Author Topic: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26  (Read 1597 times)

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Sadie

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What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« on: September 15, 2009, 04:25:32 AM »

gang,

This is one tension that occupies many pages, as well as one whole epistle, in the New Testament Scriptures. One of the most glaring so-called contradictions in the Scriptures is seen when both Paul and James use the same Old Testament passage to prove, at least on the surface, two different views of justification. In Romans 4:1-5, Paul is as emphatic as possible that Abraham was not justified by works. He is quite dogmatic that it was by faith alone without any works at all that Abraham was justified. However, James is just as emphatic that the same Abraham was justified by works (cf. James 2:14-26).

How we reconcile these two statements—and all of us must reconcile them or admit the Bible contradicts itself—will be determined by our theological understanding of justification and sanctification. Let's begin with some definitions and certainties. The word justify is a legal term. It denotes the status of something or somebody. We must understand the difference between state and standing. A man may kill someone and claim he did it in self defense. A jury may find him not guilty of murder because they are convinced the man was "justified" in defending himself. When they say, "We find this man not guilty" that means that his "standing before the law" is one of innocence. The law can only treat him as innocent. However, if the man was lying and has completely fooled the jury, his actual state is one of guilt even though his standing is one of innocence. He is a guilty man being treated as if he were innocent. The jury has justified the man and he must therefore be treated as if their declaration was correct.

It is vital to see that justification in and of itself cannot actually make a person innocent. It merely declares that the person is going to be treated as if he were not guilty but righteous. A jury in court "finds" and "declares" an individual either guilty or innocent but it cannot "make" him either one. As just noted, it is quite possible for a jury to find an innocent man guilty and have him put to death or find a guilty man innocent and allow him to go free. In other words, the declaration of justification does not in any way change a sinner's nature. It merely changes his status before God. The absolute proof of this is the fact that men "justify" God. "And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John" (Luke 7:29). The publicans did not make any change whatsoever in the nature of God, they merely made a declaration about Him. The same is true when God justifies a sinner. He declares a guilty sinner to be righteous in His sight. As we shall see later the gospel is the defense of God in this action. The gospel "reveals the righteousness of God" and shows how He can be both just and at the same justify the ungodly.

The distinction between state and standing can be seen by comparing two texts of Scripture. In Romans 5:1-3 Paul is showing the certain results of justification. The first one is peace with God. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1). This is not peace of mind or a tranquil spirit that does not get upset. That is the peace of God and Paul talks about this in Philippians 4:7, "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." A child of God may lose this latter peace of God, and some fearful saints never experience it. The peace with God in Romans 5:1 is reconciliation and is experienced by every Christian. This is a peace that can never be lost. We were born enemies of God (Rom. 5:10) and were justly under His wrath (Eph. 2:3). We were in a state of sin and had no standing before God. Because our Savior took our place and bore God's wrath that we had earned, God can justly forgive us and reward us with the righteousness that Christ secured for us. We are now reconciled and no longer under His wrath. Our standing before God is now one of righteousness instead of guilt. We have peace with God. The war is over. His wrath was removed by the death of Christ, and the wrath and rebellion in our hearts has been removed in regeneration. There is true and righteous reconciliation.

We should add that it is possible to reconcile two people that are separated by an offense of such a nature that they are "at enmity" with each other. It is quite possible that they, as persons, can be reconciled to each other, but it is not possible to reconcile the enmity between them. The enmity must be removed before there can be true reconciliation. This is why the cross was essential to remove God's just enmity against us and make reconciliation possible from His side. Regeneration was also essential to remove our very real, but very unjustified, hatred towards God and His authority over us (Rom. 8:7). Enemies can, and have been, reconciled but enmity must, and has been "slain and taken out of the way" by the cross (Eph. 2:16).


It is clear that both James and Paul are talking to people who profess to be children of God, and in both cases Paul and James are challenging the validity of their hearers' conversion. However, each man is using a different yard stick upon which to base his challenge. Paul is saying, "You cannot be saved by grace unless it is 100% grace. Any mixture of works and grace totally destroys the truth of grace." For Paul (cf. Romans 4) salvation comes to the one who entirely quits working to earn salvation and turns in faith alone to the promise of God. "To him that worketh not" means exactly what it says. Paul is challenging the assurance of the legalist who would attempt to get into heaven by his own works.

James, on the other hand, is also challenging the salvation of his hearers but for a different reason. James is not talking to people who are trusting in works to get them to heaven. He is talking to people whose whole religion is made up of talking without any doing. He is talking to people who have no works in which to trust! James is not discussing the way of salvation but whether a given individual is really in the way of salvation. James is not discussing whether we are saved by faith or works, or a combination of the two, but rather, "What is the nature of saving faith?" Paul is declaring that man is saved by faith alone and James is saying that true faith is never alone but is always accompanied by works. James is talking about the nature of true saving faith. In so doing he is using the same terms as Paul. The works are a result of true saving faith, doers and not just hearers and talkers. True faith walks the talk.

source: John G Reisinger

Offline peacemaker

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Re: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2009, 04:53:02 AM »
Because our Savior took our place and bore God's wrath that we had earned, God can justly forgive us and reward us with the righteousness that Christ secured for us.

Theory of Substitution?

"... take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant or mutual agreement with the inhabitants of the land ..." ( Exodus 34:12)

"There is no love without forgiveness, and no forgiveness without love; for what power has love, but forgiveness."

peacemaker

Offline Seth

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Re: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2009, 06:14:43 AM »
Quote
It is clear that both James and Paul are talking to people who profess to be children of God, and in both cases Paul and James are challenging the validity of their hearers' conversion. However, each man is using a different yard stick upon which to base his challenge. Paul is saying, "You cannot be saved by grace unless it is 100% grace. Any mixture of works and grace totally destroys the truth of grace." For Paul (cf. Romans 4) salvation comes to the one who entirely quits working to earn salvation and turns in faith alone to the promise of God. "To him that worketh not" means exactly what it says. Paul is challenging the assurance of the legalist who would attempt to get into heaven by his own works.

James, on the other hand, is also challenging the salvation of his hearers but for a different reason. James is not talking to people who are trusting in works to get them to heaven. He is talking to people whose whole religion is made up of talking without any doing. He is talking to people who have no works in which to trust! James is not discussing the way of salvation but whether a given individual is really in the way of salvation. James is not discussing whether we are saved by faith or works, or a combination of the two, but rather, "What is the nature of saving faith?" Paul is declaring that man is saved by faith alone and James is saying that true faith is never alone but is always accompanied by works. James is talking about the nature of true saving faith. In so doing he is using the same terms as Paul. The works are a result of true saving faith, doers and not just hearers and talkers. True faith walks the talk.

I have been conversing extensively about this very issue so I will be short here in this initial post. Getting into heaven is really not what either James or Paul is talking about. This is the salvation they are talking about:

Matthew 1:21
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."


It's not difficult to see how nicely that fits with this statement:

2 Thessalonians 2:13-15
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth


Do you see how, if the intent is for Christ to save people from sin, that sanctification of the Spirit does that work? Seeing both the statements of Paul and James in regard to salvation from sin, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth, we can see that when Paul says that justification is given to "the man who worketh not" he is talking about "works of the law" (by which man is not able to receive the Spirit). And James is talking about "good works" which are works of obedience having received the Spirit.

Here is proof:

Romans 6
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.


That word FREE, is actually dikaioō. It is the same word for BOTH justified and righteous.

He that is dead to sin is justified/righteous/free FROM sin. So, here is Paul's own definition of justification: whoever is walking in newness of life as a result of salvation from sin, that is the one who is righteous/justified. That is the same statement James is making. They both are talking about the fact that the righteous/justified are the ones who are obedient to the Lord. It is just that Paul was clarifying that the works of the Law had no power to give anyone that Spirit so that they could be delivered from sin INTO good works.


« Last Edit: September 15, 2009, 06:26:19 AM by Seth »

Offline willieH

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Re: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2009, 01:17:12 AM »
willieH: Hi Sadie... :hithere:

I love talking about God.

Would you answer ONE QUESTION?

Just curious, you wouldn't happen to be ---> CoG37 or Lee100 ...would you?  A simple "yes or no" answer would suffice, ...thanks!   :ty:

If no...  Hey -- glad to have you aboard!!!  :newb:  :welcome:  :friendstu:

If yes... why continue the charade?  :dontknow:


...willieH  :cloud9:

Offline peacemaker

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Re: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2009, 06:50:10 AM »
I love talking about God.

A hidden truth or a purposeful lie?

"There are no absolute clues to lying itself, only to the kind of performance that accompanies them."

peacemaker

Offline willieH

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Re: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2009, 10:15:25 AM »
willieH: Hi Sadie... :hithere:

Still waiting for you to answer!  :dontknow:

Would you answer ONE QUESTION?

Just curious, you wouldn't happen to be ---> CoG37 or Lee100 ...would you?  A simple "yes or no" answer would suffice, ...thanks!   :ty:

If no...  Hey -- glad to have you aboard!!!  :newb:  :welcome:  :friendstu:

If yes... why continue the charade?  :dontknow:


...willieH  :cloud9:

Offline Tony N

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Re: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2009, 01:34:49 PM »
I don't believe Paul and James are speaking of the same thing.

James was writing **to the twelve tribes of Israel** concerning the royal law (he said so). Then says that if one have faith but have no works, THAT faith cannot save him.

James uses Abraham as an example of doing something AFTER he believes.

Paul would NEVER agree with James on that issue for us of the nations.
Paul uses Abraham as an example of just believing God and being justified BEFORE doing anything.

I could go on and on with examples.
Just because God says He will save all mankind
does not necessarily mean He won't.

Offline Seth

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Re: What is Justification? Romans 4:1-5 and James 2: 14-26
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2009, 07:05:05 PM »
I don't believe Paul and James are speaking of the same thing.

James was writing **to the twelve tribes of Israel** concerning the royal law (he said so). Then says that if one have faith but have no works, THAT faith cannot save him.

James uses Abraham as an example of doing something AFTER he believes.

Paul would NEVER agree with James on that issue for us of the nations.
Paul uses Abraham as an example of just believing God and being justified BEFORE doing anything.

I could go on and on with examples.

Tony think about this for a second: what commandment in the Law of Moses required Abraham to slay his only son? NONE! The Law of Moses hadn't yet been given! And even when it was, there was no law that required such an act as a means to prove faith. The law is NOT of faith. Therefore, the works that James applies to Abraham has nothing to do with obedience to letters on stone and parchment (Moses), and everything to do with obedience to God according to faith and not by "works of the law/letter".

Paul absolutely agrees with James on the issue of doing good AFTER belief. Paul's example of Abraham is to show that Abraham did not do "works of the law" the example being CIRCUMCISION to gain righteousness. Paul did not consider "works of the law" to be in obedience to God. What Paul did consider obedience to God are "good works" as a result of already believing....just like James.

Neither James or Paul taught that "works of the law" were a means to be righteous.

James DID NOT TEACH the Jews to obey the LAW OF MOSES. He told them to obey the Spirit by faith, just like Paul taught.

James 1:25
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.


James 2:8
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well


Notice that James did not say "follow the Law of Moses." He said "fulfill the royal law." Paul declares the same fulfillment:

Romans 2
13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, BY NATURE DO the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)
16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

The reason Gentiles can DO the things in the law is not because they obey the letter, but because their NATURE is changed by the Spirit. That is why Paul says "when the Gentiles WHO DO NOT HAVE THE LAW, BY NATURE do the things in the law." That is what James is applying to Abraham. He was not saying that Abraham was justified by the law of Moses. There was no Law of Moses yet! Moses wasn't even born. That's the whole point. Abraham worked according to a NATURE of obedience BEFORE the law was even given, which is why he was circumcised after not before. That is the same nature of obedience that Paul speaks about regarding: walking according to the Spirit (not just having faith).


25 For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26 Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteousness of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision?
27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law?
28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh;
29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Romans 8
 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.


This means: Abraham fulfilled the righteousness of the law of Moses WITHOUT having the parchments and stone tablets, because he obeyed God according to his nature, which was controlled by faith.  This is how Gentiles can be the seed of Abraham: by WALKING in steps of faith of our father Abraham.

In contrast: Those who live under the law, and break it have broken the whole law...including the circumcision law. That is why "their circumcision has become uncircumcision." It means that if they live by the letter and break some of the law, then they have broken all....and because they have broken the circumcision law they become spiritual Gentiles. That is why Paul was so unpopular among his physical kinsmen. He was going around saying that Gentiles were Jews and Jews were Gentiles.

But Tony, to be a Jew according to the Spirit is predicated on being a keeper of the righteousness of the law, and doing the things which are there, by nature, which is the nature of God given to us according to the Spirit.

As Paul said: IF a physical Gentile "BY NATURE does the righteousness of the law", even without the letter, that Gentile is a Jew according to circumcision of the heart by the Spirit. That is what it means when Paul says "we establish law." When we do the righteousness of the Law, we ARE the law unto ourselves, BECAUSE it is written in our hearts by the Spirit. So, by nature according to the Spirit, we BECOME the parchments and tablets without being under them. This is what it means when it says:

Romans 3
31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.


There is no condemnation (as described in Romans 7) for those who do not walk after the flesh, who do not set their minds on the things of the flesh. Jesus died SO THAT the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in those who do not walk after the flesh. He died so he could be resurrected. That is why the Bible says that "how much more so having been reconciled shall we be saved by his life"

Salvation from the carnal mind is not achieved by the letter, but the Spirit, and neither James or Paul denied that. James spoke of the fulfilling of the royal law. So did Paul. James spoke about obedience to the spirit resulting in righteousness. So did Paul. That is why Paul said that there is no condemnation to those who do not walk after the flesh but DO walk after the spirit.

James 4
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
   "God opposes the proud
      but gives grace to the humble."


Compare the grace James speaks about to the grace Paul speaks about:

Titus 2
7In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
 8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
 9Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again;
 10Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
 11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.


Both Paul and James taught the same grace: the one that chastises us to live Godly lives and be ZEALOUS...for what? Good works. Those are the works of obedience James taught which are not the works of the law, but the works as a result of faith. Faith leads to grace, which leads to good works of obedience: salvation from sin.






« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 05:34:23 AM by Seth »