On Judgment

Leithart’s next few points all have to do with how God is a judge (pp. 213-216). He makes the point that God is not like human judges of today, whose sole concern is passing a sentence (the carrying out of which is left to someone else). God’s sentence actually carries out the sentence. Let me say that to a certain extent I agree with Leithart here. God’s sentence is by no means futile. It accomplishes that for which God declared it. The declaration of justification is thus a deliverance from sin’s guilt for the believer. Justification is not, however, a deliverance from sin’s personal power over us. That is accomplished by sanctification, which occurs simultaneously with justification, and is inseparable, yet distinct, from justification. Both occur based on union with Christ. This is Calvin’s duplex gratia. Yes, God’s judgment occurs not only as a sentence, but also the carrying out of that sentence. But what is the sentence? “Not guilty!” That is the sentence passed on the believer who has been united to Christ by faith alone, which is the gift of God. What Leithart wants to do is to conflate justification and sanctification, and make them one act (p. 211-212). They are simultaneous acts which are inseparable, yet distinct. It doesn’t matter here that Leithart is only making this claim for definitive sanctification. That does not lessen the problem for confessionalism. Definitive sanctification still involves the infusion of the Holy Spirit. And if Leithart can say that justification and definitive sanctification are one act, then he has allowed for justification by infusion, which is directly contrary to the WS (see WCF 11.1). Justification is not by infusion, but by imputation. Otherwise, let’s just pack up and cross the Tiber.