Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It happens in the heart --- of God

It is said by Reformation theologians that justification - is the reckoning of the believing sinner as righteous solely through faith in the finished work of the Lord.

However, where did we get the notion that such reckoning happens in our heart or being? When JBFA is discussed why do get the troubling feeling -- now, do I have faith? Has justification happened to me yet?

In the Classic Protestant sense, our justification is not something that happens in us internally, it is something that happens in the heart of God.

If we read Rom 4:9, 22-25, we do not see God coming to Abraham and saying "Why I see you have become righteous, congratulations"! It does not look that he was doing that at all, for Paul was explaining what was happening in God in Abraham's situation and for us too who have been made to trust that Jesus's death was our transgressions.

I have been trying to trace this notion as to where this feeling idea came from, I mean, the idea of "feeling" saved and "feeling" justified. This is a fascination to me because I bought into this myself in the past.

What my research or observation says is that we got this from Revivalism/Puritanism/Pietism/even Romanism.

An example of this "feeling" rather than quiet assured trusting is found in the preceding post below. The snippet is an example of the "feeling" saved teaching.

If there is anything we are conscious of it is the very opposite, we do not feel righteous, it is because the Law is the one that is inside us. The Gospel makes us run to the one who paid for our un-righteousness, in the Lord. Our guilt is taken away each time we look to that or bank on that payment. There is relief to our conscience, but it is not inside, rather it is outside - in Christ, each time we look or reckon that Jesus took the blows away.

Another of my $0.02 worth. Keep the change.

9 comments:

J. K. Jones said...

LPC,

You have found the reason why I am not at all comfortable with the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) or N. T. Wright on justification. Both make the reckoning of the believer to be righteous dependant, in the final analysis, on the works that a believer performs.

God reckons one who has faith in Christ and has repented of his sins to be righteous. He imputes Christ’s righteousness to the one who has faith.

I still think that “Faith Alone” by R. C. Sproul has helped me more than anything else on this subject.

J. K.

L P Cruz said...

Both make the reckoning of the believer to be righteous dependant, in the final analysis, on the works that a believer performs.

That is what I gather too JK.

I think what are making Evangelicalism now look inside is because historically Whitfield preached so much on being born again.

My look at the sermons in Acts do not speak of being born again, rather it speaks of the atonement.

LPC

Carrie said...

I think "feeling" for many could be just bad terminology. Certainly you believe there are indicators of our salvation status - 1 John? Our sanctification is an assurance of our justification.

I started off in a more Evangelical setting where many would perhaps described being saved as a "feeling". I don't think that means they are not truly saved or are not trusting in the right things, they simply don't have accurate, biblical terms fo describing the work of God's grace.

L P Cruz said...

Carrie,

Lutheran Protestants do not use their sanctification as a gauge that they are "saved". That would be Puritanism. I know how Calvinists use 1 John for assurance but scripture is composed of Law and Gospel.

I am just giving you an angle to work on as another idea.

The reason why a changed moral behaviour is not a gauge is that the Mormons can testify to a changed life too! i.e. you do not have to be a Christian to have a changed behaviour.

Lutherans use "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so".

They look at the promise of God in the Word and the Sacrament of Baptism and Lord's Supper to assure them that they are Christians.

The mistaken belief that Justification happens in the heart, the Lutherans dealt with this 500 years ago. It was the error of Osiander, we are not justified because we see something inside us, we are justified by faith in the atonement of Christ, hence, extra nos (outside us).

The changed heart that comes after faith in Christ is the fact that before the sinner depends on all things, depends on his righteousness or capacity to do the Law, now he throws all of these away and now he only wishes to be accepted on account of the Work of Christ at the Cross and nothing else. That is the change, it is a solus Christus sola fide affair. Nothing in the hand I bring only to your cross I cling.

Because Romans 7 says we are both sinners and saints at the same time, our hearts are not reliable gauge. Yes indeed there are some aspects that change but we do not use them for assurance besides sin is not (to us) confined to actions only - we sin in word, thought and deeds - thoughts included. We rejoice in them but we continue to look outside us from whence our hellp comes. Ps 121. That help happened 2000 years ago in the hill called Calvary.

Also we believe the HS uses "means" to assure us -- the Word and Sacraments. He does not come out of the blue and drop Christian confidence in you.

Hope this is food for your study.


LPC

Carrie said...

The reason why a changed moral behaviour is not a gauge is that the Mormons can testify to a changed life too! i.e. you do not have to be a Christian to have a changed behaviour

Agreed, I know this is a problem and it is a problem for Osteen types. But I do think a changed life, a love for God, evidence of the Holy Spirit at work are certainly signposts for your standing before God.


The changed heart that comes after faith in Christ is the fact that before the sinner depends on all things, depends on his righteousness or capacity to do the Law, now he throws all of these away and now he only wishes to be accepted on account of the Work of Christ at the Cross and nothing else. That is the change, it is a solus Christus sola fide affair.

I agree with this, but I don't understand why you do not think the changed heart can be seen in some sense. My assurance does not rest in the fact that I can experience the fact that I am now a new creation in Christ, but it is an indicator in my mind that I have been chosen/accepted by God on the basis of Christ's work. Why can't the effect be used as evidence of the cause?

Also we believe the HS uses "means" to assure us -- the Word and Sacraments. He does not come out of the blue and drop Christian confidence in you.

Agreed also. Our thinking on this matter may actually not be that different, this may be largely an issue of terminology.

I'll admit, I am not too familiar with Lutheran theology, I come from a Baptist background. I mostly agree with what you are saying, but sorta disagree with what I think is your conclusion. I will think some more about it.

L P Cruz said...

Carrie,

There are many things we agree about one of them is that we are both scientists of some sort.

Cause produces effect, no? say A-->B. In logic, if we have a B, it does not mean we have A as well. Example, all dogs have four legs. I see a thing with four legs, I can not conclude it is a dog, it could be a cat, a mouse or a table, correct?

I was a Reformed Baptistic Charismatic after being an RC, so dear sister, I know where you are coming from and I am here to help clarify that Baptism and the Lord's Supper are God's means to tell you -- your sins are forgiven you on account of the Cross. These are Gospel proclamation of God to you in visible form.

I can explain that later but in this site I have tagged some topics mainly with label evangelicalism, calvinism etc which perhaps you see if you could use to guide your reflection.

Also, never be reluctant to test and re-test your position. I reflected more on the nature of Communion - because I saw a void in me and in my circles about this.

OK more later...let me know how your reflection is coming through!


LPC

Carrie said...

The dingo ate my comment!

I left a comment yesterday but it is gone. Oh well, I didn't say much.

L P Cruz said...

Carrie,

Comment again please.

BTW, I appreciate your comments at the post of Kepha.

This is a classic...
I let Rome define herself.

Brilliant!

LPC

Carrie said...

I didn't say much other than I hadn't reflected much b/c I quickly get distracted.

I also just said that I disagree with some of what you are saying, but haven't quite figured out how to articulate.

BTW, I appreciate your comments at the post of Kepha.

Thanks, I'm glad someone understood my points.