1]Argument from Silence: a conclusion based on lack of contrary evidence (e.g. "We are justified by faith alone, because no one has proved that we are not.")
Matt has accused my entire opening of being an argument from silence. It is easy to see from the above definition that my opponent is terribly confused. Matt may not be convinced by my arguments, but to claim it was an argument from silence is ludicrous. Not only did I give evidence, but I gave cogent evidence that my opponent has not refuted.
The proposition of the debate states:
"Does the Bible teach that one is Justified by Faith Alone, or Faith plus works?"However, Matt states the proposition of the debate is as follows:
"Ronnie must prove that faith alone is the instrument of salvation with Christ's perfect righteousness necessary to be credited to our account. I must prove that works added to faith are necessary for salvation"
REBUTTAL: INTRODUCTORY WORDS
2]In p1 Matt quickly distorts my opening to give birth to his "argument from silence" baby. Matt says:
"Ronnie's argument is, 'because it isn't done this way, by inference it means faith alone is sufficient' and, 'Because our righteousness isn't good enough, then that must mean we get Christ's righteousness credited to our account.'"
3]I'm not sure what Matt read, but he didn't read that first argument from my opening. The second argument he presents is too imprecise to reflect my position. I only hope you the reader will read what I presented in the opening instead of relying on Matt's strawmen and imprecision.
Matt continues in p1 to make another fallacious charge. He says the following:
"Of the passages he refers to, for example in Romans 4, Psalm 143, Galatians 3, 1 Cor. 1, etc. was there one that said (or implied), "If you have faith alone in Jesus, you then get credited to your account Christ's imputed righteousness, and not be judged for your sins"?
4]First of all, it seems that Matt wants to argue like a Jehovah Witness when they claim, "Show me a passage that says, there is One God revealed in 3 co-equal persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." Of course, since the entire word of God is inspired I'm not obligated to do such a thing. Instead, I can do as I have done in my opening. That is I can carefully take what the Scriptures says in different places and bring it all together to arrive at correct doctrine.
REBUTTAL: "PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS AND THE COMMANDMENTS
5]In paragraph 2 Matt starts off with the following statement:
"2]Ronnie attempts to establish his first inference by not showing that one gets an imputed righteousness through faith alone but shows God's telling Israel to keep the commandments in Deuteronomy 6:1-5 (par. 2)"
In my opening paragraph I laid out the steps I was going to take to prove that we are justified by faith alone. Matt seems to be under the impression that I must provide him with 4000 words all saying we are justified by faith alone, because of the righteousness of Christ alone. The quote above refers to my proving that God requires perfect obedience from ALL to be justified from the curse of the law. Matt agrees that perfect obedience is a requirement in one instance to be justified, however he wants to say God does not require it from those who are under grace. In my opening I proved that this theory does not hold according to Deuteronomy 6:1-5, Psalm 143:1-2, and other texts in my opening that Matt hasn't refuted. Therefore he should spend some time dealing with the text instead of making claims such as, but this text does not say we receive the imputed righteousness of Christ.
6]Matt continues with his "argument from silence" nonsense by removing another of my quotes from its proper context. He takes my quote of Matthew 22:37 and my explanation of it and says the following:
"Ronnie's argument from silence is that Jesus means 'Since you will fail, you must via faith alone get my righteousness credited to your account'"
My point in quoting this verse is to show that Jesus requires perfect obedience that entails loving Him with all your heart, mind, body, and soul. This is only one premise of my complete argument. If Matt is to refute this he must show that Jesus does not require us to love Him totally and completely.
Matt also states the following in p2:
"Jesus was asked the question how one gets eternal life and answered by saying one enters life by keeping the commandments (Mt. 19:16-17). Ronnie highlighted Deuteronomy and showed this is also in the New Covenant. Keeping the commandments and loving the Lord is the way to enter eternal life. Jesus doesn't say, 'You can't love God sufficiently' or 'I know you can't keep the commandments so you need my perfect righteousness imputed to your account.' "
7]Here you have Matt affirming that the exchange Jesus had with the young ruler tells how we receive eternal life. If this is not salvation by works I don't know what is. You will notice faith in God and repenting of sins is not even mentioned, yet Matt claims this is how one can inherit eternal life. Matt then resorts to his favorite form of rebuttal by stating what Jesus did not say. However, if he will think about this type of reasoning he would realize how inconsistent he is and how self-refuting it is to his own position. I could easily turn this around on Matt and say in this exchange, "Where does Jesus say you need faith?" or "Where does Jesus say you can only do these works while under grace?"
The Apostle Paul once had the kind of righteousness that Matt says the rich young ruler needed. Here are the Apostle's words:
Phil 3:6...as to the righteousness which is in the law, found blameless.
This is the same righteousness that Matt claims would have saved the rich young ruler, because you will notice faith in Christ is never mentioned to the rich young ruler, just keeping the law. However, this is what Paul has to say about this type of righteousness.
Phil 3:8...I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
8]It is clear that the righteousness Matt delights in Paul counts as rubbish, so that he may gain Christ. According to Matt's interpretation of the rich young ruler Paul should have received eternal life for being blameless in reference to keeping the commandments. However, Paul claims he was without Christ and had a righteousness that was worthless. He counted what Matt praises as rubbish so that he may receive a true righteousness that is through faith in Christ and that comes from God on the basis of faith. It is therefore clear that Jesus is using this exchange to point out to the rich young ruler that he has not even begun to keep the commandments. He fails on the first and greatest commandment, which is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind.
Matt continues with the following statements:
"Why doesn't Jesus say what Ronnie says? In Ronnie's scenario, Jesus specifically says something he knows they will fail in, but absolutely refuses to give the solution!!!! Or Jesus is lying when he says that they can achieve salvation that way. I say Jesus meant what he said."
9]Matt continues with his illogical and inconsistent apologetic of "Why doesn't Jesus say..." Why doesn't Jesus say what Matt says(i.e. faith plus works under grace is the way to inherit eternal life)? We both could do this all day. Matt then acts surprised that Jesus gives a command that we cannot keep. Maybe Matt will share with us someone who keeps the law perfectly, since that is also a commandment that Jesus gives. Matt also distorts the story by saying Jesus "absolutely refuses to give the solution!!!" Anyone reading that portion of Scripture should wonder how Matt came to such a conclusion. Jesus being God incarnate knew the heart of the rich ruler. Therefore, Jesus was showing how the rich ruler failed miserably at keeping the commandments, because he did not keep the first and foremost commandment. Finally, Jesus is not lying. Anyone who keeps the law perfectly will receive eternal life.
One more point from paragraph 2. Matt states the following:
"Ronnie's system ignores Jesus' teaching on justification. ... When Ronnie selectively quotes Paul but ignores Jesus he tells you he admits Jesus doesn't teach an imputed righteousness through faith alone..."
10]To quote any of the Scriptures is not ignoring Jesus, because God is the author of them all. This distinction between the red letters of the bible(i.e. Jesus Words) and the rest of the Scripture is illogical, because the Holy Spirit inspired them all. Since Matt seems to think the Holy Spirit is more inspired or more authoritative (if not why make this distinction) when the Incarnate Christ spoke I will appease his conscience by showing Jesus is agreement with Paul.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Jesus clearly says anyone that hears and believes in Him has eternal life. This clearly shows that believing alone is the means by which one receives eternal life. Does Matt really accept the words of Jesus as he claims? Another example of red letters of the bible teaching this truth is Luke 18:13-14:
But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner! I tell you, this man went to his house justified...'
The only thing this wretched tax collector has to offer is his sins and a repentful heart. This is no different than the one who is not working, but trusting in the God that justifies the ungodly. The tax collector went home fully justified without works done in the state of grace being necessary.
REBUTTAL: "MISTAKEN PREMISE"
11]In paragraph 5,6, and 7 Matt again reveals he just doesn't understand classical Protestant theology on this subject. He makes the following erroneous statements:
"Ronnie's premise is that even in grace and sonship, we cannot be righteous in his sight."
"The premise is that we cannot be made righteous, and thus need to be covered over with an imputed righteousness appropriated through faith alone."
"According to Ronnie's proposition there are no saints as none can keep the commandments sufficiently for God."
"According to Ronnie, none are righteous who can keep his testimonies"
All of the above quotes are strawmen or too imprecise to be true of my position. I've dealt with this in my first rebuttal and will not belabor the point again. Matt goes on to state the following:
Ronnie states: (Par. 14) We cannot meet the demands of God's righteous requirements.
Paul states: Rom. 8:2-4"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death... sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4IN ORDER THAT THE JUST REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW MIGHT BE FULFILLED IN US, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit..." It is fulfilled through the law of the Spirit, and in US. Paul contradicts Ronnie's assertion.
12]First of all, if you read my words in context it is apparent that I was talking about God's requirement of perfect obedience to the law. Secondly, even if I agreed with Matt that this verse is talking about justified believers living a righteous life by the power of the Spirit(as many Protestants do) it would not damage my position. However, it seems that Paul is trying to convey a different thought. If we look at Romans 7:25 and 8:1 Paul states the following:
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Paul's point here is that even though we are always sinful because we are still in the flesh, we are not condemned because we are in Christ. In the verses Matt quotes above Paul then goes on to explain why we are not condemned. First, notice in verse 4 the fulfillment of the requirement of the law is done in us not by us. Second, the requirement of the law is singular, which signifies obeying the law as a whole or perfectly(James 2:10). Third, this requirement is fulfilled in all who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Paul goes on to explain in verses 5-10 who those are that walk according to the Spirit. It is all those who are indwelled by the Spirit(8:9), which are Christians. Therefore, Paul is teaching that in Christ we have fulfilled God's righteous requirement because of our union with Him and not because of our own obedience.
REBUTTAL: "ROMANS 3-4, ABRAHAM, LAW AND WORKS"
13]In p10 Matt accuses me of listing faith in many passages and then jumping to the conclusion that justification is by faith alone. Hopefully, anyone reading that section will see that this isn't the case. Matt seems to believe that if he doesn't see the words "we are justified by faith alone" it isn't taught. I wonder how Matt affirms grace alone since that phrase isn't used in Scripture.
In p11 Matt asks the question, "Does he [Paul] exclude works done in grace and love?" My answer is yes, when he is explaining how we are justified before God. Matt then states that Paul is only excluding "works of the law", but works done in grace and love are necessary. If this is the case then Matt should tell us what "works were done in grace and love" by Abraham in Genesis 15 for his justification. Actually, Matt attempts to do just that below. His answer is rather interesting as we will see.
14]Matt eventually quotes Romans 4:3-4 and then interacts with the text. Matt separates verse 5 from this quote and by doing so he distorts Paul's complete thought. I have added verse 5 and emphasized it to show that it completes Paul's thought and refutes much of Matt's eisegesis of this section of Scripture.
For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. "Now to one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.It is clear that this is the logical place to break, because starting in verse 6 Paul uses David to confirm what he has just said. In the NASB verse 6 starts off with the phrase, "just as David also speaks..." and even in the version Matt uses verse 6 starts off with the phrase "So also David pronounces ...". Therefore, it is clear that David is being used as a witness to confirm the thought that Paul just made in reference to Abraham's justification.
In p14 Matt states:
Ronnie's premise is that Paul excludes any kind of work, and argues that here is where Abraham was first justified
15]Until Matt can show what work Abraham was doing, why he was called ungodly, or where he was justified earlier I would say that is a good premise.
Matt says the following in p15:
"This passage is fatal to faith alone theology. Ronnie argues that here is where Abraham is first justified and I have to argue that Abraham had mortally sinned (Par. 20). Actually, justification is an ongoing process, so if Abraham is justified here by his action, and he had already been justified beforehand, that proves my point without a need to show he had mortally sinned prior to here, and Ronnie's proof-text becomes a boomerang that destroys faith alone theology."The reason Matt must argue that Abraham mortally sinned is because Abraham is called ungodly at this point. Since Matt claims Abraham was justified before this point than he must have lost his justification by committing a mortal sin. As I pointed out in my opening Paul is refuting the Jewish thought that Abraham was justified by his works. Many Jews even believed Abraham was sinless. Therefore, Paul's point is that God justified Abraham in Genesis 15 because of his faith alone and God only justifies the ungodly, not the sinless. Matt cannot interpret this section of Scripture as a complete thought of the Apostle Paul, he must chop it up into pieces to make his theology fit. He will assert the ungodly one is David and not Abraham. I will show this is not the case down below.
16]Matt also states that Abraham was justified at this point by his action. Does Matt use the word action as a synonym for work? Could it be that Matt realizes if he says work he contradicts Paul so he substitutes another word that may go unnoticed? Or does Matt mean by action Abraham's faith, which means we could Abraham was justified by action alone. Maybe Matt will explain to us what action justified Abraham at this point.
Matt continues in p15 by claiming that Abraham was a believer for a minimum of 25 years and in p16 he attempts to prove this by the following:
1) Abram obeyed God and left his homeland(12:4)
2) Abram built an altar to the Lord(12:7)
3) Abram called on the name of the Lord(13:4)
4) Abram built an altar to the Lord(14:18)
5) Melchizedek blesses Abram(14:19)
6) Abram calls God the maker of heaven and earth(14:22)
This is Matt's proof that Abraham was justified before Genesis 15. If this constitutes as proof of justification then almost every Jew before the time of Christ was justified. What Jew would not build an altar to the Lord? What Jew did not call on the name of the Lord? What Jew was not blessed by a priest? What Jew would not call God the maker of heaven and earth? Therefore, it is clear that Matt's proofs can't shoulder the weight he wishes to put upon them.
17]In p17 Matt uses Hebrews 11 as further evidence that Abraham was justified before Genesis 15. Matt states:
Hebrews 11 speaks of heroes of the faith, not the unjustified.
Hebrews 11 speaks of acts of faith as defined by Hebrews 11:1:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Now most of the individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 were justified, but that does not mean they were justified at every instance of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11. Matt's BIG assumption is that every mentioning of faith in the chapter is saving faith. Hebrews 11 is dealing with faith as mentioned in 11:1, which can have nothing to do with justification, which is saving faith. This is proven by Hebrews 11:3 which state by faith we believe God created the world ex nihilo. Does that mean every person who believes this was justified? Again according to Matt's reasoning almost every Jew before Christ was justified. Another example that destroys Matt's assumption is Hebrews 11:29 which states:
By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land;..."
18]According to Matt's logic every Israelite that passed through the Red Sea was justified at that point. However, Hebrews 3:16-4:6 proves this is not the case, because it speaks of those Israelites as never entering God's rest. Hebrews 4:2-3 states:
...we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest...
Those who combined the hearing of the Gospel with faith entered God's rest, yet many who crossed the Red Sea by faith never entered His rest. This totally destroys Matt's assumption about faith in Hebrews 11, therefore he as not proven his case. Matt then returns back to discussing Romans 4 and says the following:
"He isn't excluding works done in grace, as the fact that Abraham believed God ... is indeed an act of faith working in love ..."
19]Above we were wondering what Matt meant by the word action and now he tells us. Matt used action as a synonym for faith working in love. But the question now becomes how is faith "working in love" in Genesis 15? If by "working in love Matt means believing and trusting the Word of God then we are saying the same thing. We are justified by believing and trusting alone. If Matt believes Abraham was doing something else in Genesis 15 to be justified then I ask him again to tell us what "work" was Abraham doing? Matt concludes this paragraph with the quote from Psalm 106:30-31 and concludes this is exactly the same as Abraham. Matt makes the same mistake that he made in reference to faith in Hebrews 11. He takes a word or phrase and assumes it means the exact same thing in every instance. An act by a believer can be credited as righteousness without it being justification. Believers do righteous acts that will be revealed at the eschaton judgment, however every righteous act is not justification.
REBUTTAL: "JUSTIFYING THE UNGODLY?"
20]Matt's quotes Proverbs 17:15 and comes to the conclusion that God is guilty of a lie if he justifies the ungodly as I have described it. God justifying the ungodly means we are counted righteous, because the righteousness of Christ is truly and really ours. God's righteous requirement of perfect obedience is met in the righteousness of Christ. However, we still sin in ourselves, just as those( Matt included ) who do not claim to have a perfect righteousness. The difference is Matt claims he is currently justified and yet he is not loving God with all his heart, soul, body, and mind every second of every day and this is the greatest commandment. Therefore, if anyone causes God to violate Proverbs 17:15 it is Matt, because he claims he is justified without fulfilling the law's demand. He sins everyday and supposedly remains justified because he hasn't committed a BIG sin(i.e. Mortal sin).
REBUTTAL: "DAVID'S REJUSTIFICATION"
21]In p20 Matt states Paul refers us to David's example as to how we are justified. Matt is also forced to say Roman 4:5 applies to David and not Abraham, because it destroys his entire theology. However, Paul is quoting David as second witness to the blessing of being credited righteousness apart from works(Rom 4:6). Now of course we remember in 4:3 this is the same blessing that Abraham received. Paul then explains what this blessing entails:
Having your transgressions forgiven(4:7)
Having your sins convered(4:7)
Never having your sins taken into account(4:8)
22]If Abraham received this blessing in Genesis 15 then it is clear that Paul is referring to Abraham also as ungodly. I said also, because you will notice this blessing applies to those(plural 4:7) who transgressions are forgiven and sins covered. This blessing belongs to the uncircumcised and the circumcised through faith(4:9). This destroys Matt's interpretation of applying this to David's rejustification, which is something unknown to the Scriptures.