Saturday, February 16, 2008

All Analogies Fail

But at any rate, I will try it anyway.

Where the Classic Protestant (i.e. Lutheran) differ from RCC idea of justification is where this justification happens. Does this happen in God or in the sinner? In the former,it happens in God's heart, it is the treatment or the verdict that one is righteous. In the latter, the righteousness happens in the sinner. The former is into 'gratia imputata' (grace imputed), the latter is into 'gratia infusa' (grace infused). There is big difference, the former is crediting into one's account. The latter is infusing strength into one's being. My RC friends can correct me if that is no longer the teaching of Mother Church. I have been away now more than half of my life, so I do not know now what is going on.

My real point is to distinguish between redemption and justification. Technically they are related but categorically not the same. The effect to us is the same i.e. we are set free to go in peace, but what happens prior to the effect are distinguishable.

Most use court room scenario to illustrate what is going on so I will try it anyway knowing that all analogies eventually are weak and when stretched will and do fail. However, in both cases I will show that 'gratia infusa' does not come into play whatsoever.

Here is how I look at redemption:

We are accused by the Tax Office of not paying taxes and we are brought court and face the judge/magistrate. The Tax Office shows the records that we have missed consistently paying our income taxes. The judge sees the evidence, and is about to pass his verdict of guilty calling on the sheriff to confiscate our assets, and throw us to jail. But just before he does it, someone (Jesus) steps in pays our arrears/debts. What does the judge do? He has to let us go because we owe nothing anymore. It got paid on our behalf. Here we are dead guilty and there is proof of it, but we are being set free because one payed for what we are guilty of.

Try this for justification:

The Tax Office like above, brings us to court accusing us of not paying our taxes. However, when the judge asks for proofs of missing tax payments, the Tax Office could not produce the records against us. The records went missing. What doe the judge do? He has to treat us as if we are righteous, there is no evidence to pass a verdict of guilty. A man is presumed innocent unless proven guilty, correct? Correct. There is no proof to convict us, hence, he has to let us go because the evidence against us could not be found. What is the judge to do? Nothing but to pronounce us as innocent. In this case, there is no implication that we are not guilty, it is just that there is no evidence beyond reasonable doubt to convict us.

Romans 4:5 And to the one who does not work but(E) believes in[b] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

Justification is what God does when we are brought to faith in that redemption provided by Jesus. Redemption is God forgiving us, but at the same time through faith, God presumes us as innocent as if we never missed paying our tax arrears at any time, he presumes us as having perfectly obeyed his Laws.

So in both cases there is no infused righteousness, in both cases, it is imputed righteousness, it is the righteousness through another.

Here is the kicker...

I run my own business and tax paying for me is a never ending activity. How I wish the above were the same in my relation to the Tax Office.

45 comments:

David said...

And will never have to pay taxes again!

Thanks be to God! †

J. K. Jones said...

Great analogies, and good luck with the Tax Office.

Carrie said...

A bit of a side-track, but your analogies reminded me how odd the RC view of redemption is b/c of their view on atonement.

For RCs, Jesus doesn't actually pay the debt, but does something to satisfy the judge, like clean up the whole courthouse/wash his car, so the judge is pacified and doesn't throw you into jail (hell), but some debt for your crime remains (purgatory).

Yes, analogies always fail and while I like yours, I wonder if there is a way to connect them a little. Perhaps for the justification analogy, the evidence is missing b/c Jesus had already paid the taxes and was given the records at the time of payment. Instead, the judge has in his hand Jesus' tax record (perfectly paid) with our name attached to it.

Carrie said...

Hey, I was noticing all the "dots" in your email address and noticed you are missing a "dot". It says "do".

orthodoxy hunter said...

So what happens in the Lord's Supper? Is that infusion?

jpierce said...

Quote: "There is no proof to convict us, hence, he has to let us go because the evidence against us could not be found. What is the judge to do? Nothing but to pronounce us as innocent."

The judge would not pronounce you innocent, since you entered the courtroom as a person who is not guilty. Hence, the presumption of innocence in the first place.

However, in our case we are as guilty as sin (pun intended). God doesn't presume our innocence, since we are guilty, but He declares us righteous (eventhough we should be punished) for the sake of His Son and due to the perfect obedience and finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all. :)

Here is a good quote from a paper on justification:

"42. Thus the Gospel is the message that God has saved the world through the work of Christ that He is reconciled and at peace with the sinful world because of the atonement of His Son and has by raising His Son from the dead declared the world to be righteous (objective justification). This Gospel Word is a mighty means of grace and salvation which with the sacraments the visible Word the Holy Spirit employs to create and sustain faith (subjective justification), and to build, nourish, strengthen, and sanctify His church on earth. (Is. 55:10- 11; Luke 8:11-15; Rom. 10:5-17; 16:25-27; 1 Cor. 2:2; 15:4; Gal. 1:7; 3:1; Col. 1:5-6; 2 Tim 1:10; 2:8; James 1:18, 21; 1 Peter 1:23-25; AC V, 1-3; XII, 5; XIII, I; Ap IV, 73,103; XVIII, 8; LC I, 91-92, 101; II, 38, 43- 45, 53-54; FC Ep V, 5; FC SD II, 50; III, 57; XI, 28-32)

43. When Christ died for sinners, He died for each and every sinner individually; when God accepted the redemption of Christ, He did so for each and every sinner. When we proclaim the Gospel of justification, we do so in order that every sinner may know that God loved him and had him individually and personally in mind when He delivered up His Son. And we announce to every sinner personally and individually forgiveness and justification in Christ. (Job 19:25; Ps. 32:5; Is. 53:5; Gal. 2:20; 1 Tim. 1:15; Ap IV, 45, 262-264; XII, 59-65, 72-74; XIII, 21; FC SD XI, 28-29)"

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/mosynod/web/just-02.html#jst-10

L P Cruz said...

Carrie,

I was just in church today and I had thought of this analogy once more. Yes, there is a better way of stating the analogy of justification...

Perhaps for the justification analogy, the evidence is missing b/c Jesus had already paid the taxes and was given the records at the time of payment. Instead, the judge has in his hand Jesus' tax record (perfectly paid) with our name attached to it.

I like this a lot... again, here there is no evidence to convict you, so what does a good judge do but presume you are innocent hence, treat you as righteous.

You are all welcome to email me in private too and I will correct the info. now, thanks for spotting that, sis.

LPC

L P Cruz said...

O.H.

In the RC sense, infusion of grace means that God empowers you to do the good work and in and through that good work, you merit justification. Again, this is what I was taught but Jeff, might correct my statement of this.

The Supper we recall is the Gospel proclaimed in visible form.

In the Supper, we are again brought to faith in the Cross and there in, faith we receive the atonement for our sins. Remember that this requires faith too.

"This IS my body broken for you (your sins)". The Supper is your concrete evidence that Jesus died for you. In as much as you can taste and chew the bread, in as much as that is real, know for certain that your sins have been paid for as a gift without merit on your part. In your eating his body in that bread , God is again saying to you, your sins have been paid for by that Atonement.

SO again this is not infusion, it is again imputation. Faith holds that promise of Atonement pointed by the Supper and here in our space and time brought forward to where we are...hence, righteousness of another is given.

You need to have the evidence stated to you again and again. Not just one time but so long as we live because we have the tendency to dis-believe the promises of God.

O.H. I am not stating this as proper as I might so I hope to come back to this when I write about Abraham's doubt one day, but I hope this helps.


LPC

L P Cruz said...

J.P.

This was from the LCMS statement, yes?

These are profitable words from the LCMS statement,
You must note Jim that not all Synods have similar statements like that of LCMS.

My synod has no such similar statements, I have been searching of similar declarations in our website but I am not getting much luck.

You might recall the discussion we got at the Trail, how I propose that Objective Justification should be renamed as Objective Atonement/Reconciliation.

Below is my small quibble...

of the atonement of His Son and has by raising His Son from the dead declared the world to be righteous (objective justification)


We have to be careful of being functional universalists. (here I go again, with my "functional" etc etc... I know...LOL).

Jesus paid for all the sins of the world. God is now reconciled to us. The question is, are we all now reconciled to him? God is now at peace, but are we still at war with him?

The way I see it is that God through the Preaching of the Gospel, Baptism and Supper is calling people to faith in that Atonement. He is offering to sinners the work of his son as peace offering or contact. However no one is declared righteous without faith in that Atonement.

That statement I highlighted will imply there are are justified people who are in hell because they simply did not believe, you can not be in hell and be justified at the same time.

Sure we do not want people to have faith in faith but we do not want people not to have faith either! We want people to have faith, precisely why the Means of Grace is dutifully used.

Of course we want people to have faith in Christ's work, though we do not want them to have faith in faith itself!

The way to do it is to present the Atonement as fact and promise and IMHO distinguish between atonement and justification which the statement collapses.

God deposited the payment at the cross but it does not get transferred to us without faith, only at the point of faith is it transferred to us and faith is continually looking at the Cross as payment for our sins. God delivers this payment to our door step through means of grace - Word/Sacrament.

Acts 13:
Let it be known to you therefore, brothers,(CL) that through this man(CM) forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39and by him(CN) everyone who believes is freed[c] from everything(CO) from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.


Only at the point of belief is one set freed i.e. it becomes an actuality.

LPC

jpierce said...

Quote LPC:"We have to be careful of being functional universalists. (here I go again, with my "functional" etc etc... I know...LOL).

Jesus paid for all the sins of the world. God is now reconciled to us. The question is, are we all now reconciled to him? God is now at peace, but are we still at war with him?"


Hi LPC,

First, this is Jim Pierce if you didn't already know. For some reason my Google credentials won't allow me to sign in so I am using my Wordpress account.

I just wanted to point out that the objective justification being talked about is not even a close cousin of universalism. Universalism is, roughly, the idea that everyone in the world is saved or will be saved because of the atonement. Objective justification doesn't at all, or even remotely, suggest that unrepentant sinners are saved. What is does state is that God's relationship to the world is forever reconciled because of the perfect sacrafice of Jesus on the cross. That is, the sins of the world have been paid for once and for all and that fact has nothing to do with anything we did... God's reconcilliation to the world is not contingent upon our faith.

jpierce said...

LPC, sorry for breaking up my points. I have been very busy this Sunday! I am quoting you in bold text.

"Jesus paid for all the sins of the world. God is now reconciled to us. The question is, are we all now reconciled to him? God is now at peace, but are we still at war with him?"

Very good. To draw an analogy from computer "geek talk" there is a two way trust involved. God has established His trust towards us, but is the trust established the other way? And, here is the big question, can we establish the trust towards God? The biblical answer is no. God must give to us a gift of faith whereby we can trust him for our salvation. That trust, between us and God, is only accomplished through the faith God delivers us. So, we aren't reconciled to God until we passively recieve the forgiveness He so graciously has already extended to us through the act of perfect obedience of Jesus on the cross. I think we agree that far.

"That statement I highlighted will imply there are are justified people who are in hell because they simply did not believe, you can not be in hell and be justified at the same time."

I don't know if you meant to say what that quote seems to imply. Nobody in hell has been justified in the sense that they were justified by faith. I think I see some of the difficulty here. Objective justification describes a "judicial declaration" of righteousness. That is, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus the sins of the world have been wiped out! God delivered the "death blow" (if you will) to Satan because of what God the Son accomplished in perfect obedience to the Father. That "death blow" is not contingent upon whether you or I have faith. It simply is.

"Sure we do not want people to have faith in faith but we do not want people not to have faith either! We want people to have faith, precisely why the Means of Grace is dutifully used."

I think you understand this already, but the saving faith we have has been gifted to us by God the Holy Spirit. As persons dead in sin we are incapable of faith.

But let me ask you, Lito: when Jesus died on the cross, carrying the burden of sin for all the world and said, "it is finished" what do you think He meant?

"God deposited the payment at the cross but it does not get transferred to us without faith, only at the point of faith is it transferred to us and faith is continually looking at the Cross as payment for our sins. God delivers this payment to our door step through means of grace - Word/Sacrament."

I understand your point and might not put it the same way, though. The Son of God made the payment and the Father recieved it and declared that the debt of sin has been paid. That occured without the faith of the individual. That is the promise we recieve for salvation, that indeed the debt of sin has been completely and irrevocably paid by the perfect sacrafice of Jesus on the cross. If forgiveness depended upon our faith, then salvation would not be a gift but something earned. It would be akin to decision theology whereby you haul off and believe to your salavation. However, because we are dead in sin before we are raised with Christ through the gift of faith provided us, we can't possibly muster up a trust to salvation. I know you agree.

Sorry, have more to say but have to run. Later.

L P Cruz said...

Jim,

I do believe I know where you are coming from and I do remember our discussion at the Trail and I am gald we are talking about it here.

Lito: when Jesus died on the cross, carrying the burden of sin for all the world and said, "it is finished" what do you think He meant?


The paying for our sins is finished, we do not have to pay it ourselves.

However Jim, the chain of salvation is this....

"Whom he called, he justified..." please refer to Romans 8:30.

The LCMS statements reverses this. If all are all already justified as the LCMS statements states, then the verse would have to be whom he justified, he called... but this is not what the verse says. The calling so that we may be justified is the Gospel proclamation.

Also to know what the Gospel is we need to know what the Law delivers - it demands payment for transgression, it demands punishment strictly speaking. The penalty for not complying is death.

Our atonement is not dependent on faith, but justification never happens without faith in that Atonement.


The LCMS statment is equating Atonement with Justification. I do not think it should.

The LCMS says we are already justified before we believed. This is not what I think the Bible teaches, rather, it teaches that the Atonement is the one that has happened without our faith, but the otherside of redemption which is on justification, this happens upon faith.

I have quoted so much on R. Preus, yet none of the LCMS wanted to comment on this... here is what R Preus said ...in Justification and Rome...
"But the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the sinner takes place when the Holy Spirit brings him to faith through Baptism and the Word of the Gospel. Our sins were imputed to Christ at His suffering and death, imputed objectively after He, by His active and passive obedience, fulfilled and procured all righteousness for us. But the imputation of His righteousness to us takes place when we are brought to faith."

Because Justification happens in the heart of God and not in me, I can rely on the promise of forgiveness because of the Atonement. It is in the Atonement we believe in, after reading the Bible we discover that God justified us also upon faith in that Atonement. In fact the believer is not conscious of his righteousness, he is conscious of his law breaking of his guilt. Upon belief in that guilt being paid, God has no way but to treat the believing sinner as righteous.

I can give you more info on this from the Apology.

So now I also have a question, since the Cross, do you believe the people in hell have been justified whether or not they have heard the Gospel?

LPC

jpierce said...

Lito,

Prues supported OJ: "The doctrine of objective justification is a lovely teaching drawn from Scripture which tells us that God who has loved us so much that He gave His only to be our Savior has for the sake of Christ’s substitutionary atonement declared the entire world of sinners for whom Christ died to be righteous (Romans 5:17-19).

Objective justification which is God’s verdict of acquittal over the whole world is not identical with the atonement, it is not another way of expressing the fact that Christ has redeemed the world. Rather it is based upon the substitutionary work of Christ, or better, it is a part of the atonement itself. It is God’s response to all that Christ died to save us, God’s verdict that Christ’s work is finished, that He has been indeed reconciled, propitiated; His anger has been stilled and He is at peace with the world, and therefore He has declared the entire world in Christ to be righteous."

http://www.reclaimingwalther.org/articles/jmc00225.htm

Also, this isn't about the LCMS. I have provided the references where OJ is supported all the way through the Lutheran Confessions and scripture. (Look at the footnotes to my quotes and read for yourself.)

jpierce said...

Quote LPC "The paying for our sins is finished, we do not have to pay it ourselves.
"

Exactly, at that moment all our sins had been absolved... forgiven, Lito. We can't do anything to cause that forgiveness... we can't even have faith enough to cause that forgiveness... it is already done.

L P Cruz said...

Jim,

We are discussing justification, we are not discussing the atonement. I answered the atonement.

The atonement is what Jesus has accomplished which God is offering to all.

We can not do anything with the atonement to make it happen, but people can and do reject that offer.

God brings that atonement to us through Word/Sacrament so that we might be justified. People can reject that atonement and so are not justified!

I refer to the LCMS statement because it says that all the world are already RIGHTEOUS. Well if all are already righteous, why is faith still required?


Their sins have been paid for but only when they receive that payment in faith are they declared righteous, this is I believe what Scripture teaches.

You can not do anything about the atonement but you can reject the justification it produces! Justification is the benefit of the Atonement but it happens upon faith in that Atonement.

Again, I ask the question which I hope you can answer: those people in hell, are they righteous because Jesus died for them? So would you agree that there are justified people who are in hell right now?

Also on Preus, apparently Justification and Rome was published after his death, so he must have changed his mind or at the very least you must admit he contradicted himself. That is fine, he is a human being after all. But it seems to me that his last statement was in accord with Scripture.


For since the promise cannot be received except by faith, the Gospel which is properly the promise of the remission of sins and of justification for Christ's sake, proclaims the righteousness of faith in Christ, which the Law does not teach. Nor is this the righteousness of the Law.

Apology IV.43

Look at Sctulhmacher's commentary, he too does not equate the Atonement with Justification. Justification flows from the Atonement but the LCMS makes it equal.

See here...
http://extranos.blogspot.com/2008/01/are-they-same.html

Again I ask, are the people in hell justified people?

LPC

jpierce said...

Lito, I had this long response all typed out and my login failed and I lost the entire response! :( Ok, I am not going to retype all of it out so let me just provide you with the paper I was referencing and let you read it without my explanations.

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/mosynod/web/just-01.html

I will add that, though, that general (objective) justification is at the heart of the gospel. God doesn't mess around... He doesn't extend an empty hand to us and say "See there, if you have faith the gift of salvation will appear in my hand for you." Nope. God extends to us the already completed work of forgivness through the perfect obedience of Jesus on the cross to us as a gift. He provides Christ's righteousness that is an objective fact. So when God's hand is extended to all (He would that none should perish) the gift of forgiveness of sins is already there in His holy hand. That is not at all contingent upon faith. What is contingent upon faith is whether or not the gift is recieved. So in answer to your question Lito, there will be nobody in hell who has recieved the righteousness of God. There will be people in Hell who rejected God's gift.

I am sorry we are kind of talking past each other here. If only we could sit down over a glass of wine and discuss this... I think it would be much easier. :)

jpierce said...

I just had another thought that came to mind that might be of interest to you, Lito. I don't how far we can carry this as an analogy to our discussion, but throughout the book of Numbers we read where God tells the children of Israel that He has provided one thing or the other over and over again, but they refused to believe even after partaking in that which God gave them. God said He had delivered up Cananaan to them, but the Israelite spies came back and said that the people were to powerful for them. What was God's response? "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me in spite of the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will destroy them with a plague" (Numbers 14:12)

God's promise to Israel was an objective fact. As far as God was concerned Canaan was already delivered into the hands of Israel, since His promises are sure. Did the children of Israel recieve that promise? Nope. And God kept them in the desert until those who rejected His promise died. They actually saw with their own eyes the glory of God and the promised land, but didn't partake in the promise because they couldn't recieve it due to unbelief. However, the promise of Canaan was extended to them and their children and their children's children! They even occupied Canaan and still fell into unbelief! Anyway, the point is that the promise made was to ALL of Israel. Not just to Caleb, Joshua, and Moses who believed, but the promise was given to the unbelievers, too.

Objective justification (as I understand it) is just like that. God has given the entire world the righteousness of Jesus as a gift. It just has to be recieved. The righteousness is already there, God sees the world through the forgiveness won by Jesus on the cross, it is an accomplished act already for God, but will we all recieve that promise? Will we all recieve the forgiveness already given to us? The answer is no. There will be people just like those children of Israel who saw, tasted, and felt the promises of God but will still not believe and will want to return to Egypt.

O.k. now I have to get some work done! :) Later.

L P Cruz said...

Jim,

How I do wish we can all do Table Talk on this one over a glass of something.

The reason why I have some tripidation on the LCMS statement is that it makes Atonement and Justification synonymous. Now in general it is a much safer procedure to distinguish though of course, not separate concepts found in Scripture.

For example the RCC we have trouble with because they mix justification with sanctification and so we got the Reformation.

I do choke on the bold LCMS statement because if I accept it, then I would have to say -- to be consistent - yes, people in hell have been declared righteous but they are there due to lack of faith. I find this an unfortunate conclusion.

The truth as I see it is that God never treats anyone as righteous without faith in the Promise.

Having faith in the promise and being justified i.e. treated/declared righteous go hand in hand, you can not have one without the other.

I can say rather that there are people in hell whose sins have been atoned for but rejected the offer of atonement.

Jesus said this -- "if you do not believe that I am he (i.e the Messiah, the one that atones for your sins), you will die in your sins"

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness, the counting of righteousness did not happen until faith came. It did not happen before.

The thesis statement says the counting happened before faith.

We do not create the Atonement but God does not count us as righteous until he brings us to faith.

Yes faith is necessary which God brings about through Word and Sacrament, indeed faith is not created out of thin air or a zap. He always uses means.

The Formula of Concord also emphasizes this cleaving to the Means of Grace because through its uses, faith is created.

My theory that the belief that all have been declared righteous alredy relaxes our evangelism effort and hence you see people going more into the Liturgy etc than to JBFA as an issue.

Ideas have consequences.

LPC

jpierce said...

Lito,

Sorry for the multiple responses. It has been a very busy day for me and my thinking is all over the place. I have midterm exams tomorrow... two, one on DHCP and the other on DNS. Fun stuff! No really it is! ;)

Lito you asked, Again, I ask the question which I hope you can answer: those people in hell, are they righteous because Jesus died for them? So would you agree that there are justified people who are in hell right now?

I see where some confusion might be. I think justification is a judicial act. God makes a declaration about His creation and it is true. When He declares the world righteous it is a statment of judgement about His relationship with the world because of what Jesus did. Whereas, atonement is the act of removal (not through a judicial act) of the seperation that exists between God and humanity because Jesus satisfied the requirements of the law through His death. Atonement and OJ are linked together. That is, without the atoning sacrafice of Jesus there is no forensic act whereby the sins of the world are absolved. I see this as the atonement is the debt of sin being paid and OJ is God's declaration that the sacrafice is good and the sins of the world have been absolved. Now if the work of Jesus on the cross is a finished work, Lito, then has the death of Jesus really set free the world from the obligation of sin? Or, must there be something more in addition to the work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection before we are released from the obligations of sin? I believe it is biblical that we have all been set free, but not all have recieved the freedom Jesus provides to the entire world.

I think I have about said as much as I can for now. :) It is my wife's b-day party tonight. Take care!

jpierce said...

And, I see that you provide a response that I missed. :) Good thoughts,but I have to run. Maybe I will try later to respond. :)

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

This conversation is very confusing to me. Please pardon my layman’s response.

This is not an issue for those of us who affirm a form of limited atonement. I believe that Christ’s life and death could atone for the sins of everyone, but that it will not. Hell will not be as full as it would be without God’s grace, but it will be occupied.

The one mystery of the Christian faith that has been the most baffling to me is the love of God. How can a holy God love sinful creatures and still be just? He must see those sinners as being in Christ in some sense.

In eternity past, God the Father made a covenant with God the Son. They agreed to bring about the redemption of some of the people God would create. They agree to save some of the people from the mass of sinful humanity. This agreement changes the way God looks at those people.

God the Son lived a perfect life that can be credited to those who would be saved. God the Son willingly endured the wrath of God so that those peoples’ debt would be paid.

God the Holy Spirit changes the heart of the people God chose to save so that they repent of their sins and trust in Christ. They are justified at the moment they have faith, but their justification was decided before the world began. God makes certain that the change in their heart is permanent. They endure to the end and are saved.

What of those not saved? They continue in the rebellion that they willingly choose. They are responsible for their sin and rebellion because they are doing exactly what they want to do. Nothing or no one outside them forces them to be what they choose to be.

J. K.

L P Cruz said...

Dear Jim,

This is good conversation. I know what you are going through with DHCP, DNS and that. I was till last month with Agilent doing BGP, IS-IS, OSPF, BFD,MPLS etc etc. And now I am doing software/support for a client and they want me to handle their HP-UX. If that does not make a geek out of me, I know what else will.


I do believe you are seing my point.

You see with the Atonement not being equated to Justification we see that what God has done in past he still continues to do today. Today he is distributing the gift of Atonement to us sinners.

Indeed though distinguished we must not separate.

Our confession affirms justification through faith in Christ alone. The LCMS statement and why I am unhappy in a small way with it seems to say ---justification by Christ without faith. This is not JBFA and so I have a small problem with the LCMS thesis.

Only major confessional Lutherans like WELS/ELS with LCMS have such thesis statements.

My synod does not have such thesis statement and neither do the small micro synods in the USA.

Re: your exams, I recall a joke of a boy sent to his room by his mom.. he said - I know God is good, but I still have to study.


LPC

jpierce said...

Lito, I have quoted you in bold. Also, thank you for the conversation. It causes me to think and you raise good points for me to ponder.

"The reason why I have some tripidation on the LCMS statement is that it makes Atonement and Justification synonymous."

Actually, that isn't correct. My understanding of the LCMS documentation I provided is that atonement and justification are closely linked together. That is, it would be wrong to say that they are entirely different, but also wrong to say they are synonymous terms.

"I do choke on the bold LCMS statement because if I accept it, then I would have to say -- to be consistent - yes, people in hell have been declared righteous but they are there due to lack of faith. I find this an unfortunate conclusion."

No, that is not the conclusion that we can draw. It is as found in the document I provided and I quote from it, "21. Complete and perfect righteousness and forgiveness have been acquired for all sinners. (Ps. 130:4; Rom. 5:18; 1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 10:12, 18; Ap IV, 103; LC II, 38; FC Ep III, 3; V, 5; FC SD III, 30, 57)

22. God, by raising His Son from the dead, has justified Him, declared Him to be the Righteous One, and in Him (i e , for the sake of His finished work of obedience and satisfaction) has declared (as proclaimed in the Gospel), or reckoned, the whole world to be righteous. (Rom. 3:24; 4:25; 5:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; Ap IV, 40-41; SA II, i, 1-3)

6. Subjective justification or reconciliation is this same forgiveness as it is received, appropriated by, and applied to the individual sinner through God-given faith alone (sole fide)."


As a father I understand this all too well. When my child transgresses against me I forgive him and reconcile myself with him, but there still must be punishment AND my child must also reconcile with me. Notice, I can tell my child he is forgiven and forgive, but I can still justly punish my child as a consequence of their trangression.

Likewise, our heavenly Father who is greater has forgiven the debt of sin of the world. Right? He did so because of the perfect obedience of His Son, Jesus. Not only that, Jesus was punished for our sins, so the punishment we should recieve he has taken. Right? That is, Jesus was punished for the sins of everyone. True? Yes, that is an objective fact, Lito, but that doesn't mean everbody is saved and that nobody will be punished in hell as a consequence of rejecting the gift of God extended to them. Again, Jesus is the Lamb that "takes away the sins of the world" (Jn. 1:29) not just the sins of some. Jesus' perfect obedience on the cross is "the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men." (Romans 5:18) That doesn't read "some men". Indeed, "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them" (2 Cor. 5:19) that doesn't say "potentially not counting" or "possibly not counting" or "not counting if another condition is met". No. God's word is certain. It says plainly "not counting men's sins against them". That is the gift that Christ earned for us. People will sadly burn in hell, Lito, because they reject the faith God extends to them.

While you choke on the LCMS statement I choke on the idea of some that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus alone doesn't propitiate the wrath of God against the world as a whole. That is what is being said when it is claimed that God hasn't forgiven sins with the death of Jesus. It is a denial that sins of the whole world were nailed to the cross with Jesus. Ultimately, it is a denial that the righteousness we have was imputed to us because of what Jesus did.


"The truth as I see it is that God never treats anyone as righteous without faith in the Promise."

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 Jn. 1:2)
"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature,[b] God made you[c] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[d]" (Col. 2:13-15)

Lito, I don't think there is any victory over sin if the work of the cross isn't a finished work that accomplished settling the score with the Father and appeasing His wrath against us once and for all. Yes, most certainly there must be faith. Most certainly we are saved through faith in Christ. But notice, we aren't talking about salvation. We are talking about how God sees the world through the finished work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection. Our righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus, it isn't our own. It is something that happens outside of us.

"Having faith in the promise and being justified i.e. treated/declared righteous go hand in hand, you can not have one without the other."

Yes, this is not to be confused with OJ. This has been called by some "individual justification" i.e. "subjective" justification. It is the work of God accomplished in the individual's heart through the power of the Holy Spirit and God's word. We must have faith in order to be saved. However, not having faith doesn't mean that sin hasn't been beaten! It doesn't mean Jesus didn't triumph and win forgiveness of sins for the whole world! Not having faith in the finished work of God is much like seeing the land of Canaan with your own eyes and still failing to believe that God is true to His word. Where there is flagrant unbelief there is rebellion against God and His word. There is a rejection of God by the sinner and full reconcilliation isn't accomplished.

"I can say rather that there are people in hell whose sins have been atoned for but rejected the offer of atonement."

I can say that with you. I can also say something like the following but not as eloquently since I am a newbie. :)

"5. God's grace accomplished its purpose through the redemption of Christ. God sent His holy, innocent Son to become man and made Him man's Substitute. This Substitute fulfilled all requirements of the Law in our place (active obedience). He also suffered the pangs and woes which we had deserved (passive obedience). Divine justice is satisfied and love triumphs. Through Christ God reconciled the world unto Himself, 2 Co 5:19. This act of God is called objective justification; it is not the same as redemption, justification being judicial, redemption sacrificial. See also Priest, Christ as.

6. The righteousness of Christ is given us by God in the Gospel and sacraments. These means of grace (see Grace, Means of) offer, give, and seal to us God's forgiveness, Jn 15:3; Ro 1:16; Gl 3:27. We receive this righteousness through faith.* The moment we accept the righteousness which Christ won, God pronounces us justified, free from sin, acquitted (subjective justification, Gn 15:6; Lk 15; Gl 2:16). “ … the forgiveness of sins is a thing promised for Christ's sake. Therefore it can be accepted only by faith, since a promise can be accepted only on faith. In Rom. 4:16 Paul says, 'That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed,' as though he were to say, 'If it depended on our merits, the promise would be uncertain and useless inasmuch as we could never determine whether we had merited enough.' Experienced consciences can readily understand this. Therefore Paul says (Gal. 3:22), 'God consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.' Here he denies us any merit, for he says that all are guilty and consigned to sin. Then he adds that the promise of the forgiveness of sins and justification is a gift, and further that the promise can be accepted by faith. Based upon the nature of a promise, this is Paul's chief argument, which he often repeats (Rom. 4:16; Gal. 3:18). Nothing one can devise or imagine will refute Paul's argument. So pious men should not let themselves be diverted from this declaration, that we receive the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake only by faith; here they have a certain and firm consolation against the terrors of sin, against eternal death, and against all the gates of hell (Matt. 16:18).” (Ap IV 84–85)."

http://www.lcms.org/ca/www/cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=J&word=JUSTIFICATION

"Jesus said this -- "if you do not believe that I am he (i.e the Messiah, the one that atones for your sins), you will die in your sins"

Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness, the counting of righteousness did not happen until faith came. It did not happen before.

The thesis statement says the counting happened before faith."


No. I don't read that in the thesis statement and I have read it over several times. I think you are confusing OJ with individual justification and then drawing conclusions.

"We do not create the Atonement but God does not count us as righteous until he brings us to faith."

I suppose, then, you are saying that when Jesus said on the cross "it is finished" it really wasn't. Something tells me you don't believe that, but I see that as a consequence of your statement if we are talking about the sins of the world being dealt with and God's being reconcilled to the world. Now if we are talking about an individual being reconcilled to God I agree. Again, God can count the world righteous because of the perfect work of His Son, but that doesn't mean each persons has been saved. A forensic pronouncement is a declaration that the debt of sin has been removed. Does that mean the world is now neutral in God's eyes? Does that mean that Jesus' death and burial really doesn't remove the debt of sin once and for all for the entire world, but just the sins of the believers? When you have the atonement you also have, as part of that, what is talked about in OJ. Either the death of Jesus is really a propitiating sacrafice and therefore God, for Christ's sake doesn't publicly hold humanity's sin against them (Ro 3:25; 2 Co 5:19), or we have a little slight of hand going on where the sins of the world haven't been fully paid for on the cross and therefore God's anger isn't fully quelled, He therefore isn't reconcilled to the world, until we have faith? Lito, Keep in mind that OJ is talking about one side of the reconcilliation equation: God's side. If there really is atonement (which I know there is from the bible) for the sins of the world, that obviously means that God's outlook of the world is friendly. Right?

Anyway, this is far too long! I feel as if I am writing a book. I am going to make this my last post on this topic. I thank you for the discussion and look forward to reading your replies. Thank you for a very good exchange and helping me to dig into the Word deeper!

L P Cruz said...

Hi JK,

The LA view does not solve the hard problem (which I think it is) If the atonement is not universal then there is no guarantee that the atonement is for you (I mean rhetorically not necessarily you literally).

Justification is the one that is not universal but through faith.

However, unlike plenty of Calvinist, Lutherans do not believe that faith comes to man out of the blue. The creation of faith so that man may be justified is specifically created by the Word which verbal proclamation and the Sacraments which is proclamation through the elements of water, bread, wine.

This is the reason why the Calvinist invariably has to look at his sanctification to find out if he is a believer, because of the LA.

Also if you look at John Owen, he makes the same philosophical mistake by equating the Atonement with Justification, and he solves anti-universalism by arguing for LA.

Universalism is countered by JBFA. However unlike the Calvinistic approach, the Lutheran regards faith as a creation of God WITH MEANS.

In otherwords, JBFA holds the balance of universal work of Jesus Christ for all sinners in the world and at the same time denies that all are saved universally by default. Further, this teaching creates faith to hold on to that atonement.

This is the reason why Lutheran teaching I believe is the most Biblical to me.

Lastly JK, if you look at the Nicene Creed, LA is denied too, for in there a line is stated this way...refering to Jesus..


who for us men (meaning all of us humans), and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man;

If Adam represented all of us, then Christ, the second Adam represented all of us even those who would deny him.
The Incarnation is proof that LA can not be true, IMHO.

LPC

L P Cruz said...

Jim,

Same here I am also running to Scripture but at the moment, I see justification as a separate activity of God.

I find as I said it inconsistent to say that God has declared the whole world righteous but still sends people to hell because they do not believe that they are albeit in Christ.

This to me is circular. Rather if God gives you a promise of atonement and thereby caused you to believe it and then justify you, it all makes sense to me.

The Atonement is what God offers to sinners, but when sinners believe they get Justification as well.

The Thesis makes you believe what you want and you have it. You want justification? Then believe you have it. You do not want justification? Do not believe you have it.

Can you see my point in here? It is circular.

Rather God offers the forgiveness of sins because of our guilt, we then believe it but God does not ONLY FORGIVE US, rather when the Atonement is grasphed, he adds another benefit - He treats us as if we have never been guilty, he treats us and sees as as if we have always obeyed the Laws of God.

This to me is so wonderful for God to add what I am not expecting. I only wanted forgiveness because I am guilty but I do not get forgiveness ONLY, I get righteousness of his Son as well as if I have always pleased him.

To me the Thesis obscures this and mutes this point. The Thesis does not surprize the sinner. He gets what he wants to believe.

Is it finished? Yes the atonement is finished, but is God finished in bringing to us the benefit of his Son? No, he continues to call the children of Adam and to tell each one of them what he did in the past so that they may be reconciled to him.

Even today though Jesus finished the payment, still he interecedes for us. He does not only save us in the past but continues to save us even today.

To be frank with you, I did accept the Thesis before but I notice in the process of evangelism, it did sound universalistic and at want poing I had to double back in my sharing the Gospel and mention faith, because the person was getting that notion.

The declaration of righteous I propose should be reserved for only those who believe the Promised forgiveness in Christ. This to me the Thesis gets confusing.

As I said, the commentators and most of them both Lutheran (specially non-LCMS) and Reformed do not talk about objective/subjective justification.

In other places when an author uses objective justification they mean objective atonement and that is fine. But in the Thesis, it does make objective justification the declaration that the whole world is righteous apart from faith.

It seems to me there is only one kind of atonement - objective and there is only one kind of justification - subjective.

Even the passages like Rom 4:25 to support the Thesis, commentators say "in view of our justification" and I agree with this.

LPC

jpierce said...

I thought my last would be it, but maybe this will be it, Lito. :D It's like eating potato chips! I can't stop. lol

Lito, do you believe that when Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world and was raised from the dead that at that point in history God forgave all the sins of the world?

If you answered "yes", then do you believe that there will be people in hell whom God forgave their sins?

L P Cruz said...

"It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through Him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies yet in one pile; it is not yet distributed nor invested. Consequently, if we are to possess it, the Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe and say: I, too, am one of those who are to have this treasure. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given the treasure to us, everything goes well, and it cannot be otherwise than that man's heart rejoices in God and lifts itself up, saying: Dear Father, if it is Thy will to show toward me such great love and faithfulness, which I cannot fully fathom, then will I also love Thee with all my heart and be joyful, and cheerfully do what pleases Thee. Thus, the heart does not now look at God with evil eyes, does not imagine He will cast us into hell, as it did before the HS came...."
Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 279. Pentecost Sunday. John 14:23-31.


Hence, people in hell had their sins not taken away, it remained because the offer was rejected.

Jim, please note that the way our sins are forgiven involved the means of grace, it is part of the promise

jpierce said...

Ok, so how would you describe the fact that the sins of the world are forgiven at the cross, but the individual's sin hasn't been taken away?

jpierce said...

Sorry Lito, my question isn't clear... how would you describe the act (what would you call it) of God's forgiving the world's sins at the cross; eventhough individuals can reject that gift of forgiveness?

I think you can see where I am going with this. :)

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

Your comments in quotes:

“If the atonement is not universal then there is no guarantee that the atonement is for you (I mean rhetorically not necessarily you literally).”

There is also no guarantee that the atonement is not for you. How do you know? Did you turn to Christ in repentance and faith? If so, then you know that the atonement applies to you.


“…created by the Word which verbal proclamation…the Lutheran regards faith as a creation of God WITH MEANS…”
I would not disagree with you at all on that. God’s action is persuasive. I would recommend parts of Peter Master’s book “Physicians of Souls.” I tend to think regeneration is a process that occurs over time. That’s why I do apologetics. The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689 affirms these things (see http://www.founders.org/library/bcf/bcf-14.html).

“This is the reason why the Calvinist invariably has to look at his sanctification to find out if he is a believer, because of the LA.”

This simply does not follow. If a person truly believes that the free offer of the gospel is sincere and genuine, that is a person may come to faith in Christ if he chooses to, then he is free to decide he is a Christian based on his trust in Christ.


“…if you look at John Owen…”

I’d rather not, thank you. He’s not my kind of Puritan.

“who for us men (meaning all of us humans), and for our salvation, came down and was incarnate and was made man”

Christ was made incarnate “for our salvation.” Does that imply that all men are saved?

The atonement is limited by something, else hell would be empty. We are now just quibbling over what that something is.

“If Adam represented all of us, then Christ, the second Adam represented all of us even those who would deny him.”

Please re-read Romans chapter 5:12-21, paying special attention to ”all men” in verse 12, “many” in verse 15, and “those who receive the abundance of grace” in verse 17. Verse 18 must be read in it’s context.

JK

L P Cruz said...

Jim,

I like you to know that I appreciate the interaction -- iron sharpens iron.

Let me know if the following answer gets to the point...

This is our story...

Jesus offered his life and death for us to God as our substitute for God's requirements. God accepted this work of Jesus on account of all sinners. God now delivers this fact to sinners i.e our BoC calls this as "offer". God offers this to us through Word & Sacrament.

As God delivers this to us, faith produced by the offered promise receives the gift, those who reject do not receive the gift and hence are not justified and not forgiven. Their sins remain not because there was no gift but it has been rejected.

The act of the Cross is the work of Jesus, God sent Jesus to act this out for us.God as in 2 Cor 5:19-20. God is not imputing the punisment of our sins to us. Yet God is making an appeal through us believers to the world.

So both the package (Atonement work) and the delivery of that package (means) go hand in hand.

Only when the package has been received does the package bring the benefist to those who received it.

jpierce said...

Hi JK,

I have a couple thoughts to share in response to your response to Lito's response to your response. Head swooing yet? LOL!

(JK) "There is also no guarantee that the atonement is not for you. How do you know? Did you turn to Christ in repentance and faith? If so, then you know that the atonement applies to you."

Yes, we know because of the scripture. It clearly states in John 3:16 that God sent His Son for "the world". Not just for some in the world. Jesus is the atoning sacrafice not just the sins of the believer, but for the sins of the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2) and, to wit, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself "not counting their trespasses against them" (2 Cor. 5:19, RSV). There are many more scriptures that assures everyone in the world that atonement is for them. That is the sweetness of the gospel! If those scriptures don't refer to all people in "the world" (which would be a huge problem since the texts are clear that they are), and just to some, then we are left wondering who Jesus died for on the cross. Right? But God doesn't play games like that. Jesus died for the sins of ALL people. But, not everyone will recieve the gift of God. We don't know who will recieve the gift of God, but we do know who Christ died for and the atonement is for everyone.

(JK)"This simply does not follow. If a person truly believes that the free offer of the gospel is sincere and genuine, that is a person may come to faith in Christ if he chooses to, then he is free to decide he is a Christian based on his trust in Christ."

I am sure you have considered the human condition as described in the scriptures but let me point out some scripture anyways. :) The Psalmist writes, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother concieve me". Paul knew that in him dwelt no good thing (Rom. 7:18), referring to his sinfullness. In Ephesians we read we are "dead in trespasses and sins" (2:1). In verse 3 of that same chapter we read that "by nature" we are children of wrath and of course Paul writes in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. What we learn from these passages is that people are born into the world without any spiritual good in us. We are inclined towards evil, the enemies of God, spirtually blind, and DEAD in sin. Being dead in sin, and enemy of God, one whose mind hates God (Rom. 8:7) we can't possibly be free to make a choice for God. We are prisoners to sin and death before the Holy Spirit works on our hearts; indeed, before the Holy Spirit provides us with a gift of faith (Eph. 2:8) enabling us to recieve salvation, we are not alive spiritually. God provides us the means of grace whereby we come to faith in Jesus and recieve salvation. It is God's saving power that delivers us so there is no boasting at all possible that we arrived at a decision for God... that we somehow struggled against our own death, blindness, and hate and awakened ourselves and freely chose God over the devil. Indeed, if left to ourselves we would still be dead in sin!


(JK)The atonement is limited by something, else hell would be empty. We are now just quibbling over what that something is.

I don't understand what you mean that the atonement is limited? How is the work and grace of God limited? Is it not true that "God so loved the world..." that he gave His Son as the final, living, sacrafice for the sins of the world? Was God limited in Christ and not really reconciling the world to Himself through Calvary?

(JK)"Please re-read Romans chapter 5:12-21, paying special attention to ”all men” in verse 12, “many” in verse 15, and “those who receive the abundance of grace” in verse 17. Verse 18 must be read in it’s context."

The context of Romans 5:18 is pretty clear. Verse 14, "Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come." Adam's sin condemned ALL people of the world. Who did not sin? Paul understood, ALL have sinned. Right? So he certainly is making a play on the words "one" and "many". As we see in verse 12, "Therefore, Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned". So, when Paul states in verse 19, "For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners" he is not denying what he stated in verse 12 with "many"; he means all have sinned. Likewise, when he states, "so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous" he is clearly leading us to understand that the "many" is the "all" who have sinned; that is, "the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men" (5:18). It is clear that Adam represents the enterance of sin and death for all, and that Jesus represents justification that brings life to all.

L P Cruz said...

Hi JK,

I think though that my point is being made by your comment.

There is also no guarantee that the atonement is not for you. How do you know? Did you turn to Christ in repentance and faith? If so, then you know that the atonement applies to you.


Hence, you have to look into your faith or repentance to know if the atonement is for you. Though J Owen is not your chosen Puritan, however, the reasoning is the same, bro.

So how does one know that he believes?

One does not know technically he believes, one does know or not that Jesus died on the Cross for him.

There is nothing to bank on if there is nothing guaranteed.

There is a difference in saying the Atonement is not for you versus the Atonement does not benefit you. These are categorically distinct.

LA says Jesus died for some people only because the fact that they do not have faith and since God gives faith therefore Jesus did not die for those who do not have faith. This is what I mean, Justification and Atonement are being equated again as the same categories.

Jesus died for the whole world of sinners, but only those sinners who trust in that guaranteed payment have the benefit of the Atonement.

There is a limit not in atonement, but there is a limit of who rejects or accepts that Atonement. What limits salvation is not God, it is man.

Jesus said - you would not come to me so that you might be saved.

The Nicene creed "for our salvation", says that Christ came to save not to condemn. LA teaches that Christ purposely condemns.

"for our salvation" does not mean that all are saved atomatically. It means that God does not limit the Atonement of his son, it is for all men because all men are sinners.

Please read my reply to my fellow Lutherite, Jim on the package and delivery analogy.

It all boils down to the Incarnation.

The axiom, what is... anything not assumed can not be healed, applies to our humanity but it also applies to our collective humans as a whole. Why? Because through Adam we became sinners. So when Christ came, he has to absorb all humanity in his shoulders - him being the 2nd Adam.

This is the meaning of the word 'catholic', it is universal too in its scope but beneficial only to those who would accept.

We do not look at our faith to know if we are elect, we look at the testimony of the Word that the atonement is for us.

John 3:16, for God loved the world this way--he gave his son so that whosoever believes in him, will not perish but have everlasting life.

It is us who limits God not God not sincerely offering salvation. LA I think makes the offer of the Gospel insincere.

LPC

jpierce said...

Hi Lito,

I appreciate this conversation, too. It is rather refreshing. :) Thank you for it.


(Lito)"Only when the package has been received does the package bring the benefist to those who received it."

Agreed, and I agree with what you write above that quote, but I don't see how you are addressing my point. I asked the questions that I did because you provided an answer in an earlier post when I asked if forgiven sinners are in hell. You agree that God has forgiven the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29), having been reconcilled to the world through Jesus (2 Cor. 5:19). Right there is a forensic act; something that happens outside us and is not contingent upon our faith. But does that mean that those who God has forgiven will be in hell? You rightly say no because the individual rejects the gift of God. So, your answer on that point is the same for OJ. Jesus' act brings justification, righteousness, to all men (Romans 5:19). That doesn't mean all people will be saved. Some will reject the gift offered and will condemn themselves due to unbelief. But the point is the objective (general, forensic, whatever word you want to use) act of justification for the whole world. God's side of the equation has been solved and what remains is the individual's side of the equation. God's side is outside us so that our righteousness is not our own, but the very righteousness of Christ provided to all through the means of God's grace. Those are my thoughts, and I am probably not writing them the best I can since I am not even close to being a theologian; but thanks for letting me share.

Later on brother! :)

jpierce said...

Oh, and by "provided to all" above I don't mean to imply that each individual has recieved the righteousness of Jesus that is provided to all through the preaching of the Gospel, for example.

L P Cruz said...

Ahh Jim,

I think I need to answer properly.

how would you describe the act (what would you call it) of God's forgiving the world's sins at the cross; eventhough individuals can reject that gift of forgiveness?


I would call the act of God accepting the work of Jesus at the cross on behalf of humans as reconciliation. It is an atonement, God is being appeased and now favorably disposed towards us. This is Atonement.

God does not come now in wrath, he comes now in peace towards us -- he is the one offering a peace offering towards us (how wonderful and though strange, so marvelous!!!).

Jesus' act is Atonement for sinners. God's act is Justification for believers.

The HS brings this Atonement to sinners so that God might justify them through faith.

So I would call the Cross Atonement. However, because faith is required towards that Atonement, man is Justified through faith in Christ alone.

The coming of that Gospel to man (i.e. means) is crucial,because that is when God is delivering the package to our door step - the HS is the Fed Ex.

It is not because Jesus did not Atone, it is because humans reject the offered Atonement.

So to comeback to the Thesis Statement, I am bulking at article 42.

In my mind Romans 10:14 is so clear...
13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”[g]
Israel Rejects the Gospel

14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?


Before salvation, calling on the name of the Lord happens, but before this, believing happens, but before believing, preaching must first happen. So salvation and the means of grace are inseperably linked. Faith is produced by the means but only when faith is not rejected that salvation is grasped.

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

“you have to look into your faith or repentance to know if the atonement is for you”

In your system, do you not have to have faith and repentance to become a Christian?

“This is the meaning of the word 'catholic', it is universal too in its scope but beneficial only to those who would accept.”

So only those who accept Christ’s work for them by their faith and repentance receive the blessing.

“We do not look at our faith to know if we are elect, we look at the testimony of the Word that the atonement is for us.”

So we look to the promise of the Word. How is this different than looking to our faith? Faith looks to the word in trust and belief.

“It is us who limits God not God not sincerely offering salvation. LA I think makes the offer of the Gospel insincere.”

If a person truly receives the free gift of salvation, then they are redeemed. The free offer of the gospel is a real, sincere offer. It’s just that: People who cannot even see the kingdom do not chose to enter it (Jn. 3:3). Dead men do not chose to do something (Ep. 2:1). People do not find what they are not seeking (Romans 3:11).

The issue is not outside a person (with God) the issue is within a person.

jpierce,

“There are many more scriptures that assures everyone in the world that atonement is for them.”

It is only for them if they turn to Christ in repentance and faith. The atonement is limited by something in both your systems and mine, unless hell is empty in your system.

“…who Jesus died for on the cross…”

Everyone who turns to Him in repentance and faith. The gospel challenges the unbeliever to have faith in Christ. A person who does no have faith is not a Christian and can expect an eternity in hell.

“Jesus died for the sins of ALL people.”

Christ’s death can and will pay the penalty for the sins of all who come to Him in faith. The limiting factor is the unwillingness of some to place their faith in Christ. If Christ died for the sins of all people, then all people will be in heaven whether they have faith or not. I have no reason to tell an unbeliever that they are ‘off the hook’ if they do not have faith in Christ.

“It is God's saving power that delivers us so…”

Please do not misread my argumentative nature, we agree that God alone saves, without our help.

“How is the work and grace of God limited?”

It is limited by the free choice of free agents. Unbelievers do not allow Christ’s life and death to be credited to them because of their lack of faith. There is nothing outside of the unbeliever’s heart that keeps him from accepting the free offer of the gospel in Christ. Not God. Not the devil. Not the world. It is their fault and their responsibility. Please do not caricature my position.

“It is clear that Adam represents the enterance of sin and death for all, and that Jesus represents justification that brings life to all.”

Then hell is empty and no one has the obligation to turn to Christ in repentance and faith. If Christ’s death brings justification to all without condition then all are saved. I am not prepared to comfort an unrepentant sinner that he is on the way to heaven. I love him to much to do that.



We agree on so much. The points of contention are so unrelated to the task before us. I pray that we will concentrate our efforts on encouraging, leading, begging, and pleading for the lost to come to faith. I pray we do not side-track ourselves from the task before us. May God have mercy!

I have not further comment.


JK

L P Cruz said...

Dear JK,

Firstly we must not negate the fact that we have and do share JBFA. WHere we differ is in the mechanics.

Have you seen this blog?
http://extranos.blogspot.com/2007/11/miles-apart.html

This is my point on faith in faith.

Repentance and Faith is required by God but it is he who creates what he demands and he does this through the Promise (Law/Gospel) verbally preached - the word, and the Promise visually preached - baptism and supper.

So these do not come from thin air or out of the blue. God is sovereign but if he is going to save anyone he has chosen to act out his sovereignty through word and sacrament. This is where he (I believe) he has chosen to exercise his sovereignty.

Have a look at that post and its follow up and see what you think.

LPC

jpierce said...

JK,

I have quoted you in bold. And thank you for your response!


"It is only for them if they turn to Christ in repentance and faith. The atonement is limited by something in both your systems and mine, unless hell is empty in your system."

Your statement is false. The atonement is not limited. Christ died for the sins of the entire world. That is scriptural and those scriptures have been provided to you. And, hell will sadly not be empty.

"Everyone who turns to Him in repentance and faith. The gospel challenges the unbeliever to have faith in Christ. A person who does no have faith is not a Christian and can expect an eternity in hell. "

Agreed

"Christ’s death can and will pay the penalty for the sins of all who come to Him in faith. The limiting factor is the unwillingness of some to place their faith in Christ. If Christ died for the sins of all people, then all people will be in heaven whether they have faith or not. I have no reason to tell an unbeliever that they are ‘off the hook’ if they do not have faith in Christ."

The scripture is clear (please review those I provided earlier). Christs death HAS PAID for the penalty of sins for all those in the world. Period. Whether you believe it or not your sins have been paid for by the death of Jesus on the cross! That is the gospel! You can look the unbeliever in the eyes and tell them, confidently, that Jesus died in their place on the cross and their sins are forgiven if they recieve His forgiveness.

"It is limited by the free choice of free agents. Unbelievers do not allow Christ’s life and death to be credited to them because of their lack of faith. There is nothing outside of the unbeliever’s heart that keeps him from accepting the free offer of the gospel in Christ. Not God. Not the devil. Not the world. It is their fault and their responsibility. Please do not caricature my position."

Sorry, but I don't think I have caricatured your position. Haven't I represented it fairly? Do you not believe that Christ died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins for some? I would love to be wrong here and have you come forward and say, "No Jim, the atonement is for ALL THE WORLD". Can you say that?

"Then hell is empty and no one has the obligation to turn to Christ in repentance and faith."

That is not the argument I presented and that is not what the scripture I presented says. Romans 5 is a powerful chapter JK. Please keep thinking about it. I can see from your response that your objections have been answered but you are not accepting them. That is OK. I am sincere.

"If Christ’s death brings justification to all without condition then all are saved. I am not prepared to comfort an unrepentant sinner that he is on the way to heaven. I love him to much to do that."

And what if all are saved without condition? I don't think that is true at all, but what would you have to say in the matter? Your objection fails when we are facing our Lord and savior. It doesn't matter whether or not you are prepareed to comfort unrepentant sinners or not. What matters is the clear word of God which states, as I provided, that Jesus died on the cross for ALL sinners and the God was in Christ reconcilling the world unto Himself! Yet, we read that we are saved by faith individually. God, whether you like it or not, has slammed down the gavel and says that all are entitled to the righteousness of Jesus and that it should be recieved by the individual by faith alone. I am prepared to comfort the unrepentant sinner that God has already forgiven him of his sins if he only recieves the gift of God!

L P Cruz said...

But Jim,

The unrepentant sinner does not need the Gospel, what he needs is the Law to hammer down to him. Only then do we give the Gospel.

Remember? To the question 'am I saved', we we answer - why do you want to know? His answer will reveal if he is comfortable with his sins or he is conflicted by it.

We give Law or Gospel as appropriate.

LPC

J. K. Jones said...

jpierce,

“I can see from your response that your objections have been answered but you are not accepting them.”

Okay, I can’t let that one sit.



“You can look the unbeliever in the eyes and tell them, confidently, that Jesus died in their place on the cross and their sins are forgiven if they recieve His
forgiveness.”

If they receive His forgiveness, the atonement is applied to them. If they do not, the atonement does not apply to them. This is what I mean when I say the atonement is limited in a sense in your system. It is limited by whether one receives what is offered.


“I would love to be wrong here and have you come forward and say, "No Jim, the atonement is for ALL THE WORLD". Can you say that?”

How can you say that the atonement is for all of the world when not all of the world will receive Christ’s forgiveness? I can say that Christ’s sacrifice could pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world. There is nothing deficient in Christ’s sacrifice. Christ’s life and death could expiate all the sins from all the people in all the world. He has propitiated the wrath of God in such a way that all sin could be atoned for. But this does not happen because some people reject His free offer of eternal life.


“I am prepared to comfort the unrepentant sinner that God has already forgiven him of his sins if he only recieves the gift of God!”

And I am prepared to confront the unrepentant sinner with the fact that God will forgive them of their sins if and only if (!) they repent and receive the free gift of God. Unrepentant sinners are not justified or forgiven, and justification is not applied to a person who does not have faith.


“God, whether you like it or not, has slammed down the gavel and says that all are entitled to the righteousness of Jesus and that it should be recieved by the individual by faith alone.”

I agree. The free offer of the gospel is a real, genuine offer. All who hear that offer could have their sins forgiven if they would turn to Christ. God has promised, and God would deliver. All who reject that offer are fully responsible for that rejection. No one or no thing outside them and their own desires forced them to reject the free offer of the gospel.



To summarize my system, and the reasons I hold to it:

No one who has not been born again can ever see, yet alone enter, the kingdom of God (John 3). No one does good; no one even seeks after God (Romans 3). Dead men do not do anything, including making decisions (Ep. 1). The flesh profits nothing, and, as Luther said, nothing is no little thing (John 6). The atonement is limited by our choice because no person will ever repent and believe on their own.

Heaven would be empty without God’s intervention. All of us would be left in the sins that we love so much. We would be right at home.

The atonement is therefore ultimately limited by whether God chooses to change the hearts of those who will not turn to Him unless He does. Romans has a chapter 5, but Romans also includes chapters 8 and 9. God alone saves. God alone gets the glory. (What were those slogans? Oh, that’s right, they were: Sola Gracia and Soli Deo Gloria.)



The part about Romans is that it contains 16 chapters. If all we had were chapter 8, we would all be Calvinists. If all we had were chapter 9, we would all be Hyper-Calvinists. If all we had were chapter 10, we would all be classical Arminians. If all we had were chapter 11, I think we would all be universalist. But we have all 16 chapters, so the arguments will continue until Christ Himself sets us all straight.

Could we please get back to confronting sinners with law and gospel and just agree to disagree on this? I’ll put down my sword if you will put down yours. Some things are much more important than others.

Besides, LP may feel we have hi-jacked his blog by now.



LP,

“We give Law or Gospel as appropriate.”

Very well said. Very true.

J. K.

jpierce said...

"The unrepentant sinner does not need the Gospel, what he needs is the Law to hammer down to him. Only then do we give the Gospel.

Remember? To the question 'am I saved', we we answer - why do you want to know? His answer will reveal if he is comfortable with his sins or he is conflicted by it.

We give Law or Gospel as appropriate."


Lito,

Please don't misunderstand my remarks. They are being given in the context of a response to limited atonement. Of course, law and gospel are given at appropriate time. But that isn't the question before us. The question is whether or not the atonement is just for some or for all. The context at this point isn't about preaching the law and gospel. Instead it is about whom Jesus died on the cross for. That point is clear in the bible, at least for Lutherans, since the bible tells us Jesus died for the sins of the world. It doesn't matter the number... 1 or one bazillion (is that even a number?), Jesus died for everyone.

jpierce said...

JK wrote, Could we please get back to confronting sinners with law and gospel and just agree to disagree on this? I’ll put down my sword if you will put down yours. Some things are much more important than others.

Hi Jk,

But... but... I was bringing out an ICBM with a pretty powerful warhead on it and... well... ok! :)

I think we had a good discussion. I enjoyed it and I thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

Blessings!

P.S. Guess I better bring down the pirate flag to show we haven't hijacked this thread. :D

J. K. Jones said...

LP,

Thank you for your patience and for a very thought-provoking discussion.

“Have you seen this blog?”

I went to that post, and I can find nothing on it that seems disagreeable. Faith does not save; Christ does. Not sure what you expected me to take issue with.

The thing that bothers me is the idea that an unrepentant sinner, a sinner with a ‘high hand,’ could be reconciled to God. Reconciliation is applied along with justification. It is applied temporally when a person is given a new heart and repents / believes.

I’ll keep thinking.



jpierce,

I also enjoyed our discussion / argument. I learned quite a bit.

Thanks for holding off on the ICBM. My family would not have survived:)

JK

L P Cruz said...

No you have not hi-jacked the post. You guys continue at will, I do read but I may not always respond as I do learn also how all of our minds tick.

OK JP if in the context of LA, then I accept.

For JK's comfort, no JK, if an unrepentant sinner comes to us, we will not give him the Gospel. What he needs is the Law, otherwise that is faith without repentance, which is not the faith Paul speaks about but the faith James speaks about.

But that exchange does highlight my point and why I have tripidation of saying "all have been declared righteous/justified".

LPC