Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Justification by Faith Alone - An Affirmative Constructive

The topic of today's debate is Justification by Faith Alone. Martin Luther viewed this as one of the most critical doctrines of the Reformation - and that was even before Trent! Now that Trent has made Rome irreformable on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, it is impossible for Reformed and Roman churches to have communion.

However, we both claim that the Bible is authoritative, so let's see what it tells us about Justification.

I. Justification is a Link in the Chain of Salvation
Romans 8:30 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.

This verse teaches us that Justification isn't the whole of salvation, just an important link in the chain between predestination and calling (on one side) and glorification (on the other side).

II. Justified by Christ's Blood
Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

The proper (and by proper, I mean formal) thing that justifies is the blood of Christ. It is His death that justifies us and assures us of salvation.

III. Not Justified by Doing the Law
Romans 2:12-13
For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

These verses show us what doesn't justify us. What doesn't justify us is obeying the law. We can't be righteous in the sight of God by obeying God's law. So how then can we be justified in God's eyes?

IV. Justification by Grace
Titus 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

We are justified by grace. Of course, someone might say that grace can be complimentary to the law. In other words, you can be justified by grace and by the law. Thus, the comments about the law above would mean that we are not justified by the law alone, but by the law plus something else. So we can turn to the following:

V. Grace not Law
Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

The answer to the question is a resounding "no." It's an either/or situation, not a both/and situation. You cannot seek to be justified by both. It's either grace alone, or nothing.

We can see that again in:

VI. Justified by Christ not Personal Merit
Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

This one takes the opposite approach. It is asking whether you need both: do you need to be justified by Christ and by personal righteousness? The answer Paul gives is "no." Now, how can you be justified by Christ by Grace?

The solution is:

VII. Justification by Faith
Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 3:30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

Each of these passages teaches us that justification is by or more properly (i.e. more precisely) through faith. In other words, faith is an instrumental means whereby we are justified.

And just so you can be sure that we are talking about the same kind of justification, we can see this confirmed:

VIII. Justification by Christ linked to faith
Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

Notice that it is by Christ that those who believe are justified. They are justified from all things, from which the law couldn't justify them. So, notice that the law / grace distinction is also a law / Christ distinction.

Justification is a declaration of righteousness, whereas the law produces a judgment of guilt. We can see that in an indirect way by looking at what the result of faith is - it is righteousness:

IX. The Righteousness that is By Faith
Hebrews 11:4-5
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Notice that "obtained witness that he is righteous" and "God testifying of his gifts." Moreover, notice how Noah is an "heir of the righteousness" which is by faith. Likewise, in the two passages in Romans, it is the "righteousness of God."

But perhaps you might think that this righteousness is simply God enabling us to obey the law:

X. The Righteousness that is by Faith is not that which is of the law
Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Notice that Paul explicitly distinguishes the righteousness that is by faith, and personal righteousness, which Paul calls "mine own righteousness."

Does the law have a place in connection with justification?

XI. The Law Points us to Christ, but Faith Justifies
Galatians 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Notice that the law of God is not completely cut out of the picture. It points to our own insufficiency, and consequently pushes us toward faith.

Nevertheless:

XII. Justification is by Faith, not Law
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 3:27-28
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 9:31-32
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;

Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

This should not come as a big surprise. In view of the Christ / law distinction and the grace / law distinction, the faith / law distinction should be almost common sense.

Indeed, grace and faith are linked:

XIII. Saved by Grace, through Faith
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Galatians 5:4-5
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Romans 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

Notice that it is God's grace and power that saves, but through faith. The point is that it is not of ourselves. This also, somewhat indirectly, rules out personal merit. If we were justified in part by personal merit it might be God's grace and power but also of ourselves. The Scriptures explicitly exclude such an interpretation.

Yet there is a faith / works connection:

XIV. Faith leads us to Work Righteousness
Hebrews 11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Hebrews 11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Works are a fruit of faith. They aren't what justify us in God's sight, but they can show evidence to another man of our faith.

In other words, there can be another kind of justification:

XV. Justification - another Kind
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Luke 10:29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

James 2:24-26
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

This kind of justification is justification in the eyes of men. In other words, will men condemn or praise us? Men praise Rahab because she acted.

But do the Scriptures contrast these two kinds of justification?

XVI. Contrast between two kinds of justification
1 Corinthians 4:3-4
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

Romans 4:2-5 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Notice how Paul distinguishes between the two kinds of justification, and how a comparison of James and Paul show us that they are talking about two different things. Some people seem to try to pit Paul against James and to claim that while Paul says Abraham is not justified by works, but by faith, James says the opposite. The better understanding is that James is talking about how we see faith, not about what justifies us in God's eyes. Works never justify us in God's eyes.

I should point out that it is not farfetched to think that "justified" can refer to something else besides the formal justification of man in God's eyes. The Scriptures provide at least two other examples:

XVII. God Justified
Romans 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Luke 7:29 And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.

And:

XVIII. Wisdom Justified
Luke 7:35 But wisdom is justified of all her children.

Neither wisdom nor God is justified in the way that sinners are justified in God's sight, but nevertheless the same word is used, because it relates to passing a favorable judgment.

That leads us to a simple definition of justification:

XIX. What is Justification? It is the Opposite of Guilt and Condemnation
Matthew 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.

And this is where we can sum up our positive Biblical presentation on Justification by Faith Alone. We have shown that the Scriptures teach this important doctrine, therefore, we ought to believe it.

-TurretinFan

P.S. The above is the affirmative constructive speech for a debate that was originally scheduled for today. Perhaps I'll use it when the debate actually happens, or perhaps not. In any event, I welcome any comments on the arguments or criticism of the arguments, from anyone interested.

48 comments:

Eric said...

thank you for posting this

Nick said...

It appears this is a debate against a Catholic, yet almost everything you said is compatible with Catholicism. I was in a Faith Alone debate that fell through, but if you want to get an idea of what criticisms the Catholic side has to offer, here is a link. Any debates over this topic cannot be just the mere listing off of verses, but laying out the framework from which each side understands them.

Turretinfan said...

"almost everything you said is compatible with Catholicism"

I'll take that to mean that you found my points mostly persuasive.

I encourage you to continue considering the Scriptures so that you will be not only almost but altogether persuaded.

-TurretinFan

John Bugay said...

"almost everything you said is compatible with Catholicism"

There is a "time element" here, in that the "faith" that Roman Catholicism talks about occurs pre-baptism. After that, you have to get on the sacramental treadmill, which is what "life as a Roman Catholic" is all about, and which is completely incompatible with Biblical faith.

natamllc said...

Good point, John!

Thanks again, TF, for letting Light shine in here!!

Dan said...

Hi TF,
In any event, I welcome any comments on the arguments or criticism of the arguments, from anyone interested.

(Assuming the debate is with a Roman-Catholic.) In my view it would seem important to explicitly discuss what (soteriological) "justification" is, and relatedly, what 'justify' means; in addition to what justification is and is not "by" (e.g., blood, grace, faith, not law, works). Trent stumbled over the former elementary points, and it would seem that what "justification" is is a logically prior point to that of its causes/instruments.

Relatedly, it might be important to argue that (soteriological) "justification" is unitary, by which I mean, a single event comprehended in Scripture, not a multiplicity of things each of which is referred to in connection with 'justify' (e.g., initial, progresive, and final justification). A Roman-Catholic might bank on a non-unitary notion to defend Trent from certain passages you cite (such as by arguing that passages against justification by works concern so-called initial justification).

Aristion said...

I have a question for Turretinfan (and possibly any other commentators who'd like to comment, and that would be appreciated):

Is Paul arguing against the Judaizers in the epistle to the Romans, or are his arguments in chapter 4 directed mainly against non-Christian Jews?

I ask this because I've heard it asserted by Catholics that since the Jews denied inherent sinfulness, they believed that without God's divine assistance, they could perform good deeds and thus Paul is arguing against this Pelagianism (and not arguing against the Semi-Pelagianism of Rome).

How would you folks answer such an assertion?

Nick said...

Aristion,

I would say the Judaizer problem had little to do with Pelagianism and more to do with "unconditional election".

Turretinfan said...

Nick:

The Judaizers thought that Gentiles had to become Jews to be saved. There is no obvious connection to unconditional election.

Aristion:

The book of Romans is written to Gentiles (see Romans 1:13 for example).

I think a large part of his discussion addresses the fact that faith in Christ is not only for Jews but also for Gentiles.

This does conflict with the position of the Judaizers, but I would really view Galatians as being more narrowly focused on the Judaizer problem (although clearly the points are similar).

-TurretinFan

Aristion said...

Thanks for the response.

How would Romans 4:4-5 be applied to the issue of Roman Catholicism? The Jews denied inherent sinfulness, and therefore held that God was obligated to reward them, but the Roman Catholic (like the Arminian) holds that one performs deeds via an enabling grace (which is what they interpret to mean "faith").

Is this distinction between both positions (between Catholicism and 2nd Temple Judaism) a meaningful one?

Turretinfan said...

The difference in Romans is not between good works performed without grace and good works performed with grace, but between works and grace - between salvation through personal merit and salvation without personal merit. The view of "enabling grace" that allows a person to perform the meritorious acts necessary to save themselves doesn't fit with Paul's argument.

It is not Abraham's righteousness - nor his observance of the means of grace - that justified him. Instead it was his faith, which is shown through his works.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Aristion,

you invited some comment.

You asked:

"Is Paul arguing against the Judaizers in the epistle to the Romans, or are his arguments in chapter 4 directed mainly against non-Christian Jews?"

...

How would you folks answer such an assertion?

...

How would Romans 4:4-5 be applied to the issue of Roman Catholicism? The Jews denied inherent sinfulness, and therefore held that God was obligated to reward them, but the Roman Catholic (like the Arminian) holds that one performs deeds via an enabling grace (which is what they interpret to mean "faith").

Is this distinction between both positions (between Catholicism and 2nd Temple Judaism) a meaningful one?


First off, let me add this point that in the Literal Translation, only in chapters 5, 6 and 16 Old Testament verses are absent as a reference, but not in thought. In every other chapter Paul draws from and refers back to some Old Testament text to carry a point forward for us who are called to see into the reality of the spiritual gift of Eternal Life. To fully appreciate what God does through Paul will take you a lifetime, so I hope you are not in any hurry with comprehending the Book of Romans? :)

One can say of the book of Romans that God deconstructs through the Apostle the forensic nature of the Law of Righteousness redeeming us from the debt and curse of it all the while introducing and then establishing for us the Truth of the foundation of the Truth, Who is, not only the source of all Creation, past, present and to come, He also is the Chief Defender of the Faith, that we also become the defenders of the Faith, having been given as a gift, Faith, to receive and defend through our lifetimes; He also establishes Him as the Sole Conqueror of the flesh, this world and the ruler of this world, along with his minions, the rulers and authorities, principalities and powers who operate freely through the created heavenly places to humanities on earth; He also is the Great Redeemer of "all" those for Whom He died and redeemed conveying to us what has been for us in this creation all along, which is, His Grace and Mercy and Peace!

Nothing good or evil is done in the present heavens or earth outside of these facts introduced into evidence by Paul through his spirit dictating to Tertius whose hand literally wrote the Book of Romans, Romans 16:22.

It is interesting that in chapters 5, 6 and 16, the Apostle is moved upon to focus on both sides of one's humanity bridging the gap between our lost nature and His nature as the son of Adam through whom He comes into the world made through Him; yet through Him, Adam comes into existence, all flesh thereafter and also the children of Abraham by promise and by flesh.

I will leave off these comments for now with a reference about Romans with these words from Jeremiah. Hopefully they will clear up your concerns? Maybe not??

The point of Romans is to establish the Truth about the old covenant "act" of circumcision foisted by the Jews upon their own kind identifying them as the true children of Abraham and for all others that would join to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through the practice of the Laws of Moses with them through circumcision Righteousness. Of course, the new covenant voids the old one with a "new" circumcision:

Jeremiah:

Jer 9:25 "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh--
Jer 9:26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart."

Nick said...

TurretinFan,

The concept of "personal merit" is not something I see as an issue for Paul: the term "works" is not another way of saying "personal merit".

If you consider when Paul uses the term "eternal life," it's given in regards to how a person lived their life, not something they've secured upon conversion.

ChaferDTS said...

"Also please show me the verses that teach penal substitution "

Matt 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matt 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

1 Cor. 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Dan said...

Isa. 53
2 Cor. 5:19,21
Col. 2:13-14
Heb. 9:28
1 Pet. 2:24

Turretinfan said...

"The concept of "personal merit" is not something I see as an issue for Paul: the term "works" is not another way of saying "personal merit"."

You ought to.

"If you consider when Paul uses the term "eternal life," it's given in regards to how a person lived their life, not something they've secured upon conversion."

John is pretty clear that people have eternal life now.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

"What does Paul mean by law, works of the law, faith, justification, hope, saved, grace and blood of Jesus?"

To answer these questions, of course, we have to look at how Paul uses the terms. That's one reason there is so much Scripture in this post - so that we can see how Paul uses the terms: how they relate to one another.

"If these terms are not defined by scripture or Paul, then the case for reformation theology remains quite open and must be understood according to what tradition?"

This is the argument of the Gnostics - namely that the Scriptures are ambiguous and cannot be understood apart from tradition.

"If these terms are defined by scripture or Paul, then please show me the definitions."

If you mean to ask where they are defined by usage, much of that is already provided in the post above. If you mean "where are they explicitly defined ..." then perhaps there is no explicit definition - no glossary.

"Also please show me the verses that teach penal substitution and the verses that teach expiation for sin, rather than propitiation."

Expiation and propitiation are two aspects of Christ's work on the cross.

We see the aspect of expiation in such verses as

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Hebrews 9:13-14
For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

1 John 1:5-10
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 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.

And I see that others have already provided you some of the verses relating to penal substitution as you requested.

Of course, neither penal substitution nor expiation is strictly speaking the topic of this post, so let's try to stay on topic.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Johnmartin

I would expand those verses from the book of Hebrews TF made reference too in response to your quires above, here:

Heb 9:11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation)
Heb 9:12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
Heb 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
Heb 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Heb 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Heb 9:16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.
Heb 9:17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
Heb 9:18 Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.
Heb 9:19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people,
Heb 9:20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you."
Heb 9:21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.
Heb 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Heb 9:23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Heb 9:25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own,
Heb 9:26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.


I would say that your problem is akin to the problem some in the Church at Thyatira had as revealed, here:

Rev 2:24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.
Rev 2:25 Only hold fast what you have until I come.
Rev 2:26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
Rev 2:27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.


When you assess the issues as taught by the RCC papacy established through her magisterium
one can realize that what works is for the True Church holding to "His Works" renouncing all their human merits. Your religion adds burdens upon your people not found in the Gospel of the Kingdom preached by John, Jesus or any one of the Apostles and attested too by the ECF's or the great writers historically coming and writing about these things after them.

Nick said...

Hi TF,

Clarification: Are you saying Paul's use of the term "works" is another way of speaking of "personal merit"?

Also, John saying we have eternal life "now" doesn't answer how Paul is using the term. As I noted, Paul uses the term in reference to something granted only after living a Christian life, not something secured upon conversion.

Dan said...

"Also, John saying we have eternal life "now" doesn't answer how Paul is using the term. As I noted, Paul uses the term in reference to something granted only after living a Christian life, not something secured upon conversion"

Granted after a Christian life and secured upon conversion are not mutually exclusive. I can secure something now and be granted it later. Paul says that, being justified by Christ's blood now, we shall be saved from the wrath of God. Eternal life secured now, granted later (on the last day).

Nick said...

Dan,

I see your point but they are mutually exclusive in the manner Sola Fide posits. The "legal entitlement" to enter Heaven, according to Paul's usage, is only granted upon living a Christian life, not before. Thus, it's erroneous to say Justification entails one is legally worthy of entering Heaven.

This is a prime example of why John Martin noted that terms need to be defined better, because the Protestant end is assuming too much in their view of Justification.

Dan said...

Nick,
You said: "The "legal entitlement" to enter Heaven, according to Paul's usage, is only granted upon living a Christian life, not before"

This is false. The legal barriers to entering heaven are legal unrighteousness and an absence legal righteousness; and both are removed by Christ, through faith (e.g., Rom. 5:9, 17). Read Col. 2:13-14 and tell me what legal barriers remain for the one in Christ.

In fact, it's just the opposite (cf. Eph. 2:8, 10). No one can truly live a Christian life without having been made "legally entitled" to enter Heaven. The very Spirit that enables one to live a Christian life in the first place is itself a pledge of the Christian's future inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14).

What you are describing here is exactly the error Paul warns against in Rom. 10:3 and following.

If "it's erroneous to say Justification entails one is legally worthy of entering Heaven," as you say, then what exactly does justification either consist in or entail? I don't think you will be able to give an answer that fits with the meaning of the verb 'justify' in Paul's usage. What exactly does 'justify' mean in Rom. 8:33, for example, if it does not entail legal entitlement for heaven?

Nick said...

Dan,

You are projecting assumptions onto the text of what Justification entails. If you examine the term "eternal life," you will see Paul doesn't use it in texts like Romans 3-4 or Gal 2-3.

For you to say "No one can truly live a Christian life without having been made legally entitled to enter Heaven." Is begging the question.

You are similarly assuming the category of "legal righteousness" is what is meant in certain passages.

You asked me what Justification does entail if not legal entitlement to enter Heaven. There are various facets, but the two primary ones are receiving forgiveness of sins and the Spirit of Adoption. Those in turn enable one to live a Christian life, and upon doing so, be found worthy to enter Heaven (note that Paul uses the term "eternal life" in places like Rom 2:6-8 and Gal 6:7-9).

Dan said...

Nick, (quoting you with italics)

You are projecting assumptions onto the text of what Justification entails. If you examine the term "eternal life," you will see Paul doesn't use it in texts like Romans 3-4 or Gal 2-3.

First, I cited from Rom. 5, which has 'eternal life' (v. 21), and from Rom. 8, which obviously deals with eternal life. Further, your assertion about the usage of 'eternal life' is irrelevant, since a thing may be denoted with more than one phrase or description. In Rom. 5:9 Paul refers to being saved from the wrath to come. It obviously does not follow, from his not using the phrase 'eternal life', that he is not talking about eternal life. Or do you think that one can be saved from the wrath to come without being given eternal life?

For you to say "No one can truly live a Christian life without having been made legally entitled to enter Heaven." Is begging the question.

No it wasn't, because I cited verses supporting my statement (which you've ignored).

You are similarly assuming the category of "legal righteousness" is what is meant in certain passages.

I said that the absence of legal righteousness is a legal barrier to entering Heaven. (You raised this issue by mentioning 'legal entitlement'.) If you disagree with this statement, please explain. (I don't see how you could.) If you aren't referring to this statement of mine, but something else, such as a particular verse I cited, maybe you can be more specific.

You asked me what Justification does entail if not legal entitlement to enter Heaven. There are various facets, but the two primary ones are receiving forgiveness of sins and the Spirit of Adoption.

Will the sins of anyone in Hell be forgiven? If yes, why are they in Hell? If no, then the forgiveness of sins entails legal entitlement to enter Heaven.

Those [forgiveness and adoption] in turn enable one to live a Christian life, and upon doing so, be found worthy to enter Heaven (note that Paul uses the term "eternal life" in places like Rom 2:6-8 and Gal 6:7-9).

This doesn't seem inconsistent with what I've said. Anyone who is justified will of course be found worthy to enter eternal life upon completing their Christian life. The question is, first, whether one is legally entitled only then, or earlier in life as well through faith; and secondly, what the precise basis is for their being found worthy. Philippians 3:7-11 answers both questions.

You had said: The "legal entitlement" to enter Heaven, according to Paul's usage, is only granted upon living a Christian life, not before.

Can you explain how this is not contradicted by, for example, Rom. 5:9; given that (i.) Paul speaks of being justified now (before finishing the Christian life), and (ii.) salvation from wrath entails eternal life?

Turretinfan said...

JM:

I think your arguments are sufficiently hollow that I don't need to provide any further rebuttal to them.

-TurretinFan

natamllc said...

Johnmartin

"...Grace is not merely divine favour as the reformers taught. Grace is an infusion of the divine life into the soul, whereby a man becomes conformed to Christ as a son, who then enters into a life of self giving and the cross, ending in a natural death, followed by a resurrection and a direct vision of God, face to face."

JM, what I just read can be compared to a couple of Biblical understandings, one by Jesus directly answering Nicodemus and the other through Malachi.

Mal 3:1 "Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
Mal 3:2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap.
Mal 3:3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.
Mal 3:4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
Mal 3:5 "Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.
Mal 3:6 "For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

...


Joh 3:9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?"
Joh 3:10 Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?
Joh 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.
Joh 3:12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
Joh 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
Joh 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
Joh 3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.


What I sense with you is as I commented earlier about not holding to the "Works" of Christ holding instead to a works righteousness mindset.

With both Malachi and John, you might be able to see if the Holy Spirit is sent to you to open your ears to hear what is the Truth and be set free from that mindset that keeps you in bondage to your will.

No one understands. No one seeks after God.

God knows His own and sets His seal upon them:

1Jn 4:6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

...

1Jn 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
1Jn 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1Jn 5:6 This is he who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
1Jn 5:7 For there are three that testify:
1Jn 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
1Jn 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.
1Jn 5:10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.
1Jn 5:11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Nick said...

Dan,

You said: "First, I cited from Rom. 5, which has 'eternal life' (v. 21), and from Rom. 8, which obviously deals with eternal life."

Chapter 5 uses "eternal life" at the very last verse, not clearly connecting it to justification at all. In fact, it can be argued that from Rom 5:12 onward, Paul is now speaking of "Sanctification," as Greek Scholar Daniel Wallace believes. As for Romans 8, I would say that actually hurts your claim, for Paul is not talking about the moment of conversion but living by the Spirit.

You said:
"Further, your assertion about the usage of 'eternal life' is irrelevant, since a thing may be denoted with more than one phrase or description."

That's possible, but I've seen no compelling case for that, particularly since there's no established case for Paul using "eternal life" in that manner.

You said:
"In Rom. 5:9 Paul refers to being saved from the wrath to come. It obviously does not follow, from his not using the phrase 'eternal life', that he is not talking about eternal life. Or do you think that one can be saved from the wrath to come without being given eternal life?"

Paul is speaking of a future "save" that is yet to happen. Christians are certainly on the path to being saved from the coming wrath, but this doesn't mean eternal life is presently secured. Take 6:22 for example, "now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life." Note the two 'stages' presented here: (1) set free from sin, conversion; (2) living a Christian lifestyle, sanctification, culminating in eternal life. So there is a link between attaining eternal life and the moment of justification, it's just not 'secured' or based upon that moment.
It it becoming more clear on what I mean about you assuming too much in regards to what happens at justification?

You said:
"I said that the absence of legal righteousness is a legal barrier to entering Heaven. (You raised this issue by mentioning 'legal entitlement'.) If you disagree with this statement, please explain."

I was saying that just because Paul uses the term "righteousness" in a verse does not entail he's speaking of "legal righteousness". This assumption underpins the way popular Sola Fide texts are read. In other words, I deny a legal righteousness based upon perfect obedience to God's laws is what Paul means when he uses the term "righteousness" when speaking of Conversion/Justification.

(Part 1 of 2)

Nick said...

(Part 2 of 2)

You said:
"Will the sins of anyone in Hell be forgiven? If yes, why are they in Hell? If no, then the forgiveness of sins entails legal entitlement to enter Heaven."

This logic only works if you assume all sins, including future, are forgiven at the moment of Conversion-Justification. While this is perfectly within the framework of Reformed soteriology, it has no basis whatsoever in Scripture. If sins are not pre-forgiven, which they're not, then thus obviously vanishes a surety of Heaven. Further, the majority Reformed position is that forgiveness of sins is not enough to entitle to Heaven, and in fact that requires "Active Obedience", so even then your logic doesn't work.

You said:
"This doesn't seem inconsistent with what I've said. Anyone who is justified will of course be found worthy to enter eternal life upon completing their Christian life."

I never granted "anyone who is justified will *of course* be found worthy," nor does it make sense to *entitle* one to eternal life upon Conversion if the *basis* is really upon living a Christian life.

You continued:
"The question is, first, whether one is legally entitled only then, or earlier in life as well through faith; and secondly, what the precise basis is for their being found worthy. Philippians 3:7-11 answers both questions."

Exactly! One analogy I use is that of hiring someone and paying someone for a day's work. To hire someone puts them on track to receive a paycheck, but hiring itself is not the basis; the basis by which one is worthy of paycheck is after completing their work for the day, which required hiring in the first place. That's how I read Phil 3:7-11, particularly in light of v12: "12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead"

You said:
“Can you explain how this is not contradicted by, for example, Rom. 5:9; given that (i.) Paul speaks of being justified now (before finishing the Christian life), and (ii.) salvation from wrath entails eternal life?”

Hopefully I have addressed these in this response. Briefly, I'd say you're assuming “justified now” includes entitlement to Heaven, if “justified now” simply means forgiven and put in a state similar to Adam with a clean slate, then obviously that's not enough to be 'legally' worthy of Heaven any more than Adam was by virtue of his clean slate. And continuing to walk a path of a clean slate puts you on track to avoid upcoming wrath, but there is no guarantee you'll remain on that path nor that you're awarded the prize before persevering on that path.

Dan said...

[Rom.] 5 uses "eternal life" at the very last verse, not clearly connecting it to justification at all. In fact, it can be argued that from Rom 5:12 onward, Paul is now speaking of "Sanctification,"

I don’t need to deny that sanctification is in view, but the idea that Paul is not speaking about justification in the passage would be absurd (see, for example, vv. 16 and 18). Hence justification is in view in the passage where ‘eternal life’ is used in v. 21, and further, he seems to be referring in v. 21 to the “life” to which he referred in v. 17. Moreover, my general point was that Paul does not need to use the phrase ‘eternal life’ in order to be talking either about eternal life or about something with implications for eternal life anyway. You granted that it’s “possible” that eternal life can talked about even if the phrase ‘eternal life’ is not used. And it’s not merely possible; Paul obviously does it. If he speaks of one being saved from wrath, or of attaining the resurrection of the dead, or of being glorified, etc., he is obviously speaking of eternal life; whether or not ‘eternal life’ is used.

As for Romans 8, I would say that actually hurts your claim, for Paul is not talking about the moment of conversion but living by the Spirit.

I didn’t refer to Rom. 8 generally; I specifically cited 8:33. Further, the issue was not anything about “the moment of conversion” per se, but justification, and whether it entails legal entitlement unto eternal life. It does in this passage. Being “justified” implies that no one is able to bring a charge against, or condemn, the one “justified.” This is tantamount to saying that there are no legal/judicial barriers to eternal life.

[Regarding Rom. 5:9] Paul is speaking of a future "save" that is yet to happen.

Right. The wrath to come is not here yet; it is to come. This does not preclude eternal life’s being “secured” for one now.

Christians are certainly on the path to being saved from the coming wrath, but this doesn't mean eternal life is presently secured.

Paul doesn’t merely say that Christians are on the path to being saved from the wrath; he says that, being justified now by His blood, we shall be saved from it. Not might be saved from it, not have met a merely necessary condition for being saved from it, but will be saved from it. And this connection between justification and eternal life is confirmed in 8:30.

Take 6:22 for example, "now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life." Note the two 'stages' presented here: (1) set free from sin, conversion; (2) living a Christian lifestyle, sanctification, culminating in eternal life.

I agree. But then:

So there is a link between attaining eternal life and the moment of justification, it's just not 'secured' or based upon that moment.

This does not follow from what you’ve said. You’ve pointed out that eternal life follows sanctification. This does not imply that such life is only secured then.

Dan said...

On forgiveness and eternal life, I acknowledge that the forgiveness of only some of one’s sins (which is what you apparently meant) would not entail eternal life. But I insist that if “the sins” of anyone (in an unqualified sense, i.e., all of them) are forgiven, then one is entitled to eternal life. Your claim about my logic and active obedience is erroneous, since to say that X entails Y is perfectly consistent with there being another condition Z for Y. In that case, X just has to entail Z too. I already had implicitly referred to active obedience in referring to the two-fold nature of the legal barriers (unrighteousness and absence of righteousness); and on the Reformed view those to whom God does not impute their sin (those whom God forgives) are the same as those to whom God imputes Christ’s righteousness (i.e., X entails Z).

God’s not imputing sins to one (which is part of what forgiveness consists in) is linked with God’s positively imputing righteousness (Rom. 4); and the righteousness is imputed is God’s own (1:17; 3:21; 10:3), and more specifically, the God-man’s (Rom. 5). God’s not imputing sin and his imputing Christ’s righteousness instead are concisely linked in 2 Cor. 5:19-21. Of course there is a sense in which one who is justified subsequently has sins forgiven them (1 John 1), but this kind of forgiveness is not the kind the absence of which entails wraith against or condemnation for those sins; not the kind the absence of which strictly implies any legal barriers to eternal life. Those who are repeatedly and progressively forgiven (in this sense) in virtue of the mediatorship and intercession of Christ are just those who are “in Christ,” those for whom there is no conedemnation (Rom. 8:1). They are reconciled sons, not enemies, and the (temporary) “lack of forgiveness” (in this sense) in between the committing of the sin and confession does not jeopardize one’s eternal state. The kind of “forgiveness” the absence of which does threaten condemnation and eternal punishment is not a kind that merely covers the sins committed prior to conversion! Such a “forgiveness” would not result in peace with God (5:1), and it would not be consistent with there being no condemnation for those in Christ (8:1).

If sins are not pre-forgiven, which they're not, then thus obviously vanishes a surety of Heaven.

There is a sense which they are not, and a sense in which they are (just discussed).

Dan said...

D: The question is, first, whether one is legally entitled only then, or earlier in life as well through faith; and secondly, what the precise basis is for their being found worthy. Philippians 3:7-11 answers both questions.

N: Exactly! One analogy I use is that of hiring someone and paying someone for a day's work. To hire someone puts them on track to receive a paycheck, but hiring itself is not the basis; the basis by which one is worthy of paycheck is after completing their work for the day, which required hiring in the first place.


This is an apt analogy for the Roman-Catholic view of justification. It’s also one Paul explicitly rejects in Rom. 4:4-6. Paul contrasts believing with working when it comes to justification. Trent affirms and Paul denies that one works for their justification before God.

That's how I read Phil 3:7-11, particularly in light of v12: "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead"

This does not say that the paycheck (eternal life) has its basis in the work done for the day (Paul’s straining forward, etc.). And Paul says that his goal is to be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own derived from the law. Yes Paul is reaching forward, yes he is working. But in so doing, he is explicitly relying on an alien righteousness received by faith, not a righteousness of his own! This is the crucial difference between Paul and your analogy.

D: Can you explain how this is not contradicted by, for example, Rom. 5:9; given that (i.) Paul speaks of being justified now (before finishing the Christian life), and (ii.) salvation from wrath entails eternal life?

N: Hopefully I have addressed these in this response. Briefly, I'd say you're assuming “justified now” includes entitlement to Heaven,


I’m not assuming it; I’m inferring it from the text! Paul says those justified by Christ’s blood will be saved from the wrath to come.

if “justified now” simply means forgiven and put in a state similar to Adam with a clean slate,

It does not mean that, at least on my view (as noted).

And continuing to walk a path of a clean slate puts you on track to avoid upcoming wrath, but there is no guarantee you'll remain on that path nor that you're awarded the prize before persevering on that path.

1 Thes. 5:23-24.

Aristion said...

I had a question about the logical aspect of justification by faith alone. Protestants maintain that the regenerate believer loves God during sanctification. I don't understand how this could be the case especially in instances of grievous sins such as David's murder of Uriah or Solomon's idolatrous behavior during the end of his life.

I seems obvious to me that Solomon loved himself more than he loved God (that looks like hatred to me). How can sanctification and growth in the love of God exist simultaneously with Sola Fide?

Nick said...

Hi Dan,

You said:
“I don’t need to deny that sanctification is in view, but the idea that Paul is not speaking about justification in the passage would be absurd (see, for example, vv. 16 and 18).”

N: Daniel Wallace would beg to differ (see the link I gave). My point is more basic than that though, which is that you're projecting the Protestant notion of justification and righteousness onto those texts.

D: If he speaks of one being saved from wrath, or of attaining the resurrection of the dead, or of being glorified, etc., he is obviously speaking of eternal life; whether or not ‘eternal life’ is used.”

N: Sure he can be speaking of it, that's not the argument. The argument is whether this is “entitled” at the moment of Justification or simply put on the road to do what is necessary to attain it.

D: [Rom 8:33]. … Being “justified” implies that no one is able to bring a charge against, or condemn, the one “justified.” This is tantamount to saying that there are no legal/judicial barriers to eternal life.

N: But if you take Adam as the 'reference', he had nothing charged against him at first, yet was not worthy of entering eternal life. In other words, sinlessness/forgiveness isn't enough (unless you reject Active Obedience). This also assumes all sins are forgiven at once, including future sins, which is something I don't grant nor does Scripture (which only speaks of past sins being forgiven).

D: Right. The wrath to come is not here yet; it is to come. This does not preclude eternal life’s being “secured” for one now.

N: You're assuming it does, that's the issue. It's not exegesis at that point. When Paul uses the term “eternal life” (and equivalents) as something attained after living a Christian life, such an assumption doesn't have merit.

D: And this connection between justification and eternal life is confirmed in 8:30.

N: I don't grant that “glorified” is referring to Heaven, but rather receiving the Holy Spirit within you or something of that sort. Here is my reasoning: (1) It's in the past tense; (2) the two prior terms, called, justified, happen at/near conversion; (3) Eph 1 speaks similarly of predestination to Adoption.

D: This does not follow from what you’ve said. You’ve pointed out that eternal life follows sanctification. This does not imply that such life is only secured then.

N: That's the language of 6:22 as well as other texts (e.g Rom 2:7 and Gal 6:9). Eternal life is the reward. Also, it's absurd to suggest eternal life is secured in the past, not based on your doing, when further conditions need to be met throughout your life. It's like saying someone who enters a race is entitled to the trophy, yet they must complete the race to get it.

(cont 1 of 3)

Nick said...

(cont 2 of 3)

D: I insist that if “the sins” of anyone are forgiven, then one is entitled to eternal life. Your claim about my logic and active obedience is erroneous...the Reformed view those to whom God does not impute their sin (those whom God forgives) are the same as those to whom God imputes Christ’s righteousness (i.e., X entails Z).

N: You're either changing your initial position or were not sufficiently clear in prior comments. To simply say “if someone's sins are forgiven, they're entitled to eternal life,” gives the impression that's the only 'legal grounds' you have in mind. If you mean “sins forgiven” also implies/includes imputation of Active Obedience, then a different picture emerges, and it makes more sense and more accurate to say AO is what entitles one to eternal life. Logically speaking, to say AO entitles one to eternal life makes perfect sense, the only question then is whether it's Biblical. (I consider AO one of the most exegetically untenable doctrines, and wasn't even taught by Calvin.)

D: God’s not imputing sins is linked with God’s positively imputing righteousness (Rom. 4); and the righteousness is imputed is God’s own (1:17; 3:21; 10:3), and more specifically, the God-man’s (Rom. 5).

N: Your first clause does not connect exegetically with the second clause. Rom 4 does mention imputation of righteousness, but that's pretty much the only place in Scripture such is mentioned. Nowhere is that said to be “God's righteousness” - which is more accurately read as “Righteousness of God the Father.” Given that, it's one more exegetical leap to say this righteousness is synonymous with Christ's AO.

D: God’s not imputing sin and his imputing Christ’s righteousness instead are concisely linked in 2 Cor. 5:19-21.

N: No surprise, but I don't grant that interpretation. Forgiveness of sins, sure, but no mention or hint or implication that AO is part of the package.

D: Of course there is a sense in which one who is justified subsequently has sins forgiven them (1 John 1), but this kind of forgiveness is not the kind the absence of which entails wraith against or condemnation for those sins; not the kind the absence of which strictly implies any legal barriers to eternal life.

N: No surprise again, but I don't grant such a thing as forgiveness with no bearing on 'legality'. In fact, such passages make perfect sense when one doesn't begin by assuming all sins are forgiven at once!

D: Those who are repeatedly and progressively forgiven (in this sense) in virtue of the mediatorship and intercession of Christ are just those who are “in Christ,” those for whom there is no conedemnation (Rom. 8:1).

N: This just makes your position sound even more dubious because now you have Christ's Mediatorship and Intercession in place to deal with non-legal-forgiveness, when those are precisely for legal-forgiveness. As for Rom 8:1, the flaw there is assuming “no condemnation” means permanent, never able to lose such status, contrary to plain warnings to avoid being condemned by turning to sin (Rom 14:23).

(cont)

Nick said...

(3 of 3)

D: They are reconciled sons, not enemies, and the (temporary) “lack of forgiveness” (in this sense) in between the committing of the sin and confession does not jeopardize one’s eternal state. The kind of “forgiveness” the absence of which does threaten condemnation and eternal punishment is not a kind that merely covers the sins committed prior to conversion! Such a “forgiveness” would not result in peace with God (5:1), and it would not be consistent with there being no condemnation for those in Christ (8:1).

N: Again, claims do not align with Scripture, and rest upon significant assumptions of what justification must entail rather than what Scripture states. Such difficulties would vanish and be instantly harmonized with Scripture if certain assumptions were dropped (e.g. all sin forgiven at once). Exegetically, I don't think you can show there is a non-legal-forgivenss, nor a second type of Mediatorship and Intercession. As Dr R. Scott Clark once told me on his blog, “question the premise.”

D: This is an apt analogy for the Roman-Catholic view of justification. It’s also one Paul explicitly rejects in Rom. 4:4-6. Paul contrasts believing with working when it comes to justification. Trent affirms and Paul denies that one works for their justification before God.

N: How can my analogy be explicitly rejected in Rom 4:4-6 if Rom 4:4-6 doesn't correspond to the whole analogy, but only part? For example, if granting eternal life is not the point of 4:4ff, then it cannot be a refutation of the analogy. I do grant that Paul contrasts believing with working, but your understanding of “believing” is probably that of “an empty hand, passively receiving an alien righteousness,” which is not something exegetically tenable, nor do I grant “working” entails the ruling out of any works under any and all conditions. It's plainly obvious that Abraham and David were already in a relationship with God prior to the time of those two accounts Paul quotes of them in Rom 4.

D: [Phil 3:12-13] does not say that the paycheck (eternal life) has its basis in the work done for the day (Paul’s straining forward, etc.).

N: Then what is “not yet obtained” and “not yet perfect” and “lies ahead”? Justification is the context of Paul's thought. I see no alternative.

D: And Paul says that his goal is to be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own derived from the law.

N: Key detail: “derived from the Law”. Paul is not focused on personal righteousness in general, but rather the non-soteric righteousness of the Law that never can and never did save.

D: Yes Paul is reaching forward, yes he is working. But in so doing, he is explicitly relying on an alien righteousness received by faith, not a righteousness of his own! This is the crucial difference between Paul and your analogy.

N: The righteousness in question is an 'infused' one, empowering Paul to live a Christian life. This fits fine with my analogy, since it would be akin to the Boss giving the worker the tools to do the job which he otherwise couldn't do with his own two hands.

D: I’m not assuming it; I’m inferring it from the text! Paul says those justified by Christ’s blood will be saved from the wrath to come.

N: What's the point of needing to be saved from future wrath if Heaven is presently legally secured? If you're forgiven of all your sins, then there cannot be wrath to come at all.

Dan said...

Hi Nick,
I’ll discuss Rom. 5, Rom. 8, the relationship between “forgiveness” and legal entitlement to eternal life, and various other claims/arguments.

Wallace never denies (in the quoted excerpts) that justification is discussed in the second half of Romans 5. He argues that 5:12 through 8:39 belong in a section on sanctification rather than on justification, but surely you do not think he would deny that 8:33, for example, or 8:30, discuss justification! So it doesn’t follow, from his point on carving up the epistle into thematic sections, that justification is not discussed in 5:12f. Now, even supposing Wallace does deny that justification is in view at all (which he doesn’t say), he is wrong. Look at v. 18, for example:

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”

This verse is obviously about justification. At least, it obviously appears to be, so if you’re going to insist on denying it then you should interact with the text and not merely cite an authority (whom I’ve argued you’ve not correctly represented, anyway).

D: Paul says those justified by Christ’s blood will be saved from the wrath to come.

N: What's the point of needing to be saved from future wrath if Heaven is presently legally secured? If you're forgiven of all your sins, then there cannot be wrath to come at all.


This is confused. It’s precisely because the legal requirements for eternal life are satisfied that one will be saved from the future wrath. Your second sentence is false. “The wrath” in 5:9 is the wrath on the day of judgment (cf. Rom. 2 – 3:20). Having one’s sins forgiven does not do away with the day of judgment and the concomitant divine wrath against sin. What it means is that the wrath will not be directed against and destroy that individual. One will pass through it safely into the next phase of the world, as occurred with God’s people in the Flood; a type of the last judgment (2 Pet. 3:5-7).

D: Right. The wrath to come is not here yet; it is to come. This does not preclude eternal life’s being “secured” for one now.

N: You're assuming it does, that's the issue. It's not exegesis at that point.


You're misrepresenting me. I have been arguing that Rom. 5:9 teaches that those justified by Christ’s blood will be saved from the wrath to come; i.e., will received eternal life rather than destruction. This is not an “assumption,” in any meaningful sense of the word. It is an observation or inference directly from the text. Notice above how I said that “the wrath” in 5:9 was the wrath on the day of judgment referred to in Rom. 2. That was an “assumption.” Paul does not actually say, in 5:9 itself, that “the wrath” is the same wrath he discussed earlier in Rom. 2. See the difference? I actually brought that to the text. By contrast, I am not “assuming,” in interpreting 5:9, that eternal life is (legally) secured for those justified in Christ’s blood. It is an exegetical conclusion from the text. That doesn’t imply that I’m right; there can be mistaken conclusions.

Dan said...

D: And this connection between justification and eternal life [in Rom. 5:9] is confirmed in [Rom.] 8:30.

N: I don't grant that “glorified” is referring to Heaven, but rather receiving the Holy Spirit within you or something of that sort. Here is my reasoning: (1) It's in the past tense;


Significant, but not conclusive. At the time of writing, there are “dead” Christians already with God, and there are (relatively) future Christians who have not yet been justified or glorified. Further, foreknowing and predestining begin the chain, and both are clearly in the past; for purposes of linguistic symmetry Paul may be sticking with the same tense as he continues through the chain. Moreover, he may be using the tense he does as a way of enforcing the fixity of the links on the chain. Just as it is over and done with that those foreknown were predestined, it is just as certain or guaranteed that, for example, those that are called are justified, and so on (cf. John 6:39).

(2) the two prior terms, called, justified, happen at/near conversion;

This reason is clearly offset by the fact that the first two terms on the chain (foreknowing and predestining) are not temporally near conversion.

(3) Eph 1 speaks similarly of predestination to Adoption.

Eph. 1 also speaks of predestination unto an inheritance (v. 11), an inheritance which is clearly future; since the Spirit is given as a “pledge” for it (v. 14), and one does not need a “pledge” for what one already has. So Eph. 1 can be taken to support the view that “glorified” in Rom. 8 involves eschatological glory just as much, if not more, than it can be taken to support the idea that “glorified” merely refers to “receiving the Holy Spirit” or “something of that sort.” Further, even if we think in terms of predestination unto adoption, in the context in Rom. 8 Paul speaks of adoption as being a future, eschatological event (8:23); not something happening at conversion (which is not to deny that there is a kind of adoption that does happen then).

So your reasons are not persuasive, and there are compelling reasons to take “glorified” in Rom. 8:30 as having eschatological import. First, the word itself strongly suggests this; to “glorify” is to bestow glory on one. There is an already/not-yet dimension to the Spirit’s work on the Christian, in the sense that there are various benefits of possessing the Spirit that are partly realized now, but not realized with the fullness with which they will be realized later (e.g., the degree of one’s freedom from sin). Now “glory” is one respect in which the already/not-et gap is especially severe (cf. Heb. 2:7-8). Aside from temporary, typological episodes in redemptive history (such as when Moses’s face was shining upon coming down from the mountain), glory is fundamentally a future, eschatological attribute of the redeemed.

Second, there is the context in Rom. 8 itself, which clearly has the eschatological future in view. For example, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (v. 18).

Third, in 8:29, it is indicated that the “predestination” in the chain is predestination unto conformity to the image of Christ; and this conformity is only complete in eschatological glory. For example: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory…” (Phil. 3:20–21). There is also the fact that the “glory” in Rom. 2 and 3 (discussed earlier) is eschatological.

Rom. 5:9 and 8:30, then, provide compelling evidence that those now justified by Christ’s blood will be saved from eschatological wrath and thereby receive eschatological glory (eternal life).

Dan said...

D: [Rom 8:33]. … Being “justified” implies that no one is able to bring a charge against, or condemn, the one “justified.” This is tantamount to saying that there are no legal/judicial barriers to eternal life.

N: But if you take Adam as the 'reference',


Adam is not the referent, and we are not dealing with a pre-lapsarian context.

This also assumes all sins are forgiven at once,

No it doesn’t (more below).

including future sins, which is something I don't grant nor does Scripture (which only speaks of past sins being forgiven).

There is a sense of “forgiveness” in which one is only “forgiven” for a sin after he has performed it and confessed it (F-2). 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” There is a more fundamental sense of “forgiveness” (F-1) involving one’s being in a state of reconciliation with God, a state characterized in part by God’s not imputing one’s sins to them. Rom. 4:8 – “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” 2 Cor. 5:19 – “…God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…” Gal. 3:13 – “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us…” Col. 2:13-14 – “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Heb. 9:28 – “…so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many…” Paul speaks of both kinds of forgiveness together here: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

Any failure to distinguish these two has patently false theological consequences. Although your (currently) future sins are not “pre-forgiven” in sense F-2 (for you have not performed them yet), if you are justified they have been forgiven in sense F-1; that is, you are in a reconciled state with God such that He refrains from imputing sins to you. This is why one justified has peace with God (Rom. 5:1), and why there is no condemnation for one in Christ (8:1). Christ was only offered once for sin, and if the sin which was nailed to the cross, the sin which He bore (cf. 1 Pet. 2:24), consisted only in the sin of part of your life, then the justification by Christ’s blood would only suffice to reconcile you to God for the amount of time between such justification and your next sin. It is precisely because all of one’s sin has been forgiven in sense F-1 that one’s (currently) future sin can be later forgiven in sense F-2. For the latter kind of forgiveness is based on Christ’s mediatorship and intercession (1 John 2:1; Rom. 8:34), and Christ’s priestly office is founded on His sacrifice for sin. If the cross did not comprehend (currently) future sins (F-1), there is no basis upon which such sins can be forgiven (F-2).

As for Rom 8:1, the flaw there is assuming “no condemnation” means permanent, never able to lose such status,

I’m not assuming that in this context. My point is more conservative: if the cross only deals with (currently) past sins for the one justified through faith, then the very next sin would bring condemnation upon the one “justified.” This is a problem with your unqualified claims about there being no “pre-forgiveness,” even if we grant that one can lose one’s status as being justified or in Christ.

Dan said...

When Paul uses the term “eternal life” (and equivalents) as something attained after living a Christian life, such an assumption doesn't have merit.

The fact that eternal life is attained after living a Christian life has never been in dispute. The issue is whether the living of the Christian life enters into the legal or meritorious ground for one’s receiving eternal life. On the Reformed view, the answer is no; for two reasons: first, in being justified through faith, the legal ground is already present, fully intact; and second, no one will be justified in God’s sight by works. In other words, no additional meritorious ground is needed; and even if one were, our works would inevitably fail to supply it.

D: You’ve pointed out that eternal life follows sanctification. This does not imply that such life is only secured then.

N: That's the language of 6:22 as well as other texts (e.g Rom 2:7 and Gal 6:9). Eternal life is the reward.


I see nothing in “the language” of Rom. 6:22 that implies that eternal life cannot be legally secured for one beforehand. He says that “the outcome” of sanctification is eternal life. This hardly implies the denial of my view (cf. my paragraph just above).

Gal. 6:9 would seem to support your case more than Rom. 6:22, since language about “reaping” implies a stronger causal connection (as opposed to merely temporal) than does “outcome.” But the elephant in the room here is that fact that, despite Paul’s often urging the importance and necessity of sanctification for attaining eternal life (not in dispute), he is absolutely clear and emphatic that no one is justified before God on the basis of their works. In light of this, how can we be expected to agree with Trent that, in doing good works (or “sowing to the Spirit”), one is being further “justified” (or increasing one’s “justification”) and meriting eternal life? Gal. 6:7-9 does not actually say any of this, and I do not see how it strictly implies it either. An alternative interpretation is that in being justified, the legal ground for eternal life is indeed intact, and yet there is still an intimate connection between the manner of one’s life and one’s eternal state; insofar as there is continuity between the manner of one’s earthly life and the nature of one’s eschatological state (those sowing to the flesh will die with their flesh, etc.). This passage and others like it refute certain conceptions of “once saved always saved” held by certain Protestants; but not the Reformed view, which holds that sanctification is a necessary concomitant of justification; as the Spirit which works faith also works sanctification.

As for Rom. 2:7, the thrust of Paul’s argument, as it culminates in 3:19-20, is clearly that no one will be in fact justified in His sight by their works. Though the activity in 2:7 and 2:10 is indeed a basis upon which God would grant eternal life, as a matter of fact all have fallen short (3:23) of the offered glory (2:7, 10). The belief that anyone is actually justified in God’s sight on the basis of adequately meeting the standards in 2:6-11 betrays a fundamental failure to grasp the flow of Paul’s argument through chapters 2 and 3 (not to mention 2:12-13).

Dan said...

Also, it's absurd to suggest eternal life is secured in the past, not based on your doing, when further conditions need to be met throughout your life.

Are you even aware of the Reformed view here, about the relation between justification and sanctification? There is nothing absurd about it; it makes perfect sense, even if it were false. So many of your objections in this thread can be rebutted by drawing distinctions where things are being lumped together, such as temporal sequence and strict legal ground, or legal ground and concomitant necessary conditions.

It's like saying someone who enters a race is entitled to the trophy, yet they must complete the race to get it.

No it isn’t =)

You're either changing your initial position or were not sufficiently clear in prior comments. To simply say “if someone's sins are forgiven, they're entitled to eternal life,” gives the impression that's the only 'legal grounds' you have in mind.

I never said “if someone’s sins are forgiven, they’re entitled to eternal life” (much less “simply”) – to put words in quotation marks gives the impression that you’re quoting someone. Although, I have no problem with saying it. If someone’s sins are forgiven, he’s entitled to eternal life. This should not give the impression that forgiveness is the only legal ground I have in mind; because no one should expect a Reformed individual to separate forgiveness of unrighteousness and crediting of righteousness, as if they are independent events which might occur without each other. But regardless, you’ve shifted the issue, from one of the cogency of one of your arguments to the one of how clear my view was. I had said that forgiveness entails legal entitlement for eternal life. You then said: “the majority Reformed position is that forgiveness of sins is not enough to entitle to Heaven, and in fact that requires "Active Obedience", so even then your logic doesn't work” [my emphasis]. This inference doesn’t fly, for reasons already explained.

D: God’s not imputing sin and his imputing Christ’s righteousness instead are concisely linked in 2 Cor. 5:19-21.

N: No surprise, but I don't grant that interpretation. Forgiveness of sins, sure, but no mention or hint or implication that AO is part of the package.


Paul is talking about forensic matters in the context, and specifically imputation. In v. 19 he says that God was not counting their trespasses against them, and in v. 21 He says that He made Christ sin on our behalf. Clearly, the way in which he “made” Christ sin on our behalf was not by infusing or imparting sin to Christ. Rather, he imputes sin to Christ, on our behalf. Christ became a curse for us, he was reckoned among the transgressors, the Father made the iniquity of us all fall on Him, etc. So parallelism suggests that the second clause of v. 21 also involves imputation, in addition to the forensic tone set by v. 19.

Nick said...

Hi Dan,

Sorry for the delay. Also, I'll try to condense this response into two posts, since things can get hard to follow when there are multiple posts.

(1) Wallace would not deny places like Rom 8:30,33 are speaking of Justification, but he'd have a hard time explaining that since he has said from 5:12-8:39 is “Sanctification.” The reason is because if he says it's Sanctification, then references to “righteousness” and such would have to be speaking of 'moral righteousness' rather than 'legal righteousness'. My take as a Catholic is that the Protestant justification/sanctificaiton distinction is wrong, and thus Wallace can be right without being entirely right. Thus, when I read a text like 5:18, I can believe that's justification, but the righteousness isn't a (principally) legal one. This is why things get sticky for those trying to claim Paul 'changes gears' in Rom 6 to “Sanctification,” since there really is no such category transition.

(2) Regarding Rom 5:9, justified by blood, will be saved from coming wrath. I'm not seeing your logic: how can there be wrath at all as far as the Christian is concerned if it's dealt with already? The category of wrath cannot apply any longer to them in virtue of having all sins forgiven. Rom 2:5-10 is speaking squarely on judgment according to how one lived.

(3) Regarding Rom 8:30 and “glorified”. Much of what you said has plausibility, but you've also granted that certain aspects to what I've said have plausibility, so really it's a wash at that point. The escatological picture Paul paints in places like Rom 8 and Phil 3 is first and foremost about a resurrected body, which hasn't happened yet, so this is the main weakness I see in putting it in the past-tense.

(4) You said “Adam is not the referent” in response to my claim about the Passive/Active Obedience needs. If Adam is not the referent, then you obviously reject Covenant Theology, as well as any logical basis for Active Obedience. Without a reference point, one cannot know what is required.

(5) Regarding future sins being forgiven. This is obviously a significant point of contention. Your “F-2” is granted, for that's how Scripture regularly speaks. The “F-1” is assuming something not exegetically in those texts, which problem is only compounded by the fact “F-2” forgiveness is often spoken of in the same context. For example, your Eph 4:32 text. This is tantamount to saying there is a non-soteric forgive and a soteric-forgive living side by side. One being in a state of reconciliation is simply that of being presently living in good light before God, it doesn't require one can never sin and put themselves in unfavorable light. This is precisely why someone needs to repent when they sin! Romans 4:8 is a prime example, for David lost his justification upon sinning gravely and had to repent in Ps 32 to recover it. This ties into the whole wrath issue too, for if one has all future sins forgiven, then there is no wrath by definition.

(1 of 2)

Nick said...

(2 of 2)

(6) Regards whether Rom 5:1; 8:1 imply “peace” and “no condemnation” are permanent. You reason that this must be so since the Cross deals with all sins, not just some. This logic is perfectly sound, but it's not Biblical because the way you understand “Christ deals with sin” is in the framework of Penal Substitution, which is unbiblical (see this link). The result is that texts like Rom 5:1 and 8:1 therefore are not proof-texts, since that “detail” must be read into them. To compound that problem is the “eternal forgiveness” issue, which logically entails the elect are born forgiven (i.e. prior to faith), since there cannot be any sin to impute to them (since Christ took the punishment already).

(7) Regarding “eternal life,” I agree the issue is whether the Christian living is the “legal or meritorious ground,” and I've tried to keep that clear. I know the Reformed answer no/false to that, and I understand why, but I believe Scripture answers yes/true. This is why in all the texts speaking of Final Judgment, it's always on the basis of what the Christian *did* in terms of good works. The works/actions are the object of the judgment, not anything else! For Rom 6:22 to say the outcome of sanctification is eternal life indicates eternal life requires sanctification in Christian living, which would not if it was already secured/entitled. I'm glad you grant my reading of Gal 6:7-9, but to turn and say Paul is clear nobody is justified before God by works raises two questions: (1) if justification isn't sysnonmous with granting eternal life, then there's no problem whatsoever; (2) if Paul is speaking of “works” in a narrow sense (e.g. works of the Law), then again there is no problem whatsoever for he'd not be condemning works in toto. Lastly is Rom 2:7, I deny that it is somehow invalidated or rendered hypothetical or even directly connected to Rom 3:19-20.

(8) Regarding 2 Cor 5:19-21, Paul mentions “non imputation of sin” to us in v19, but that in no way necessiates or implies the jumps you make. To say God “imputes sin to Christ” is something not found nor warranted in the text. Christ being “made sin” is a Hebraic phrase for “made a sin offering,” which is why the Hebrew word for “sin” and “sin offering” were the same in Sacrificial contexts. We know “made sin” wasn't literal, thus it's figurative. You might also be interested in This Article, where Calvin effectively denies Dobule Imputation, including in this verse.

(9) If there is anything that you feel I forgot to mention or didn't explain or mention enough, please say so.

Dan said...

Hi Nick,
Thanks for the responses.

(1 of 5)

(1) Wallace would not deny places like Rom 8:30,33 are speaking of Justification, but he'd have a hard time explaining that since he has said from 5:12-8:39 is “Sanctification.”

He’d have a hard time explaining that if your interpretation of him were correct. Your admission that Wallace would not deny that Rom. 8:30 and 33 speak of justification should therefore lead you to reconsider your interpretation. He does not deny that justification is discussed in 5:12f. He doesn’t say that 5:12-8:39 “is ‘Sanctification’” (whatever that means). He claims that Paul transitions into discussing sanctification at 5:12; and he claims that 5:12 through 8:39 should be considered as falling under a general section on “sanctification” (and glorification). This is a claim about how the epistle’s material should be organized under various headings; it does not imply that nothing outside the heading (sanctification), such as justification, is discussed in the section.

The reason is because if he says it's Sanctification,

It doesn’t make sense to say that a passage of Scripture “is Sanctification”. I think this odd way of laconically describing what he (allegedly) said is indicative of the fact that what he actually said is perfectly consistent with justification being discussed in 5:12–8:39.

then references to “righteousness” and such would have to be speaking of 'moral righteousness' rather than 'legal righteousness'…Thus, when I read a text like 5:18, I can believe that's justification, but the righteousness isn't a (principally) legal one.

Rom. 5:18 – “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”

The “justification” in view here is legal, as implied by the parallelism with condemnation, the correlative legal concept. It’s the same with 5:16, as with 8:33-34. I don’t think there is a dichotomy between “moral” and “legal” righteousness. There is, of course, a distinction between “inherent” and “imputed” righteousness. When God justifies the ungodly, one is credited with a righteousness that one does not have inherently. But the righteousness credited is “moral.”

This is why things get sticky for those trying to claim Paul 'changes gears' in Rom 6 to “Sanctification,” since there really is no such category transition.

On Wallace’s view, there is a transition from 5:11 to 5:12. I don’t see why this would be any less “sticky” than the idea of a transition from 5:21 to 6:1. There could be a transition at both places even. Transitions are a natural part of communication. I’m about to make one now.

Dan said...

(2 of 5)

(2) Regarding Rom 5:9, justified by blood, will be saved from coming wrath. I'm not seeing your logic: how can there be wrath at all as far as the Christian is concerned if it's dealt with already? The category of wrath cannot apply any longer to them in virtue of having all sins forgiven.

I think I was clear when I said: “The wrath” in 5:9 is the wrath on the day of judgment (cf. Rom. 2 – 3:20). Having one’s sins forgiven does not do away with the day of judgment and the concomitant divine wrath against sin. What it means is that the wrath will not be directed against and destroy that individual. One will pass through it safely into the next phase of the world, as occurred with God’s people in the Flood; a type of the last judgment (2 Pet. 3:5-7). There will be no wrath directed against the one justified, but this does mean there is no wrath. Not everyone will be justified, and those not justified will be destroyed by the wrath. Hence this statement of yours was false: “If you're forgiven of all your sins, then there cannot be wrath to come at all.”

Rom 2:5-10 is speaking squarely on judgment according to how one lived.

I agree, and how one lived merits condemnation instead of justification (2:5, 12-13; 3:9, 10-18, 19-20).

(3) Regarding Rom 8:30 and “glorified”. Much of what you said has plausibility, but you've also granted that certain aspects to what I've said have plausibility, so really it's a wash at that point.

Um, no =). I argued that all three of your reasons were not persuasive, and then I claimed to present compelling reasons for my view. If you can’t rebut my reasons or strengthen yours (or provide new ones in their place), then you should have the intellectual honesty to reject (or at least suspend judgment on) your current interpretation. Of course, you’re under no obligation to further discuss the issue in this forum.

Since you mentioned tense again (which was your best reason, though in my view clearly outweighed by the considerations I raised), I’ll say a bit more about it. Paul says that the foreknown were predestined, and the predestined…glorified. Now, at the time at which Paul is writing, there are some individuals who have not yet been born, and hence who have not been called, justified, and glorified. However, some of these have already been foreknown (for foreknowledge is not a relation demanding the existence of its object). Hence, at the time at which Paul is writing, there are some who have been foreknown but not yet called. But Paul says that those whom God foreknew, He also called. In order to avoid a contradiction, therefore, we need to reject the idea that Paul’s usage of tense is meant to convey that all the events to which he refers are literally in the past.

Of course, this line of reasoning does not imply that “glorification” is not at or near conversion. But it undercuts your reason from tense for thinking that it is at or near conversion; and I’ve already presented reasons to think the glorification to which Paul refers is eschatological. Further, I gave some alternative reasons for why Paul might use the tense he does, aside from ascribing pastness to all the events.

I don’t understand (4).

Dan said...

(3 of 5)

[under (5)] Romans 4:8 is a prime example, for David lost his justification upon sinning gravely and had to repent in Ps 32 to recover it.

Where is it said that David lost justification?

[under (6)] This logic is perfectly sound, but it's not Biblical because the way you understand “Christ deals with sin” is in the framework of Penal Substitution, which is unbiblical (see this link).

I presented a collection of verses earlier in the thread which I think support penal substitution; which JM merely dismissed (perhaps he couldn’t understand my post, since I didn’t provide a glossary with it). In your view, what exactly happened on the cross, vis-à-vis the sin of human beings?

The result is that texts like Rom 5:1 and 8:1 therefore are not proof-texts, since that “detail” must be read into them.

I never used (that I recall) either of those verses to argue for the permanent status of peace or lack of condemnation. In fact I explicitly noted that I wasn’t using 8:1 that way at the end of my post on Tuesday, July 19, 2011 6:27:00 PM. I acknowledge that neither 5:1 nor 8:1 says that the status in view cannot be lost in the future. I have, however, argued from Rom. 5:9 and 8:30 that being justified entails receiving eternal life. I invoked 5:1 and 8:1 in support of the logically weaker contention that there is some sort of “pre-forgiveness.” If there is absolutely no “pre-forgiveness,” then the very next sin after being justified would bring condemnation down on one; making an utter mockery of the idea that the justified one has peace with God.

To compound that problem is the “eternal forgiveness” issue, which logically entails the elect are born forgiven (i.e. prior to faith), since there cannot be any sin to impute to them (since Christ took the punishment already).

The forgiveness of sins is a blessing one has in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 1:7), and one is united to Christ by faith (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:1-8). At the time at which I was born, even if Christ had already taken the punishment for my sin, there is a sense of “forgiveness” in which I was not yet forgiven. For I was not yet united to Christ, had not yet received certain spiritual blessings which Christ had already accomplished or secured (such as justification, adoption, reconciliation). But a lot hangs on what exactly one means by “forgiveness.” I’ve already argued that “forgiveness” is not univocal in Scripture. In what sense are elect (born after the cross) allegedly born “forgiven”?

Dan said...

(4 of 5)

(7) Regarding “eternal life,” I agree the issue is whether the Christian living is the “legal or meritorious ground,” and I've tried to keep that clear. I know the Reformed answer no/false to that, and I understand why, but I believe Scripture answers yes/true. This is why in all the texts speaking of Final Judgment, it's always on the basis of what the Christian *did* in terms of good works. The works/actions are the object of the judgment, not anything else!

First, the universal claim in your second to last sentence is false; Rom. 3:19-20 is a counterexample. Second, you’re lumping together here two distinct issues: (1) that of whether or to what extent one’s works are judged or assessed (and rewarded commensurately); and (2) that of the basis for being granted eternal life. Third, the Reformed view is consistent with there being a sense in which eternal life is bestowed on the basis of one’s works (it’s just not strictly merited by such works). Finally, once again, we are talking about justification, and you’ve not dealt with the elephant in the room, the fact that Paul never says that one will be justified before God on the basis of one’s works; and often says that that people will not be so justified. For every passage on the final judgment that you could point to (and you haven’t actually introduced or discussed any yet – that I recall), we have another place where Paul could have said, but did not, that one will be justified in God’s sight by their works.

For Rom 6:22 to say the outcome of sanctification is eternal life indicates eternal life requires sanctification in Christian living,

Which is the Reformed view…

which would not if it was already secured/entitled.

argument?

I'm glad you grant my reading of Gal 6:7-9,

I didn’t grant your reading of Gal. 6:7-9, unless you’re conceding that the passage doesn’t imply what you invoked it to support =).

but to turn and say Paul is clear nobody is justified before God by works raises two questions: (1) if justification isn't sysnonmous with granting eternal life, then there's no problem whatsoever;

I don’t understand.

(2) if Paul is speaking of “works” in a narrow sense (e.g. works of the Law), then again there is no problem whatsoever for he'd not be condemning works in toto.

Paul doesn’t condemn works of the law, he condemns the idea that one will be justified by them (and even here, it’s not because there is any objection in principle to one being so justified; it’s just that as a matter of fact, all have failed and fallen short; therefore needing to be justified graciously through faith). As far as the scope of “works of the Law,” it is clear that in Rom. 3:19-20, for example, “works of the law” comprehend works of obedience to God’s moral law; precisely the kinds of works that Trent teaches contribute to one’s justification. This is clear from the preceding verses, where Paul illustrates from Scripture human depravity, and the misdeeds described concern a fundamental failure to keep God’s moral law, not any failure to keep, for example, merely ceremonial or peculiarly Jewish aspects of the law. It is also confirmed by Rom. 2:15, for example, because it is the moral law that is written on the heart.

Lastly is Rom 2:7, I deny that it is somehow invalidated or rendered hypothetical or even directly connected to Rom 3:19-20.

I never said or implied that the verse is “somehow invalidated” (good grief); and if you won’t actually defend your interpretation in light of the considerations I presented against it (in Tuesday, July 19, 2011 6:31:00 PM), then there’s nothing more I need to say.

Dan said...

(5 of 5)

(8) Regarding 2 Cor 5:19-21, Paul mentions “non imputation of sin” to us in v19, but that in no way necessiates or implies the jumps you make.

I never said that the passage necessitated an imputation interpretation. You said “Forgiveness of sins, sure, but no mention or hint or implication that AO is part of the package [my bold].” My remarks in Tuesday, July 19, 2011 6:38:00 PM sufficed to refute this.

Christ being “made sin” is a Hebraic phrase for “made a sin offering,” which is why the Hebrew word for “sin” and “sin offering” were the same in Sacrificial contexts. We know “made sin” wasn't literal, thus it's figurative.

No, we don’t know that “made sin” wasn’t literal. But if you’re content with a figurative atonement, then I suppose there’s nothing objectionable about Christ’s being only figuratively “made sin.” We do know that Christ wasn’t made sin inherently; that is, no sin was infused or imparted. But a real atonement demands a real being “made sin.” We can maintain the reality of Christ’s being “made sin,” while denying that he was inherently sinful, by maintaining that He was “made sin” by imputation. God did not count our trespasses against us (v. 19), counting them instead against Christ on our behalf (v.21; cf. Col. 2:14).

Nick said...

Dan,

I want to get to you as soon as I have the time.