Adam Sophyst wrote Think Ye Theologians and asked “Can I biblically say that just as prior to our existence it was imputed upon us the guilt of Adam, likewise prior to our existence it was imputed upon us the justification of Christ?”

I made a comment and a revision. Adam has been so kind to visit with some of his further probing of my view. That usually makes me happy, and I am happy to devote a post to it.

From the comments in this blog:

[Regeneration comes after the imputed righteousness that allows for interaction with God is applied.]
I agree completely. My question still maintains of when exactly this imputation of righteousness occured.

[Man could never start over on his own, this is why the imputation of righteousness in Christ is so important. There had to be a satisfying of justice, and a place for faith to begin. The passage explains this:
“as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”]
I have never really thought of it as this; rather, I have never worded it as such. ‘There had to be a satisfying of justice, and a place for faith to begin.’

I like that.

Although do we not normally consider the satisfying of justice to be that act of Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross? And do we not normally consider our faith to begin in Christ? What then hinders me from saying that not only the satisfying of justice and the beginning of faith but the imputation of righteousness (which I would say is synonymous with the satisfying of justice) occured at the same time [as opposed to different scattered periods throughout history,] that time being upon the cross?
[Faith is imputed by the vehicle of faith- which results in regeneration.] revised on his comments: [I meant righteousness is imputed by the vehicle of faith.]

I understand you corrected this; good, I was thoroughly confused. Although, you make the statement that righteousness is imputed by the vehicle of faith; may I ask for Scripture? You point to John three, yet I need you to be more specific please.

Also, I like how you use ‘free moral agency’; what are your reasonings for doing so? May I ask if this ‘free moral agency’ belief of yours discredits the belief in ‘freewill’ or ‘freechoice’ as it would commonly be called? How do you make the distinctions?

For reasons found in several scriptures I believe that all imputed righteousness hinges upon the cross. If you remember In Isaiah 6 “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.”

How is it that Isaiah’s sins were purged, and not covered? This is the altar before the LORD. As the lamb was sacirficed from the foundation of the world. God calls things done before they manifest in time. I believe this is the sacrifice of Christ offered up in its time, but the very coals held grace throughout all time.

This is based upon the complete faithfulness of the promises that God made from the time of the fall.

Paul makes clear that the imputation of righteousness is recorded in the life of Abraham. But did regeneration? Before Christ’s incarnation would that be possible?

In the John 3 passage there is information on being born again. “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Previously it is said that the Spirit was with men, but after the cross, Jesus tells His disciples that the Spirit will be in them. Pentecost came after the cross.

Even though there is a sequence in the scriptures, it seems that it is all encompassed within Christ and sometimes things happen out of sequence, so I see no reason why imputation and regeneration couldn’t be simultaneous. See Cornelius in Acts 10.

But I think the imputation of righteousness extends thorughout the ages through faith in God. This explains the righteousness imputed to Old Testament saints, because we know they were men like us with foibles and even outright moral failure. I think it is important to see that God is not arbitrary. He is just and has a jurisprudence.

You ask about the distinctions between free moral agency, free choice, and free will. I think I would say that the latter can have boundaries and barriers outside of oneself, through circumstances, others will, etc. I think that God has set inviolable boundaries around free moral agency: the true freedom to choose or reject Him that vouchsafes it for all men at all times, with only the terrible exception of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This is implied throughout the New Testament. Men are continually beseeched to repent, through even the worst of woes in Revelation. That implies freedom to change.

The scripture in Romans 12 speaks of the imputation through faith explained through the account of Abraham, the John 3 scripture “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” says as much.

[edit: I want to add that this condemnation is volitional. It is when men choose to reject God, so I do not agree with a concept of original sin which says babies are condemned. As I wrote in my comments, sin is not imputed, it is passed down as a nature, a predisposition. We are judged on our works, an infant has no volitional works by which to be condemned]

So faith is the point where one believes on God and His truth that He imputes righteousness. My question would be more in the terms… there are those who think that this is eternal. I think free moral agency is in force until we seal our lifes conviction with death or the second coming of Christ ( whichever ushers in our eternal state).

In speaking of Abraham we have to remember that Jesus said ‘”He saw my day and rejoiced in it”

John 8:56
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.

I would say the most important point in your actual question is that until Jesus physically went to the cross and shed His blood there was no justice satisfied.

I think that is what made Gethsemene of such great importance

2 thoughts on “Sophystry”

  1. I just come across your web site and came upon what a group of us are discussing. I will attach some comments from Ken Wimer from Shreveport La.

    1. Was Abraham justified before his circumcision.?

    NO! He was justified at the cross, just as he was redeemed at the cross, and His sins were put away at the cross. By justification, I understand to mean the absolving of all guilt by the putting away of sin, and the imputing of righteousness by a just satisfaction of the law. When was that accomplished for Abraham? WHEN CHRIST DIED! Abraham was certainly called by the Spirit before He was circumcised, just as He was called before Christ died for him. That’s why FAITH (OBJECTIVE FAITH) was accounted to him for (not in lieu of but in view of) righteousness (that yet to be worked out for him in the death of Christ).

    2. How could Abraham be regenerate if he was not yet imputed with Christ’s righteousness?

    Just as he could be regenerated before he was redeemed in the course of history. Because Abraham lived before Christ came and fulfilled it, and righteousness cannot be imputed until it is actually worked out. This was the case of all of the Old Testament believers. They were given the Spirit of God to look to that righteousness yet to be established for them, and died in THE FAITH, looking to it. Look up the word justify in your concordance in the Old Testament and you will see that with regard to their salvation, it is described as yet future, something yet to be worked out by Christ- Isa. 45:25; 53:11, Daniel 9:24. Once again, theirs was a Gospel of promise, ours is a Gospel of fulfillment, but the same Gospel in the obedience unto death of Christ.

    3. How can anybody imputed with righteousness not have life to believe the gospel?

    Were you redeemed when born into this world, and yet you were born in ignorance,blindness, and rebellion in your person,were you not. Romans 3:24 makes no distinction between being redeemed and justified. 2 Cor. 5:21 all took place at the cross. Christ made sin (by imputation) and we made righteous (by imputation), but a one time transaction at the cross. Justification and imputation of righteousness are legal matters, settled in the court of heaven between the Father and the Son, and not to be confused with regeneration. The Spirit’s work in the Old Testament was to reveal Christ in them regarding the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should be accomplished for them (I Peter 1:10)…since the cross, to reveal that that it has been accomplished (Romans 1:17).
    None are born believing the Gospel. That’s what it means to be lost. In time, the Spirit of God must come and regenerate every one of God’s elect and draw their hearts to the Lord Jesus as their righteousness (the one who would establish it for the Old T. and the one who did establish it for those since the cross). Yes, for us, that righteousness is imputed before we even have the Spirit or have learned of it. My understanding is that in Albany, Bill even taught this putting it just before regeneration, so even by that it would have been before regeneration. However, in talking with him I believe he now also would say that it was accomplished at the cross. Imputation of righteousness is a judicial matter of satisfaction by a just sacrifice, and that by the death of Christ alone.
    I do believe that 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.

    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.

    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. See how Christ himself referred to it in Luke 12:50. The reason I believe this is the proper interpretation of it is because the circumcision of Christ referred to in verse 11, is also in the context of His death and used symbolically of the cutting away of the body of sin that was our debt to law and justice, and casting it away once for all, even as one would cut away the foreskin and cast it away.
    Therefore, I understand v. 12 to be referring to the baptism of death (not water baptism nor Spirit baptism here) of the Lord Jesus whereby all the elect were buried with HIM by representation. When He died, we died, and are risen with him through the faith or the FIDELITY (as faith also may be translated) of the operation of God. In other words God was faithful to raise His Son from the dead, as the last part states, because it was not possible that His soul should see corruption. Therefore the quickening together with him is not referring to regeneration, but to being raised together (all at one time by representation) in Christ, having our sins already forgiven in His death, and the condemnation of the law satisfied already and therefore righteousness imputed.
    I believe that Ephesians 2 which you cite is saying the same thing. The quickening there is what took place when Christ rose from the dead, in other words all together were raised judicially and made to sit together with Christ by representation with him, like the High Priests of old who had the names of the people on their breastplates.

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