no claim upon those who are righteous (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

In the resurrection there is already wrapped up a judging-process, at least for believers: the raising act in their case, together with the attending change, plainly involves a pronouncement of vindication. The resurrection does more than prepare its object for undergoing the judgment.

The resurrection of the church is not the anticipation of the issue of
judgment, but is de jure the final judgment. As Herman Bavinck writes, “The resurrection of the dead in general, therefore, is primarily a judicial act of God.”

The resurrection is not the penultimate event prior to the final
judgment; the resurrection is the final judgment.

We must correlate the resurrection with the fact that those who place
their faith in Christ have already been raised and seated with him in the heavenly places (Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6). Were a person guilty of sin and worthy of condemnation, he would neither be raised with Christ nor seated with him in the heavenly places. We have been raised, of course, according to our inner man. Our outer man is wasting away and awaits the redemption of the body, the resurrection (2 Cor. 4:16-5:5). The resurrection of believers, then, is the visible manifestation of those who are already raised with Christ.

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:19). The revelation of the sons of God occurs, not after the final judgment, but at the resurrection (Rom. 8:23).
The resurrection transformation of believers is something that occurs in an instant: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, andthe dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:52). Those who are in Christ are immediately transformed and receive their glorified bodies.

“But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 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” (Dan. 12:1b-2).The resurrection is a judgment unto itself, in that as the earth yields up the dead there is already a known separation between the righteous and the condemned.

It is not, resurrection → judgment → glorification but rather
even before the resurrection the status of those who rise from the dead is already known. Once again resurrection is coterminous with glorification for some whereas judgment is coeval with resurrection for others. We find this same pattern in Christ’s teaching on the resurrection: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29; cf. Luke 14:14).

Not only have the blessings of the age to come been revealed but so have the curses. Paul echoes the teaching of Christ when he notes that the propagation of the gospel has a twofold effect: salvation and judgment (2 Cor. 2:16-17). “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).

Jesus already says: “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out”(John 12:31). “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18).

The resurrection is not the penultimate step before the final
judgment but instead is the final judgment in that it visibly reveals what has come with the first advent of Christ: the righteous are instantaneously clothed in immortality, they receive a glorified body, and the wicked are raised but are naked, they are not glorified. God need not utter a word; the condemned status of the wicked is immediately evident as is the justified status of the righteous.

The resurrection transformation is only for those who are in Christ. The condemned are also raised but are not transformed. Given the immediacy of the transformation of the righteous and the non-transformation of the wicked, the resurrection is the final
judgment in that it reveals what has already occurred. The final judgment, therefore, is not a separate event following the
resurrection but rather an aspect of one event of final judgment.

The elect have already passed through the final judgment in the
crucifixion of Christ. Vos writes, “the Apostle made
the act of justification to all intents, so far as the believer is
concerned, a last judgment anticipated.”

Some argue that if there is an “already” of justification, it must
be the verdict in the present, but there must also be a “not yet” of
justification, which entails some sort of judgment either on the basis of or according to works.

On the final day, the verdict that is passed in secret in the
present, is revealed through the resurrection of the outer man. The
resurrection reveals who is righteous. On the final day, when Christ
returns, the righteous are immediately transformed. Without God
uttering a single syllable, the righteous will be able to look around them and know immediately who has been declared righteous and who is wicked. There is no future aspect of justification but rather only the revelation of the verdict through the resurrection.

The justification is “already,” and what remains “not yet” is the revelation of the verdict that has already been passed on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. By maintaining the all-important connection between justification and resurrection, we preserve the good news that believers are raised, not because of their own works, but solely because of the works of Christ.

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35 Comments on “No More Judgment After the Resurrection For the Justified Elect”

  1. DC Says:

    Insightful. I take it this is contra Schreiner, Piper, and the New Perspective people?

    • markmcculley Says:

      not only them, but all who have the false gospel, including Gaffin and Daniel Fuller.

      Robert Reymond, Systematic Theology, p 754—-The Protestant doctrine calls into question the salvation of millions of Christians throughout history. This group would include, we are informed, such church fathers as Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas who as sacerdotalists believed in baptismal regeneration and, because they confused justification and sanctification, believed also in the necessity of deeds of penance for salvation.

      Reymond: This argument however is aimed not so much at Protestantism’s “rigidity” as it is against Paul’s insistence that there is only one gospel, and that any other “gospel” is not the gospel, that those who teach any other “gospel” stand under God’s anathema (Galatians 1:8-9), and that those who rely to any degree on their works for salvation nullify the grace of God (Romans 11:5-6), make void the cross work of Christ (Galatians 2:21, 5:2), and become debtors to keep the entire law and are under the curse of the law.

      Reymond: It is neither my nor their defenders’ place to assure the Christian world that surely God justified them by faith alone even though they themselves did not hold to a faith alone view of justification. I will not speculate but I will say that our attitude should, with Paul, ever be: “Let God’s truth be inviolate, though EVERY man becomes thereby a liar. ” (Romans 3:4) The clear teaching of the Word should be upheld and we should not look for reasons to avoid it, even if the alternative would force us to conclude that these fathers–and all others like them—were not saved.

      sarcasm—Of course we should always kill Arabs (even Christians not only Muslims) to protect the Jews, but can anybody tell me why the new covenant excludes all the circumcised unless they repent and believe the gospel?

      is God breaking the law to cut out all those Jews from ‘the covenant”?

      Have we now gotten to the point that God now conditions salvation on the gospel?

      Sure, it would be nice if Jews believed the gospel more or if they even knew what the gospel was, but are you going to tell me that a sovereign God can’t save people without teaching them the gospel?

      if you are going to exclude God’s chosen Jews like that, who’s next? Mormons or Roman Catholics?

      if you are going to exclude people that, I am going to accuse you of thinking that all Jews who were ever justified actually had a perfect understanding of the gospel….

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Run to Win the Prize, 2010, Crossway, Thomas R. Schreiner

    This little book is from lectures given at Oak Hill in London. It’ s a summary of the thinking found in the book Schreiner wrote with Caneday, The Race Set Before Us (2001, IVP) Schreiner again engages in some special pleading for a “paradox” (p73) in which works are necessary but also for not focusing on works but Christ. How it’s possible to rationally live in that paradox is not so clear. I guess words like “premeditation” and “intention” and “byproduct” play a big part.

    I would not say that Schreiner’s thesis comes from the “new perspective”. There’s no need to go to NT Wright, Norman Shepherd, or John Armstrong, to make his case. Rather, he goes to Jonathan Edwards against John Calvin to argue that works of faith are necessary for justification. In this respect, Schreiner is simply making popular a path already made by Dan Fuller in The Unity of the Bible (1992, Zondervan).

    I quote from Unity (p181): “In commenting on Genesis 2:17 -do not eat from that tree–Calvin said, `These words are so far from establishing faith that they do nothing but shake it.’ I argue, however, that there is much reason for regarding these words as well suited to strengthen Adam and Eve’s faith…In Calvin’s thinking, the promise made in Genesis 2:17 could never encourage faith, for its conditionality could encourage only meritorious works. `Faith seeks life that is not found in commandments.’ Consequently, the gospel by which we are saved is an unconditional covenant of grace, made such by Christ having merited it for us by his perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works. Dan Fuller comments: “I have yet to find anywhere in Scripture a gospel promise that is unconditional.”

    More from Unity (p310): “If Abraham was not declared forgiven until ten years later, was he still a guilty sinner when he responded positively to God’s promises in Genesis 12:2-3 and also during the following years up until 15:6?” “Calvin gave a meaning to James’s use of the word justification which is not supported by the text…He argued that for James, `justify’ meant the `declaration’ rather than the `imputation’ of righteousness.”

    Calvin (3:17:12): “Either James inverted faith and obedience–unlawful even to imagine–or he did not mean to call him justified, as if Abraham deserved to be reckoned righteous. What then? Surely, it is clear that he himself is speaking of the declaration, not the imputation, of righteousness.”

    Back to Fuller (p313): “Paul would have agreed with James that Abraham’s work of preparing to sacrifice Isaac was an obedience of faith. He would have disagreed strongly with Calvin, who saw obedience and works as only accompanying genuine faith…James’ s concern in 2:14-26 was to urge a faith that saves a person, not simply to tell a person how they could demonstrate their saving faith…Calvin should have taught that justification depends on a persevering faith, since he regarded Abraham as already justified before Genesis 15:6.”
    And then Fuller quotes Edwards: “We are really saved by perseverance…the perseverance which belongs to faith is one thing that is really a fundamental ground of the congruity that faith gives to salvation…For, though a sinner is justified in his first act of faith, yet even then, in that act of justification, God has respect to perseverance as being implied in the first act.” For more from Edwards, see Schreiner’s new little book (p20, 70, 92).

    Rob Zins, who wrote his masters on Shepherd’s view of Justification, writes on p189 about Romans 2: “It is difficult to grasp how Paul could be speaking hypothetically. Paul rather seems to be making direct statements of reality. .. The question revolves around whether God gives eternal life `because’ of good works or `in accordance with good works’. ” And then on p192, Zins concludes: “both James and Paul do not hesitate to apply the word `justification’ when God approves a sinner on the basis of good works…Yet these justification notifications stem from a previous justification by imputation…The blood of Christ had to be applied to Abraham for his justification despite both his faith and the completion of his faith by his good works.” And then Zins quotes favorably ( p196) the conclusion of Jonathan Edwards about God considering from the first the future works of faith of the believers.

    I have been trying to set the Schreiner book in a context, but in doing that, I have written more about Dan Fuller, Rob Zins, Jonathan Edwards, and John Calvin, than I have about Schriener’s exegesis or about the psychology of making assurance depend on present working without at the same time depending on present working.

    If the non-elect are condemned ON ACCOUNT OF THEIR WORKS, how do the elect live with the notion that works of faith are necessary for their justification? I will say the one simple thing I keep on saying: God does not count faith as the righteousness. Neither the initial act of faith nor the continuing acts of faith are the basis of justification. God counts the righteousness of Christ earned for the elect alone as the righteousness. The elect have legal union with Christ’s obedience to death for the elect. The elect come to share in this righteousness by legal imputation. The righteousness credited ( a free gift received, Romans 5:17) results in the justification of elect.

    • DC Says:

      Yes, that paradox Schreiner adovocates is very strange. It’s like saying you need the car to get to point A but don’t become reliant on the car either?

      And they make a big deal of “according to” being much different from “on the basis of.” Hard to see a whole lot of difference there.

      They do seem to agree with Arminians and Romanists that faithfulness is what makes the difference between saved and lost and that Christ’s death is not so much an end in itself, but a means to another end

  3. markmcculley Says:

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

    Daniel 12 “At that time shall 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 found resurrected, then also found justified, 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

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

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Law is law and gospel is gospel, and law is not gospel. This means that there is law for those who believe the gospel, but that law should never be confused with the gospel.

  5. markmcculley Says:

    Luke 10:28: And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

    John Calvin on Luke 10:28. Do this, and thou shalt live. I have explained a little before, how this promise agrees with freely bestowed justification by faith; for the reason why God justifies us freely is, not that the Law does not point out perfect righteousness, but because we fail in keeping it, and the reason why it is declared to be impossible for us to obtain life by it is, that it is weak through our flesh, (Romans 8:3.) So then these two statements are perfectly consistent with each other, that the Law teaches how men may obtain righteousness by works, and yet that no man is justified by works, because the fault lies not in the doctrine of the Law, but in men. It was the intention of Christ, in the meantime, to vindicate himself from the calumny which, he knew, was brought against him by the unlearned and ignorant, that he set aside the Law, so far as it is a perpetual rule of righteousness.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Matthew 6:2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

    Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

    Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    Matthew 6:18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    Matthew 6:18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

    Matthew 10:41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.

    Matthew 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

  7. markmcculley Says:

    knowing that you have no moral righteousness is a necessary (but not sufficient) part of knowing that you are forensically righteous

    there are those who know they are sinners, but don’t yet know that they are justified

    but there are none who are now justified who don’t know yet that they have no moral righteousness

    Christ’s righteousness will always be the only righteousness of the justified elect

  8. markmcculley Says:

    XVII. Further, if it is asked here whether the sins of the pious equally as well as of the wicked will be revealed, we answer that the negative seems more probable to us. (1) On account of the judge, who since he has been most fully satisfied for us and now intercedes for us in heaven, will then come as their Redeemer and Savior, not to reproach them for their sins, but to fulfill his promises in them and to manifest the wonders of his grace. (2) The process of the judgment is such that mention may indeed be made of good works, but not of their evil works (Matt 25:31–40). The pious will not hear the publication of their sins, but the reward of their love and benevolence. (3) The gratuitous mercy of Christ does not wish our sins to be remembered anymore, but casts them behind it’s back. Now what God has once wish to be covered in this life, he will not reveal in the other. (4) If their sins were to be made known, it would lead to the disgrace and confusion of the pious, from which they ought to be free. For Christ will return for this end—that he may be glorious in his saints and be admired in all believers.

    — Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Twentieth topic, question six.

  9. markmcculley Says:

    Gaffin—- where Calvin brings in the proposition, “faith without works justifies”- he says …although this needs prudence and sound interpretation. For this proposition that faith without works justifies is true, yet false … true, yet false… according to the different senses which it bears. The proposition that faith without works justifies by itself is false. Because faith without works is void. But if the clause, “without works,” is joined with the word, “justifies,” the proposition will be true. Therefore faith cannot justify when it is without works because it is dead and a mere fiction. Thus faith can be no more separated from works than the sun from its heat…. Notice what Calvin says. It needs prudence and sound interpretation. It is true yet false. Now there is a paradox. True yet false, depending on the way it is read.

    Gaffin, lectures on Romans, on 2:13:—-As that judgement decides, in its way, we’re going to wanna (sic) qualify that deciding, but as it decides the ultimate outcome for all believers and for all humanity, believers as well as unbelievers. That is, death or life. It’s a life and death situation that’s in view here. Further, this ultimate judgement has as its criterion or standard, brought into view here, the criterion for that judgement is works, good works. The doing of the law, as that is the criterion for all human beings, again, believers as well as unbelievers. In fact, in the case of the believer a positive outcome is in view and that positive outcome is explicitly said to be justification. So, again the point on the one side of the passage is that eternal life… depends on and follows from a future justification according to works. Eternal life follows upon a future justification by doing the law.

    Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight, p 38—From this perceptive, the antithesis between law and gospel is not a theological ultimate. Rather, that antithesis enters not be virtue of creation but as a consequence of sin, and the gospel functions for its overcoming. The gospel is to the end of removing an absolute law-gospel antithesis in the life of the believer

  10. markmcculley Says:

    Marcus Johnson: William Evans argues that Berkhof’s soteriology is the logical conclusion of a federal theological trajectory, epitomized by Charles Hodge, in which union ceases to function as an umbrella category unifying all of salvation.

    mark: Johnson rejects “imputation priority” because he has already rejected the federal imputation of Adam’s guilt (see his chapter 2 on incarnation) and because he has already rejected what he calls a “mechanical transfer” of sins to Christ. I would say “the sins of the elect” but Johnson does not consider the doctrine of election in his discussion of imputation and justification. Election for him seems to be only an “apologetic doctrine” which he does not deny but which plays no part in his soteriology. (This is his accusation against those of us with “justification priority”, that the incarnation and the Trinity are no part of our gospel., p 41)

    MarcusJohnson: Both Horton and Fesko subordinate union with Christ to justification, indicating that they see union with Christ as reducible to sanctification.

    mark: Johnson denies the reality of legal imputation, and subordinates imputation as merely one benefit of “union”, and then he defines “union” as the personal presence of Christ in us because of our faith (given to us by the Holy Spirit). So Johnson subordinates the work of Christ to the person of Christ, and then accuses those who disagree with him of dividing person and work. And then Johnson subordinates the imputation of Christ’s work to the work of the Holy Spirit, who he thinks is the one who unites us to Christ’s person by creating faith in us.

  11. markmcculley Says:

    John Fesko– “That the righteous deeds of the saints….are given to the saints is evident in both Isaiah 61:10 and Revelation 19:8. When we correlate these data with Revelation 20:11-15 and the book of life of the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 20:12; 13:8), what emerges is that it is the obedience, or righteousness, of Christ that is imputed that is the ground of judgment for the believer. We see the same wedding-garment imagery connected with the work of Christ in Paul [Ephesians. 5:25-27) The bride of Christ, then, is clothed in righteousness which by imputation is the righteous deeds of the saints” ( Justification, p 327)

  12. markmcculley Says:

    John Fesko in a footnote:

    “Richard Gaffin tries to argue, on the basis of the grammar involved
    in a similar Pauline statement, that works are not the ground of
    judgment: “It is not for nothing, I take it, and not to be dismissed
    as an overly fine exegesis to observe, that in Romans 2:6 Paul writes, ‘according (kata) to works,’ not ‘on account of (dia),’ expressing the ground, nor ‘by (ek) works,’ expressing the instrument” (By Faith, Not By Sithgt [Carlisle: Paternoster, 2006], 98-99; similarly, Venema, Gospel, 266). Though Gaffin’s comment concerns Paul’s statement in Romans 2:6, at the same time we find the same prepositional combination with the accusative in John’s statement in Revelation 20:12e, the only difference being in the use of the singular and plural pronouns (cf. Rom 2:6). Gaffin argues this point because he wants to preserve sola fide in the judgment of the works of the believer. Relying upon the analysis of Ridderbos and Murray, Gaffin’s finer point is that the judgment kata works is “in accordance with” the works, and such works are synecdochical for faith in Christ (see Herman Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. John Richard de Witt [1975; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992], 178-81; Murray, Romans, 78-79).

    Yet can such a fine distinction be supported by the grammar alone? The use of “dia” with the accusative means “because of, on account of,” and the use of “kata” with the accusative means “in accordance with, corresponding to” (Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 368-69, 376-77). One must ask, what difference exists between the two? In fact, when we delve more deeply into the significance of “kata” with the accusative, we find that “often the noun that follows kata specifies the criterion, standard,
    or norm in the light of which a statement is made or is true, an
    action is performed, or a judgment is passed. The prep. will mean
    ‘according to’, ‘in conformity with’, ‘corresponding to.’ This use is
    common in reference to the precise and impartial standard of judgment that will be applied at the great Assize (Matt. 16:27; Rom 2:6; 1 Cor
    3:8; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Peter 1:17; Rev 2:23)” (Murray J. Harris,
    “Prepositions and Theology in the Greek New Testament,” in NIDNTT,
    3:1200). Pace Gaffin and Venema, their argument apparently fails to account for judgment kata works for the wicked. This point seems to be borne out by Paul’s own use of kata, as he says, “He will render each
    one according to [kata] his works” (Rom. 2:6), but this rendering kata
    works is for both the righteous (v. 7) and the wicked (v. 8).
    According to Gaffin’s interpretation, are the wicked judged according
    to their works, but are they not the ground of their condemnation (see
    2 Cor. 11:15)? Again, note how Paul uses kata: “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due [to de ergazomeno ho misthos ou logizetai kata charin alla kata opheilema]”
    (Rom 4:4; see also Brian Vickers, Jesus Blood and Righteousness
    [Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006] 95; Yinger, Paul, 21-26, 89-90, 135-136, 175, 182, 186). Judgment therefore is indeed kata (in accordance with, or on the basis of) works – the evil works of the unbeliever and thegood works, or righteousness, of Christ.

    “Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine” p. 315

  13. markmcculley Says:

    One way some folks try to protect justification by merely grace is to allow some notion of “merit in sanctification”

    they speak of our works after “sin is removed from them” so that they merit reward, but it’s not a strict merit, because grace had to either take the sin out of the work, or ignore the sin etc….

    but see Poole vs extra…/do_christians…

    Blomberg–Contrary to one popular strand of thought, believers should not expect eternal degrees of reward . The imagery of the parable of the vineyard laborers (Mt. 20:1-16) points us away from such an expectation.How can there be degrees of perfection?. The so-called ‘crown’ passages (1 Cor. 9:25; 1 Thes. 2:19; 2 Tim. 4:8; James. 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:4), as well as numerous other NT texts, speak of eternal life.

    The issue is a significant one, for a fair amount of motivation for
    living the Christian life is often based on these alleged degrees of
    reward, rather than, as Luther saw most clearly among the Protestant Reformers, on the motive of profound gratitude for God in Christ having already done what we could never do…/JETS_35-2_159-172_Blomberg.pdfO

    • markmcculley Says:

      I report that with which I do not agree, from Roger Olson.

      “But we must also agree that the rewards will be real and meaningful rewards for freely deciding to allow the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit to work in believers’ lives.
      My fear is that Calvin robs rewards of any meaning and implies that God is actually rewarding himself and not believers. If that is the case, why mention rewards at all? Why preach or teach heavenly rewards as motivation for obedience and service as the New Testament clearly does?
      Ah, yes…the Calvinist will say “foreordained means to a foreordained end.” Back to that. But this seems to take to an extreme a right emphasis on God’s sovereignty and glory. The upshot of it all, then, is that whatever a believer is or is not accomplishing is out of his or her control. And that at the judgment seat of Christ all God will be doing is rewarding himself. Now, this might make sense WERE IT NOT FOR THE DEGREES OF REWARDS ISSUE. Clearly there will be degrees of rewards. How is God glorified in awarding to himself a lesser reward than is possible?

      My point is that the Calvinist doctrine of rewards involves a conundrum. It actually makes no sense at all. Which is perhaps WHY preaching and teaching about heavenly rewards has virtually ceased. They only make sense within a synergistic view of sanctification.
      In the past, and perhaps to some extent still today, SOME Reformed preachers have taught that justification and regeneration are monergistic while sanctification is not.

      That doesn’t seem to fit with a consistently Calvinist understanding of God’s sovereignty, however, and as Calvinism has become increasingly consistent … any element of synergism, even in sanctification, is slipping away (if not totally condemned).

      It seems to me that heavenly rewards is an inescapable biblical truth. Calvin believed that. And yet it makes no sense within a strictly, consistently monergistic soteriology (in which even sanctification is interpreted as solely God’s work to the exclusion of any free human contribution in which “free” is understood as power of contrary choice).

  14. markmcculley Says:

    Extra rewards for Christians is in the Scofield Bible, but all blessings are given for Christ’s sake. At the resurrection, the justified elect are no longer dead, but risen and not judged according to works. We rejoice in ANOTHER BOOK

    Revelation 2) 11 Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.ANOTHER BOOK WAS OPENED, WHICH IS THE BOOK OF LIFE. And the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the BOOKS.

    13 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Luke 10: 17 The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash. 19 Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you. 20 However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

  15. markmcculley Says:

    Tianqi Wu–If we devalue the body, then we will not only devalue the future resurrection, but also devalue Christ’s death
    Christ lost his life in this age. Christ bore the curse of the covenant breaker, cut off from the land of the living
    Those redeemed by him and to him will have to wait until He returns to enjoy the full benefit of the kingdom (bodily resurrection and immortality, face-to-face with the Lord and reunion with all believers, living on the new earth) that comes with the never ending age to come.
    But Christ was raised because of our justification. The next age has come into the present. Christ didn’t wait until the end of this age to be raised. He was raised after three days. During these three days, his body was preserved by God from decay. He was no longer under wrath of God after he died, because he was no longer imputed with sin, having died to sin, because he had paid the sins imputed to him in full because of the loss of his life.
    The elect who have now already been redeemed to become sons (washed and sanctified by blood, reconciled to God, died to sin), have note yet obtained the redemption belonging to sons (glorification, inheritance of earth). They have died to sin, to the law, and to the world, and are guarded by God until their resurrection on the last day.
    As Christ is already raised from the dead and even reigns now, so the justified elect have been declared righteous and because Christ is now (absent in His humanity from earth) seated in heaven, the justified elect are now legally “seated with Him”. There will be a future visible manifestation/consummation of this legal reality by resurrection to glory and heavenly Jerusalem coming to earth).
    So in the one regard, the believer is “dead” (not dead in Adam, but dead in Christ) – to sin as damning guilt, to law as relationship of works, and to this present age as home. But in the other regard, the believer is “alive” in Christ – to God
    Being joined to Christ’s death results in a new relationship – belonging to the risen Christ. By the power of Christ’s Spirit in regenerating and converting the one imputed with his death , hears and believes the gospel, which kills his old false hope and gives him a new living hope. Not only has the believer given up on the world, but also the world will reject the believer, as it rejected the Master.

    • markmcculley Says:

      the tradition says you can have life outside of Christ

      it says that in Adam, all humans already have eternal life

      it says that you already have eternal life, even if you don’t have Christ

      it says that sin will always exist

      it says that death will always exist

      it says that dying will always exist

      it says that there always be two eternal kingdoms

      I Corinthians 15: 23 But each in his own order—Christ, the first fruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end,when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy to be abolished is death. 27 For God has put everything under His feet

      • markmcculley Says:

        Robert Peterson: Hebrews also contains texts that could be construed as teaching consumption— “a raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb 10:2); “our God is a consuming fire” (12:29). These texts could possibly be so interpreted, but should they be? I must answer in the negative due to the Scriptural testimony that hell-fire speaks of the pain of the wicked, not their consumption

        John MacArthur: Eternal bodies, greater than anything we have on this earth, are going to be given to the damned so that they can suffer in those bodies forever. As God fits the redeemed with new bodies for heaven, He fits the damned with new bodies for hell.

        Richard Baxter: Woe to the soul that as a bush that must burn in the flames of his jealousy, and never be consumed.

        Jonathan Edwards: And here the bodies of all the wicked shall burn, and be tormented to all eternity, and never be consumed.

        John Gill: So the fire of hell will preserve rebellious sinners in their beings; they shall not be consumed by it, but continued in it

      • markmcculley Says:

        John 6:49–51: Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.
        Douglas Moo: Does this mean, then, that Paul teaches immortality as a gift of God? Yes and no. If we define “immortality” as Paul uses the terminology, then the answer is yes. But Paul’s way of using the word is not the same as the way the word is usually used in theology. In this broader sphere the word usually has the sense of unending existence. Because Paul’s focus is restricted, nothing in his letters denies the immortality of human being

      • markmcculley Says:

        John MacArthur: Death does not end the existence of anyone, Every human being who has ever lived will live forever…either in hell or in heaven. . ..Not merely as a disembodied spirit, but every person will live forever in bodily form
        John Piper—You are an embodied soul who will live forever in heaven or in hell, created in the image of God…
        Robert Peterson– God does not view unbelievers’ being eternally alive in the lake of fire as incompatible with His being “all in all.”

        J.I. Packer—hell is humanity’s future life as all who oppose God will experience it.

        Charles Swindoll– Everybody has eternal life because everyone has an eternal soul. The issue is not “Do I have eternal life?” It is, rather, “Where will I spend my eternal life?”

        Hyman Appelman: There are no guns in Hell. There is no death in Hell.

        John Gill: …the soul in torment shall never die, or lose any of its powers and faculties; and particularly, not its gnawing, torturing conscience.

        George Whitefield—Having denied the Lord that bought me, and therefore justly now denied bythe Lord, I. must I live for ever tormented in these flames.

        Richard Baxter:. Their immortal souls were guilty of the trespass, and therefore must immortally suffer.

        Belgic Confession: The evil ones shall be made immortal—but only to be tormented.

        John Walvoord: Those being resurrected from Hades and the grave will receive a body that can never be destroyed, a body that is still wicked, still in rebellion against God

      • markmcculley Says:

        Matthew 7:13: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
        Matthew 10:28: And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
        2 Peter 2:12: But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction.
        2 Thessalonians 1:9: They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

        Robert Peterson: Hell is where “the fire is not quenched.” This is not a picture of destruction.

        J.I. Packer: The fire of hell in the Bible is a picture not of destruction but of ongoing pain.

        Norman Geisler– God will not destroy unbelievers because he will not destroy creatures made in his own image. That would be an attack on himself.

  16. markmcculley Says:

    Calvin—“The body which decays, weighs down the soul, and confining it within an earthly habitation, greatly limits its perceptions. If the body is the prison of the soul, if the earthly habitation is a kind of fetters, what is the state of the soul when set free from this prison, when loosed from these fetters? Is it not restored to itself, and as it were made complete, so that we may truly say, that all for which it gains is so much lost to the body? . . . For then the soul, having shaken off all kinds of pollution, is truly spiritual, so that it consents to the will of God, and is no longer subjected to the tyranny of the flesh; thus dwelling in tranquility, with all its thoughts fixed on God.
    Tracts Relating to The Reformation, p 443

    Calvin—“Christ did not pour out his soul unto death. Did Christ die when He was working for your salvation? Not thus does He say of Himself, “As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given the Son to have life in himself.” (John V. 26.) How could He who has life in Himself lose it?…. If He can die, our death is certain.” Tracts Relating to the Reformation, p 436

  17. markmcculley Says:

    Tripp is a “Reformed psychologist” who gets featured at Reformed conferences He pushes the idea of sinners living forever in hell, but in the process of defending that notion he says time and again, it was not ever meant to be this way. So “hell” to him is plan b.

    He definitely agrees with what Satan told Adam and Eve—you will never die, you will live somewhere forever. He even endorses the dualism of Ben Franklin—here lies the body, like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out…..And he quotes C S Lewis as if it’s apostolic—we will live forever, because inside we want to live forever.

    Who the we is of course a little fuzzy. Maybe all of us are Christians, or maybe it’s only all of us who are reading his books or paying to hear him in a conference, but in any case we all need to be thankful that we won’t be tortured forever by the God who never wanted to do that. It was never God’s “intention”, the writer keeps telling us. It was not on purpose, it was plan b. And even now, God wishes that it would not happen, but since we have free will, it might…..

    I suppose this theodicy is “intended” to reassure us. God never gave the law to increase sin, but we have free will. God never ordained Adam to sin, but Adam had free will. But in any case, Satan was right–being in the image of God means that we will ‘spend eternity” somewhere, and never die. That part of the plan can’t be changed by us.

    God did not put Adam on probation as a means to giving Christ the glory for the redemption of the elect. But it did turn out that way, and Christ will get glory anyway, provided that you exercise your free will to accept the fact that he died for you. I mean he died for you even if you don’t accept that he did, but if you don’t, then you will live forever in torment.

    Those who are ‘spiritually dead” make bad choices. So that explains how Adam made a bad choice and as a result of that bad choice, Adam became ‘spiritually dead”. And so now what LOOKS LIKE us living is really us being ‘spiritually dead.”. And what LOOKS LIKE “physical death” is really about being alive either in heaven or being tortured in hell. But God never intended any of this, it’s all on us. We placed our own feet on the slippery slope.

    Because when the Bible says that the wages of sin is death or that the soul that sins shall die, that’s not “intended” to be taken literally. Death is not death but torture. Death is not death but a separation. This age will end, but the next age will never end, and in the next age God will not ever really bring anybody to an end, but those who use their free will wrong in this age will be kept existing forever in order to partially satisfy what is so infinite that it never can ever get any closer to being satisfied..

    Death is not literally death, but for some folks (not us) it will have a dark side. God never had any designs on there being vessels of destruction, but it happened anyway, because what we do matters and what we decide has consequences. The fire that tortures forever was not meant for any human but only for Satan and Satan’s angels (Matthew 25:41). But nobody ever perishes or gets destroyed in that fire, because as Satan well knows—you shall never die. The final torture will never be final.

  18. markmcculley Says:

    what does it mean to say “The Father is God as God in Himself”

    Is the Son after His incarnation not God as God is in HImself?

    Did God the Father give His Son or did God the Father give Himself as He is Himself?

    maybe the Son as Creator is our Lawgiver, but is the Son as Redeemer our lawgiver?

    I Peter 1: 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. 17 Address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence.

    John 5: 22 The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son…

    John 5: 30 “I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear

    John 12:47″As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words. That very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.

    John 3:1 7 For God did not send His Son into the world in order to condemn the world, but in order that the world be saved through Him.18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

    Acts 17: 30-31 God has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    Romans 2: 2 We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. 3 Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment?

    Romans 2: 16 There will be the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

    2 Timothy 4:1 “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom”

    Luke 12: 10 “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven”.

  19. markmcculley Says:

    Doug Wilson assumes that two kinds of election in the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants means two kinds of election in the new covenant.

    Of course Doug Wilson is not the only paedobaptist to say “the covenant” as if that’s saying the same thing as “the gospel”. Nor is he the only paedobaptist to make a distinction between the new covenant and election. But since mono-covenantalism is his central doctrine, Wilson is more consistent than most paedobaptists in how this works out in his doctrine of assurance.

    In this case, being consistent is not a good thing, because Wilson has confused his ecclesiology with the gospel itself, which means that his false gospel is about grace helping people keep the conditions of “staying in the covenant”.

    Doug Wilson: “To see election through a covenant lens does not mean to define decretal election as though it were identical with covenant electio

    At the resurrection, the justified elect are no longer dead, but risen and not judged according to works. We rejoice in ANOTHER BOOK

    Revelation 2) 11 Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.ANOTHER BOOK WAS OPENED, WHICH IS THE BOOK OF LIFE. And the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the BOOKS.

    13 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Luke 10: 17 The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.” 18 He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a lightning flash. 19 Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing will ever harm you. 20 However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

  20. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 8: 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God”

    Romans 8:23 “Who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly WAIT FOR for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

    Are the justified only justified by our names being written in the book of life and not also by the books?

    If the book of life is election, are the other books for the elect justification—-ie, no sins imputed to us because of remission by Christ’s death?

    The separation of the sheep and goats immediately at the resurrection, or only later, at the great white throne judgment?

    Revelation 20:: 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead (not yet resurrected?) were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.

    13 Then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All (the condemned dead non-elect?) were judged according to their works. 14 Death was thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

    After the second death of the non-elect, no more death.

    Matthew 25: 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’

    46 “And they will go away into permanent punishment, but the righteous into permanent life.

    Matthew 25: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then the Son of Man will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations[g] will be gathered before Him, and the Son of Man will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 The Son of man will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

    John 5: 24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has lasting life and will not COME UNDER JUDGMENT but has passed from death to life.

    25 “I assure you: An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also THE FATHER has granted to the Son to have life in Himself. 27 And the Father has granted the Son the right to pass judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when ALL who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.

    Does this prove that separation comes at the resurrection? those who receive the resurrection of life come under no judgments, because in the books there are no wicked things recorded because all those wins have been taken away by Christ’s death

    blank slate the same as “have done good things”?

    Romans 2: 6 He will repay each one according to his works. 7 Lasting life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality;

    lasting life more inclusive than “immortality”

    we are born without either, but we pass from death to lasting life at justification in this life, before we are given immortality

    8 but wrath and indignation to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth but are obeying unrighteousness; 9 affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 11 There is no favoritism with God.

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