Eternal Justification

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by reformedbeliever, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. reformedbeliever

    reformedbeliever
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    The subject of eternal justification has been brought up by myself in another thread. It was suggested that the subject be brought up in a new thread. Are many aware of the doctrine of eternal justification? Those who hold to the doctrine of eternal justification would normally be called "hyper calvinist".
    Eternal justification is the belief that the elect are justified in eternity past and have no need of any event (such as hearing the gospel and receiving Christ as Savior) to be saved... as they are already saved in eternity past.
    I do not believe in eternal justification. I believe that we are not justified until we hear the gospel and respond favorably to receive Christ as our Savior. I do understand why some may hold to eternal justification.... but believe they are looking at it from God's point of view........ such as God is outside time and has already justified His elect. It is a done deal with God. Your thoughts? Grace and peace
     
  2. npetreley

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    I'm not sure it's possible to answer this question. I don't happen to believe in eternal justification, but since it would be from God's perspective, how could I know I'm right? ;)


     
  3. J.D.

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    I'm not ready to say that I'm convinced that eternal justification is true, but I find no problem with the doctrine at present. As you said, it is a "done deal" from the eternal perspective, and it is accomplished in time as God wills. While I don't cosider myself hyper, especially in regards to the indiscriminate preaching of the gospel, but I do like to reserve the right to be so. I don't like getting pidgeon-holed into an orthodox box - never have. If I always remained comfortable with my doctrinal surroundings, I would still be a synergist.
     
  4. Blammo

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    Good luck understanding what I am about to ask.

    I don't consider myself a "C" or "A", but, the discussions cause me to study God's word more, I am learning a lot, and that is why I keep showing up.

    I could believe in "eternal justification" from God's perspective, according to His foreknowledge, but, it would not become effectual until the "elect" puts his faith in the finished work of Christ. In other words, it is contingent on belief, but, God knew the believer would.... believe. Therefore, even as the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world, the "elect" could have been justified from the foundation of the world, even though both of these events took place in time from our perspective.

    This reminds me of a problem I kept having with another poster on this board. He would say, "if you say that the atonement was not effectual until the man places his faith in Christ, you are saying the blood of Christ is too weak to save men, and is dependent on their belief", to which I would reply with this question, "were you born saved?". He would never answer the question.

    If one believes in "eternal justification" would they not also have to believe in "eternal atonement"?
     
  5. J.D.

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    It was very easy to understand. Your questions are the very questions that theologians through the centuries are trying to deal with.


    So then by all means, please do show up.



    I will offer an answer to this from my own perspective - I do not imply to answer for other views or other Calvinists. I don't know exactly how to fix this, but I don't think the word "effectual" can be used with "justification". "Effectual" would apply to the atonement. Justification is the effect of the atonement. Justification was "in effect" upon the death and resurrection of Christ. Remember there is a legal or judicial aspect of justification, and an experiential aspect. God does not judiciously justify the sinner based contingently on belief, but rather on the merit of the atonement itself. The elect, upon regeneration and conversion, comes in to experiential, conscious knowledge of the justification provided in Christ.



    The elect are born elect, but not saved. Election takes place "before the foundation of the world"; Salvation takes place in time in accordance with God's will.



    At first I thought yes, the principle would apply to both. But then I thought, no - while justification, in the legal sense, could take place before time, the atonement, being an actual event in time, could not be eternal in any sense of the word.

    Looking forward to any other thoughts on this.
     
    #5 J.D., Aug 16, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2006
  6. J.D.

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    I think I've just countered my own argument in the previous post. I said "justification is the effect of the atonement". Well, if that's true, and it's true that the atonemont takes place in time, then it's effect must be in time also.

    Somebody help! :( I've got to study this more.
     
  7. Blammo

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    As I was writing my reply to your last post, I ran into the same problem. I ended up deleting everything I wrote, thinking, "I need to give this more thought".

    I'm glad to see I'm not alone.

    No doubt you are right about justification following the atonement. I guess the question remains: Does "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" mean Christ was crucified not twice, but, both inside and outside of time once? And, if so, did we receive the atonement not twice, but, both inside and outside of time once? And, if that be the case, then we could believe in "eternal atonement" and "eternal justification".

    I don't feel a need to believe in either. And, that's about all the philosophy I wish to engage in.
    :confused:
     
  8. reformedbeliever

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    I have to look at justification from the perspective of being in Christ. We are justified in Christ. He is the vine and we are the branches. Our very life depends upon drawing from Him. If we are not in Christ, we are usless. Then the inseperable connection to sanctification, which I believe is not only a one time deal, but ongoing and will be finally accomplished in time. Since sanctification is present and future tense, and tied into justification, how can justification be eternal as in eternity past? Remember also that justification is a legal act by God in which He declares sinners righteous, by the righteous shed blood of Christ in our stead. We were not sinners until we came into time and became guilty... which we all are. How could we be justified from something we were not guilty of before our existence? :smilewinkgrin: Grace and peace
     
  9. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    If you all would care to allow me to input here I think I may can help clear up some of the lingering questions put forward here.

    The first thing that I would offer you is that Christ is the mid-point. When you think of the atonement it certainly occurred in time and space. The book of 1 John warns against anyone who would teach you that it was not necessary for Christ to die in the flesh. That teaching would resemble a Gnostic or Hellenistic philosophy. Christ indeed needed to die in the flesh in order for the atonement to be accomplished.

    The cross is therefore the mid-point for all eternity, that is in a linear since if you use mathematical principles. On a ray which represents infinity, that is a line that goes out infinitely in both directions, Jesus is the mid-point. However, keep in mind that eternity is not like infinity. Infinity has no place for sequence, and I realize that some may want to check out for a moment here. According to infinity if you put a point on an infinite line that line may have a beginning but could go out in one direction for infinity. You could also have a ray that goes in both directions for infinity. The odd thing is that the line that has a beginning point is just as long as a line that has no beginning and no end. Why? Because infinity is not a measurable number. If you went out for a million light years on an infinite line that had a beginning point and put another point that second point is no closer to the end that the first. This may be difficult to comprehend. Eternity is not just a mathematical principle like infinity but it is a state of being that transcends time and space. Therefore when I read a passage that speaks of Jesus being slain in eternity past that is not necessarily a linear concept for me. It first is a spacial concept. Jesus is on another plan of existence, and some of you by now think that I may be too. :sleep: In terms of an analogy, think of the movie series the matrix. In the matrix there were laws that were in effect for most people however a few knew of another plan of existence and were able to alter their existence according to the higher plan. So much for the galactic space odyssey, I think I may be confusing more than I am helping. Let me switch gears here.

    Jesus is outside of time in as much as he is God. In the mind of God he knew exactly what would happen prior to creation. In knowing what would happen his knowledge was actual. So while it may occur in time and space because God had knowledge of what would occur he can benefit from that knowledge as if it had already occur. That is why in the OT you will often find prophecy grammatically worded in the past tense. It is spoken as if it had already occurred.

    In terms of election, I think this brings up an interesting point. It is important to see that all have fallen short and are born children of wrath. Therefore the notion that we do not need to be saved because we are elect is not consistent with Scripture. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. But what does it mean to be lost? I would offer this definition, that being lost means you are somewhere you are not suppose to be. If you are elect prior to creation and you fall into a group that is reprobate then you are not where you are suppose to be and therefore Jesus' work on the cross is done to effectively and legally remove you from a status that is not in keeping with God's design for your life.

    Man I probably should stop there because I may be talking to myself here...:laugh:
     
  10. J.D.

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    BP/T, you're talking to me. I guess I'm sort of different. When I was taking mathematics courses in college I was fascinated, and still am, with the idea that mathematical truths point to God's order and are shadows of things heavenly.

    Your theory of Christ as the mid-point I suppose is a play on the idea of "moment", that is, a moment is the meeting point of eternity past and eternity future. Now we know that the death of Christ certainly was "momentous". I think that works pretty good.

    Your comparison of eternity and infinity was very instructive for me. There were some physicists/mathematicians that were constructing a theory that time is not linear, but rather is "curved", or even circular. Now that brings up some interesting comparisons - for example, could time bend into a circle and thus become circular and therefore eternal? Is the end of time in the bible best understood as the end of linear time, and one eternal day existing as circular time?

    NOTE TO ANYONE READING THIS: This post is mostly just curious speculations and it does not represent orthodox theology in any way!
     
  11. reformedbeliever

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    Personally I love the discussion of time/eternity. Predestination and time are some very indepth subjects, more so than what appears on the surface. The idea of predestination does not allow for variables, imho, if it did then it would not truly be destiny, as it would be variable. Since destiny is fixed, then you have certain paradoxes that occur when time is combined. Such as the idea of time travel, if that could be possible. The speed required for such is not fathomable at this time. But, saying that time travel could be accomplished, a person could not travel back in time and kill or cause to be killed, his grandfather. The grandfather paradox. I'm not much of a mathmatician, not even sure I spelled it correctly... but this subject does interest me very much. Grace and peace
     
  12. pinoybaptist

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    no math, please.....

    BP/T,

    I just got my eyes uncrossed and my brain functioning again after trying to figure out your math, so please, speak English. :wavey:
     
  13. Baptist_Pastor/Theologian

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    I apologize if I did make my point more clearly; there are so many factors that must be taken into account. If on the one hand I compare eternity to infinity there are valid comparisons but on the other hand there are certainly points of departure. Eternity is similar to infinity but it’s not a one for one comparison. Like infinity eternity is not measurable. In the case of a ray that goes out in both directions for infinity eternity has no beginning and no end. Truly God has no beginning and no end. However, eternity has more to do with existence or being as opposed to distance. As such eternity does allow for the sequence of time and space. So when I say that Jesus Christ on the cross is the mid-point, what I am suggesting is that in a liner sense Christ is the point of reference for all else due to the fact that there is no beginning and no end. ß*à Since I am preacher let put it to you like I have put it to my folks before, all of eternity past looks forward to Christ in expectation and all of eternity future looks back to Christ in celebration.

    We are bound by the limitations of time and space and it is nearly impossible for us to comprehend eternity. Our minds are certainly fixed on thinking in terms that are familiar to us. However, God is not bound by time due to the fact that he is omnipresent. His knowledge of the future is therefore actual. When Christ died on the cross he did so as part of a very intentional effort to bring about the redemption of the elect. If you want to think of the humanity as a lump of clay, then the elect are a portion of clay drawn from a common source of humanity which all humans belong. They were not separated in eternity past as the doctrine of eternal justification has been understood, however, they were certain justified in eternity past in the sense that Christ was slain in eternity due to the knowledge of God and his ability to benefit from that knowledge. Keep in mind that justification is for the Lord’s benefit. He must justify his actions with himself and we must be justified before him in a way that is consistent with who he is and according to his nature or laws of righteousness. Therefore God must be consistent with himself in his efforts to redeem fallen humanity.

    There are some things that we will not be able to understand. We cannot understand why God chose some and not others. The only explanation is that it was his will to do so and he is God and has every right to do as he pleases. However, we know that in choosing some and not others he must do so in a way that is consistent with what he has revealed about himself. According to the way that God has revealed himself there is no question that all of humanity is fallen, and that would include those who are elect. There is a need to draw out or call out the elect. So I would argue that it is necessary for the elect to be converted to Christ in order to be considered children of God. There are no anonymous Christians and you can have knowledge that is actual in regards to your conversion. Some have argued that not only can one not know who the elect are but that you yourself cannot know that you are truly elect. In others words the notion of eternal justification could lead to an extreme view that does not give any assurance of salvation if the gospel is not needed in order to bring conversion. Based on that view the elect are the elect and since salvation is not by works and by grace there would be no indicators in this life as to who is and who is not the elect. It would be a matter of getting to the next life and finding out there who won the lottery so to speak.

    One other thing is this in terms of time and eternity; we are not saved in the strictest sense in this life, but converted. Our salvation comes when we enter heaven. Now that does not mean that we can loose salvation but that salvation is in heaven. I say this just to give you a means of relating to the eternal application of the atonement. In the same way that a child of God says I am saved and yet has not entered heaven but understands that heaven awaits, Christ was crucified in eternity future and the application was felt in eternity past. Your future awaits and feels certain that you are destined for heaven so much so that you will boldly proclaim I am saved. Yet, Paul states in the book of Phil. 3:12, “NOT that I have already OBTAINED this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” In this verse we have Paul telling us that heaven awaits but I am not there yet but I know that I one day will be so I am going to keep plugging away by the grace that God gives me so to speak. In a similar way God knew who would receive the inheritance but did does reward the inheritance until eternity future. In God’s economy he has no beginning and no end and he sees the beginning from the end. In our economy we must wait in order to benefit from the work of the cross until we by faith receive the gift of eternal life. In one sense we are saved from ourselves and from the power of the Devil but in another sense we only have a down payment of a future inheritance so there is very much that is still yet to be realized.
     
  14. reformedbeliever

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    Yep, that is exactly what I was going to say! :laugh:
     
  15. 2BHizown

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    Yes, we were elected from eternity past BUT we are regenerated, then justified in the present via circumstances brought to pass as predestined by God in eternity past. Once we are regenerated and justified we can then look back as most can and do and see God's guiding/protective hand in our life but this is actuallly know more as 'common grace'.
    Besides there is no way to look at anything from 'God's point of view' for reasons we all know, including our finite mind and His infinite mind. We get in trouble in trying to 'think like God' other than what we're instructed in scripture. He even said Himself at one point, "You thought that I was altogether as you are". As we know we never come close.
     
  16. 2BHizown

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    Love this story!

    Years ago Harry A. Ironside, that great Bible teacher, told a story about an older Christian who was asked to give his testimony. He told how God had sought him out and found him, how God had loved him, called him, saved him, delivered him, cleansed him, and healed him-a great witness to the grace, power, and glory of God. But after the meeting a rather legalistic brother took him aside and criticized his testimony, as certain of us like to do. He said, "I appreciated all you said about what God did for you. But you didn't mention anything about your part in it. Salvation is really part us and part God. You should have mentioned something about your part."
    "Oh, yes," the older Christian said. "I apologize for that. I'm sorry. I really should have said something about my part. My part was running away, and his part was running after me until he caught me.
     

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