Posted tagged ‘sovereignty of God’

Were You Born Justified and Then Later “Saved”?

June 12, 2017

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.

The Timing of Imputation: Abraham Justified Before Christ Died

June 8, 2012

Romans 4:17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Many Reformed theologians, even though deny that forensic imputation is a “legal fiction”, nevertheless worry about the reality of “mere” justification by Christ’s righteousness “alone”. They teach—- don’t worry about that, because in the same “union”, God also “sanctifies” and that takes care of the reality problem.

That view of things tends to change the definitions of imputation, of righteousness, and of faith. It locates the “l reality” in ideas like “infusion” and “impartation”.

It misses the legal reality of the “as though” in Romans 4:17. Yes, Abraham did not die at the cross. Christ died for Abraham, as Abraham’s substitute, so that Abraham would not die the second death but be raised to life on Resurrection Day. And yet the legal reality is that Abraham did die at the cross, and that by imputation, so that Abraham was legally “constituted” as righteous many years BEFORE Christ died.

Let me quote from John Murray’s commentary on the phrase from Romans 4:17 which says “who calls the things that are not, as though they were”.

“It has been regarded as referring to the creative activity of God by which he calls into being things which had no existence prior to his fiat…But Paul does NOT say ‘who calls into being things that are not’ but “calls the things that are not as being’… It is gratuitous to assume that the ‘things which are not’ are the things possible. Things possible cannot be regarded even by God as being.The ‘things which are not’ refer to the things determined by God to come to pass but which have not yet been been fulfilled.”

Abraham was justified by a righteousness which had not yet been brought in by Christ. But that does not mean that Abraham’s justification is a “legal fiction”. It means that God in sovereignty declared the elect individual Abraham righteous before Christ actually became incarnate in history to bring in that righteousness.

God’s righteousness is not only about God’s justice. God’s righteousness is always about God’s sovereignty also. And when God chooses to justify Abraham on the basis of an atonement that has not yet happened, then that is both just and “real”. It’s not fake and it’s not arbitrary.

Abraham received by imputation the reconciliation before the reconciliation was even made. The elect who are now being justified are receiving the reconciliation long after the reconciliation was made, but that does not mean that God is being arbitrary or only sovereign.

God is just in God’s timing. It is not unjust for God to be sovereign in God’s imputing. Even though future sins have already been imputed to Christ, some of the elect have not yet been justified and therefore have not yet been “placed into His death”.

Romans 4:23-24 “Righteousness” was counted to him was not written for Abraham’s sake alone but for ours also. “Righteousness” will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead our Lord.

Even when our justification has not yet happened, Christ was raised because of our justification. Romans 16:7 “Greet Adronicus and Junia…They are well known to the Apostles and they in Christ before me.”

God is More (not less) Than the Boss of Us

August 9, 2010

The Truth is More Than God’s Sovereignty

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 everyone 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 slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

I know some Calvinists (I was one of them) who think it is enough to say that God is sovereign. In this emphasis, sometimes they even project their own ego onto God, and sound like they think of themselves as sovereign also (at least sovereign representatives of the Sovereign).

But 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.

I have no use for the “freewill theodicy”. But that does not mean that I am dismissive of efforts to justify God. To justify God does not of course mean that we make God just. Rather, it means that we declare that God is just.

When God justifies an elect sinner, then God not only declares sovereignly that this sinner is just. God is justified in justifying the elect sinner because 1. Christ died because of the imputed guilt of that elect sinner and 2. God then righteously, justly, constituted that elect sinner to share in that death (Christ’s righteousness) so that the elect sinner is legally righteous. Because of these two facts of history, God is justified in justifying elect sinners.

It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t look just. The elect sinners go free. Christ, who did not sin, died. This is why we are tempted to say that the whole thing is only about God’s sovereignty and then tell people to shut their mouths and ask no questions. But the Bible itself does not take that attitude. The Bible tells us how God thinks. The Bible justifies God.

For example, Romans 3, 6, and 9 deal with possible objections to God justifying sinners. Romans 9 does not only ask: “who are you to talk back to God”. Romans 9 explains that it is inappropriate for that which is made to sit in negative judgment on the maker. That which is made is instead to make the positive judgment that God has the righteous right to harden as many as God hardens.

Romans 6 deals with the objection that God justifying sinners will cause sinners to rationalize their sins, so that they not only say that their sins were predestined but also that they say that more sins result in more grace.

The Romans 6 answer is that grace is either grace or not. There is not more or less grace, but either grace or no grace. More sin does not get the elect more grace, because all those God justly justifies have all the grace any other elect person has. If you have grace, then you are justified from sin, and if you don’t have grace, you are a sinner “free from righteousness” (6:20).

While unbelievers trust in God to help them to sin less, those who have been delivered to the gospel know that there are only two kind of sinners, two states—guilty sinners and justified sinners (justly justified by Christ’s death to sin.)

The theodicy of Romans 3 announces that God is true even if every man is a liar. We justify God because God has revealed Himself. And God has revealed that God is more than sovereign. God’s words reveal God to be 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. “That you  be justified!”

We were wrong: God was right and God is still right. God prevails, but it is not only a matter of “might makes right” or “sovereignty always wins”. We have no right to make a negative judgment on God, since it is God who will be making a negative judgment on many sinners. But we are called to make a positive judgment, that God prevails.

Not only does God do everything God pleases to God. God’s pleasure is holy pleasure. What God pleases to do is right. And there is no better proof of that than the way God justifies elect sinners. The wisdom of the cross shows God’s righteousness. It is fair. It is just for God to not only let elect sinners go free but also to give them faith and all the other blessings of salvation.

Yes, it is grace to these sinners, but still it is just for God to do it, because of what Christ got done in his obedience even unto death. As Isaiah 53 explains, the righteous servant will be satisfied. God will be just to Christ. And God is just to justify elect sinners for the sake of Christ.

Psalm 116:11—“I said in my alarm, ‘All mankind are liars’” Not only is God justified, but sinners are wrong. Sinners are condemned. We see this in Romans 1:25 already. All of us sinners have been people who “exchange the truth for a lie”.

It is idolatry to only know a God who is sovereign. The true God is also just and righteous. It is unbelief and rebellion to deny that God is just and 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 is just and true, we are wrong and false.

The gospel is good news for the elect, but not without also being first bad news. You can call this “methodism” if you want. 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. We can’t both be right. God is right, and we are wrong. If God is right, then we are wrong.

If we ever get to thinking that God is sovereign but wrong, then we show not only that we are wrong but also that God has not yet called us by the gospel to the truth. We do not only confess that God is going to get God’s way, that God is going to win; we learn to confess that the way God acts and judges is just. We make a positive judgment about God. That is a result, and not a condition of God having justified us.

God is true. Which is to say: God is God. To reject the righteousness of God (His attribute, not only Christ’s saving work and gift) is to reject 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”.

Getting in a dispute or debate or argument with the true God shows us just how dumb we become! The irony every time is that our lies, rationalizations, self-deceptions only result in the truth of God being all the more justified, declared. And then, when we try to say, “well at least our falsehoods are making God look more faithful”, we are brought face to face with the fact of Romans 3:5—God is the righteous judge of us. God is not only “the boss of us”, because God is judging us and will judge us. And that right there shows that God is not unjust for judging sin to be sin.

God is not some impartial “fair” judge. God takes sides with Himself. God takes sides against sinners. And the only sinners that God justifies are the elect who God has constituted as righteous by placing them into the death (to sin, to guilt, not only to punishment) of Christ.

God is not some neutral “outside” arbitrator. God is one of the parties in God’s lawsuit against sinners. Sinners are defeated by God’s triumph. The God we have offended by being sinners (exchanging truth for idolatry) is the God who will judge all sinners. Some sinners God hardens. Other sinners have their names written in another book, because God has elected them in Christ.

Two Tolerant Soundbites Examined

July 19, 2010

Consider these two soundbites from a tolerant Calvinist: “People like to
ask this silly useless question: does a person have to believe in the
sovereignty of God to be saved. If God isn’t sovereign, nobody is going to be saved. So what difference does the question make?

“People ask this question: can a person with Arminian faith already be in a state of salvation? Faith doesn’t save. Neither Arminian or Calvinist faith saves. So what difference does the question make?”

Do not be fooled by these two soundbites. Notice that the speaker has not answered either question. Though we agree that only the sovereign God can save, do we believe that God is “so sovereign” that God can save a person without at the same time causing that person to believe in His sovereignty?

The speaker avoids the question. He has not answered it, even though we might infer his answer from his describing the question as “silly and useless.”

Though we agree that faith does not save, if we agree that salvation
results in faith, then is it not good and proper to ask what’s the object
of a saved person’s faith? When God saves a person, does God make what that person believes to be different than it was before?”

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.”

Pray for David Bazan

September 13, 2009

from his new cd, Curse Your Branches

all fallen leaves should

curse their branches

for not letting them decide

where they should fall

and not letting them

refuse to fall at all

at the root of my sin

if no one planted it, how does it grow

and why are some hell bent upon

there being an answer

while some are content not to know

all fallen leaves should curse their branches

for not letting them decide where they should fall

and not letting them refuse to fall at all