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#58886 Fri Mar 15, 2024 9:39 AM
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1644 First London Confession of Faith of Seven Churches of Christ [Particular Baptist]
"XXVIII - THOSE that have union with Christ, are justified from all their sins by the blood of Christ, which justification is a gracious and full acquittance of a guilty sinner from all sin, by God, through the satisfaction that Christ hath made by His death for all their sins, and this applied (in manifestation of it) through faith."

1646 Westminster Confession of Faith
Chapter 11:
Para. 2 "Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; ..."
Para. 4 "God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them."

The 1644 Baptist Confession describes justification to be merited solely by the merit of Christ, and faith is the subjective manifestation of justification, not the means, merit or instrument of man to apply the justification itself. The 1644 Confession does not state the time of justification, but the manifestation of it in the consciousness of the elect.

Two years later the Westminster Confession describes faith as the "alone instrument of justification", and places the time of the elect's justification at the point when the person believes"

Jesus proclaimed the good news of God that the kingdom of God was near and said "repent, and believe in the good news". I believe as written in the 1644 Confession by scripture and experience. First, Paul wrote: "...but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel," (2Tim 1:10 ASV) Being born into a Christian family where Jesus and God were spoken of in intimate terms, I cannot point to a date I began personally to believe, but in believing I became aware of my justification. Paul also wrote: Christ "..who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised up because of our being declared righteous. Having been declared righteous[at the resurrection], then, by faith, we have peace toward God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (Rom 4:25-5:1 YLT)

An argument can be made about the placement of the commas in the YLT, but removing the comma, since the original did not have English punctuation, I still read it the same way. The scriptures speak of a "law of faith", and Jesus referred to faith as a "work" in John 6:29; to make faith what makes one justified, is to make a work, act of man to be what truly merits justification, instead of the merits of Christ. I do not know of any scripture that refers to faith as a "means" or an "instrument" of faith, and to make that the determining factor makes justification the result of man, instead of the merits of Christ. Avoiding the idea of faith being "merit" by using the terms means and instrument seems weak to me.

I see myself justified or declared righteous by God at the resurrection, a done act of God in the 1st century; then by my faith, I have peace knowing I've been reconciled or viewed in Christ as right with God. So, here my perspective is solely on God's grace in the work of Christ and my faith manifests the reality of my justification. I was not justified because of my initial act of faith, which I do not even have a consciousness of . Then if my name was written in the lambs book of life from before the creation, Rev. 13:8; if my name was then written in eternity, I see myself in one sense justified from eternity, as my election and the benefits of being in Christ comes from eternity, Eph. 1:4-6.

Jesus "who saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works[work of faith], but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before times eternal," (2Tim 1:9 ASV)

While the words of scripture have only one meaning and can't be twisted around to suit a prior idea, the application or how it fits the life experience of each individual can vary. I lived most of my life in an area of the Bible-belt where statements such as follow are frequently heard from pulpits and on radio: "God has done his part for your salvation, now you must do your part by believing". Or, as I heard a fundamentalist Baptist preacher say, after laying out all the provision of salvation provided by Christ in detail, he made the following statement: "If you go to hell after all Jesus has done for you, you deserve to!" Of course that means that the Christian deserved heaven because of his belief, because Jesus has already done his part.

Does the "gift" of faith save, or is it the exercise of the gift of faith by the individual that brings justification? I believe that just as faith gives the first evidence of being born from above, faith also gives evidence of having been previously justified, therefore we have wonderful peace with God. I therefore see justification from three perspectives: as being from before the creation, as being fully provided at the death and resurrection of Christ, and as becoming evident, or manifesting in the individual elect's believing.

My understanding of justification is pretty close to the Primitive Baptist, Elder David Pyle's article:
http://www.pb.org/PBDocs/JustificationAndBaptists.pdf

The Primitive Baptists as represented by Grace Primitive Baptist Church are truly one of the few churches to truly adhere to the principle of "the regulative principle of worship", most noticeably the absence of musical instruments or Sunday Schools in their churches: http://www.pb.org/

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As you might expect, I disagree with your conclusion and which appears is your now adopted view: aka "Eternal Justification", and my disagreement could not be stronger.
1. The Scriptures are more than perspicuous on this matter in myriad places, e.g., one of the most salient: (cf. Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; James 2:23), all of which speak specifically on the subject of "justification", without any need of inference.

2. IF justification was "eternal", then nothing after the decree would be necessary, even including the incarnation, active obedience, passive obedience, resurrection of Christ, for the decree according to this view would have made it done. However, as with all these things, including EVERY SINGLE THOUGHT WORD AND DEED of every human being was necessary to bring the decree to pass for each and every one whom God had predestinated and elected to salvation in the Lord Christ. And that justification which is imputed to them is also made sure through sanctification and final justification (cf. Rom 8: 29,30).

Thus, as John Murray makes so clear based upon Scripture and reason in his marvelous book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, The decrees of God and eternal and infallible AND in those decrees are included the MEANS to the end which bring them to pass. Faith in Christ is NOT simply the realization/apprehension of the assurance of justification, but rather but the means/instrument of being united to Christ and owning that justification which is imputed to those who are given true saving faith and repentance.


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On the response to verses such as Gen. 15:6, I'll let John Gill respond from his commentary. On Gen. 5:16 -

"And he believed in the Lord,.... The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan are,

"in the Word of the Lord;''

in the essential Word of the Lord, in Christ the Lord his righteousness; he believed in the promise of God, that he should have a seed, and a very numerous one; he believed that the Messiah would spring from his seed; he believed in him as his Saviour and Redeemer; he believed in him for righteousness, and he believed in his righteousness as justifying him before God:

and he counted it to him for righteousness; not the act of his faith, but the object of it; and not the promise he believed, but what was promised, and his faith received, even Christ and his righteousness this was imputed to him without works, and while he was an uncircumcised person, for the proof of which the apostle produces this passage, Ro 4:3; wherefore this is not to be understood of any action of his being esteemed and accounted a righteous one, and he pronounced and acknowledged a righteous person on account of it; for Abram was not justified before God by his own works, but by the righteousness of faith, as all that believe are, that is, by the righteousness of Christ revealed to faith, and received by it: what is imputed is without a man, and the imputation of it depends upon the will of another; such the righteousness of Christ without works imputed by God the Father. This is the first time we read of believing, and as early do we hear of imputed righteousness."

John Gill on Rom. 5:1 and notice carefully the first words of the paragraph:

"Therefore being justified by faith,.... Not that faith is at the first of our justification; for that is a sentence which passed in the mind of God from all eternity, and which passed on Christ, and on all the elect considered in him, when he rose from the dead; see Ro 4:25; nor is it the chief, or has it the chief place in justification; it is not the efficient cause of it, it is God that justifies, and not faith; it is not the moving cause of it, that is the free grace of God; it is not the matter of it, that is the righteousness of Christ: we are not justified by faith, either as God's work in us, for, as such, it is a part of sanctification; nor as our work or act, as exercised by us, for then we should be justified by works, by something of our own, and have whereof to glory; but we are justified by faith objectively and relatively, as that relates to the object Christ, and his righteousness; or as it is a means of our knowledge, and perception of our justification by Christ's righteousness, and of our enjoying the comfort of it; and so we come to..."

On the difference between God's decree to create and then his actual creation, Elder David Pyles -

"This thinking is irrefutable, though some have presumed to overthrow it, saying, for
example, that since God’s plan to create does not imply creation, neither does His plan to
justify imply justification. While this complaint has a valid point, it is not a point that
would refute what the English Baptists intended. A distinction must be made between an
action of God and the state of His mind. God might plan an action or change of action,
such as the introduction of a Universe or the regeneration of a man, but it is logically
impossible to plan a change of mind. There is no sense in saying that God planned to
view the elect as unrighteous over some span of time, but simultaneously planned to
change His mind and view them differently thereafter. He indeed viewed His elect as
righteous in Christ from eternity, and with no other position will one make sense of the
fact that God was glorifying His deceased elect long before Christ died and before there
was a gospel to preach."
http://www.pb.org/PBDocs/JustificationAndBaptists.pdf

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Sorry, neither Gill nor Elder David Pyles refutes what the overwhelming doctrine held by the vast majority of Reformers and Puritans believed; they being of different opinions on less essential doctrines, e.g., the mode of baptism, church polity, et al. But, what is most important and the only determining factor is Scripture itself. And, it's; Scripture is to properly interpreted by Scripture's own hermeneutical principle, aka: The Analogy of faith. Eisogesis is eliminated and forbidden, of which Gill and Pyle are guilty as are you also, e.g.:
Quote
The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan are,

"in the Word of the Lord;''

in the essential Word of the Lord, in Christ the Lord his righteousness; he believed in the promise of God, that he should have a seed, and a very numerous one; he believed that the Messiah would spring from his seed; he believed in him as his Saviour and Redeemer; he believed in him for righteousness, and he believed in his righteousness as justifying him before God:
"The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan are" have no authority to interpret Scripture. And, "And he believed [b]in his righteousness as justifying him before God:" is nowhere to be found in Scripture either. In fact, James writes that ones works "justify" one before men and God as evidence of another's, i.e., he who assumes to believe, faith.

In the NT, the phrase "by faith", e.g., Rom 3:22,28; Gal 3:24,26, 5:5; Phil 3:9, pistei is grammatically, the 'dative of means', which owns no merit whatsoever, and which no Strict Baptist would disagree. On this important matter, Dr. Joel Beeke wrote extensively and of which, of which again the overwhelming majority of Reformed/Calvinist believers give assent... see here: Justification by Faith Alone: The Relation of Faith to Justification.

To iterate, NO ONE is justified before God UNTIL and AFTER they believe upon Christ with a saving faith. This faith unites the believer to the Lord Christ and thus the righteousness merited by Christ is THEN imputed to them.


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Pilgrim, I'll not extend a debate on this topic itself, but in my study on justification, the question of peace with God written about by Paul brought to my mind the believer's assurance of salvation and his peace of mind. I'm going to post on this topic of the seeming dual personality of the believer who is actually born again in truth.


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