Because You Went After It the Right Way? Romans 9:32

Romans 9:32–”Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling-stone.”

In order to perform its killing function, the Mosaic covenant was law demanding perfection with the power to condemn. Law is not only a tutor that “reveals” sin or makes people aware of sin. Romans 5:20 says that the law entered that sin would increase, not simply knowledge about sin would increase.

The law does not only “kill” by making us thinking of things to do that we would not have thought of before. The main way that the law kills is that it is used by idolaters (all of us by nature) to try to justify ourselves before God. We think–I did it, or I did enough of it. The law kills, leads to death, and if no gospel, only that. But the elect while still under the law are taught by the gospel to SEE that they are dead.

Romans 7 verse 9: “I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” We were dead by nature, and already sinners. This “I died” is something besides the death we were born with under the law.

It’s life to see that you are dead and to see that any and all righteousness found BY US in the law (Phil 3:9) is insufficient to stand before God. Only Christ by Has death for the elect has satisfied the requirements of law and found a righteousness for the elect, so that the law now demands that the elect be given every blessing of salvation.

But did the Mosaic law-covenant announce clearly that it was a “killing instrument” and not the gospel? If it didn’t, who could blame any Jew for using the law wrong , attempting to be saved by keeping it?

The central text discussed in this connection is Romans 9:32–”They did not seek if by faith, as if it were by works of law.”

Some who focus only on redemptive history say that there is no difference between law and gospel, but only a right way and a wrong way of pursuing the law, and that the gospel is the right way of pursuing the law.

A rebuttal to this idea I have recently is an essay by David Gordon in WTJ (Spring 1992): “Why Israel did not obtain Torah Righteousness; A note on Romans 9:32.”

Gordon writes that the verse should be translated not “as if it were”, but “because the law is not of faith” in line with Gal 3:12. “The qualification works-and-not faith in Gal 3:10-13 is parallel to the qualification works and not faith in Romans 9:32.”

“If one group attained what the other did not, the difference between them might lie in the manner in which they pursued it. This is NOT what Paul says however. The two groups did not pursue the same thing (the gentiles pursued nothing). Paul’s point therefore is NOT that the Gentiles pursued righteousness in a better manner (by faith) than the Jews. Rather, God’s mercy gives what is not even pursued.”

“When Paul asks why the Jews did not attain unto the Torah, his answer addressed the NATURE of the law- covenant (Torah demands perfect obedience), not the nature of the PURSUIT of the law-covenant.”

Those who say “we cause the death of Jesus to save us, and we do it the right way, with the faith and not works” do not understand the gospel. We don’t do it ANY way. God did it. God did it at the cross, for the elect. God imputes that cross-work to the elect, and the elect believe this gospel.

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6 Comments on “Because You Went After It the Right Way? Romans 9:32”

  1. markmcculley Says:

    toward the end, Walter Marshall has some Marrow kind of language, ie, Christ is dead for you, but I mainly like Gospel Mystery of Sanctification

    what’s interesting to me is that the book is mainly about justification

    the reason people don’t understand “sanctification” is mostly because they don’t really understand “justification”

    is Galatians about justification or about sanctification? I would say it’s about both, which is to say it’s first of all about justification

    one big reason that people don’t understand Romans 6 is that they think Paul has moved on to another topic, and is no longer talking about justification or the federal headships of Adam and Christ, thus they say that 6:7 can’t be about “justified from sin”, because they say that’s not the topic or the question anymore. But the reign of sin by guilt is and remains the problem, not only in Romans 5 but also in chapter 6, with the righteousness of Christ our federal head (not that in us by the Spirit) being the solution. I Cor 15:56–the strength of sin is the law, and the only solution to the problem is Romans 6:14–not being under the law.

    Lee Irons: I now think that telos should be taken in a teleological sense, meaning “goal” or “aim.” I would now translate the verse as follows: “The object of the Law is realized in Christ, so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” My main reason for changing views is that my old view did not provide a reasonable explanation of the second half of the verse. How does Christ’s being the termination or abrogation of the Mosaic Law result in righteousness being (available to everyone who believes?) It doesn’t.

    mark…..being already earned for the elect alone, so that Christ is entitled now to these elect being justified…..

    http://upper-register.typepad.com/blog/romans-104/

    Sin shall not have dominion over you because the Spirit in you causes you not to love sin, NOT what Romans 6 teaches. Because you are not guilty and condemned anymore.

    Which takes us back to what Lee Irons is saying about Romans 10:4, it’s not only or mainly about being in a different redemptive time now, ie, now in the new covenant we are able by the Spirit to do it, NO, it’s that Christ has done it, Christ has brought in righteousness by satisfying the law. In context, Romans 10 has two kind of righteousness, the one kind by works, Christ got his that way, but we will never get righteousness except by the imputation of Christ’s to us

    Romans 10: 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.[ 5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)

  2. markmcculley Says:

    Romans 7: 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear FRUIT FOR DEATH. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to the law which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

    The solution is not to do the law by faith, instead of doing the law the wrong way

    The Holy Spirit does not transform the demand of the law into the promise of the law

    Our doing law does not free us from law

    Our blessings are apart from us doing law, based only on Christ’s death by law

    Romans 7: 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me

    Romans 9: 31 Israel who pursued a nomos that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that nomos. 32 Why? Because the law is not of faith, but based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone

  3. markmcculley Says:

    John Piper—it would be a mistake to use Romans 9:32 to deny, for example, that there is a short-term aim of the law that may suitably be described as “not of faith” as in Galatians 3:12 (“But the law is not of faith, rather `The one who does them shall live by them'”). I myself have argued in the past, for example, without careful distinction, that “the law teaches faith” because Romans 9:32 says that you don’t “attain the law” if you fail to pursue it “by faith,” but pursue “as from works.” But the distinction that must be made is whether we are talking about the overall, long-term aim of the law, which is in view in Romans 9:32, or whether we are making a sweeping judgment about all the designs of the law. We would go beyond what Romans 9:32 teaches if we made such a sweeping judgment, so as to deny that there is a short-term design of the law not easily summed up in the phrase “the law teaches faith” but fairly described in the words “the law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12).

  4. markmcculley Says:

    Piper’s appendix from The Future of Justification disregarded by Piper ,http://www.epubbud.com/read.php?g=ST9AALT4&p=10&two=1
    John Piper— Romans 9:32 views the law as it points to and aims at “Christ for righteousness,” not in all the law’s designs and relations to faith. Therefore, it would be a mistake to use Romans 9:32 to deny, for example, that there is a short-term aim of the law that may suitably be described as “not of faith” as in Galatians 3:12 (“But the law is not of faith, rather `The one who does them shall live by them’”).
    John Piper—I myself have argued in the past, for example, without careful distinction, that “the law teaches faith” because Romans 9:32 says that you don’t “attain the law” if you fail to pursue it “by faith,” but pursue “as from works.” But the distinction that must be made is whether we are talking about the overall, long-term aim of the law, which is in view in Romans 9:32, or whether we are making a sweeping judgment about all the designs of the law.
    John Piper—We would go beyond what Romans 9:32 teaches if we made such a sweeping judgment, so as to deny that there is a short-term design of the law not easily summed up in the phrase “the law teaches faith” but fairly described in the words “the law is not of faith” (Gal. 3:12).
    John Piper—For example, one short-term aim of the law was to “imprison everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Gal. 3:22). That is, the law functions, in a subordinate, short-term way, to keep people in custody, awaiting the fullness of time, which is a time of faith, as Galatians 3:23 says, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.”
    John Piper— If, in some sense, “faith” had not yet come, but was “to be later revealed,” then it would not be strange to say “the law is not of faith” if the faith being referred to is the faith of Galatians 3:23, that is, faith in the Son of God who has come in the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4). This is probably what Paul means when he says in Galatians 3:12, “The law is not of faith.” The faith that was to come–to which the law was leading Israel, as it held them in custody–is faith that is consciously in Christ, “the end of the law for righteousness for all who believe.


  5. Ephesians 1:10 according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to UNITE ALL THINGS in him, things in HEAVEN and things on EARTH.

    isaiah 66: 17 “For I will create a new heaven and a new earth;
    the past events will not be remembered or come to mind.

    Does uniting heaven and earth in one mean that God gets both new, and then that this new “one” becomes ‘spiritual” and up on “high”? S\o in effect there will be no more earth, but only heaven?

    Does uniting Jew and Gentile in on, means to eliminate the jewish extras, so that the new one is practically gentile?

    Luke 4 as explained by the new perspective (the PCA) —-They didn’t get angry at Jesus because he talked about election, or because he “narrowed the covenant” to eliminate infants. They got angry at Jesus because Jesus was making things more catholic and inclusive, excluding nobody, not infants, not Jews, but now including gentiles

    And so the new perspective does not talk about election ,and nobody gets angry at the new perspective even though people did get angry at Jesus.

  6. markmcculley Says:

    mason–If you believe in worshiping Jesus plus Baal then eventually Elijah is going to show up on Mt. Carmel and rebuke you for not worshiping Jesus at all. The Apostle Paul once viewed salvation as God’s work plus his own work, but after coming face to face with the living God he realized that those things of his didn’t add to the sum total, they subtracted from it. Whatever he thought was credit he found to be debit. We can’t be saved by faith plus works because works is a negative quantity, and whenever you add it to faith the result is something less than faith. The only way to make the equation balance is to reduce the human works to zero. Mix chocolate ice cream with dog poop and you get something less than chocolate ice cream. Grace plus works is simply works sans grace.
    Adding the phrase final salvation to the equation doesn’t actually add anything to salvation, it only cancels out initial part of it—and this by definition. Because either initial salvation was the real, indestructible, once-for-all eternal life Jesus promised or it wasn’t. Either we really have passed from death to life when God declared us to be righteous now and forever or we didn’t receive the declaration and the jury is still out. To take a human example, either your marriage vows made at the altar were valid or they weren’t. Either you’re pregnant or you’re not. If you defend the idea of a final salvation then you have necessarily abandoned the idea of an initial salvation altogether. Only one of those words can be attached to salvation and you have to decide which one it is.

    What ramsey and dan fuller call “sanctification by faith” is not faith

    http://www.meetthepuritans.com/blog/sanctification-faith

    David Gordon— Paul’s reasoning here is “not A but B.” Such reasoning only makes sense if the two sides of the contrast are logically similar. Here are two examples:

    I am not ordering a turkey sandwich, but I (am ordering) a ham sandwich.

    I am not flying to Denver, but I (am flying) to Dallas.

    What would not make sense is this: “I am not ordering a turkey sandwich, but am flying to Dallas.”

    Either both 2:13a and 2:13b are referring to actual reality, the actual reality that will occur at the judgment; or, alternatively, both 2:13a and 2:13b are referring to hypothetical reality, the hypothetical question of the condition on which the Law justifies (if any).

    Paul simply reminds here that the judgment of God, about which he has been speaking, will come upon the Jews no less than the Gentiles (“For 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,” 2:12), because, after all, the Law requires doing-not-merely-hearing. The Jews at Sinai were different from the Gentiles only by hearing the Law; not by doing, and are therefore no more immune from God’s judgment than Gentiles, even by the Law’s own standard.

    http://opc.org/os.html?article_id=204


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