Sunday, 12 July 2009

Justification: Understanding the Reformed Doctrine - Part 10 By Faith Alone

In Chapter 7, Fesko's contention is that justification is (1) by faith alone; (2) the remission of sins; and (3) the imputation of Christ's righteousness (p210).

Of particular interest to me was Fesko's explanation of Romans 1:17 in relation to point (1) above. The text says: For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." (ESV).

Fesko interprets the phrase from faith for faith as meaning both the instrumentality of faith in the reception of righteousness upon all who believe (Murray) and as a rhetorical combination that intends to emphasize the exclusivity of faith (Moo) (p197).

Interestingly, Fesko is emphatic on how one should interpret Habakkuk 2:4 (i.e. is it faith or faithfulness) insisting that while there is a difference of opinion...it appears that Paul authoritatively interprets (p199) the passage. He goes on to quote John Murray:

The specific quality of faith is trust and commitment to another; it is essentially extraspective and in that respect is the diametric opposite of works. Faith is self-renouncing; works are self-congratulatory. Faith looks to what God does; works have respect to what we are. It is the antithesis of principle that enables the apostle to base the complete exclusion of works upon the principle of faith. (p200)

Fesko then argues for points (2) and (3) giving particular attention to 2 Cor. 5:19-21 and the great exchange; remission of sins and the reception of righteousness.

After arguing for this three-fold view of justification, Fesko is careful to examine the doctrine in its historical outworking in the resurrection of Christ. Ever been puzzled as to why Romans 4:25 speaks of Christ being raised FOR our justification? Fesko sees this passage primarily in terms of Christ's resurrection confirming and authenticating our justification (p207). This happens since Christ's resurrection not only secures victory over Satan, sin and death, but it also authenticates the victory as well (p208). Fesko sees the resurrection as God's confirmation of the efficacy and acceptability of Christ's sacrifice.

Fesko also sees in Christ's resurrection the bringing forward of the day of judgement for God's people. He sees that through Christ, the eschatological judgement of 'righteous' is issued in the here and now on behalf of believing saints.

A question I have in all this is, is the resurrection merely authentication and confirmation of Christ's atoning sacrifice or can we say that his resurrection actually IS his justification? I think Fesko is alluding to this, although I'm not entirely sure. If resurrection IS Christ's justification, it means that through union with Christ, this resurrection/justification is ours too. IMO, this seems to provide a tight understanding of Romans 4:25.

1 comment:

wateristhickerthanblood said...

Interesting... I have not read the book yet but it sounds quite good.

Concerning the last thought on Christ's justification: I know Gaffin argues in that manner and says 'vindication' is not strong enough. In a sense there is a matching point in the historia salutis to every point in the ordo salutis. Union would in his works bring us that benefit in a reflexive action through faith.