Justification and Vindication

One of the more disturbing aspects of the Federal Vision program is its doctrine of final justification. Let’s be clear here: Protestants have no such thing. We do not not equivocate (use the same word in two senses at the same time) when we use the word “to justify.” It is too important.

When we say, “justify” we mean, “a divine declaration of righteousness.” The basis or ground of this declaration is the actual, perfect, condign merit and perfect righteousness (active and passive obedience) of Jesus which is imputed to all those who believe, i.e., who are “receiving and resting” in Christ and his finished work for us. God is right to declare us righteous, because the terms of justice have been fulfilled by Christ. By the way, our doctrine of justification does not, therefore, make justification a “legal fiction” as the papists and moralists (i.e., the FV) like to say. We have a real, actual basis for our righteousness before God. It is not “grace and cooperation with grace” or Spirit-wrought sanctity within us. Christ’s righteousness for us was and is real, actual, intrinsic, and perfect and it is imputed to all who believe sot that all believers are reckoned as perfectly righteous before God.

It’s only a legal fiction if God does not have the right to impute Christ’s righteousness to us, and clearly both the FV and the Papists believe in imputation—though they might not realize it. The papists and moralists both teach a form of imputation in their doctrine of congruent merit. In medieval theology, merit was said to be congruent when a work was not wrought within one by the Spirit and therefore lacked perfection. In congruent merit, God is said to have covenanted to impute perfection to those who do their best, “to those who do what is in them, God will not deny grace” (facientibus quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam). The FV movement ends up teaching a version of this when they try to include our good works in the ground or instrument of justification. They realize that our works aren’t perfect, therefore they argue that God imputes perfection to them.

So, both critics of the Protestant doctrine of justification concede the fundamental point at issue: imputation. Thus, it’s not a question whether imputation but what will be imputed and to whom. Protestants say that Christ’s real, actual, perfect righteousness is imputed. Rome and the FV say that our best efforts are imputed.

This also means that R. C. Sproul was right (no pun intended—the FV fellows have been hotly critical of R. C. for misleading the assembly by his speech) when he said on the floor of the PCA GA that imputation was at stake. It certainly is. In a short floor speech it’s not really possible to spell all this out, but he was quite right to call the attention of the commissioners to this question. Thus, if both sets of critics concede some form of imputation, what’s the fuss? Well, the fuss is that, in the case of the FV, like the papists, they want to separate “initial” and “final” justification. This revision has taken a couple of forms. In one form, an elder in a NAPARC denomination proposed that we are justified in this life sola gratia, sola fide but at the judgment we are justified partly on the basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed and partly on the basis of Spirit-wrought sanctity (or condign merit). This form of the revision is problematic enough. Though this elder was ultimately excused on the floor of GA after he repented, his denomination, both in presbytery (where he was convicted) and at GA in the floor speeches, and later in the report on justification clearly condemned this view. This same view surfaced in the United Reformed Churches the sermon, “The Lion Won’t Bite the Innocent.” A complaint against this sermon was laid before his consistory, and the refusal of consistory and classis to act against it was appealed to Synod Calgary where the doctrine of the sermon was repudiated. In response, the URCs adopted a brief statement affirming the doctrine of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ.

The second form, however, is even more dangerous as it denies justification sola gratia, sola fide in this life and in the next! In the more virulent form, they say that we’re conditionally elect, united to Christ, justified, adopted, etc at baptism. Thus we have initial justification, but our final justification is contingent upon grace and cooperation with grace. If we cooperate sufficiently with grace it will turn out that we were unconditionally elect but if not, then I guess we weren’t elect. It goes from bad to worse. In this version we are also said to be justified at the last day on the basis of intrinsic sanctity. Some of them have no time for imputation of any kind!

Well, the Protestants had an antidote for all this. They distinguished justification (as defined earlier) from vindication. This is the way the Reformed confessions consistently speak of the matter. At the last day, we shall be vindicated. This is the very distinction that James makes viz Paul. If we say we have faith, then we shall have evidence, i.e., works. Our works vindicate our claim to having faith, but they don’t justify us before God. Luther, Calvin and the rest of the Protestants distinguished justification before men (coram hominibus) from justification before God (coram Deo).

Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 90 asks, “What shall be done to the righteous at the day of judgment?” Part of the answer says that, at the judgment, the “righteous…shall be set on his right hand, and there openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall join with him in the judging of reprobate angels and men….”

The phrase, “openly acknowledged and acquitted” refers to the Protestant doctrine of vindication before God and man at the last day. It is only the justified who shall be acknowledged and acquitted and they are just who are clothed with the perfect (condign) righteousness and merit of Christ. We dare not stand before God on the basis of anything wrought in us or anything done by us because it is all imperfect, it is all tainted, it is all corrupted and none of it meets the unbreakable standard of God’s righteousness: “cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the book of the law” (Gal 3:10). This is why the Protestants universally rejected the notion of congruent merit, because it denies the divine righteousness. God does not overlook sin and he doesn’t act arbitrarily. He acts according to his nature and his nature is just.

That is why Paul says, “having been justified” and “there is therefore now no condemnation….” Justification is done. Christ’s righteousness is done. The latter is the basis for the former, and it is just and right for God to reckon it so and to reckon us righteous who trust in him who fulfilled all righteousness. Remember, the question isn’t even whether we are to believe in imputation since both papists and moralists believe in imputation. The question is whether we’re to confess the Protestant, confessional, and biblical version of imputation or some other.

Because we are righteous in Christ, we shall be vindicated at the judgment. There is no such thing as “initial” justification as distinct from “final” justification. We are justified now and we shall be vindicated then.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


[Ed. note: This post first appeared on the HB in 2007]

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  1. Playing devil’s advocate here…

    I like the facts and the history brought out in this post. I think that our fathers were blessed by God with wisdom in giving us terminology to use so as not to become confused. The Standards are an incredible wealth that the church has inherited, and yet we barely know them any more, myself included.

    So, pointing out that they teach us that on the final day we will be “vindicated” is a great way to make the important distinction between what happens upon regeneration and what happens on the judgement day. I, personally, agree strongly with this doctrine, and am squeamish with using different terminology, such as the FV does.

    That being said, what about James 2:24?

    You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

    I definitely agree that this is not the same thing that Paul is talking about in Romans. However, it is an example of the Bible using the same term, but differently, isn’t it? And if so, then it seems to me that you can’t say that men today that say they wish to speak more “biblically” sometimes and not be confined to only use the confessional definitions are wrong to use the term “justify” differently than the confessions do.

    Just food for thought….


  2. Hi K,

    It’s a good question which I’ve answered a few times.

    For example, if you go to the WSC site and search “James 2” the first hit brings up this essay where this question is addressed. The third hit brings up this essay. See also my running comments on the HC. Search James 2. In the Exposition of the Nine Points, revised and being published serially in The Outlook, I deal with this a little more fully. To make this even more tedious, here is the relevant section from the Exposition:

    “When we say “apart from all works” we’re referring to Romans 3:28 and Belgic Confession Art 22. This is how we understand by faith alone (sola fide). We believe in and confess “Spirit-wrought” sanctity. We believe in and confess the logical and moral necessity of good works as the fruit and evidence of justifying faith. It is in this sense that James speaks of faith in James 2. Notice the question that James asks in 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?”

    Notice please that James says, “if someone says he has faith….” This is the essential question. There are folk, as becomes plain through the letter, in the Jerusalem congregation, who are claiming to be Christians, who claim to believe but the life of the congregation suggests otherwise. Thus James preaches the law to them, to teach them their sin and to drive them to Christ.

    See how James continues: “Can such a faith save him?” (The way the text uses the definite article suggests that the best translation is “this faith” or “such a faith”). Clearly, for James, the question is the sort of faith that the congregation has or doesn’t. They have a “faith” that doesn’t produce fruit, it has no works. It is a dead faith. There’s no evidence that they have true faith, which unites one to Christ and consequently produces life and fruit in the believer. If there is no fruit, or if the fruit is evil, then we have a right to doubt the claim to faith.

    Then James continues to give examples (vv. 15–16) of their refusal to share basic necessities with fellow Christians. Then in v. 17 he says, “This faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” This faith is no true faith. It would be helpful if, in the English, the editors put “faith” in quotation marks to indicate James’ attitude toward their claim to faith.

    This case becomes clear in v. 18. They will show their workless “faith” and James will show his faith “by” his works. Again, he reminds them of the Shema (Deut 6:4) that they recited every Sabbath in the Synagogue. It’s fine to say the Shema, “Hear O Israel…” but even the demons believe and know that God is one. v. 21: Abraham was vindicated by his works when he offered up Isaac. James asks, “Was not Abraham our father declared to be just by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” Remember the question that James is asking, about “such a faith.” How do we know that Abraham had true faith? Because he offered up his son. He believed God’s promise. He believed in the resurrection. God did not declare Abraham righteous because or through his works or even because or through faith and works but rather James is making the point that, unlike his congregation, Abraham (whom they claimed as their father) had true faith in Christ and demonstrated it with obedience. “Justified” here clearly means “manifested” or “demonstrated.”

    Notice how James proceeds in v. 22: “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;” “Completed” makes sense if he’s speaking about vindication, about evidence of the reality of true faith, but if it means that his righteousness was not yet completed, well, then we have a difficulty with Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

    James’ view of justification before God is clear in 2:23: “and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness….'” Thus, he has a clear distinction and doctrine of justification or demonstration of faith before men: vv. 24–26: “You see that a person is justified [vindicated] by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified [i.e., her faith demonstrated] by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

    The problem with the covenant moralist revision (the Federal Vision, Norman Shepherd et al) of the definition of faith, so that it includes “works” or “Spirit-wrought sanctity” in faith, in the act of justification, is not only that it is anti-confessional and poor theology, it’s bad biblical exegesis. The book of James isn’t that difficult if we understand correctly what it is James is about. Unlike Rome and unlike the moralists, James knew the difference between law and gospel. He’s preaching the law to his congregation to teach them their need of a Savior! He’s pointing them to Christ and pointing them to clear examples of true faith. He’s calling them to genuine repentance and to true faith in Christ and his finished work. He’s not telling them that they are justified by faith and works (as Norman Shepherd said in 1974 and since revised to “faithfulness”).

    HC 21 is crystal clear on this:

    What is true faith?

    True faith is not only a certain knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word; but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

    In all the years of this controversy (since 1974) I’ve yet to see one of the moralists (i.e., Norman Shepherd or the Federal Vision) reconcile their views and revisions with HC 21. Typically when they appeal to the catechism on justification it’s from the third section further strengthening the claim of the critics that the FV does not understand or accept even the basic structure of the Reformed faith: Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude.

    Point 9

    We reject the errors of those who teach: 9. who teach that there is a separate and final justification grounded partly upon righteousness or sanctity inherent in the Christian (HC 52; BC 37).

    As the medieval church accepted the premise that God can only declare one righteous if that one is actually, intrinsically, inherently, righteous (God says what he says because you are what you are) they also developed a corollary: a distinction between initial and final justification.

    In the medieval and modern Roman system, one is said to be initially justified in baptism. If one survived infancy (infant mortality rates in the middle ages and through the 16th century were very high) then one was said to have an “unformed faith” until after the grace of confirmation. Following that one is now obligated to final justification based upon inherent, intrinsic, personal sanctity. This holiness was (and is) said to be the fruit of grace, it is Spirit-wrought (condign merit) and cooperation with grace. Faith is now said to be “formed by love” (i.e., grace and cooperation with grace). At the final judgment after one has achieved perfection (following purgatory in most cases; unless one had a plenary indulgence!)

    The motive of this system is patently obvious: To get Christians to behave themselves. The funny thing is that it was a complete failure. It didn’t work. The church records and humanist literature from the early 16th century, from the period just before the Reformation, show that moral corruption in the church was extensive. An early 16th-century council complained that the Roman church was corrupt in head and members! When Luther traveled to Rome, his one trip away from “Germany” (there wasn’t any such thing really in the 16th century), he found corruption on a scale that he could not imagine. He expected to find the holy city, the city of God, a city shining on a hill (7 of them!) but instead he found indulgences for sale to a degree that dwarfed Tetzel’s operation in Germany. The city was rife with prostitution (the scene in the recent Luther film captures this nicely). The principal customers were pilgrims and priests.

    Essentially, the medieval and Roman system (grace and cooperation with grace or grace and works) put the Christian on a legal footing in order to ensure obedience. The theory is that, if we want Christians to behave, we must suspend their final standing before God upon good behavior or else they have no incentive to be good. The theory is that the best incentive to behave is fear of damnation. Who could complain? After all, every Christian had been given his share of divine help and medicine (grace) and now it was up to him to do his part, to do, as some of them put it, “What lies with himself” (facientibus quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam). God will give grace to those who do their part, who fulfill their part of the covenant.

    The system was a total failure. The pre-Reformation popes were mostly corrupt. Some of them were outright murderers and adulterers. It’s no surprise that the Protestants described the papacy as “Antichrist.” It was! What is utterly shocking and appalling about the turn by the Federal Vision and others such as John Kinnaird, an OPC elder who found himself, a few years back, on the floor of the OPC GA defending himself over this and who has recently re-iterated on the OPC discussion list that he still believes the things for which he was charged, and a former URC minister who has now united with the CREC, is that they have returned to this theological vomit.

    After reading the FV and NPP (and related) literature, one would think that we never had a Reformation, that we never considered these matters, that this is the first time “Protestants” have ever faced a decadent culture and corrupt church and had to decide what to do.

    When the sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Protestants faced these problems they responded by distinguishing clearly between law and gospel, between justification and sanctification, and between justification and vindication. When the neo-moralists (a small number of whom have already seen the logic of their position and united with the Roman communion) face these issues they resurrect long-discredited medieval and Roman doctrines.

    According to the Reformed understanding of God’s Word, there is only one justification. Full stop. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” “Having been justified.” These are Paul’s words about this subject. The judgment has already been executed upon Christ the Second Adam. Justice has been done. Punishment has been meted out. The law has been fulfilled. Our sins were imputed to Christ so that Paul could say that Christ “became sin” for us. We, who are united to Christ by grace alone, through faith alone, have “become the righteousness of God.”

    We who are resting, receiving, leaning, and trusting only on Christ and his finished work ARE righteous right now. We ARE justified right now. There is no future justification. We are as justified now, as we’ll ever be. Jesus isn’t getting any more righteous. He accomplished all righteousness. That righteousness has been imputed. It’s done. I think Jesus said something, somewhere, to that effect.

    What happens at the judgment is vindication. It is announcement of the true state of things. It is a recognition of the realities accomplished by Christ, that are true of his people, that have been clouded by sin. This is why we described ourselves, in the 16th century, as the churches under the cross. We had a theology of the cross. We didn’t expect the world to recognize us as Christ’s people, any more than the world recognized Jesus as the Christ. We knew that, at the judgment, we would be vindicated in Christ.

    These are two quite distinct operations: justification and vindication. The first is the divine declaration of righteousness on the basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed. The second is the recognition of the first in the face of all doubt and contrary claims.

    There is no reason to muck this up. There’s no reason to confuse these things. It isn’t that complicated, unless one is trying to revise the doctrine of justification or the doctrine of vindication, unless one takes up the Romanist language of initial and final justification, unless one is looking for a way to wedge in works (Spirit-wrought sanctity and cooperation with grace) as part of the ground or instrument of justification.

    Initial and final justification: not good news for those trusting and obeying and hoping to be someday recognized by God as fully sanctified. As they say: Good luck with that. Justification and vindication: Good news for all those resting, leaning, trusting, receiving Christ and his finished work FOR us.

    Yes, but what about sanctity? Well, the Protestants and the Reformed confessions and churches hold that the justification and vindication scheme is Christ’s way of sanctity. Yes, it’s counter-intuitive. It doesn’t seem like a very obvious or sensible way to get folk to behave themselves, but remember this is the God who thought it was a good idea to save his people by becoming incarnate and who as the God-Man suffered, obeyed, died, and was raised for our justification. In other words, the whole Christian faith is counter-intuitive. That’s why Paul calls the gospel “foolishness.” That’s why the cross is a stumbling block and rock of offense.

    The gospel mystery of sanctification (to borrow a phrase) is that God the Spirit works sanctity in his people by the gospel of justification sola gratia, sola fide. Are Christ’s people morally obligated to behave themselves? Absolutely! Do they get to heaven in any way BY behaving themselves? No, for if they did, then Christ died for nothing. That’s what Paul says.

    So, let the covenantal moralists, the New Perspective(s), and Federal Vision (and related folks) have their semi-Pelagian system of grace and cooperation with grace. If they want to try to stand, on the basis of grace and cooperation with grace, before the living God who destroyed whole cities by the power of his word, who sent fiery serpents among his people, who demanded such righteousness that the Son of God had to be our substitute, let them try.

    Let us continue to hide unashamedly behind and trust only in our righteous Christ. We will continue to muddle through the Christian life dying to sin and living to Christ, sinning and repenting, crying out for grace and mercy, trusting our Savior to guide us safely through the valley of the shadow of death.

  3. An absolutely brilliant post. It’s quite concerning to see NTW articulate so vague a doctrine of justification. How can one be justified by faith now, and at the eschaton by the ‘whole life lived’. Which has the priority? Now or then? Is God the God of bait and switch? i.e. “come into the kingdom now by faith apart from works, and at the eschaton I’ll turn the tables and look at your performance after all”! So according to Wright, God is a Protestant in this life and a Papist at the eschaton.

  4. I like Fesko’s chapter on judgement according to works in his book on justification. He argues that eschatological schemes which divide the final judgement into a series of stages (e.g. Christ returns, then judgement seat, then resurrection) also undermine the gospel of grace. The instantaneous resurrection at Christ’s return is the vindication/reward for those who have been judged by Christ’s work rather than their own. Maybe forms of pre-millenialism can be just as damaging as the two-stage justification theory.

  5. Doesn’t the Abraham narrative itself make the same point? He’s counted righteous based on his faith at 15:6, but after he offers up Isaac at 22:12 the angel of the Lord says, “now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son.”

    I’ve often thought a more obvious use of imputation from RCs was the doctrine of purgatory. One can get time off purgatory by getting credited with someone else’s merits.

    • Louis,

      That’s a really important point. There was a doctrine of imputation long before the Reformation. Congruent merit and the treasury of merits both teach imputation. So, it’s not a question of whether imputation but whose righteousness is imputed? We say that it’s Christ’s condign (intrinsically worthy) merit that is imputed. It is Rome that teaches a legal fiction!

  6. OK, so I know the phrase ‘legal fiction’ has its own history, and is intended as an attack against the reformation, but I actually see it as helpful. We the justified are sinners; simul iustus et peccator. So we are inherently, actually sinners; in that sense our justification is a fiction. However, because it was declared by God (who has the authority), and grounded in Christ (who has the inherent, actual righteousness we lack), and imputed to us, even though our righteousness is in one sense fictional, it is legal; a fiction which by the force of God’s declaration (I’m thinking speech-act here), gains actuality.

    An analogy; when a child is adopted into a family, his status as a son is a legal fiction. He’s not really, physically, genetically a son, but that sense doesn’t matter, because he’s legally a son. The legal fiction overshadows the inherent nature.

    I guess the point is, when our enemies say ‘legal fiction’, they don’t mean it in this sense, and with all the history maybe it’s too late to try to claim (dare I say ‘redeem’?) this term, but that’s what I think of it.

    • Thx, I had to listen fast because it went by quick:

      @6:04: “God will not acquit the guilty; and see this is the thing. This is what Rome didn’t understand in the Reformation; they thought we were saying ‘God acquits the guilty’. That’s not what justification is. In justification, God declaresthe guilty to be righteous, because Christ’s righteousness really is their righteousness. It is not a legal fiction. It is a true imputation of a true righteousness that was worked out in history in the life of our federal representative.”

      I don’t know that this contradicts what I’m saying. I haven’t seen any clarification of what is meant by ‘legal fiction’.

      I still think the point is, our enemies use ‘legal’ in ‘legal fiction’ to have a sense of ‘phantom’ or ‘on a technicality’, and place the emphasis on ‘fiction’, to deny that there is any actual reality.

      But as I said before, it makes sense to me to see ‘legal’ to mean essentially the same as ‘imputed’ and ‘declared (by God)’; do we not frequently describe ‘imputation’ as a declaration by a judge? Wouldn’t that be ‘legal’? So if our righteousness were just a ‘fiction’, that would be bad. But a ‘legal fiction’ is as good as a truth, as effective as an inherent reality. God’s declaration of imputation is not descriptive, but creative, active, and efficacious.

      • Rube,

        Our enemies use “legal fiction” to say that the righteous we have is not a real righteousness because it’s extrinsic. The truth is that the righteousness they say is being formed in them, intrinsically, by grace and cooperation with grace, is by their own admission, not a “real” righteousness because it is imperfect.

        We deny the charge:

        1. It does not follow that justification on the basis of extrinsic righteousness is illegitimate. They must prove that God demands that each one of us have his own, proper, inherent, intrinsic righteousness. Scripture does not say that. Only Rome says that and even that dogma is a novelty.
        2. The righteousness that is imputed to us is perfect, condign, intrinsically worthy.
        3. Rome herself concedes that our proper, intrinsic, inherent righteousness is insufficient.
        4. Rome herself teaches imputation of what is can only be described as a legal fiction, i.e., the imputation of the merits of the saints and/or of our best efforts (“to those who do what it is in themselves, God denies not favor”). In that scheme God is said to have covenanted to impute perfection, by fiat, to our best efforts. That’s a legal fiction!

        We deny the premises and the conclusions.

  7. So the FV idea is akin to distinguishing a primary election from a general election, with different electorates. In this case, it is different foundations: Christ alone in our “initial” justification, but “Christ + us” in the final justification,which is the only real one that counts.

  8. Scott, five years later this is still hard-hitting and challenging. It’s a reminder that subtle distinctions and nuances make a world of difference. I’ll be linking to this post, marking it and remembering it’s message.

  9. What a valuable discussion. Thank you very much! I’ve saved it all, including comments, as a pdf for future reference.

  10. James (chapter two): As Matthew 5:16 is an appeal to LET your light so shine before men….This is simple vindication before others, your witness and your testimony, which should be consistent with one another. It is obviously a life long problem of living with two natures that oppose one another, but overcome more often as one matures or grows in a spiritual sense. (Fathers and young men rather than babes in Christ) Faith that is non-productive (dead) to others, is a faith that is left under developed, left as babes in Christ, as the Corinthian Church demonstrates.
    Paul in Romans is speaking about the pure and legal justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Ephesians 1:12-14 gives the actual mechanics or steps in order to our so great salvation. It is a finished work and a gift that awaits all who simply trust in Christ. The question in time is: will you have impact in God’s plan by growing up and maturing in your new life or continue to be a distraction with your old life? You have the option of walking in the light….glorifying your Father who is in heaven…producing gold, silver and precious stones for eternity!

  11. “Rome herself teaches imputation of what is can only be described as a legal fiction, i.e., the imputation of the merits of the saints and/or of our best efforts (“to those who do what it is in themselves, God denies not favor”). In that scheme God is said to have covenanted to impute perfection, by fiat, to our best efforts. That’s a legal fiction!”

    Brilliant point, Dr. Clark. I have a few questions:
    1. Does Rome even bother to offer biblical basis for the imputation of saints’ righteousness to believers?
    2. If they believe in the imputation of saints’ righteousness to believers, why don’t they believe in the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness?
    3. If they believe in the imputation of Christ’s Perfect righteousness, why do believers need the imputation of the less-than-perfect righteousness of the saints and our own righteousness?
    4. Can Rome actually claim that since the saints are in heaven, their righteousness is automatically perfect and, therefore, can be credited to believers here on earth?

  12. Wilson,

    1. The question assumes a different paradigm than that by which Rome operates. She confesses to have access to three sources of revelation: nature, Scripture, and apostolic tradition. On doctrines such as these she typically appeals to the latter.

    2. Rome condemned the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as the ground of justification in session 6 of the Council of Trent, 1547. She is convinced that it leads to impiety.

    3. See #2.

    4. Remember that Rome confesses purgatory. According to Rome, it is extraordinary to go from this life to heaven. One must pay for incomplete acts of penance. Even if a saint’s righteousness is perfect it does not follow that it can be imputed to another. That conclusion depends upon a fictional treasury of merit.

    5. Resources on Romanism.

  13. IF, as Paul says, we shall be changed at the instant that Jesus appears, ie., BEFORE the Judgment, then we will go, instantly, from an imperfect corrupt state to the perfect incorrupt state. Only a perfect justification, owned in this life, would allow this.

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