Today I received a rather long comment, from Jim, debating Bible doctrine on an older post, Sophystry. I thought I would look it over and answer a bit of it.
Questions and pertinent bits of the comments, and then my response.
1. Was Abraham justified before his circumcision.?
I think a careful look at the wording answers this. Circumcision was a sign of the covenant, or agreement that was entered into. It was Abrahams faith that held the imputed justification. The Bible doesn’t say when the faith started, but provides time events of its proof, moving out of Ur, believing the promises, willingness to sacrifice his son, etc.
The covenant that God entered into with Abraham is a stand alone event, related to the fact that Abraham had faith, and that he was imputed to be righteous, but it is God’s agreement and legal statement.
2. How could Abraham be regenerate if he was not yet imputed with Christ’s righteousness?
It’s true that Christ’s sacrifice was pivotal and necessary for the fulfillment of all that was held in trust. The account of Lazarus and the rich man gives an insight into the state of those waiting in death. But something that I felt was missing in these comments is how many times God acts later on the premise of something His Word had insured. It was as if it had taken place, so sure is it that it will take place. I see this whole matter of all the Old Testament saints as receiving their grace on the virtue of what was to come in the sacrifice of Christ, at the right time and place. Christ fulfilled the requirements of justice. But imputation is upon the fact that He would, and upon the fact that the Old Testament saints acted in faith that God would be true to His stated promises. It was not necessary that they fully understand how God would do this, just the believing that He was faithful to accomplish what He said He would.
God chose to justify on faith, and that is why it took place before the law was given. The Law showed that there had to be just compensation, and payment of blood. Christ came to fulfill that payment. Faith is still required. Regeneration is a change in our state of being, we become living spirits, not only living souls. God imparts, not imputes, His life to us. This is symbolized in the Communion table.
That this regeneration of life was always held within the faith is illustrated by the fact the the bones of God’s anointed prophet could regenate others, even though the man himself lay moldering in his grave. Regeneration is within the Word of God that is imparted to us.
If I said I had full grasp of this I would be lying. I receive the truth of it.
3. How can anybody imputed with righteousness not have life to believe the gospel?
None are born believing the Gospel. That’s what it means to be lost.
….John 3:36 is talking about the non-elect in the latter part of the verse and the first part talking about the elect. It is contrasting those who believe and those who continue in unbelief (note the present tense). They never do believe because the wrath of God abides (present continual) on them.
Um. I am not sure I can say when the grace to believe God enters the human soul. I don’t know that people aren’t born with the capacity to believe in God. Or that they are. It is an unknown. I can’t say I am sure what is being asked, especially after reading all the comment.
The believing comes first, the grace comes before that… the imputation is transactional- it comes after the faith, the believing.
I think the presence of grace is available to all, but that wrath abides on all who
will not repent of their sinful works and receive grace. It is universally that way for us all…. I am not a strict Calvinist who would believe that we are locked into our fates . I think that verse is simply a contrasting of states. The Proverbs are written in a similar style of contrasts.
4. Do you believe in faith being given before the imputation of righteousness? At least in the case of Abraham? Notice that, though we disagree about the timing of imputation, I always put imputation before faith. Do you?
Since the cross, imputation of righteousness is before faith, however, for those living in the Old Testament, faith was accounted UNTO that righteousness yet to be established for them. Their sins were atoned (covered) under the forbearance of God, but actually put away at the cross. Until then, the Scripture speaks of the non-imputing of their sin to them, but the imputation of righteousness was when Christ died. That’s when law and justice was satisfied for them.
I believe the order to be grace>>>faith>>>imputation of righteousness. I think the act of the gift of grace to believe is different from the imputation of righteousness. I would agree with what is said in the comment here except for one thing: the cross is not the imputation, but the accomplished fact of righteousness. Then the progression is grace>>>faith>>>imputation>>>right standing in fact
5. Why does Col 2:12-14 talk about faith?
I would encourage you to go back and study this passage again in light of the context. I have in recent years, and you may disagree with my interpretation, but I do not believe that v. 12 is speaking of water baptism, but rather the baptism of suffering of the Lord Jesus in his death.
This seems to split semantic hairs… the Baptism into the faith of Christ Jesus is baptism into His death. It is differentiated from the Baptism of John, but both were water Baptisms. We enter His Death and subsequent Life and Resurrection, when baptized in the Christian faith.
“the circumcision of Christ” I would say this is the cutting away of the old man, the man who lives according to the Flesh, which is finalized in physical death… but this state takes place before physical death, “We die daily”. “It is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me”
To the Sophysts original question: In Adam we all sin, being in him when he sinned…. In Christ are all made alive… if we enter into His life we have the Life of God in Him. I have more on the way I beleive this works in the post, Why Christ Had To Die