1]In p1 Matt says the following:
He has not produced one Scripture that says one gets Christ's righteousness imputed to his account, nor has he shown faith is the alone instrument to do that.
I asked the reader to refer to my opening statement where I presented the case for believers receiving the righteousness of Christ through faith alone. I discussed Isaiah 61:10, Zechariah 3:1-5, 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, Jer.23:6;33:16, Romans 4:1-8,Gal.3:5, Eph.2:8-10, and Romans 10:2-8. Matt only interacted with Romans 4 and Romans 10. I answered his eisegesis of Romans 4 in my last post and I will address his interaction of Romans 10 in this reply. Otherwise Matt's only interaction with the text has been the following statement:
Look closely at his verses: Isaiah 61:10, 1 Cor. 1:30, Jer. 23:6, Zech. 3:4-5 (par. 9-14) and see if any one of them say that this righteousness is imputed to the believer's account, appropriated through faith alone.
2]Matt attempts to dismiss the verses and my discussion of them with a wave of his hand. To make his job easy he claims the verses do not teach something I never said they did. What a rebuttal!! What I said the verses above teach is that Christ is our righteousness and we are covered by His righteousness. I used other verses to prove we receive this righteousness by faith alone. Therefore, Matt has simply avoided dealing with the real point I made in reference to the above verses. For example, here is what I had to say in reference to 1 Cor. 1:30 and Matt has not responded to it:
Paul states that Christ Jesus has become our redemption, therefore He is our redemption and we do not plead our own redemption. In the same way He is our righteousness, therefore He is our righteousness and we do not plead our own righteousness. This verse is not talking about us being made righteous in Him, just as it is not talking about us being made our own wisdom or our own redemption. Instead, He has become for us wisdom and redemption, just as he has become for us our righteousness.
3]As you can see in this verse I was proving that Christ is our righteousness. It is in other verses that I showed that faith is the instrumental cause for us to receive the righteousness of Christ. I used Romans 4, Romans 10, Eph 2:8-10, Galatians 3:5, John 5:24, and Luke 18 to prove this point. Matt has not even interacted with all the verses and by no means has he refuted the verses(Romans 4, Romans 10, John 5) that he has interacted with. Therefore, Matt is only hoping his ipse dixits and refuting stawmen will impress those who are not reading carefully.
REBUTTAL: "Romans 10-Deuteronomy 30"
4]Matt makes the following comment about Romans 10:
Paul doesn't mention believing in your heart as a one-time event where Christ's righteousness is credited to one's account. Ronnie's presumption reads that into the text:
Matt quickly attacks a strawman by insinuating that I believe believing is a one-time event. It seems Matt is my interested in refuting anything except my arguments. Believing is life long process for the justified believer and not a one-time event. The just shall live by faith! However, I do believe justification is a one-time event and Matt should deal with that. Matt continues:
Confessing and believing isn't a one-time event, but ongoing. Thus justification is a process.
5]What?&^%@* Just because confessing and believing is ongoing why does it necessarily follow that justification is a process? This is a classic case of the logical fallacy called a non sequitur. Matt is grasping for straws to prove justification is a process, but logically fallacious statements will not get him there. Matt summarizes his take on Romans 10 with following quotes:
6]Paul's words in Romans are taken from a response in Deuteronomy 30 to the command to keep the commandments and love the Lord. Notice that where Paul draws from, and is the righteousness based on faith, God says that the salvific faith includes keeping the commandments which isn't too hard and is the cause of salvation
The choice to keep the commandments and live, is part of the righteousness of faith that Paul speaks of in Romans 10. Unless Paul twists Scripture to teach faith alone. An inspired writer, Paul doesn't do that.
6]Matt wants us to believe that Paul is telling the Roman Christians that keeping the commandments is the cause of their salvation. Matt states if Paul is teaching faith alone in Romans 10 he is twisting Scripture. However, Matt is the one who is guilty of twisting Paul's word in Romans 10 when he claims Paul is teaching keeping the commandments as the cause of salvation. Nowhere in this chapter or the preceding chapter does Paul mention keeping commandments for salvation and on the contrary he contrasts the two. A few verses will show this point:
Romans 9:11 ...not because of works but because of Him who calls
Romans 9:30-32 ... The Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.
Romans 10:3 For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own...
Romans 10:4 states Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes."
Romans 10:5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows:
Romans 10:10 "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified".
7]If Paul is teaching keeping the commandments as the cause of our salvation in those verses he is definitely doing a great job of concealing it. Matt is making the big mistake of interpreting Paul in light of the OT instead of interpreting the OT in light of the Apostle speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The flow of Paul's argument is like this: By faith righteousness was attained by those not pursuing it(Romans 9:30) Israel pursuing the law of righteousness did not arrive at the law(Romans 9:31) Israel did not attain righteousness because they pursued it by works instead of by faith(Romans 9:32). As Paul says in Romans 3:21 the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law. Therefore, to pursue the law from faith is to look for and expect the "Christ" who is the goal or end of the law(Romans 10:4) Moses "written" commandment says the one who does these things shall live by them(Romans 10:5;Leviticus 18:5). The righteousness of faith speaks of what God has done in the incarnate, crucified, resurrected, and risen Christ(Romans 10:6-8). Paul's referencing of Moses in Deuteronomy 30:11-14(Romans 10:8) does not contradict his reference to Moses in Leviticus 18:5(Romans 10:5), rather it places the law in its proper context. The law is God's gift to Israel in anticipation of the greater gift in Christ, it bears witness to the "Christ". This law is given to a stubborn and rebellious people(Deuteronomy 9:4) and the Lord has not given them a heart to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear (Deuteronomy 29:4). The promised circumcision of the heart is still in the future(Deuteronomy 30:1-6). Righteousness only comes through faith in the incarnate, crucified, resurrected and risen Christ.
REBUTTAL: "Straw Man and the Westminster Confession of Faith"
8]In this section Matt simply misses the point I was making. I'm beginning to wonder how careful Matt is actually reading. In p7 Matt makes the following statement:
7]Ronnie in his first rebuttal (par. 1-3) selectively quotes from the WCF on sanctification (not justification) showing that he believes that holiness is important and says that it destroys my presentation of the errors of his position.
Since Matt accuses me of selectively quoting the WCF, I guess I should have quoted the entire confession for him. However, the quotes do destroy many of his strawman arguments. Furthermore, the quotes said much more than holiness was important, they also said the following:
"...and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
9]Therefore, the quotes do destroy much of Matt's rebuttal and they show he is attacking a strawman. Matt's seems to believe I have to play by his rules of not recognizing the distinction between justification and sanctification. Since I do not believe our cleansing and being freed from sin is the cause of our justification as he does he claims I don't believe that it actually happens. Matt continues in p7 with much of the same strawman argument he is trying to wiggle out from under now. He states the following:
He has been arguing that the whole debate and now trying to divert from that fact that this cleansing, or making righteous, isn't intrinsic to the cause of justification. God is unable to cleanse us sufficiently.
The only thing I'm diverting from are Matt's inaccuracies. For Matt to say God is unable to cleanse us sufficiently, because I believe we are justified by the righteousness of Christ alone is a non sequitur as I pointed out once before. I asked him then and I will ask him now. Please show why it is logically necessary that God is unable to cleanse us sufficiently because the grounds of our justification is Christ righteousness? If Matt cannot show why it is logically necessary then his argument is a non sequitur, plain and simple. Now when Matt says "cleanse us sufficiently" he is not talking about perfect righteousness, but instead God justifying us based on a curve. No wonder he believes his righteousness will withstand the judgment of God. However, contrary to Matt's beliefs I concur with the prayer of David:
Psalm 143:2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
10]Matt continues in p10:
10]Ronnie's grounds of justification is a declaration only. He calls us righteous, even though we aren't righteousness enough to face God, and even the good works that we do are linked with defilement. This can only be, because his Son's blood is insufficient to cleanse us before God's judgment, as Ronnie's own Confession proclaims!!! We must be 'covered over.'
As Matt tries to explain he is not guilty of logical fallacies he just digs in deeper with more of the same logical fallacies(e.g. non sequitur, strawman). First of all, the ground of my justification is not a declaration, but the righteousness of Christ. Second, I do believe we are cleansed, but that cleansing is not the basis of our justification. We may obey God's law externally, but the heart always betrays us. This is why the Apostle Paul could not overcome coveting(Romans 7:8), because it was an internal sin of the heart. Therefore the Apostle Paul lamented, "Wretched man that I am! "(Romans 7:24). Furthermore, Matt's constant claim about how he believes we are cleansed before the judgment only stands because he believes God will grade on a curve. If I believed God was in the curve grading business than maybe I have would have some reason to believe I could withstand his judgment. As I stated in my opening, those who think their grace infused works will justify them will either downplay God's demand for perfect obedience or exaggerate on their own righteousness. However, the good news is that believers don't have to do either, because we have already been judged(John 5:24) in the perfect Lamb of God. That is why the life we live in this body, we live by faith in the Son of God who gave Himself for us(Gal. 2:20). Matt continues:
That is what I meant and maintain. The Bible, on the other hand says that in his grace, our works are sufficient to stand judgment, as those become grounds of justification (Mt.25:31-46, Rev. 20:12-13).
11]Read those passages and see if any of them mentions our justification. Justification and final judgment are not synonymous terms. Matt continues:
In every judgment scene (as given in this debate) those works are grounds of going to heaven or going to hell.
In the eschaton judgment the justified believers will be manifested for who they are, but it does not necessarily follow that these works are the ground of their justification.
REBUTTAL: "Divine Sonship and Judgment"
11]Ronnie's critique of my section on divine sonship (par. 4-7) uses Scriptures irrelevant to the issue. He argues from Rom. 5:9 and other Scriptures that in justification we are saved from God's wrath, as though that refutes my position.
I was only pointing out Matt's one-sided presentation of why Christ came. Matt kept insisting that Christ came to save us from sin, which I agree with. However, Christ also came to save us from the wrath of God. It is in God's crediting us Christ righteousness and declaring us righteous that we are saved from this wrath.
As though I argue that we don't need to be saved from God's wrath. Of course we need to be saved from God's wrath and outside of God's grace we would be condemned. I agree so Ronnie's quotation is totally irrelevant, arguing against a position that I don't espouse. Of course divine sonship only comes into play (My opening statement, Par. 2) when we are justified so Ronnie's argument is of no effect.
13]I was not arguing that you didn't believe it, instead I was pointing out that your argument was excluding important information and therefore your point is not valid. Matt continues in p13:
13]Ronnie says his concept of adoption is superior because we are guaranteed future adoption as sons and quotes Rom. 8:23 as proof (par. 19). This can only be seen when ignoring the prior 22 verses in Romans 8 (especially vv. 10-17 which makes the inheritance as conditional) and ignores the verses after, where we have hope for salvation, and if guaranteed, there would be no reason for hope (see Romans 8:24-25).
No, I didn't say my position was superior because we are guaranteed future adoption. Instead I pointed out Matt's inconsistent hermeneutic. I asked the reader to refer to p18-19 in my first rebuttal to see if that is the case. Furthermore, Matt seems to be refuting his own position. Has Matt forgotten that it is his theology that teaches if you are sons of God, you will always remain a child of God even if you end up in hell? Matt also says, "where we have hope for salvation, and if guaranteed, there would be no reason for hope (see Romans 8:24-25)." Any contextual reading of the verses Matt present will show how he tortures the Scripture. The verses is talking about the redemption of our bodies and the "not yet" aspects of our salvation that we don't posess. Matt finally comes to the illogical conclusion that if you hope for something it can't be guaranteed. Here's Paul in Romans 4:16:
Therefore, [b]the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring[/b]--not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
14]The promise that this verse is referencing is believers being heirs of the world with Abraham(Rom 4:13). The promise is guaranteed, yet we all hope for it just as Abraham hoped against hope(Rom. 4:18). Therefore, Matt is simply wrong. Matt states that in any Father-Son relationship a son can disinherit himself. This is not necessarily true, but it doesn't really matter. The issue is will any of the sons of God be disinherited? Will sons of God be sent to hell? Matt says, yes to both. I say, no. Matt continues in p14:
14]Opposed to Luke 15 and Romans 8, Ronnie argues that sonship is unconditional and isn't the basis of justification (Par. 6):
15]I never said sonship was unconditional, however I said that the Father-son relationship will endure throughout eternity and yes sonship is not the basis of our justification. Matt has not shown that it is, but just keeps asserting it. The basis of our justification is the work of Christ and not sonship. Following we have Matt's p16 where he attempts to prove we are justified by our works:
16]I quote 15 verses of Jesus in Matthew 25:31-46 because here is criteria in judgment where yes there is a judgment of acquittal and condemnation, but the basis for this is the Father rewarding his sons heaven based on good works. Condemnation is based on a lack of good works. The logical reason is that at the very moment when people are sent to their eternal destiny, works were the ultimate decider, and in the context of inheritance, is the language of Father and Son. Jesus didn't say, 'welcome, acquitted criminal who was assured of your salvation when I acquitted you, and looked at my own righteousness, acquired through faith alone, and these works get you extra rewards'. Faith alone is never the decider in any judgment scene, and Ronnie just saying that it doesn't affect his position doesn't make it so. Works are an instrumental cause (Rev. 20:12-13; 22:11-12; Rom. 2:6-13; Mt. 7:16-25; Mt.16:24-27; Jn. 5:28-29, 1 Cor. 3:10-17; 2 Cor. 5:10). My position is logical because the instrument of condemnation/salvation is given and faith alone is nowhere to be found. In fact, the goats even call him Lord, (Mt. 25:44), apparently believing faith alone was sufficient.
16]These verses in no way proves Matt's point. This judgment is based on works, but it not a weighing of good works and bad works to see who merits eternal life. On the contrary, it is a manifesting of those who have been justified. Those who are justified will produce good works, because as the following passages teaches it is God who produces these works:
Hebrews 13:21 ... equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Philippians 2:13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
1 Corinthians 12:6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.
17]Therefore, God not only declares us righteous based on the righteousness of Christ, but he also makes us righteous because Christ is in us. This is the state of all true believers and Matt's statements does not refute that. Matt continues in p17 with another example that shows his exegesis is driven by his beliefs and not something that is in the text:
In these places, where Paul gives criteria for the separation of those going to heaven from those going to hell, it is the actions of people that determine this. For example, Galatians 5 says: 19Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness...21envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Ronnie has used Galatians to allege Paul teaching faith alone while Paul has only condemned living by works of the law. Paul here speaks in the language of inheritance, which is the language of Father rewarding the son with heaven for obedience and condemnation based on misdeeds. He warns Christians that if they sin mortally, they disinherit themselves from God's kingdom. Not merely about less rewards. This doesn't fit Ronnie's theology.
18]This section talks of the battle we have between the flesh and the spirit. Paul does warn that certain type of people will not inherit eternal life. You will know these individual by their works. However, this does not prove that your works are what merit eternal life. Again this verse is teaching that believers will be manifested on the day of judgment. Paul says essentially the same thing in Romans 8 where he talks about those being controlled by the sinful nature or the Spirit. He says the following about those controlled by the flesh:
- they live according to the sinful nature and their minds are set on these desires(8:5)
- their mind is death(8:6)
- they are hostile toward God(8:7)
- they do not submit to God's law(8:7)
- they cannot submit to God's law(8:7)
- they cannot please God(8:8)
He says the following about those controlled by the Spirit:
- their mind is set on the desires of the Spirit(8:5)
- their mind is life and peace(8:6)
19]Do you notice the similarities between the verses I quote from Romans 8:5-7 and the verse in Galatians 5:19-21? Furthermore, it is the same author in both places so we must realize that he is teaching the same thing. However, at the end of the descriptions given in Romans 8, Paul says the following in Romans 8:9:
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
The Apostle categorically states believers are NOT in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Therefore, believers have the fruits of the Spirit in their lives and these verses cannot shoulder the burden Matt wishes to place on them.
REBUTTAL: Acts 16:31 and John 5:24-29
20]Matt attempts to refute what I said in p11 of my 1st rebuttal. However, the carefully reader will notice I was only showing Matt's inconsistency. Matt made the bold claim that James makes this issue a no-brainer because he states, we are not justified by faith alone. Yet Matt goes on to state that this debate answers the question, "What does the Bible teach on what I must do to saved ?" Therefore, if Matt believes James statement settles the issue in reference to how one is justified, then he should also believe that Paul settles the issue on how we are saved based on Acts 16:31. In p18 Matt responds to my point in the following manner:
"Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will saved, you and your household." If this 'settles the matter', where does Paul say, 'once you believe in me, you get Christ's imputed righteousness credited to your account and your salvation is guaranteed. Belief now guarantees your salvation'. How come Paul nowhere even hints that? Remember, as we saw earlier that one must hold fast to that belief, or else it is possible to believe in vain (1 Cor. 15:2). Justification is an ongoing process even in belief. The imputing of Christ's righteousness to one's account is found nowhere in the Bible, yet that serves as the basis for Ronnie's whole system and is utterly lacking in Acts 16. In fact implied in Paul's answer is that we must act on that belief. We know that Jesus says that one must believe and be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16), and here in Acts the jailer and his whole family are baptized (Acts 16:31-35) right at the point of salvation. Belief and a baptism is a normative package of salvation and one normally can't exclude one without the other...
21]Do you see how inconsistent Matt is? He wants the statement of James to settle the issue without comparing Scripture to Scripture. There is no need to take into account the context of James argument. There is no need to look at what Paul and the other writers say elsewhere. Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot as Acts 16:31 is, he goes into his favorite apologetic (e.g. what the text does not says), as if the verse from James says, "we are justified at baptism, however justification is a durative process and we must increase in our righteousness by good works to merit eternal life". He then starts to quote Scripture left and right to explain what Paul really means. Why does Matt think all of this is needed for the Acts 16 passage, but for the James passage it is a no-brainer? If James is a no-brainer then to be consistent Matt should also say the Acts passage is a no-brainer in reference to the question of how we are saved. That was my point.
22]Matt continues to explain away this no-brainer in his next paragraph. He quotes Matthew 19:17, 22:37, and Acts 2:38 and concludes they don't fit faith alone theology. The problem is not that these passage don't fit with my position, but that Matt interpretation is flawed and I don't think he truly understands my position. Matt eventually makes this statement in reference to Acts 16:31:
Does Acts 16:31 (which we saw doesn't present Ronnie's view anyway) cancel out all these passages and render them moot? No. The correct view encompasses all these passages (repentance and baptism, belief, keeping the commandments, Loving the Lord and Neighbor are all necessary instruments of salvation). My position encompasses all these answers whereas Ronnie must not only read something into Acts 16:31 that isn't there, but exclude or downplay all these other passages.
22]Notice the portion of Matt's statement that I emphasized above. All of this is needed for Acts 16:31, but for James 2:24 it is a no-brainer that Matt seems to think needs none of the above. I wonder why? The rest of the paragraph is just begging the question because those are the issues we are debating.
23]I also quoted John 5:24 to show that Matt is inconsistent with his no-brainer theology. Here is part of Matt's rebuttal to my comments on this passage:
Alleging that I am downplaying this passage is ridiculous. I argue that Faith and works are necessary for salvation. Ronnie argues that faith alone is sufficient to credit an imputed righteousness to one's account so that works aren't instrumental to salvation. I don't argue works alone, so the fact that Jesus notes that faith is a grounds of salvation I highlight, don't downplay. Par. 13 is totally in error.
24]Is p13 totally in error? The passage says, whoever hears and believes has eternal life and will not be condemned. This is a "no-brainer". Matt claims he accept this verse, but he is only playing lip service to it as we will see further below. Why doesn't this verse settle the matter as Matt claims James 2:24 does? Matt continues with the following comments:
However, a verse taken out of context is a pretext for anything, and the context is that other grounds for condemnation/salvation are also given in this very passage when Jesus says:
25]Now we see context is important. Maybe Matt should remember his above statement when he proclaims the matter is no-brainer because of James 2:24. Matt also says there are other grounds for condemnation/salvation. However, John 5:24 says those who believe will not be condemned. Matt actually has Jesus contradicting himself in a span of 4 verses. In one verse Jesus says, those who believe will not be condemned. Matt says he agrees with this and doesn't downplay it. Yet 4 verses later Matt says if you believe you can still be condemned, because you didn't do enough good works or you committed a mortal sin. Not only does Matt attempt to downplay verse 24 he actually contradicts it. Matt then goes on to quote other verses that talk about good works and the eschaton judgments as if that changes what Jesus said. That is why I said he downplays the verse. The difference is in my position I can believe all those verses are true. Those who believe have eternal life and will not be condemned and they will have the good works. The good works are not the cause of eternal life, but a manifestation of those who already have it as Jesus says. These works are actually the result of God working in us and therefore, properly speaking are not our works. Here is Matt's final statement on John 5:24:
John says that we must do right to have life. Passing from death to life (as in John 5:24) isn't the guarantee that Ronnie gives, because John warns that if we hate somebody sufficiently, we lose eternal life (compare to Mt. 5:22). We can thus pass back out of life.
26]Here Matt says we must "do right to have life", but Jesus says by believing you have eternal life. Therefore, does Matt think you don't really have eternal life until you "do right" or does he believe the "doing right" is believing? If he believes the "doing right" is something else than believing then he must explain what eternal life Jesus was talking about in John 5:24.
REBUTTAL: "Justification as Process"
27]There is not much to rebut in this section. Matt claims he proved justification is a process based on the life of Abraham and David using verses from Gen 12, Heb 11, Gen 15, Rom 4, Gen 22, and James 2. Since I have dealt with all those passage in my last rebuttal I will not comment on them again. I ask the readers to read my 2nd rebuttal and see if Matt has proven this point. Matt then goes on to quote a bunch of passages without any interpretation as if this proves his point. This is what you called a gratuitous assertion, therefore I will answer with a gratuitous denial. Those verses does not teach justification as a process.