Robert Govett, who may well be the originator of kingdom exclusion1 (that is if we exclude the doctrine of purgatory), wrote an interesting work reflecting on “sins before faith” and “sins after faith.” His thesis is that the two are essentially different, which is paradoxical.
We are taught that our past sins are entirely wiped away in Christ. Whatever one did before becoming a Christian is immaterial. No reckoning of past sins will be demanded. But according to Govett sins committed after faith are entirely different. These will be held against the believer, not as affecting the believer’s eternal security, but as affecting his standing in the millennial kingdom. (Some others, however, do assert that judgment after this order will persist into the everlasting ages.)
Question: Why is the work of Christ at Calvary sufficient to wipe away sins committed before faith, but not after faith?
I do not consider that God’s standard of righteousness is less for the believer, so I am inclined to believe that if exclusion is true, no Christian can ever hope to securely enter the kingdom. Perhaps a handful. Any Christian who believes he is living an utterly pure life before God is deceived — I’ve worked too long in ministry to believe Christians are perfect, and it is perfection what God demands.
Some set up a second mode of salvation — “salvation” here is defined as the mode by which the penalty of sin is removed. They propose that Christ is serving as a priest in the heavens, making offerings (essentially offering up his blood continually) for sins committed after faith. This is an interesting solution, but not entirely satisfying.
Question: If all one has to do is confess Jesus’s priestly ministry (cf. 1 John 1:9 & 2:1), what is to keep the Christian from sinning?
As I read the writings of Paul, I am astonished that he never distinguishes between “sins before faith” and “sins after faith,” for he applies no solution — how to deal with “sins after faith” is entirely neglected — unless one has created a false premise.
Perhaps we ought only consider “sins.”
- Govett believed in kingdom exclusion; “exclusion” is how he phrased his theological perspective. ↩
© 2009, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.