This post is an excerpt from the book review of Death of Death in the Death of Christ.
The doctrine of justification by faith is the teaching that God pronounces sinners, who are believers, not guilty, based on what Christ has done. God counts our faith as righteousness, based on Christ.
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Phi 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
This doctrine clearly teaches that the blessings of Christ are applied to no one apart from faith. Those that have faith are justified, those that don’t are not.
Calvinists contend that Christ’s death saves those for whom He died. John Owen goes so far as to say Christ’s death immediately justifies those for whom He died.
Based on the doctrine of justification by faith I have a problem with this view. Christ’s death is provisional. It doesn’t immediately save. Rather it provides for salvation, and the blessings Christ obtained are applied to believers. I wasn’t born justified just because Christ died for me. I was justified when I came to faith, based on Christ’s death. So we say Christ’s death has a provisional component. Again, the benefits of Christ’s death are not unconditionally applied to anyone. Christ could provide for the salvation of those who don’t end up saved. Calvinists only see the final aspects of Christ’s work, but there are two parts: His death and justification. His death provides for salvation, justification saves.