Perkins: The Doctrine Of A Two-Stage Justification Is A “Popish Device”

That popish device of a second justification is a satanical delusion for the Word of God does acknowledge no more but one justification at all, and that absolute and complete of itself. There is but one justice, but one satisfaction of God being offended. Therefore, there cannot be a manifold justification.
WILLIAM PERKINS | The Works of William Perkins, 6:234 (HT: Inwoo Lee).


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  1. Excellent Point, which is always helpful a reminder.

    Similar to the points Buchanan made too:
    “In opposition to these and similar errors on this point, the Reformers held and taught, that, as Justification properly consists in the free pardon of sin and a sure title to eternal life, so it is the present privilege of every believer from the instant when he receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation,—that it is a complete, final, and irreversible act of divine grace, by which he is translated, at once and for ever, from a state of wrath and condemnation, into a state of favour and acceptance; and that it is either accompanied or followed in the present life by ‘the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end,’—while it is indissolubly connected with ‘glory, honour, and immortality’ in the world to come. ‘For whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.’ So wide was the difference between the two parties in regard to the effect of Justification.”

    Augustus Strong:
    “Justification is instantaneous, complete, and final: instantaneous, since otherwise there would be an interval during which the soul was neither approved nor condemned by God (Mat. 6:24); complete, since the soul, united to Christ by faith, becomes partaker of his complete satisfaction to the demands of law (Col. 2:9, 10); and final, since the union with Christ is indissoluble (John 10:28, 29). As there are many acts of sin in the life of the Christian, so there are many acts of pardon following them. But all these acts of pardon are virtually implied in that first act
    by which he was finally and forever justified; as also successive acts of repentance and faith, after such sins, are virtually implied in that first repentance and faith which logically preceded justification.

    But since justification is an instantaneous act of God, complete at the moment of the sinner’s first believing, it has no degrees.

  2. Since Paul dealt with this problem of legalism that wants to add something to the finished work of Christ for our justification, it has become the besetting error of the church. Over and over, I have heard FV proponents, and others, claim, we are just saying that we need to do our part, which is only reasonable. And almost as often, that argument is tolerated without question, as most reasonable, in spite of Heidelberg question and answer 56. The idea of acceptance with God by grace alone, through trusting in the merits of Christ credited to the believer, through faith alone, is considered insufficient for sanctification, and is foolishness to the natural man. It is Satan’s lying delusion. Christ is either a complete Saviour, or no Saviour at all. Heidelberg 30.

    • In Pilgrim’s Progress, Ignorance who is lacking his scroll, or book, meaning his clear conscience of acceptance with God through the righteousness of Christ alone, is rejected at the gates of the celestial city. He is rejected because of his confidence in living a godly life, or doing his part, for final acceptance with God.

  3. Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    It is ironic how this passage is often used by the “workists”, to coin a term, to support their works-based salvation scheme, when in fact, our Lord is vehemently rejecting works as a basis for salvation. What is the “will of the Father” spoken in verse 21? We don’t have to guess, because that question is answered in John 6:40:

    “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    • Such verses, rightly understood, convict us of our inability to do what the law requires, which is perfect righteousness. They ought to drive us to find our righteousness in the one who obeyed perfectly and suffered the penalty of our disobedience. It is such a tragedy that ignorant people use these verses to maintain their own works righteousness, because they are actually rejecting the perfect righteousness of Christ, as sufficient for their salvation.

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