I was taught concerning say Rom 4 first paragraph that righteousness being ‘reckoned’ to us was synonymous with it being ‘imputed’. That was the word used. Credited to our account. Being based on grace, and not being our own righteousness garnered from works, it could be guaranteed to us, having believed. If you go on believing you go on being ‘in right standing with God’.
The job of the Law was to bring us to faith; once that had occurred we are simply ‘in Christ’ and not under the Law at all. Should we sin after believing, the Holy Spirit will convict us of this, and confession will lead to a new cleansing from all sin. But our status remains unchanged, although our experienced fellowship with God could be interrupted by sin. This is the antidote to what I think you mean in your objections to progressive justification. It’s not progressive because justification is a one-off declaration of being righteous before God. It’s simultaneous with the new birth, though not the same as it.
The background of this was teaching by Anglican evangelicals, usually without some great axe to grind on this as you might find with dyed in the wool Calvinists. Non-dogmatic reformed theology made to fit in with the bible rather than the other way round. The basic object of such teaching was to liberate us from continuing to live as though we were unworthy or in some way still unacceptable to God. ‘You are not a sinner any more, you are a saint, Start being what you are’!
“Should we sin after believing, the Holy Spirit will convict us of this, and confession will lead to a new cleansing from all sin.”
Such a teaching requires another application of the work of Christ to the “sinner”. This is precisely what Calvin and Luther taught. The question one should ask is, what if such a sin is never confessed and thus not cleansed? Is the believer then no longer righteous? Calvin and Luther would say yes since a daily renewal of one’s spirit baptism experience is needed. John Calvin said specifically, “by new sins we continually separate ourselves, as far as we can, from the grace of God… Thus it is, that all the saints have need of the daily forgiveness of sins; for this alone keeps us in the family of God.” In the protestant construct, grace is synonymous with salvation. Thus, daily repentance and forgiveness is needed to maintain salvation. This is progressive justification. Moreover, it effectively calls for the continual re-crucifying of Christ over and over, and act which Christ declared as FINISHED!
The righteousness of the believer is MORE than just a simple declaration. It is a reality of his actual being! The new creature is born of God – God’s offspring – and as such, he has the same righteousness as his Father by virtue of being His offspring. The new creature is not under the law, meaning the law has no jurisdiction over him. And since it has no jurisdiction over him it CANNOT condemn him. This is the reason why John wrote in 1 John 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” The believer cannot sin because there is no law to condemn him. Therefore, any failure to keep the law is only a failure to show love.
The believer’s righteousness is not imputed to him, it is an intrinsic part of his existential being!
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