Saturday, March 15, 2008

Paul and Justification

A couple of good posts on Paul and justification this week include Ben Witherington on "The New Perspective on Paul and the Law-- Reviewed" and Dane Ortlund had [?] a useful taxonomy of views on "Justified by Faith, Judged according to Works" but seems to have deleted the post, although it can still be viewed on Google reader if you've got it.


Marc said...

Hi Michael,

I have done some intense study on this as well.

In Greek justified means 'justice is done'.

The problem is the popular belief is that when your are justified by faith the belief is you are declared innocent, but that's against God's word because God acquit sinners. It's against God to declare a sinner innocent. What is the verdict in God's courtroom for a sinner? Guilty as charged because scripture says God doesn't acquit sinners.

Then the Son of God steps forward for your life and says that there's a way to be delivered from the death penalty. Confess your sins I will pay the penalty Myself so your sin can be pardoned. You must trust in Me. You still find the just decision of the Judge fing you guilty. The basic of your salvation is that 'justice was applied' to Christ

So it to be justified by faith doesn't mean it's our faith.

When we trust in Christ God reckons that justice is done/justice is applied by the sacrifice of Christ.

What Paul is really saying is that justice is done in Christ.

Make sense?


Marc said...

Hi again Michael, I liked that article.

'works of the law', 'deeds of the law' is any ritual or good work that a religion or sect might teach has extra special merit toward an acquital with God.

Examples: for Judaism this is prayer and alms, now said to replace the sacrifices. The baptism of Rome. We can even include a 'one time moment of faith' of many Christians, if they think that God gives then an acquital because of it. We can even include all attempts by pagan and false religions to appease God's wrath.

The usual translation, 'works of the law' is not literal enough to capture Paul's universal application to any work, whether it be law or not. Surely anything that is in the law that one may do is included in his meaning if it is done with the aim of meriting an acquital of sin. But the original sense is not limited to the Torah.

I would like to address Galatians. Paul's main thesis is Galatians 2:16,

Paul is addressing the customary deed of circumcision in Galatians but it can apply to any customary deed of the Law(Torah).

Paul is correct in saying that circumcision won't acquit you before God. Because Paul says "But we know that God's justice in not satisfied for people by some customary deeds, except by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ"

The Law was never meant to be kept to appease the wrath of God already incurred by sin.

What's most misunderstood is that Paul is not nullifying the commandment of circumcision or any other commandments, he's putting it in it's proper perspective as in:

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has an advantage for anyone-except when it's faithfulness working with love.

There are cases where circumcision is warranted as more than a personal decision for a Gentile. Timothy was one such case since he was going to minister to Jews. Likewise if it is believing parents circumcising a son on the 8th day out of covenant fidelity, then it's faithfulness working with love. Or if a Gentile wanted to participate in the Passover. However in the case of PAul's enemies it was not faithfulness working with love because it was based on a fear aiming at acquital rather than believing the good news of Christ. Paul is not nullifying circumcision. Rather he is putting it in its proper place. If Paul were alive today he would also have to put baptism in its properplace for Catholics and faith in its proper place for Protestants and Messianic Jews.


Geoff Hudson said...

Pauline doctrine is a dog's dinner created by intellectuals out of a primitive Jewish prophetic religion of the Spirit. Academics love to smack their chops devouring it and in the process make an even bigger mess.