Posted tagged ‘instrumentality of works’

Do we Continue to Be Being Justified? Is This Because of Continuing Faith or Because of Continuing Works

June 2, 2014

http://www.oocities.org/mattperman/romans45.html

Matt Perman explains the difference between “hard legalism” and “soft Legalism”. Soft legalists (Augustinians) give God the credit for the works which they do which they think are necessary for final salvation.

“Since works of the law are not faith (Romans 3:28) and whatever is not faith is sin, the “continue to be justified” theologians generally conclude that works of the law are therefore sin. Further, many continue to be justified theologians argue that “works of the law” refers not just to sin in general, but rather to a specific kind of sin–the sin of trying to earn from God. Towards this end, they often point to Romans 4:6: “to the one who works his wage is not reckoned as a favor but as what is due.” Like traditional Protestant theology, continuist theologians see Paul’s term “works” to be roughly synonymous with his phrase “works of the law.” From this passage in Romans 4:6 they infer that “works”–and thus “works of the law”–are things that are done in our own strength rather than God’s with a view to earning merit from God in the sense of doing God a favor such that God is obligated to return the favor.”

“The error in “continue to be justified” theology is in seeing only two kinds of disposition towards God: faith and sin. Contrary to such thinking, it is clear from the apostle Paul that there are actually, at the very least, three categories of human activity towards God. First, there is sin–that which breaks God’s law and thus displeases God and deserves His wrath. Second, there is gospel faith–the act of relying on Christ as He is offered to us in the gospel to save us from our sins. But, third, there is obedience–which is neither sin nor faith but is instead that which complies with God’s law of morality and thus pleases Him.”

“Faith can be referred to as obedience in the sense that when we believe in Christ we are doing what God tells us to. Thus is why the Scriptures sometimes speak of “obeying the gospel.” But “doing what God tells us to do” is not the definition of this third category that we are calling “obedience.” Obedience does not simply mean “doing what God says” but doing what is virtuous. Faith in the gospel is not love for our neighbor.”

Romans 9:11-12 …for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘the older will serve the younger.’”

Matt Perman– “Not because of works” is parallel with “had not done anything good or bad”–just as “in order that God’s purpose according to election might stand” corresponds to “because of Him who calls.” “Anything good or bad” explains the term “works.” Consequently, “works” are “anything we do, whether good or bad.” Works are not simply acts one does without faith or to put God in one’s debt. Rather, “works” is a term used to refer to human behavior in general. This behavior can then be classified as either obedience or disobedience. ”

Douglas J. Moo, “Law, Works of the Law, and Legalism in Paul,” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol 45, 1983, p. 95)—The use of erga in Romans 4 instead of ta erga tou nomou is undoubtedly to be explained by recalling that Paul generally confines nomos to the Mosaic law; a law which could not therefore have had relevance to Abraham. But what is especially relevant to the present argument is that erga in the two chapters must, if Paul’s argument is to possess any logical force, mean the same thing. Thus, the general usage of the two expressions, when considered in light of Romans 3-4, suggests that ta erga tou nomou should be viewed as a particular subset of erga, the difference being, of course, that the former spells out the source of the demand for the works in question

Matt Perman: “God’s law defines what is righteous and what is sinful. That which conforms to the law is righteous, that which violates the law is sinful. Since faith in Christ is not a “work of the law,” it must follow that faith in Christ as Savior is not commanded in that moral standard. Faith is not a requirement of the law but of the gospel. This means that faith in Christ is not a morally virtuous thing (as loving our neighbor, telling the truth, etc. are), for virtue is that which accords with God’s moral law. But gospel faith is not commanded by the law, and so is not a virtuous entity.”

MP–“What do we make of Romans 14:23 that “whatever is not of faith is sin”? …It seems best to understand Paul as using faith in a broader sense than he does in Romans 3 and 4. By faith in 14:23 Paul means the belief that a certain behavior is right. Paul is not using faith in the sense of believing in Christ for salvation. But even if Paul were speaking of saving faith in Romans 14, it would not follow that faith and obedience are the same thing. Paul is simply saying that what is not from faith is sin; Paul is not saying that anything which is not faith is sin.”

MP—Some “continue to be justified” theologians would not want to say that faith and obedience are the same thing. they argue that faith and obedience are so closely tied together that you cannot have one without the other….But many of them do not mean simply that obedience always results from faith. What they mean, rather, is that while obedience involves things other than faith, faith is still part of the very nature of obedience. Faith is an ingredient in obedience on their view–and, in fact, for them faith is the ingredient that makes obedience virtuous.”