Category Archives: Eschatology

Reformation, Luther, Justification

Luther was a Dirty Hesher

Luther was a Dirty Hesher

In the next couple post, I will examine the two great giants of the Reformation, Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564). There is much in between them and Augustine to ponder, such as how Via Moderna shifted the focus of justification from state to status.[1] But, it was these two men that had that had the biggest affect on the Reformed doctrine of justification. This is why it is important to have at least a basic understanding of how they viewed this subject.  Right now,  I will specifically explain Luther’s view on the matter.

To understand Luther’s view of justification, one has to realize that his view grew and changed through out his life. Carl Trueman believes that the most significant changes happened from 1515 until 1520. He comments on how Luther’s first major formulation of justification can be seen in his commentary on Romans 4:7.[2] Here Luther likens justification to a doctor pronouncing an ill patient healthy based on the fact that he, the doctor, is capable of restoring that man to health. Is the patient healthy at that moment? No, but he is declared healthy because in the future he will be in that state because of the sure capability of the doctor. Likewise, Christ can declare us currently justified based on the fact that he can and will cause us to be justifiable. Our status changes because of faithfulness of the good doctor. It is interesting; in Luther’s early view there is a mix of both status and state with in an eschatological rubric. Our status is declared right with God based on Christ’s capability to make us right in the future.

This view dramatically changed in the next five years of his life as his theological view points matured. For Luther, status and state became bifurcated under two different kinds of righteousness. This can be seen in his sermon Two Kinds of Righteousness, where he distinguishes between alien righteousness and proper righteousness. Alien righteousness is Christ’s righteousness that is imputed to us when we have faith in Him. He writes that, “this righteousness is primary; it is the basis, the cause, the source of all our own actual righteousness. For this is the righteousness given in place of the original righteousness lost in Adam. It accomplishes the same as that original righteousness would have accomplished; rather, it accomplishes more.”[3] Just as Adam’s sin destroyed humanities status before God, so did Christ’s life and death give us a new status before Him. The second righteousness, that is proper righteousness, is a product of the alien righteousness. When a person experiences the first one then he is transformed and seeks to crucify the flesh, love his neighbor, and most importantly love God. It doesn’t accomplish anything before God but it accomplishes much before man.

For these two forms of righteousness he uses the analogy of marriage. In the marriage relationship, which Jesus has with the Church, they share all things. The Church receives His righteousness and He has taken her sin. Furthermore, Luther writes, “Through the righteousness of the first arises the voice of the bridegroom who says to the soul, ‘I am yours,’ but through the voice of the second comes the voice of the bride who says, ‘I am yours.’ Then the marriage is consummated…. Then the soul no longer seeks to righteous in and for itself, but it has Christ as its righteousness and therefore only seeks the welfare of others.”[4] For Luther, justification is entirely received from the work and person of Christ; sanctification is reactionary and is the product of being loved by Christ.

As we can see, Luther’s understanding of justification radically shifted within a short period of time.  At first, he believed justification to be a current declaration of ‘righteous’ based on Christ’s ability to make a person so.   Then, he shifts to a purely external form of righteousness based on union with Christ.  This righteousness has a freeing affect, allowing a person to love his neighbor without selfishness.

[1] Carl Trueman notes how voluntarism changed problem of sin from ontology to the relationship between God and Man. Hence the focus on status. Carl Trueman, edited by Bruce L. McCormack, “Simul Peccator et Justus”, Justification in Perspective, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), p. 81.

[2] Carl Trueman, Ibid., 75.

[3] Rev. Martin Luther, Two Kinds of Righteousness, paragraph 3.

[4] Ibid, paragraph 9.

Augustine on Faith and Works and does Ben Despain Concur?

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Big Nate recently wrote a great post on Melanchthon, his relationship to Luther, and his theological work on justification. I never knew this, but his view on forensic Justification was brought forth in light of Augustine’s view of faith and works. This peaked my interest because I have always loved Augustine but I have never thought of his views on this topic. So I checked out Augustine’s book On Faith and Works and read it last night and found it really helpful. I recommend it because it is real short and insightful.

Here are my personal notes on the book if you want them.

Outline of Faith and Works by Augustine

Here some random thoughts on his view.

  • It is important to know that this book was written against a certain group of people who wanted the Church to allow people to be baptized and partake in communion regardless of whether or not they have repented of sin. They were antinomian. So Augustine is hammering down a certain point that we need works to be saved. This is the opposite of when he was arguing against Pelagius when he argued that we are saved by Grace alone. So we need to consider who he is arguing against when examine his argument. (Nate points this out in one his comments)
  • When it comes to faith and works here are a couple quotes that kind of give you a taste of what he thought.
    • This is to preach Christ: to not only say what one must believe about Christ but also how one must live who wishes to be joined to the body of Christ. Or We can’t preach Christ the head, with out preaching Christ the body.
    • If we are not to give the sinner a false security, or even an authorization to commit sin, this then, in accordance with true and sound doctrine, is the procedure we must follow in our instructions, namely, that all who are to be baptized are to believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as is prescribed in the Creed; that they are to do penance for their sins; and that they are not to doubt that all their past sins will be forgiven them when they receive baptism. They must be told that this forgiveness is not a license to commit sin, but a release from sin; that it is a remission of sin, not a permission to sin. Then it can be truly said tof them, in a spiritual sense; “You are made whole, sin no more.”….. How can the opponents say this. For if adultery is not a disease, and a serious and fatal disease, then I do not know what it is.
    • Continue reading

The Rapture Index

Had to post this:

http://www.raptureready.com/rap2.html

Get ready folks, fears and hopes are at a new high (since 9-11). Stock the bottled water, sell some of those 401k-options, and keep your eyes peeled.

HT:Riddleblog

Citation Aléatoire ala Francois

Alfred Loisy

“Jésus annonçait le Royaume et c’est l’Église qui est venue”

“Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom, but it was the Church that came.”

-Alfred Loisy 1902

Law,Gospel, and the Charlton Heston Paradigm

Moses

The Exodus offers us a beautiful picture of Salvation. This event in history was so gripping that almost every Biblical author after it incorporated it into their narrative frame work. It was the paradigm of the Deuteronomist, the Prophets, and the Apostles. So in light of our recent law/gospel conversations, I think it is worthwhile to examine this Gospel of the Exodus to see where the law fits into its salvational scheme. I will then show how the New Testament mirrors this relationship in couple different ways

Exodus

It is clear that salvation in Exodus begins with being saved from Egypt. God heard the cry of His Covenant people and he remembered them (Exodus 3.7). He sent His servant Moses to deliver them. He the wrath of God passed over His undeserving people because of the sacrificial blood of the lamb painted over the doorways (12). He made them rich off the plunder of Egypt (13.36) . He crushed their soldiers under waters of judgment (14). All this was grace and it was not because they earned anything. They were helpless. The blood of the lamb showed their need for mercy beyond what they could merit. Its awesome display of God’s grace to His people.

God’s grace doesn’t end there. The pinnacle of Exodus is what they are saved to. Part of their salvation was being saved to the mosaic covenant which included the Law. He wasn’t saving them to something bad but something good. The law was given to them in Grace. It was their covenant with God and they were to keep it in faith. (Ex. 19-24) So here are some scriptures that are important:

You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
(Exo 19:4-6)

Here we see (via suzerian treaty) that God saved them from Egypt to the covenant promises/obligations. With out the law they could not have been a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Then there is the beginning of the ten commandments:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of Slavery. You shall have no other God’s before me.” (Exodus 20.2-3)

Again, it is the same motif. They are saved to the law that is just the law. In this instance there is not any punitive punishment involved. It is the law given to guide His people. It is His love for His people. It is their restoration unto being the image of God.

Lastly,

And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
(Exo 24:8-11)

This is the ratification of the Law. The climax of accepting this covenant is eating in God’s very presence. The law is clearly good and it is clearly grace and it was meant to lead them into the very presence of God.

This is a very short presentation of the exodus paradigm. I don’t have time to go into further. If I had time I would go into Deuteronomy and other areas of the OT. Next, I want to show how the NT builds of this paradigm.

Matthew

All the Gospels point towards the gospel being the new Exodus in one way or the other, but I want to use Matthew because I think it is the easiest to demonstrate. Jesus is clearly represented as the new Moses. In the story an evil King tries to destroy all the firstborn but the savior child escapes. Jesus comes out of Egypt. Jesus passes through the waters via Baptism. Jesus was lead into the desert like the Israelites were lead by the pillar of fire. He endures the wilderness temptations. Then just like Moses he comes and preaches the Law to his people on the mountainside. This mountain is the new Sinai.

I believe we need to examine Jesus’ use of the law in the context of the Exodus Paradigm. Was Jesus’ primary reason giving of the law here to show the need for grace? Was he keeping the Law/ Gospel distinction? I would say no. That could be a secondary way We use the text but I don’t think that is the main thrust of the sermon of the mount. Lets look at some key parts of it.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
(Mat 5:13-16)

This text mirrors the above passage in Exodus 19.4 about being a kingdom of priest a holy nation. Jesus is saying that in reality the Church should be keeping covenant. Being a light unto the world. It is active participation.

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
(Mat 5:20)

Jesus is clearly not talking about forensic righteousness here. We cannot read Paul into this section. Sanctification calls for a true righteousness that is better then the Pharisees. We need to understand Christ has a positive view of the law here. He his not using the law/ gospel distinction. He exhorting his followers and the Church who is reading this to show obedience in faith.

Why else would he end all of his teaching with the whole scheme of building their lives on the His Word. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (7.24)

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
(Mat 26:27-28)

This again mirrors the Exodus 24 passage above. Jesus is initiating a new covenant ratification ceremony. This covenant is for the forgiveness of sins. This is beautiful picture of the elders/apostles of Israel eating once again in the very presence of God. They were celebrating God’s faithfulness over them and simultaneous reaffirming there covenant status. Christ is giving them the command to remember God’s Grace.

I just want to point out that Jesus gives us the law and says it is a good thing to follow. We in his covenant of Grace still should have a positive view of the law. In fact, Matthew tells us that law is part of the Gospel.

Paul

Lastly, I am going to briefly point out that Paul shared this paradigm. There is common consensus that the book of Ephesians is built on the structure of Exodus. I just want to examine one verse.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
(Eph 2:8-10)

The exodus paradigm summed up. Just as Israel was saved by Grace to good works. So are we saved by Grace to good works. Their is no strict Law/Gospel distinction. Part of Salvation is producing good works. We can’t boast about them but the law is good and we are to follow it.

We are saved from our sins to God by Grace.

We are saved unto good works by God by Grace.

Horton and Frame….

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In light of all this talk, also see below, about whether or not Christians should be working to influence society or be members of another Kingdom in a foreign land, here are 2 dudes that are combine IQ 1 million taking different views, read and discuss among you Theological Types….

In this corner: John Frame

In this corner: Micheal Horton

Now let’s have a clean discussion, and keep the blows above the presuppositional belt. Honestly both are great men, and this is an important issue, one that I believe is not foundational though….

-Los

Speaking of Heaven

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Here is a great interview of N.T Wright by Time magazine. The interview centers around the biblical view of heaven vs. the contemporary Christian culture. I tend to agree with almost everything he says here.

Tom Wright interview

One thing to note, I think that N.T. Wright has the opposite problem of the track that Los posted below. He focuses on a gospel that is a salvation to the Kingdom of God but does not highlight the salvation from our sins and judgment. Not that he doesn’t believe that kind of salvation is essential, but it seems to be glossed over. Both need to be held on to.

HT: JT