Scripture Query and Answer: Justification, Quickening, Raising

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Q. Is it sound doctrine—that believers were justified, quickened, raised, &c., in and with Christ, when He died, and rose again, i.e., that they were justified before they were born, and that faith merely gives the knowledge of it?
A. It is not sound doctrine so to say. Abstractedly, everything is eternally present with God; and there is no time with Him; but, then, I cannot say “when” or “before” in this point of view, because there is no “when” or “before” when there is no time. And in the scriptural view, such language is wholly unwarranted. Because in due time Christ died for the ungodly, when we were yet without strength. And having been justified by faith—we are not justified without believing, but by faith, through faith in His blood; not without it or before it. Nor hence without being at the same time born of God. When we were dead in sins, we were quickened together with Him, &c. By faith are ye saved. We were by nature children of wrath, but God, who is rich in mercy, when we were dead in sins, quickened us. It is a new nature which we as persons never had before it was communicated to us, when we had only the old. To say we were eternally believers, is nonsense. In the same sense we were eternally unbelievers, too, and eternally glorified, for all these things were before God's mind together without time. It is not true that Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25) means, because we were justified; “because we were justified,” is not in the passage; δικαίωσις cannot mean it, but for justifying us. It would have been, διὰ τὸ δικαιωθῆναι ἡμᾶς!. Hence, when the part, passive is used, faith is added; wherefore, δικαιωθέντες!, “having been justified by faith” Eph. 4:1818Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (Ephesians 4:18) proves the contrary to what it is alleged. They were “alienated from the life of God” when they were in darkness; and then he talks of learning Christ—that is, when unbelievers, they had to learn Him. If they had, indeed, learned Him according to the truth in Ηim—namely, the putting off according to the former conversation the old man, and being renewed in the spirit of your mind. Now, here is a work clearly wrought in them; if they had really learned Christ, they knew what it was to put off the old man; they had it before, and put on the new which they had not before. To say that a man is born of God when he is in sins, is false; that he is created again in Christ Jesus when he is a mere sinner, is nonsense. Scripture does not speak so. Justification is referred to faith, which I have not, assuredly, before I believe. High Calvinists have this manner of speaking. If they merely mean that all was in God's thoughts and purposes, it is all right. But scripture never speaks as they do, and puts a man as a creature, who belongs to time, into time, and deals morally with him. If it be said that the life which we get existed eternally, for it was Christ who is our life, it is all well. But it is not ours till we have Christ, and before that we are children of wrath; at least, so says the scripture. The work may be all viewed mentally in him, when the power wrought; but if it be referred to the saints, so that it is only their knowledge of it which is now given, it is untrue and mischievous, because God purifies the heart by faith, as well as justifies us. Scripture says, “what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,” &c.; not to the elect. It had been only wrought in believers. I do not know whether it is held that faith is eternal.