Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.
Paulís work is to bring about the Ďobedience of faithí. The very first and last time that the word faith is used in the book of Romans (1:5 and 16:26), it is used in the context of obedience. Thus, we must note that faith, in and of itself is an act of obedience. To argue that faith only means belief, or assurance, or belief that Christís righteoousness is imputed to oneís account is not the kind of faith that Paul means in the book of Romans. Paulís faith, by his own definition, is that which is obedient. As Father William Most notes, Ďthe of in the phrase is the same as the of in ďThe city of Washington,Ē etc. It does not mean that Washington has a city - it means the city that is Washington. The same with faith which is obedient. It is an ongoing obedience, without which, faith does not save.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
Faith is the instrumental cause of justification according to the Protestant. Through faith, one appropriates Christís righteousness. This is an important passage for Luther, the founder of the so-called reformation. Lutherís view of Rom. 1:17 is that it is a pivotal texts that taught Sola Fide. The righteousness of God, is mentioned, and Luther believes here that an imputed righteousness is taught, where oneís own righteousness, has nothing to do with being righteous before God. The righteousness that justifies, according to Luther, is a righteousness imputed to oneís account. All of manís righteousness is of no good. RC Sproul quotes Luther approvingly as saying that this passage proves that our righteousness is not that which is talked about in Rom. 1:17. He quotes Lutherís commentary on Gal. 1:6, when Luther writes: The works of others are of benefit to no one, not to themselves either; for the statement stands: ďThe just shall live by faithĒ (Rom. 1:17). For faith grounds us on the works of Christ, without our own works, and transfers us from the exile of our sins into the kingdom of His righteousness. This is faith; this is the Gospel; this is Christ.Ē RC Sproul, Faith Alone, Baker Books, 1995, p. 151, quoting, Martin Luther Lectures on Galatians, Luther Works 26:45. A comment on Gal. 1:6. Luther in his commentary on Romans writes of this passage ďGodís righteousness is that by which we become worthy of His great salvation, or through which alone we are (accounted) righteous before him. . Only the Gospel reveals the righteousness of God, that is, who is righteousness of God, that is who is righteous, or how a person becomes righteous before God, namely, alone by faith, which trusts the Word of God. The righteousness, however, is not that according to which God himself is righteous as God, but that which we are justified by Him through faith in the Gospel. It is called the righteousness of God in contradistinction to manís righteousness which comes from works.Ē Martin Luther Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, Zondervan Publishing House, 1954, 41. In v. 18, he comments that Paul shows that all men live in sin and folly and that righteousness of works are in vain, as they need the righteousness of Christ. Luther, 42. (Here Luther is speaking of one getting Christís righteousness being imputed.)
The first thing to note is that indeed the gospel is that where one believes in Christ and one is saved, per v.16. This is similar to Jesus saying in John 5:24 that whoever believes in Christ has passed from death to life. Just as Jesus follows up his saying that those who go to heaven are those that Ďdo good and those that do evil are condemnedí (Jn. 5:29), Paul makes an elaboration of his meaning of v. 16, when he adds v. 17. Here he says one lives by Ďfaith to faithí and the just shall live by faith. This is the gospel, per. v. 16. He then points to Habakkuk as an example of how one is justified. As the gospel as defined by Paulís mention of Habakkuk, in Habakkuk 2:4 (vv. 16-17), we must examine Habakkukís life to see what he means. The Sola Fide view presents Habakkuk as getting an imputed righteous, and a forensic justification, whereas the Catholic view is that justification is of a person who is infused with Godís righteousness into his life, and he is actually just, not merely accounted as just.
Habakkuk is a prophet who complains to God that justice does not seem to flourish in his day. His first complaint is that even though he cries out for justice, God does not seem to answer. Violence and injustice reign (Hab. 1:2-4). Habakkuk even complains that the law is powerless (Hab. 1:4). This context is in Paul's mind when he references Habakkuk. God's first response is that he will raise up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to punish his people (Hab. 1:5-11). That perplexes Habakkuk even more. He asks in his next complaint (Hab. 1:12-2:1) how could God use the wicked Babylonians to set the Israel nation right when they are even more evil than the Jewish nation that Habakkuk had just complained about? After all, God's holiness is so pure that he cannot look at wickedness (Hab. 1:13). God's second response is that not only will the disobedient Jews be punished through the Babylonians, but the Babylonians themselves, who are proud, will also be punished (Hab. 2:12-20). Paul uses Hab. 2:4 and here is the context:
2:2 And the LORD answered me: "Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. 4 Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith. 5 Moreover, wine is treacherous; the arrogant man shall not abide.
In his responses, God condemned those (whether they were Jews or Babylonians) who were proud of themselves and did not rely upon God. God assures Habakkuk that the unrighteous and proud people will not prevail. God will even use unrighteous people to punish other unrighteous people, and in the meantime, even the righteous may be punished; nevertheless, those who are truly (the assumption is of course one can only be righteous when seen through God's eyes of grace) righteous, will indeed live, and be rewarded by God. He assures Habakkuk that only those who put their trust in God, and put their lives in life-long service to him, will live in God's sight. In this passage (v. 4) God gives a contrast: Those who are proud are not upright in God's eyes and they will fail. Those who are humble, and indeed are truly righteous, will not fail. Paul's use of this passage contrasts the proud as being dependent on works of the law and cursed, with the humble who live faithfully before God as seen through his eyes of grace. In any case, Habakkukís righteousness is not imputed, but ontologically given him by God. God sees him as actually upright. There is no imputative declaration here.
Robert Sungenis analyzes the grammatical backdrop of the word faith used in Habakkuk 2:4: "The righteous shall live by faith." He points out that the word that Habakkuk writes for "faith," is derived from the Hebrew work emunah. The normal connotation of this word is that of continued "faithfulness," rather than a one time act of faith. He argues that it could have easily been translated, "the just shall live by his faithfulness." Sungenis notes:
"Of the 49 times that the word is used in the Old Testament, over half of the passages refer to "faithfulness" (e.g., Psalm 89:1, 2, 5, 8, 24, 33; 119:75, 90, Pro. 28:20; Lam. 3:23, et al). Other passages refer to "truth" or "steadfastness" (e.g., Jer. 5:1, 3). It is also worthy of note that in many of these passages emunah is used in reference to the character of God as much as it is to men." Bob Sungenis, Not By Faith Alone, (Santa Barbara: Queenship Publishing Company, 1997) 54.
Notice, that when Paul writes about faith, and references Habakkuk, there is no hint of Habakkuk by faith Ďappropriating to oneís account Christís righteousness.Ē Yes, it is through faith. But the person lives from Ďfaith to faithí (v. 17), which is an ongoing matter. Also, when Paul says that the just man shall live by faith, and by faith to faith, he is addressing the point that the man is upright and is faithful to God. The emphasis is thus, on the just manís righteousness, who of course has his source from God. However, this righteousness is not forensically not imputed, but imparted to the man.
Paul's reference to this passage shows that the one who lives by faith does not live by the letter of the law to achieve righteousness in God's sight. Habakkuk does not reference any ceremonial law. Habakkuk has such a faith that he knows God will indeed do the right thing. He has a faith similar to Abraham who Paul is comparing Habakkuk to, cf. Gal. 3:6-9. Habakkuk has the same faith as Abraham, "believing in a God who calls things that are not as though they were, and a reality, they are. (Rom. 4:17)"] The condemnation of proud people who violate God's laws as enunciated in both of God's responses shows that the moral laws are important, though they are not the ultimate means of righteousness in God's sight. Yes, it is Godís righteousness in relation to the man. However, Godís righteousness is put into the man (infused), not imputed, and Paul specifically uses the Habakkuk example of righteousness, whereas as man is actually just before God, not imputed.
Sproul sums up Rom. 1:17-18 by saying: ďIn summary the Reformers strenuously objected to assigning any merit to our justification save the merit of Christ alone. Again we see that the sola gratia of the Reformation was a true sola, without mixture of any type of human merit. Sola fide meant that justification is by faith alone because it is a justification by the imputed merit of Christ alone.Ē (Sproul, 151). It is interesting that one of the founding verses that started the so-called Reformation nowhere points to Ďa justification that is solely based without any type of human merit.í The Protestant view is that Romans 1-3 just shows how human merit has nothing to do with salvation. While it is true, that human merit, outside of one being justified, indeed merits nothing, it is also true that we find in the very first chapter of Romans, that this human merit within Godís grace, is seen as part of this gospel. First, Faith is identified by that which is obedient (v. 5). Then, when Paul spells out what the gospel that leads to salvation is, he points to an Old Testament example of Habakkuk, who is called, lives by his faithfulness, his fidelity to God. This faithfulness is what is lauded by Paul in Rom. 1:17 as part of the gospel he announces. When Paul writes of the wrath of God in v. 18 as coming against those who are ungodly, it is not that well, everybody (including those within Godís grace) are ontologically ungodly and the only way one stands before God is an imputed righteousness (as Luther writes), but that Godís righteousness is shown by his giving salvation to those who live righteously (live Ďfaith to faithí, as demonstrated in the example of Habakkuk) as opposed to those who are ungodly. His wrath comes upon those who are disobedient (as verified in v. 18) but grants salvation to the obedient (as Paulís definition of faith in. v.5 shows, as well as Habakkukís example here).
4 Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 For he will render to every man according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11 For God shows no partiality. 12 All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
The Protestant view of this passage is that this is merely hypothetical. Now, elsewhere Paul is very clear that the law does not save (Rom. 3:20, 28, 4:2, Gal. 2:16, etc.) in and of itself. A couple of my articles that deal with Paulís view of the law and salvation can be found here: Romans 4, David and Abraham - One Time Imputation Or Process?, Galatians 3:10-14, Faith, Works, and Works of the Law, and Dialogue With an Ex-Catholic, Now Protestant Author on Justification.
Although this is so, within the realm of grace, works and an infused righteousness are indeed means of salvation. This passage in Romans 2 verifies this. Paul does not say that this is something hypothetical that can not be achieved, but speaks in Romans 2 of the reality of Godís judgment of allís works. Each of the verses in this passage spell this out. The parameter is first spelled out in v. 4 to show that one can only approach him when him when we recognize Godís mercy and kindness. Before any works can be done that are salvific, this must be recognized. Thus, as we approach these verses, we must recognize that it is Godís favor and grace that must be done before any works can be of any merit.
After this background comes the fact that God will render according to works, in v. 6. For those who are disobedient, they will experience Godís wrath, v. 5. Every man will be rendered according to his works (v. 6). Whether good or bad, everyone will experience Godís judgment. This thus includes believers. For those who argue that their works will not be judged because they are covered with Christís righteousness, Paul refutes this idea categorically. For the ones who are under Godís mercy, these works will avail to salvation. Paul very well may be talking this passage from Psalm 62. In Psalm 62:12, the psalmist writes: ďAlso unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.Ē
Notice the parallel. Verse 4 of Romans 2 shows that it is Godís mercy that will render his works good. It is in fact his mercy that he renders judgment. From God alone will come our salvation (Psalm 62:1). God is the rock of my salvation (Psalm 62:1-4). However, those who are disobedient will be judged righteously (Psalm 62:9-11). The parallel given in the Psalm, is also given in Romans 2. (See also Mt. 16:27, Jn 5:28-29). Note that in Rom. 2:7 who is given glory immortality, and honor. Those who are credited with Christís imputed righteousness? No. It is those who are patient in well doing and seek for good. This is a reward. This thus shows that God graciously rewards those who are obedient, and condemns those who disobey. Although Godís grace is the immediate grounds of his judgment, oneís actions bring condemnation or justification. Those are the grounds. Not a hint of imputation in this verse, or that all people are condemned when works are judged, as the Protestant Sola Fide advocate argues. On the contrary, people are rewarded. V. 8 reiterates this again, reflecting Godís justice that those who do not obey the truth are condemned. Obedience thus becomes the grounds of condemnation, or the granting of salvation. Of course, as it is under Godís mercy for those who are given eternal life, God is not judging by the need for 100% obedience, as it is under his kindness (v. 4). Paul reconfirms his view by arguing that tribulation and distress goes to those who do evil (v. 9) as opposed to every one who does good, where again, glory and honor and peace goes to those who do good (v. 10). The hell to those who do bad, and salvation to those who do good (under Godís mercy, again, as we see v. 4) sends Paulís point home again. God shows no partiality (v. 10). Then, to drive home the point again that what one does in their practice of their life produces salvation or condemnation Paul says that only the doers of the law will be justified (v. 13). Although Paul elsewhere notes that those who depend on the law per se will be condemned (Rom. 3:20, 23, Gal. 2:16, etc.). However, when within his grace, where 100% perfection is not required to stay within his grace, Godís mercy and infilling his righteousness into his sons, one will keep the commandments as Christ commanded (John 15:10, 14:15). Within Godís grace, the doers of the law will be justified Paul thus unmistakingly shows that works done within Godís grace are salvific, and are not mere fruits. The idea that works are merely effects of justification, not a cause of justification blatantly contradict Paulís words in Romans 2:4-13.
14 When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them
Paul says that those who do the law by nature, will be rewarded by God. This section also has the background of Godís mercy (v. 4). Paul here holds out the hope for the salvation of those who have not heard the message, and live according to conscience. If they have obeyed this conscience, they will be rewarded with eternal life.
26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. 29 He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God.
Notice, that one can keep the precepts of the law. Note, however, how one does not keep the law by just keeping the law. Here, Paul is not speaking of being justified by law. It is when one is within Godís grace. When one is spiritually circumcised, one is thus within Godís grace, that God looks at one through his eyes of grace. No hint of an imputation. One has been circumcised of the heart by God, and thus one is put within Godís grace. When seen through Godís eyes of grace, one can keep the precepts of the law. However, this is the law of the Spirit and Christ (See also Rom. 8:2, Gal. 6:1).
I have commented on section Rom. 3:10-14 (often used by Protestants) here: Rebuttal of James White (On Salvation) and on Rom. 3:20, 28 I have an exchange of ideas here:
Dialogue With an Ex-Catholic, Now Protestant Author on Justification. Romans 4, often a section that is appealed to by Protestants, shows instead that the Catholic view of progressive justification, as shown in the following two links. I donít want to repeat those passages here, as I have examined them in depth, but these passages can be examined here: Romans 4:4-8: Proof for Justification by Faith Alone? and here:
Romans 4, David and Abraham - One Time Imputation Or Process?
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.
The Bible thus shows us that we are justified by faith. However, the word faith is not faith alone, as the ensuing verses show. We stand in grace, which we will see in Paul is an active thing. Note at the same time that we have hope, sufferings, and endurance, and character. This comes at the same time. Hope is no guarantee. Godís full measure of love is poured out into our hearts as well at the time of justification. If one tries to say, Ďwell this is a past tense being justified by faith,í it is also past tense in Rom. 5:5, when Paul writes that we have love poured into our heart. As love is a continuing process, so is faith. Paul elsewhere says that ďFor in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees. But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Rom. 8:24-25).Ē Just as here we are justified by faith, Paul says we were saved by hope. Hope, as well as faith, is thus a process. Hope is no guarantee. Thus, Paul shows here faith, hope and love (as well as endurance, sufferings and character) as necessary for justification. Certainly not faith alone.
This fits Trent which says in chapter 7:
For though no one can be just except he to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet this takes place in that justification of the sinner, when by the merit of the most holy passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of those who are justified and inheres in them; whence man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity.
17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sola Fide Calvinists are those that say that human nature is totally depraved. Catholics say that the human nature is wounded, in need of grace in order to do anything good. Thus, either outlook of Rom. 5:12-19 destroys the Calvinist position. One is born a sinner (although it is original sin), the child is ontologically bent towards sin, as Rom. 5:12-19 shows, (see also Pssalm 51:5). It is not about a mere declaration. Rom. 5:19 proves it. In justification, the believer is tranformed. Again, it says ďFor as by one man's disobedience MANY WERE MADE SINNERS, so by one man's obedience MANY WILL BE MADE RIGHTEOUSĒ. Human beings are ontologically not only declared sinners, they are sinners. Just as ontologically Adamís sin causes all to made ontologically sinners, those who are in Christ, are ontologically made righteousness.
Buchanan in his work recognizes that imputation mentioned here goes against his view. He realizes that in imputation, there is a change of moral character as the invariable consequence of imputation, ďas the imputation of Adamís guilt to his posterity, was connected with their loss of original righteousness, and the corruption of their whole nature;í The imputation of Christís righteousness to His people is connected, in like manner, with their renewal and sanctification;Ē , Buchanan, p. 324. He acknowledges that this fits the Catholic position. However, he attempts to get out of it by saying that sins were imputed to Christ., and as there was no change in Christís moral character, imputation is thus not necessarily transformative. However, Buchanan fails to give a Scripture which says that Christ was ever imputed with sin. Jesus of course became an offering for sin, but he was not imputed with sin. With that mistaken premise, Buchanan then writes that ďwhile the righteousness of Christ, considered as the merit of His mediatorial wok may become ours by being imputed to us, it is not communicated as an inherent habit or quality might be; and that our Justification, in so far as it depends on that righteousness, neither consists in the infusion of moral qualities, nor rests on these qualities, when they have been infused as its proper ground." Since Buchanan's whole argument rests on the supposition that Christ is imputed with sin, and that idea is not only not found in Romans 5, but is found nowhere in any biblical text, the opposition to transformative justification falls in light of Romans 5:17-21.
Paulís word here eviscerates that argument. In Rom. 5:19, Paul explicitly writes that those in Christ are made righteous. Paul does not write that he is only declared righteous, and does not even mention the word imputation of Christís righteousness when he speaks of justification. If one is made righteous, it is obvious that there is an infusion of moral quality, and does in fact rest on these qualities, as seen through Godís eyes of grace, contrary to Buchananís word. Paul drives this point even further, when in v. 21 he writes that this righteousness that comes to the justified, makes oneís grace rule in righteousness. The grace that causes one to be made righteousness, will make the person rule in righteousness. This is transformative justification.
This shows Trent is correct, which says in Chapter 7:
"the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies, for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us, merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified finally, the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He wills, and according to each oneís disposition and cooperation. For though no one can be just except he to whom the merits of the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet this takes place in that justification of the sinner, when by the merit of the most holy passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of those who are justified and inheres in them; whence man through Jesus Christ, in whom he is ingrafted, receives in that justification, together with the remission of sins, all these infused at the same time, namely, faith, hope and charity."
This is obviously a process, not merely a one-time past event. It is also significant that right after Paulís mention of the transformative justification, he speaks of baptism as the means to enter this state of transformation, in Romans 6:1-4. This grace, is thus, not merely divine favor, but divine life. This is not a mere byproduct of justification and grace. Grace is linked with one being made righteous, and is an active force. There is absolutely no hint of imputation at all in this section of Romans 5, but an infusion of an active grace. Paul's analysis of righteousness, fits Trent's view, and does away with the idea of a forensic, imputation of righteousness legally accounted to one's account.
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin.
Specifically after mentioning how through Christ, the sin of Adam is undone, Paul specifically cites baptism as the means of putting on Christ and walking the newness of life. Although my focus on this paper is not baptism, for the purposes here in relation to what justification does, it is notable that when one is united with Christ, one destroys the sinful body, so that we are not enslaved to sin. Thus, justification is not merely a covering of sin, but an ontological change in the character of the person. Thus, an infusion of grace is foundation to what justification is. Justification is transformative. It is not merely a nice effect, but this transformation is causative. Some Protestants will say, well, Romans 6 is only about sanctification. Well, true, it is about sanctification, but justification and sanctification can not be separated, as Paul specifically shows here in this passage in Romans 6. We can not be enslaved to sin, and be a justified person. If one becomes entangled in sin again, by definition, the person becomes unjustified. Paul points out that he who has died to sin (justified), is freed from sin. Although the RSV translates the word as freed from sin, as Sungenis notes in his book, the word dikiao, can be translated as justified from sin. This is the exact same word that is translated in Romans 4 as justified. Sungenis notes that ďPaul chose to use the word ďjustifiedĒ in Romans 6:7, the same word he used singularly in reference to God ďjustifying the ungodlyĒ in Romans 4:5 (On this specific passage I have examined at the following url: Romans 4:4-8: Proof for Justification by Faith Alone?). In other words, in Romans 6:7 Paul understands and is using the term Ďjustificationí as a synonym for sanctification.Ē Sungenis, p. 344. This shows again that Romans 4 can not possibly be seen as a forensic justification. Remember, as Buchanan, the apologist for the Sola Fide view is that: ďA proof of the forensic or judicial sense of the term ĎJustificationí is supplied by those equivalent expressions, which are sometimes substituted for it, and which serve to explain it. If these expressions cannot imply infusion of righteousness, but denote merely either the forgiveness of sin, or the acceptance of the sinner, they show that Justification denotes a change in his judicial relation to God, and not a change in his moral or spiritual character. It is expressly described as the Ďimputation of righteousnessí ĎAbraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness . Ē Then he quotes Rom. 4:3, 6-8, Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, 231.
Thus, Buchananís and the Sola Fide thesis, falls by the wayside. In fact, Justification does denote a change in his moral and spiritual character, and an infusion of righteousness, as this section (Rom. 6:3-7) shows. As sanctification is an ongoing process depending upon cooperation with Godís grace, so is justification.
11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Notice that here Paul is still writing about justification as freedom from sin. He notes that one must not let sin control the person again, and he specifically warns against the possibility of falling back into passions that separate him from his justification. Law does not save, but grace does. This shows that grace is not merely divine favor, but divine power. He warns again that even as a believer, one can fall back into sins that separate him from God. Grace makes one a member as an instrument of righteousness, v. 13. He specifically writes that the Christian still has two choices before him. If one obeys sin, he is led to death (eternal death at that, v. 16). However, if one is a slave of Christ, it results in righteousness. Again, no hint of an imputation of righteousness but that of a grace that reigns in righteousness (as spelled out in Rom. 5:21). If he is a slave of obedience, it leads to what? A proving to others that one is really saved, or more rewards in heaven? No. Being a slave of obedience leads to righteousness, and thus justification before God. Obedience within the realm of grace is thus salvific. This passage shows that salvific grace is dependent upon oneís obedience. Cooperation is thus necessary. This fits Trent, chapter 7, as noted earlier.
17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. 20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But then what return did you get from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul continues to note the inseparable link between obedience, sanctification, righteousness, and eternal life. Sanctification is not merely a byproduct of oneís justification. We note that a justified person does not approach God through law. Law saves no one. He approaches God through grace, and from the heart (v. 17). Justification sets him free from the bondage of sin, but Paul continues to warn against the threat of being under the control of sin. Justification is thus not a forensic freedom, but an actual, ontological freedom. With the fleshly body we live in still living, we are under the threat of falling prey to its slavery. That is why we must rely on Godís grace to combat this continued threat. He has an established relationship with God his Savior. The end of sin is death (v. 18, 20, 23). However, what is the end of sanctification? According to Paul, sanctification is not the fruit of salvation, or justification. The end of sanctification is ETERNAL LIFE. Thus, one must become a slave of God and righteousness, for what purpose? The purpose, and goal is eternal life. If oneís justification and salvation is set, then how can the end of sanctification be eternal life? Only if sanctification must be accomplished in order to inherit eternal life. Thus, if one cuts off sanctification, (or mortally sins, as Paul elaborates elsewhere in Gal. 5:19, Eph. 5:6, 1 Cor. 3:17, 6:9, etc.) one cuts their self off from eternal life. Those who say that sanctification is merely the fruit of justification, have it backward. According to Paul, sanctification is a cause of eternal life, as explicitly stated in Rom. 6:22. On the other hand, the fruit of sin is eternal death (v. 23). Thus, this verse confirms what the Council of Trent says in Chapter 16:
Hence, to those who work well unto the end [Mt. 10:22) and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in 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.
For those who are in Christ, in his grace there is no condemnation. However, this promise is for now, not a guarantee for all time. In fact, Paul elaborates on what he means when he mentions how one will escape condemnation. First he states that the law, which required perfection, could not be met by us. Paul says that we are free from the law of sin and death. The law of Moses leads merely to sin and death. The exacting, 100% perfection required could never be met by any person (except Christ of course, although as noted, there is no hint of Christís righteousness being imputed to oneís account). The law of Moses does not provide salvation. However, the law of the Spirit could be met by who? Those who walk in the Spirit. Not those who appropriate Christís imputed righteousness. Thus, those who will not be condemned are those who go by the law of the Spirit, and approach God through his eyes of grace. Obedience is necessary. Here there is absolutely no hint of a mention of imputation. Who meets the requirement of the law of the Spirit? The just requirement of the law is met by us who walk in the Spirit. Notice that we, what we dothrough the Spirit, meet the righteous requirement of the law. This is totally opposed to the Westminster Confession of Faith, which in Chapter 11 says:
Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them
. Thus, a standard Sola Fide confession of faith states that nothing that one does, even in a state of grace, can be a cause of salvation. Nonetheless, Paul specifically states that the righteous requirement of the law is met by us who walk in the Spirit. It is not merely a fruit.
10 But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh-- 13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.
One is alive by righteousness. One can only be justified when oneís spiritsí are alive because of righteousness. Again, whose righteousness? The believerís righteousness. This is because Christ and the Holy Spirit is in you, and the Holy Spirit in you makes you alive (vv. 10-11). Paul in Romans 8 continues to emphasize that the way we live affects not how many rewards a Christian we will get in heaven, but the destiny of heaven if one obeys, and hell if one disobeys God. He specifically writes, that if one lives according to the flesh you will die. He writes of eternal consequences to how we live our life. One must put to death the death the deeds of the body in order to live eternally (v. 13). Everyone knows that even Christians can possibly live in the flesh. Thus, if one lives according to the flesh one will be cut off eternally from God. (See also Galatians 5:16, 24). Remember, however, that it is only by being in Godís grace, and by being empowered by the Holy Spirit that one can do this. This is how there can be no condemnation for those in Christ. Thus, actions are not mere byproducts but causes of our eternal destiny.
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and 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.
Paul clearly writes that our relations with God are not based on a courtroom forensic relationship, but a Father son relationship. Under grace, small sins of the son will not cut off a relationship with his father (See Heb. 12:5-14), but through the eyes of grace, we have an adoptive sonship. One becomes a heir with Christ. Nonetheless, there is still a condition that Paul mentions that must be present to eventually become glorified with Christ. He does not write, Ďwell since you are an adopted son, you are set for life, and you are guaranteed salvation.í On the contrary, the inheritance is contingent upon what the son does. Paul specifically writes that in order to be a heir, one must suffer. One becomes an heir, provided we suffer with him. Again, Paul specifically spells out a condition that we must do, in order to inherit salvation.
Paul writes in Romans 11:6: ďBut if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.Ē Many point to this verse to show that works have no place in salvation. However, this verse is foundational to the Catholic understanding of salvation. Paul is specifically writing in the context of works done outside the realm of grace, as the context shows. I go into this some at this link. Works by people outside of his grace, of course do not avail before God. Works by themselves do not earn salvation before God. They are meritorious only when done within his grace.
In fact, the Council of Trent quotes this verse in Chapter VIII on justification.
CHAPTER VIII HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD
"But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely, these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God [Heb. 11:6] and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. For, if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace (Rom. 11:6)."
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. 23 And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
Paul explicitly writes of another provision, in order to remain Godís grace. The context is how we must do something to remain in Godís kindness. No context of an imputation of Christís righteousness. He specifically compares believers to the Jewsí unbelief, and that we might fall like those that rejected Christ. The way to remain in his kindness is by continuing in that kindness. We must make some effort. Continuing, is doing something. Our efforts have salvific repercussions. Thus, this confirms again that Romans 11:6 could not mean that salvation excludes effort. It is just that one can only do this within Godís grace. If we do not continue in his kindness we will be cut off from Christ, just as the Jews who explicitly rejected Jesus.
8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Paul specifically writes that one can fulfill the law when one loves one another. Paul writes that one keeps the commandments (the seven that pertain to dealing with people, commandments 4 through 10) and fulfills the law. (Remember, this is the law of the Spirit, (Rom. 8:4), when seen through the eye of grace). Paul has stressed repeatedly that works, in and of themselves do not cause salvation. Law can not save, in and of itself (Rom. 3:20, 3:28, 4:2, 7:6, 11:6). When one is within the law of the Spirit (Rom. 8:2) (also, law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), however, obedience based on a relationship with God, is rewarded heaven (Rom. 2:4-13, 6:14-16, 8:2-4, 17, etc.) When Paul speaks of fulfilling the law, he is not speaking of the system of law, which only brings condemnation, but when done within the system of grace, where God rewards those who love and please him. Thus, it is obvious that Paul puts loving the neighbor within the category of the realm of grace as something achievable, though with a Father-Son relationship as the basis (Rom. 8:14), not every little failure casts one out of salvation. Paul as a matter of fact states that one can fulfill the law (of the Spirit) by actually loving the neighbor.
11 Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; 12 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Paul writes here that one must be awake from asleep. Some argue that salvation is assured, once one is justified by God, salvation is set in stone at that point of justification. Once one is in Godís grace, salvation is set then and there. However, Paul writes that one is nearer to salvation now than when he first believed. It is closer when one progresses in Godís sight. Thus, it is a process. At the same time that he writes that salvation is a process which is contingent, he writes that one must cast off the works of darkness. One must put on the Lord Jesus, and in effect repeat what he earlier cited in Romans 8:13. In order to be saved one must put to death the deeds of the flesh. This of course, is in the context of salvation. Walking in righteousness is not merely about sanctification or more rewards in heaven, but salvation, as the context shows.
9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." 12 So each of us shall give account of himself to God.
Here Paul writes that God will judge each of us, and all people will have to give an account. Many will say that here Paul is only speaking about God judging believers for the amount of rewards they will receive. It is true that the context is about Paul speaking of the necessity of treating fellow believers in the correct way. It is important, nonetheless that in v. 11, Paul specifically quotes from Isaiah 45:23, where it says: ďAs surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.Ē In fact, in the very next verse that Paul takes from in Isaiah 45:23 (v. 24), Isaiah writes, They will say of me, In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.'" All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. We see that not only will the believers who are faithful be rewarded by God with righteousness and strength, but those who sin will be put to shame, and punished. (Sungenis, p. 496).
Thus, when Paul writes in Rom. 14, he mentions that everybody will have to give an account for all their actions. Actions include sins. This is similar to what Jesus says in Mt. 12:36. This devastates those followers of Sola Fide, who believe that as one is covered with an imputed righteousness of Christ, he will not have to have his sins judged. In fact, all will be judged for his actions. In fact, as Sungenis notes in his book, the whole context of Romans 14 is Paulís concern that believers are sinning against the weaker brethren. That is sin. Paul wrote that the people in Romans 14 had looked down on their brethren, Rom. 14:1. They had passed judgments on others (v. 13), and are not acting in love (v. 15), and that it is evil to eat anything that causes others to eat something that cause people to stumble (v. 20). (Sungenis, Not By Faith Alone, p. 495. It is in this context that Paul mentions believers will have to be judged for all their actions. In any case, these actions are sins, and if they persist, they will be destroyed by God, just as Paul warned would happen to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 3:17.
But is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.
Paul ends the epistle by writing of the unseparableness of faith from obedience. As one having faith is ongoing, so this faith must be obedient to be of any salvific value. This obedience is necessary for one to maintain salvation, as has been shown throughout the whole book of Romans.
Paulís writings on works and salvation are continued, (on Galatians and 1 &2 Corinthians) click here
To go back to the index of the page on Paul's writings, click here
To go back to Scriptures on Paul and salvation and works in Romans 6 through 16 click here
To go to the index Page of Paul on obedience, works, and righteousness click here
© 1998 Paul, Faith, Works, Obedience, Righteousness, and Salvation...by Matt1618... This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
Last modified December 4, 1999.
Last modified December 4, 1999.