Were You Born Justified and Then Later “Saved”?

There are preachers who teach the sovereignty of God who teach that God can justify (and has already justified) sinners who God has not taught the gospel. While these preachers assure us that these justified people will know and believe the gospel some day they also teach teach that God’s sovereign justice means that all the elect are justified before and without believing the gospel.

When these preachers teach that there are only two states, they are not talking about the difference between justification and condemnation. To them, the difference between “not being able to acceptably worship God” and “being saved” is NOT the difference between before and after justification. The eternal justification preachers teach that “saved” means “have learned the gospel”. They don’t think “saved” means “justified before God.”

Those who now think they are “saved” can talk about how other people “thought they were saved before they were saved until they were saved” But it turns out that some of these people think they were born justified before they knew the gospel. They think they were justified before they were “saved”. They think they were justified back when Jesus finished dying on the cross.

Phil 3:9–“and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that righteousness which comes through faith…

God has not yet forgiven any sinners who God has not yet taught the gospel.

II Corinthians 4: 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ

The truth of the gospel is not only God’s sovereignty but also God’s righteousness. This means that the gospel is not only about the justification of the elect sinner but also about the justification of God.

Palm 116:11—“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’” The gospel gives all the honor and glory to God. In the gospel God is justified, and sinners who still don’t believe the gospel are still condemned. We see this in Romans 1:25 . All of us have been people who “exchange the truth for a lie”.

To pass over from condemnation to justification is to learn the gospel in which one’s confidence is not in what God’s sovereignty does in you but rather in what God has done in Christ outside you. Christ only died for the elect. Christ only died for those who will believe the gospel. One of the blessings of the gospel is that God teaches the elect the gospel and causes them to believe the gospel. Those who were once slaves of sin “become obedient from the mind to the standard of doctrine to which they are committed” (Rom 6:17) so that there are “things of which you are now ashamed” (Rom 6:21).

Before you were justified You may have already believed in God’s sovereignty and also been ashamed of immorality, without ever knowing God’s gospel about justification. The Cains of this world are ready for a self-examination and contrast in terms of their morality or their assent to God’s sovereignty. But as long as they have not come to the light of the gospel , they still love darkness and their evil deeds are still charged against them.. (John 3:19)

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is also righteous.

Psalm 51:4-6—“Against you have I sinned and done what is evil, so that you are justified in your words and blameless in your judgment…Behold you delight in truth…” Two things go together: God tells the truth, we were born in the wrong.

II Thessalonians 1: 6 It is righteous for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you 7 and to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, 8 taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS

II Thessalonians 2: 10 They perish because they did not accept the love of THE TRUTH IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. 11 For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false, 12 so that all will be condemned—THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE THE TRUTH but enjoyed unrighteousness.

The gospel is good news for the elect, but not without also being first bad news. The gospel does not tell the elect that they are elect. The gospel does not tell the elect that they are already justified. The gospel does not tell the elect that all the elect are already justified. You can call it “law before gospel” if you wish. But part and parcel of justifying God (and trusting God’s true gospel) is taking sides with God against our-selves. Before justification, God and us can’t both be right. God is right, and we are wrong.

If we ever get to thinking that God is so sovereign that God justifies elect sinners before teaching them the gospel, then we takes sides against what the Bible teaches about the difference between election, atonement, and justification. We should not only confess that God is going to get God’s way, that God is going to win. We need to learn to confess that the way God acts in history . God justifies God in history (by means of Christ’s death in history) God justifies his elect in history. Believing the gospel is not a condition for God placing the elect sinner into Christ’s death. Believing the gospel is not a condition for God imputing Christ’s death to the elect sinner. But believing the gospel is also not the “evidence and result” of having been born justified, All those who do not yet believe the gospel are not yet justified. And all those who are justified before God believe the gospel.

Romans 3:22 –“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe”. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood THROUGH FAITH. This was a demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just AND the justifier of the one WHO HAS FAITH IN JESUS

Romans 4:13–“the promise did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith….

God is true. God is God. To be ignorant of the righteousness of God (His attribute, not only Christ’s saving work and gift) is to an idolater, to be one who still does not know the true God. Romans 3:3 tells us that God’s faithfulness proves that God is the true God. Isaiah 42:3—“He will faithfully bring forth justice.” Isaiah 45:19—“I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the seed of Jacob, seek me in vain. I the Lord speak the truth. I declare what is right”.

Many who teach the sovereignty of God speak of “blessed inconsistency” instead of realizing that knowledge of how God justifies is wonderful knowledge of God!

Many who teach the sovereignty of God also engage in rationalizations and self-deceptions. They tell us, “well at least our being justified before we know the gospel shows us the sovereignty of God. We can’t be bothered to look back to any passing from death to life. Why bother with talking about before and faith in the gospel, or about “when in condemnation” or “before justification”. Since the Arminians confuse faith with Christ’s righteousness, we won’t make that mistake. We will exalt the sovereignty of God by teaching that justification is independent (before and without) God teaching us the gospel

But God is not a respecter of persons. God takes sides with Himself, against all those not yet imputed with Christ’s death. The only elect sinners that God has already justifies are those God has placed into the death of Christ.

Romans 8:10–”but if Christ is in you.., the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

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

Romans 4:24 Righteousness will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was handed for our trespasses (past and future) and raised for our justification (past and future)

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.

Romans 16:7 “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow countrymen and fellow prisoners. They are noteworthy in the eyes of the apostles,and they were also in Christ before me.” Christ being in us is not the same reality as us being in Christ, and the Apostle Paul does not say that these other elect were born again before him. Paul say they were “in Christ” before him. That’s not the new birth or election. That’s justification

God is not some neutral arbitrator. God is one of the parties in God’s lawsuit against sinners. The God we have offended by being sinners (exchanging truth for idolatry) is the God who will judge all sinners.

Eternal justification preachers falsely reason from the fact that God’s imputation of Christ’s death is before faith to a conclusion that God’s justification is also before and without faith in the gospel. 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.

God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ is distinct from God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect (Romans 6 baptized–not water, not with the Spirit– into the death). Eternal justification folk have nothing to say about justification in the before and after of Romans 6 and Ephesians 2. T

They tend to assume that Galatians 2 (despite its context) is not talking about justification (freedom from guilt, positive legal standing in Christ) but about the new birth (learning the gospel).

God’s imputation of Christ’s death results in God’s effectual calling, faith and justification. God’s declaration of justification is not apart from God’s creating hearing by faith in God’s gospel.

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….

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.

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,”

Romans 8: 12 We are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die.

Believing a false gospel is flesh, and if you believe a false gospel, you are going to die. Being immoral is flesh, and if you believe and confess the true gospel, you believe and confess the forgiveness of your immorality (past and future)

You will notice that I have not talked about the nature of faith and assurance. I cannot talk about everything all at once. I don’t make distinctions between me “really believing” and other people “only having their heads stuffed with intellectual doctrines”.

My question is about the object of knowledge. What is the gospel? Does the gospel tell us that all the elect are already justified? No, it does not. Does the gospel tell us that being “saved” is not justification but the new birth? No, it does not. Does the gospel tell us that Christ’s righteousness is Christ keeping the law Adam and Moses were supposed to keep? No, the gospel is about Christ’s death as the basic difference between those who will be justified and those who will not be justified. All for whom Christ died will be justified.

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10 Comments on “Were You Born Justified and Then Later “Saved”?”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    My saying God is unjust does not make God unjust
    My saying God is just does not make God just
    The Father declaring the Son sin did put the Son under law for the guilt of the elect
    The Son’s death in human body one time in history makes the Son just and justifier




    Romans 3: 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slander us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

    The theodicy of Romans 3 announces that God is true even if every human is a liar and therefore condemned. We justify God because God has revealed Himself and justified Himself. God has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God is Revealed as Righteous and Just. And God’s word is justified in history by what God did when Christ gave Himself up to death on the cross because of the imputed guilt of the elect.

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Was Peter a pagan when Peter said Jesus did not die?

    What does it matter?

    Why bother to command sinners to believe the gospel? Some of them who know nothing about the gospel are already justified?

    Why would you want to say that at one point
    you had legal repentance but now you know that you are gospel repentant?

    What difference could it possibly make?

    Why bother to look back down into the toilet bowl of all your life up until now? In the providence every minute so far in your life has all been shit?


    since you were saved at the cross

    before you were born

    before you had any repentance of any kind or knowledge of gospel

    why would you bother to define “saved”?

    or the “righteousness” in “imputed righteousness”

  3. markmcculley Says:

    I am protesting any gospel which teaches that “saved” only has to do with regeneration. Philippians 3 and Ephesians 2 and Galatians 2 are about justification, but many preachers assume they are about the new birth.

    1. regeneration is not the cause of the righteousness

    2. the righteousness imputed is the cause of regeneration

    3. regeneration is not the righteousness

    Philippians 3: 9 and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ— righteousness from God through faith.

    Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes through faith.

    Romans 4:11 And Abraham received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while still uncircumcised. This was to make Abraham the father of all who BELIEVE but are not circumcised, in order that righteousness will be credited to them also.

    Romans 4:13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that Abraham would inherit the world was not through the law, but through the righteousness that comes through faith.

    Romans 4:16 This is why the promise is by faith, in order that it would be according to grace

    Romans 9:30 Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness— the righteousness that comes through faith

    Romans 10: 3 They disregarded the righteousness from God and attempted to establish their own righteousness. They have not submitted themselves to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of doing law for righteousness to AS MANY AS WHO BELIEVE. 5 Moses writes about the righteousness that is from doing law: The one who does these things will live by them. 6 But there is a righteousness that comes through faith faith

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Ephesians 2: 8 For you are saved by grace through faith,

    “Saved” in this context does not mean “born again through faith”. “Saved” in this context means “passed from death to life”—never coming back into condemnation.

    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.

    Faith is through regeneration

    Regeneration is NOT through faith

    Justification and lasting life are through faith
    faith is not through justification

    Faith is not because of justification

    Faith is through righteousness imputed (II Peter 1:1)

    Righteousness is not imputed through faith

    The imputation of righteousness is not because of faith

    Being placed into Christ’s death is not through faith
    Faith is GIVEN through being placed by God into Christ’s death

    The justified elect will not be found “naked” on Resurrection day, Those who are now justified 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 to go to heaven in)

    2. to be found righteous before God,

  5. markmcculley Says:

    These preachers don’t say that “saved does not mean justification” They don’t say “saved only means being born again” But they deny that justification is through faith. They also deny that the new birth is cased by faith. But they also keep teaching that “saved is not justification but “REAL new birth””
    “Legal is not real” guys always have a plus, a more. Christ’s death as satisfaction of law is never enough for them. Their larger hope is a change that they see in themselves at some point, a change that that does not keep them from sinning but at least wants not to sin, and maybe even wants to get out of this body and this world and go straight to heaven.
    There is a difference between the legal imputation of sins (made sin) and the death of Christ which was a result of that. And there is a difference God’s imputation of sins to Christ and God’s imputation of Christ’s death to the elect But what information do we find in the Bible to tell us about any supposed difference between legal imputations and something “real”?
    Is it not true that this legal matter, the imputation of the sins of
    the elect to Christ, is real, so real that Christ died for these sins?
    Is it not true that this legal matter, the imputation of Christ’s death to the elect sinners is real, so real that they pass from death to life, from condemnation to justification?
    Where is there any BIBLE distinction between the legal and the real? And what can be more real than real? if legal imputation of sins to Christ is not a fiction, and if the death of Jesus Christ is a real result of that, where is the “more”? If the elect being placed into Christ’s death by God’s legal imputation is not a fiction, and if “become the righteousness of God in Him” is the real result of that, what is the “more”?
    I Timothy 2:24 commands us to “correct opponents with meekness, because God may PERHAPS grant them repentance leading to a KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH”.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    Sometimes “imputation” is only “declaration”, without any sharing or transfer involved.

    Romans 4: 4 Now to the one who works, pay is imputed as something owed.

    The “righteousness of God” has more than one meaning. HOWEVER the GOSPEL meaning is the “righteousness from God”. Christ’s death is the righteousness Christ obtain and GIVES SHARES TRANSFERS to the elect. Where God has not given faith in the gospel, God has not yet given the righteousness of God which is Christ’s death imputed.

    Imputation of righteousness and righteousness are not the same thing. And imputation has more than one meaning

    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

    Carl Trueman, p 91–“The Protestant doctrine of justification by imputation was always going to be criticized as tending toward eternal justification. Late medieval theologians (nominalists, occasionalists) had used the distinction between God’s absolute power and God’s ordained power to break the necessary connection between the priority of actual righteousness and God’s declaration that a particular person is justified. In placing the declaration in God’s will, not in the intrinsic qualities of the one justified, it would be argued that any necessary connection between justification and any chronological factors had been decisively abolished”

    Carl Trueman, p 93–“Baxter claims that if Christ has paid the actual price for our sins, as Owen argues in The Death of Death (1647), then it is possible that there could be a chronological delay between payment of the debt and the dissolution of the debt, since it is either paid or not paid, thus all the elect are already justified in Christ, and thus faith can only fulfill a mere epistemological function whereby the elect come to acknowledge that which they are already, namely, justified.”

    Carl Trueman, p 95–“Owen argues that it is crucial to understand that God’s desire to save the elect is prior to any consideration of Christ’s satisfaction. Thus Owen precludes any notion that Christ’s death in any way changes the Father’s mind or buys his favor. ”
    John MacArthur: ” If we believe Him, His dying counts in our stead, paying for our sins in full.”

    Tianqi Wu==This sounds like saying that Christ died for some sinners because he foreknew they would believe . if you believe now , then that made Christ die for you 2000 years ago. In this case, you may have “definite atonement” in that the extent of the atonement is only for the elect and it is also taught that election is what causes some sinners to believe. But you do not have the gospel of the elect’s sins imputed by God to Christ, and you do not have God’s electing love having decided for whom Christ would make propitiation. I

    It’s like teaching that faith is the reason for the atonement, even if at other times (when you are not doing evangelism?) you explain that election is the reason for your faith.
    in any case MacArthur is not teaching that faith is given because of the atonement, even when sometimes he agrees that faith is given because of election. In that case, faith becomes way more important than Christ’s death Your faith becomes a request for Christ to please die for you. . Adding in the idea that God now sovereignly determines who makes this request does not change the false gospel which knows nothing of God’s imputation of the sins of the elect to Christ.

  7. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 6: 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were transferred to

    Righteousness comes through faith in the gospel. Justification is not declared about any sinner apart from that sinner obeying the gospel. Romans 6: 17 is not directly about Holy Spirit regeneration or a new heart. Romans 6: 17 is about what happens when God places the elect in the new legal position of “died with Christ” or “died when Christ died”.
    Romans 6: 17 is about God causing the elect to obey ( to believe) the gospel doctrine. Before we obey the gospel doctrine, we are not justified and have no righteousness and are still slaves to sin.

    Romans 10: 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’”

    2 Thessalonians 1:8)—“in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus

  8. Mark Mcculley Says:

    did you learn that you had believed the gospel before or after you
    believed the gospel?

    did you learn that you had believed the gospel before or after you
    believed the gospel?

    a gospel that tells some sinners
    to “start believing that you have life before you hear the gospel”
    is a false gospel

    God did not ask any sinner for their input on God’s decision to impute their sins to Jesus Christ, and all the sins that would ever be
    imputed to Jesus Christ were already imputed to Christ
    by God and satisfied for by Christ’s death.

    Assurance that I am justified is not an objective proposition of
    the\gospel. Assurance that I believe the gospel is not an objective
    proposition of the gospel.

    before or after you believe, the gospel never says “I have believed
    the gospel”

    “I now have life” is not part of the gospel.
    The gospel is not to be explained only to those those have life.

    “I have believed the gospel” is not part of the gospel.
    The gospel is not to be explained only to those who have believed the gospel.

    “I am now justified” is not part of the gospel.
    The gospel is not to be explained only to those who ar justified

    The gospel includes the promise that “as many as believe the gospel will be justified”.

    If a person tells us that “well I have believed the gospel but I still
    am not sure that I am justified yet”, they are in reality saying “i
    have not yet believed the gospel”.

    If they had believed the gospel, they would believe the part of the
    gospel that says “as many as who believe the gospel are justified”

    Of course there are many who say that tth gospel is not to be
    explained to anybody: The Calvinistic stands rigidly in his pulpit of
    orthodox explanation. ,People like to ask this silly useless question: does a person have to believe in the sovereignty of God to be saved. But If God haasn’t sovereignly given you life, nobody is going to be saved. So what difference does the question or the explanation make? Faith doesn’t save. Knowing the object of faith doesn’t save.. God by God’s will and might giving you life saves So what difference does explanation make?”

    Romans 6:17–“But thanks be to God, that you were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.

  9. Mark Mcculley Says:

    But if assurance is found in knowing and believing the gospel, why is this reactionary gospel error so determined to say that people already justified are still believing the false gospel that the flesh believes?
    Even though those who teach the gospel error of justification without the gospel are divided among themselves about if all thse “justified already” ” will be converted to the gospel in this life, what is the practical point of reacting to Arminianism by down-playing the significance of justification?
    If those already justified are still practically seen as unholy because of their not knowing the gospel yet, what is the day to day consequence of putting all the focus on regeneration (which happens now) and NOT on justification (which according to their error could not possibly happen now)? Why are these guys insisting on their view of the nature of justification, but in the day to day not bothering with any implications of their view? Do they want to speak only comfort and peace to anybody? If they want to say that faith in the gospel has nothing to do with justification, why are they disturbing the peace about “spiritual life” and faith in the gospel? Won’t that cause some people doubt and discomfort?

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