Puritan Board Graduate
Thoughts or comments?
A Short Credo on Justification
I believe that Jesus Christ was justified by God in His resurrection from the dead, being declared with power to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). He was justified in the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16), vindicated by God, and exalted to the right hand of God the Father. This justification, along with Christ´s active and passive obedience, and all His other perfections, is imputed to His people, and is the only basis for all that they have in Him. This justification of Christ, this resurrection from the dead, was for our justification (Rom. 4:25).
I believe that God in His sovereign and secret decree has elected by name a countless number to eternal salvation (Eph. 1:11). Each of these elect are justified individually, and irreversibly, at the point of their conversion, when God imputes to them all the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29-30). The ground of this justification is the righteousness of Jesus Christ, plus nothing, and is appropriated by the instrument of faith alone, plus nothing, and even this faith is to be understood as a gift of God, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-10).
I believe that the Church of Jesus Christ, an organic covenant body, is also justified, sanctified, regenerated, and elect. Because her sanctification, like ours, is not yet complete (Eph. 5:24-32), I believe that non-justified, non-elect, non-sanctified, and non-regenerated individuals can be covenant-breaking members of this covenant body for a time. But in the passage of time all such fruitless branches are removed (John 15:1-7; Rom. 11:20; Matt. 13:24-40). Non-elect warts are removed from the elect Bride (Eph. 5:27).
I believe that God established two distinct covenants with mankind, one before the Fall, and one after. The first covenant was called a covenant of works in the Westminster Confession (7.2). I would prefer to call it a covenant of creational grace. The condition of covenant-keeping in this first covenant was to believe God´s grace, command, warnings, and promise. If Adam had avoided sin in this temptation, he would have had no grounds for boasting, but could only say that God had graciously preserved him. "œPerfect and personal obedience," even for an unfallen man, is not possible unless he trusts in God´s goodness and grace. Because God endued Adam with the power and ability to keep covenant with Him (WCF 19.1), Adam was a recipient of grace, and thus, the sin that plunged our race into death was a revolt against grace.
The second covenant is a covenant of redemptive grace. The thing that the two covenants have in common is grace, not works. The condition for keeping this covenant is the same as the first, although the circumstances are different. The condition always is to believe God.
These points are made, not to smuggle "œworks" from the covenant of works into the covenant of grace, but rather the opposite. I believe we must insist that autonomous works be banished from every human realm and endeavor, whether fallen or unfallen (1 Cor. 1:31).