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:

    Bill Smith

    (1) Saving Faith. … If your faith is of the saving variety, it will produce definitive effects in your life. You will find in and about yourself evidences that saving faith is at work changing you. You must examine yourself to see if your faith is transforming, and if you cannot find clear evidence of transformation then your faith may not be of the saving sort. It may be “nothing in my hand I bring” at the beginning, but some things better show up in your hand pretty soon. It may be “just as I am I come” but you better not be what “I am” long or you didn’t really come.

    (2) Regeneration. Faith is impossible apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Regenerating grace or the new birth precedes faith. But what does regeneration do? Does it awaken the sinner to his true peril and then enable him to trust in Christ, or does it involve a total moral renovation? If it involves moral renovation, then you must look not only for faith that rests in and on Christ, but moral differences of nature, character, and behavior….

    3) Repentance. ….You cannot turn to Christ without turning from sin. But what is this repentance that goes with faith? Is it a change that means you no longer resist God, rely on yourself, and reject Christ? Or is it more? Is it being sorry for your sin, seeking mercy, and longing for the happy day when you will be free of it? Or is it more? …How much transformation and renovation must there be if you truly repent? How much ceasing from sin is involved in the repentance that is faith’s Siamese twin?

    4) Lordship. … You cannot exercise just the “Savior option” and reject the “Lord option.” You cannot hold Christ’s Lordship in abeyance while you are a “carnal Christian” and later become a “spiritual Christian” when you put Christ on the throne and rise to a new level of faith, the faith of submission as distinct from the faith of assent. But what does receiving Christ as Lord mean? It is bowing to him as your only hope – putting yourself in his hands and saying, “Lord, I cannot save myself; you must save me”? Or is it a submission that issues in a consistent pattern of obedience? Are you in a new realm where the devil is no longer king but Christ is? Or, are you now so dead to the devil’s rule and so alive to Christ’s that, as a citizen of His kingdom, there is some but not a whole lot of remaining corruption….

    What is given in justification by faith alone can be taken away by so defining faith that the comfort and hope of justification is removed.

    http://thechristiancurmudgeonmo.blogspot.com/2013/07/how-righteous-do-i-have-to-be-to-know-i.html

  3. 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

  4. 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).

  5. 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.


  6. 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.


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