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|The Nashville Statement
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
|Consider the scene:
A judge is presiding over a murder trial. There are 1000 eye-witnesses who say they saw "Hugh" pull a gun and shoot "Dean" in the head - killing him. Every eye witness comes and gives this same testimony. It seems unlikely that Hugh is going to get out of this one - but when it comes time for the defense, Hugh's smarmy lawyer steps forward, and giving the jury a condescending nod and a wink, explains that:
"...the reason Dean died was not because Hugh shot him, ...it was because the bullet from Hugh's gun entered Dean's brain." -- wink, wink.Can you imagine any jury being hood-winked by this kind of "revelation"? I don't think so either.
Yet just today I was reading a comment made on another blog wherein something was said that was far more serious than our lawyer in the previous (and priming) example, it was said:
"...the reason [sinners] are condemned is not because of sin but because of death without the Son." Here then is a very similar appeal.
Surely, no one who rejects Christ as their Savior is going to go to escape God's wrath; unless one is a universalist, one must conclude that some will escape God's wrath, and some will not, and those who do escape God's wrath, will be the same ones who did not reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Yet the question here is why is God's wrath coming upon anyone?
The quote suggests that God's wrath comes upon a person, not because they sin, but because they reject Jesus. This ...magnificent claim is founded upon a myopic focus upon John 3:18, which ignores, pretty much, everything else scripture has to say about why God's wrath is coming.
I plan on making my point only from the New Testament, not because the OT isn't instructive, but in order to keep this post of a manageable length, I thought it best to restrict my meanderings to the NT.
When God's wrath is first mentioned in the gospels it is not being poured out by God because men are failing to come to Jesus. It is proclaimed as what waits for every man who fails to repent (c.f. the first mention of wrath in Matthew 3:7, and likewise in Luke 3:7).
In John 3:36, God's wrath already abides on those who do not obey Christ. For those of you who don't know what "repentance" means, it means surrendering (becoming obedience) to God. Those who fail to obey Christ are one and the same as those who fail to repent.
In Romans 1:18-20, Paul teaches that God's wrath abides on the ungodly because God has made himself known in creation, and men rejected this knowledge - suppressing in in order to continue in unrighteousness. Note that by this passage the Holy Spirit gives the reason why men reject God - they reject God in order to pursue the evil that they are inclined towards. But the text shows that they are not condemned for suppressing the truth in righteousness, they are condemned because they are unrighteous.
In Romans 2:5,8, we learn that wrath is stored up - how? By failing to come to Jesus? No, by failing to repent of sin/by continuing in sin.
In Romans 3:5 God's wrath is linked to our unrighteousness.
In Romans 13:4, God's wrath is described as being upon the one who practices evil.
In Ephesians 5:5-6, Paul doesn't say that the wrath of God is coming upon the son's of disobedience because they fail to believe in Jesus, he lists their sins, and says for this reason wrath is coming upon them. The same idea is again offered in Colossians 3:6.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:16, God's wrath is again tied to sin.
But it isn't only Christ and Paul who teach that God's wrath is directed at sin; we read the apostle John gives a very expressive description of who will end up where and for what in Revelation 21:8.
The New Testament teaching is not: "Jesus died and paid the price for everyone's sins, so that now no one in the world is condemned by sin, but instead we are now condemned by failing to come to Jesus."
That is, in a (compound) word, ... is ultra-bunk.
God does not pour out his wrath on all sin, then pour it out a second time on all who failed to make the right choice. That, for all its frills and dressing, is still moon-bat theology.
It works like this:
 Sin separates us from God such that no man desires God.
 (a restatement of ) Sin separates us from God such that man cannot will himself to be reconciled to God - for there is nothing in sinful man that can overcome sin.
 God, in accord with His mercy, determines that He will not allow all men to perish.
 God chooses to reconcile some sinners to Himself
 God, being just, cannot excuse sin - sin must be punished.
 In order to rescue those whom God has chosen, God must [a] punish them in full, and [b] bring them back to life, without [c] compromising his righteousness.
 God sends His Son Jesus to live amongst sinners - incarnate, but sinless, in order that His own life might be the bridge/ark by which those whom God calls can pass through judgment.
 God unites the soul/life/spirit of those whom He calls to the life of His Son Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
 Because God is just - He is OBLIGATED to pour out His wrath upon those sinners who are in Christ on Calvary.
 Jesus, along with the those guilty sinners whom God has Chosen - die as a consequence of God's righteous wrath.
 Because God is righteous, He is OBLIGATED to raise Jesus from the dead because Jesus isn't/wasn't guilty.
 Because those whom God chose are still united to Jesus, in order to raise Christ from the dead and thereby fulfill all righteousness - God must also raise from the dead those whom He chose before hand to be united with Christ in His death.
 God raises Christ, and those whom He chose before hand - and both are alive, Christ having "carried" those whom God chose "through" God's wrath.
 Those who were not in Christ when God poured out His wrath, cannot be carried through God's wrath - for there is only one holy Ark into which the sinner can flee God's wrath, and that ark is Christ. Those whom God did not draw, did not come to Christ, and received in full exactly what their sin demanded.
 In this way - every sinner receives the full wage of his sin - God is just, and justly punishes every sinner; but also in this way, some sinners - those whom God chose - are united together with Christ in his death and also in his resurrection, in order that they pass through God's wrath.
 The whole thing is quite adequately pictured by the story of Noah's ark - in which God hand picked the animals who would be saved, and hand picked the family who would be saved - and poured his wrath out on all mankind - but brought a chosen few, and only a chosen few, through that wrath and out the other side by means of a vehicle that could survive the flood.
 The ark pictured our righteous Christ who Was and Is the only Vehicle that could survive the flood of God's eternal wrath - that was pictured by the physical elements here on earth.
Make no mistake, God pours out his wrath on sin - it is for sin that men are condemned, and not for failing to come to Christ.
The only reason anyone has for imagining that people are condemned for failing to come to Jesus, is because they believe that Jesus not only died for everyone, but paid for everyone's sins - the logical problem with that is that if Jesus did pay for everyone's sins - how is it that sinners who do not come to Christ are still required to pay their sin debt? Answer? Invent a new, extra-biblical debt: Failing to come to Jesus.
Listen: Don't buy that stuff, even if they are giving it away free.
Read the bible. You will find that scripture teaches how and why people forfeit eternal life, and you will find that what was true in the garden of Eden is still true today. Jesus came, as scripture said, - to save HIS people (c.f. Matthew 1:21) from sin. Word like "election" and "predestination" are not words that theologists made up - they are words taken straight out of scripture, and are only offensive to those who do not fully understand them.
Listen: until a person has a high view of God, and a low view of man - they will by no means comprehend election.
I don't encourage smoking, but if one is inclined and cannot be dissuaded by logic, I suggest this to be a good one to put in one's pipe and smoke.
Labels: contending with moonbat theology
posted by Daniel @
I added the motivational poster because, well, when you see a guy with a little tiny cross around his neck, coupled to fifty pounds of heavy iron chains - well, you think of Pelagianism, and her wicked little sister, Semi-Pelagianism.
I am sorry you want to say my comment is "moon-bat theology" and "ultra-bunk" (I am not offended, though) but I have scriptural reasons for having those ideas, just as you have for holding yours.
My reasoning goes way beyond John 3:18 and it is not because of this:
the logical problem with that is that if Jesus did pay for everyone's sins - how is it that sinners who do not come to Christ are still required to pay their sin debt? Answer? Invent a new, extra-biblical debt: Failing to come to Jesus.
Both the limited and unlimited atonement positions have "logical" problems, brother. We both must face that and try to come to scriptural resolutions that make sense to us biblically. I believe I have done that and do not consider myself to be "hoodwinked." ;~)
Love to ya!
Would this mean that ALL sinners were justified 2000 years ago and raised with Christ? Would it be fair to say then that believers that have not been born again today are not under the wrath of God?
Any help would be appreciated, thanks.
High view of God. Low view of man. That pretty much sums up my conversion experience. BTW, you can put me down for endorsing the little Dutch flower.
Rose, no need for apologies. I don't think you did anything wrong; you were merely expressing what you are convinced is true. I have no doubt that you interpret scripture in a way that is as consistent with itself as possible, I can't really imagine you holding very closely some opinion if you know that opinion is irrational. In this instance, I don't expect that your statement hangs entirely on John 3:18, though that verse is certainly playing a role in it. I am glad that you are not offended, as my intent is not to offend, but to enlighten. If you are mistaken, I don't think it is because you are insincere, or unteachable, or, I don't know, some sort of negative thing that people might derogatorily say - hardly. You are too bright and genuine, I think, to be that way. No, if you are mistaken, I imagine it is like making a small mathematical error at the beginning of a large five page formula, and though all your work on all five pages is quite consistent, logical, and even commendable, it is never the less "out" because of some small error up top.
When I use words like ultra-bunk and moon-bat, I use them to describe the place that bad math takes us, for there comes a time at the end of an equation, where one ought to be able to look at the outcome and reason from that alone that somewhere an error has occurred.
When you say that people don't go to hell because of sin, you have stepped off the path of truth, however sincere you might be - and when that happens you need to look back and ask yourself how much of what you believe is there because it has to be there to support you conclusion?
You rightly identify the atonement as the hinge upon which everything swings, and while I believe you are hoodwinked into your theology, I don't think you are maliciously so - that is, I am convinced that you do everything you can to see God glorified in all you do and think, and if you succumb to error, it is only because even a good opinion about God is no proof against error.
Sincere as we both are, we may still, both be not only wrong, but utterly incapable of knowing it unless someone with light comes and leads us out of our darkness. Yet, while there is a real possibility that both of us are wrong, that same possibility does not extend itself to both of us being right, and it may be that one of us is right, and the other is wrong. My hope of course, is that discussions like this end in both of us eventually being right - if that means both of us abandoning error for what is true, or just one of us, but unless we are willing to scrutinize not only what we believe, but why we believe it - we aren't likely to arrive at a place of agreement.
I do like saying ultra-bunk... ;)
Magnus, you ask two questions, so I will give two answers:
Q1: Would this mean that ALL sinners were justified 2000 years ago and raised with Christ?
I cannot answer for Rose's theology, but according to what I understand from scripture, not everyone was "in" Christ on Calvary - only those who were united to him through faith were "in" Christ on Calvary, and only those who are united with Christ on Calvary were "in" Christ when God poured His wrath out on Christ. Those who were in the God's "ark" (Christ), were carried through God's wrath (death) so that when God raised up Jesus, those who were in Christ were also raised up with Christ - and only those who were in Jesus were raised.
It was Christ's righteousness that overcame death, and our union with Christ through faith that allowed us to be "counted as righteous". This accounting happened the moment God raised Christ. In order to raise up Christ, God had to regard we who were united with Christ, as presently "righteous" - or else God could not have raised up Christ and us at the same time - since raising up someone who is still guilty would be wrong. The moment we died in Christ - the debt of our sin was paid in full - not by Christ's vicarious death - but by our death -in- Christ. We died -with- Him, in order that we could be raised up with him after our debt was paid in full via our union with Christ. When God raised Jesus it was a declaration that we (who were in Christ) were redeemed - our sins were paid.
To suggest therefore that everyone (for all are sinners) was in Christ on Calvary, is to suggest that everyone died with Christ, and therefore everyone is raised in Christ - everyone is justified, and everyone goes to heaven.
Since we dare not tread that heretical path, we instead recognize that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus - these are the ones who were raised up from the dead - and only these were atoned for.
Thus some 2000 years ago, every repentant sinner who turned to Christ - either on this side of the cross in full knowledge of how God would accomplish our salvation (through His son and Messiah, Jesus Christ), or prior to the cross through the forms that represented what would come - either way, everyone who has ever sought to be reconciled to God through faith - these were in Christ on Calvary.
Q2: Would it be fair to say then that believers that have not been born again today are not under the wrath of God?
If everyone were in Christ, then everyone would go to heaven, as the whole purpose of the Messiah was to bring men through the judgment - if all passed through judgment, then all go to heaven.
Your second question, I believe was framed under the notion that all sinners were justified 2000 years ago - so the answer, if we presumed the premise, would be that believers who have not been born again (lip service believers) would not be under God's wrath, simply because if everyone is in Christ - no one is under God's wrath anymore - since we would have all passed through it in Christ; meaning, that atheists, muslims, anti-Christs, satanists - everyone - would be going to heaven.
Now, if I answer the question, however, according to a better theology than "everyone was in Christ" (that being that only those who had been reconciled to God through faith were in Christ); then I would that believers who had not been reconciled to God, were by no means in Christ - which would further have to be clarified - they may have had all the facts, and believed them to be true - but they didn't use those facts to become reconciled to God, that is, they were "believers" only in the sense that they believed the facts presented in scripture to be true - and not in the sense that they surrendered themselves to God and began to obey the gospel of reconciliation.
The end result is to say that those "believers" whose faith reconciles them to God can rightly be called Christians, and those who call themselves believers, but never use what they know to become reconciled to are best described as deceived. They will be the ones who on that last day have learned to say "Lord, Lord!" but will be told to depart from Christ because even though they took the label Christian, and applied it to themselves, went to church, and prayed earnestly - even studied the bible and did good deeds - they did all of that without ever desiring or even pursuing to be reconciled to God.
I hope that answers your questions Magnus. Sometimes I misunderstand the question and my answers don't make sense - so let me know if what I said makes sense.
Marcian - I have never met anyone, regardless of their theological bent, who imagined themselves to have a high view of man or a low view of God!
Notwithstanding, Some believe that God is not only obligated to, but actually trying to save everyone. Of course if God is doing that, then He only knows the future in the sense that a crystal ball reader might know the future - that is, God has no real control, but just knows how it is going to end. If God is trying to save everyone, then God is a failure, since not everyone is being saved.
If God is not trying to save anyone in particular, but has just provided mankind with a means by which they can be saved (should they choose to be), then God is unjust, for surely the twelve had a much better chance of being saved than, say, the aboriginals who lived in North America hundreds of years before the gospel was ever preached here. God chose where and when Christ would come, and everyone who doesn't get to hear the gospel can rightly charge God with being unjust because, frankly, God should have made the gospel universally available to all men, if he was offering it up as an impartial means by which men could be saved.
Sadly, most people view God through the lens of their own "world informed" opinion about what is good and proper. They really do think that in order for God to be God, He has to behave in a way which greed-driven worldlings would describe as "nice". These ones are like the men who worked all day in the sun and were paid a full days wage, but grumbled against the landowner because he gave the same wage to those who had only worked the last hour of the day. For these men saw that the land lord was generous to those others, and imagined that because he was generous to others, he was obligated to be generous to them. They fail to realize that generosity cannot be mixed with obligation - grace cannot be grace if it is ogligatory - or said in plain English - if men are saved from their sin so that they turn to God - it is God's grace to grant them this - that they turn to Him - but that grace is not obligatory - God does not have to call every sinner in order to be good. Being gracious to one sinner does not obligate God to be gracious to all sinners - and as soon as a person begins to understand this, they cannot continue long in denying personal election and limited atonement. For they imagine themselves withstanding these things in scripture, when in fact they bend scripture to withstand these things because they offend their wrong-headed presumptions.
God grant them light.
Let me try to clarify, I mean to ask if ALL "true" believers were saved 2000 years ago?
You being a true believer were saved 2000 years ago, if that is true was there ever a time when you were under the wrath of God? Meaning, since you (being a true believer) was in Christ 2000 years ago and justified could you truly say that you were ever wicked and that the wrath of God was on you?
I'm assuming that you were not born again in your mother's womb, but that you came to Christ after birth and some physical time has passed.
Hope that I'm making a little sense with my questions.
Magnus, thanks for the clarification, I think I understand what you are asking now.
In Paul's letter to the Church at Ephesus, he says something that is worth considering before we move on, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus," (Ephesians 2:4-6 [ESV]).
If the Christian is already seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, the Christian is already seated someplace that is outside of this creation (i.e. outside of the known (and unknown) universe... outside of time and space, and in a place that I shall call "eternity" for lack of some other more accurate label).
It is therefore difficult to frame the answer to your question in the context you are asking it, for you are framing the union with Christ as a chronological event that took place 2000 years ago - when scripture suggests that this union with Christ is taking place in eternity.
If the union is taking place in eternity, that suggests that I am presently united (in eternity) to the same eternal Christ who became incarnate, and died on a cross, 2000 years ago. It isn't as though the moment that Christ died on earth is "when" I was united to Him - for that would require that my union takes place in this creation - when scripture suggests it takes place, and is taking place right now, outside of this creation.
It isn't like I zoom backwards in time to the cross and die there with Christ, rather it is since I am already in Christ (in eternity), I must also be in Christ, or "have been in Christ" when came into our creation out of that eternity 2000 years ago. If I am with Him in eternity - then I am with Him when He enters creation.
It isn't that "true believers" were saved 2000 years ago, it is that true believers are saved in Christ who became a man 2000 years ago. It is a bit abstract, but I think it is comprehensible, as I comprehend it readily enough.
You ask if there was ever a time when a true believer was under the wrath of God, but the question is framed in a way that I think assumes too much about chronology and our salvation to answer it without some explanation.
First, I think every person who sins stands condemned before God the very instant they sin. That includes people who will one day become "true believers".
Many believers are taught that Christ's death on Calvary was vicarious, that is, He died instead of us, rather than with us - even though scripture is perfectly lucid in describing us as having died with Him and in Him. That is, His death was not vicarious and in our stead - as though God pronounced us guilty, then put the gun to Christ's head and pulled the trigger - and seeing his son die, had his righteous anger appeased. Good gravy no! How could a righteous God every punish an innocent man? He can't - unless that innocent man is united to a sinner whom God's wrath -must- be poured out on. Only then can a righteous God destroy an innocent man, and even then, only if the death of that innocent man can later be undone.
So it is not as if believers are condemned, then, after coming to faith, they are "un"-condemned. That is not the picture that scripture paints. Rather it is that believers are just as condemned as non-believers - but that they are united to Christ in their condemnation, so that when God pours His wrath out upon sins - that is, so that when they receive their condemnation - they do so -in- Christ whom God must raise from the dead on account of His innocence. God doesn't excuse the believer's sins - he pours his wrath out on them in full.
Believers do not side step God's wrath through their faith - rather they pass through God's wrath - pass through condemnation, if you will - in Christ.
Take Noah, for instruction in this matter. Noah was not placed on a nice island somewhere while God poured his wrath out on everyone else. That would hardly have been a picture of Christ now would it?
No, Noah was placed in an ark that passed through God's wrath, so that Noah and his family, came out the other side unscathed. They had passed through God's condemnation of the whole world - not by avoiding it, but by passing through it unscathed in the ark.
Christ is the ark that carries condemned believers through the condemnation of death, and into eternal life.
We enter into that Ark by grace through faith - and once we are in it, our condemnation still occurs, we die with Christ are buried with Christ - all so that God's righteous wrath against our sin can be expiated in its entirety - then when there is no more wrath - we are raised in and with Christ - having passed through death and into life in Christ.
So yeah - I mean, of course we are condemned on sin's account, but in reality those who are true believers have already passed through condemnation. To be even more precise, we could say, believers have passed through condemnation before they are ever born - even before the foundation of the earth (before the earth was ever made).
It certainly doesn't appear so from our chronological perspective - and this is evident, for we think of our salvation as happening on such and such a day, so that prior to that moment we were under condemnation, and after that we were not. But that is a very man-o-centric perspective, and doesn't reason from God's outside-of-creation perspective, where these things are spiritually taking place.
Thus, those who are not in Christ, these will suffer God's wrath without the benefit of God's Ark (Christ) - and thereby drown in it. Yet make no mistake, God's wrath is not coming down on them "because they didn't get in the ark" - it coming down on them because they are sinners, and that is the wages their sin demands. The Ark (Christ) is the means by which elect sinners will pass through the coming flood of God's wrath.
I don't want my comment to get so long that you skip over it, so let me know if that helps answer your question...
Yes I understand better what you are saying. It seems that you are an advocate of Eternal Justification, if I remember correctly John Gill is an advocate of that view as well.
It is very hard to see how we are guilty and dead in our trespasses if we were justified before the foundation of the world? I’m sure it’s because we view it from a temporal standpoint, but it is a hard concept to wrap our brain (my brain) around.
Magnus, to be clear, I believe that justification takes place by faith, or out of faith (if you will). Temporally speaking, I was justified the moment I believed, and was not justified until I believed. But God's perspective is not temporal, it is eternal - and even though I am far more comfortable speaking from, and reasoning from my temporal perspective, I believe the more accurate perspective is the eternal perspective. I don't think that all the truths in scripture are framed according to our temporal perspective, and are better comprehended when we regard them according to God's eternal perspective - and the atonement is one of those things. If time (proper) is something that does not bind God as it binds men, that is if God exists "outside" time (and He does) then to speak of such things as the ordo salutis in terms of chronology is rather clumsy at best, since we are (of necessity) really framing something that is an eternal reality into a temporal one, as though it were a temporal reality also - and this we do just so that we can model God's character in a way that does not offend - for we insist that man's fall must precede God's choice, or we end up saying that God determines before a man is guilty or innocent to send one into hell, and to fellowship with the other for all eternity. Yet such things as the ordo salutis, tend to be flailed about by the ham-fisted, who have not learned to reason from God's perspective.
When I speak of eternity, I am not speaking of a time before or a time after - as though such things required a temporal place. I am speaking in terms of no temporal frame of reference whatsoever - which is rather difficult to discuss given that we have no frame of reference to couch that idea in.
This may lead one to conclude that believers are born pre-justified temporally - so that their justification takes place before they actually have faith - but that sort of reasoning fails in that it is mixing temporal apples with eternal oranges. We cannot flip between temporal and eternal frames of reference - if we are speaking in terms of our temporal frame of reference, we are condemned until we have faith - then after having faith our condemnation is borne by Christ, and we can consider ourselves as having passed through that condemnation, and thereby are no longer condemned - and we can reason that it "happened" in that instant of our belief - and reasoning in the temporal realm, we are quite correct. But if reason from God's perspective, and do so consistently, then we reason that we were justified in eternity, and that God's relationship with us has always been filtered through the righteousness of Christ - that is, we were born justified, and lived justified - though we were ignorant of it, until God produced faith in us, etc.
So I don't think I would fit the eternal justification mold perfectly, though I haven't read any Gill on the matter - or anyone else for that matter - in fact this is the first time I hear the term. I will have to do some reading and see what these others have had to say and whether I think the label fits well, partially, or not very well.
Sorry I did not mean to put a label on you. I understand, I think, what you are saying and can see the point you are making. My question when you write- “But if reason from God's perspective, and do so consistently, then we reason that we were justified in eternity, and that God's relationship with us has always been filtered through the righteousness of Christ - that is, we were born justified, and lived justified - though we were ignorant of it, until God produced faith in us, etc.”- would be can it ever be said that the “elect” or “true believer” was under God’s condemnation? It would seem that we would never have been children of disobedience or dead in our trespasses from God’s perspective, if that is true then what to make of the verses you cited above from Ephesians 2:4-6?
Magnus, perhaps I would have been more clear had I said:
“But if reason [about our perspective] from God's perspective, and do so consistently, then we reason that we were justified in eternity, and that God's relationship with us [from our perspective] has always been filtered through the righteousness of Christ - that is, [from our perspective] we were born justified, and lived justified - though we were ignorant of it, until God produced faith in us, etc.”
The full picture is as complex as the hypostatic union - for it is a union of similar substance - the temporal (our lives) united with the eternal (the life of Christ), and then scrutinized.
If it is a mistake to reason entirely from the temporal (and it is), it is just as much a mistake to reason entirely from the eternal. What is true is grasped when one is able to reason the eternal aspects as eternal, and the temporal aspects as temporal, and able to discern which lies where and how they play together. I don't suggest that it is cut and dry or easy to do. What we are trying to do is comprehend the temporal through the lens of the eternal, without losing what is true in the temporal.
If our understanding of the eternal supposes more than can (or should) be supposed, and/or, we forget (or ignore) that there is a temporal component, we are in danger of creating the very parodox you describe - where we say that we were -never- a child of wrath, because in eternity Christ suffered our wrath, and so that "trumps" temporal reality.
It simply doesn't work that way. Whatever eternity is, it can't rightly be reasoned in a temporal way - that is, we cannot say, "because I was justified in eternity, I have -always- been justified" since I was once a child of wrath as scripture plainly states. There was a period where I was not justified, but that period is associated with this creation, and has not with eternity. When I leave this creation I will enter eternity first hand - either condemned there, or justified there, not that I have "always been" - though that may be the closest way to think of eternity, but rather that leaving creation behind we likewise leave time and all temporal things related to this reality behind - they do not accompany us into eternity. I suffer a lack of grace, or a lack of vocabulary to describe these things - but phrases like "eternity is outside of time" fit best.
Thus, I believe that there certainly is a time when we are condemned, but that this time has no place in eternity. If we reason from both God's perspective and our perspective simultaneously, we get a picture like this:
Jesus had life in eternity "before" the world was created. At some point after creation (and therefore "time") was created, Jesus entered into that creation as a human babe. He did not have to leave eternity to enter into creation, as though his consciousness were both spatial and temporal, which is something we must keep in mind, yet in creation, our incarnate Lord obeyed the rules of creation, lived, aged, ate and drank - and eventually was murdered. He then exited creation but not in a way that can be described as resuming or even returning to his former place in eternity, for He did not leave it as such - rather he simply was no longer taking part in creation in the capacity that he had been - though he remained in the vestige of His human body, now glorified (made fit for eternity).
I, however, did not come from eternity into this creation, but was formed in this creation, and through Christ justified both inside and outside of this creation. If I speak of this in temporal language, I repeat with Paul - I was a child of wrath - for surely, temporally speaking, I truly was a child of wrath. It wasn't (temporally speaking), that I merely seemed to be one, but was really not one. I was body and soul a child of wrath according to the rules of this creation. It wasn't until I had saving faith in Christ (at least temporally speaking) that I entered into a state of justification through that union that came into being, (that is, entered into -this- creation) (temporally) the moment I was saved.
It is wrong to think of eternity as being a sort of "time" thing. That is, we imagine eternity to be timeless, and then imagine timelessness to be and endless abundance of time stretching both forwards and backwards as though eternity could be described temporally. I don't believe it can. I think it is a reality, more real than our own, but alien to it in that it is not a "place" where time and space follow the rules of this creation - and since we are bound by the rules of this creation, all our thinking is framed according to those rules, and trying to imagine anything that isn't governed by time and space is quite difficult.
So I hear you, and you bring up very important points - if eternity means forever and ever in time - then if I am justified in eternity, there can be no "time" when I was never justified, and Ephesians 2:4-6 would indicate that I couldn't have been justified in eternity, for there had to be a time when I was condemned. Yet that falls apart as soon as we understand that our present temporal/spatial reality does not impose upon eternity that way. We are formed in this creation, and enter into eternity from within it. We are first here, before we are there - because these words still have scope in creation. Thus we agree heartily with Paul, and we do so without checking our intellectual integrity at the door either; we were -indeed- children of wrath, that is not some phantom, or mere illusion - we were condemned - all are condemned in this creation, but those who are in Christ, have entered into eternity already (we are seated at the right hand in Christ already), and so to describe ourselves as justified outside of time is not improper, but it can be confusing, as people attempt to frame these ideas, not eternally, but temporally.
I understand exactly what you are saying, and I agree with you entirely - if eternity means that I have never been condemned - then eternal justification falls apart, but I don't think of eternity in the temporal terms that create that paradox, and fully agree that I was once genuinely condemned.
I feel I sometimes muddy the issue rather than clarify, so let me know how I am doing.
Thanks for that last comment. It has really crystallized it for me and my simple mind to understand what you are truly saying. This is probably the first time that I can say I understand Limited Atonement. Thanks for the great post and the comments to help me try and understand this better.
Magnus, I like the label "Particular Atonement" better, but whatever we call it, the doctrine is only straight-forward after we begin to fully understand that we really are justified by and through our union with Christ in His death and resurrection - that is, only after we see that only those who are in Christ are atoned for, because only those who are in Christ pass through God's wrath with and in Christ. Once that is understood, I think the question, "Does Jesus atone for everyone?" becomes quite easy, not only to answer, but to understand.
I like to use Noah's ark to explain it, because I think that is the main reason God brought the flood in the first place - to set before us a very clear picture of how God allows a person to pass through His wrath.
I don't think most people bother with the eternal/temporal discussion because, let's face it - it is not very linear, and most people get mired down the moment a discussion requires a deeper level of abstraction to continue.
Frankly, there are very few people, I think, who really get the atonement - most people just form a very shallow opinion, based almost solely upon their presumptions about what God must be like (filtered through their own fallen experience and values), and having likened God to a more moral version of their own fallen selves, they begin with a rather low view of God, and starting there, they form conclusions that are consistent with their low view of God.
I am glad you understood what I was saying. Sometimes I think I ramble on or am too cryptic, being unable to expose what I see in words.
I agree that the eternal/temporal discussion is a bit more involved and requires the ol’ synapses to fire again, but it is important to discuss and wrestle with it. I just recently read II Timothy 1:9-
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
As I was reading and came to that verse I was reminded of the eternal/temporal discussion.
There are a few verses that lose a lot of the fog when one has a working and consistent temporal/eternal perspective. I think the only other way around verses like that is to  keep them foggy, or  develop a sort of "national" election, whereby no individual is really elect - just "nations". The trouble with that is that biblically one has to ignore a whole lot of explicit (and implicit too) text to the contrary. But there are people who believe that, because the rest of their theology ("Jesus died for everybody") requires it.