Vol.XIX No.XII Pg.7
February 1983

?You Know What ?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Under the heading, "The Meaning of 'By Faith"' the editor of a current journal writes: "'Eternal life' is declared to be ours, by faith; ' justification' is reckoned to us, by faith; 'forgiveness' is counted as ours, by faith; 'righteousness' is imputed to us, by faith. Should any one of these promises be fulfilled in the NOW, in a real sense, then ALL of them would now be a reality instead of "by faith." Reality would swallow up faith." Please comment. Ala.


The writer has confused the object of our faith with the promises conditioned upon faith in that object. Christ is the object of saving faith; we believe in Him — trust Him fully. This trust manifests itself in our submission to His will — the obedience of faith. On this condition, we are promised forgiveness, justification, righteousness, eternal life.

Forgiveness is promised at the point of scriptural baptism (Acts. 2: 38). When one's faith in Christ leads him to fulfill the requirements of such a baptism he has the promise of God that his sins are forgiven. They are NOW forgiven, as opposed to "in promise only" as is seen in Hebrews where the completed process is contrasted with the imperfection of O.T. "remission" which left the conscience burdened (10:1-4, 11-18). Believing my sins are forgiven no more negates the reality of that forgiveness than believing in Christ negates His reality. Forgiveness takes place in the mind of God, and there is no reason to believe I will any more "see" that in eternity than I now "see" it. James McKnight (Apostolical Epistles) takes the future view of Justification — for he considered this a "one time" occurrence. But this basic assumption he did not prove. Abraham "believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" — but this is recorded three times in his life, years apart, and upon the manifestation of his faith in widely different ways (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:18-22; Gen. 22:, Jas. 2:21-23). McKnight had to give "justification" a special "theological" meaning, unwarranted by scriptures, to carry his point; and I believe the same is true of those who treat "righteousness" and "forgiveness" in this way.

"Eternal Life" is built of words used with reference to God's "eternal" nature — to man's eternal home, the eternal nature of God's Spirit, etc. (Rom. 6:23; 16:26; 2 Cor. 5:1; Heb. 9:14) Interminable duration is the prominent idea; and in this sense it follows final judgment. But there seems to be a qualitative sense also, by which one who abides in Christ is said to "have" eternal life.

Saving faith, the condition upon which we are promised salvation, is our motivation for action. The walls of Jericho were no less thrown down "by faith" after it happened, than before it happened (Heb. 11:30). Joshua believed in God, not in the walls. Our faith is in Christ, hence in His word; and when that word says some, upon "washing" were "sanctified" and were "justified" (1 Cor. 6:11) we can accept that as having taken place.