Grace is the Answer to its own Abuse

Most of my study time lately has been taken up preparing for a Latin placement test. But I have also been working on a review of Kevin DeYoung’s helpful new book on holiness, which has had me thinking about how the gospel and the pursuit of holiness relate. In thinking about this, I’ve been lead me to a deeper understanding of Paul’s flow of argument in Romans 6. First of all, its significant that the first objection Paul anticipates after his proclamation of scandalously free grace for sinners in 3:21-5:21 is the charge of antinomianism. This means that Paul’s gospel,…

Justification (5): Piper, Wright, Schreiner, Thielman, Imputation, and Union with Christ

Towards the end of my justification study last fall I delved a bit to the Piper versus Wright debate.  Although our move cut this study short, I remember my initial impression being that Wright had kind of a scolding, “I’m so misunderstood” tone, which I didn’t find very endearing.  I didn’t think he showed as much concern as Piper did for carefully exegeting texts, and his recurring comparison of his view to heliocentrism and his opponents’ to geocentrism seemed condescending.  I also found myself continually getting annoyed at a certain sloppiness of logic and language in his writing.  Again and…

Justification and Knowing Christ

The audio of my dad’s awesome TGC breakout, “Justification vs. Self-Justification,” is up here. I highly recommend it. From re-listening to it on a hike just now, one thing that struck me was at one point Dad mentioned how justification by faith alone and the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ are linked in Philippians 3.  I’ve been thinking about that, and also how Dad talks about how a culture of justification is not established by thinking about the doctrine of justification so much as by personally communing with Christ.  Growing in personal communion with Christ means growing in living out…

Justification (4): True Righteousness

When we were in Rehoboth I read Martin Luther’s Concerning Christian Liberty as part of my study on justification.  As I read I kept noticing two themes: First, it is justifying faith apart from works that yields true obedience, because only justifying faith results in grateful love to God, which is the spring of all true obedience.  Justification by works ultimately says, “I will obey God in order to get something.”  But that is not love.  That is not true obedience.  Second, it is justifying faith apart from works yields glory to God, because it gives credit to God for…

Justification (3): Imputation versus Accusation

According to my understanding of classic reformed theology, justification consists of two aspects, one negative and one positive.  Negatively, justification consists in the forgiveness of our sins and canceling of our guilt before God: “[God has] forgiven us all our trespasses by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).  Positively, justification consists of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to our account so that we are declared righteous in God’s sight.  “the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake…

Justification (2): Boasting

Studying the doctrine of justification is changing my life.  It truly touches upon a nerve center of the Christian faith.  Here is what I am seeing so far: 1. Everyone seeks justification, i.e. a rightness in God’s sight which translates into an identity before the world. 2. There are ultimately two sources to which we may look: God or idols. 3. We can tell which we are looking to by what we boast in, i.e., by what we look to for identity and fulfillment before God and people. Why do I add premise 3?  Because I am seeing that at…

Justification (1): God

The way we approach something determines, to some extent, what we find.  We approach food differently when we are hungry.  We approach people differently when we are lonely.  We approach sleep differently when we are tired.  Things are understood in a context, and our angle of approach is a part of that context. From reading John Calvin on justification I’ve come to see that we approach the matter of justification differently when we have a sense of our sin in light of God’s holy character.  God is the context in which justification feels needed and makes sense.  And errors on…