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Justification and Election

While we do not believe that God's people are actually justified in eternity, we do believe that there is a very close relationship between election and justification. They are justified by faith, not by election.Nevertheless, their justification cannot be separated from their election. 

First, having chosen them to be His own, God also decreed to justify them and them only. He not only decreed that they should be holy, but that they should be without blame (Eph. 1:4), which is nothing more nor less than the decree of their justification. 

Second, insofar as they are chosen in Christ according to God's eternal love, He also saw in eternity them as justified and without guilt. Only having foreseen them without sin, could God set His love upon them. And in giving them to Christ in eternity, God gave them to Him as those whom He eternally saw without sin. 

Numbers 23:21 is especially important here. The same past-tense language is used, "He hath not seen iniquity in Jacob," that is used in Romans 9:13, "Jacob have I loved." This language has always been understood by those who believe in sovereign grace to refer to God's eternal decrees. 

Numbers 23:21 is the answer to Balak and Balaam's attempts to curse God's people. Though Christ had not yet come, nor the blood of atonement been shed, God's people could not be cursed because of what God had foreseen in eternity. 

It is in this sense that we are willing to speak of eternal justification, or better, of justification from eternity. Indeed, we believe it is of the utmost importance to emphasize this eternal background to justification. 

To separate justification from God's eternal decree of election, is to end up with a justification that is available to all, if only they will believe, i.e., a conditional justification that in some way depends on the sinner's response to the gospel. That is not the free, gracious justification of which Scripture speaks. 

Third, it is according to the decree of election, therefore, that justification is made available in the death of Jesus for the elect, and for them only. And, according to that same decree of election, they and they only are given the gift of faith by which that justification becomes their own. 

There is no justification or righteousness possible for the non-elect. No forgiveness is available for them. What does not exist, either according to God's decree or the cross be Christ, cannot be offered to them without doing violence to Scripture's teaching concerning the truthfulness and unchangeableness of God. 

Such a close connection there is between election and justification, that we know our election by way of our justification. Experiencing through faith the forgiveness of sins, we also know that we have this forgiveness from Him who "hath not seen iniquity in Jacob" nor "perverseness in Israel." 

Praise be to His Name who sovereignly justifies His people.

Last modified on 01 March 2013
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Additional Info

  • Volume: 5
  • Issue: 11
Hanko, Ronald

Rev. Ronald Hanko (Wife: Nancy)

Ordained: November 1979

Pastorates: Wyckoff, NJ - 1979; Trinity, Houston, TX - 1986; Missionary to N.Ireland - 1993; Lynden, WA - 2002; Emeritus October 15, 2017


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