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Do you know the distinction?
Not knowing it is like being colour blind. We fail to see the multifaceted dazzling colours of the doctrine of justification. May the Lord grant us eyes to see them. Amen.
"God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fulness 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." That's WCF 11.4.
Here is the 1689 version, it has a very significant word 'personally' which greatly emphasize the distinction further.
"God did from all eternity decree to justify all 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 PERSONALLY, until the Holy Spirit doth in time due actually apply Christ unto them." LCF 11.4
(Please don't make the silly statement that the 1689 CoF is just a mere copy of the WCF. The above instant tells you otherwise.)
This paragraph on the doctirne of Justification states plainly 3 distinct aspects of Justification:
1. Justification DECREED in eternity.
2. Justification ACCOMPLISHED in the fulness of time.
3. Justification APPLIED in DUE time to each elect.
Then the 2nd paragraph (11.2) describes another aspect of Justification:
4. Justification EXPERIENCED through faith/believing in Christ.
Putting them in other words, we have:
Righteousness PURPOSED for all the elect by God in eternity.
Righteousness IMPUTED LEGALLY to all the elect at the cross.
Righteousness APPLIED to each elect personally at effectual calling.
Righteousness EXPERIENCED by a child of God at conversion.
These are DISTINCT and separate aspects/facets of justification.
Very many Reformed Baptists and others who claim to hold to the 1689 CoF are completely ignorant of this multifaceted jewel.
'They are not justified PERSONALLY...' even though they are justified LEGALLY. When Christ died on the cross, LEGAL justification of all His people took place; all their sins were imputed to Him, and His righteousness was imputed to them. The DOUBLE IMPUTATION took place on the cross. [Listen, if your sins were not imputed to Christ when He died on the cross, I am very sorry for you. You don't expect Christ to die one more time just for your sins! Take care of them yourself! Good luck to you, ;-) ] They are LEGALLY justified... but they are not PERSONALLY justified... because though righteousness was imputed legally, it is not yet APPLIED to each personally... therefore they are not YET justified personally...
UNTIL the Holy Spirit does in due time, i.e., in God's appointed and approved time, actually apply Christ to them - that is, UNTIL their effectual calling out of their native state of sin and death to that of grace and salvation at God's appointed and approved time, freely by God's grace. That's when the righteousness of Christ is APPLIED personally. (See 1689.10.1)
A reformed man insisted, 'That personal application is by faith.'
His notion is taken from here: "Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love." WCF 11.2 .
No no no. Personal application ENABLES faith...
No, no, no. Faith does not effect personal application!
Before personal application, a man is still personally in the state of death and condemnation, utterly incapable of believing.
Faith is a SAVING GRACE..... did you read that?
Faith is a fruit and effect when salvation is already APPLIED personally. All saving graces are fruit and effect of personal application of justification; faith is ONE of among all other saving graces. Read it again without glasses.
"Faith ... is not alone in THE person justified..." Faith is one of the saving graces worked within a child of God by the Holy Spirit. This faith is manifested and drawn out by the preaching of the gospel.
Faith can only be found in a person whom the Spirit of God has applied Christ and His righteousness.
Faith evidences the justified state of a man.
And faith is the means to EXPERIENCE the blessedness of the justified state... faith in contrast to observing the ceremonial laws. That was Paul's message to the children of God among the Jews. And Abraham was marshaled as the classic example.
That's where ALL new school calvinists get it wrong - making faith as the instrumental means of justification before God.
'Faith alone' - believing in Jesus Christ, IN CONTRAST to Jewish believers' insistence of observing the ceremonial laws of the OT - is the ONLY means appointed by God for God's children to EXPERIENCE the blessedness of their justified state by God's free grace based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone. Abraham is the classic example marshaled to demonstrate that simple truth to the Jews.
Three distinct sets of contrast in three distinct aspects of justification.
1. The ground of justification:
- Christ's righteousness vs. your own.- No righteousness, no justification of life; a man remains in the condemnation of death!
- Justification by faith alone' is a heresy in this context... for it militates against legal justification by the righteousness of Christ ALONE.
- And righteousness is obtained through perfect obedience to all the laws of God.
2. The manner of justification
- God's free grace vs. your complying with some conditions.
- No free grace, no righteousness APPLIED... unjustified man REMAINS in sin, under the condemnation of death, and incapable of meeting any condition.
- 'Justification by faith alone' is a heresy in this context... for it militates against vital justification applied FREELY by the grace of God ALONE.The one in need of justification (in his un-justified state is still in the state of condemnation and death) IS INCAPABLE of meeting any condition to be justified by God.
3. The means to experience the blessedness of justification
- Believing in Christ alone vs. observance of ceremonial laws.
- Abraham experienced the blessedness of his justified state without keeping the ceremonial laws. He believed and his believing was blessed unto him to experience that blessedness.
- Justification by faith alone' is true in this limited and particular context only... for it is the only means appointed for the justified (by God's free grace based on the righteousness of Christ) to experience the blessedness of his justified state.
A biblical distinction is the essence of sound theology.
The new-school reformed people have muddled the three distinct aspects of justification, turning a multi-faceted jewel into a spherical glass marble!
Scriptures repeatedly declares, 'The just shall live by faith.'
It is the just - those already justified by God when they were still in their native state of condemnation and death - that have the grace of faith worked in them by the Holy Spirit, thus they shall live by faith.
The natural state of a man is death and condemnation, before God, by His free and sovereign grace, justifies him. Before his justification by God's free and sovereign grace, he is spiritually dead, in enmity and rebellion against God and wholly incapable of believing.
When the justification of life takes place, a man is enabled to believe the truth of the gospel.
It is 'the just shall live by faith.' But so many read this declaration and make it to say, 'the unjustified (therefore in the state of death and condemnation) shall believe and be justified.'
That's sola fideism - a grave perversion of the gospel truth.