Saved at the Cross?
Question: If Christ actually “saved” the elect on the cross, isn't it true to say that the elect are born already justified and there is no need to exercise faith?
This is an important issue and the fact that someone would ask this question is a clear indication that they have failed to grasp the full measure of what the Bible teaches concerning Divine election.
Jesus said, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me” (John 6:37). Think about that for a moment, as a vital point is being made; namely this: THE EFFECTS OF GOD'S CHOICE IN ETERNITY (the Father's giving) ARE WORKED OUT IN TIME (the people's coming).
The elect are a love gift from the Father to the Son (in eternity past) but this does not negate the fact that these same people will (IN THE REALM OF TIME) come to the Son. It is not the coming to the Son that CAUSES the Father to give them to the Son. Just the opposite is true in fact. It is the Father’s giving (first) which results in the elect’s coming. All that the Father gives to the Son will come to the Son.
Christ was the Lamb slain BEFORE the foundation of the world (as the Scripture says in Revelation 13:8) yet this did not mean that Christ did not need to be slain in the realm of time. Christ was marked as the slain Lamb in eternity past, and yet Christ came into the space/time dimension with the purpose of dieing for the sins of His people. Likewise, it is also true to say that all the elect were purchased/redeemed at the cross, even though these elect would still need to come to the Son in time also.
It is not unregenerate man who authors the faith that saves. Jesus is the author and perfector of faith (Heb 12:3). Repentance and faith are GIFTS from God (2 Tim 2:25; Phil 1:29), given to the elect (in time). Jesus secured everything necessary for the salvation of the elect at the cross, including these precious gifts. Not all have faith. The elect will come to Christ in faith (John 6:37, Acts 13:48).
Was Christ the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world? Yes.
Were the elect saved in eternity past? Certainly, the Father's choice to save them took place in eternity past, yes.
Does this negate the need for events to be carried out in time? By no means. The choice in eternity past DETERMINED events that would undoubtedly take place in time.
Therefore the answer to the question is a resounding "No." No one is born justified. Since the Fall of Adam, all of us are born spiritually dead in need of regeneration and justification. Justification is by faith (Romans 5:1) not by election. Election merely explains who will come to Christ in faith (Acts 13:48). Christ redeemed His people by His blood, and secured their salvation there, even though the effects of His death would be carried out in time (past, present and future), as His people come to Him in saving faith – this being the gift of God, not as a result of works, lest no one should boast.
My own observation is that when people have an issue with Particular or definite atonement, when questions are asked and the issue is pressed, it is almost always due to the fact that they really have an issue with unconditonal election.