Is Justification Forensic?

Article by Turretinfan: Is Justification Forensic?

Some opponents of reformation theology attempt to deny that the term justification can be used in the context of declaration of righteousness, as opposed to infusion of righteousness. For those folks, the passages that contrast justification with condemnation should help. Surely none of these people will think that condemnation is the infusion of unrighteousness. Rather, they will recognize that condemnation is a judicial declaration of unrighteousness.

By contrast, therefore, it can be seen that justification is a declaration of righteousness. We see this several times in Scripture, both in the English of the KJV, as well as in the Clementine Latin Vulgate, so our Roman Catholic opponents have no room to complain:

1 Kings 8:32
(KJV) Then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
(CLV) tu exaudies in cælo : et facies, et judicabis servos tuos, condemnans impium, et reddens viam suam super caput ejus, justificansque justum, et retribuens ei secundum justitiam suam.
(LXX) καὶ σὺ εἰσακούσει ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ποιήσεις καὶ κρινεῖς τὸν λαόν σου Ισραηλ ἀνομηθῆναι ἄνομον δοῦναι τὴν ὁδὸν αὐτοῦ εἰς κεφαλὴν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῦ δικαιῶσαι δίκαιον δοῦναι αὐτῷ κατὰ τὴν δικαιοσύνην αὐτοῦ.

Job 9:20
(KJV) If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
(CLV) Si justificare me voluero, os meum condemnabit me ; si innocentem ostendero, pravum me comprobabit.
(LXX) ἐὰν γὰρ ὦ δίκαιος, τὸ στόμα μου ἀσεβήσει· ἐάν τε ὦ ἄμεμπτος, σκολιὸς ἀποβήσομαι.

Proverbs 17:15
(KJV) He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.
(CLV) Qui justificat impium, et qui condemnat justum, abominabilis est uterque apud Deum.
(LXX) ὃς δίκαιον κρίνει τὸν ἄδικον, ἄδικον δὲ τὸν δίκαιον, ἀκάθαρτος καὶ βδελυκτὸς παρὰ θεῷ.

Matthew 12:37
(KJV) For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
(CLV) Ex verbis enim tuis justificaberis et ex verbis tuis condemnaberis.
(NA28) ἐκ γὰρ τῶν λόγων σου δικαιωθήσῃ, καὶ ἐκ τῶν λόγων σου καταδικασθήσῃ.

Romans 5:16
(KJV) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
(CLV) Et non sicut per unum peccatum, ita et donum. Nam judicium quidem ex uno in condemnationem : gratia autem ex multis delictis in justificationem.
(NA28) καὶ οὐχ ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς ἁμαρτήσαντος τὸ δώρημα· τὸ μὲν γὰρ κρίμα ἐξ ἑνὸς εἰς κατάκριμα, τὸ δὲ χάρισμα ἐκ πολλῶν παραπτωμάτων εἰς δικαίωμα.

Romans 5:18
(KJV) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
(CLV) Igitur sicut per unius delictum in omnes homines in condemnationem : sic et per unius justitiam in omnes homines in justificationem vitæ.
(NA28) Ἄρα οὖν ὡς δι’ ἑνὸς παραπτώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς κατάκριμα, οὕτως καὶ δι’ ἑνὸς δικαιώματος εἰς πάντας ἀνθρώπους εἰς δικαίωσιν ζωῆς·

John 6 for Roman Catholics

A live walk through the 6th chapter of John based upon the original language text. Roman Catholicism teaches that Jesus taught transubstantiation in this chapter, but a fair reading of the text reveals otherwise.

Dr. James White writes, “while one cannot help but deal with the central issues of the gospel in 6:35-45, we continue on to make application and demonstrate that Jesus’ words concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood, contextually, has nothing to do with Aristotelian philosophy and categories of being. Was Jesus really teaching transubstantiation a thousand years before the term came into usage? And did the disciples walk away because of that teaching? Or was it something else, something made plain in the text, if one is but willing to listen?”

This is a program we hope will be shared with many Roman Catholics.

2017 and Rome

James-White23“2017 will clarify for many why they are not Roman Catholics, and how they will relate to Rome. For many, the walls will fall, and they will swim the Tiber. For others, they will be confirmed in their bigotry and their rejection of Rome based upon bad arguments, false history, and their own form of overpowering tradition. But for many of the truly faithful, the issues will be seen with clarity, and their rejection of Rome will be accompanied not only by a new found fervor for the truths of sola scriptura, soli Deo gloria, sola fide, etc., but that fervor will be joined with a deep desire to see Roman Catholics come to know the gospel that actually saves and gives peace. If your opposition to Rome does not result in your reaching out in love and truth to them, longing to see them come to know the grace that truly saves, then your opposition is a clanging cymbal, and it means nothing.” – Dr. James White

Why is the Reformation Still Important?

Dr. James White:

Why is the Reformation still important? Why is it proper for us to focus upon it this year in celebration of 500 years? Why do I pray that by the end of 2017 more and more of God’s people will embrace the Reformation, and Reformed theology as a whole? Well, here is a tweet from the current Pope. He encourages Roman Catholics to “entrust the new year to Mary.” Doing this, evidently, will result in “peace and mercy” growing throughout the world. And here I thought that could only happen as men and women bow the knee not to Mary, but to the Lord Jesus, in repentance and faith, trusting in His once-for-all work upon the cross as the perfect Savior. Rome’s departure from the Gospel remains complete, and defiant. She continues to blaspheme the cross every time a man-made “priest” pretends to “re-present” the once-for-all sacrifice of Calvary upon a Roman altar. And she continues to enslave men with her endless gospel of sacraments and penances, which can never bring them peace. And in this tweet the Pope demonstrates once again the grossly idolatrous nature of modern Roman teaching concerning Mary.

How many non-Roman Catholics today understand why they do not bow the knee to Rome? In what is loosely called Evangelicalism, very few. One either has the wild-eyed bigotry of the Jack Chick variety anti-Catholicism, or the luke-warm “it’s just a matter of taste” variety of synergistic Tiber-paddling that is so common today. May the number of those who knowingly, and out of a true commitment to sound biblical doctrine, reject Rome’s pretensions, grow in this the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.


Indulgences and Rome Today

“Does theology matter? Specifically, the doctrine of justification as spelled out so clearly in the Reformation? I was directed to this clip from Catholic Answers Live this morning, and it very well illustrates the answer. I often explain indulgences to non-Roman Catholic audiences, and they just stare at me in amazement. Often I get the feeling that they are skeptical as well. “Sure, maybe Rome taught that hundreds of years ago, but today? No way!” Well, indulgences are still very much a part of the Roman system. Here’s a brief clip proving the point.” – Dr. James White

Grace: What Does God Give Us?

grace02Grace: What Does God Give Us?

This extract is from Why The Reformation Still Matters, by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester, Crossway, 2016. (available here)

Michael Reeves is President of Union and Professor of Theology. He is the author of The Good God: Enjoying Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Paternoster, 2012).

Tim Chester is a pastor with Grace Church, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire, and a tutor with the Acts 29 Oak Hill Academy. He is the author or co-author of numerous books.

Years before the Reformation, in his days as a monk, Martin Luther had begun lecturing on the Bible at the university in Wittenberg. There he taught his students that salvation is by grace. ‘Not because of our merits,’ he explained; salvation is ‘given out of the pure mercy of the promising God’.[1] No alarms went off; not a single eyebrow was raised among all the inquisitors in Rome. And why not? Because Martin Luther the monk was still then upholding Rome’s own theology. He was loyally teaching standard medieval Roman Catholicism, that salvation is by grace.

Eyebrows might not have arched in Rome, but perhaps yours did just then. For was not the whole point of the Reformation that medieval Roman Catholicism falsely taught salvation by works? That, certainly, is how many see it. Yet that idea actually fails to grasp quite how things really were. More importantly, it fails to grasp the true wonder and acuteness of the Reformers’ message.

Grace in medieval Roman Catholicism

What, then, did Luther the monk (before the Reformation) mean when he taught salvation by grace? He could state that salvation ‘is not on the basis of our merits but on the pure promise of a merciful God’. Which sounds all very Reformational – until he goes on to explain:

Hence the teachers correctly say that to a man who does what is in him God gives grace without fail . . . [God] bestows everything gratis and only on the basis of the promise of his mercy, although he wants us to be prepared for this as much as lies in us. [2]

So, according to this, God does save by grace, but that grace is given to those who are ‘prepared’ for it, who do ‘what is in them’ to be fit for grace. Or as others (‘the teachers’) of the day liked to put it, ‘God will not deny grace to those who do their best.’

Romans 5:5 is perhaps the single most helpful verse for under- standing this view of salvation by grace. ‘God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,’ writes the apostle Paul. Instead of being read as a verse about the transformative work of the Spirit in those who ‘have been justified by faith’ (Romans 5:1), as the context proves, Romans 5:5 was taken as an account of salvation, meaning that God pours his love and grace into our hearts, transforming us and making us holy – holy enough, ultimately, for heaven.

Our problem, according to this theology, is that, while God is holy, we are spiritually lazy. Only holy people belong with a holy God in heaven, but, while we may recognize the problem, we really cannot be bothered. We do not seem able to summon up the energy needed to be truly holy. And so God in his kindness gives us grace. ‘Grace’ is thus a bit like a can of spiritual Red Bull. I find myself unable to pull myself together and get holy. Then God gives me Grace, and suddenly I find myself much more eager and able.

This, then, was a theology of salvation by grace: without this grace, we could never become the sort of holy people it claimed belong in heaven. But it was absolutely not a theology of salvation by grace alone. Here grace provided the necessary boost it imagined we all need to earn eternal life; but it did not actually give or guarantee eternal life itself. The Red Bull of grace would be given to those who wanted and pursued it, and it saved only in so far as it enabled people to become holy and so win their salvation.

This might all have been the theology of sixteenth-century Roman Catholicism, but it does not feel too unfamiliar to twenty-first century Protestants and evangelicals. ‘Grace’ is still routinely thought of today as a package of blessing doled out by God. And, small details aside, that picture captures well a common and instinctive view of salvation, that while we know God saves by grace, we still look to ourselves and our performance to know how we stand before him. Our prayer lives are often painfully revealing of this. Every day Christians should be able to approach the Almighty and boldly cry ‘Our Father’ all because of Jesus. As we read in Hebrews, ‘Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God… Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace’ (Hebrews 4:14–16). Yet in practice our sins and failings make us shrink back. Ignoring Jesus’ salvation, we feel we cannot approach the Holy One because of how we have performed. Continue reading