alien righteousness

Michael Horton’s 960 page Systematic Theology is Coming Out in 10/02/10

HT: Peter Chen

The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for   the Way  -              By: Michael Horton     Here’s what is on the back cover:

Michael Horton’s highly anticipated The Christian Faith represents his magnum opus and will be viewed as one of—if not the—most important systematic theologies since Louis Berkhof wrote his in 1932.

A prolific, award-winning author and theologian, Professor Horton views this volume as “doctrine that can be preached, experienced, and lived, as well as understood, clarified, and articulated.” It is written for a growing cast of pilgrims making their way together and will be especially welcomed by professors, pastors, students, and armchair theologians.

Features of this volume include: (1) a brief synopsis of biblical passages that inform a particular doctrine; (2) surveys of past and current theologies with contemporary emphasis on exegetical, philosophical, practical, and theological questions; (3) substantial interaction with various Christian movements within the Protestant, Catholic and Orthodoxy traditions, as well as the hermeneutical issues raised by postmodernity; and (4) charts, sidebars, questions for discussion, and an extensive bibliography, divided into different entry levels and topics.

It is already out for display at Christianbook.com here.

94 Responses to “Michael Horton’s 960 page Systematic Theology is Coming Out in 10/02/10”

  1. Nick

    I’d like to respond to your ‘alien righteousness’ comment on your sidebar:

    In my study on this topic, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular Protestant Lexicon here is what it is defined as:

    —————-
    QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”
    http://tinyurl.com/r92dch
    —————-

    The Protestant Lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

    The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are some examples:

    ——————-
    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted [logizomai] as a gift but as his due.

    Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
    ——————-

    Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 4:4 the worker’s wages are ‘reckoned’ as a debt because the boss is in debt to the worker, not giving a gift to him. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

    To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 4:4 the boss gives payment to the worker as a gift rather than obligation/debt; (3) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (4) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.
    This cannot be right.

    So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such.

    Reply
    • Inwoo

      I hear that even the Catholic exegete, Jospeh Fitzmire would disagree with your claim.

      Reply
  2. Nick

    p.s. I would sure hope that Horton’s new Systematic Theology book addresses logizomai in some depth…because in my experience I’ve not found a single Reformed author that does a lexical analysis of the term, instead (sadly) they assume what it must mean, which is actually the opposite of what it really does.

    Reply
  3. Joshua Lim

    Hi NIck,

    Thanks for the comment.

    You don’t have to go to a ‘popular’ protestant Greek lexicon to define logizomai, but thanks anyway. If you look in BDAG the word is defined similarly (e.g., reckon, calculate, count, take into account, etc.) and from what you’re saying the argument doesn’t seem to really be about whether we agree or disagree about the definition of a word; the question is whether this ‘alien righteousness’ can truly be said to be reckoned/counted as righteousness. You say no, protestants say yes.

    You misconstrue the protestant view when you say that, “‘. . . when the text plainly says “faith is [logizetai] as righteousness,’ I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act .'”
    First of all, righteousness and righteous act are two different things, and if you’re construing dikaiosunen, as ‘righteous act,’ then I think we found the main issue of our disagreement. If Abraham’s faith was counted as a righteous act, and not as righteousness then we should say that faith=righteous act. But that’s not what the text says. What Abraham’s faith is reckoned as is not a righteous act, as if his believing in God is the material cause of his righteousness (protestants say it is only an instrumental cause). The text says that his faith is reckoned as righteousness (not a righteous act).
    So we all agree (I hope) that the righteousness is ‘truly reckoned’ as his own through faith, but that doesn’t answer the question as to whose righteousness is being reckoned to Abraham. Is it his own righteousness which he merited? Or is it righteousness that he merely received through faith, which was merited by Christ (Rom. 5:18)? That’s the question. It’s not properly defining logizomai that’s the problem, the issue is this: whose righteousness is being reckoned to the believer?

    Also, it is not the case that the Reformed doctrine of justification sola fide stands on the definition of one word in a single verse (not to diminish this passage’s importance). When we say we believe that justification sola fide is biblical, we mean it. It’s not based on a single passage but on the entire redemptive-historical drama that plays out in Scripture.

    I hope that clarifies things.

    -Joshua Lim

    Reply
    • Nick

      Hello,

      Thank you for your response. I think you misunderstood my argument, the problem with saying it simply means “reckon, calculate,etc” is that many misunderstand those terms to mean ‘count X AS IF it were Y’, and they don’t go any further to examine how Scripture uses the term. My analysis shows it means ‘count X to be X’. Given this, assuming ‘alien righteousness’ is unwarranted before even approaching the text. Once the text is approached, consider Rom 4:4 as I did above; there logizomai is not used in the sense of ‘alien status’ either.
      Also, never is logizomai found to be used in an instrumental sense, so an interpretation of ‘faith *transfers* righteousness’ (i.e. faith is the instrumental cause) is without lexical warrant.

      Next, you don’t seem to agree with my claim “faith reckoned as a righteous act,” but is this not precisely what righteousness means in Psalm 106:30f? Further, the term ‘righteousness’ is used in the Bible to refer to ‘righteous act’, Romans 6 does this multiple times.

      I don’t think it’s a matter of Abraham ‘meriting’ anything, and we both agree Christ merited our salvation. Logizomai directly impacts how we see this unfold though, because my analysis shows logizomai means the righteousness is inherent, so the righteousness ‘reckoned’ by God must have been in regards to the (previously) infused gift of faith.

      Lastly, you say sola fide doesn’t stand on the definition of one word (logizomai), and that’s good if someone wants their theology to be firm. That said, the only time ‘imputation’ of righteousness is really mentioned is in Romans 4, so that chapter (esp 4:2-8) is unquestionably the most important section (second to none) in Scripture for the doctrine of sola fide. Imagine trying to prove sola fide to yourself and then to others without using Romans 4; that would be pretty tough.

      Reply
  4. Joshua Lim

    Nick,

    Thanks for the response. I took a look at your blog and you seem to have a thing for making attempts to knock down Reformed and Lutheran theology. That’s great.

    I don’t agree that your ‘analysis’ shows that when logizomai is used it always means to “count X as X.” You’ve only quoted four passages and only one of them use the term in a way that’s comparable to Romans 4:5 (I’m thinking of Rom. 4:4). That’s a rigid way of looking at things. That you represent the protestant view as “X as if it were Y” is not quite right (as I said before). We believe that in this context “X IS counted as Y.” Not “kind of like” or “as if,” but an unequivocal “is.”

    Now you’re unwilling to say that faith is righteousness, which is strange to me. You’d rather view dikaiosunen as ‘righteous act’ even though that’s not warranted by the text (go check your lexicon). If you want to read “righteous act” the passage would use the substantive adjective ‘dikaion’ not the noun dikaiosune. So, please, be consistent. Protestants say that faith is counted as righteousness (“in the sense of fulfilling the divine statutes” says BDAG), not that faith is ‘kind of like’ or ‘almost’ righteousness, or that it pretends to be something it’s not. No, God logizetai faith as righteousness. It’s not faith as one righteous act, but as a state of being upright before God. It’s odd to me that you appeal to your ‘analysis,’ and have so many problems with an ‘alien righteousness’ unwarranted by the text, but you’re not willing to let a simple word be defined the way it must be defined.

    Let’s be faithful to the text and say that faith is counted by God as righteousness to the one who believes. Really righteous? Yes. The believer’s own righteousness? Yes. Is it his act of believing that is the ‘righteous act’? No, not according to the text. The rest of Romans is clear that it is through Christ’s death that we are justified (dikaiow) before God, we are made righteous by God through Christ’s ‘act of righteousness’ (Roman 5:18). We’re saved “by his life,” it is “the free gift” which is unlike the transgression.

    Anyway, based on your blog I’m sure you’ll find something else that is disagreeable. You’re obviously not commenting here to learn anything about Reformed theology, you just want to be right (we all want to be right–I’m guilty). Your arguments have been heard many times in this part of town, and I doubt that you’ve come to your conclusions based on an impartial study of either the Greek text or traditional Reformed thought. So, acknowledging that we all have our biases and are not willing to understand the opposing party’s thought at this time and place, I bid you adieu.

    Reply
    • Nick

      Joshua,

      Thank you for interest in this subject. You are correct, I only gave a few examples. But that was simply because most people dont want to read through all 40 occurrences at once. The link I provided gives every occurrence of logizomai, and anyone is free to examine the evidence for themself. I in fact did do that, and I saw a clear and solid patter for my claim in my original post, “count X as X”. I consider it putting the cart before the horse to suggest (or even demand) logizomai means “count X as Y” without establishing that is indeed how it’s used.

      And I’m glad you noticed my reference to Romans 4:4, which is critical because logozmai appears in v3 and v5, so the same definition should apply. In fact, all the other examples aside, just looking at logizomai in 4:4 supports my argument (working wages counted as debt and not counted as gift = count X as X). I am sorry if I appear to have misrepresented you to mean “X AS IF Y,” I never meant that to entail a “kind of”.

      I’m not sure why you dont accept it could mean ‘righteous act’ despite the fact I quoted clear examples of the word dikaiosune meaning this in Ps 106:30f and Rom 6. Please address those passages to show me why my claim is unacceptable lexically.

      You said this stuff has been dealt with before, if so, I welcome the opportunity for you to correct me. After all, shouldn’t good theology be about your best argument versus mine?

      Reply
  5. R. Scott Clark

    Nick knows before he ever gets to the text that there logizomai can’t mean what it seems to mean. The combination of ‘to reckon’ plus ‘to trust’ is fatal to moralism whether papist or Arminian.’ thus, he has to turn faith into the ground or to make it more than it is – the mere receiving or confidence in Christ for us.

    Reply
    • Nick

      Dr Clark,

      Please explain Psalm 106:30-31 in light of what you said. Is it not Phinehas’ good act reckoned as righteousness? A yes or no will be most helpful.

      Further, my argument seems to fit Paul’s statement elsewhere, compare:

      Rom 4:24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

      Romans 10:
      “9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

      The combination of “confess” and “believe in your heart” here suggests it’s the actions God looks at. If it were merely faith as the instrument, then the confess/believe combo wouldn’t make sense.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Hi Nick,

        I did not know that there was such a lively talk going on. I am trying to follow your point about Psalm 106:30-31:

        30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened,
              and the plague was checked.
        31 This was credited to him as righteousness
              for endless generations to come

        Phinehas was recognized by people, generations to come, and even by God as having done a righteous act. For the fuller context of what he did read: Numbers 25. The Isrealite men were having sexual immorality with Moabite women, and sacrificing to their idles. Phinehas killed an Isrealite and Moabite women. And it was because of that act that God relented his judgement over Israel.

        But I don’t get from the verse in Psalms or narrative in Numbers that the “credited to him as righteousness” was talking about justification before God in terms of salvation. He was rightly recognized for his zeal for the honor of God, and his act is even said to have made “atonement for the Isrealites.” (Numb 25:13) But where in the context of Psalms or Numbers is it talking about salvation in the sense of Phinehas’ own right standing before God (as you, and Romans Catholics often claim)?

        The bigger issue I see also is that Paul really is talking about right standing before God because of what Jesus has done. In other words, though the wording is used in relative close terms, but context is not the same. Psalms is talking about the righteous acts of people, and Paul is talking about being accepted by God. In other words a person may do works of “good” acts before men and right according to the law of God, and yet that person may not be rightouse in Paul’s use of the term. The right action of people are doing what good work they should be doing (Every Isealite should have done what Phinehas did), and thus doing what a person should do at one point, does not override the wrongs that the person has done in a life time of sinning. How is a person who had done wrong (are sinners) according to Paul, are they to be accepted by a holy and just God? This is really the issue that Paul is dealing with, and not the subject of Psalms 106.

        Even if you think that the subject of Phinehas in Ps 106:30-31 is about salvation, where is Jesus and faith in Jesus found anywhere in Psalm 106 (or Numb. 25)? Thus, if according to you that people are saved by their actions, and Phinehas is your example, then keep in mind that Phinehas is “credited to him as righteousness” without the work of Jesus (according to the context of Ps 106), then it follows that IF the text of Psalms is about salvation by works, then it is salvation by works ALONE, without the work of Jesus or grace from God. Paul would have responded, if salvation could be had by the works of man, then Christ died needlessly. I don’t think that is official Roman Catholic view (assuming you are RC).

        But, what is more, Nick, Phinehas killed people out of zeal for God, if you think that is salvation, then how many people have you killed? If you have not killed anyone, and the work of salvation in the context is to kill someone out of zeal for God, then it follows that you are saved because you have not killed anyone. I am just following your line of thought, and putting that to the context.

        As you can see, that leads to an Islamic view of salvation by jehad, and not Roman Catholic, nor Christian; but as I have been saying, it is also not the teaching of Psalms 106. Psalm 106 is recounting the work of God, and the heroic works of men, if you read the chapter through, you can see that it is not talking about an individuals salvation as Paul is talking about in Romans and Galatians.

        I think it is just a double whammy of error to 1.) to take the verse of Psalm 106: 30-31 out of context, causing it to teach what it does not (salvation by killing out of zeal), and then 2.) reinterpreting Paul out of his context to fit the false view.

        Always the problem of salvation with the works of man is the issue of: How much good works does one have to have to be accepted by God? Being more consistent with this, the Roman Catholic church has openly rejected confidence of one’s salvation in this life. Nick, do you want to have peace with God? Then, friend, look to Jesus, and not to yourself. Salvation is found in Christ and Christ alone. His redemptive work is my joy and comfort in life and in death. All confidence I have is not at all anything that I have done or will do, but entirely what He had done for me. I hope you would have this joy and comfort as well.

  6. Peter Chen

    oops, correction: There should be a “not”:

    But, what is more, Nick, Phinehas killed people out of zeal for God, if you think that is salvation, then how many people have you killed? If you have not killed anyone, and the work of salvation in the context is to kill someone out of zeal for God, then it follows that you are NOT saved because you have not killed anyone. I am just following your line of thought, and putting that to the context.

    Reply
  7. Nick

    Peter,

    Thank you for your response. I’m not sure why the Reply button doesn’t appear, so I hope this response appears under yours.

    Let me break down what you said to what I think are the important points:

    (1) You said: “Phinehas was recognized…as having done a righteous act.”
    This means that the “righteousness” in “credited as righteousness” means “righteous act”. That is important because it means “righteousness” in “credited as righteousness” for Abraham CAN mean “righteous act” as well, and given the fact the phrases are identical warrants this as the ‘default’ interpretation.

    (2) I am assuming that you interpret “credited as” in Phinehas’ case means “recognized as”. If so, then it can mean that in Gen 15:6; and I’d also consider that the ‘default’ interpretation (using Scripture-interprets-Scripture).

    (3) Whether Psalm 106:30f was talking about justification or not really critical to my original point. Further, nothing in Genesis 15:6 on it’s face says it was talking about justification. Given that, it’s an unwarranted step to say the context of Psalm 106:30f wasn’t about justification. In fact, using that standard, you cannot say Gen 15:6 is talking about justification. Everything you’re ‘criticizing’ Psalm 106:30f about should logically apply to Gen 15:6. Does Gen 15:6 (esp given the timeframe in Abraham’s walk with God starting in Gen 12) suggest Abraham was dealing with how to be “accepted by a holy and just God”?

    (4) The “how many people have you killed?” argument is a red herring. In the context of the situation, what Phinehas did was a good work, pleasing to God. That does not mean that specific good work is to be done anywhere, any time. In the OT, God warranted the death penalty at times. In the context of Abraham, he was believing his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, yet that specific promise is not given to us in the same way as Abraham. So your argument cuts both ways.

    (5) I would suggest that Psalm 106:30f fits nicely with Paul’s teaching, but that’s because I don’t believe Paul is talking about God transferring an alien righteousness but instead about God recognizing and blessing a righteous act. That changes the whole dynamic of the chapter from what you’re thinking, so it’s going to require viewing things from a different perspective. I understand both sides well enough that I can view them from each perspective. And I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I say all this having looked at how the Bible uses logizomai and found it to solidly support my argument.

    Reply
    • Peter Chen

      Hi Nick,

      I am trying to follow the conversation, I did find the update.

      So, did I missed your proof that Psalms 106 is talking about salvation? Please prove that first.

      Reply
      • Nick

        My argument doesn’t stand on whether Ps 106:30f is talking about salvation, so I didn’t spend time proving that. As far as Ps 106 proving salvation went, I at most argued indirectly: I said if ‘credited as righteousness’ means salvation in Gen 15:6, then it should in this case as well. That neither Gen nor Ps were speaking explicitly about salvation naturally rebuts any attempt to make the argument about a salvation context versus non-salvation context.

        Joshua Lim and Dr Clark, who must be busy right now, challenged my claim that ‘righteousness’ can mean ‘righteous act’ in the phrase ‘credited as righteousness’. Given that Ps 106 proves otherwise, the ball is back in their (and your) court regarding why my interpretation of Gen 15:6 (i.e. faith seen by God as a righteous act) must be wrong. If I’m truly in error, how could I ever change my mind with evidence such as what I’ve put forth is still standing unchallenged?

  8. Peter Chen

    I think you made the claim that Ps 106:30-31 is talking about salvation. You are yet to prove it. Without that, I don’t think you have pointed out anything that was to prove your claim that salvation is by works in some way.

    Reply
    • Nick

      Peter,

      From the start of this discussion, I never intended (nor really made issue) of saying Psalm 106:30f is about salvation. And even if I did it would have been purely tangential to my main point regarding how to interpret Romans 4 (quoting Gen 15:6).

      On the grounds of fairness, I’ve tried to answer your questions as clearly as possible, I just ask you do so for my questions.

      The discussion centered around what ‘logizomai’ means and whether ‘righteousness’ can mean ‘righteous act’. I proved my definition of logizomai especially from Rom 4:4 and ‘righteous act’ especially from Ps 106:30f. Given that, I believe I have presented as fair and honest of a case as can be done.

      So, I ask you, Peter (or any other honest soul):
      Why is my interpretation of Rom 4 of “faith seen as a truly righteous act by God” wrong exegetically/lexically?

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Nick,

        The first thing I read was your saying:

        Please explain Psalm 106:30-31 in light of what you said. Is it not Phinehas’ good act reckoned as righteousness? A yes or no will be most helpful.

        I thought I find out from your what you are trying to say with it. Am I right to conclude that you agree that Psalm 106:30-31 is not about salvation?

  9. Nick

    I am undecided as to whether Ps 106:30f is about salvation, but I’ll say ‘no’ for now. My sole point in asking that original question was because Dr. Clark seemed to indicate ‘righteousness’ cannot mean ‘righteous act’ in the phrase ‘credited as righteousness’.

    All I am arguing is that Rom 4:3, properly interpreted, is saying something along the lines of: “God counted Abraham’s act of faith as a truly righteous act.”

    Reply
  10. Peter Chen

    Thanks for that part time answer. 🙂

    So, it is your claim that, according to Paul, faith is a form of works?

    Reply
    • Nick

      I’m not sure what you mean by “faith is a form of works,” but I’d say faith is not in the category of ‘works’ Paul contrasts faith to, but faith is an action.

      Reply
  11. Nick

    By action I mean something performed (even if only in the mind), by an exercise of the will. So, as an example, to repent one must recognize their state and willfully be sorry before God and desire reconciliation.

    In the case of faith and Abraham, Romans 4:18-22 explains Abraham knew the reality of the situation (that he and his wife couldn’t have a child), but none the less assented to God’s promise, believing in God’s power to bring about the miracle of a son.

    Reply
  12. Peter Chen

    Hi Nick,

    So, you are saying that faith is not works, but it is an act that merits (or on the basis of it) the granting of salvation? Is that what you are saying?

    Reply
    • Nick

      Yes, faith is not works; that’s why we’re using two terms. And yes, it is on the basis of exercising faith in God that Abraham was blessed. That’s my exegesis of the statement in Rom 4:3, Gn 15:6, considering all the evidence available.
      Given all the answers I’ve given to your questions, what basis do you say my exegesis wrong? Please respond.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        hum, I am not sure what you mean by exegesis, but I don’t see where you explained your view of faith not being works, but it merits salvation. It seams to me that if faiths is not works, then to talk of faith meriting anything makes faith a form of works. Where in the Bible do you think that your view of “faith” is found in the Bible? It sounds like you are saying it is in Rom 4:3, Gn 15:6, but I sure don’t see it. Where?

  13. Nick

    What I mean by exegesis is how I went about interpreting the text, apart from me just saying a verse must mean XYZ I actually gave proof for why I made the interpretation I did.
    I try to stay away from the term ‘merit’, and I don’t think I’ve used it in this discussion. Faith is of a different category from works, else there is no sense in Paul using two terms. Saying faith is a form of works is nonsense. It seems to me you are reading more into Rom 4 than is required/warranted.

    You asked where my view of faith is found in the Bible, well, some passages that come to mind:
    1) Rom 4:18-22 shows Abraham exercising hope, and faith, with both of them growing strong and not wavering. In otherwords it was a pretty robust faith being displayed, in which Paul concludes ‘that is why faith was credited to him as righteousness’.

    2) Hebrews 11:1 says: “1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for.”
    Notice that it says “commended for” here, indicating God recognized this faith as something praisworthy. In v4 it says of Abel: “By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings.” And of Enoch’s faith in v5 it says: “he was commended as one who pleased God.”
    In the case of Abraham, this verse perfectly fits his trust that God could bring out a son.

    3) Hebrews 11:6″ And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
    Again, this fits Abraham’s situation.

    Looking at how the Bible sees faith, this further supports my claim that “Abraham’s faith was counted by God as a righteous act.”

    So, along with logizomai and dikaiosune in my favor, I also have clear examples of how the Bible defines faith as I have been claiming.
    All of which fit my exegesis of Rom 4:3.

    I still don’t see where you’ve made any solid counter points. And in my effort to be faithful to Scripture, my conscience cannot be moved to accept an alternate interpretation given the Scriptural case I’ve set up has not been rebutted with an alternative and superior Scriptural argument.

    Peter, in your honest opinion, have I presented a fair, clear, and substantial argument for my interpretation? (even if you don’t agree with me or don’t know what the correct interpretation really is)
    It’s not like I’m being dishonest or sneaky here.

    And where did Joshua Lim go? If you’re not sure about this subject, then I’m sure Josh can show both of us where I went wrong and what the alternative (correct) interpretation is. Please contact him.

    Reply
    • Peter Chen

      you wrote: [Faith is of a different category from works.. Saying faith is a form of works is nonsense.]

      Are we in agreement at this point? I would agree that that is a right reading of Paul, but it is hard to tell on your side. You don’t sound consistent on this point.

      [You asked where my view of faith is found in the Bible]

      No. I am asking you to define your view of faith.

      You said: [yes, it is on the basis of exercising faith in God that Abraham was blessed]

      Are you not making faith out to be meritorious? If faith is what separates the save and the unsaved, and as you are trying to say that humans works play a part in salvation (?), then please explain what you mean by “faith” not being works, but yet in some way “faith” is the basis for God to credit that person with righteousness.

      Thus you say, [it was a pretty robust faith being displayed, in which Paul concludes ‘that is why faith was credited to him as righteousness’.]

      I may have missed your proof that “logizomai” and “dikaiosune” is a “clear examples of….” What? A merit/works salvation? Sure you said that you don’t believe that faith is works, but is not how you come across. You take the words “Abraham’s faith was counted by God as a righteous act.” to mean that Abraham’s faith some how earned/merited God to account him as righteous. IF that is what you are saying, then why are you running away from the claim that you are making by saying that faith is not works/merit?

      Please explain what you mean by faith and what you are arguing for. I do want to understand you rightly.

      Reply
      • Nick

        Hello Peter,

        You asked if we were agreement on the point that faith is different from works and to say faith is a form of works is nonsense. I would hope we are in agreement here.

        As for defining “my view” of faith, I need not make up my own view when the Bible does a pretty good job of explaining it via Heb 11 (quoted above).

        You then asked if I’m making out faith to be “meritorious”. I’m not sure where this is an issue or why you’re so concerned about it. And, again, you’re somehow putting faith in the ‘works’ category when that makes no sense. The Bible quotes I said above say man is commended by God for their faith and even rewarded for it (11:1,2,6). The examples of Abel and Enoch were pretty clear too. That’s the Bible, I’m not making up stuff. If that’s somehow ‘works’ or ‘meriting’ or whatever, the problem is not with me. It seems to me that you’re approaching the text with preconceived notions about what faith is, and those preconceived notions are affecting your exegesis. How do you define faith, and where in Scripture do you derive that definition? You appear to be worrying about fears which I don’t believe Paul ever was concerned about.

        You then speak of “a merit/works salvation,” when that’s a conflation of two things, the former of which you’ve introduced without warrant to the text. The text is not speaking of ‘merit’, be it a good or bad thing. The text is contrasting faith to works, saying only the former justifies. Period.

        I think I’ve gotten to the bottom of this, or at least one aspect of it: You’re not taking into consideration the Biblical definition of faith via Heb 11, and erroneously injecting ‘merit’ into the text.

        Further, you are equivocating/conflating ‘human works’ with ‘human action’, which are not the same. When the Bible speaks of ‘believing in your heart and confessing’ to be saved (Rom 10:9), that means the human is ‘acting’ in some real sense, but is not equivalent to doing ‘works’ (again, unless you want to say believing/confessing is a ‘work’ which is absurd). Abraham could perform an ‘act of faith’ (which he did and which justifies) or perform an ‘act of works’ (which does not justify). The ‘perform/act’ operator is used in both, but that’s because the human being is operating in some way. Take the following example: man can ‘eat’ vitamins to get healthy or ‘eat’ junk food to get healthy. One of them obviously makes man healthy while the other does not, just as faith justifies while works do not…AND to say faith is a form of works is as absurd as saying vitamins are a form of junk food.

        I will likely be away from my computer over Thanksgiving, so I wont get to your response immediately.

  14. Peter Chen

    [It seems to me that you’re approaching the text with preconceived notions about what faith is…]

    no, not at all. I am just asking questions to find out what you are trying to say. I have not even said anything about what I believe. I first want to make sure that I am not misunderstanding the person I am talking with. And you have been so nice to talk with, I just want to be respectful when talking with you so as to understand what you are saying. You can answer however you think it right.

    [you’re somehow putting faith in the ‘works’ category when that makes no sense.] and again, [You’re not taking into consideration the Biblical definition of faith via Heb 11, and erroneously injecting ‘merit’ into the text.]

    From what little I have said, I totally reject that faith is works or meritorious; as you may know that that is soundly rejected by Protestants. So, for you to make that comment is.. well, maybe a slip of the keyboard (can’t say “pen”). I am guessing that you know that I do not put “faith in the ‘works’ category”; on the other hand, you seem to do so.

    If I am not mistaken, I think that is what you end-up doing:

    You said, [faith is a form of works is nonsense…. ] however, you said, [The examples of Abel and Enoch were pretty clear too. That’s the Bible, I’m not making up stuff. If that’s somehow ‘works’ or ‘meriting’ or whatever, the problem is not with me.]

    So, you are saying that we are in agreement that the bible is against the confusion of faith with works, but now you are saying that maybe there is a contradiction to the teaching of the Bible on the matter? Is that where you really want to go to? Or maybe Paul is right that faith is not works, and to understand faith in such a way as to make it into merits is to misunderstand faith. Maybe even that faith is a gift of God (Eph 2), and a result of the regenerating work by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2; John 3). If that is the case, then it makes good sense, and consistent with Paul’s rejection of faith as works. How else would you try to resolve it and not cause the Bible to contradict itself?

    [The text is contrasting faith to works, saying only the former justifies. Period.]

    That is fine, but is this “faith” (what you understand it to mean) a human “act” that results in God responding to grant salvation? Or maybe the sinner is willfully in sin, and until the will is changed, is the sinner then able/willing to turn to God, and again, the act of faith is the result of recreating grace in the first place. Maybe the granting of salvation is the capping off of what God had started in the first place in granting the new spiritual act of faith in the first place, and not as if God is merely acting in response to what man deserve by having this work/merit/faith. Would you consider the act of faith to be a godly thing or an ungodly thing? Would it be a spiritual act to have faith in God, or a nonspiritual act?

    Reply
  15. Nick

    I still havn’t left for my Thanksgiving trip yet, so I can make this quick response.

    What you said at the end, I am in pretty much agreement to:
    “Or maybe the sinner is willfully in sin, and until the will is changed, is the sinner then able/willing to turn to God, and again, the act of faith is the result of recreating grace in the first place. Maybe the granting of salvation is the capping off of what God had started in the first place in granting the new spiritual act of faith in the first place, and not as if God is merely acting in response to what man deserve by having this work/merit/faith.”

    Yes. This logic is fine. But if this is what you believe, then really you should have no problem with my interpretation of Gen 15:6. Were you thinking I was saying Abraham was enabled to believe apart from grace, and that faith was not a gift? It was grace changing Abraham’s will, causing him to exercise the gift of faith, causing God to credit that grace caused act of faith as a righteous act and thus bless him with justification. Since we are in agreement at that point, the whole ‘works’ and ‘merit’ objection is now cleared up as a misunderstanding.

    Given all that, I really cannot see how my interpretation of Rom 4:3 doesn’t work.

    Reply
    • Peter Chen

      [Were you thinking I was saying Abraham was enabled to believe apart from grace, and that faith was not a gift?]

      I guess what you are saying is no, you don’t think that faith merits the grace of justification, then therefore justification is entirely of GRACE and not works?

      If that is what you are saying, then we are in agreement. I don’t know how you understand Rm 4:3.

      Let us look at it together. Rm 4:1-7:

      { 1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.}

      Paul’s is very concern about the man having anything to “boast about”. Paul says that the man has nothing to “boast about” for his salvation.

      { 3What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”}

      The prime example is the father of the faithful Jews, Abraham. Abraham was not justified before God because of what Abraham did, but it was because of whom Abraham believed. (as we seam to agree even this faith/believing in God is the result of recreating grace done by God.)

      { 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.}

      Paul clearly states that if man was saved because of what the person does, then salvation would not be a “gift” by grace, but what God is obligated to give the man.

      { 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.}

      Oh the other hand, if the person does nothing to merit salvation, but merely trust in the God who graciously gives salvation–under NO obligation, then the man’s dependence on God to give grace is then the man recognized by God as righteous on the bases of the work of Christ.

      { 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
      7″Blessed are they
      whose transgressions are forgiven,
      whose sins are covered.
      8Blessed is the man
      whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”}

      Indeed, thus a person as to be given mercy and grace despite of his life time of sinning, is truly a blessed man–blessed by God with forgiveness for all his sins, and his sins are covered by the work of Jesus in his stead. The Lord will NEVER count his sins against him, because they were all dealt with on the cross.

      Nick, do you have this blessing? Are you a blessed man that David, and Paul talked about? Do you have confidence to stand justified before God in that final hour?

      The only way anyone had such confidence is if his own justification is not dependent on himself, but in the Savior–Jesus Christ. But as Paul is saying that salvation is all of Grace, and non of me, then I have nothing to boast about.

      I hope you the very best in this Thanks Giving holiday, and you can rejoice with me in giving God the 100% thanks for He has done 100% of all that is needed for my salvation and I did not do anything to merit it. I hope you can say the same.

      Reply
      • Nick

        I’m responding on my cell phone, so it’s hard to write long responses (and impossible to copy text) using this keypad.

        My main issuse with what you said above is that there is is no mention of ‘alien righteousness’; nor do I believe it is necessitated by the general framework you’ve laid out.

  16. Peter Chen

    hi Nick,

    I totally understand about the keypad, I have an I touch and that is also not all the easy to write on. Sorry to rub it in, but I have a Mac with the supper soft and nice keyboard. It is just not fare! 🙂

    Well, If you note everything I said there, presupposes the “alien righteousness”. “alien righteousness” is just another way of saying that it is not the works of man, but the work done by God that anyone is saved. That is why it is “alien”, it is “alien” from the human perspective; the person did not do anything to earn or work for the “righteousness” but it was created to the lost believing sinner, by God due to the work of Christ. The “alien righteousness” is Christ’s “righteousness” given to the man.

    ++Sorry, I have to make you envies because of the ability to copy text, but I am not about to write it all out just to make you feel better about it. 🙂 ++

    As a continuation from the thoughts in 4, “alien righteousness” is all over Romans 5:

    {1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

    8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

    19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

    21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.}

    The idea of “alien righteousness” is just that our justification is not due to our own righteousness, but it is “alien” to us, from the work of Christ himself.

    The main issue Paul was dealing with was that he establish that all are guilty lost sinners, and subject to the just/holy judgment of God (Romans 1-3). If that is so, then how is it that God can be just and yet not send every sinner to Hell?

    Romans 3:21-26:
    { 21But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.}

    The only way that God can be just and a justifier of guilty sinners is if they are justified on the basis of what another person’s righteousness. The sinner has lived a lifetime of sinning, and that sin must be answered for, and on the other hand, God’s law demands perfect submission to his Law.

    In order for God to save anyone, that sinner must be perfectly holy and perfectly righteousness.

    Those are 2 big problems for lost sinners, because the sinner is neither holy or righteous. What then? A sinner cannot undo the wrong already done. Once you sin, that is it, you are not holy, and you are also not righteous.

    That is why it must be “alien” (not little Green-men) but must be solved by another person. Not the sinner himself.

    And God has done it in sending his Son to live a perfect life in the sinners stead, and died for that sinner to make atonement for the sinners life time of sinning, and therefore God can be just and still save sinner who do not deserve it but deserve hell instead. God does so at the willing expense of Christ.

    I think that is a beautiful picture of how thoroughly God saves his people. It is an AMAZING grace, that God would save a sinner like me. God saves sinners at his own expense!

    Reply
    • Nick

      Hi,

      Back at my computer.

      I think it’s wrong to “presuppose” alien righteousness before approaching the text. The term “credited” has been established (as per my argument) to point away from an alien to local righteousness. Also, I think it’s a similar rush to judgment to go speaking of “Christ’s Righteousness,” especially as alien, considering Rom 6 describes it all as taking place in the soul.

      Lastly, justification (esp 3:21-26) is framed in terms of forgiveness via atonement, and Galatians 3 puts it in terms of receiving the Holy Spirit by faith…but never as Christ “living a perfect life in the sinner’s stead.”

      Reply
      • Joshua Lim

        Nick,

        You’re absolutely right. We shouldn’t presuppose something and then read it into the text. If it makes you feel better, we won’t use the term “alien righteousness” for now. We’ll just say that through Christ’s obedience we are justified. Does that sound better?

        And no, the term “credited” has not been established to point away from an alien to local righteousness. Why not just use a copulative verb? Why not just make righteousness a predicate of that person (or as you would probably have it, make it a predicate of that person’s “act”). In the context of Romans 4, it seems odd that Paul would contrast works with ‘acts.’ A bit of an arbitrary distinction isn’t it? I can’t imagine Paul arguing, “Don’t work for your salvation, that’s legalism. Instead, you must act for it.” According to Paul there is a difference between working (law) and receiving by faith (grace). Abraham wasn’t justified by what he did, but by what he believed. And what did he believe? That God justifies the ungodly, the unrighteous. But according to what you’re saying, God justifies those who deserve it by doing X (after all, X is always credited as X, right?). But Paul seems to be saying something else, Paul seems to be suggesting that God justifies those who don’t do anything except believe. Is it because these people finally do something, perhaps a ‘righteous act’ to deserve it? Well, if that’s the case, then God must be justifying the godly, not the ungodly. No, for these people who are ungodly sinners, who can’t do “X,” they figure out that all they need to do is “Y”–for these pathetic folk “Y” is reckoned as “X.” Isn’t that good news for pathetic sinners? I tend to think so.

        Romans 5:18-19: one act of righteousness (not our faith “X” as a righteous act “X,” but Christ’s one act as our justification, i.e., his work, not ours). “Through the obedience of the one (we’ll call this “X”) many will be made righteous.”

        Romans 6, it all takes place in the soul? Really?

        Who’s the one reading into the text? Sure the phrase “alien righteousness” is not there, but the concept is surely present. And obviously you won’t see it, because you know you’re right. You know that your few verses have “established” as a matter of fact that ‘logizomai’ must mean what you say it means.

        Honestly, Nick, It’s not about my best arguments against yours. It would be nice if that were the case, but you’re absolutely unwilling to concede anything–not because you’ve gotten Reformed theology down, or because you actually know what you’re talking about–it’s because you come into the argument knowing that you’re right. My guess is you’ve never even formally studied the Greek language. You’re really not so different from a fundamentalist.

        So as I said a few days ago, we all have our presuppositions and biases. Some of us are willing to acknowledge it, others seem to know everything as God knows it. Maybe when all of us are a lot smarter we can actually have an argument because, it’s obvious, you think so much more clearly and know so much more than we do.

  17. Peter Chen

    sorry. There are some writing errors because I was in a hurry to get out of the office and did not have time to read it over again.

    there are many other writing errors, but let me fix the obvious problems with a [ ] that affects meaning:

    …the person did not do anything to earn or work for the “righteousness” but it was [credited] to the lost believing sinner,…

    Reply
  18. Peter Chen

    Nick,

    I think you misread what I wrote above. Please note that I did not say that I presuppose alien righteousness before approaching the text. What I did say was the salvation was by What God does, and not dependent on what man does. Included within that idea is that lost and sinful man had no righteousness of his own so to merit salvation. That is why it must be an alien righteousness, alien to the man, coming from Jesus who does the work of saving and providing the righteousness for that lost sinner.

    That was introduced in Rm 3, and expanded on in 4-5. Again, the idea of “alien righteousness” is just the claim that a sinner is saved by Christ, more specifically the aspect of the sinners lack of righteousness, and Christ provides his own righteousness for the sinner. I don’t know why anyone would object to it.

    [The term “credited” has been established (as per my argument) to point away from an alien to local righteousness.]

    What do you mean by “local”? Are you saying that a lost sinner has righteousness of his own? Where is that taught in Romans?

    If you can think of another way that God is able save sinner who deserve hell–who are not holy nor righteous and God must be just and holy–let me know. By what other means is God to save sinners, if it is not by an “alien” work (in this case merited by Christ for the lost sinner)?

    [Also, I think it’s a similar rush to judgment to go speaking of “Christ’s Righteousness,” especially as alien, considering Rom 6 describes it all as taking place in the soul.]

    Hum… bud, I am not sure what you are talking about. If it is “Christ’s Righteousness” then how is that not alien to the sinner? If you are in agreement that it is only God who is able to save the sinner, and nothing of the sinner himself that save or adds to his own salvation, then I think you have to see that the only way that the sinner is able to be saved is if that sinner is saved by another, and not himself. That is what some people in history have called “alien Righteousness”. If you don’t like the terms, then just say, “Christ’s Righteousness”. I rather say that myself. People think of little green-men when talking about “alien.”

    [Lastly, justification (esp 3:21-26) is framed in terms of forgiveness via atonement, and Galatians 3 puts it in terms of receiving the Holy Spirit by faith…but never as Christ “living a perfect life in the sinner’s stead.”]

    I think you are half right the sinner committed sins that must be atoned for, but does not God’s law need to be followed perfectly? What about the righteous demand of the law of God? Has the sinner obeyed the law perfectly? If so, then he would not be a sinner. No, he is guilty before God because he had not obeyed the law of God perfectly. But see, even if only the payment is made for the sinner, the sinner still lacks the perfect obedience to the law of God. However, that is why the Bible talks in terms of not only a payment, but also a righteousness coming from God (Rm 1:17; 3:21-22) God is thus said to give credit to people (sinners without righteousness of their own) with “righteousness” coming from God.

    After talking about righteousness from God, apart from the law, he deals with, maybe an objection that a Jew may have, What about Abraham? Was father Abraham justified by works? Or what he justified by faith, not works, and he was credited by God with righteousness not of his own?

    Romans 4
    { 1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”}

    God past over his sins, in view of what Jesus would do, God credits Abraham with righteousness. Abraham was justified by God on the basis of faith in the God who saves. God gave to the credit of Abraham the righteousness that he did not have of his own. That is also true of anyone who is ever saved, by a righteousness not of their own.

    { 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.}

    Just when you think that maybe there was something about Abraham that merits/earns/worked for God to given him righteousness, Paul says that it was a “gift” given by God. If it was a gift, then it was not due to works. If it was works, then God would have owed it to Abraham. God did not own any sinner salvation.

    Think with me this odd phrase “God who justifies the wicked”. Any judge who is just would never do such a thing. How is that possible that Holy and Just God could ever justify what is “wicked”? However, God does justify the “wicked” person on the basis of another person’s righteousness. (If you could think of another way, let me know.)

    { 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
    7″Blessed are they
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
    8Blessed is the man
    whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”}

    Again, the most important question for you, Nick, is if you are the blessed man that David is talking about. Do you think that your transgressions are forgiven? Are your sins are covered?

    Reply
    • Nick

      Peter,

      I am glad you say you don’t presuppose alien righteousness before approaching the text.

      If I’m reading your logic right, you’re saying since man is unrighteous, he lacks righteousness by definition, and thus cannot be justified. Thus if he is justified, the righteousness be alien. Fair enough. It is a logical argument in itself. Now, the question is does the Bible paint that picture? Based on my thesis, I would answer no, but not because the righteousness comes from man as if it has its origin there. Instead, the righteousness comes from God, but is infused into man, exemplified in the infused gift of faith.

      Further, justification is described in terms of forgiveness of sins, “Blessed is the one who’s sins are forgiven,” so that eradication of sin is the focus here. It reminds me of 1 Jn 1:9,
      “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
      So the forgiven man is (based on confession of sin a la David in Ps 32), cleansed from all unrighteousness; and this must mean he is now righteous.

      You asked: What do you mean by “local”? Are you saying that a lost sinner has righteousness of his own? Where is that taught in Romans?

      By “local” I mean it inheres ‘in’ the subject being reckoned. So when Paul says, for example, in Romans 6:11, “reckon yourselves dead to sin but alive to God,” he means the Christian, in their soul, is truly dead to sin and alive to God. If that reckoning were alien, Paul would be saying the Christian is to be considered outwardly dead to sin, but inwardly is really still enslaved by sin. The latter understanding is unacceptable. When it comes to the gift of faith, surely it is infused by God, and surely exercising that gift is pleasing to God. This is why when someone believes their faith is reckoned as a righteous act.

      You asked: By what other means is God to save sinners, if it is not by an “alien” work (in this case merited by Christ for the lost sinner)?

      Well, there is no doubt Christ’s Passion and Death are the source of salvation, so in that sense it’s ‘alien’ to us; but that’s not what I’m getting at. It’s the application of Christ’s merits is what I’m getting at. Sin is only forgiven in light of Christ’s obedience unto death, yet application of that forgiveness entails believing/repenting. The infused gift of faith is not alien to the individual.

      You said: Hum… bud, I am not sure what you are talking about. If it is “Christ’s Righteousness” then how is that not alien to the sinner?

      Because righteousness is infused! You receive Christ into your heart, just as with the Holy Spirit. How can an individual not be righteous at that point? Impossible!

      You said: I think you are half right the sinner committed sins that must be atoned for, but does not God’s law need to be followed perfectly?

      The Law was abolished in light of Christ’s death, so it makes no sense to say it needs to be perfectly kept (Gal 2:21). And again, justification in Rom 3 and 4 is framed in terms of forgiveness of sins (4:6-8).

      You said: However, that is why the Bible talks in terms of not only a payment, but also a righteousness coming from God (Rm 1:17; 3:21-22) God is thus said to give credit to people (sinners without righteousness of their own) with “righteousness” coming from God.

      The “righteousness of God the Father” is not something earned by perfect obedience, nor did God the Son need to earn it. Instead, the “righteousness of God” is a quality of God’s nature, roughly referring to ‘faithfulness’ or ‘deliverer’, which is how it’s defined in Rom 3:5 and Jeremiah 33:15-16. Indeed, this is how Romans 1:17 is to be interpreted, as it quotes Hab 2:4, notice the insight Hebrews 10:38 gives it:
      “36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while,
      “He who is coming will come and will not delay.
      38But my righteous one will live by faith.
      And if he shrinks back,
      I will not be pleased with him.””

      Notice this is speaking of faithfulness.

      You said: Just when you think that maybe there was something about Abraham that merits/earns/worked for God to given him righteousness, Paul says that it was a “gift” given by God. If it was a gift, then it was not due to works. If it was works, then God would have owed it to Abraham. God did not own any sinner salvation.

      I agree with this in general, but I emphasize that the gift is infused.

      You said: Think with me this odd phrase “God who justifies the wicked”. Any judge who is just would never do such a thing. How is that possible that Holy and Just God could ever justify what is “wicked”? However, God does justify the “wicked” person on the basis of another person’s righteousness. (If you could think of another way, let me know.)

      While this is a logical argument, I don’t believe it’s the case Scripture is presenting. Justify here is none other than forgiving of sin, reconciling the sinner to Him, so “God justifies the wicked” means simply “God forgives the wicked,” hence “just as David says: Blessed is he who’s sins are forgiven.” There is nothing here indicating an alien righteousness is also required; that’s going beyond what the context warrants.

      You said: Again, the most important question for you, Nick, is if you are the blessed man that David is talking about. Do you think that your transgressions are forgiven? Are your sins are covered?

      First look at how he’s described as blessed: as one who’s sins are forgiven. I see no grounds for looking for an additional component here for justification. As for whether I believe my sins are forgiven, I believe yes (but conditionally, eg 1 Tim 5:8).

      Reply
  19. Nick

    This is in response to Joshua’s post made on November 29, 2009 at 1:10 am. There was no ‘reply’ option under this post.

    Joshua,

    If you agree that we shouldn’t presuppose then read it into the text, why is my interpretation of Gen 15:6 (using Rom 4:4 and Ps 106:31 as key proofs) invalid? I’m not sure why this takes so long to get a direct answer, especially when I’ve been answering questions all along.

    I’m not so much concerned about the term “alien righteousness” as I am about the concept and whether it appears in Scripture. I’ve been repeatedly told and read that the “credited” in “credited as righteousness” demands it mean “faith *transfers* righteousness,” when I see no warrant for doing so. If there is such warrant, provide it, or else concede my point.

    You say the term “credited” has not been established to point away from alien righteousness…Joshua, here is your chance, and your duty as apologist, to show me, from Scripture, why that’s not established. The Truth shouldn’t be that hard to come by.

    I’ve presented my proofs, looking at how Scripture itself uses the term “credited”…and especially right in the context under dispute: Romans 4:4. This is a moment of reckoning (pun not intended) where people need to put the Bible first and presuppositions second.

    As for the notion of ‘acts’, don’t you realize that terms like “believes” and the like are verbs? Verbs signify actions. The category of faith and works can both be acts/verbs without being the same thing just as pizza and fruit are both food but not the same thing. Paul is not saying “don’t work, instead act” because working is an act. Paul is saying “dont do the act of works, do the act of faith”. When Paul says “believe in your heart” and “confess with your mouth” in Rom 10 he is commanding the person to ‘do’ something, but that something is faith and not works. Rom 4:12 speaks of “walk in the footsteps of the faith” Abraham displayed, again, an ‘act’ was taking place, but it wasn’t considered ‘works’.

    Your false dilemma is highlighted in this quote:
    “But according to what you’re saying, God justifies those who deserve it by doing X (after all, X is always credited as X, right?). But Paul seems to be saying something else, Paul seems to be suggesting that God justifies those who don’t do anything except believe.”

    You’re conflating the notion of ‘do’ with the notion of ‘works’, which is not what Paul is doing. Further, your last sentence says “dont DO anything EXCEPT believe” which seems to indicate believing entails “doing”.

    The following quote is another false dilemma:
    “Is it because these people finally do something, perhaps a ‘righteous act’ to deserve it? Well, if that’s the case, then God must be justifying the godly, not the ungodly. No, for these people who are ungodly sinners, who can’t do “X,” they figure out that all they need to do is “Y”–for these pathetic folk “Y” is reckoned as “X.”

    Take Paul’s very example of David when he quotes Psalm 32 in Romans 4, look what Psalm 32 says:
    “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’
    and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. ”
    Look at that! An ungodly individual did something – confessed his sins – and God justified him! So there is no problem with David being a “pathetic folk” and yet able to do a righteous act (confess his sins).
    When it comes to the infused gift of faith (of which confessing requires) into the soul of the sinner, exercising that faith is pleasing in God’s sight.

    You said: Romans 6, it all takes place in the soul? Really?

    I’m not sure why that’s a problem. Where is it taking place if not the soul? When Paul says Rom 6:11 “reckon yourselves dead to sin but alive to God,” are you saying that’s not speaking of the soul? When Paul speaks in 6:12-13 of using your body as an instrument for righteousness, is he not speaking of engaging in righteous acts?

    I’m a bit offended by your concluding few paragraphs, because you speak as if I’m some arrogant individual who claims he’s right ‘just because’. You’re caricaturing my analysis, and that’s not right. I’m not saying ‘logizomai’ means what I say it means ‘just because’, but rather because I’ve presented proof.
    And let the Lord be witness to the fact I’m openly and honestly looking at the evidence, where as you’ve not given any such proof. Let God and all other readers see I’ve not excluded context, as I repeatedly point to Romans 4:4 as a key proof. And when it comes to answering questions, have I not shown willingness to answer yours?

    I hope you don’t mean to be rude, but I take offense at your claim I’m “absolutely unwilling to concede anything” when I’m the one backing up my claims and yet I’m not getting substantial proof from you for yours, nor direct interaction and rebuttals to the case I’ve presented.

    Please, be my guest and exegete Romans 4:4, including how logizomai is employed. Surely this is not an impossible demand, but rather a fair and honest one. And if you’re up to it, go ahead and make a new Blog Entry for the task, so a wider audience can see.

    Joshua, now is your chance to shine. Now is the time to expose my faulty reasoning and show me the correct way.

    Reply
    • Joshua Lim

      Nick,

      Why is it that you think that you’re the only one bringing warranted arguments to the table? You keep telling me to prove it, I’ve responded and yet you just brush it aside and tell me to ‘really’ prove it. I’ve given the argument that the concept is present, but you seem to have completely missed those points since you don’t even bother mentioning it.

      Anyway, I’m done.

      Reply
      • Nick

        For the concept to be present you must demonstrate the term logizomai is used in that manner.

        This is why I keep pointing to Romans 4:4, because via reductio ad absurdum logizomai doesn’t work the way you’re suggesting.

        The fact you seem somewhat afraid to exegete that verse is not sitting well with me.

    • Peter Chen

      Nick,

      [Fair enough. It is a logical argument in itself. Now, the question is does the Bible paint that picture?]

      Friend, what are you talking about? I am very sure you read what I wrote, right? Then why do you sound as if you have not read it?

      Reply
      • Nick

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Please elaborate. I read what you wrote and commented upon it.

  20. Peter Chen

    nick,

    You said that if what my point was presenting the teachings of the Bible, I was dealing with the text and explaining the text to you. IF your case was that you rejected my understanding of Romans 3-5, then why did you know try to point it out from the context? Instead of doing that, you just claimed that I was not presenting the teaching of the Bible. How could one claim that I was not presenting the teachings of the Bible, and yet do not deal with the text I was talking from and about?

    If can you see my confusion over your words, and why I would ask if you read what I wrote?

    Reply
    • Nick

      Hmm, are you specifically talking about my asking if your comment was “Biblical”? My point was not that you just made something up apart from the text, but rather (rhetorically) asking is that what the text was really saying.

      For example, take this quote of yours, commenting on Rom 4:4:5:
      “Think with me this odd phrase “God who justifies the wicked”. Any judge who is just would never do such a thing. How is that possible that Holy and Just God could ever justify what is “wicked”? However, God does justify the “wicked” person on the basis of another person’s righteousness.”

      Here, I *understand* the concept you’re describing, based on your reading of the text, and it is logical in itself, but I’m saying you’re misreading the verse. Yes, the Bible says “God justifies the wicked,” but I see the text interpreting that as “Blessed is the man who’s sins are forgiven,” not a basis to introduce an alien righteousness so that God can justify.

      Hopefully we are not talking past each other and instead are clearing things up.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Nick,
        I don’t want to talk past each other. But you were not addressing the text as I have been presenting to you. You talked long and hard at your own points, instead of the verses. If you really think I have “misreading” of the verses, then why did not not address the verses?

        So you claim that “God who justifies the wicked”, is talking about what… what the wicked was not wicked? How do you deal with that?

        Yes, “Blessed is the man who’s sins are forgiven…” are you trying to say that there was some human basis for God to bless the man with forgiveness?

        Again, I ask you, Nick, are you the blessed man? Are your sins forgiven?

  21. Peter Chen

    sorry again for the messy writing. I again did not get to read it. I trust you are able to make out what I wrote.

    Reply
  22. Nick

    Peter,

    You said in your most recent response:
    “If you really think I have misreading of the verses, then why did not not address the verses?”

    Call me dense, I don’t understand what you’re saying here. I have addressed the verses.

    Peter: So you claim that “God who justifies the wicked”, is talking about what…what the wicked was not wicked? How do you deal with that?

    Nick: The wicked is justified *precisely* in that they are forgiven of their sins. So God is not saying “you wicked man are righteous,” that’s an abomination, instead God is saying “you wicked man are forgiven.”
    So ‘justify’ = ‘blessed’ = ‘sins forgiven’.

    Peter: Yes, “Blessed is the man who’s sins are forgiven…” are you trying to say that there was some human basis for God to bless the man with forgiveness?

    Nick: Only ‘human basis’ is that David had to perform an act of repentance (Psalm 32:5), but David’s repentance itself was a gift of God’s grace.

    Peter: Again, I ask you, Nick, are you the blessed man? Are your sins forgiven?

    Nick: I say yes.

    Reply
  23. Peter Chen

    Nick,

    Don’t worry, I don’t like to call anyone names.

    But instead of talking about all the other things I would like to talk with you about more of a personal matter, and everything else should come along as needed.

    Peter: Again, I ask you, Nick, are you the blessed man? Are your sins forgiven?

    Nick: I say yes.

    I am very happy that you are able to answer “yes” that you think that your sins are forgiven, but what motivated to answer that way?

    Reply
    • Nick

      What motivated my answer? I’d say it’s because the truth is important to me.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        The truth of what? Are you changing the subject or are you saying that because you think that truth is important to you, therefore you think you are forgiven of your sins?

        Let me be more clear. You claim that your sins are forgiven in terms of:

        { Rm 4:6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
        7″Blessed are they
        whose transgressions are forgiven,
        whose sins are covered.
        8Blessed is the man
        whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”}

        Why do you think that your sins are forgiven?

  24. Nick

    I’ve been so swamped with work that I’ve not been able to get around to other stuff.

    Sorry for the delay.

    In response to your last post, I’m saying truth is important to me because without truth we won’t be believing in the right things (or at least not as well as we could be). So, if truth is important to me, I’ll want to be believing the right doctrine when it comes to things like salvation.

    Why do I think my sins are forgiven (based for example on Rom 4:6-8)? Simply, they are forgiven because God is merciful and will forgive not because I deserve it but because he is pleased to forgive those who repent. More complexly, Christ was the intercessor and made propitiation for our sins, in a similar sense that Phinehas (a foreshadowing of Christ) did in Num 25:1-13.

    Reply
    • Peter Chen

      Hi Nick,

      I am busy too; I understand. I agree with you that truth is very important. And maybe we maybe even agree that Truth is what is taught by God in his word–the Bible.

      So, we are back to your statement that you believe that your sins are forgiven and my simple question of why do you think so?

      Surely, you are not putting the Phinehas on the level with Jesus, right? In your mind, do you put the work of Phinehas as part of why you are saved? (I don’t think you would.) If not, then let’s just drop that to more valuable talk.

      Here you said, [Simply, they are forgiven because God is merciful and will forgive not because I deserve it but because he is pleased to forgive those who repent. More complexly, Christ was the intercessor and made propitiation for our sins,..]

      This causes me to ask a few questions:

      Are you really saying that you think you are saved because of what God has done, and not because of what you have done? In other words, you are not saved because of anything that you do, but what God had done for you in Jesus Christ?

      In your own words, what do you think Jesus did what enables you to claim that your sins are forgiven?

      Reply
      • Nick

        Correct, I am not putting Phinehas on Jesus’ level, only using his account as a foreshadowing of the invaluable work Christ did.

        You asked: Are you really saying that you think you are saved because of what God has done, and not because of what you have done? In other words, you are not saved because of anything that you do, but what God had done for you in Jesus Christ?

        Nick: Are you speaking of saved as a whole or forgiven in particular. In regards to being forgiven, we don’t deserve forgiveness at all, thus it’s a pure act of mercy.

        You asked: In your own words, what do you think Jesus did what enables you to claim that your sins are forgiven?

        He propitiated God’s wrath, becoming my Intercessor, allowing the granting of forgiveness.

  25. Peter Chen

    Is there a difference as to being saved as a whole? I was talking about the total/whole. Would you agree then that if anyone is saved, it is due to God’s grace or is it due to what the person does? Is the persons salvation dependent on what the person does?

    You [He propitiated God’s wrath, becoming my Intercessor, allowing the granting of forgiveness.]

    Do you really believe that Jesus has propitiated the wrath of God for you? If so, what confidence do you have to be saved?

    On what basis is Jesus able to intercede for a sinner? Surely Jesus does not do so by just complaining or nagging. Would you think that Jesus as your intercessor does so on the basis of what he had done to save that person he intercedes for?

    Are you thinking that you are saved on the basis of what Christ had done for you to make you right with God or is it based on what you do to keep your self forgiven?

    Reply
    • Nick

      Peter: Is there a difference as to being saved as a whole? I was talking about the total/whole. Would you agree then that if anyone is saved, it is due to God’s grace or is it due to what the person does? Is the persons salvation dependent on what the person does?

      Nick: There are ‘phases’ of salvation, and in one’s walk as a Christian you are ‘being saved’ as God’s grace works through you each day.

      Peter: Do you really believe that Jesus has propitiated the wrath of God for you? If so, what confidence do you have to be saved?

      Nick: Yes, Jesus did. My confidence is that as I continue to abide in Him, I’m forgiven.

      Peter: On what basis is Jesus able to intercede for a sinner? Surely Jesus does not do so by just complaining or nagging. Would you think that Jesus as your intercessor does so on the basis of what he had done to save that person he intercedes for?

      Nick: I don’t understand the question. Complaining or nagging?

      Peter: Are you thinking that you are saved on the basis of what Christ had done for you to make you right with God or is it based on what you do to keep your self forgiven?

      Nick: I don’t think it’s an either-or, but a both-and. Matthew 18:23ff describes this nicely.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Nick

        Was there a once in time, when you think you where saved?

        I think you missed the more important part of the question: Would you agree then that if anyone is saved, it is due to God’s grace or is it due to what the person does? Is the persons salvation dependent on what the person does?

        Nick: [Yes, Jesus did. My confidence is that as I continue to abide in Him, I’m forgiven.]

        Are your confidence in salvation due to your abiding, or due to the wrath of God propitiated by Jesus?

        Nick: [I don’t understand the question. Complaining or nagging?]

        Let me explain: If someone was in jail and a friend could pay bail and get him out. The reason for why the person was set free was due to the payment being made. You were saying that Jesus “becoming my Intercessor”; on what basis, in your view, would Jesus’ intercessory work be accepted?

        Nick: I don’t think it’s an either-or, but a both-and.

        So, you think that salvation is a matter of Jesus’ work, and your work. Is that right? That does sound like what you are saying.

        Are you bringing up Matt 18: 21-35, because you think Jesus is talking about salvation by the working of Jesus and the work of man?

      • Peter Chen

        By the way, are you a Roman Catholic, or how would you identify your view?

  26. Nick

    Hello,

    Yes, I am Catholic, and believe all that the Catholic Church teaches.

    As for your most recent comments:

    Peter: Was there a once in time, when you think you where saved?

    Nick: Of course.

    Peter: Would you agree then that if anyone is saved, it is due to God’s grace or is it due to what the person does? Is the persons salvation dependent on what the person does?

    Nick: Both are requirements, but they serve different roles. So for example, though one is saved by God’s grace, without having faith salvation won’t occur. When the Bible says one is ‘saved by faith’, faith is something man does, not God (though God gives the gift and enables man).

    Peter: Are your confidence in salvation due to your abiding, or due to the wrath of God propitiated by Jesus?

    Nick: Both. Man must persevere in Christ’s friendship.

    Peter: If someone was in jail and a friend could pay bail and get him out. The reason for why the person was set free was due to the payment being made. You were saying that Jesus “becoming my Intercessor”; on what basis, in your view, would Jesus’ intercessory work be accepted?

    Nick: Jesus intercessory work would be accepted for Who He is – The Son of God, showing obedience unto death.

    Peter: So, you think that salvation is a matter of Jesus’ work, and your work. Is that right? That does sound like what you are saying.

    Nick: We both play a role, though the roles are different. The categories of ‘work’ are different, not competing. Like I said above, Jesus doesn’t do the believing, we do.

    Peter: Are you bringing up Matt 18: 21-35, because you think Jesus is talking about salvation by the working of Jesus and the work of man?

    Nick: ONLY in the sense that the parable shows only God forgives, out of mercy, but that repentance of man is needed. The man was in debt, nothing he in himself had could erase it, only pure mercy of the King. As the parable showed though, that you must abide by the King’s rules in order to receive His merciful benefits.

    Reply
    • Peter Chen

      Hi Nick,

      I thought you were, though, I am guessing you take Romans Catholic teaching with a twist to some extent. But maybe when we get to know each others views better, we would know better what each side believes.

      Nick: [Both are requirements, but they serve different roles. So for example, though one is saved by God’s grace, without having faith salvation won’t occur. When the Bible says one is ’saved by faith’, faith is something man does, not God (though God gives the gift and enables man).]

      If your salvation dependent on you and grace of God, then why did you answer so sure that you think you are saved?: Peter: Again, I ask you, Nick, are you the blessed man? Are your sins forgiven? Nick: I say yes.

      If you really think that salvation is dependent on God’s grace and you, then on what basis are you able to answer that your sins are forgiven, and God will not count your sins against you (Romans4:6-8 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:  7″Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  8Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” [Greek: 6 μακάριοι ὧν ἀφέθησαν αἱ ἀνομίαι καὶ ὧν ἐπεκαλύφθησαν αἱ ἁμαρτίαι· 7 μακάριος ἀνὴρ οὗ οὐ μὴ λογίσηται κύριος ἁμαρτίαν.])

      The Gk “ἀφέθησαν,” and “ἐπεκαλύφθησαν” are both in the future passive. The blessed person is said that his sins in the future will not be counted against him. Yet, given your theology, how is it possible for you to say that you are the blessed man that David talked about? Surely, as you have said, your salvation is dependent on grace and you.

      On the other hand, if a persons salvation is dependent on grace and that person, and without the part that man does, then how is not that contribution to his own salvation not rightly identified as works?

      Again, how is it that you can define “faith” that is what a person does to contribute to one’s own salvation, and yet that is supposedly not works (however, without which that person is not saved)?

      So you just answered that your salvation is at least in part, due to your confidence in your self to abide? I am sure you see this questions coming: How is this self abiding, not a works that is dependent for salvation?

      I wrote: …what basis, in your view, would Jesus’ intercessory work be accepted?
      Nick: Jesus intercessory work would be accepted for Who He is – The Son of God, showing obedience unto death.
      Let me get you right, Jesus merely says, “I am Jesus, forgive that person!” Is that it? What, the Father did not know Jesus was Jesus until Jesus says so? Again, on what basis is Jesus to make intercession for the sinner?
      Nick: We both play a role, though the roles are different. The categories of ‘work’ are different, not competing. Like I said above, Jesus doesn’t do the believing, we do.

      I don’t think we are in disagreement that is it the sinner who does the believing, but I think you are mistaken if you think I am in rejection of that. The problem it seams to me is that you make the believing/faith into an act of man that plays a role in salvation. That seams to be rejected by Paul: Romans 4:4-5  4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

      Faith is never to be confused with works, but rather faith looks to/trust in God, who does the work. God is said to be one who “justifies the wicked”. If the person is said to be “wicked,” then what work does the wicked have to commend himself to God?

      Again, you are talking about Matt 18: 21-35, as if it is about salvation, please demonstrate what you claim. If you want to apply it to salvation, then wouldn’t you need to demonstrate that that is what Jesus was talking about? I read your claim, but I don’t see your demonstration of your claim.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        That is great. Is everyone else able to see the Greek up there? Maybe we can just use the Greek from here on.

      • Nick

        Peter: If your salvation dependent on you and grace of God, then why did you answer so sure that you think you are saved?

        Nick: I don’t see the difficulty here. Repenting and trusting God will forgive isn’t an either/or situation. The only way I can even see a logical interpretation of what you said is if God is the one who repents for you, but that clearly doesn’t make sense.

        Peter: The Gk “ἀφέθησαν,” and “ἐπεκαλύφθησαν” are both in the future passive. The blessed person is said that his sins in the future will not be counted against him. Yet, given your theology, how is it possible for you to say that you are the blessed man that David talked about? Surely, as you have said, your salvation is dependent on grace and you.

        Nick: I don’t know Greek beyond simple lexical analysis, so I can only follow this so far. Are you saying the Blessed man wont have to repent in the future for future sins? Is that what you’re saying? If so, I find that incompatible with Scripture and common sense. David speaking those words was repenting for sin he recently committed, he wasn’t converting or anything like that. And the Lord’s Prayer requires us to regularly pray “forgive us our trespasses” and that we are to forgive “70 x 7” if we want God to forgive us. 1 Jn 1:9 speaks to Christians telling them “if we confess our sins” God will forgive indicating forgiveness extends only to the past.

        Peter: Again, how is it that you can define “faith” that is what a person does to contribute to one’s own salvation, and yet that is supposedly not works (however, without which that person is not saved)?

        Nick: Because they are two different animals. It’s like asking me: how can an airplane be used to fly but a car cannot be used to fly? Airplanes fly, cars don’t; faith saves, works don’t. When Paul speaks of the need for us to believe in such things as Jesus being raised from the dead, that’s serious business. Without the divine gift of faith, man cannot believe Jesus was raised from the dead. Works are in a different category because they never serve the function of believing. That’s why Rom 10:10 is so profound (stating we must ‘believe’ and ‘confess’ to be saved, with neither of those being ‘works’), because outside of Christendom such ‘good news’ is literally foolishness.

        Peter: So you just answered that your salvation is at least in part, due to your confidence in your self to abide? I am sure you see this questions coming: How is this self abiding, not a works that is dependent for salvation?

        Nick: You’re now getting into a different department. The good works Christians are called to do are not to be confused with the ‘conversion’ of the Christian. That’s why Eph 2 speaks first of ‘works’ (in a negative sense) and then of “good works”, and that’s why in the texts speaking of final judgment we see entrance to Heaven based on how one lived their life.

        Peter: Let me get you right, Jesus merely says, “I am Jesus, forgive that person!” Is that it?

        Nick: In essence, yes. That’s precisely what Advocate/Intercessor refer to.

        Peter: What, the Father did not know Jesus was Jesus until Jesus says so? Again, on what basis is Jesus to make intercession for the sinner?

        Nick: That’s not it at all. The Father certainly knows the Son, but in the manner of revealing God’s love (through sending Jesus) it is through Christ’s intercession specifically. The ‘basis’ was His “obedience unto death,” as Phil 2:8 teaches. The same thing is taught in Heb 5:
        “7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”

        Peter: I don’t think we are in disagreement that is it the sinner who does the believing, but I think you are mistaken if you think I am in rejection of that.

        Nick: Well, it’s great that this was cleared up. The sinner “does” something, and it’s not ‘works’, it’s ‘believing’. I’m wasn’t sure if you rejected that, but I remember I had a difficult time convincing Joshua of this idea.

        Peter: The problem it seams to me is that you make the believing/faith into an act of man that plays a role in salvation.

        Nick: How could it be otherwise? When X causes Y, then X plays a role. When faith is necessary for salvation, and man “does the believing,” then he played a role.

        Peter: That seams to be rejected by Paul: Romans 4:4-5 4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

        Nick: That is speaking of someone approaching God with a “you owe me” mentality, as if saying “I did all these good works, now God *owes* me salvation.” Faith says “I don’t deserve anything, but I believe God will forgive me if I repent.” In the former, God is *obliged* to bless; in the latter, God *graciously* blesses.

        Peter: Faith is never to be confused with works, but rather faith looks to/trust in God, who does the work. God is said to be one who “justifies the wicked”. If the person is said to be “wicked,” then what work does the wicked have to commend himself to God?

        Nick: The “work” God does here is not the “work” just ‘condemned’ by Paul. God is the only one that justifies, ever, man never justifies himself (in the sense of salvation). The wicked has nothing but (the gift of) repentance, which is precisely what God looks for before forgiving sins.

        Peter: Again, you are talking about Matt 18: 21-35, as if it is about salvation, please demonstrate what you claim. If you want to apply it to salvation, then wouldn’t you need to demonstrate that that is what Jesus was talking about? I read your claim, but I don’t see your demonstration of your claim.

        Nick: You are denying Mat 18 is about salvation? lol. What is it talking about then? The context is about forgiveness and the kingdom of God and even being eternally punished, how is salvation not in view?

  27. Peter Chen

    Hi Nick,

    Sorry, It is my turn to take some time before betting back to you. My whole family and I have been sick. We just spread it to each other somehow and so I have been held back from writing you back. I have been very busy at work as well, but will get back to you when I can.

    This has gotten so long, until I am able to finish writing you back, maybe you can explain to me what you mean. As we have said, faith and works is not the same, but are you saying that faith merits justification? If that is so, then, are you not making faith into works?

    Reply
  28. Peter Chen

    Nick,

    I was thinking about the Roman Catholic view of baptism, I don’t know if you are able to help me. I don’t mean to change subject here, but to ask you something on the side.

    Death-bed-baptism has been practiced in the past. Given the Roman Catholic view of Baptism Regeneration, it seams to make sense to me that people would hold off their baptism to the end as much as possible, instead of infant baptism. Would you happen to know why infant baptism came back to practice?

    Reply
    • Nick

      Hi,

      I’m really busy over this Christmas season, so I havn’t been keeping up with most of my online stuff.

      You asked about when infant baptism came back into practice. My response would be that it never went out of practice.

      The issue of death-bed-baptism has come up in Church history, but the Church has historically looked down upon it. This is specifically dealing with those who could have been baptized earlier but deliberately held off till the last moment – this should not be confused with those who are just coming to faith and converting on their deathbed and receiving baptism then. It has been looked down upon for multiple reasons, first and foremost because it’s unwise to bank on dying at a certain time rather than unexpectedly and thus miss your opportunity. Second of all, apart from Baptism one is cut off from the Body of Christ, thus they are living their life not growing in holiness and building up the Kingdom. What a shame and a loss for someone to throw away their gifts.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Hi Nick,

        I have been very busy as well with family, work, and classes.

        It seams to be widely practice about the 2-400 a.d. What do you mean it was “looked down upon”? By whom, and what are their years?

        what was your thought on: As we have said, faith and works is not the same, but are you saying that faith merits justification? If that is so, then, are you not making faith into works?

  29. Nick

    I don’t think it was very common at any time in Church history, but there were times when it was done enough that the Church spoke out against it. I don’t remember the exact places where I read it, but in some of the early ecumenical councils the canons speak out against the practice of holding off baptism until deathbed.

    You asked: As we have said, faith and works is not the same, but are you saying that faith merits justification? If that is so, then, are you not making faith into works?

    The term ‘merits’, as I have said from the beginning, is a bad term to use in this discussion because too many people get the wrong impression. We already discussed (and I though agreed) that the fact grace enables the gift of faith to be exercised then there is no real problem here.

    Reply
    • Peter Chen

      sorry, been busy.

      what canons are you talking about?

      the term “merit” is often used by Roman Catholics, namely in Trent, because it is part of the Roman teaching.

      CHAPTER XVI of Trent states:

      “On the fruit of Justification, that is, on the merit of good works, and on the nature of that merit.

      … And, for this cause, life eternal is to be proposed to those working well unto the end, and hoping in God, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Jesus Christ, and as a reward which is according to the promise of God Himself, to be faithfully rendered to their good works and merits. …

      The point of eternal life as a reward for personal faithfulness due to good works and merits is part of the the teaching of the Roman church… according to the Canon’s of Trent would you not agree?

      Has Rome changed or is there another way/your own way of understanding of it that is different?

      Reply
      • Nick

        The canons I’m talking about regarding delaying baptism till death-bed are not in Trent but some early council I read. I wouldn’t know where to start looking, and it’s not a priority for me to find it.

        As for “merit,” you are correct, the Catholic Church uses the term. My hesitancy to use the term is because Protestants get the wrong impression, thinking the term necessitates pelagianism. This, however, is incorrect, as Augustine was never against merit all together. The Council of Orange has a fine statement on this issue:

        “CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.”

        In modern speak, Catholics use the term ‘gracious merit’, in which obedience is rewarded by God, but since it is enabled and sustained by grace, it is not pelagian or even unbiblical. The texts referring to the Final Judgment all state we are judged by our works, as do many other references regarding attaining “eternal life” (e.g. Rom 2:5-8; Gal 6:7-9).

  30. Peter Chen

    I do not and have not said that Rome is Pelagian. It is what has come to be called semi-Pelagian, I am guessing you would admit. The point I would like you to address is Trent’s clearly talking about “life eternal” and how that is merited to a person, it is not due to grace only but “as a reward which is … rendered to their good works and merits.” That is the claim of the Roman system is it not?

    Reply
    • nick

      No. I deny Rome is semi-Pelagian, as Rome accepts the Council of Orange (as I just quoted). And unfortunately most Protestants who accept Orange have either never read it or don’t understand what they’re reading. This is precisely why I hesitate to go into using terms like ‘merit’, because it is too easily misunderstood.

      The way Trent talks about meriting eternal life is precisely how Orange does (e.g. Canon 18, which I quoted above). If you accept Orange, then there is really no difficulty here; if you deny Orange, then your understanding of what exactly semi-pelagianism is is probably not the original definition.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Nick,

        Please read over what I said, “The point I would like you to address is Trent’s clearly talking about “life eternal” and how that is merited to a person, it is not due to grace only but “as a reward which is … rendered to their good works and merits.” That is the claim of the Roman system is it not?”

        Please deal with the what Trent claims, because as it seems to be, that you are wanting to say that salvation is by grace and not works, but that is not the claim of Trent. I would be happy to know you thought on Trent.

        On the side note, yes, I have read Orange, and know the history behind it. And I don’t know how you can claim that “Rome is semi-Pelagian” please present your case, when it seams clear from Trent that a person does NOT receive LIFE ETERNAL by Grace only, but by grace and the works/merits of the person. How is that not semi-Pelagian?

      • Peter Chen

        another side, note: It seams like you are assume that the Council of Orange was fully Augustinian, but I don’t know why you think so. I would agree that for Augustine, salvation was by grace only, and not works, but you seam to like Augustine.

  31. Nick

    Peter: That is the claim of the Roman system is it not?

    Nick: Yes, it is a claim of the Catholic church, and properly understood, it is orthodox (i.e. neither semi-pelagian nor unbiblical).

    P: Please deal with the what Trent claims, because as it seems to be, that you are wanting to say that salvation is by grace and not works, but that is not the claim of Trent. I would be happy to know you thought on Trent.

    N: My explanation wont make sense unless you first understand Canon 18 of Orange (quoted a few posts above). Do you believe Orange condemned semi-pelagianism and was an orthodox council? If yes, then I can build upon that and explain the Catholic view. If no, then we’ve reached an impasse, where your definition of semi-pelagianism is not the classically condemned definition.

    P: I don’t know how you can claim that “Rome is semi-Pelagian” please present your case, when it seams clear from Trent that a person does NOT receive LIFE ETERNAL by Grace only, but by grace and the works/merits of the person. How is that not semi-Pelagian?

    N: Perhaps you misspoke, I DENIED Rome is semi-P.
    Anyway, Semi-pelagianism doesn’t deny merit absolutely, it denies merit in the ‘strict’ sense only. It is not semi-pelagian to say God’s grace enables one to do good works and yet in turn God rewards those works; that’s the plain teaching of Scripture (e.g. Gal 6:7-9; Phil 2:12-13; etc) and the same reasoning of Augustine and Orange. Deny this and you’re essentially attacking a phantom heresy.

    P: another side, note: It seams like you are assume that the Council of Orange was fully Augustinian, but I don’t know why you think so. I would agree that for Augustine, salvation was by grace only, and not works, but you seam to like Augustine.

    N: I’m not sure I understand your question. Yes, Orange was fully Augustinian as far as the semi-pelagian issue goes (i.e. it didn’t deal with other heresies Augustine addressed like Manicheanism and such). I’m not sure if you agree with Augustine’s views or not, but there is an unfortunate myth out there that “Augustine was Calvinist” when that simply is false, and the grace-merit issue is one example.

    Here is a solid example of where St Augustine teaches salvation is by grace enabling man to merit eternal life, the very teaching of Orange. Look at this quote from On Grace and Free Will (I’ve shortened the quote for size only):
    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1510.htm

    Chapter 19 [VIII.]— How is Eternal Life Both a Reward for Service and a Free Gift of Grace?
    If eternal life is rendered to good works, as the Scripture most openly declares … how can eternal life be a matter of grace, seeing that grace is not rendered to works, but is given gratuitously … How, then, is eternal life by grace, when it is received from works? …

    Chapter 20.— The Question Answered. Justification is Grace Simply and Entirely, Eternal Life is Reward and Grace.
    This question, then, seems to me to be by no means capable of solution, unless we understand that even those good works of ours, which are recompensed with eternal life, belong to the grace of God, because of what is said by the Lord Jesus: Without me you can do nothing. John 15:5 And the apostle himself, after saying, By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast; Ephesians 2:8-9 saw, of course, the possibility that men would think from this statement that good works are not necessary to those who believe, but that faith alone suffices for them; and again, the possibility of men’s boasting of their good works, as if they were of themselves capable of performing them. To meet, therefore, these opinions on both sides, he immediately added, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 What is the purport of his saying, Not of works, lest any man should boast, while commending the grace of God? And then why does he afterwards, when giving a reason for using such words, say, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works? Why, therefore, does it run, Not of works, lest any man should boast? Now, hear and understand. Not of works is spoken of the works which you suppose have their origin in yourself alone; but you have to think of works for which God has moulded (that is, has formed and created) you. … It follows, then, dearly beloved, beyond all doubt, that as your good life is nothing else than God’s grace, so also the eternal life which is the recompense of a good life is the grace of God; moreover it is given gratuitously, even as that is given gratuitously to which it is given. But that to which it is given is solely and simply grace; this therefore is also that which is given to it, because it is its reward—grace is for grace, as if remuneration for righteousness; in order that it may be true, because it is true, that God shall reward every man according to his works.

    Chapter 21 [IX.]— Eternal Life is Grace for Grace.
    …out of His fullness we have received, according to our humble measure, our particles of ability as it were for leading good lives— according as God has dealt to every man his measure of faith; Romans 12:3 because every man has his proper gift of God; one after this manner, and another after that. 1 Corinthians 7:7 And this is grace. But, over and above this, we shall also receive grace for grace, when we shall have awarded to us eternal life … It is, however, only because He works good works in good men, of whom it is said, It is God which works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure, Philippians 2:13 that the Psalm has it, as just now quoted: He crowns you with mercy and compassion, since it is through His mercy that we perform the good deeds to which the crown is awarded. It is not, however, to be for a moment supposed, because he said, It is God that works in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure, that free will is taken away. If this, indeed, had been his meaning, he would not have said just before, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12 For when the command is given to work, their free will is addressed; and when it is added, with fear and trembling, they are warned against boasting of their good deeds as if they were their own, by attributing to themselves the performance of anything good.

    Reply
    • inwoolee

      Taken from Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine by J.V. Fesko in his chapter titled “Justification In Church History” pages 10-14

      In the Epistle of Barnabas (c. 70-138), we read that God abolished the old order of Moses so that the “new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without the yoke of necessity, might have a human oblation.” Likewise, Justin Martyr spoke of the gospel as a “new law,” and Tertullian employed the same old law-new law categories: “And so there is incumbent on us a necessity binding us, since we have premised that a new law was predicted by the prophets, and that not such as had been already given to their fathers at the time when He led them forth from the land of Egypt, to show and prove, on the one hand, that the old law had ceased, and on the other that the promised new law is now in operation.” Given this confusion of law and gospel. it is fair to say that for some church fathers it would be difficult to affirm a Reformation doctrine of justification because of the differing hermeneutical presuppositions. As Scott Clark observes:

      “This is not an indictment of the father. To criticize the fathers for failing to use Luther’s (or Calvin’s) language is rather like criticizing Aquinas for not using Einstein’s physics. The conceptual framework within which most early postapostolic Christians read the Scriptures made it difficult for them to see the forensic categories. Because Christians were frequently marginalized and criticized as immoral and impious, the fathers placed great stress on piety and morality. They did not, however, always ground their parenesis in the gospel in the same way Paul did.”

      It was during the Pelagius-Augustine debate, however, where matters pertaining to soteriology, or more specifically justification, were defined with greater precision.

      The Augustine-Pelagius Debate

      If the early patristic period was marked by a confusion regarding the relationship between faith and works in salvation, the debate between Augustine (354-430) and Pelagius (d. 425) brought greater clarity. One should not, though that Augustine never addressed the topic of justification in a precise way, and he never devoted a treatise, sermon, or letter to the subject. Nevertheless, it is helpful to see what contribution Augustine brings to the development of the doctrine, as Augustine plays a significant role in the sixteenth-century debates on justification.

      Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin and argues that sin was passed, not ontologically or forensically, but by imitation. Commenting on Romans 5:12, Pelagius writes: ”By example or by patter…. As long as they sin the same way, they likewise die.” This mean, of course, that one could by his works merit his justification. While God’s grace was helpful it was not absolutely necessary. Augustine, on the other hand, held to a strong doctrine of original sin, which made the grace of God absolutely necessary and antecedent to the believer’s good works. Augustine writes: Grace is therefore of him who calls, and the consequent good works of him receives grace. Good works do not produce grace but as produced by grace. Fire is not hot in order that it may burn, but because it burns. A wheel does not run nicely in order that i may be round, but because it is round.” Given the necessary priority of grace of God, Augustine’s formulation of justification placed a strong emphasis upon the necessity of faith to the exclusion of works.

      Augustine understood that when the Scripture speaks of the “righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17), it refers not to the righteousness by which God himself is righteous but that by which he justifies sinners. (Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter 11, in NPNF 5:87). This means that for Augustine, the sinner’s justification is a free gift from God given through faith: “In a word, not by the law of works, but by the law of faith; not by the letter, but by the spirit; not by the merits of deeds, but by free grace.” (Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter 11, in NPNF 5:93) So then, faith received great emphasis in Augustine’s understanding of justification, though it should also be noted that his view of justification was more holistic. Justification was not merely a forensic declaration of righteousness but also the transformation of the sinner.” (Berkhof, History of Christian Doctrines, 207).

      Alister McGrath explains that the initial transmission of a scriptural Hebrew or Greek concept in Latin affected the development of the doctrine of justification. He notes, for example that dikaioun (“to justify”) was translated by the Latin term iustificare (“to make righteous”). (McGrath, Iustitia Dei, 1.16.) In other words, in the translation from Greek to Latin, the forensic nature of the verb was lost and replaced by a transformative term. “Viewed theologically,” writes McGrath, “this transition resulted in a shift of emphasis from iustitia coram Deo to iustitia in hominibus. The shift of emphasis and reference from God to man is inevitably accompained by an anthropocentricity in the discussion of justification which is quite absent from the biblical material.” (McGrath, Iustitia Dei, 1:15-16) Yet one has to wonder whether he can pin the development of the doctrine of Augustine, or in the Middle Ages, on the translation of the verb alone.

      There are two factors that one should consider in this matter. First, there is the common assumption that Augustine rarely if ever used the Greek NT. Some often assume that Augustine used only the Vulgate. There is evidence, however, that demonstrates that Augustine used and interacted with the Greek text. Gerald Bonner explains that Augustine was known to verify his biblical references against the Greek originals; he was not satisfied with the Latin text alone. As evidence, Bonner cites a letter written by Augustine in 414 where he compared readings of Romans 5:14 in a number of different codices. Hence, it seems that one cannot say that Augustine was ignorant of the Greek NT.

      Second, one must take in account the greater scope of Augustine’s thought, particularly realism, which seems a more likely source for his confusion of justification and sanctification. (Clark, “Letter and Spirit, ” 334) The apostle Paul works exclusively in legal or forensic categories in his doctrine of justification, whereas Augustine did not strictly do the same. Augustine understood original sin and its transmission in realistic categories, in that sin is transmitted through natural descent. Conversely, the grace of God is infused in the sinner to counteract the effects of original sin. (Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sins and Baptism, 1.20, in NPNF 5:22) Augustine also understood Romans 5:12 in realistic terms and, as noted above, was insistent upon reading the passage, in spite of his knowledge of the Greek codices, as a locative, in quo omnes peccaverunt (“in all whom sinned”). It seems like a reasonable possibility that his philosophical presuppositions rather than his knowledge of Greek grammar could have driven his exegesis. Moreover, in baptism, the church washes away original sin:

      “For by this grace He engrafts into His body even baptized infants, who certainly have not yet become able to imitate anyone. As therefore He, in whom all are made alive, besides offering Himself as an example of righteousness to those who imitate Him, gives also to those who believe on Him the hidden grace of His Spirit, which He secretly infuses even into infants. (Augustine, On Forgiveness of Sin and Baptism 1.10, in NPNF 5:18-19)

      Given these theological and philosophical commitments, it seems impossible that Augustine could construct a purely forensic understanding of justification. If we briefly look forward to the Reformation, the Reformers rejected this ontological conception of sin and grace, and returned to a forensic understanding. They looked at the sinner’s legal relationship to the first and last Adams. Just as the sin of Adam is imputed those in Adam, so too the righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who are in him. This ontological versus legal understanding of justification colors the development of the doctrine not only through the Middle Ages but well into the present day. In fact, as we will see in the chapter on the RCC, it is something that still separates Protestants from Catholics, and one might add the Eastern Orthodox Church.

      https://iustitiaaliena.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/a-history-lesson-given-by-j-v-fesko-1-augustine-and-his-realism/

      Reply
      • Nick

        Thank you for this quote. I have this book and have read it myself.

        What I want to highlight here is that Fesko has affirmed what I and other Catholics have been saying for a long time: The Church Fathers didn’t teach Sola Fide, and this includes Augustine.
        The ‘red-flag’ that I would hope arises in the mind of anyone reading this is the realization that Protestant scholars today admit nobody really understood Sola Fide until Luther came around. That should trouble the conscience of anyone reading. And for as much as Augustine was right on this or that, the fact he didn’t properly understand justfication is a bit strange. Augustine was one of the top Biblical exegets and anti-pelagians in history, yet even he “didn’t get it” when it came to the most basic understanding of salvation and ‘clear teaching of Scripture’.

        So, how can one go around affirming Augustine’s anti-pelagianism while at the same time affirming he got justification very wrong? It seems weird to me.

    • inwoolee

      Part 2
      A History Lesson Given By J.V. Fesko (2) – ad fontes and Reformers, Justification (to declare righteous), and the crucial law and gospel distinction
      leave a comment »

      Taken from Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine by J.V. Fesko in his chapter titled “Justification In Church History” pages 20-25. Here is part 1.

      The Reformation and Post-Reformation (1517-1700)

      The Reformation (1517-65): Luther and Calvin

      With the cry of the Renaissance, ad fontes, “to the sources,” the theologians of the Reformation studied the Scriptures in the original languages. From their study of the Scriptures, the Reformers concluded that “to justify” meant “to declare righteous,” not “to make righteous.” It was, of course, Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-64) who made a significant impact upon the church’s understanding of justification. Luther argued that sinners cannot be righteous through their own good works, but that it is only faith in Christ that justifies the ungodly. The unrighteous are justified by faith, therefore, and it is the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to the believer. It is in the writings of Luther and Calvin where the doctrine of imputation comes to the foreground.

      In the winter of 1515-16, early in his career, Luther commented on Romans 3:28, “For we hold, recognize and affirm, we conclude from what is said that a man is justified, reckoned righteous before God, whether Greek of Jew, by faith, apart from works of the law, without the help and necessity of the works of the Law.” (Martin Luther, Lectures on Romans, LW 25 (St. Louis: Concordia, 1974), 33.) Luther’s exegetical spade work eventually was codified in early Reformation confessions such as the Augsburg Confession (1530), which explains that justification is by faith alone:

      “Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us.” (Augsburg Confession 4, Pelikan and Hotchkiss, Creeds, 2:60).

      The Reformed win of the Reformation gave similar expression to its understanding of justification.

      Calvin defined justification as “the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as righteous men. And we say that is consists in the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, ed. John T. McNeill, LCC 20-21 (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 3.11.2.) Calvin largely appealed to three central tests to support his definition (Rom. 4:6-7; 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21). Unlike Augustine, however, both Luther and Calvin made the important distinction, but not separation, between justification and sanctification. Luther, for example, saw the need for the law in the life of the believer after his conversion, which was informative for good works and sanctification. In Luther’s 1535 commentary on Galatians, which reflects his mature thought on the doctrine of justification, Luther writes:

      “The matter of the Law must be considered carefully, both as to what and as to how we ought to think about the Law; otherwise we shall either reject it altogether, after the fashion of the fanatical spirits who prompted the peasants’ revolt a decade ago by saying that the freedom of the Gospel absolves men from all laws, or we shall attribute to the Law the power to justify. Both groups sin against the Law; those on the right, who want to be justified through the Law, and those on the left, who want to altogether free of the Law. Therefore we must travel the royal road, so that we neither reject the Law altogether nor attribute more to it than we should. (Luther, Lectures on Galatians, LW 26 (St. Louis: Concordia, 1963), 343. Regarding the development in Luther’s though see Carl Trueman, “Simul peccator et justus: Martin Luther and Justification,” Justification in Perspective, ed. Bruce L. McCormack (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2006), 73-98, esp. 74.)

      In the end, Luther saw a need for the law in the life of the believer so that it could guide him in his good works. Moreover, one easily sees Luther rightly recognized the two extremes of antinomianism and neonomianism.

      Luther saw a necessary connection between justification and sanctification which was manifest in the importance he placed on the law:

      “Here, then, we have the Ten Commandments, a summary of divine teaching on what we are to do to make our whole life pleasing to god. They are the true fountain from which all good works must spring, the true channel through which all good works must flow. Apart from these Ten Commandments no action or life can be good or pleasing to God, no matter how great or precious it may in the eyes of the world. (Martin Luther, “Large Catechism,” in The Book of Concord, ed. Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), 428. Luther also says: “Therefore it is not without reason that the Old Testament command was to write the Ten Commandments on every wall and corner, and even on garments. Not that we are to have them there only for display, as the Jews did, but we are to keep them incessantly before our eyes and constantly in our memory and to practice them in all our works and ways. Each of us is to make them matter of daily practice in all circumstances, in all activities and dealings, as if they were written everywhere we look, even wherever we go or wherever we stand. Thus, both for ourselves at home and abroad among our neighbors, we will find occasion enough to practice them Ten Commandments, and no one need search far for them” (Larger Catechism,” 431).)

      So, then, Luther believed that good works were necessary for salvation as the fruit of one’s justification, not as the ground of justification. To this same end, Calvin gave expression to his famous analogy: “The sin by its heat, quickens and fructifies the earth, by its beams brightens and illumines it. here is a mutual and indivisibly connection. Yet reason itself forbids us to transfer the peculiar qualities of the one to the other.” (Calvin, Institutes, 3.11.6.)

      In this way we can see that Calvin and Luther, as well as other Reformers, could appropriate that which they believed was scriptural but at the same time depart from the church fathers when they believed they were in error. Calvin, for example, dissects Augustin’s thought on justification and traces it as it comes through the Middle Ages through Peter Lombard (c. 1095-1160):

      “It is clear from their own writings that in using the term “grace” they were deluded. For Lombard explains that justification is given to us through Christ in two ways. First he says, Christ’s death justifies us, while love is aroused through it in our hearts and makes us righteous. Second, because through the same love, sin is extinguished by which the devil held us captive, so that he no longer has the wherewithal to condemn us. You see how he views god’s grace especially in justification, in so far as we are directed through the grace of the Holy Spirit to good works. Obviously, he intended to follow Augustin’s opinion, but he follows it as a distance and even departs considerably from the right imitation of it. For when Augustine says anything clearly, Lombard obscures it, and if there was anything slightly contaminated in Augustine, he corrupts it. The schools have gone continually from bad to worse until, in headlong ruin, they have plunged into a sort of Pelagianism. For that matter, Augustine’s view, or at any rate his matter of stating it, we must not entirely accept. For even though admirably deprives man of all credit for righteousness and transfers it to God’s grace, he still subsumes grace under sanctification, by which we are reborn in newness of life through the Spirit. (Calvin, Institutes, 3.11.15)

      Here we see quite clearly that Calvin interacted with patristic and medieval theology, which of course illustrates the organic nature of the Reformation to earlier church history. (On Calvin’s use of patristic theology, see Anthony N.S. Lane, John Calvin: Student of the Church Fathers (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999). And, more broadly, for the use of the patristics in Reformation theology, see Irena Backus, The Reception of the Church Father in the West, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2001), 2:537-700. Likewise we see Luther, for example, who interacted with medieval theology and was familiar with both the via antiqua and via moderna, yet carved his own path in his own theology (see Oberman, Dawn of the Reformation, 120; idem, The Reformation [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 18-21). In this sense, the Reformation is certainly a continuation of theological development that began in the earliest days of the church. However, this does not mean that the Reformers adopted those trends and position they believed were faithful to Scripture.

      In addition to the critical use of patristic and medieval theology, we also see the refinement of the law-gospel hermeneutic during the Reformation and post-Reformation periods. Both Lutheran and Reformed theologians employed the law-gospel hermeneutic, namely recognizing those portions of Scripture that brought moral demands upon the believer that “everything that condemns sin is and belongs to the proclamation of the law. (Formula of Concord 5.3-4 in The Book of Concord, ed. Kolb and Wengert, 500.) By contrast, the gospel is “the kind of teaching that reveals what the human being, who has not kept the law and has been condemned by it, should believe: that Christ atoned and paid for all sins and apart from any human merit has obtained and won for people the forgiveness of sins.” (Formula of Concord 5.5 in Book of Concord, 500.)

      In the writings of Zacharias Ursinus (1534-83), one of the chief authors of the Heidelberg Catechism, which is the authoritative catechism for the Dutch and German Reformed tradition, the use of the law-gospel hermeneutic is employed in terns of the covenants of nature and grace, which fins its parallel in Westminster’s covenant of works and grace:

      “The law contains the natural covenant, established by God with humanity in creation, that is, it is known by humanity by nature, it requires our perfect obedience to God, and it promises eternal life to those who keep it and threatens eternal punishment to those who do not. The gospel, however, contains the covenant of grace, that is, although it exists, it is not known at all by nature; it shows us the fulfillment of Christ of the righteousness that the law requires and the restoration in us of that righteousness by Christ’s Spirit; and it promises eternal life freely because of Christ to those who believe in him. (Larger Catehism 36, in An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism, ed. and trans. Lyle D. Bierma et al. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005), 168-69)

      In fact, Ursinus elsewhere states, “The doctrine of the church is the entire and uncorrupted doctrine of law and gospel concerning the truth of God, together with his will, works, and worship.” (Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (1852; Phillipsburg, NJ P&R, n.d.), 1) Ursinus was not alone in this observation.

      Theodore Beza (1519-1605), Calvin’s successor at Geneva, wrote, “Ignorance of this distinction Law and Gospel is one of the principal sources of the abuses which corrupted and still corrupt Christianity.” (Theodore Beza, The Christian Faith, trans. James Clark (Lewes, UK: Focus Christian Ministries, 1992), 41-43.) Calvin could likewise observe that the medieval Roman Catholic theologians confused the categories of law and gospel or promise

      “by saying that works of their intrinsic goodness are of no avail for meriting salvation but by reasons of the covenant, because the Lord of his own liberality esteemed them so highly. Meanwhile they did not observe how far those works, which they meant to be meritorious, were from fulfilling the condition of the promises unless preceded by justification resting on faith alone, and by forgiveness of sins, through which even good works must be cleansed of spots. (Calvin, Institutes, 3.17.3.)

      Continental Reformed theologians were not alone in affirming the law-gospel hermeneutic, as one can find similar statements in the writings of British theologians such as William Perkins (1558-1602). (Expounding upon the application of Scripture in preaching, Perkins writes: “The basic principle in application is to know whether the passage is a statement of the law or of the gospel” (The Art of Prophesying [1606; Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1996], 54-56.) From this we conclude, “As far as the law-gospel distinction is concerned, it is as integral to Reformed theology (embedded in federalism) as it is to Lutheranism.” (Michal Horton, “Law, Gospel, and Covenant: Reassessing Some Emerging Antitheses,” WTJ 64/2 (2002): 287).

      https://iustitiaaliena.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/a-history-lesson-given-by-j-v-fesko-2-%E2%80%93-ad-fontes-justification-to-declare-righteous-and-the-crucial-law-and-gospel-distinction/

      Reply
      • Nick

        Thank you again for this “Part 2” of your quote of Fesko’s book.

        I want to highlight two things here:

        1) That it is affirmed by Protestant scholars that even Augustine didn’t properly understand justification and in fact held an incorrect view of it.

        2) The Law-Gospel distinction is said to be ‘denied’ by Catholics but not Protestants. My response is that the Law-Gospel distinction isn’t Biblical, because the terms are not employed in that manner. The “Law” Paul was opposing was the Mosaic Law, not a universal and eternal ‘law’. Given this, there is no Scriptural foundation from which to build the “Law-Gospel-Distinction”.

  32. Peter Chen

    Nick,

    I am talking about Trent and you are talking about Organ. How about if you could give me the point of what you are trying to say to make it more clear.

    I would love to read more on fuller context of Augu.’s where that is “taken” from. But as of now. I would still like your thought on Trent that I quoted.

    Reply
  33. Peter Chen

    Nick,

    Sorry, I was at work and did not have more time to write more. Let me point out a few things. Let me know what you think.

    You are making semi-pelagianism out to be the same as pelagianism. I think you are mistaken about that.

    You claim that Trent’s claim that Eternal life is given as a reward for humans works/merit’s is not in contradiction to the teachings of the Bible that salvation is by grace that no man may boast. What case can you make for that claim?

    I think the main problem is that you keep talking as if Roman Catholics do not believe that their salvation is by works in anyway, when the Roman Catholic creeds say otherwise. It seams to me that you are at issue with what you claim and what Trent teach. The issue remains to be explained is how can you honestly claim that eternal life is only by grace and then say that eternal life is by works in anyway. You try to make the humans works into working out of grace, but if that working is dependent on for salvation, then is it not salvation by works in some way? Thus, works is in the mix, then it follows that it is not by grace only, thus leaves room for human boasting. However Paul says that “8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph 2) Paul does not say that no one will boast, but that no one “can” boast. There is not grounds on which to boast. Let me draw out another word here. Note the word “saved”, is in the past tense. The person is “saved”. Or as John would say that the person has or “have eternal life”. That is a present reality that what the person have is salvation/eternal-life. This could not be said of the Roman system of merits and grace, the merits is needed to hope for a salvation in the future. That was why I said that you depart from Roman teaching when you claim that you think you have assurance. Trent in fact condemns people who claim to know that they have assurance of salvation. If at any point human works is in needed for the person’s salvation, then sure it would be arrogant to think that one fulfills the requirements to enter heaven, as if a Roman Catholic is able to keep himself pure after baptism. Sure you would have to do contrition, confession, penance, and then purgatory before anyone could hope of entering heaven. Why is that? The Roman system is by grace and works, and where the person’s works is needed, then this weak link is uncertain, or rather is very certain to brake. For the Roman system says that if a person commits a mortal sin, according to Trent, “on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.” The lost of salvation is a certain possibility for a faithful son of Rome. This all goes back to the fact that, it is clear to me that the Roman system is not at all a matter of grace only as you try to claim in the first place.

    I think it is a false gospel under the anathema of Paul in Gal, as on the other hand, Trent think the Protestant doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, to the glory of God alone is anathema. On that note, maybe we should really continue on what the Bible teach about salvation because that is the finally authority that we are agreed on.

    Would you agree that the issue between Rome and Christians is really the issue of Grace+works [Roman] and Grace alone [Christian]?

    Reply
    • Nick

      Peter: I am talking about Trent and you are talking about Organge. How about if you could give me the point of what you are trying to say to make it more clear.

      Nick: My point is that Trent BUILDS from principles established at Orange and Augustine. In this case, that God gives grace to enable man to obey Him and God rewards man for obeying, but man cannot boast because it was only by God’s grace in the FIRST PLACE that he could obey. If you don’t accept this, then your problem doesn’t originate at Trent, but with Orange and Augustine. What is important to note is that Orange and Augustine condemned semi-pelagianism, thus what they were teaching regarding ‘gracious merit’ was not semi-pelagian.

      What Trent was teaching is identical with texts such as Phil 2:12-13 and Gal 6:7-9. That through God’s grace enabling you to obey Him, you will be awarded eternal life.

      —————————————
      —————————————

      Peter: You are making semi-pelagianism out to be the same as pelagianism. I think you are mistaken about that.

      Nick: No, I’m not. Pelagianism teaches grace is optional for man to obey God. Semi-Pelagianism teaches grace is not optional but that man can take the first step towards obedience on his own (i.e. without grace) and then grace comes into the picture to assist him from there on. I’m not conflating either, and Trent, Orange, and Augustine condemn both.

      Peter: You claim that Trent’s claim that Eternal life is given as a reward for humans works/merit’s is not in contradiction to the teachings of the Bible that salvation is by grace that no man may boast. What case can you make for that claim?

      Nick: The first proof I gave is that quote from Augustine above where he addresses that very objection you make and gives the ‘Catholic response’. There is no contradiction because two issues are being addressed. Salvation is by grace, so that no one may boast, but Heaven is also given as a reward – that is because grace enables the reward to be attained.
      Here is a crude example: Imagine if a child wanted to obtain a cookie jar on a shelf. On his own, he cannot reach it. However, if he is assisted by a stepladder he can reach the cookie jar. Without the ladder, the child could never have reached the jar, so he cannot boast as if he obtained it through his own abilities.

      Peter: I think the main problem is that you keep talking as if Roman Catholics do not believe that their salvation is by works in anyway

      Nick: The key term here is ‘works in ANYway’. That’s where you’re getting hung up. In one way, works don’t save at all; in another way, they do save.

      Peter: You try to make the humans works into working out of grace, but if that working is dependent on for salvation, then is it not salvation by works in some way?

      Nick: Correct.

      Peter: Thus, works is in the mix, then it follows that it is not by grace only, thus leaves room for human boasting.

      Nick: No, it doesn’t. That’s a fallacy that many Protestants I speak to don’t realize. If you cannot afford lunch, and I give you the money for lunch, you cannot boast that you ‘earned’ your lunch on your own. If you boast at that point, you commit the sin of ungratefulness because you’re pretending it was in your own power to get what you got.

      Peter: There is not grounds on which to boast.

      Nick: Agreed. The problem is that you now need to realize grace enabling works does NOT leave room to boast.

      Peter: Let me draw out another word here. Note the word “saved”, is in the past tense. The person is “saved”. Or as John would say that the person has or “have eternal life”.

      Nick: The Bible speaks of salvation in a past, present, and future sense – so it’s a logical fallacy to conflate one or more of those time frames. I believe the Protestant side unknowingly does this, conflating future into past. Using the term ‘saved’ in the past tense doesn’t mean ‘saved now and forever’, but rather ‘saved presently’ without reference to the future. An example is in order: Picture salvation as a race, with a start, middle, and finish. Man is ‘saved’ in one sense when grace enables him to begin the race. Man is ‘saved’ in another sense as he continues to abide in God’s love doing good works day by day. Man is ‘saved’ in a third way when he crosses the finish line, reaching the ultimate goal.
      When John speaks of man having eternal life, he means man is presently in communion with God, receiving God’s life in his soul. However, this life can be lost from man’s soul due to sin (e.g. 1 Jn 3:15 says a Christian who commits murder “does not have eternal life ABIDING IN HIMSELF”).

      Peter: Trent in fact condemns people who claim to know that they have assurance of salvation.

      Nick: Yes, because nobody knows if they will persevere to the end. Even in the Calvinist system one doesn’t know this, and worse yet, he must assume he is elect the entire time. On top of that, Calvin teaches God gives some people an “evanescent grace” which causes themself to think they are saved and act saved but not really saved at all!

      Peter: The Roman system is by grace and works

      Nick: There is an equivocation with the term ‘works’ in your argument. Only certain works are condemned, not all. In the final judgment passages we are said to be ‘judged according to our works’ and on that basis found worthy to enter Heaven.

      Peter: The lost of salvation is a certain possibility for a faithful son of Rome.

      Nick: And the loss of salvation is possible for any Christian (e.g. Gal 5:19-21; 1 Cor 8:11).

      Peter: Would you agree that the issue between Rome and Christians is really the issue of Grace+works [Roman] and Grace alone [Christian]?

      Nick: No, because that is an oversimplification of the real issue. The real issue gets far deeper than ‘faith/grace alone’ versus ‘faith/grace plus works’, and to not realize that will cause us to spin our wheels. The truth is terms like grace, faith, and works are defined very differently by each side, so when you use them you mean something very different than when a Catholic uses them.
      For example, I first commented on this blog how Paul explains Abraham’s faith, and explained how the Bible defines faith. That definition is not the definition Protestants use, and examining previous responses above I repeatedly point out how I see no Biblical grounds for the Protestant definition.

      Here is an apologetics article I wrote on Ephesians 2:
      http://catholicdefense.googlepages.com/eph2

      Reply
  34. Peter Chen

    Nick,

    by what is a person saved according to Paul?:

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

    What does Paul say it is NOT by?

    Is it from self or is it from God?

    Is there room for boasting?

    Reply
    • Nick

      My response to this is that you’re conflating initial and future salvation. When Paul uses the word “saved,” he is not speaking of “saved now and forever” but only speaking of the present. Take Paul’s example of being ingrafted into the Vine in Romans 11:22, the moment one is ingrafted in they are ‘saved’, but that is only speaking of the present. They must ‘abide in Him’ to the end, at which point they ‘will be saved’ (future tense). As Paul clearly says, if we turn to sin, we will be cut off, just as the others were cut off.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Nick,

        Where in Eph 2 says that a person is save temporarily, as you are claiming?

        How often does a Roman Catholic “turn to sin”? How many times does one get up off? Why do you assume that Romans 11:22 is about the lost of salvation? Where is your proof for that? You say it is, but please read the full chapter as to what Paul is talking about.

  35. Peter Chen

    Nick,

    It is very interesting that you are telling me what you believe, but what does the Roman church believe? Isn’t it true that you do not represent your church, but can only nod to what is taught by Rome her self?

    I have presented a quote from Trent, which I would assume that you would agree with, but then you give this strange twist of terms on your writing. Clearly Trent make the condition for eternal life a matter of grace and works from the person. IF you do not agree with that you are not disagreeing with me. You are disagreeing with Trent.

    Nick, I think you are making artificial distinctions that are not meaningfully different.

    On your link you wrote:
    [The biggest, and most decisive difference is the definition of grace. The Catholic Church teaches that there are two types of grace: sanctifying and actual [1]. Actual graces are those graces which prompt and assist us in doing good works. Sanctifying grace is a divine quality that is infused into our soul and makes our soul partakers of God’s Divine Life…]

    One question, on the side really, who are you getting this from, or are you just making this up on your own? If the latter, than I think you are not representing the teaching of Rome. And the bigger issue is how is your distinction meaningful at all? Both of what you called “sanctifying and actual” grace is a matter of human acts or works. Thus the reading Evangelical is going… okay so we are back to Grace alone for our view, and Grace+Works for Roman view. Nick, I think you are missing the big issue: On what basis is a person justified? What was and still is the conversation.

    If you want to move away from the grace+work view of Rome, I am happy to hear of it. But don’t you think it is more valuable to deal with the real issue instead of making up distinctions that do not deal with the conversation? I think it is.

    Reply
    • Nick

      I think some clarification is in order:
      I have read Trent many times, I accept all of Trent, and I’ve never denied Trent in this discussion.

      Yes, “Trent does make the condition for eternal life a matter of grace and works,” I never denied that. What I tried to make clear, as does trent, is that in one sense works dont save but in another sense they do. This isn’t a contradiction nor fallacious argument. Take an example of vitamins: In one sense they heal (when taken properly and at the right times), in another sense they harm you (overdose, misuse, etc). Same idea with works, they don’t save when you’re outside of a relationship with God, but do when you’re in a relationship.

      ————————–

      Now, onto the quote about how ‘grace’ is defined. First of all, I’m not making up what I wrote, that’s Catholic dogma. I even made the footnote #1 go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
      You said: “Both of what you called “sanctifying and actual” grace is a matter of human acts or works.”
      That’s simply incorrect, and a misunderstanding of the situation. Actual grace is not the same as sanctifying grace; one is inherent in the soul and the other is not, and they are most certainly not a matter of human works (condemned by Trent).
      What I’m saying is standard Catholic theology, and distinctions like sanctifying versus actual grace are bare bones basics. I might be speaking prematurely here, but the way you’re talking it seems your Evangelical sources are not understanding basic Catholic theology and thus teaching you an incorrect understanding of Catholicism. Since both sides define things like ‘grace’ differently, then we cannot directly compare ‘grace+works’ as you understand it. You’re using Protestant terms/definitions to refute Catholic theology, and that doesn’t work because it’s becomes a fallacious argument.

      Reply
      • Peter Chen

        Why is it that Trent does not say “one sense works dont save but in another sense they do.” but rather Trent places the anathema on anyone who claims that salvation was by grace lone?
        _______

        Your link does not show what you claim from the Catholic Catechism. But not matter, I don’t care much as to what Rome believe as if that defines truth, the only real authority is the Bible only. But for the save of conversation I am would like to know if you are even representing Roman teaching, and I don’t think you are.

        Trent does not condemn human work. Nor does anyone else condemn good human works. So, don’t know what you mean by that. Your supposed distinction is still left to both being a matter of human works. You have only said that I confused the categories, and have not understood Roman Catholic teaching. I grant you that you are the Roman Catholic, and I reject it entirely as blaspheme. But however, you have not trying to prove your point from Roman teaching Trent of Vatican 1 or 2 or any other Roman Catholic documentation. You have only given your personal individual opinion of what you think Rome teaches. I don’t think you have the authority to define doctrine, in the Roman church do you?

        Honestly, I don’t know anything more than what we have said, so maybe you work next to the Pope all I know, and define the faith for the whole church. But unless I see some signs that you are really representing the Roman Church, then don’t you think I should understand the Roman Teaching by her own Dogmatic Documents…Trent?

        CHAPTER XVI of Trent states:

        “On the fruit of Justification, that is, on the merit of good works, and on the nature of that merit.
        … And, for this cause, life eternal is to be proposed to those working well unto the end, and hoping in God, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Jesus Christ, and as a reward which is according to the promise of God Himself, to be faithfully rendered to their good works and merits.”

        The reward of eternal life is said by Trent to be given due to grace and works/merits done by the person. I don’t think I am misunderstand Trent. Do you think I am misunderstanding Trent?

  36. Peter Chen

    I just don’t have the time to write back on everything at one time, I have to do with one at a time

    Nick: The Bible speaks of salvation in a past, present, and future sense – so it’s a logical fallacy to conflate one or more of those time frames. I believe the Protestant side unknowingly does this, conflating future into past. Using the term ’saved’ in the past tense doesn’t mean ’saved now and forever’, but rather ’saved presently’ without reference to the future.

    But why then is justification put in the past tense (Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”—Romans 5.1)? Past and done, and that “by faith”, not works… no works. The result is peace with God.

    What you are saying is that a person could be justified and then unjustified, then justified again and again and so on. If that is true, then how is it possible for the person to really have “peace with God”? Your Roman system could not result in “peace with God.” As you claimed that you have. You claim to has assurance of salvation, but you just said that that is a temporarily thing that could/would be lost. Paul never says anything about salvation being temporary. Where is that found in the Bible? Yes, there are warning of falling away, but who says that is falling way of salvation? Where is your claim, of a temporary true salvation?

    Sure you can make up all kinds of excuse for it, but the Romans 5 says that it is not due to works, but faith in Jesus. It is due “through our Lord Jesus Christ” that anyone has peace with God. That is what Paul in Romans says, then if you are claiming that a person may be saved then lost, saved then lost, then you are bring the charge against the Savior who saved the person in the first place. You are saying that Jesus does not save perfectly. You are apposing the Lord himself as the perfect Savior.

    Romans 4:25
    who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

    Hebrews 10:14
    because by one sacrifice *he has made perfect forever* those who are being made holy.

    Hebrews 12:2
    Let us fix our eyes on *Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,* who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

    Salvation cannot come in anyway by the law, for as Paul puts it in Galatians 2:21
    I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    The law never was intended to make a sinner just before God. Christ, Christ, need to personally save the sinner by his death and resurrection.

    Is 53:10
    Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

    Christ did not just make merits as Rome claims, but that He bear the sins of his people on himself by his death.

    1Cor. 15:3 “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,”

    In 1Cor.15:3, Paul considers it “as of first importance” and that it was done “according to Scriptures [the OT].” If it is that important, then we must learn what it means “that Christ died for our sins.”

    Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

    In Matthew 1:21, the angel speaking with Joseph, said that Jesus is to be called “Jesus,” “because he will save his people from their sins.” In this statement we are given three points explaining why Jesus is to be named Jesus, “because…”; 1.) what Jesus will do, “save”; 2.) those whom he will save, “his people”; and 3.) what he will save them from, “from their sins.”

    1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,”

    Peter tells us, 1Peter 3: 18, that what Christ did He did so “once for all” time, never to be repeated. What He did was in connection with His being “put to death”; thus He needed to be “made alive.” “Christ died for…” and “the righteous for” is parallel. This verse talks about the innocent or “righteous” Christ who died in the place of the “unrighteous” sinners. In this context, it is assumed that this substitutional death is necessary before “you” could be brought to God. The unmistakable result is that His death does accomplish the purpose to “bring you to God.” This is the necessary result and also the purpose for why “Christ died for sins.”

    Heb. 9:15 “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”

    Christ finished his work at Calvary, never to be repeated. (Heb 9-10) The result to the work of Christ is peace with God, and according to John, the saved believing sinner has eternal life in Jesus. Note the word is “eternal” life. NOT a “temporary” eternal life promised by Rome. Talk about a contradiction in terms. I rather have the real eternal life that St. John talks about, than the one Nick is talking about… that is no where found in the Bible.

    So, let me sum it up. 1.) your undermining the work of the perfect Savior who saves perfectly by bearing the sins of those whom He did his work for. Your claim is an attack against Christ. 2.) Jesus salves perfectly, unlike the Romans system of merit to claim supposed grace made available through them. 3.) You are right, that the Roman view is NOT able to bring anyone lasting peace with God or eternal life, however, the Roman system of meriting grace is not the Biblical teaching of the work of Christ promised in the Gospel of Grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone.

    Reply
  37. Nick

    Peter: But why then is justification put in the past tense

    Nick: Because there’s an aspect of salvation that takes place here and now and thus becomes ‘past tense’ as time moves on since it originally took place. That in no way rules out present and future notions of salvation.

    Peter: What you are saying is that a person could be justified and then unjustified, then justified again and again and so on.

    Nick: Yes, that is what I’m saying. David is a prime example of this, when he lost his justification through grave sin and had to repent to regain it. That’s why Paul in Romans 4 calls Psalm 32 a moment of justification.

    Peter: If that is true, then how is it possible for the person to really have “peace with God”?

    Nick: Peace exits when harmony and love are present, remove them and no more peace. You’re fallaciously assuming that the only kind of peace is a permanent and irrevocable one.

    Peter: Paul never says anything about salvation being temporary. Where is that found in the Bible?

    Nick: Temporary only in that it is possible to fall, not temporary in that salvation disappears on it’s own. Romans 11:19-22 is a solid example of how salvation can be lost, and moreover how some did in fact lose salvation.

    Peter: yes, there are warning of falling away, but who says that is falling way of salvation?

    Nick: Context says its falling away from salvation. There is no other logical or reasonable sense in which “fall away” can be taken. When Paul warns (again) the Galatian Christians that if they engage in grave sin they “wont inherit the Kingdom of Heaven” (Gal 5:19-21) that certainly applies to salvation. When Jesus speaks of the agape love in many “growing cold” and not persevering and thus not being “saved” (Mat 24:12-13), that clearly applies to salvation.

    —————————–

    Peter: You are saying that Jesus does not save perfectly. You are apposing the Lord himself as the perfect Savior.

    Nick: It’s not that I deny Jesus saves, even perfectly. I deny the Protestant understanding of salvation. For example, you quote Hebrews 10:14, but taking into consideration 10:26-29 we see my understanding of ‘save’ is what Heb has in mind.

    Peter: Salvation cannot come in anyway by the law, for as Paul puts it in Galatians 2:21
    I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    Nick: Agreed. Nothing here, nor any other passage you’ve cited, contradicts anything I’ve said. Salvation doesn’t come by the LAW, that’s what the passage is saying and I fully agree.

    Peter: The law never was intended to make a sinner just before God. Christ, need to personally save the sinner by his death and resurrection.

    Nick: Absolutely agreed. And I’m glad you didn’t include Christ’s “active obedience” in your comment, because that isn’t biblical.

    Peter: Christ did not just make merits as Rome claims, but that He bear the sins of his people on himself by his death.

    Nick: Christ died for us but not in the sense of Penal Substitution.

    Peter: In 1Cor.15:3, Paul considers it “as of first importance” and that it was done “according to Scriptures [the OT].” If it is that important, then we must learn what it means “that Christ died for our sins.”

    Nick: Amen. A very good place to start.

    Peter: In this statement we are given three points explaining why Jesus is to be named Jesus, “because…”; 1.) what Jesus will do, “save”; 2.) those whom he will save, “his people”; and 3.) what he will save them from, “from their sins.”

    Nick: Sure, but what needs to be properly understood is what “save” means.

    Peter: Peter tells us, 1Peter 3: 18, that what Christ did He did so “once for all” time, never to be repeated. This verse talks about the innocent or “righteous” Christ who died in the place of the “unrighteous” sinners. In this context, it is assumed that this substitutional death is necessary before “you” could be brought to God. The unmistakable result is that His death does accomplish the purpose to “bring you to God.” This is the necessary result and also the purpose for why “Christ died for sins.”

    Nick: Again, nothing you’ve said contradicts my position. Those passages, properly understood, fully support my side.

    Peter: according to John, the saved believing sinner has eternal life in Jesus. Note the word is “eternal” life. NOT a “temporary” eternal life promised by Rome.

    Nick: You’re not understanding how JOHN is using the phrase “eternal life,” and that’s causing you to misread him. John is not speaking of an entitlement to eternal life in the future, but a current possession and partaking of eternal life here and now. John 17:3 says eternal life is a soul being in communion, here and now, with God. In 1 John 3:15 we see a Christian who commits grave sin no longer has “eternal life abiding in himself,” meaning eternal life was lost. These factors point away from your understanding of ‘eternal life’. This highlights the critical issue of the fact the Protestant-Catholic dispute is about concepts and not about terms alone, because we understand terms very differently. If one assigns the wrong meaning to terms, they will come away with a wrong reading of the text.

    If you’d like, we can have a formal, online written debate on some aspect we’ve discussed, and this way the public can decide for themself who is in the right here and determine who is properly following Scripture. We can even make the debate as basic as who’s properly interpreting Romans 4.

    Reply
  38. Peter Chen

    Nick: Christ died for us but not in the sense of Penal Substitution.

    You are funny. Wrong, but funny. I don’t know how you can miss the passages on the matter.

    Reply
  39. Peter Chen

    Nick: Because there’s an aspect of salvation that takes place here and now and thus becomes ‘past tense’ as time moves on since it originally took place. That in no way rules out present and future notions of salvation.

    Do you even believe that there can be a saving salvation at all, once for all time done by Christ to save lost sinners, and the holy Spirit to give them ETERNAL life? Sure, I am willing to say that there is a future aspect to salvation in the end of time, but the Bible use the term “glorified”:

    Romans 8:28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

    What is this distinction to the Roman Catholic and Protestant conversation?

    But your are not talking about that are you? You are making up a future salvation time to become saved? A future salvation that, what, another Savior or another opportunity after death, or both? I know there are some people who talk about Future salvation, but there are different views on it. I don’t know what angle you want to spin it.

    But if it is the same Savior Jesus, then pray tell, is it possible to say that there is a future salvation for the person who have continuously rejected him in this life? In other words, in your system, can there be a person who will be saved in the “future salvation” who is not saved in the Present salvation”? Where is that found in the Bible? IF you are not talking about a decision making to be saved at judgment, and you are still talking in Roman Catholic terms of present salvation that would last or not last to the end on ones life, then prove this future salvation that does not include a continued salvation now to the end. It is you who is separating the past, present, and future, and making them out to be separated salvation of the same person. Prove your claim. Where is this thought in Bible, or even in Roman Catholic teaching.

    Reply
  40. Peter Chen

    Nick: You’re fallaciously assuming that the only kind of peace is a permanent and irrevocable one.

    That is the very meaning of the term have peace with by the means of Jesus. Jesus is the prince of peace and gives peace to his people. He is the foundation of that peace, then it follow that that peace founded by and due to Christ alone cannot be lost and is surely “permanent and irrevocable”!

    True, that is not the teaching of Rome, but it is the teaching of the Bible.

    Reply
    • Nick

      I’ve not had the time to get back to this discussion until now. This discussion is sprouting into too many posts and branches to keep track of. Please highlight what specific points you want me to address, or better yet, start a new thread so we can discuss this stuff afresh.

      Would you be up to a short formal, written debate on any given chapter of the Bible which you believe strongly proves Sola Fide?

      Reply

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