By: Matt1618

This is a full text of a message board dialogue on the issue of justification between myself and Tim Kauffman, a Protestant author. I had responded to a post that he had done on justification. He responded to my critique of him, and this is my response to his post.When you see > it means an earlier post of either Tim or I, and is marked as such. Tim's responses are in red and mine are in blue. This is a 3 part dialogue and covers disputes on the issue of the meaning of the terms works of the law, Paul and James on justification, whether it is a process, and whether one can lose salvation.

Works of the Law

> I have read through your analysis of my view
> on Abraham's justification, and to be candid,
> I find it takes very much concentration to filter
> out the legitimate issues (and there are several)
> from the straw man arguments.

> You will note in my post on Abraham's justification,
> I mention circumcision not once. Nor did I anywhere
> assert that Works of the Law are limited to circumsion.
> I think you may have imported your differences
> with another person into this discussion. One
> reason it took so long to respond was that, from
> your start on circumcision, I had a hard time
> determining which post it was to which you were
> responding. But I never mentioned circumcision,
> nor have I contradicted Rome's position on circumcision.

So I was responding to straw men, and not what you actually posted? Let's see:


> Roman Catholics look at James 2:24 and Romans
> 3:28 (among *many other verses*) and conclude
> that if justification is "apart from the
> works of the Law" (Paul) and "not apart
> from works" (James) then, because the Bible
> is inerrant, Paul was referring to works of the
> Mosaic Law,


"Works of the Law, include anything (including circumcision) that tries to make God a debtor. If one works on one's own power, (even the moral law), that would be included in the Catholic view of works of the Law. Nowhere does Trent limit itself to works of the law being merely circumcision. So if one proves that Works of the Law is not necessarily circumcision, the Protestant still hasn't proven the point on the issue. Trying to make God a debtor, and working on one's power outside the realm of his grace can also be put under the realm of Works of the Law. This is the position of Augustine and Trent."

So how in the world was I creating straw men? You said that the Roman Catholic position visavis Paul and Romans had to do with the Mosaic Law. You deny you ever mentioned circumcison, but what is at the forefront of the Mosaic Law but circumcision? We do know throughout Romans and Galatians circumcision is a part of the Mosaic Law that you declared that Roman Catholicism was clinging all of its interpretation on. I was not creating a straw man, but I was correcting a straw man that you were creating. I know as an educated man, you know that circumcision is a main part of the Mosaic law. Technically I could have said that by limiting the Roman Catholic argument to the Mosaic Law you have not proved your point (and as the quote above shows, that is what you are arguing), but circumcison is the main part of the Mosaic Law, so this complaint, besides creating your own straw man misses the mark: You claimed Roman Catholicism limited works of the law to the Mosaic Law, (of which a main part is circumcision). That is the error I pointed out, you did not seem to get in your response.

> I'll prefer that you leave Dunn's arguments on
> Dunn's shoulders. What you have done is construct
> a straw man argument and imputed it to me. They
> are easy to burn but are rarely convincing. They
> will not be here.

As shown, I was accurate (remember circumcision and Mosaic Law) and you created your own straw man.

> Unfortunately, your straw men arguments continue.
> You assert several things of me and Protestants
> in general which I have never said to my knowledge,
> and certainly not in the post on Abraham. A sampling:

> Is Paul actually contradicting himself when he writes that grace is separate > from good works (in regards to justification), as Protestants allege?

I was not clear in making the point, forgive me. Paul himself contradicts the view that is presented from your side. Just a sampling:

romans 2:6-13 Who will render to every man according to his WORKS. romans 2:7 To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life: romans 2:9 Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek. romans 2:8 But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation. Romans 2:10 But glory, and honour, and peace to EVERY ONE THAT WORKETH GOOD, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For whosoever have sinned without the law, shall perish without the law; and whosoever have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law. 13 For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but THE DOERS OF THE LAW SHALL BE JUSTIFIED.

Romans 6:16 Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are whom you obey, whether it be of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.

Galat 6:8 For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. 6:9 And in doing good, let us not fail. For in due time we shall reap, not failing.

Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by love.

Legal Fiction?

> Paul writes nothing about a merely legal
> fiction being the basis for salvation at this
> crucial juncture of God's judgment.

Nor do Protestants assert that a mere legal fiction is the basis for salvation. Logically speaking, this is called "the language of propaganda." Your hard work and research indicates that your arguments are capable of standing on their own without appealing to such devices.

Let me use the language of RC. Sproul, who uses the language of Calvin, in the analysis of how a person is acquitted in the sight of God. This view undergirds the basis of your view of how a man is justified in God's sight, which is forensic. Attached is part of a letter that I wrote to James White, who also tried the straw man complaint. I have seen his work praised on this site. White also took umbrage when I used the term legal fiction. Here is my response to him:

"Or if you are upset about me stating that your position being that God does a legal fiction and just turns away from the filthiness of man, let us consider what RC Sproul asserts in his book. Sproul writes "By imparting or imputing Christ's righteousness to us sinners, God reckons us as just. It is "as if" (Sproul's quote) we were inherently just. But we are not inherently just.... We are just by imputation even while sin still remains in us, though it does not reign in us...He quotes Calvin "To justify is nothing else that to acquit from the charge of guilt, "as if" innocence were proved"...When God justifies us...he does not acquit on us on a proof of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that "though not righteous in ourselves", we are deemed righteous in Christ" (Sproul, 102). I elsewhere state that your view does assert that Christ's righteousness is actually imputed to the individual. Nevertheless, Sproul and Calvin unhesitatingly assert that God reckons us righteous "as though" and "even though we are not righteous". You declare all along in your book the forensic (legal) basis of justification. Reformed (so-called) theologians admit that God justifies those people who are not actually righteous. When something terms as true something that is not actually true, that is fiction. I read Sproul's argument that it is not a legal fiction (pp. 105-108), but any way you term it, God reckons one righteous even when he is inherently unrighteous. The term legal fiction is thus justified. Thus when I say "He does not do some legal fiction, and then just turn his eyes away from the filthiness of man" I am not creating a straw man at all."

I know and do not deny that your magisterium (your own opinion of what scripture says, that happens to align, as far as I could tell, with Calvin, at least on justification) tells you that when one is acquitted before God, it is because Christ's righteousness has been legally, and actually imputed to the person. Nevertheless, the person is inherently unrighteous. God acts as though the person is righteous even while inherently unrighteous. It is most appropriate to call it a legal fiction.

Jesus' Teaching on Salvation

> Of course Jesus says much more than this,
> but scriptures like the above show why Protestants
> tend to say Jesus doesn't really teach about salvation,

Where have I, or any Christian on this BBS, asserted that Jesus doesn't really teach about salvation?

Maybe I was a tad presumptuous, but I have read James White, who has been referred to on this site as a great source for info on Catholicism. His book specifically says that only Paul is the author on justification (Roman Catholic Controversy, p. 147,). He mentions that Jesus does not specifically speak on justification. I can not wait for the scriptures from you having Jesus speaking of forensic justification for believers. I have searched the scriptures (believe it or not, I used to believe in Faith Alone) and have never found Jesus anywhere saying that one is justified forensically, by an alien righteousness. I will further down the road make a thread on what Jesus teaches on justification, and show the forensic view is the furthest thing from his sight. It is too hard to fit into this response.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24).

Protestant eisegesis: Why do you not mention just a few verses later: John 5:28-29. "28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice. 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Judgment of going to heaven or hell is thus not based on mere belief, but on what people actually did. ( I will in a few days respond to your post on the sheeps and the goats). Actually John who wrote this passage down would be shocked to hear that the phrase passing from death to life means faith alone justifies and one could never lose salvation. In his epistle John writes 1 John 3:14-15: 14 "We know that we HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE (same phrase as used in John 5:24), because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." Unless Tim is saying that once justified a believer could never hate ( and I do not believe he would), unless one loves (like in Gal. 5:6 and 1 Cor. 13) he can not have eternal life. Here, using the same phraseology that Jesus himself used in John 5:24, eternal life depends on love, faithfulness and a putting to death the deeds of the flesh (cf. Rom. 8:13, Gal. 5:16, 24).

Matthew 16:24-27. 24 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then HE SHALL REWARD EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS." The context here is about gaining salvation, or losing one's soul. Not about works only being the proof of justification, or only serving to get extra rewards in heaven. According to Jesus, what determines it? Works. Apparently, what he did on the cross must be actually applied to how one lives ones life in order to avail one to justification.

> Augustine wrote that Jerome was incorrect in limiting
> Paul's description of works of the law to circumcision,
> but that Paul was also condemning trying to live
> up to the law by one's own strength.

> His supplemental interpretation of the phrase works of the law
> also fits Catholic interpretation of grace, and
> belies the merely declarative righteousness interpretation.

Of course it fits the Catholic interpretation. Rome would not have cited Augustine over Jerome if it had not. If it had not fit the Roman Catholic position, Rome would have found another Father who could prove the unanimity of the Fathers on this point.

Another Straw man erected by Tim. Did you ever see me saying that there was a unaminous consent of the Fathers on the issue of Works of the Law? On Works of the Law Trent or no Council ever stated that it was the unaminous consent of the Fathers. One thing for sure, there was a unaminous consent of the Fathers that works are necessary for salvation, just like it was unaminous on baptismal regeneration, unaminous on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, unanimous on infant baptism, unaminous on the sacrifice of the Eucharist (as verified by Protestant church historian Darwell Stone), unaminous for tradition and a living magisterium for interpreting scripture, etc. There were differing nuances of course within these issues. There were other issues (such as the meaning of Works of the Law, Predestination) that there was no such unanmity.


> Protestant attempts to use 2 Cor 5:21-"That
> we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
> This is not the righteousness whereby God is himself
> righteous, but that whereby we are made righteous
> by him" (Augustine, On the Spirit and the
> Letter, ch. 31, Schaff, NPNF, p. 97).

Actually, the whole verse does (2 Cor 5:21) speak of imputation:

"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

To say that God infused righteousness so that we might become righteous enough to be justified, means that God must have infused Christ with sin so that He would become unrighteous enough to be punished.

If he took our punishment, would not Jesus be in hell? Instead, Jesus is the perfect offering before God, but is not currently suffering in hell. No, Augustine or I did not say or imply that Christ was infused with sin. If Christ was infused with sin he could not be God.

This, of course, would render His sacrifice worthless, as the only sacrifice which can take away sins had to be pure. Do you believe that our sin was imputed to Christ, or that it was infused into Him?

No. Christ did not become sin or sinful, but he became a "sin offering" for us. Christ became a perfect sacrifice for sin, as only he could be a perfect sacrifice. The fact that he was sinless is the only reason he could become the perfect offering.

I say that 2 Corinthians 5:21 stands as a vivid demonstration of double imputation: our unrighteousness to Christ, and Christ's righteousness to us.

And apparently you use it to show perseverance of the saints, and obedience and works are not necessary for justification. However, let us look at the context.: 2 Cor. 5:17-6:2.

2 Corinthians 5:
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
6:1 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
2 (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Notice, that the context first shows that it is a new creation, not anything about an alien righteousness covering up an ungodly person who stays inherently ungodly. Paul says that he is is an ambassador who is given the gift of a minstry of reconciliation of sinners to God. V. 19 according to Philip Schaff admits that the verb may mean to make just, to make manifest, etc. (History of the Christian Church, Vol. 7, p. 123, n. 2). Then just prior to the critical verse that you said alleged double imputation, Paul says be reconciled to God! Why worry about being reconciled to God if your basis for justification is an alien righteousness that one can not lose? The very next verses show that one can receive the grace of God in vain (6:1-2). The whole context of 2 Cor. 5-6 Paul shows concern about the very salvation of the Corinthians. Thus to take 2 Cor. 5:21 as a double imputation as a definite surety strains not only the text but the surrounding context.

>> "And without controversy great is mystery of godliness: God was manifest in >> the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels preached unto the Gentiles, believed >> on in the world, received up into glory. (1 Timothy 3:16).

>> "For John the Baptist came neither eating >> bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a >> devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; >> and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, >> a friend of publicans and sinners! But wisdom >> is justified of all her children." (Luke 7:33-35).

> If you look at the passages, not one of them
> have to do with men being justified before God.
> When speaking metaphorically, or in other discussions
> outside the issue of justification before God,
> there can be other ways of using the word. However,
> those above verses are irrelevant to discussion
> about justification before God, as the 2 verses
> mentioned have no relation to the issue.

You are correct when you say the verses I cited have nothing to do with being justified before God. You are wrong when you say they have no relation to the issue. The fact that they speak of a justification in the sight of men is critical, since it demonstrates that the term can be used that way.

If I made it relevant the view of justification would actually not help your position anyway. For example, the fact that God is declared justified. Is God intrinsically righteous (If we relate to the Catholic view) or is he only forensically just (the Protestant view)? If God was intrinsically sinful but only declared righteous God would not be God. God is justified because he has the quality of justice within him, or because he is the subsisting source of all goodness and of all justice. This use of justified directly opposes the forensic view.

In fact, the context of James lends itself to that exact usage. The book not once mentions Christ's death or resurrection, the very focal point of our justification in the eyes of God (Rom. 4:25), but mentions repeatedly, that our good works must be seen before men:

James and Salvation

So James is not concerned about justification before God? Does he ever use the word saved in his letter?

James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to SAVE your souls.
James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith SAVE him?
James 4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to SAVE and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall SAVE the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall SAVE a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

If this is not talking about salvation I don't know what is. Especially since in the prior verse (before 2:14-26) James writes in 2:13 "For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" Yes James is talking about dealing with men, no doubt, but it is specifically in regards to judgment before God.

"But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." *Show* me your faith without deeds, and I will *show* you my faith by what I do." (James 2:18). "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him *show* it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." (James 3:13). (Indeed, this verse states plainly what Christ did above: that wisdom is justified by her fruits—a justification in the eyes of men. This is a theme throughout the book of James).

These verses speak of a justification in the sight of men.

Here James is dealing with an objector. The objector says look, all I need is faith, that is enough to save. James responds to the objector that faith alone does not SAVE. James is do doubt speaking also of how one deals with men, but his empasisis is on how one will give of an account to God and how this affects whether he will be justified or not. In fact, when he goes on to demonstrate how one is saved, the examples that follow show indeed that your interpretation (this is a demonstration before men, not God) is simply impossible. The main example that we are focusing on is Abraham, as that is at the center of our discussion on James, as here it is said he is justified by works, faith is completed by works and one is not justified by faith alone (vv. 20-24). Your take is that it is a demonstration before men, and he is showing men. Let us examine where James is referring to, Genesis 22. Genesis 22.:1-6. 1 After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2 He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori'ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you."

So Abraham leaves his wife. He leaves the whole country to perform this task. When it is about the time to actually perform the sacrifice of Isaac, he even leaves the two servant travelers that were with him and tells them absolutely nothing about what he planned to do. So who is this a demonstation before? Let us go further on:

Genesis 22: 10Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." 15And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 16and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, 18and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice."

Only an angel of the Lord and the Lord himself see the faith of Abraham in action. He says vv. 16-18 (please read above) because of what you have done, I will bless you. Because Abraham obeys God's voice, the covenant is reconfirmed and strengthened BY GOD. Therefore, when we bring this to the context of James, we see that Abraham is demonstrating nothing before men. Abraham is only demonstrating this before God. In our vital section of James 2:20-24 James can therefore only plausibly be talking about justification before God. Therefore, when he says one is jusified by works, and not by Faith Alone, he means justification before God.

The context of James by itself is enough to show that the justification he speaks of is a justification before men. Citing Luke 7:33-35 and 1 Timothy 3:16 only was used to prove that that is a legitimate usage of the term.

The whole context shows in some parts of James (although not in the critical part of James 2:21-24 and Abraham that we were focusing in on) how man is to interact with man. There is no question on the issue. However, throughout other parts of James as shown, and in the verse preceding vv. 14-26 James is writing of the final judgment. The issue of how men deal with men is not merely about demonstrating righteousness in front of people, but being justified before God.

> parallel passage to Gen. 15:6 and Rom. 4:3? Maybe
> because it destroys their argument. In fact Psalm
> 106:31 so much destroys the Protestant position
> on Rom. 4 and Genesis 15 that John Murray writes:
> "If Paul had appealed to Psalm 106:31 in the matter
> of justification, the justification of the ungodly,
> then the case of Phinehas would have provided
> an inherent contradiction and would have demonstrated
> justification by a righteous and zealous act.."
> John Murray, Commentary on Romans, Vol. 1, p.
> 131. He admits Psalm 106:31 contradicts his view
> of Paul, and says Paul deliberately is at odds
> with Psalm 106:31. We all know that scripture
> is inerrant, and it shows how the Protestant view
> conflicts with inspired scripture.

Paul and Salvation

This is another straw man argument, Matt. Murray doesn't think Paul deliberately contradicts Psalm 106:31. Did Murray actually say "Paul is deliberately at odds with Psalm 106:31"?

Well, he calls it an inherrent contradiction. An inherent contradiction in my view is terming it deliberately at odds with Psalm 106:31.

Of course not. What Murray is saying is that since Phineas' justification is a justification in the eyes of men for all generations, then that cannot be the justification in the eyes of God that is apart from works of which Paul speaks.

Murray repeats the same error I just showed in reference to Abraham. To any objective reader, we saw that Abraham's sacrifice was not a demonstration before man, but before God. Now, likewise we see your theology forces you to say, well, since it says nothing about an alien righteousness being imputed to Phinehas, we must relegate Psalm 106:31 and the accompanying passage (Numbers 25) as only a demonstration before men. Let us examine the context in Numbers 25 to see if this is primarily a demonstration before man.

Numbers 25: 1While Israel dwelt in Shittim the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. 2These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods. 3So Israel yoked himself to Ba'al of Pe'or. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel; 4and the LORD said to Moses, "Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel." 5And Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Every one of you slay his men who have yoked themselves to Ba'al of Pe'or." 6And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Mid'ianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting.

So we see that the sins with the Moabites angered God, and God planned to punish the people because of their disobedience. Next we see what Phinehas does, and who then is lauded by God:

Numbers 25: 7When Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation, and took a spear in his hand 8and went after the man of Israel into the inner room, and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman, through her body. Thus the plague was stayed from the people of Israel. 9Nevertheless those that died by the plague were twenty-four thousand. 10And the LORD said to Moses, Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. 12Therefore say, 'Behold, I GIVE TO HIM MY COVENANT OF PEACE; 13AND IT SHALL BE TO HIM, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM, the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the people of Israel.'"

We thus see that we do not see a bunch of people saying, "wow, that is a nice demonstration of faith, but of course we realize that you had already were saved by an alien righteousness and you are just demonstrating this to us." Not only is there no trace of that theology but instead we see that it is God who recognizes this demonstration of faith. As with Abraham, God himself recognizes this faithful act of Phinehas. Because of Phinehas' faithfulness God turns away his wrath from Israel. God stops the plague, due to Phinehas actions. He gives to Phinehas a covenant of peace. Very similar to Abraham. And we know that Phinehas had already been justified, just as we saw Abraham was already justified in my last response (Gen. 12-15, and Heb. 11:8).. So here we again see justification to be a process. That is why Murray did not want to refer to Phinehas, in Psalm 106:31, because it demonstrates a process in justification. He ignores the only verse that exactly parallels Rom. 4:3 because the whole forced reading of an alien righteousness and the hope of a one time justification is destroyed by the passage.

To cite Psalm 106:31 as your theme verse for justification undoes all that you have asserted to this point, because you have taught that justification can be gained and lost. From Psalm 106:31, it would seem that Phineas' justification was permanent:

"This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come." (Psalms 106:31).

Generations to come is an indefinite time period. It could mean today, through tomorrow, it could mean next week, and it could mean forever. The semantic range could fit any of those time periods.

> This is the act that Phinehas is accounted
> for righteousness. Nothing about an alien righteousness.
> Phineas is not merely considered righteous, but
> this righeousness is inherent.

And permanent, wouldn't you agree? The "for endless generations to come" part of the verse seems to undermine the position you are trying to prove from this verse.

Again, the semantic range is wide, and does not undermine the point at all.

Could it be that Psalm 106:31 uses justification the same way that James does? I would say so.

Paul and Works of the Law

I would say he uses it the same way Paul does in Rom. 4:3. Just as Abraham was already justified in Gen. 12-15, and his God rewarded Abraham's righteous act of belief in Gen. 15, so Phinehas was an already justified believer, whose act was a demonstration before God in Num. 25, and accounted as righteous before God in Psalm 106:31.

MATT> This is exactly the Catholic position. The
> Catholic teaching is NOT that God owes us, as
> Paul condmens, and Tim seems to be implying that
> Catholicism teaches. As Paul says here and the
> Council of Trent proclaims, justification is due
> to God's benificience.

But is the justification based on the works? If the justification is based on works, then in what manner is righteousness reckoned apart from works, as Paul says it is? (Romans 3:28)

You forgot the phrase Works of the Law, in Rom. 3:28. Anyway, a common tact on the BBS is to just throw the verse out, w/o looking at the context, and say well, Faith apart from Works of the Law means Faith Alone. That is quite a leap commonly made. The assumption that you, Wayne, Ron, Cheryl (the ones I have noticed here, I am sure there are others make) is that Faith apart from the Works of the Law = Faith Alone. In fact Rom. 3:28 says not Faith Alone but Faith apart from Works of the Law. In order for you to make such an assertion, you must assert that works of the Law means any type of obedience under God's grace. There is no question that works of the law in Rom. 3:28 are contrasted to grace. An initial problem is that Faith alone excludes anything from being added to faith, while Faith apart from works of the law (the term Paul uses) only excludes "works of the law" from being added to faith.

We must therefore determine what works of the law means. The only plausible explanation is the Catholic view. The Catholic view is that Works of the Law is anything that tries to put God in the position of debtor, and one who tries to be justified on his own, outside the realm of grace. This includes things as trying to keep the moral law on one's own power, and other things such as circumcision (an important part of the Mosaic Law). First, if we examine the immediate context of Rom. 3:28 we see circumcison (part of the Mosaic law) coming into play, though it is not exclusively this , as will be seen later: Circumcision is part of what set apart the Jews from Gentiles. However, as soon as he writes that these works do not justify (v. 28), he writes that what justifies is faith, for both the circumcised and uncircumcised (v. 30), exactly as the church teaches. This lays the foundation for Romans 4. After Paul's analysis in Rom. 4:2-8, what does he conclude? That those who rely on good works empowered by the Holy Spirit done in a state of grace to achieve salvation are condemned to hell? On the contrary, Paul writes in 4:9 "Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? ...4:10- under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised." Read through v. 12, and you see that Paul is specifically mentioning circumcision as not being the grounds of Abraham's justification. There is absolutely no mention of good works done in the state of grace being of no relation to justification before God.

Also, Recent archaeological and linguistic studies have shown that in first century Judaism the phrase "works of Torah" was a technical term for actions which served as Jewish identity markers (i.e., ceremonial works), indicating their membership in the Jewish covenant, in contrast to those who were outside of it.

However, Tim is correct in pointing out that the moral law is indeed included within the terminology of Works of the Law. Rom. 3:19-20 show this. This law encompasses more than merely the ceremonial law of the Jews. By merely the works of the law no man will be justified. No one can be 100% perfect, no doubt. A critical verse to explain what Paul means is this: Romans 4:3-4. We see in v. 2 that by works (surrounded by the context of the phrase Works of the law) one will not be justified. We have examined the implications of Rom. 4:3 with Abraham. But in v. 4 we see Paul write "To the one working, the wage is not reckoned according to grace but according to obligation." Notice that obligation is opposed to grace. Apparently works of the Law means trying to obligate God to owe them justification, but not according to grace. As Paul writes, no one can obligate God to owe anyone anything. Obligation means, according to works of the law, that if one works for God, on their own power, one tries to obligate God to owe them justification. God is obligated to justify no one. If one tries to justify himself in this category God requires 100% perfection. If there is one messup, one can not be justified.

However, as adopted sons (Gal. 4, Rom. 8:14), here he does not require 100% perfection. Nonetheless, The passages that I gave earlier (Rom. 2:5-13, Rom. 6:16, Rom. 8:3-4, Gal. 5:6 ) show that under the category of grace, there still is a requirement for law, obedience and works in order to justified. We saw for example that the doers of the law will be justified (Rom. 2:13). How is this different from the Works of the Law mentioned in Rom. 3:28? It is different because it is under the auspices of grace. The background to Rom. 2:5-13 shows this. Rom. 2:4 - "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" We see here that one can be justified by doing the law only when one recognizes that it is only God's grace that can lead to repentance. BTW, Rom. 2:6-13 is not a hypothetical, as is a common argument used. It says the doers of the law will be justified. We have seen this in passages quoted earlier .The only way God can justify anybody is under the auspices of God's grace. Elsewhere, however, we see that the relationship with God, even under the auspices of grace can be lost due to serious sin. Paul writes for people not to be deceived into thinking that they can go to heaven if they commit serious sins (Eph. 5:3-5, 1 Cor. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-20, etc.)

So how does Trent speak of this. After this dissection of the meaning of the Works of the Law we can see it in full agreement with Paul's condemnation of reliance of works of the law. When one relies on any kind of law, whether ceremonial and even moral, if one does it on his own power outside the auspices of grace, that person will not be justified before God.

Canon 1, Decree on Justification. If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law,[110] without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.

James and Salvation, Continued

> Tim makes a case that may sound reasonable,
> but definitely does not fit the case. Here is
> the text itself of James 2:14-26

For the sake of brevity, I'll say that your argument from James by replacing "faith" with "dead faith" every time it is used, is another straw man.

So the argument is that the whole text of 2:14-26 is about dead faith (in contrast to the live faith of Abraham), but nowhere in any of the passages can the word dead faith be used? Every single time the word dead faith was inserted into the text it made no sense. If I can not put it in once, that is a questionable interpretation to say the least.

No one is saying that every time James mentions the word "faith" it is a "dead faith." James 2:22 is a citation of a living faith, which is provided as an example of faith that is not dead...This is a logical fallacy based on James Akins faulty premise. You may want to reconsider your argument here. If I understand what you have written (and I may not), you are saying that living faith (which produces works) is capable of producing enough non-works to finally kill itself.

James (the bible author) is concerned that faith must be linked with works and can not be separated. If the works are separated from faith, then the one will not be justified in God's sight. How is this faith made alive? By works. As Protestant scholar Sophie Laws writes "James makes no such distinctions as consequence, demonstration or confirmation in relation to faith and works: for James faith and works go together as a necessary unit. James writes in v. 22 that faith cooperates with works, and by works faith was made complete." Notice faith needs to be completed by works in order to justify. That alone makes Sola Fide problematic to say the least. When Abraham offered his son Isaac, he was not declaring or showing his faith to anyone but God, as already shown..

How can a living faith produce non-works? Isn't the production of non-works the evidence that the faith itself is dead?

Very simple, we live in the flesh. We need to be continually renewed by the Holy Spirit and God's grace to enable us to live obediently unto righteousness (Rom. 6:16). A live faith can very well become dead. That is what James is warning Christian beleivers about througout the whole epistle. Sin is not only doing, but not doing (James 4:17).

> In fact v. 22 says faith was completed by
> works. The Protestant position is absolutely impossible.
> Luther at least recognized it, and thus called
> James' epistle an epistle of straw. Abraham is
> indeed justified in Genesis 22 as well. This shows
> again that justification is a process, and works
> are necessary for salvation. It is works and obedience
> that make that faith come alive (v. 22).

Matt, since all men have been imprisoned by God in disobedience, what you have suggested here becomes impossible. You seem to assert that the faith of devils is exactly the same kind of faith that Christians sometimes have, and they need to make it come alive by their obedience.

I must be missing something. What in the world are you talking about? Where did I ever say that we have faith of the devils. Rom. 1:5, Obedience of faith. Rom. 6:16, obedience unto righteousness. Rom. 8:4 the righteous requirement of the law met by those who walk in the Spirit. God rewards those who obey unto salvation (Heb. 5:9). We have already seen Rom. 2:6-13 which stresses obedience unto salvation. The reason it can be done is because not that we earn it, but it is God's grace that gives it.

But if men are imprisoned in disobedience (Romans 11:32), how can they possibly make their faith come alive by doing the very thing that it is impossible for them to do: obey? The essence of your statement above is that justification comes through a faith that is alive, and the faith comes alive by works and obedience.

Works of the Law

The root is not ourselves. I am not pretending we are 100% perfect. If one tries to make God a debtor, (as though he owes anything to anybody) God requires 100% perfection. However, through the eyes of Grace, God due only to his own benificence will judge. God's salvific grace does purify us from iniquity (Tit. 2:14).

Romans 11:30-32 - 30 Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. 32For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.

Men trying to work on their own for justification (works of the law) will never meet the 100% requirement of perfection. It says in these specific verses that instead of keeping all men consigned to disobedience, he offers mercy. This mercy comes under the realm of God's grace. He becomes a loving Father to his adopted children who are under the auspices of God's grace. We become within the realm of that grace, where mercy from God comes, and then obedience becomes possible.

What I don't understand is why you offer this gospel as the gospel of salvation and then turn around and deny that you hold to a salvation which is based on works and obedience. Works and obedience do not make dead faith come alive, because people who have dead faith cannot do good works.

That is a caricature of the Catholic position. God's grace and benificience is behind everything that we do. Nothing we do prior to justification merits anything in God's eyes (canon 1, Tren). Through his grace God pours out his own divine life and love into the believer (Rom. 5:5). He judges by the law through the eyes of grace. We are his adopted sons (Gal. 4:4-9, Rom. 8:14) enabled to walk in a relationship with him.

It is not works and obedience that makes dead faith living. Rather, it is a living faith that is given from God which results in good works and obedience:

As Protestant scholar Laws wrote, "James makes no such distinctions as consequence, demonstration or confirmation in relation to faith and works: for James faith and works go together as a necessary unit. James writes in v. 22 that faith cooperates with works, and by works faith was made complete." You are trying to separate faith from obedience and works. Paul, James and nobody else does that. They are intimately connected. If one does bad works (sin), that faith can become dead.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no-one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:8-10).

That is exactly the Catholic position. Look how carefully Paul writes this. By works of the law (trying to earn salvation and doing it on ones own power) avails nothing. One can not put God into the position of debtor. It is purely God's gift. And what is God's gift? The gift is not merely faith, but works as well. Protestants usually assume that the gift that leads to salvation is faith, thus faith alone. However this gift is not limited to faith, but faith, works and everything God has given.

> It is talking about both sides of the mouth.
> On the one hand one says that faith alone justifies,
> but this faith must produce works in order to
> be saved.

I could also level charges of double speak if I were of a mind to do it. What you have missed is the fact that I do not believe the works produced by the living faith are the ground of justification. The faith which justifies is from God alone, and God does not give dead faith. Rather, He gives a living faith to those whom He elects, and that faith always produces good works.

God indeed gives a living faith. But what indeed is a living faith? A faith that works. Is it possible a man may not add works to this faith? Of course, that is what James warns against. Verse 14 is the beginning of the section. What does it say? 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith SAVE him?
Notice the question is can that faith save him. James does not say can that faith demonstrate before man that faith? The focus is salvation. If we look at vv. 15-16 the person has a good heart, he says be warm and filled, but he does not act on that heart. That is condemned. Why is it condemned? because back in v. 14 it says that without the action backing it up, one can not be saved.

17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
As we saw, the question was in regards to salvation, not about demonstration. V. 17 by itself shows one is not saved by Faith Alone.

21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
It says here that Abraham is justified by works here. Nothing about merely demonstrating before man as we have examined Genesis 22.
22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
Works completes faith and is one unit, working hand in hand. James shows without any hint of separateness that faith needs to be completed by works.
23and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.
24You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Verse 24 is a reaffirmation of what James had written earlier. He makes 2 statements. 1) Abraham is justfied by works, a strong affirmation. 2) He then makes the negation of the opposite idea. Not only does he advance the truth that works justify an individual, but obliterates the opposite idea that one can be saved by faith alone. James shows faith and works are inseparable in regard to justification.

But the justification is through faith. It is not through works produced by the faith, for Paul has written that justification is by faith apart from the works of the law.

Again, Faith apart from works of the law does not mean Faith Alone, as I have shown.

> It is true, and I notice in his analysis
> he nowhere addressed the point that Abraham was
> already a believer at least 25 years before his
> supposed one time imputation. That destroys the
> belief that it was a one time imputation of an
> alien righteousness in Genesis 15. Abraham was
> a believer in Genesis 12 (and probaby already
> was a believer prior to Genesis 12, otherwise,
> why would he respond so quickly to this amazing
> call?) Justification is shown to be a process.

I think your reference to Genesis 12 through 15 is a good matter for consideration, and I shall give it some.

Please do, it is pivotal to our understanding of Abraham and his justification.

Eternal Security

> Yes, God > gives us fear in our hearts so we will not depart
> from him, but nowhere does it say that one is
> inextricably tied to not departing from God.

"And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." (Jeremiah 32:40).

Matt, this verse says that, according to the new covenant, God will never stop doing good to us. You seem to say that God will not stop doing good to us as long as we persevere.. Matt, salvation is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18). Not the power of man. If man's cooperation is necessary, then none can be saved, because none can cooperate. One of the reasons I believe in the assurance of salvation is precisely because it is not in my power to persevere:

Again, the Jeremiah verse does not inextricably say that the person has no chance to depart from God. This is the common error that Protestants fall into. If God does something, then man can not be a part of it. If God has a will to something, then man does not have a free will (at least according to Calvin and Luther). If it is of grace, it can not be of works (even if empowered by grace). If it is bread, God can not change it into his body and blood, etc. God is a redeemer who makes us his divine children. He gives us a choice for him or against him. Was it God's will that Adam sin? No. But did he give him the freedom to make that choice? Yes. Paul puts a rest to the notion that cooperation is not necessary for salvation in several places:

Phil 2:12-16 is a very good explanation of what the church is saying, what I believe, and what you left out. Paul says "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."

Notice Paul is talking of a status of a saved person, who must run this race in cooperation with him or else it would be in vain. If he was guaranteed eternal life, it obviously would not be in vain. It is God who empowers us to do his will. When he grants us salvation, he is only crowning his own merits.

"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept *by the power of God* through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:4-5).

Yes, for the elect, one is only kept by the power of God for salvation. We do not teach that it is our own power to endure until salvation. Nevertheless, Peter does not hint at the Calvinist view of perseverance.

16yet if one suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God. 17For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
18And "If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?"

Peter writes two things that show one can lose salvation:
2 Peter 1:3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, THROUGH THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these YOU MAY ESCAPE FROM THE CORRUPTION THAT IS IN THE WORLD because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

Notice here that the partakers of the divine nature have escaped from the corruption that is in the world. Let us see what Peter writes about what can happen to those who escaped the corruption of the world and have become partakers of the divine nature.

2 Peter 2: 20For if, after THEY HAVE ESCAPED THE CORRUPTION OF THE WORLD through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

We see that those who have escaped the corruption of the world and knew Jesus (used in both sections), and even partook of the divine nature can be entangled with sin so bad that they would be worse than before they had this intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. IE, the salvation is lost.

> Hebrews 3:1, 12-14 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren,
> partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the
> Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ
> Jesus; 3:12-14 Take heed, brethren, lest there
> be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in
> DEPARTING from the living God...
> We see in this verse Paul writing to holy
> brethren as believers. Are these guaranteed salvation
> as Tim alleges? According to the above texts,
> there is no such guarantee. The holy brethren
> are told to not depart from God, which is apparently
> a real possibility.

Actually, the passage to which you refer continues and says that those who are denied entrance are, those who believed not:

"So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." (Hebrews 3:19).

Exactly the point. You are right, I should have listed that verse. Notice that he is talking to the holy brethren. Who is he talking about? WE!!! He even puts himself in the same category as of the same as though who possibly may not enter in because of unbelief. The Holy brethren (v. 1) are warned against falling into disbelief, and losing salvation.

This fits exactly's Jesus speaking about the word of God:

Luke 8:6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Also, the reference to the "evil heart of unbelief" indicates that those who depart from the living God were never regenerated by Him, else their hearts would not be evil and unbelieving. He is, after all, referring to the Jews in this passage, and though the Jews were God's people, not all Israel is of Israel.

That is a nice try to get out of what he writes but it fails. Remember, Paul is talking to Holy Brethren, not unregenerate unbelievers. He is warning them not to fall into disbelief. This same Jewish crowd was lauded as heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. These same believers fell into disbelief.

So when a Jew, never having been saved in the first place, rejects God in his unbelief, it can be said that he has departed from God.

These people were termed as believers in Heb. 11:29.

> So we see the exact same people who have
> faith lauded by Paul in 11:29, are the ones who
> because of unbelief are condemned. Does not sound
> like Tim's eternal security to me.

10:35-38 Cast not away therefore your confidence,
> which hath great recompence of reward. For ye
> have need of patience, that, after ye have done
> the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
> For yet a little while, and he that shall come
> will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall
> live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my
> soul shall have no pleasure in him.

This lovely verse continues from where you ended the quote and warms my heart. Read on...

"But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul." (Hebrews 10:39)

Remember, Paul was earlier saying that it was possilbe for him to lose his salvation. And does this verse mean 10:35-38 does not mean what it says? 10:39 does not cancel out v. 38, or verses 26-30 which point out that one can lose salvation.

> 12:12-15 Wherefore lift up the hands which
> hang down, and the feeble knees; 12:13 And make
> straight paths for your feet, lest that which
> is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather
> be healed.12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and
> holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
> 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of
> the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness
> springing up trouble [you], and thereby many be
> defiled;

This passage follows on the discipline with which God chastises His children in the preceding verses, which discipline is adminstered by God to His children so that they will not perish:

Notice that the discipline is falling short of the grace of God. If one falls short of God's grace, becomes defiled, within the context of saying that if one does not pursue holiness he will not see the Lord, that person is now out of relationship with God.

"But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (1 Corinthians 11:32).

1 Corinthians 9:27but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

The word for disqualified is adekimas, which in every other context in the New Testament talks of unregenerate people separated from Christ. Paul himself is worried about falling into that category.

> 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.
> For if they escaped not who refused him that spake
> on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape], if
> we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:

The whole of Hebrews 12 is on the Lord administering discipline to those whom He has saved. If we refuse Him that speaketh from heaven, we shall not escape His discipline. He administers that discipline to the elect, lest they be condemned with the rest of the world. He witholds it from those whom He has not elected. It is not about salvation. It is about sanctification and what assurance there is to be had in being adopted by God in Christ.

The whole context is about salvation. If one turns away from God, he will lose his own soul. Just because Tim's theology forces him to say this is merely about sanctification, read the verse for what it says (in the context of salvation) and it is easy to have a conclusion opposite from mere sanctification.

> The passage teaches that God's decree of
> election can not be thwarted. However John 10:28-29
> does not discuss how the election is worked out,
> or who on earth is elected. It says nothing how
> an individual will know whether he is part of the elect.

Are you here saying that the elect cannot be lost, and the non-elect were never saved, or are you saying that some non-elect can get saved and then lose it and that some elect are saved, and then choose not to be?

Of course the elect cannot be lost, otherwise they wouldn't be part of the elect. However, no one can know who is of the elect and who is not. The non-elect can be brought into a state of grace and fall out of it, as many verses show. Of course some non-elect may have never been saved in any sense.

> The Eternal Security view of justification
> is a man-made tradition started by John Calvin
> in the 16th century propped up, not by any biblical
> passages, but to confirm his errant forensic view
> of justification, also invented in the 16th century.
Actually, it is one of the lovliest doctrines of Christianity invented not by Christ, though He preached it: "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." (John 6:37)

Of course those who leave Christ do so of their own choosing (2 Pet. 2:20-22). No one can blame Christ for what they themselves do.

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

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