By Dr. Vic Reasoner
Roman Catholic theology teaches our righteousness is based on the sacramental infusion of grace. Thus, righteousness is imparted through the sacraments. The Eucharist is the means of our justification. Romanism rejects imputed or forensic righteousness as legal fiction.
However, Reformation theology emphasizes imputed righteousness. This emphasis is the result of the doctrine of original sin. If man is a sinner, any justification must be imputed to him. Luther called this an alien righteousness. It is not based on works or receiving the sacraments.
The historical debate between Roman Catholic and Protestant theology is focused on the question, does justification declare someone to be righteous or acceptable to God or is it a process whereby someone is made to be righteous?
John Wesley originally followed an Anglican-Catholic view that some measure of sanctification is required as the basis of justification. Yet under the influence of the Moravians, especially Peter Bohler, Wesley came to a biblical understanding of faith alone as the basis for justification. This led to his Aldersgate experience.
Two years after Aldersgate, Wesley explained that he had wandered many years in the “new path of salvation by faith and works, but about two years ago it pleased God to show us the old way of salvation by faith alone.” Thus, John Wesley’s theology stands with Protestant theology regarding the nature of justification as a forensic declaration by God by which he graciously forgives and accepts sinners.
In 1977 E. P. Saunders advanced a new interpretation on Paul. In 1982 James Dunn named it The New Perspective on Paul. The new perspective says Martin Luther assumed that Paul went through the same struggle that he went through. This struggle, for Luther was a shift from God’s justice to God as the justifier who acquits the sinner. And the conclusion of the new perspective is that Luther assumed Paul was reacting against the same legalism as he was; that Judaism was the equivalent to Roman Catholicism. But the new perspective is that when Paul dealt with justification by works he was not addressing legalism. Instead, righteousness is seen in relational terms which produces good works. As God draws people into relationship with him, they are changed and the old questions about imputed righteousness become non-questions.
N. T. Wright teaches that justification is acceptance into the family of all who accept the gospel of the Lordship of Christ. For Wright, justification is not about “getting in” but “telling who is in.” Thus, justification is more about ecclesiology than soteriology. Paul’s doctrine of justification does not tell how sinners can find acceptance but explains how we can tell who belongs to the community of the true people of God. However, this seems more like a doctrine of adoption than the doctrine of justification.
Is righteousness transformative or forensic? The adjective dikaios can be translated “just” or “righteous.” And so theologians debate whether the verb to justify (dikaioun) means “to make righteous” or “to count righteous?”
The New Perspective on Paul is popular among those who are not Calvinists. Its emphasis on imparted righteousness also provides a bridge in ecumenical dialog. In contrast John Piper, who represents the old Reformed perspective, defends the biblical doctrine of imputed righteousness. But then he stops. Forensic, imputed righteousness need not be abandoned but this emphasis on a declared righteousness must be kept in balance with the imparted, transforming righteousness. The New Perspective on Paul is popular among those who are not Calvinists. Its emphasis on imparted righteousness also provides a bridge in ecumenical dialog. In contrast John Piper, who represents the old Reformed perspective, defends the biblical doctrine of imputed righteousness. But then he stops. Forensic, imputed righteousness need not be abandoned but this emphasis on a declared righteousness must be kept in balance with the imparted, transforming righteousness.
In the current debate between the old perspective and the new, the classic Methodist commentators and theologians offer theological balance. Early Methodist theology held to the Protestant view that the basis of justification is faith alone. However, Wesley broke with the Protestant Reformers concerning the results of justification. While Wesley did not adopt Catholic theology, neither did he accept the majority Protestant view that the Christian is at once just and yet a sinner. While Wesley saw himself within the Protestant tradition, he disagreed with Luther’s conclusion that the Christian is at the same time just and yet sinful.
Luther claimed that the saints are in reality sinners, but that they are righteous because God reckons them as such. “They are unknowingly righteous, and knowingly sinners. They are sinners in fact, but righteous in hope.”
Wesley’s concern was that an unbalanced emphasis upon imputed righteousness, without the corresponding impartedrighteousness, can lead to antinomianism. John Wesley declared, “I believe God implants righteousness in every one to whom he has imputed it.” We must also maintain this balance between imputed and imparted righteousness.
1. Wesleyan-Arminianism affirms imputed righteousness
In a letter to John Newton, John Wesley declared that he was in agreement with Calvin on justification. “In this respect I do not differ from him a hair’s breadth.” Methodist theologian Richard Watson agreed with John Calvin that the imputation of righteousness was simply the non-imputation of sin or the remission of sins. Justification is both positive and negative. Negatively, God does not count our sins against us. “There is now no condemnation” (Rom 8:1). Positively, God counts our faith as righteousness and we have peace with God (Rom 5:1).
In Romans 4 Paul uses logizomai eleven times. This key word means to reckon, credit, rank with, calculate, consider, deliberate, grasp, draw a logical conclusion, decide, or impute. Romans 4:3-8 teaches that faith in the atoning work of Christ is imputed to the believer for righteousness. Paul then argues that neither Abraham nor David was justified or accepted on the basis of their works.
Arminius declared that “faith, and faith only, (though there is not faith alone without works,) is imputed for righteousness. By this alone are we justified before God, absolved from our sins, and are accounted, pronounced and declared RIGHTEOUS by God, who delivers his judgment from the throne of grace.” Arminius also declared,
I believe that sinners are accounted righteous solely by the obedience of Christ; and that the righteousness of Christ is the only meritorious cause on account of which God pardons the sins of believers and reckons them as righteous as if they had perfectly fulfilled the law. But since God imputed the righteousness of Christ to none except believers, I conclude, that in this sense it may be well and properly said, To a man who believes Faith is imputed for righteousness through grace, – because God hath set forth his Son Jesus Christ to be a propitiation, a throne of grace, [or mercy-seat] through faith in his blood.
2. Wesleyan-Arminianism denies the Calvinistic doctrine of imputation.
Arminius denied that “the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us for righteousness.” Arminius argued that the obedience of Christ to the Father was not a substitute for righteousness, but was actual righteousness. If that obedience of Christ is then imputed to us as a substitution for righteousness, the word impute is being used two different ways and implies “that the righteousness of Christ is not righteousness itself.”
Richard Watson concluded that imputation is never used in scripture “in the sense of accounting the actions of one person to have been performed by another.” Instead, the imputation of righteousness is the non-imputation, or pardon, of sin. Miner Raymond wrote that in Romans 4:3-8 the terms justified, justifieth, forgiveness of sins, iniquities are forgiven, sins are covered, counted unto him for righteousness, imputeth righteousness, and will not impute sin “are used to designate the same thing.” But Raymond rejected the Calvinistic doctrine that by faith the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us.
Thomas Coke taught that faith is imputed for righteousness, not in the sense that faith settled the debt or that faith is meritorious, but that faith “gives a man a claim to what Christ has paid.” John McClintock explained that the Arminian employs imputation in the sense of accounting to the believer the benefit of Christ’s righteousness; the Calvinist employs the same word in the sense of reckoning the righteousness of Christ as ours. Thomas Ralston explained,
Calvin teaches imputation in a strict and proper sense; whereas Wesley teaches imputation in an accommodated sense. He holds that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us in its effects – that is, in its merits: we are justified by faith in the merits of Christ; or, in other words, we are justified “forgiven and accepted, for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for us.” It amounts to no more than this: that the meritorious sacrifice of Christ is the ground upon which God pardons the sinner when he believes.
It is sometimes asserted that the active and passive righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers. The active obedience of Christ refers to his sinless life, while the passive obedience of Christ refers to his atoning death. An emphasis on the imputation of both active and passive righteousness of Christ leads to antinomianism. Joseph Sutcliffe concluded that if the active and passive righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, we do not need the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit to make us righteous. Fletcher explained that we are made righteous, not by speculative imputation of the works of Christ, but by being made partakers of the divine nature, begotten of God, and clothed with righteousness and true holiness.
The issue is whether Christ’s active obedience to the precepts of the law is imputed to the believer in lieu of righteousness. Does God impute our faith in the atoning work of Christ to us as righteousness or is the obedience of Christ transferred to us in lieu of future personal righteousness?
Watson summarized and rejected the view that “Christ so represented the elect that his righteousness is imputed to us as ours; as if we ourselves had been what he was, that is, perfectly obedient to the law of God, and had done what he did as perfectly righteous.”
The meritorious cause of man’s justification is based on Christ’s passive obedience unto death. We are saved by his atoning death, not through his sinless life. In his substitutionary death Christ did not become a sinner. Our sins were not transferred to him, but the penalty of our sins was laid upon him. He became a sin offering, not a sinner.
The active obedience of Christ’s sinless life meant that he was not disqualified to become our substitute in the passive obedience of his passion and death. But if our sin was so imputed to him that he became a sinner, he would have been disqualified to have become our atoning sacrifice. The scripture is abundantly clear that Christ did not sin. Here again, the issue of imputation must be defined. Those who teach that he really became sin have moved beyond simply a legal concept of the transfer of penalty.
The first Methodist Conference in 1744 concluded, “We do not find it expressly affirmed in Scripture, that God imputes the righteousness of Christ to any; although we do find that ‘faith is imputed’ to us ‘for righteousness.'” In 1765 Wesley also preached
In the meantime what we are afraid of is this: lest any should use the phrase “the righteousness of Christ,” or, “the righteousness of Christ is imputed to me,” as a cover for his unrighteousness. We have known this done a thousand times. A man has been reproved, supposed for drunkenness: “Oh, said he, I pretend to no righteousness of my own: Christ is my righteousness.” Another has been told, that “the extortioner, the unjust, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” He replies, with all assurance, “I am unjust in myself, but I have a spotless righteousness in Christ.” And thus, though a man be as far from the practice as from the tempers of a Christian, though he neither has the mind which was in Christ, nor in any respect walks as he walked; yet he has armor of proof against all conviction, in what he calls the “righteousness of Christ.”
In 1773, after a debate with the Calvinist Rowland Hill, Wesley resolved never to use the phrase “the imputed righteousness of Christ” lest he be misunderstood to imply that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us for obedience. Adam Clarke wrote in a letter
I am quite of Mr. Wesley’s mind, that once “we leaned too much toward Calvinism,” and especially in admitting in any sense, the unscriptural doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ. I never use the distinction of righteousness imputed, righteousness imparted, righteousness practiced. In no part of the book of God is Christ’s righteousness ever said to be imputed to us for our justification; … I have long thought that the doctrine of imputed righteousness, as held by certain people, is equally compounded of Pharisaism and Antinomianism.
In his Commentary Clarke explained
This doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ is capable of great abuse. To say that Christ’s personal righteousness is imputed to every true believer, is not Scriptural: to say that he has fulfilled all righteousness for us, or in our stead, if by this is meant his fulfilment of all moral duties, is neither Scriptural nor true.
More recently Robert Gundry came to the same conclusion. Gundry also rejects the doctrine that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us who believe. With the exception of Galatians 3:6, every text which explicitly refers to imputation in relation to righteousness is found in Romans 4. But Gundry concluded that none of these texts say that Christ’s righteousness was imputed. Michael Bird also concluded, “There is no text in the New Testament which categorically states that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to believers.”
While J. I. Packer admitted that the phrase “the imputation of Christ’s righteousness” is not found in Paul’s writings, he argued that the concept was biblical. Calvinists such as John Murray and John Piper, who understand these texts to teach an imputation of Christ’s righteousness, argue that Paul means, “Faith was counted, with the result that Christ’s alien righteousness was imputed.” But the lack of any reference in Galatians 3 and Romans 4 to Christ’s righteousness confirms Gundry’s observation that the counting of faith as righteousness is not Paul’s shorthand expression in which faith is the instrument by which Christ’s righteousness is received. Rather, this phrase “counted as” is used to describe an identification of what is counted – faith, with what it is counted as – righteousness. Gundry concluded that Paul wants to emphasize the obedient life of righteousness that we are supposed to live – and indeed will live if we are true believers.
In Romans 4 it is faith that is reckoned as righteousness. Yet John Piper believes that Paul is describing God’s justifying work in terms of imputing or crediting the work of God. For Piper, righteousness is imputed to us, not our faith being recognized and considered as righteousness. He sees “faith imputed for righteousness” and “righteousness imputed apart from works” as synonymous phrases. Piper interprets “the seal of righteousness of faith” (Rom 4:11), not as a righteousness which consists of faith but imputed righteousness received by faith. Yet Michael Bird observed, “A uniform translation of ‘imputed’ as applied by Piper does not fit the verses where faith is the subject, since it is odd to think of faith being imputed.” Bird concluded,
Romans 4 does not assert that one is justified because of the imputed righteousness of Christ or that God reckons faith as covenantal conformity. Instead, God regards faith as the condition of justification (reckons faith as righteousness) and justifies believers (credits righteousness) because of their union with Christ (raised for our justification).
Faith, therefore, cannot be reduced to the righteousness of Christ which the elect passively have imputed to their account as evidence of their regeneration. The Westminster Confession of Faith that God justifies neither by infusing righteousness “nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them.”
Thus it seems that faith, for the Calvinist, is passive. George Bryson concluded, “While Calvinists give theological lip service to the place and importance of faith, Calvinists do not see faith as a condition of salvation, but instead they reduce it to a mere consequence of election.” In the Calvinistic order of salvation, faith and repentance come after regeneration. If regeneration comes first in the Calvinistic order of salvation, then why does imparted righteousness not come before imputed righteousness?
Wesley also objected to a distortion of the doctrine of imputation which results in God being deceived in those whom he justifies, “that he thinks them to be what in fact they are not, that he accounts them to be otherwise than they are…. He can no more in this manner confound me with Christ than with David or Abraham.”
Fletcher explained that we are made righteous, not by a speculative imputation of the works of Christ, but by being made partakers of the divine nature, begotten of God, and clothed with righteousness and true holiness.
Thus, the real concern of early Methodist theology was with an unbiblical emphasis on imputed righteousness which led to lawlessness. And that concern is just as valid today. Recently Kevin DeYoung declared, “If people hear us talking about justification and don’t almost think that we are giving them a license to sin, we aren’t preaching grace strong enough.” But grace must not be preached so as to result in antinomianism.
3. Wesleyan-Arminianism holds to sola fides, but warns against Solifidianism
Early Methodist theology did not equivocate on justification by faith alone. At Romans 3:28 Luther had added the word sola to his conclusion that we are justified solely by faith and not by works. Calvin argued that the concept of faith alone is implied in Romans 3:21, 24, 28.
To say that we are saved by faith alone is to say we are saved by Christ alone. This is what Wesley said about his experience at Aldersgate, that he “did trust in Christ, in Christ alone, for salvation.” Kenneth Collins declared that John Wesley became one of the greatest champions of sola fide on English soil.
But John Fletcher warned that the term solifidianism means more. Fletcher labeled solafidianism as “a softer word for Antinomianism.” According to Fletcher, solafidians assert
that true faith is inamissible [cannot be lost], that it can lie in a heart totally depraved, that a man’s faith can be good when his actions are bad, detestable, diabolical; in a word, that true Christians may go any length in sin, may plunge into adultery, murder, or incest, and even proceed to the open worship of devils, like Solomon, without losing their title to a throne of glory, and their justifying, sanctifying, saving faith.
Thus, the doctrine of imputed righteousness must be kept in balance with imparted righteousness. Faith is initially imputed for righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ is not imputed in lieu of any subsequent obedience.
Twice in Romans Paul uses the phrase “obedience of faith” (1:5; 16:26). In Romans 10:16 Paul equates obedience with faith. Douglas Moo wrote, “Obedience always involves faith, and faith always involves obedience. They should not be equated, compartmentalized, or made into separate stages of Christian experience.” Daniel Steele taught that the obedience of faith for the sinner is repentance and for the believer it is to keep the commandments of Christ.
Yet in his rebuttal to this paper Michael Horton said, “I understand Paul’s phrase ‘the obedience of faith’ to refer to the act of faith in Christ, not the fruit of that faith (viz., good works). In other words, ‘the obedience of faith’ is distinguished from ‘the obedience of works,’ so it cannot be understood as a way of smuggling the fruit of faith into the definition of justifying faith itself.”
4. Wesleyan-Arminianism insists that imputed righteousness must be balanced with imparted righteousness.
Although Wesleyan theology affirms salvation by faith alone, Wesley avoided the danger of lawlessness by declaring, “I believe God implants righteousness in every one to whom he has imputed it.” What God declares to be righteous, he proceeds to make righteous. Thus, Wesley maintained a connection between justification, regeneration, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and initial sanctification. We may dissect these terms theologically, but in Christian experience they are concurrent. If regeneration comes first in the Calvinistic order of salvation, then why does imparted righteousness not come before imputed righteousness?
I am aware that Calvin taught, “Christ, therefore, justifies no man without also sanctifying him. These blessings are conjoined by a perpetual and inseparable tie.” In response to my paper Horton also declared,
The quote from Wesley, “I believe God implants righteousness in every one to whom he has imputed it,” could have come from any of the reformers and Puritans. No credible Lutheran theologian, much less Reformed, has ever allowed that justification could be separated from sanctification.
But this implanted righteousness must be reconciled with Calvin’s teaching that “As long as the faithful dwell in the flesh, they never arrive at the end of righteousness.” Calvin also wrote, “We shall not find a single saint who, clothed with a mortal body, ever attained to such perfection as to love the Lord with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength.” Thus the righteousness of the saints is positional and they remain sinners until their death.
Luther taught an alien righteousness. “Our faith depends solely on Christ. He alone is righteous, and I am not.” Luther taught that man was at the same time just and yet sinful (simul justus et peccator). Thus, there was not much emphasis on imparted or infused righteousness.
Regeneration and sanctification were not necessarily connected with justification under the old covenant. Wesley taught the Christian dispensation was higher than the Jewish standard. He reasoned that if we enter the kingdom of God by the new birth (as John 3:5 teaches), and if John the Baptist was not in the kingdom because it did not come until Pentecost, then neither John the Baptist, Abraham, David, nor any Jew was born again [“Christian Perfection,”2.10-11]. Wesley declared, “The faith through which we are saved . . . is not barely that which the apostles themselves had while Christ was yet upon the earth” [“Salvation by Faith,”1.3]. Wesley concluded, “The Apostles themselves had not the proper Christian faith till after the Day of Pentecost” [Works, 8:291]. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ could not be proclaimed nor believed until they had become facts.
However, regeneration and sanctification are connected with justification under the new covenant. Under the old covenant we have imputed righteousness, but under the new covenant we have both imputed and imparted righteousness. This was the theology of John Fletcher who taught that pre-Pentecost believers were justified, but not regenerated.
In his chapter on “The Righteousness, Salvation, and Election of God and of His People,” Ben Witherington concluded that Paul believes once people are converted, God expects them to actually go on and live righteous lives. Paul does not talk about Christ being righteousness in the place of the believer or about the believer being clothed in the righteousness of Christ alone. Even farther off the mark is the notion that when God looks at believers, he sees only Christ and so neither holds believers accountable for their actions nor views sin as a threat to their sanctification and final salvation. Were it the case that when God looks at believers, he only sees Christ, that in turn would mean that God is prepared to be deceived or at least overlook Christian sin and not hold believers accountable for it. This is the direct opposite of what Paul says in Galatians 5 and 1 Corinthians 6. These ideas amount to a presentation to us of a God of legal fictions who in the end is less than totally righteous. This would contradict the teaching of Jesus that God was requiring a higher righteousness of Jesus’ followers than Moses required of his, indeed even higher than the very particular Pharisees. It may be asked, “Why would God expect less of the believer under grace and after the Spirit has been given than he expected and required under the Mosaic Law?”
The problem is not with the idea that justification is initially an “alien righteousness” or a righteousness which originates outside of mankind, the real problem arises when sanctification is also regarded as imputed. This is the danger of Phoebe Palmer’s altar theology.
In Romans dikaios is translated “just” four times and “righteous” three times in the KJV. Justification is imputed and righteousness is imparted. Joseph Sutcliffe concluded that if the active and passive righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, we do not need the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit to make us righteous. Wesleyan theology insists that justification must be connected with a regeneration which is transformational.
Fletcher explained that we are made righteous, not by a speculative imputation of the works of Christ, but by being made partakers of the divine nature, begotten of God, and clothed with righteousness and true holiness. In Romans 13:14 Paul commands us to “clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”
Paul used dikaiosune thirty-six times in Romans. While it is translated “righteousness,” the older English spelling was “rightwiseness.” It refers to the character or quality of being right or just in the sight of God. In Romans 5, five related words are used which all come from the root word dike, which means “justice.” The KJV translates them as “justified,” “justification,” “righteousness,” “righteous,” and “righteousness.” The righteous act of Jesus Christ provides justification. Through faith in him we were justified and made righteous. According to A. T. Robertson, when Paul used the word “righteousness” he meant both justification and sanctification. The Gospel reveals both “the righteousness that God has and that he bestows.”
W. E. Vine explained that “for” (eis) did not mean that faith was reckoned “instead of” righteousness, but “with a view to” righteousness. Thus, when Paul describes the Gospel as a righteousness from God (Rom 1:17), he is saying that the Gospel is the declaration that God’s method of salvation is to make us righteous. This righteousness is by faith and not by works, but the result is that “the righteous will live by faith.”
Joseph Sutcliffe observed at Romans 5:1 that “Justification is never alone; all the graces follow in clusters, with privileges of the highest order.” According to Romans 5:5, the love of God is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit at the same time we are justified. The love of God was poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit given to us [aorist passive participle] when we were justified [v 1, aorist passive participle]. Thus, justification and the gift of the Holy Spirit both occur at the same time, since having been justified and having been given both occur at the moment of saving faith. John Stott declared that “it is not possible to be justified by faith without at the same time being regenerated and indwelt by the Spirit.”
Wesley maintained that regeneration is concomitant with justification.
And at the same moment that we are justified, yea, in that very moment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are “born again”, “born from above”, “born of the Spirit”. There is a real as well as a relative change.
H. Orton Wiley declared, “Regeneration is concomitant in experience with justification and adoption.” Watson also declared that while regeneration was distinct from justification as an act, it always accompanies it in a point of time. In his sermon “Justification by Faith,” Wesley declared that justification is not “the being made actually just and righteous. This is sanctification; which is indeed in some degree the immediate fruit of justification, but nevertheless is a distinct gift of God.” Wesley declared that “at the same time a man is justified sanctification properly begins.”
Wesley explained that the term sanctification refers to those who are justified unless it is qualified by another word such as “wholly” or “entirely.” Thus, in Romans 6 justification and initial sanctification are bound together. Paul is still dealing with justification and its concomitant blessings since the chapter opens with the connecting participle oun.
Romans 6:7 literally says that the one having died has been justified from sin. Justification, through participation in Christ’s death, is the basis for freedom from sin. Verses 18 and 22 also teach that we are freed from sin. Thus, the justified are not to go on sinning (vv 1, 15). Joseph Benson explained that the sinner is freed from the guilt of the past and the power of present sin, as dead men from the commands of their former masters.
In Romans 6:11 Paul exhorts us to reckon (logizomai) ourselves dead to sin. In so doing, Paul uses the same word he utilized eleven times in Romans 4. However, in Romans 4 it is God who does the reckoning or imputing. In Romans 6:11 the believer is to reckon or impute himself dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. This is a command for believers to be what they are. We are exhorted to cooperate with grace and realize our new life in Christ by stopping sin from reigning over us. Obviously, logizomai is used here to mean more than legal imputation. This is also the case with its usage in Rom 8:18. According to vv 18 and 22, the justified have also been set free from sin. The result is that because we have been justified, we are no longer slaves to sin (vv 6, 14). Romans 6:23 summarizes the chapter with a closing reference to the gift of God (v 23). This free gift is justification with all its concomitants.
Romans 8:1 deals with imputed righteousness as the nonimputation of sin. But in 8:1-4 the result of this justification is not merely forensic or legal, it is transformational. The justified believer no longer walks according to the sinful nature. Thus, imputed and imparted righteousness are connected. Justification is connected with sanctification.
Again in Romans 8:30 we find that justification stands for all the concomitants of grace which occur between the Gospel call and final glorification. It is inconsistent with scripture to teach that one can become born again without any change. The goal of predestination in Romans 8:29 is conformity to the image of Christ both now and more fully in the age to come. Two natures may exist in the life of the justified, but only one can control. Wesley taught that while the old nature remained, the new nature reigned. Those who are born again do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom 8:4).
Thus, we need to maintain the biblical balance between the initial imputation of righteousness based on faith in Christ and the impartation of righteousness through the gift of the Holy Spirit which enables us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.
This is an edited version of a paper given at the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta on November 17, 2010