The believer’s eternal security is guaranteed by their justification.               By Jack Kettler


A comprehensive exploration of the doctrine and its profound implications is not only beneficial but crucial to fully comprehend the assertion in this study's title. It's not uncommon to encounter those whose understanding of justification is lacking. For instance, some may interpret justification as “just as if I never did it.” While this interpretation holds truth, it only scratches the surface of the profound riches of Christ’s grace in justification.


To start, scratching the surface:


Justification is an act of God's free grace. It's not about infusing righteousness into us, but rather God pardoning our sins and accepting us as righteous because of Christ’s work. Moreover, it's not for anything we've done or will do but for Christ's sake alone. This is an improvement on the above simplistic view.


Explaining the doctrine of justification:  


The phrase “Simul Justus Et Peccator” is a Latin expression commonly associated with Reformed theology, particularly in the context of the Protestant Reformation. It translates to “simultaneously justified and sinner” in English. This concept captures a key aspect of a Reformed understanding of the Christian's state before God and what it means to be justified.


The English word justification comes from the Latin word justificare. Luther saw in Scripture that being justified involved the believer being made righteous by Christ’s righteousness, not our own. Hence, it is called justitia alienum, a foreign or alien righteousness, a righteousness that belongs to someone else, namely, Christ. Christ’s righteousness is credited to us through the instrumentality of faith, which is a gracious gift as seen in Ephesians 2:8.


In Reformed theology, “Simul Justus Et Peccator” emphasizes a paradoxical tension in a believer's life. It acknowledges that, through faith in Christ, a person is justified before God and declared righteous on account of Christ's atonement for their sins. Justification is seen as an act of God's grace, not based on human merit but on the imputed righteousness of Christ. Moreover, this justification is a one-time event. This will become clear as the study unfolds.


However, at the same time, believers continue to grapple with their sinfulness. The phrase underscores the ongoing reality of human sinfulness and the struggle against sin that Christians experience throughout their lives. Despite being justified in the sight of God, believers still contend with the effects of sin in their daily lives.


In summary, “Simul Justus Et Peccator” encapsulates the Reformed theological understanding that believers are both justified before God through faith in Christ and, at the same time, continue to struggle with sin as they await the full realization of their redemption. It reflects the tension between the already accomplished justification and the ongoing process of sanctification in the Christian life.


Scriptural proof for the phrase “Simul Justus Et Peccator:”


The phrase “Simul Justus Et Peccator” is not explicitly found in the Bible but is a theological concept derived from biblical teachings. The idea behind the phrase is rooted in various passages that highlight the tension between justification and the ongoing reality of sin in a believer's life.


Common Bible verses that are often referenced in support of this concept:


1.      Romans 3:23-24: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”


Romans 3:23-24 emphasizes the universal reality of sin but also points to justification through God's grace in Christ.


2.      Romans 7:14-25: “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”


In Romans 7:14-25, the Apostle Paul describes his ongoing struggle with sin while acknowledging his deliverance through Jesus Christ.


3.      Philippians 3:12-14: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus..”


Paul in Philippians 3:12-14 acknowledges that he is not yet perfect but continues to press on toward Christ, indicating an ongoing process.


4.      1 John 1:8-10: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”


This passage from 1 John 1:8-10 underscores the need for ongoing confession of sin and the assurance of forgiveness through Christ.


Justification is a Forensic Declaration:


The Protestant doctrine of Justification is forensic because it involves God declaring sinners righteous based on Christ's righteousness rather than their own merit or works. This declaration is a legal, judicial act of God, not a process of making the sinner righteous over time, such as the infused righteousness scheme, which confuses justification and sanctification.


Scriptural support for a forensic declaration includes:


1.      Romans 3:21 - 24: “But now apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

2.      Romans 4:2-8 – “If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.' Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.'”

3.      Romans 5:1 – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

4.      Galatians 2:15 - 16: “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”

5.      Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”


These passages show that justification is a declaration of God based on faith in Christ, not on the sinner's own works or merit. This declaration is a one-time event; to maintain otherwise opens the door to complete nonsense and contradictions.


An important further clarification:


Justification is a free act of God. What sins are considered when someone receives this declaration of justification? Are only past sins up until the present considered when the recipient is declared just, or are all of a person’s past, present, and future sins considered?


According to Reformed theology, when someone receives the declaration of justification, all of their sins are considered—past, present, and future. This is often referred to as the “full, free, and irrevocable” nature of justification.


Reformed theologians emphasized that justification is not a process such as sanctification but a one-time declaration by God based on Christ's finished work on the cross. This means that when a person is justified, all of their sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven and covered by Christ's righteousness. At this point, the diligent student can see that justification and the believer’s security are inseparable. Security follows from justification. 


This understanding is rooted in passages like Romans 8:1, which states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Reformed theologians interpret this to mean that once a person is in Christ, they are forever free from condemnation, regardless of their future sins.


To review, Reformed theology teaches that when a person receives the declaration of justification, all of their sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven and covered by Christ's righteousness, which guarantees their eternal security.


The Reformed doctrine of eternal security, often referred to as the “perseverance of the saints,” holds that once a person is truly saved, they cannot lose their salvation. This doctrine is based on several key points:


1.      God's Sovereignty: Reformed theology emphasizes God's sovereignty in salvation. If God has chosen someone for salvation, He is believed to ensure their perseverance until the end.

2.      The Power of Christ's Death: The doctrine of eternal security is closely tied to the belief that Christ's death is fully atoned for the sins of those who believe in Him. Since Christ's sacrifice is considered sufficient and complete, it would be inconsistent for a believer to lose their salvation.

3.      The Seal of the Holy Spirit: The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit indwells believers and acts as a seal, guaranteeing their inheritance in Christ. This is seen as proof that a believer cannot lose their salvation, as the Spirit's presence is a permanent mark of God's ownership.

4.      The Nature of Faith: In Reformed theology, faith is not seen as something that can be lost or abandoned by the believer but rather as a gift from God that is preserved by Him.

5.      The Promises of Scripture: The doctrine of eternal security is supported by various Bible passages that promise the believer's security. For example, John 10:28-29 states that no one can snatch believers out of the Father's hand.


In summary, the Reformed doctrine of eternal security holds that once a person is truly saved, they are eternally secure in Christ, and their salvation cannot be lost. This is based on the belief in God's sovereignty, the power of Christ's death, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, the nature of faith, and the promises of Scripture.


Justification from the Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 11:


“I. Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; 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, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.


II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.


III. Christ, by His obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real and full satisfaction to His Father's justice in their behalf. Yet, in as much as He was given by the Father for them; and His obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead; and both, freely, not for anything in them; their justification is only of free grace; that both the exact justice, and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.


IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect, and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification: nevertheless, they are not justified, until the Holy Spirit does, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.


V. God does continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification,  yet they may, by their sins, fall under God's fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of His countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.


VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.”


The Westminster Confession of Faith, a foundational document for many Protestant denominations, affirms the eternal security of believers in the following statement:


“They, whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.” This quotation is found in the chapter “Of the Perseverance of the Saints,” specifically in section 1.


The Confession teaches that believers who have been chosen by God, called by Him, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit will not ultimately fall away from their faith but will continue in their spiritual journey and be saved eternally.


The Golden Chain of Salvation:


The “Golden Chain of Salvation” in Romans 8:29-30 refers to a sequence of five actions of God in the process of salvation:


1.      Foreknowledge (Romans 8:29)

2.      Predestination (Romans 8:29)

3.      Calling (Romans 8:30)

4.      Justification (Romans 8:30)

5.      Glorification (Romans 8:30)


These verses in the King James Version read as follows:


“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)


“Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)


In Review:


In theological terms, the doctrine of justification refers to the act by which God declares a sinner righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. It is a legal or forensic term, meaning that God declares the sinner to be not guilty and righteous, not because of any righteousness of their own, but because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to them.


The significance of justification being a past-tense event lies in its finality and completeness. When a person places their faith in Jesus Christ, they are immediately and fully justified. This means they are forgiven of all their sins - past, present, and future - and declared righteous in God's sight. This justification is not a process that happens over time but a once-for-all event.


This doctrine is important because it emphasizes God's grace in salvation. It is not something that we can earn or work towards, but a free gift that is given to us by God's grace alone. It also provides assurance of salvation, as it is not based on our own performance or worthiness but on the finished work of Christ on the cross.


In summary, the fact that the believer’s justification is a past-tense event underscores the completeness and finality of God's forgiveness and righteousness in the believer's life and the assurance of salvation that comes from God's grace alone.


Romans chapter 8, verses 29 and 30. As you know, these verses are what we're calling “God's golden chain of salvation,” and there are five links in this golden chain of salvation. It begins in eternity past in verse 29. It extends into time and then into eternity's future in verse 30.


In closing, true justification guarantees the eternal security of believers, logically stated:


Premise 1: True justification is a forensic declaration by God that a person is righteous based on their faith in Christ.

Premise 2: God's declarations are true and cannot be revoked or contradicted.

Premise 3: A person who is truly justified has been declared righteous by God and has been given eternal life.

Conclusion: Therefore, true justification guarantees the eternal security of believers, as God's declaration of their righteousness cannot be revoked, and they have been given eternal life.


Justification and the believer’s eternal security are inseparably linked. If you have been justified, you will be glorified!    


The above study was Groked and perfected with Grammarly AI.


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)


Mr. Kettler is a respected author who has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife, Marea, are active Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church members. Mr. Kettler's extensive work includes 18 books defending the Reformed Faith, which are available for order online at Amazon.