Mattís First Rebuttal-Debate on Justification

Mattís First Rebuttal:
Debate on Justification

1]In this debate Ronnie must prove that faith alone is the instrument of salvation with Christís perfect righteousness necessary to be credited to our account. I must prove that works added to faith are necessary for salvation. A careful look at our statements show Ronnieís whole 3994 word essay to be an argument from silence, while I showed from Paul, Jesus, John, Peter, and James that works are an instrumental cause of salvation. Using Paul and the Old Testament Ronnieís argument is, Ďbecause it isnít done this way, by inference it means faith alone is sufficientí and, ĎBecause our righteousness isnít good enough, then that must mean we get Christís righteousness credited to our account.í However, if you look at his whole statement, you wonít see actually one verse even imply what he must prove. Of the passages he refers to, for example in Romans 4, Psalm 143, Galatians 3, 1 Cor. 1, etc. was there one that said (or implied), ďIf you have faith alone in Jesus, you then get credited to your account Christ's imputed righteousness, and not be judged for your sinsĒ? Not one. Contrast that to the fact that Scripture says that one is not justified by faith alone, and the passages which I showed that grace empowered works are necessary to achieve salvation.


2]Ronnie attempts to establish his first inference by not showing that one gets an imputed righteousness through faith alone but shows Godís telling Israel to keep the commandments in Deuteronomy 6:1-5 (par. 2). God also commanded Israel to love the Lord with all oneís heart soul, and mind. Ronnie quotes Jesus reiterating that in order to have eternal life we must love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind. This quote in Matthew 22:37 is the same answer he gave to the question of Luke 10:18: a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" We are saved by loving the Lord. Loving the Lord is an ongoing process. Jesus doesnít say there is a forensic, legal exchange of my sin for Christís imputed righteousness on the basis of faith alone. As I showed in my opening statement, Jesus was asked the question how one gets eternal life and answered by saying one enters life by keeping the commandments (Mt. 19:16-17). Ronnie highlighted Deuteronomy and showed this is also in the New Covenant. Keeping the commandments and loving the Lord is the way to enter eternal life. Jesus doesnít say, ďYou canít love God sufficientlyĒ or ďI know you canít keep the commandments so you need my perfect righteousness imputed to your account.Ē Ronnieís argument from silence is that Jesus means ďSince you will fail, you must via faith alone get my righteousness credited to your accountĒ. Why doesnít Jesus say what Ronnie says? In Ronnieís scenario, Jesus specifically says something he knows they will fail in, but absolutely refuses to give the solution!!!! Or Jesus is lying when he says that they can achieve salvation that way. I say Jesus meant what he said. I notice that this is the only passage that Ronnie brought forth from Jesus to prove faith alone, and it proves the contrary. In my opening statement I have showed Jesus saying that in order to enter eternal life one must keep the commandments (Mt. 19:17), do good (Jn. 5:29), and he separates the sheep and the goats based on works (Mt. 25:31-46) and he will render to every one according to what they do (Mt. 16:24-27). Jesus nowhere teaches faith is the only instrument of salvation and nowhere does he imply that through faith alone, one gets his own imputed righteousness. Ronnieís system ignores Jesusí teaching on justification. If Ronnie responds by giving quotes from Jesus saying we must have faith, that isnít enough, because through faith alone we must get Christís imputed righteousness in Ronnieís system. When Ronnie selectively quotes Paul but ignores Jesus he tells you he admits Jesus doesnít teach an imputed righteousness through faith alone, and he asks you to believe that Christians for 20-30 years didnít know how to be saved until Paul allegedly teaches this.

3]Ronnie is correct in that God does seek perfection. It is also true that nothing imperfect will go to heaven (Rv. 21:27). However, his solution (faith alone, and imputed righteousness) is nowhere found in any of the passages he cited. God works through covenant. He deals with his children as a Father does (Rom. 8:13-17; Gal. 4:4-9). He disciplines his children over small sins (Heb. 12:5-11). Paul tells Christians, we must pursue holiness to achieve salvation and avoid sins that lead to spiritual death which will cut us off from him: Heb. 12:

14Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" spring up and cause trouble, and by it the many become defiled;16 that no one be immoral or irreligious like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.

Paul warns that we can become defiled and be cut off from God, through mortal sin. But, if we strive for holiness under grace, we will achieve salvation.

4]Does God realize that people wonít perfectly keep the commandments? Of Course. In the covenant, it is possible to keep the commandments, even if not perfectly. As John writes, if one says he does not sin, he deceives himself (1 Jn. 1:8). Nonetheless, keeping the commandments is a requirement to remain in communion with him and thus have salvation (1 Jn 2:2-4; 3:10; 5:3-5). As Ronnie points out Jesus does call us to be perfect (Mt. 5:48). Jesus also says "If you love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15). However, he doesn't say if you don't keep the commands perfectly, you are condemned (Heb. 12:5-7). He is a loving Father, and his children are heirs of the kingdom, but this salvation is conditional. Paul writes that in order to live eternally we must put to death the deeds of the flesh and if we donít do so we will die, (Rom.8:13-16). We are called sons, who will inherit:(v.17): if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.


5]Ronnieís premise is that even in grace and sonship, we can not be righteous in his sight. Thus, he brings forth passages to supposedly prove this (Par. 9-14). He quotes from Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Zechariah which say the Lord our Righteousness, which show that we are clothed in Godís righteousness and that is what we need. The premise is that we can not be made righteous, and thus need to be covered over with an imputed righteousness appropriated through faith alone. Look closely at his verses: Isaiah 61:10, 1 Cor. 1:30, Jer. 23:6, Zech. 3:4-5 (par. 9-14) and see if any one of them say that this righteousness is imputed to the believerís account, appropriated through faith alone. Ronnie makes a tremendous leap as none of those passages even infer this. Yes we must have Godís righteousness. Jesus said ďApart from me you can do nothing.Ē (Jn 15:5) Paul writes that in justification, one is made righteous, not imputed (Rom. 5:17-19). His righteousness must be infused into our being, not a covering over. It is not in fact, either Godís righteousness or our own righteousness, but because of Godís infusion of grace, our deeds truly become righteous in his sight. In the book of Revelation this is shown: Rev. 19:8: it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" --for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. It is both/and, not either or. These works that we are clothed in before God and suffice, are actually are own works, by Godís grace.

6]Throughout the Bible, we see many as righteous before God: Abel in his offering is termed righteous, (Gen 4; Heb. 11:4); Gen. 6:9: "Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation." Abraham, Gen. 17:1-2; Job 1:1: "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil." David testifies of himself, Psalm 119:60, 67: "I hasten and do not delay to keep thy commandments...." It is Godís righteousness that gave him life (Psalm 119:40) that enabled him. Ezekiel 14:14: "even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, says the Lord GOD." It was their own righteousness that sufficed before God, not an external righteousness credited.

7]In the New Testament we similarly see those righteous before God, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Lk 1:6:

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. Their righteousness availed before God. In my opening statement, I gave many passages which showed that it was righteousness infused with Godís grace that enables us to keep the commandments. Revelation, 14:12:

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

According to Ronnieís proposition there are no saints as none can keep the commandments sufficiently for God. Now in most of the above individuals cited we have examples of them sinning and werenít absolutely perfect, but their righteousness sufficed before God, in the context of a covenantal, Father-Son relationship.

8]Ronnie states: (Par. 14)

We cannot meet the demands of God's righteous requirements.
Paul states: Rom. 8:2-4ďFor the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death...: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4IN ORDER THAT THE JUST REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit..Ē It is fulfilled through the law of the Spirit, and in US. Paul contradicts Ronnie's assertion.

9]Psalm 119:1Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 2Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.

According to Ronnie, none are righteous who can keep his testimonies. If Ronnie admits that some people are blessed and righteous, (as these passages indicate) then the premise behind his idea is false. If Ronnie doesn't admit it, then these passages donít apply to anybody, and there would be no reason for these passages to be written.


10]Ronnie spends much time in Romans 3-4 (Par. 15-22), attempting to show justification by faith alone. He notes the word faith in many passages and jumps to the conclusion that justification is by faith alone. Being justified by faith doesnít equate to justification by faith alone. As the Council of Trent notes, faith is the beginning of human salvation, and the root of all justification (Session 6, Chapter 8). Here Paul is opposing those who downgrade grace and make law the means of salvation, be it moral or ceremonial. Nowhere does Paul mention faith alone as sufficient. Paul in Romans 3:28 writes that works of the law do not justify:

For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.

11]What does Paul exclude from justification? Does he exclude works done in grace and love? Does he exclude by Godís grace putting to death the deeds of the flesh? Elsewhere he adds those things to faith as necessary for salvation (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:6, Gal. 6:8-9). Paul here only excludes adding Ďworks of the lawí to faith. The whole context of Romans 3 is that all sin and any law, ceremonial or moral, in and of itself doesnít justify. Ronnie is correct in one sense that the law, in and of itself, doesnít justify. Paul was running into opposition from Judaizers who were boasting about their self-righteousness and putting ceremonial and moral laws as the means of salvation to the exclusion of Godís grace. That is why immediately prior to v. 28 Paul writes in v.27:

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On the principle of works? No, but on the principle of faith.

12]Judaizers bragged about their own righteousness, not relying on Godís grace, and excluded God from glory. When one approaches God self-righteously without depending on his grace, and holds that God owes them salvation, one can not be saved. That is the background to the works of the law issue.

Rom.4:2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

13]Ronnie says, if works were necessary, Abraham would be able to brag (Par. 17). Paul points to Abraham to show that salvation is not a self-boasting proposition. Any merit we have comes from God himself. Depending upon Godís grace and realizing that everything that we do comes from Godís power makes us totally reliant upon God, doesn't equate to faith alone. The Judaizers were boasting about themselves. Abraham didnít boast, exactly because he relied upon God. Paul wrote after he said work out your salvation with fear and trembling, ďIt is God at work within you, both to work and to will, for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12-13).

Rom. 4:3For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." 4Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due.

14]Ronnieís premise is that Paul excludes any kind of work, and argues that here is where Abraham was first justified (Par. 18-20). What kind of work is Paul excluding? The Judaizers boasted and said that God owed them salvation. They thought salvation was their due. They put God in a box as though it was an employee-employer relationship, as though God owed them wages, instead of a Father-Son relationship. Verse 4 points that out when he says that his relationship isnít as though it is wages. As though Abraham earned it. BTW, Ronnie falsely accuses me of posing it as an earning relationship (Par. 19). Paul says it is a Father-Son relationship with the son utterly reliant upon his Father. Any reward that comes from the Father is because he rewards out of his love, not because I put in work and God owes me because it is my due.

15]This passage is fatal to faith alone theology. Ronnie argues that here is where Abraham is first justified and I have to argue that Abraham had mortally sinned (Par. 20). Actually, justification is an ongoing process, so if Abraham is justified here by his action, and he had already been justified beforehand, that proves my point without a need to show he had mortally sinned prior to here, and Ronnieís proof-text becomes a boomerang that destroys faith alone theology. Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 where it says Abraham believed and was credited righteousness. In fact, Abraham already was a believer at a minimum 25 years beforehand and Ronnie's assertion that here is where Abraham was justified and it is a once and for all action with no continuing necessity of obedience to maintain justification is betrayed by the evidence:

16]God makes the call to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. He departs as the Lord had said, took all his possessions to the land of Canaan. He leaves house and home to who knows where, just at the Lord's bidding, and are we supposed to believe that he is a pagan? Abraham does many things for God (12:7; 13:4, 14-18) in faith. Melchizedek king of Salem blesses Abram and says (14:19) "Blessed be Abram of God most high,..." God is already Abram's God. Abram responds by proclaiming God most high, the maker of heaven and earth (14:22). Paul knows well this background to Genesis 15. Abram was a man of faith so in love with God that he did marvelous things that most believers, including me, would pale in comparison to. If he wasnít justified then, who would ever be justified? The view that doesnít acknowledge that Abraham is justified in Genesis 12-14, makes justification by 'faith alone' harder than justification by works!!!

17]Hebrews 11 confirms this. Ronnie may say, "Here Paul is not here talking of the faith that justifies." However, Hebrews 11:8 reads:

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

Hebrews 11 refers us here to Genesis 12, as we have already examined. Hebrews 11 speaks of heroes of the faith, not the unjustified. What kind of faith does he have, where he doesnít know where he was going, yet goes at God's bidding, if this is not saving faith? Abraham is obedient, just as in the following chapters including Genesis 15:6. He is justified in Gen. 12, Gen. 15, and as we saw in my opening statement, in Gen. 22, he offered Isaac on the altar to God. James writes he was justified by works (James. 2:21-24). Paul in Romans 4 only says that Abraham is justified in a covenantal relation with God, not by works where he attempts to make God a debtor. He isnít excluding works done in grace, as the fact that Abraham believed that God would provide a child, even though he was old and his wife was way beyond child-bearing age is indeed an act of faith working in love of the Father. The fact that Abraham believed, must be followed up by Abraham himself putting this belief into action in order to produce a child. Isaac was not produced by a virgin birth. Not Faith Alone.

17]The phraseology used in v. 3, that he believed and was credited righteousness is used one other time in the Bible in Psalm 106:30-31 in reference to Phinehas:

30"Then Phinehas stood up and interposed, and the plague was stayed. 31And that has been reckoned to him as righteousness from generation to generation for ever.Ē

Reckoned to Phinehas as righteousness, the exact language that Paul uses in Romans 4:3. This shows that Phinehas was a righteous man who did a righteous action, (actually killing fornicators, cf. Num. 25:25-30). God reckoned him as righteous and stopped the plague. He recognized a righteous action by a righteous man who was already justified. Exactly the same as Abraham.


18]Ronnie highlights the fact that the ungodly are justified. True, apart from Godís grace we are Ďchildren of wrathí (Eph. 2:2). However, in justification, Paul says one is made righteous (Rom. 5:19), (thus no longer remain ungodly) and are made alive (Eph. 2:1-10). We will see this when we study Paulís example of David. However, the work, again, wonít be done in a sense of making God a debtor, as Paul emphasizes in v. 5. However, the whole forensic scheme behind Ronnieís assumption is false. When we look at Romans 4, we must know that Scripture can not contradict Scripture and Paul can not contradict himself, nor other Scriptures. Ronnieís argument is that though we are actually unrighteous in Godís sight, God will look past our sinfulness and look at Christís imputed righteousness instead. This has God taking part in a lie. God declares someone who is unrighteous, righteous. What does God think of this possibility?:

Prov. 17:15He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.

God certainly doesnít take part in what he condemns as an abomination.

19]Paul in the same letter says that God will reward according to our works. The faith that saves must be obedient (Rom. 1:5, 16:26). Those who do good and seek glory honor and immortality will achieve salvation, by those works (of course only in the realm of grace) (Rom. 2:4-13). Our obedience leads to righteousness, while disobedience leads to condemnation (Rom. 6:16). Earlier we saw Rom. 8:1-17 give further evidence of what we must do to accomplish salvation. We must continue in his kindness in order to not get cut off (Rom. 11:22). Thus, Paul in Romans 4 isnít saying that grace empowered works arenít necessary. Paul distinguishes those works that are meritorious from works that are outside Godís grace and accomplish nothing. Ronnie fails to see this distinction and has Paul contradicting himself in his own letter.


20]Rom.4:5And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.6So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: 7"Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin."

Paul refers us to Davidís example as to how we are justified. David is being forgiven his sins, and since he is now justified, he will no longer lose his justification over those sins that he had just committed. Here Paul refers us to David in Psalm 32:1-2. He had to confess his sins to get rejustified (Psalm 32:4). In Psalm 32:5, he terms those who follow God, godly (no longer ungodly). David rejoices here, (as in Psalm 51) that God is here forgiving him for his sins of adultery and slaying of Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. The time of the events that he is getting forgiveness for is 2 Samuel 11-12. Is this Davidís initial justification, and no matter the sins, are they covered over? On the contrary, David since his youth knew and loved the Lord. He sang Psalms to God to soothe Saul. In 1 Samuel 13:14, years before 2 Sam. 11-12 and Psalm 32, David is called a "man after God's own heart" a distinction given to NO OTHER MAN IN THE BIBLE. In his youth, David called on the Lord to defeat the mighty Goliath (1 Samuel 17). David showed his love for God by dancing with all his might (2 Sam. 6:14). This shows indeed that David was a true child of God before the events of 2 Sam. 11-12.

21]Though a true child of God, he committed major sin (per. 1 John 5:17, Gal. 5:19, 1 Cor. 6:9, Gal. 5:5) with Bathsheba and Uriah to make him become ungodly (2 Sam.11-12). He disinherited himself. That is how he could be called ungodly coming into Psalm 32 (and thus termed ungodly in Romans 4:5). How was he forgiven? By sincere repentance given in the grace of God. He didnít earn his way back through law. This shows that Ronnieís interpretation of Rom. 4:8 that his view is superior (Par. 21) because God wonít take into account any future sins and one can not get disinherited by future sins, is false. The fact is David earlier was justified, he lost his justification through mortal sin. Yes, once you are forgiven, those sins wonít cause you to lose your justification, but the fact is that David had lost his justification and had to have his sins blotted out again. This shows that justification is dependent upon our obedience within the realm of grace.


22]In my next statement, before I address Ronnieís rebuttal, I will respond to his attempted use of Romans 10. Here we have seen Ronnieís citations mostly serve as arguments from silence. Jesus did not teach faith alone. The biggest proof texts from Romans 3 & 4 actually backfire on him. What God declares, he also makes, as not merely forensically righteous, but actually righteous. Ronnie gave no passages which even hint at what he must prove. My opening statement however, proved in abundance the necessity of works for salvation.

Word Total - 3999 words


Return to Matt-Ronnie Justification Debate Page


Go to Mattís Debates Page


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page