Justification and Imputation

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Justin76, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. Justin76

    Justin76
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    Hi,

    I don't post much, but I do read here a bit.

    I am in the process of reading NT Wright's book on the resurrection and I do find it interesting. In reading about what others say about Wright, I find there is quite a bit of controversy in his take on Paul and justification and imputation of righteousness.

    I'm lost. I think my notion of what Christ did for me and everyone else on the cross is stuck perhaps at a high school level (or lower) and these topics are quite over my head.

    My understanding is that I am a human, and I have sinned, and that a wholly just God who is moral would indeed be logically inconsistent with himself if he did not punish me. I've earned this punishment by my own and there's no way to make it right, no way for me to atone these sins by myself. For this reason, and for the transgressions of all sinners who seek it, Christ gave himself on the cross so that we might be set right with God again.

    And that's about where my understanding ends and these competing ideas begin, and where it sharply becomes a topic I need some help with.

    Can anyone identify and simplify the two positions so that I can even understand what it is that is at odds?
     
  2. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    I'm no expert in this area, but here's the way I see it:

    When God saves us, he in effect, declares us to be righteous. The righteousness he sees, however, is not ours. It is the righteousness of the Son. That is my understanding of imputation.

    In the same way, God, in saving us, declares us just. But again, he does so on the basis of Christ's righteousness.

    That, it seems to me, is the only way God can accept us. Our own righteousness will never be enough, no matter how sanctified we get.

    That is why the imagery in the phrase "covered by the blood of Jesus" is so striking to me. When God looks at our sins, he figuratively can't see them because the blood covers them.
     
    #2 Tom Butler, Oct 4, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2010
  3. glfredrick

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    What is disputed is whether the righteousness of Christ is "imputed" (the Protestant Reformers view -- something is placed into the account of...) or "infused" (the Roman Catholic teaching -- right standing before God based on the actions of the indivudal...). Not whether we do not need to be righteous before Holy God -- we do! The RC teaching puts the onus on the individual believer to earn the right to stand holy before God one day, and those who do not or can not work off the final penalties against them in purgatory. Again, this is alien to the Scriptures.

    N.T. Wright sees (very simple view explained here) that our righteousness comes from becoming a part of the covenant community rather than any action of infusion or imputation. Once we join the community of the covenant (the church) our position is changed and we no longer have need of reconciliation of our sins as in the view of the Reformers, who followed Paul's teaching in Romans and elsewhere to develop the doctrine of justification and imputation. At the end of the day, the view of Wright and of the Reformers ends up in a virtual dead heat instead of being rival positions, but the mechanics of how we arrive at our level of righteousness is what is at odds and is what is under discussion.

    There are also those who would argue that God's love covers all sin, and so any efforts to be made right in God's presence, whether imputed or infused, are wasted time and energy (so to speak) that might better be used in loving more people. The concept of God's universal love in this fashion is alien to the Scriptures.

    The concept of imputation is derived directly from the doctrine of justification. When the sinner professes faith in Christ (drawn by the Holy Spirit) he or she becomes justified, and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to the new believer so that they can stand righteous and forgiven before Holy God. In turn, their sin is imputed (placed in the account of) Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the world. We are forensically (by action of law or legal decree) declared righteous. It is not our own righteousness, but Christ's that we show to God, our Father.

    We do not (and can not) earn this righteousness, nor can we improve on it -- it is complete and sufficient. Our further actions as believers (sanctification) are a result of our right standing before God (He makes true and pleasing life possible, for He changes our position from dead in our sin and trespasses to ALIVE IN CHRIST!), and so we should walk as disciples in His way, truth, and life, striving in our new righteousness to do what it is that God has commanded.

    the Greek word logizomai [Strong's #3049] is used more than 40 times in the New Testament, ten times in Romans chapter 4—sometimes called the imputation chapter. In the King James Version, logizomai is translated 'counted' in Rom 4:3, 5 'reckoned' in Rom 4:4, 10, and 'imputed' in Rom 4:6, 8, 11, 22, 23, 24.
     
  4. Thinkingstuff

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    I think a clearer view of Infused is needed here
    I think there are a few distinctions that need to be made with this consept. Where justification and sanctification don't have a clear diliniation in their perspective. So the above (Catholics have to merit righteousness isn't quite right)
     
  5. RAdam

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    One problem: our sins aren't placed on Christ when we believe. They were placed on Christ at Calvary. He paid for them there and by that one sacrifice perfected forever them that are sanctified.
     
  6. michael-acts17:11

    michael-acts17:11
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    The whole idea of having to join with a covenant church is foreign to Scripture. We ARE the church. The only time Scripture mentions "church membership" is when God those to the church who were being saved Acts 2:47. This statement stands in contradiction to Mr Wright's teachings and to the modern view of church membership. Once church membership was changed from a spiritual Body to multiple religious institutions, the course was set to arrive at Mr Wright's conclusions. How far of a leap is it from the necessity of church membership & attendance for a "right" relationship with God to their necessity for any relationship with Him? The justification from sin & imputation of His righteousness occurs on an individual level between each person's spirit & the Holy Spirit apart from any group, church, or organization. Any congregation is in a covenant relationship with God only if the individual members have accepted Christ's sacrifice as the guarantee of the New Testament(not the book, the real New Testament) Hebrews 9(my favorite chapter in Scripture)
     
    #6 michael-acts17:11, Oct 4, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 4, 2010
  7. glfredrick

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    In other words, they are saved by works through faith...
     
  8. quantumfaith

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    No, I "think" Thinkingstuff is saying we are saved by grace through faith and the result of this is good works and the desire to do so. I will let Thinkingstuff correct me if I am wrong.
     
  9. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Is that with or without works? DUCK!!! :laugh:
     
  10. michael-acts17:11

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    According to Scripture...without. According to Catholicism...with.
     
  11. quantumfaith

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    "Catholics do not believe that a man can by his own good works, independently of the Merits and Passion of Jesus Christ and of His grace, obtain salvation, or make any satisfaction for the guilt of his sins, or acquire any merit."
    http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/dontbelieve.HTM
     
  12. glfredrick

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    That is what the Bible says... I was speaking of Catholicism.

    I agree that "technically" Catholicism speaks to salvation apart from works, but pragmatically, that is not true. They are not saved unless or until they fulfill the sacraments, and if that is not enough, they then spend time in purgatory until they satisfy God -- whenever that is... They also seem to feel that the existing Church Magisterium here on earth has the ability to decide based on examination of the life of one already passed on... I can think of a lot of words to describe that sort of action, but none of them are biblical. ;)
     
  13. Thinkingstuff

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    No. Here is the distinction. I think.

    Salvation isn't defined as we would define it. For them salvation is like this.

    I am saved; I am being saved; and I will be saved.

    for us Salvation is walking through a gate. For them its walking through the gate and everything afterwards. There are two aspects to salvation 1) getting to heaven 2) being transformed into the Image of Jesus Christ.

    Thus the gate aspect they are in agreement with we do not get there on any merit of our own but by Jesus Christ attoning sacrifice. And the gift of God which is faith. And it is that faith which saves. Thus they say "we are saved". Now they will go onto say we are saved "unto good works" part of the reason for us to be saved is to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Thus what we call sanctification they will say we are being saved. And when all is said and done. And they get to heaven they say we will be saved. Yet during the sanctification aspect they say they can't even do that without the grace of God. thus they will say it is not by works in which they are saved (gate thinking) but by faith through grace which is a gift of God.
     
  14. michael-acts17:11

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    We cannot hold to multiple definitions of salvation and all of the definitions be correct. Scripture describes salvation as an adoption. My father adopted me & I adopted my oldest daughter when I married her mother(still married to her :love2:). This was not a long, gradual process. It was a once & for all act. FYI, our adoption laws are based on Jewish adoption laws. I can legally disown my two birth daughters, but I can never legally disown or disinherit my adopted daughter. Thus, any "work" of love or lack thereof has no effect on her legal standing with me; just as good works have absolutely no part in our adoption by God into His family.
    Perhaps the question should be, when are we adopted into His family? At baptism, communion, church attendance, death? I believe it is at the moment of spiritual conception; when the Holy Spirit baptized us into the Body of Christ apart from any man or religious group.
     
  15. Thinkingstuff

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    Scripture please. Especially where salvation is held to be under Jewish adoption laws. What does scripture say with regard to salvation and how it relates to Justifiction, sanctification, etc... Btw some adoption process can take many years. Just depends. You've said earlier that covenant membership was not scriptural btw. I find that flawed. Its seems every time God deals with man its in a covenental manner.
     
  16. michael-acts17:11

    michael-acts17:11
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    Adoption: Galatians 4:5 & Ephesians 1:5. I will not take the time to go into detail about the similarities between our adoption laws & those of Israeli tradition. It may take a length of time to go through the adoption process to get to the actual act of adoption, but that is all preparation. In my experience, it took very little time. The actual adoption was completed in minutes. My point is that spiritual adoption occurs when we accept Christ's sacrifice, and can never be annulled; not by us because we have not the power & not by God because He promised to seal us by the Spirit (Ephesians 1).

    The covenant relationship we have with God is a covenant with the individual; not with a group of people. Under the law, God entered into a covenant relationship with Israel as a nation. Under the grace given through Christ, he covenants Himself with the individual believer. It is not a covenant with churches, denominations, or any other type of religious group.
     
  17. glfredrick

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    The Reformers main point of contention against the Catholics was exactly the issue of Justification. It was discovery of what the biblical texts said about justification that caused Martin Luther to take his great stand against the Roman Church.

    Protestants are not clueless about the process... We rightly call it "sanctification" the act of being conformed to the image of Christ,i.e., being made holy (set apart for God's own use) -- as does the Bible. Justification is not a human action. It is all God and once, at once at the time of regeneration.

    About the "gate" allusion above... The gate is entered via the baptism of an infant, a work of human hands that demonstrates no real profession of faith on the part of the baptized one. The profession made on behalf of the infant is "confirmed" by ritual later during another human ceremony not found in Scripture. Then, as life progresses and one does the "everything after" marriage is another step (or conversely a pledge celibacy), as is observing the Eucharist, paying penance, confession to a priest, and final rights.

    None of these, in the form utilized by Roman Catholics, is found in the Scriptures -- a point to which they readily agree. They are, rather, driven by "Sacred Tradition" which is a very nebulous thing, not being codified or written (except as referred to in doctrinal writings) and as interpreted by the current magesterium.

    Another way indeed...
     
  18. glfredrick

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    I would add that God's adoption is not Israel's adoption process... :smilewinkgrin:

    How long does it take to be added to the Lamb's Book of Life?
     
  19. RAdam

    RAdam
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    Nobody is added to the Lamb's book of life.
     
  20. Thinkingstuff

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    I understand that the question is how does scripture define justification? Does it make correlations with Justification and Sanctification? And is regeneration a one time event or is it also a process? Please provide scripture verses to support your possition. Thank you. BTW Sacred Tradition is not as nebulous as you may think. For instance they can't come up with something entirely new. They have to show it was constantly believed by documents of the church and writings of members going back to the earliest documents.
    As far as baptism and the eucharist the Catholics have a sacramental view of it. And the answer the Catholic would give you about it not being found in scripture (confirmation) is that when the documents were writen there were at that time no "cradle Christians" to give an example. However, mentioning households being baptized the Catholics would say would include infants.
     

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