Here’s a great analysis of a particularly destructive error gaining some traction within certain parts of the Christian community, the heresy of eternal justification.
In light of eternal justification, the elect of God were never under the wrath of God. Therefore, they cannot be any time under the federal headship of Adam. This implies no spiritual commonality of any kind with the reprobates. Now, Christianity teaches that all humans are all united in the fact that we are all sinners, and it is only because of particular grace that I as a sinner am saved out of my sin and out of the hellfire I justly deserve. Advocates of eternal justification however logically should deny this. With no spiritual commonality between the elect and reprobates (constituting a denial of the Imago Dei to some extent), the two are as light and darkness. No longer are Christians to be considered as undeserving sinners saved by God’s amazing grace, but as saints who happen not to realize that they are already justified. (This of course will logically lead to various forms of Antinomianism but we will not go there).
This rings a bell with me in particular, as this error was part of the trouble that we ran into in our church as well. So I appreciate this very solid analysis.
This doctrine is fundamentally a denial of justification by faith alone. It teaches that the elect is already justified without exercising faith- faith is just the point at which the believer becomes subjectively aware of their justification.
12 thoughts on “The Heresy of Eternal Justification”
Wow Matt, I'm impressed! Weren't you one who says that salvation is by works?
No. The survey question was whether good works are necessary to salvation, and they are, in the sense that they are the necessary results. They are not the grounds of justification in any sense but they are the necessary result of faith.
You'd know this if you had any desire to faithfully represent my views, rather than just engaging in slander. But it's easier to create a false dichotomy between your particular version of antinomianism, and anyone who disagrees with you as a legalist.
My questions were very fair, and you answered honestly. But you are ignoring the rest of the answers. Also, the question on the survey was,
1) Do you believe salvation is dependent upon the works of men? –
You answered "Yes"
2) Do you believe salvation is dependent upon the acceptance of Christ and His Gospel?
You answered "Yes"
3) Do you believe salvation is offered (proffer) to all men who hear someone preach the Gospel?
You answered "Yes"
4) Do you believe God gives all men a free will?
You answered "Yes"
5) Do you believe God loves all men who will ever live?
You answered "Yes"
6) Do you believe Christ's righteousness is imputed, infused into, or imparted to the elect?
You answered, "Imputed and Imparted"
7) How many wills of God are there?
You answered, "Two (God has a will of "desire" and a decretive will)"
8) Do you believe that God wrathfully despises the elect at any point in their lives whether they are converted to the Gospel or have no knowledge of it?
You answered, "Yes"
9) Do you believe that the object of any form of God's love is ever a reprobate man?
You answered, "Yes"
10) Do you believe water baptism is necessary for salvation?
You answered, "Yes"
11) How does one know if they believe the Gospel?
You answered, "The Spirit gives assurance but good works are sometimes or always used by God to produce this assurance."
This is not slander. These are the questions I asked, and these were your answers.
There is so much more to talk about with you than "eternal justification". You obviously do not know or understand the Gospel. And you're selling a book called "The essentials of the Christian religion????!?!?!" You obviously need to bone up yourself bucko!
I certainly have much growing to do. No argument there. But again, you said that I claimed, "salvation is by works" (first comment), when what I actually said that salvation is dependent on good works. Those are different propositions. Maybe it wasn't slander- maybe you truly can't understand the difference. But I believe you do know the difference, and being familiar with your heretical doctrines, I answered so as to distance myself from them, fully expecting that you would "wrangle over words", since it's what you're best at. Your assertion is that I believe that salvation is accomplished by the instrumentation of good works, something I do not believe. My answer to the rather vaguely worded survey indicates the Biblical position that God accomplishes the completion of our salvation by working Christ's righteousness in us, as we become conformed to His image. Our salvation cannot occur until we are conformed to His image (Romans 8:28-30). Quite a number of passages (Eph 2:10, Eph. 5:1-8, Matthew 25:31-46, Rev. 2:5, Rev. 14:13) make clear that the completion of our salvation (not the same thing as justification, which is the beginning), is accomplished by God working righteousness in us.
You can talk about whatever you like. But this happens to be my blog, and I'm talking about the heresy of justification from eternity, which is a denial of justification by faith alone. I'm really not anxious to gain instruction from such a one as you, fancying yourself an instructor of men, a self-appointed prophet. And incidentally if you had anything to teach me you would have already done so as I have read most of what you have already written. Why are you unwilling to defend yourself, instead of just coming here, spreading slander and trying to change the subject?
You teach the doctrine of devils. You have a form of godliness but deny the power of it. You teach people to despise authority, reject the church, slander their brothers in Christ. Your site is full of hate for the body of Christ which He purchased with His own blood and full of self-congratulation and self-love. You measure yourselves by yourselves, and commend yourselves to yourselves. I am not interested in your approval. I am interested in the approval of Christ, whose word you reject.
And one more note about that survey- I took that two years ago, before I was banned from "Darth Gill's" site, and frankly I don't remember the questions being the same as they are now. I can no longer see the original questions or alter my answers. So none of that means a whole lot to me, and it shouldn't to anyone else. If you want to know what I believe, feel free to ask me.
But if you're interested in learning more, just go to http://www.predestinarian.net, and read for a while. You will see what I'm talking about.
"…the completion of our salvation (…), is accomplished by God working RIGHTEOUSNESS IN US."
Matt, thank you very much. Your answer here lines up perfectly with your answers to my questionnaire. I feel sorry for the people in your congregation and those who read your book and believe this. They'll be looking INWARD for salvation rather than OUTWARD to Christ. When are you going to start arguing for purgatory?
This is not Gospel language and gives NO HOPE to its hearers. SALVATION is COMPLETE in CHRIST – not in what God does in people.
Thank you for making very clear your belief, that sin should abound so that grace may much more abound.
And I answer with Paul, May it never be!
1 John 2:28-29= " 28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him."
Practicing righteousness means practicing lawkeeping. That's what righteousness means. If you are born of Christ, you will strive to keep the law. John points to this as evidence of the new birth.
And when was this decision made as to who was the elect, and who was reprobate, and who's will could change events?
The elect are sinners, they are under Adam, but they are saved sinners. There for the grace of God go I. But the Grace is there, and has been there before creation.
What does predestined to be conformed mean to you? “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine, and all mine are thine, and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them.”
And this glory he says he had with the Father before the world was. (John 17:5, 7, 10.)
Faith is necessary for justification. But it is a gift from God. It is all of Grace. What is heretical about any of what I've said?
There is no error in that. I am not denying eternal election. I heartily affirm that. The problem comes in denying that the elect are ever under the wrath of God for their sins even when they have not expressed faith. So it is teaching the idea that someone can be justified without faith. That is why it is an error.
1 Thessalonians 5:9
For God hath not appointed us to wrath
Neither I,nor Gill,nor those at P-Net deny the need for individual subjective justification in time.
The elect "are equally children of wrath, as deserving of the wrath of God in themselves as others, who are not appointed to it; which is an instance of wonderful and distinguishing grace to them: Gill
We understand the legal process.
However the provision was made before time to save some sinners. God so loved his sheep he sacrificed his Son, but had enmity for them until they believed?
"Christ from eternity in the Counsel of Peace undertook to be the Surety of His people;
taking their guilt upon Himself as also that afterward He by His suffering and death on Calvary actually paid the ransom for us, reconciling us to God while we were yet enemies;
but that on the basis of God’s Word and in harmony with our Confession it must be maintained with equal firmness that we personally become partakers of this benefit only by a sincere faith" Protestant Reformed Journal
As Ephesians 2 says, we were children of wrath, just as the others. And I am aware of the attempts to make that passage mean the opposite of what it means. But it says, "By nature children of wrath", meaning not according to appearance, but according to the essence of what we are.
Adam was in a state of condemnation when he sinned, demonstrated by the fact that he was ejected from the garden and the way back was barred with a sword. God instituted the sacrificial system to show His wrath against sin, and also to promise the redeemer.
I happen to believe that God can be at least as complex as a man. And a man is perfectly capable of loving someone or something in one sense and hating in another. God hates what is evil, and there is a great deal of evil in the unconverted sinner. Yet he chooses, by His free grace, to love them effectively, so as to transform them.
The effect of Kraft's doctrine is to deny any such transforming love, that the elect sinner is never in any state of misery, and just needs to learn that he is in fact blessed even in his state of rebellion and ignorance. His 'loving' God leaves the sinner in the state of misery in which he found him, changing his legal status but leaving his moral status exactly as it was, in sin and misery. He collapses all the doctrines of God and denies their working out in time, and the result is the antinomianism that he espouses and constantly displays, witnessed in the fact that Kraft actually boasts of his sin! "You will know them by their fruits."
If we are justified eternally, are we sanctified eternally? Glorified eternally? No, all of these declarations from eternity are processes worked out in the life of the believer, through struggle and process. Kraft denies all of this, and therefore he has denied the historic Christian faith.