Justification and Faith

Dear xxx,

Thanks for your patience with me in reviewing your paper. I appreciate your work and your desire to in all things glorify God, especially in salvation. I also appreciate your desire to cut it straight. I have not attempted to interact with all of your points and statements, but here is a thought or two regarding what I perceive is the main thrust of your paper.

Tying justification to the resurrection is one thing; however I caution you about making a big deal of the date of 33 AD.

Rom 5:19 – How do you handle the future tense, “the many will be made righteous”. Paul is writing post cross. Also, v 18 states that justification came “through” (dia + the genitive) presumably the cross, but does not state a chronology.

Rom 4:25 – Christ was given over on account of (dia + accusative) our trespasses and was raised up on account of (dia + accusative) our justification. So, is the point of the verse that there is a timing of justification? If so, justification took place, indeed was completed, prior to the cross. I don’t believe that is point of the passage at all.

  • Does the context need to be considered? What do you do with 4:22 which indicates that Abraham’s faith did have something to do with his being “accounted to him for (eis into) righteousness” (NKJV) (ἐλογίσθη αὐτῷ εἰς δικαιοσύνην.) So also 4:3, 9 both of which allude to the historical account in Gen 15:6 (LXX is identical to Rom 4:22). This is of one piece with Gal 3:6, 8, 24 and James 2:23.
  • Further, a suggestion that Abraham is a unique case doesn’t stand up in light of 4:23-24. Apparently Abraham is the pattern for all who believe.
  • 5:1 makes even a stronger declaration – we currently have peace with God after having been justified by faith. The “by” is ekmeaning “out of” indicating that justification flows from faith. In fact this is a perfect combination of the truth that justification is something done to us (it is a passive participle) and the truth that justification flows from our faith. To make matters even more marvelous we know that faith is a gift from God (Phil 1:29).

See also other germane passages such as Rom 3:22 – “through (dia + genitive) faith; or v 24, “by (dative) grace through redemption”; or v25 – “justifier of the one who has faith”; or v 28 “justified by faith (dative); v 30 – justify out of faith and through faith; Rom 9:30 – righteousness out of faith; Rom 10:6, righteousness out of faith; 10:10 – believes into righteousness; Gal 2:16 – justified through faith and out of faith; Gal 3:6, 24 (see above re Abraham); Phil 3:9; et al. 

You have great insights into the great truth of the sovereignty y of God in salvation; the utter impossibility of any man doing anything to save himself rather he is totally spiritually dead, blind, and deaf; the absolute necessity of God remedying the situation by choosing men before the foundation of the world and then sending the Son to die on the cross for the purpose of actually redeeming them and then sovereignly regenerating them at a point of time in history by efficacious grace. Then and only then are they made willing to come unto Christ. Otherwise men are hopelessly lost.

But I do think you need to account for the place of faith in your construction of the doctrine of justification. It is similar to accepting both divine predestination and human responsibly even though we might not be able to fully understand how they intersect. Nonetheless both are taught in Scripture.