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It is absurd to argue that crimes ought not to be punished, because they are in accordance with the divine decrees

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015In regard to past events, it is absurd to argue that crimes ought not to be punished, because they are in accordance with the divine decrees.
1. The wicked resist the declared will of God.
2. They are condemned by conscience.
3. The essence and guilt of the crime is in themselves, though God uses them as instruments.

5. By the same class of persons, past events are referred improperly and inconsiderately to simple providence. As all contingencies whatsoever depend on it, therefore, neither thefts nor adulteries, nor murders, are perpetrated without an interposition of the divine will. Why, then, they ask, should the thief be punished for robbing him whom the Lord chose to chastise with poverty? Why should the murderer be punished for slaying him whose life the Lord had terminated? If all such persons serve the will of God, why should they be punished? I deny that they serve the will of God. For we cannot say that he who is carried away by a wicked mind performs service on the order of God, when he is only following his own malignant desires. He obeys God, who, being instructed in his will, hastens in the direction in which God calls him. But how are we so instructed unless by his word? The will declared by his word is, therefore, that which we must keep in view in acting, God requires of us nothing but what he enjoins. If we design anything contrary to his precept, it is not obedience, but contumacy and transgression. But if he did not will it, we could not do it. I admit this. But do we act wickedly for the purpose of yielding obedience to him? This, assuredly, he does not command. Nay, rather we rush on, not thinking of what he wishes, but so inflamed by our own passionate lust, that, with destined purpose, we strive against him. And in this way, while acting wickedly, we serve his righteous ordination, since in his boundless wisdom he well knows how to use bad instruments for good purposes. And see how absurd this mode of arguing is. They will have it that crimes ought not to be punished in their authors, because they are not committed without the dispensation of God. I concede more — that thieves and murderers, and other evil-doers, are instruments of Divine Providence, being employed by the Lord himself to execute the judgments which he has resolved to inflict. But I deny that this forms any excuse for their misdeeds. For how? Will they implicate God in the same iniquity with themselves, or will they cloak their depravity by his righteousness? They cannot exculpate themselves, for their own conscience condemns them: they cannot charge God, since they perceive the whole wickedness in themselves, and nothing in Him save the legitimate use of their wickedness. But it is said he works by their means. And whence, I pray, the fetid odor of a dead body, which has been unconfined and putrefied by the sun’s heat? All see that it is excited by the rays of the sun, but no man therefore says that the fetid odor is in them. In the same way, while the matter and guilt of wickedness belongs to the wicked man, why should it be thought that God contracts any impurity in using it at pleasure as his instrument? Have done, then, with that dog-like petulance which may, indeed, bay from a distance at the justice of God, but cannot reach it!

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 17-Henry Beveridge Translation

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Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 7-The Punishment of Sin-Number 2

CHAPTER 7-THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN-NUMBER 2

“The wages of sin is death,” God said to Adam, concerning the forbidden fruit, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (#Ge 2:17). This threatened penalty of death was not pronounced upon Adam as a private individual merely, but as a public and representative person. It was a race penalty. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (#Ro 5:12). The first sin was a race sin and the penalty thereof must have been a race penalty. The whole human race was in Adam, the first man, both seminally and legally, and his act was considered as their act; not personally but representatively. Every man by nature is guilty with Adam’s guilt, just as every believer is righteous with Christ’s righteousness. Believers are not righteous personally, that is, by their own obedience; they are righteous representatively by the obedience of Christ, their Surety.

The death threatened against, and passed unto, all men was not a corporeal death merely. Physical death is a mere incident and is not universal. There have been two notable exceptions (Enoch and Elijah), and there will be many alive, who will not die physically, when the Lord returns. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (#1Co 15:51,52). Furthermore, physical death did not occur until some 930 years after the sin was committed; whereas God said, “in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (#Gen 2:17).

The death which passed unto all men was the loss of divine favor and exposedness to divine wrath. It was not the death of man considered as a physical being but as a moral and accountable being. Moral death was the result of a break with God. Man broke with God when he tried to seize the reins of government and do as he pleased. Sin separates from God and brings His condemnation. Physical death is the result of the separation of the body and spirit “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (#Jas 2:26). Moral death is the result of separation of man as a moral being from God. The sinner, although alive physically, is alienated from the life of God “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (#Eph 4:18); “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (#Col 1:21).

LIFE AND DEATH

The words life and death are antonyms, and it is axiomatic that a man cannot be both dead and alive in the same sense at the same time. But one may be dead in one sense and alive in another sense at the same time. This is obvious from the saying of our Lord: “But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (#Mt 8:22). He meant for those dead morally to bury the physical dead.

Life and death are not synonyms of existence and non-existence, but rather of condition of existence. Death never means non-existence or the cessation of being. In the moral sense life is a condition of existence, and death is the opposite condition of existence. To have life as a moral being is to exist under the favor of God and to be free from the wrath to come. To be dead as a moral being is to exist without His favor and to be exposed to His wrath. This will become more apparent as we continue these discussions.

THE SECOND DEATH

The second death is punishment in the lake of fire. And this will be for both soul and body of the lost. Physical death is not everlasting, for “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (#Ac 24:15). Death (dead bodies) and hades (lost souls) are to be cast into the lake of fire. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (#Re 20:14). And this is the second death. We will not here and now give proof that the second death is eternal. This will come out in a later article (D.V.). However, it does not seem reasonable that the fire will burn them up in the sense of putting them out of conscious existence. If this were true the only difference between the martyred saints and the wicked would be in time and place of suffering. The martyrs (many of them) were burned to death, and if their tormentors are only to be burned up and put out of existence, then their salvation was not the previous thing they supposed it to be. A brother who believes in conditional immortality wrote me that he knew of no Scripture that taught that the wicked would suffer in hell longer than five minutes. Cheap salvation! Sweet morsel to the wicked! If that were true.

Man is both a physical and a psychic being, that is, he has both body and soul. As a physical being his body was made of the same substance as that of the beasts of the field. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” (#Ge 2:7,19). As a psychic being he became a living soul when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Heb. lives). This is not said concerning the origin of the soul of the beast. The beast has a soul (this will be proven later), but it did not get its soul like man got his. Man as the acme of creation was made in the image of God, which must mean that he has something which does not belong to the beast of the field. This image of God in man is spirit. God is a Spirit and man must have a spirit to be in His image. In making man a living soul, God communicated to him that which made him in His image. Man, by virtue of his creation, has a body and a soul which gives him kinship with the beasts, but he also has a spirit which relates him to God. F.W. Grant makes a very helpful distinction between the soul and spirit:

“The ‘soul,’ is in Scripture the seat of the passions, emotions, sensibility, as the spirit of the mental and moral judgment. These latter, in any real sense, the beast has not. The spirit it is which is in man, which knows the things of a man “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (#1Co 2:11). But he learns them, gathering the materials of judgment through the soul-the senses; and as the body begins to develop before even the soul, so does the soul before the spirit. Spirit in man depends, thus, really upon the soul; and it is striking that just when absent from the body his real distinction begins to manifest it self. The soul survives, indeed, the stroke of death; but is now called what he never was before, a ‘spirit’ “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit….Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (#Lu 24:37,39); “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (#Ac 23:8,9); “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (#Heb 12:23): “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;” (#1Pe 3:19).

Grant tells us that man is called Adam, from Adamah (Heb.), the ground, to remind him of his origin “dust thou art”; and he is called a soul to remind him of his likeness to the beasts; but he is never called a spirit until after he takes his departure from the body. We read of the spirits of just men made perfect, and of spirits in prison.

THE FIRST DEATH

Man as a physical and also a moral being is subject to two kinds of death: namely, physical and moral. There is only one physical death for any man. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (#Heb 9:27). Notice the accuracy of Scripture. It is not “man” the generic, but “men” as individuals. Physical death is not appointed for “man” the whole race, but for men. We have already pointed out exceptions.

Man considered as a moral being may experience two deaths: the first and the second. All who are saved will experience but one death; all who are not saved will experience two deaths. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (#Re 2:11). Nobody has escaped the first death, for that death passed upon all men.

The first death is also clearly defined in the Scriptures. It is to be “dead in law,” or judicial death. It is to be dead in trespasses and sins. It is death in the sense of guilt and depravity. It is the death of condemnation. The antithesis of judicial death is “justification of life.” “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (#Ro 5:18). “He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (#Joh 5:24). Everlasting life is equivalent to justification and is opposed to condemnation. As a moral being the believer is justified by God, and will never be condemned. He has passed out from under the curse of God’s law and exists under the favor of God. Life and death in the judicial sense are generally overlooked by commentators.

The believer is told to “reckon himself as dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ” (#Ro 6:11). This means that the believer is dead to the guilt of sin—no longer exposed to the wrath of God; and that he is alive or justified before God by virtue of the imputed righteousness of Christ. We also have this aspect of life and death in I #Joh 5:12: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” And again in #Joh 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The sword of divine justice hangs over the head of the unbeliever; the benedictions of the heavenly Father are pronounced upon the believer in Christ.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1

The Wednesday Word: Counted Dead

“For you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Here’s the good news: our salvation rests entirely upon the penal, substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. He, as our substitute, by Himself and on our behalf, exclusively satisfied the righteous demands of divine holiness and justice.

In the Old Testament, when the priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the worshipper (Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 9:19), that person was counted or reckoned as being dead! Being dead, it was further reckoned that he had, therefore, paid the penalty of the broken law. The worshipper was counted as having died in the person of his substitute. As long as the worshipper had not paid the death penalty, he was counted as unfit for God. However, as soon as he had paid the death penalty, through the death of his substitute, he was reckoned as now being unsoiled and fit for the Lord’s service.

For peace of conscience, we really need to grasp the great gospel truth of Christ our Substitute!

During the American Civil War, Union Army recruiters arrived at a certain home demanding that the man of the house join the army immediately. The man replied that he could not do so because he had already been killed in action two years ago. As it turned out, a neighbour had signed a ‘Substitute Volunteer’ paper and had gone to war in this man’s place. It was all done legally and since the substitute had died, the man the army had wanted to recruit was now reckoned as having already been killed in action. He, therefore, did not have to go to war as he had already been there and had died in the person of his substitute.

Because of the work of the Lord Jesus, our substitute, we are now reckoned as having already been punished for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). Yes, I know we weren’t physically punished at the cross, but legally we were (Romans 4:25). When Christ hung upon the cross, we legally hung there with him. His death was our death; His punishment was our punishment. We are now cleansed by His blood—- which is another way of saying that we have been made partakers of the death of Christ. The blood of Christ cleanses us by totally identifying us with the death of our Substitute.

We were once covered with guilt and under sentence of death, but our substitute, the Lord Jesus shed His blood (Matthew 26:28). In God’s eyes, that blood represents both his death and ours. He died as our substitute. The blood is shed for us, and in that way death, which is the law’s penalty, is reckoned legally to us. Legally we have died. We have been crucified with Christ and have undergone the death sentence; as a result, our guilt has passed away. We are cleansed! The fires of Hell have been doused for us with the blood of Jesus. This is good news we can live in!

Furthermore, our sin is taken away and Christ’s own righteousness is reckoned to us in its place (Philippians 3:9). This is how the believer makes use of the blood of Christ. Faith simply embraces and enjoys what the blood has already accomplished.

At the cross, Jesus was treated as having our sin. He was reckoned as the greatest sinner and rebel who had ever existed. All our sins were put on Him.

We know this, but have we ever paused to think about what it means? It means that our blasphemies and adulteries were reckoned as His. He took responsibility for all our lying, thieving, fornications and murders. This was awful for Him but wonderful for us. Martin Luther grasped this truth and wrote to a friend saying, “Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, ‘Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin.”

Spurgeon said it like this; “The man, Christ Jesus, is exalted at the right hand of the majesty on high; and we, His elect, are in Him, crucified with Him, risen with Him .”(Ephesians 2:6)…….

We were:

One, when He died;
One, when He rose;
One, when He triumphed over His foes;
One, when in heaven He took His seat
And angels sang of hell’s defeat.

And that is the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: God does not forgive sins.

January 14, 2015 3 comments

Let’s get this straight, God, because He is righteous, holy and just, hates sins! He does not forgive them! He does not cancel their penalty. Sin is a direct assault on Him and, as such, has earned His wrath, fury and severe displeasure.
Sin is the real obstacle between God and man. We, by nature, have an inbuilt hardness and hatred towards God. We are sinners. We deserve damnation. Yet God, in grace, forgave us but not our sins.

“But, how is this possible?” you ask, “If He didn’t forgive our sins what did He do with them?” Here’s the answer. He punished them! He purged them and He put them away. In grace, love and mercy, He gave us the Sin-Bearer, Jesus the Christ, who laid down His life in our place, becoming a curse instead of us. Our sins were laid on Him instead of us. He became our substitute and died instead of us. Christ was punished instead of us!

The gospel truth is this, God does not forgive our sins, He forgives us. God is much too holy to arbitrarily forgive sins. He was righteously insulted by our sins. His holiness was offended by our sins. Because of this, in grace, the Father voluntarily gave Christ up unto death. And what the Father did, that also did the Son (John 5:19). During His life, Christ voluntarily made His way to the cross where He died instead of us. There at the cross, He became obedient unto death and by Himself, purged our sins (Hebrews 1:3). By Himself, He put away our sins (Hebrews 9:26).

Today, we stand forgiven because our sins were neither forgiven nor swept under the carpet. Our sins were dealt with as the crimes they were. The believer now, by faith, receives personal forgiveness because his sins have already been punished in Christ.

So why did God not merely turn a blind eye to our sins? The answer is discovered in His Holiness and justice. God could not be just, and at the same time lay aside His law. He could not ignore the condemnation we had earned. On the contrary, in His grace and justice He did something about our sins. In the fullness of time, He, in Christ, condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3). By becoming our sin offering, as one of us, Christ condemned the sin of His people and passed judgement on it.

Keep telling yourself this amazing gospel truth. Keep telling yourself that your sins have already been condemned and you have been set free.

The Lord Jesus has implemented and executed judgment upon all our sins and we have been forgiven. He has put our sins away and forgotten them (Isaiah43:25). But again, let us be very clear on this, God did not forgive our sins. Instead, He ruthlessly punished them and their bearer at Calvary. In that way, He can righteously forgive us.

What an amazing truth this is to tell yourself. There is now no damnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The penalty of our sins has been paid for by blood, the precious blood of the precious Lamb. As Adolph Saphir said;

“All our sins were lain upon Jesus, everyone (of them) was punished… He executed judgment upon all our sins … for all the Children of God”

Adolph Saphir: The Epistle to the Hebrews: Chapter 5

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

*************************************************************************

The New Year is upon us!

Our 2015 outreach plans can be realized, under God, only by the generous support of friends like you. In this next calendar year we are concentrating on preaching the gospel in Ireland (both North and South).

In addition to our gospel work in Ireland, we are holding a leaders conference in Malawi in April and also holding three leaders conferences in India in November. It is a really exciting time for the gospel and we are so privileged to be the ones to do this. Time is flying past and we don’t have nearly enough time to reach the lost.

We are grateful for every gift that enables us to play our part in the Great Commission. Your gift of any amount will help us start the New Year in strength as we provide people around the world with Christ-centred Bible teaching.

Happy New Year!

Miles and Gillian

Chapter 35-Justification

August 27, 2014 2 comments

Justification

No doctrine of Scripture is more important than that of justification. It involves the whole method of the salvation of sinners. It is vitally connected with all other fundamental doctrines. A correct conception of it cannot exist when other truths are ignored, or only partially received. The opinions held upon this point control in great part the theological views in general of all Christian individuals and parties. The importance of a correct knowledge of what God has taught on this subject cannot therefore be exaggerated.

The discussion of this doctrine will be best presented by a definition of the word Justification, accompanied by proof of the several statements involved in that definition.

Justification is a judicial act of God, by which, on account of the meritorious work of Christ, imputed to a sinner and received by him through that faith which vitally unites him to his substitute and Saviour, God declares that sinner to be free from the demands of the law, and entitled to the rewards due to the obedience of that substitute.

I. It is a Judicial Act of God.

That God is its author is emphatically declared by Paul in Rom. 8:33; “It is God that justifieth.” As he is the lawgiver and judge so must he also be the justifier.

The act is not one of sovereignty, as is election, because he does not justify merely of good pleasure, but because the demands of the law have been met. Yet his act is free, and of grace, because it is of his own choice that he accepts a substitute, and because Christ and his meritorious work have been graciously secured and given by God himself. See Rom. 3:24.

The virtue of the act consists in its being his judicial act. Any one might perceive or declare the demands of the law to be satisfied upon knowledge of that fact. Any one might proclaim that the rewards of Christ’s merit have been secured. But, whether declared of the value and efficacy of Christ’s work in itself or of its application to an individual, such a declaration would not be justification. It only becomes so when uttered by God in his capacity as Judge. All others could only recognize or declare the fact. The declaration of the judge sets the sinner free from all demands of the law, and confers upon him all the blessings appertaining to this new condition.

This judicial act of justification is made necessary because the law has been broken. One who has completely fulfilled the law needs not to be justified. His position before the law is that of one personally just or righteous; not of one that is justified, or declared righteous, or treated as such, though not personally so. He may be said to be justified, because recognized or treated as such, though the ground of such action is that he is personally just. Thus the term “justified” is properly applied to the doers of the law, and that of “just” denied to the mere hearers of the law in Rom. 2:13. But while the terms may thus be used of one personally just, he, nevertheless, needs no such justification, because his righteousness is not questionable. His position, like that of those who fully obey human laws, is recognized without any special act affirming it.

Hence it is that the Scriptures so commonly use the word “just,” dikaios, of one who is, in some one or in all respects, perfectly conformed to the law by his own acts, and who is, to that extent, therefore, personally holy, applying the term not to men only or even to Christ, who was made under the law, but also to God himself. See Matt. 1:19; 5:45; 9:13; Luke 23:50; Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; Rom. 3:26. This usage has given rise to the opinion of some that justification is not simply a judicial act, but that it involves holiness in the one justified, and in the case of justified sinners an infusion of holiness in the act of justification.

But that this is an error is obvious,–

1. From the fact that justification is presented as the opposite of condemnation (Rom. 8:33, 34), and not of sinfulness. Condemnation is never spoken of as the infusion of a corrupted nature, and consequently justification would not involve that of a holy nature.

2. That the justified are not declared in Scripture to be free from sin or possessed of holy natures, but are represented as still struggling against sin, and not only sin which arises from outward temptations, but that proceeding from the motions of sin within.

3. The change of nature which causes that of character is called in the Scriptures “regeneration,” and differs essentially from justification. The former is the special work of the Holy Spirit. The latter is the act of God the Father. That is an effect wrought inwardly, which develops itself in a continuous and progressive process which the Scriptures call sanctification. If justification includes an infused righteousness as the opposite of sinfulness, then it includes sanctification, and there is no ground for the scriptural distinction between them.

4. The usage of other words in connection with justification shows it to be a forensic act. The term “righteousness,” dikaiosune, which, like “righteous,” dikaios, is used in connection with personal righteousness, as of God in Acts 17:31, and of Christ “the Faithful and True,” Rev. 19:11, and of the martyrs in Heb. 11:33, and of human obedience to the law in Rom. 10:3, 5; Phil. 3:6, 9, is, in connection with God’s justification of sinners, applied, though chiefly by the Apostle Paul, to “the righteousness which God bestows or accepts,” and which is imputed to the sinner or reckoned to his account.

Another term, dikaiosis, signifies “the act or process of declaring righteous,” viz., justification.

The word dikaioma, which means “that which is declared righteous,” and hence a statute or command, as something which the law of God declares to be a righteous requirement, is used in connection with justification for “the deed by which one declares another righteous, and is partially equivalent to dikaiosis.”

The principal word which is used for expressing the nature of God’s action in justification is dikaioo, “to justify,” which means everywhere “to declare righteous,” “to regard and represent as righteous,” and not “to make righteous” in the sense of conferring personal righteousness.

This usage of terms shows plainly that justification is a judicial act of God, in which he does not confer holiness, but only declares the relation occupied to the law by the one who is in Christ.

 

II. The Ground of this Justification

It is manifest from what has already been said that the justification of the sinner must depend on something not personally his own. The Scriptures teach that it is due not to his own good works but to the meritorious work of Christ which is imputed to him, or put to his account. 

1. They teach us negatively that it is not due to his own good works.

(1.) They expressly deny that justification can be by the works of the law. Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:11; Eph. 2:9.

(2.) They assert that, could it thus have been attained, Christ’s death has been useless. Gal. 2:21; 5:4.

(3.) Sinfulness is declared to be the condition of every man, which excludes the possibility of works untainted by sin. Rom. 3:10.

(4.) The law is said to demand such complete obedience that “whosoever shall keep the whole law and stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all.” James 2:10.

(5.) We are told that “if there had been a law given which could make alive, verily, righteousness would have been of the law.” Gal. 3:21.

(6.) It is likewise stated as necessary to the certainty of attaining salvation that “it is of faith that it may be according to grace.” Rom. 4:16.

These statements show that, not only are men not saved by works alone, but not even by works combined with grace. Justification cannot arise, therefore, from the good works of men. Not even has its condition been so modified that a partial obedience can be accepted, whether this stands alone or is supplemented by, or is supplementary to the merits of Christ. Something entirely outside of man must constitute the basis of justification.

2. The word of God declares this outside something to be the meritorious work of Christ.

(1.) In general

(a) By declaring that the righteousness of God is connected with our relations to, or belief in Christ. Rom. 3:22, 26; 5:1; 10:4; 1 Cor. 1:30.

(b) By stating that redemption is in Christ Jesus. Rom. 3:24.

(c) By setting him forth as the only foundation of salvation.

(d) By asserting salvation to be found only in Christ. Acts 4:12.

(e) By asserting a definite relation between our sin and Christ, and his righteousness and ourselves. 2 Cor. 5:21.

2. More specifically by connecting the salvation and justification of man with Christ’s merits.

This may be shown.

(a) In connection with his sufferings, or what is usually called his passive obedience.

1. Christ is presented as “the Lamb of God,” John 1:29, in evident allusion to the sacrificial offerings of the olden days, and Paul speaks of him as one “whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by his blood.” Rom. 3:25.

2. He is presented as one who has died for us. Rom. 5:6, 8; 8:34; 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; 1 Thess. 5:10; and specifically as having died for our sins. 1 Cor. 15:3.

3. We are said to be justified by his blood (Rom. 5:9), and reconciled by his death (Rom. 5:10), and by his cross (Eph. 2:16).

(b) Our justification is due also to the active obedience of Christ, and not to passive obedience only.

1. Righteousness involves character, conduct and action, even more than suffering endured as penalty. The sinlessness of Christ is therefore plainly taught, and especially in connection with imputation. 2 Cor. 5:21.

2. The gracious salvation he brings is said to establish the law.

3. He assures us, that he came to fulfil the law. Matt. 5:17.

4. The obedience of Christ is not only contrasted with the disobedience of Adam, but is declared to be the means by which many shall be made righteous. Rom. 5:19.

It thus appears, that the ground of justification is the whole meritorious work of Christ. Not his sufferings and death only, but his obedience to, and conformity with the divine law are involved in the justification, which is attained by the believer. The question is here sometimes asked, how the active obedience of Christ can avail to us, when he was himself a man and under the law, and owed obedience personally on his own behalf. The answer to this is twofold, in each case depending upon the doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God. On the one hand, the position was one voluntarily assumed by the Son of God. He was under no obligation to become man. He was not, and could not be made man without his own consent. In thus voluntarily coming under the law, his obedience would have merit to secure all the blessings connected with the covenant, under which he assumed such relations. But besides this, the fulfillment of the law would not simply be that fulfillment due by a mere man, which is all the law could demand of him on his own behalf, so that the merit secured is that due to the Son of God, thus as man rendering obedience to the law. That merit is immeasurable and is available for all for whom he was the substitute.

 

III. The Imputation

This meritorious work of Christ, called in the Scriptures “the righteousness of God,” is imputed by God to those whom he justifies, as the ground or cause of their justification. It is reckoned to their account. They are treated as though they had themselves done that which Christ has done for them.

This imputation is in accordance with the action of God throughout the economy of human affairs. Adam as the representative of man sinned, and his sin has been imputed to all of his descendants, and they are treated as though personally sinners. Christ stood also as the representative of his people and their sins were imputed to him and he was treated as though personally a sinner. Likewise his righteousness is imputed to them, and they are treated as though personally righteous.

In each of these cases there is, however, no such transfer as makes one personally what he is representatively. It is not the imputed sin of Adam which makes men personally sinners. The corrupted nature is one of the natural consequences of that sin, and is a punishment of it. So the imputation of our sin to Christ did not make him personally a sinner. He was still of himself “the holy and righteous one.” In like manner, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness does not make man holy and righteous personally. In each of these cases it is only relation to the law which is expressed.

 

IV. The Relation of Faith to Justification

It is not every sinner that is justified. It is the believer in Jesus. An important inquiry, therefore, is as to the relation of faith to justification. The Scriptures teach that faith is reckoned for righteousness. Rom. 4:5, 9.

By this is not meant, that faith is accepted in the place of righteousness as the cause of justification, for, as we have seen, that place is occupied by the meritorious work of Christ. Nor is it meant, that the righteousness of God has so lowered the law, that something less than obedience can be accepted by him as a full satisfaction of that law; because the demands of the law have not been lowered but have been completely fulfilled by Christ. Besides this would be to make of faith a work, by which salvation is secured, and the Scriptures deny that it has this character. Rom. 4:16. “We are never said to be justified, dia pistin, on account of faith, but only dia pisteos, through faith, or ek pisteos, of faith, eis pistin, unto faith, and epi te pistei, by faith. The fact that faith is counted for righteousness shows, that in itself it is not righteousness and has no merit, but it only so “reckoned on the ground of something outside of itself, viz.: the saving work of Christ.”

It is evidently so reckoned, because by faith the sinner appropriates to himself the work of Christ, and becomes vitally united with him. Faith may, therefore, be regarded as the condition upon which justification is bestowed upon those to whom Christ is presented as a Saviour, to be received and rested upon for salvation. “Faith,” says Dr. Charles Hodge, “is the condition of justification. That is, so far as adults are concerned, God does not impute the righteousness of Christ to the sinner, until and unless he (through grace) receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation.” Sys. Theol. Vol. 3, p. 118. It is a condition which has in it no merit in itself, but which only seizes upon merit in another. It is also an act of the sinner, to which he is graciously disposed and led by God himself through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

V. The Relation of Works to Justification

We have already seen that works cannot enter meritoriously into justification as its procuring cause. But the Scriptures evidently associate works in some manner with justification. Paul himself says that “love is the fulfillment of the law,” Rom. 13:10, and declares that that which avails in Christ Jesus is “faith working through love,” and that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Gal. 5:6, 14. There is here an evident correspondence with, if not allusion to, the frequent teachings of our Lord, and especially to his answer to the Pharisee about the great commandment of the law. Matt. 22:34-40.

The teaching of the apostle James, is not, therefore, to be held to be opposed to the other Scriptures when he speaks of a justification by works. His language is very strong. He says that “faith apart from works is dead.” He asks, “was not Abraham, our father, justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac, his son, upon the altar?” He inquires, “thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect,” and especially declares, “ye see how that by works a man is justified and not by faith only.” James 2:20, 21, 22, 24.

What then is the relation of works to justification?

1. Certainly not as a procuring cause, or a meritorious ground. The faith with which James associates works, and upon a level with which he seems to place them, does not itself occupy this position.

2. The works are not such as precede justification or are contemporaneous with it, and hence cannot be a cause, nor even a condition such as we have seen faith to be. Even in the case of Abraham the justifying work referred to occurred long after the justification which he attained by faith. Compare Rom. 4:9-11; Heb. 11:8; Gen. 15:6; 17:1-27; 22:1-19.

3. The works are referred to as means of manifesting as well the faith as the justification claimed to be by faith. James 2:18.

4. The apostle’s object is to deny the living character of any faith which has not wrought with works and has not been perfected through works.

It is thus evident that works occupy the position of subsequent, not antecedent, accompaniments of justification. They manifest that justification has taken place, because they are invariable consequence. They do this, however, not before man only, but God also, and consequently he, as well as man, perceives them, and because of them the believer performing these good works is justified before God. But such justification is not that actual justification which takes place in connection with faith, which is the judicial act of God declaring the relation of the believer to the law, but that declarative or manifesting justification, which cannot exist except as the result of the actual justification, but which is so inseparably connected with the latter that by its presence, or absence, the existence or non-existence of justification is distinctly established.

 

VI. The Benefits Included in Justification

The benefits conferred by justification are many.

1. Freedom from the condemnation of the law. This includes:

(1) Forgiveness of all sin. Not for the past only, but throughout the Christian’s life.

(2) Discharge from his relation to the law as a rule of bondage, for which is now exchanged his service to it in the newness of the spirit. Rom. 7:6.

(3) Peace with God,–assured peace,–because dependent on the merits of Christ and not those of himself.

These and all other blessings which may be included under the general idea of pardon are necessary results of justification.

2. But justification confers righteousness as well as pardon. Not only are sins remitted but men are made partakers of the righteousness procured by Christ which is imputed to them. They are thus recognized before the law as righteous persons, not simply as persons pardoned for breaking the law, but as those who are rewarded for having fulfilled all its demands.

3. But there are other blessings which arise from the relation to Christ of those whom God justifies. That relation was shown in the chapter on Faith. It is a vital and spiritual as well as a legal and federal union between Christ and his people. By virtue of this they are identified with him in his relation to God as their Representative and Covenant Head, and are made partakers of all the blessings which he has obtained as an inheritance. It is thus that they are adopted into the family of God and become his sons and daughters; thus are they sanctified by the Holy Spirit partly in this life, and progressively advance until complete holiness shall be theirs in Heaven. Thus also do they persevere in the divine life, being preserved or kept by God through faith unto complete salvation. By the same act of faith which is the condition of justification is secured by those united to Christ, the privilege of complete participation in the rewards of their federal head. They shall be heirs with him, shall reign with him, shall be partakers of his glory. No imagination can compass the reward which shall be theirs together with Christ. The Scriptures seem to teach that whatever Christ shall be or possess in his human nature they also shall be and possess.

 

VII. The Time of Justification

We may finally inquire into the time at which justification occurs.

1. It does not occur periodically but is a single act, and not one repeated with reference to new sins. This arises from its nature as an act of God declaring the relation of the believer to the law and from the ground of that act, the never failing merits of Christ. The pardon which the Christian seeks of God is that of a child for offences against a father’s love, and not of a culprit before an avenging judge. The sufferings which Christians endure are not avenging punishments for sin, but chastisements from a Father who chastises those whom he loves and scourges those whom he receives.

2. It is an instantaneous and not a continuing work as is sanctification. It is God’s act declaring the sinner’s relation to the law. That sinner is under condemnation until justified. As soon as justified his condemnation ceases. He cannot be partly condemned and partly justified. He is under condemnation until brought into that condition which secures his justification. When that moment comes God must justify.

3. But when is that moment? The Scriptures teach that it is when man believes. It is in the moment of trust in a personal Saviour.
It was not at the time that Christ finished his work and laid the foundation of justification in his merits and satisfaction. By these justification was secured but not bestowed. It was not in Eternity as is Election by which the subjects of the future justification were chosen. It is at the moment of belief when faith, which is its condition, is experienced. Then is consummated that which was purposed in eternity and which was made possible and certain by the work of Christ. The hour of faith was even the period of justification before the incarnation of Christ because of the faith which rested personally upon him through the promises of God, and the acceptance by God of the meritorious work of Christ as though already existing because of the absolute certainty that it would be performed.

 

Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887

For Whom Did Christ Die?

August 25, 2014 1 comment

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

1. All the sins of all men.
2. All the sins of some men, or
3. Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

1. That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
2. That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
3. But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”

John Owen-For Whom Did Christ Die?

Objections to Election-Objection 3

Three: It represents God as arbitrary.

Answer: It represents God, not as arbitrary, but as exercising the free choice of a wise and sovereign will, in ways and for reasons which are inscrutable to us.

To deny the possibility of such a choice is to deny God’s personality. To deny that God has reasons for his choice is to deny his wisdom.

The doctrine of election finds the reasons for God’s choice of some men to be, not in men or their wills, but in God and his grace.

Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting (1 Tim. 1:16).

William Sasser-Objections to Election