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On The Necessity of Virtues and Values

Of an Empowering & Inspired Leader

The term values is often confused with virtues although similar in meaning virtues are characteristics and attributes (qualities and aspects) associated with the nature of God whereas values are any principles, standards, or qualities considered worthwhile and desirable (Bredfeldt 2006). Furthermore, values are determined by one’s worldview and are based on personality, family dynamics, environmental factors, social factors, cultural aspects, political views and other views of social nature. One’s view on creation, God (or the lack of, and even economics shapes one’s values as well as how one perceives and pursues the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom. Additionally one’s values are mutable and change as one’s perception and perspective changes. Our values can be influenced and manipulated by the views and teachings of others and form the basis of our morality where as our virtues are God given. The two combined form the basis for Ethics.

Ethics can be divided into three categories.  At the highest level is our Virtue our concept of God and Evil or theodicy.  Western social concepts of virtues is credited first to the Greek Philosopher Plato who views justice as the highest virtue.  Justice forms the bond that holds all the other four virtues of wisdom, courage, temperance (Self-control) and continence (abstinence from immorality especially sexually desire) in unity and congruency. Additionally, only through the exercise of knowledge and the power given within our soul can ultimate good be achieved for the form is an imperfect copy and our senses are inferior matter or existence is imperfect while essence (soul, God, spirit, knowledge) is perfect and unchanging and is the basis for all things (anonymous 2016).  The second level is one’s personal and family conception of what is right & wrong (general morality) and at the base is secular law or social and corporate structure.

Virtue, Values & Vices

Aristotle built upon Plato’s concepts but came to a different conclusion. For him matter and essence are inseparable and both are derived from God. The lower form matter thereby originated from the deity and all action originates from the potentiality of motion (anonymous 2016).   For Aristotle virtues are God given but must be developed in training and discipline in what he called means. If we for example wish exemplify High-Mindedness (Wisdom) but the over development of it this will lead to the excessive vice of pride (boastfulness, vanity). In Contrast a lack of development will lead to the vice of deficiency of foolishness ( humble-mindedness) Thus for Aristotle, virtues fail as a result of two categories’ of vices one of deficiency and one of excess as a result of a lack of discipline and training.

Aristotle’s list of virtues and vices are listed on the following chart (anonymous 2016).

VICE OF DEFICIENCY VIRTUOUS MEAN VICE OF EXCESS
Cowardice Courage Rashness
Insensibility Temperance Intemperance
Illiberality Liberality Prodigality
Pettiness Munificence Vulgarity
Humble-mindedness High-mindedness Vaingloriness
Want of Ambition Right Ambition Over-ambition
Spiritlessness Good Temper Irascibility
Surliness Friendly Civility Obsequiousness
Ironical Depreciation Sincerity Boastfulness
Boorishness Wittiness Buffoonery
Shamelessness Modesty Bashfulness
Callousness Just Resentment Spitefulness

 

Finally, one is to practice self-love and friendship or love of others, which is a communal relation, and peaceful and beautiful state of existence with the world in general (anonymous 2016). Furthermore, justice is both general and special in that it applies to the observance of both secular and moral law in occasional circumstance such as judicial and economic matters and is abstract in some instance for absolute justice, which is corrective, and often retaliatory is necessary in moral conduct and common decency.

God cannot be comprehended by practicing normal human moral insight; rather one finds God in happiness in being (anonymous 2016). For Aristotle, pain and pleasure of the mind and soul is the motivation behind the virtues and thus desire for higher pleasure one strives for the highest virtue of high-mindedness through the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and the disciplines of means or pursuit of the other Godly virtues.

From a Biblical the character of the leader should be developed out of disciple and training from the study of God’s word, meditation, prayer, a life of obedience of faith ( reliance, dependence and trust on Christ and the Holy Spirit).   One must additionally die to flesh – born to Spirit (Rom. 12) and be without boastful pride and in loving humble servitude and in a unity of heart and mind that imitates the likeness of Christ (Phil 1-6). Through the transformation of one’s mind through various spiritual disciplines and the resistance of temptations and living by Christian Ethics, one is granted Spiritual Gifts for the glory of God and service (Rom 12-15).

Additionally, one is to be follow the guidelines of Christian character and conducts as outlined in 1 Tim: 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. This ethical code is similar to the classical code of the Greeks and summarized lists certain desirable traits of conduct for leaders and elders of the church. However, this code should become the basis for all believers conduct, as it is list some basics guidelines for virtues besides those in Romans 12-15. The Fruit of the Spirit, which results from discipline practice and training, is the highest virtues (Gal 5-16-26, Col 3:1-17) and is only given by the leading and granting of the Holy Spirit. Both lists also contain some of the more common sins or depravities of Humanity.  One should recall from Romans 1-8 Paul reminds us all though the Law illustrates us the nature of our sin and we may have all intentions to do good deeds, works actions or even obey out of obligation of the Law. Because of our sin even after being justified or declared citizens of distinction worth and righteous (elect, saints). Will fall short. Thus only by the atoning cross can any of us be truly forgiven, and it is by Christ grace and mercy that all faith is based not by anything we can accomplish. WE however must with the aid of the Holy Spirit striving to become transformed dying from the temptations of sin, forgiving others as well as our self, empowering others and spreading the Gospel to the fallen world serving as Christ like teachers in faith, hope and love.

Courage

Courage is essential and is the result of Endurance, perseverance, and often times suffering.  Courage is the ability to face one’s fears, standing firm in strength in one’s convictions and is a discipline virtue that arises from faith and relying on the practice of truth in times of crisis, adversity or suffering. Courage as a virtue is the assurance of the interdependence working of God in total trust and reliance in any situation or occasion of danger (whether perceived or actual).

Thus, with that aid of the Holy Spirit and the Authority given to the believer by Christ the sovereignty will insure the outcome is in the best interest of the Trinity of God and for his divine creation and Eternal- kingdom.  Additionally courage sparks the passion and not always the sensibility of the individual leading to actions in a situation. Wisdom is the application of knowledge, virtues, and vales in a manner that practical and is thus sensible and heartfelt or appropriate in any given situation.

Truth

Truth can be absolute or relative based on assumptions, feelings, false input of one’s senses or misguided views or actions. The Bible in inerrant when God, Christ or “The Angel of the Lord says or the Holy Spirit gives direct directives. However, the Bible is also infallible meaning it is the means and ends of achieving Faith. Both doctrines of the church are human perspectives and can be supported by the Biblical Evidence.

However, the Bible is not fully inerrant or infallible in itself and never makes an exclusive claim for one or the other. Rather truth and faith (Spirit) matched with authenticity should be seen as the Biblical doctrine  Biblical intake and teaching requires the ability to differentiate, evaluate and incorporate  historical, occasional, cultural, situational, universal, personal and finally current relevancy (Duvall and Hays 2012, 235-246).

To make a claim that either truth of faith or works or goodwill (deeds) are to be separated or combined in any a+ +b or b+ d or any other combination to achieve salvation is missing the mark. The truth is all are inseparable and holistic parts lived and in of obedience of faith for the suffering Bondservant of Christ. One style of leadership or church will not be fitting or reach and meet the needs for all people and doctrines of man will divide. Each view has strengths and weakness as every man has strength and weaknesses (Bredfeldt 2006).

The Key of Wisdom

The key is discernment with biblical guidance and application of general revelation, assessment and our experience. This enables one as an individual, the Body of Believers or universal communal church, and all who are willing to hear, see and receive the Atoning Sacrifice of Christ and the Good-News in a manner that leads to a profession of faith and the empowering and ongoing transformation to the Eikōn. This New Adam – New Kingdom fulfillment, will be granted  when final salvation and full restoration is completed upon Christ return which is only possible with the aid of others and the Holy Spirit brought forth in humble, and accepting discerning teachings of love grace and mercy.

 

Uniqueness & Diversity: The Character of a Leader

What defines ethics and sound character will vary from subculture to culture and will differ even by some degree with in the individual heart and mind of each person. A worldview is simply how an individual perceives the world and his place in creation. It is influenced by family dynamics, cultural customs, ethnicity, nationality, religious views ( doctrines and dogma & beliefs), peer pressure, inspiration, philosophical ideology, political perception,  economics, innate vales & talents , God given virtues ( often unrealized or undeveloped), knowledge, and wisdom. This list is far from complete.

Sin is the adversary of character and is like a genetic curse inherit in all humanity. Sin leads to opposition to the guidelines of the Law that is Holy and the basis of our virtuous morality. Only through Christ atoning sacrifice are we worthy and significant free from blind obligation to obedience of the Law.  In correlation by the leading of the Spirit sanctified and ethics is thus written on the heart of all who live obediently in and by faith (Rom 6-8).

Our strengths and weakness need to be assessment and evaluation and at times God uses not our strengths but our weakness ( Gen 50:20)  for the benefit his divine purpose ( Matt 28: 18-20 must be done in conjunction Matt 22:33-39). Finally, Philippians 1-11, Titus 1:6-8, 1 Timothy 3:2-7, 1 Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, Romans 12-16 as well as Matt 5-7, Eph 5, Col 3:5, and Rom 1:18-32, Rom 2-6). The Good News is since all are declared righteous and redeemed by Christ and love writes the Law on one’s heart in transformation, obedience and willing service of love.

The individual and community is being transformed and restored as long as we keep trudging running, persevering, suffering thru the race of life and praising and glorify God in all things. Thus, doing our part to advance the completion of God promise of salvation and inclusion of all who are willing into the New Adam ( Man)- Perfected reconstructed Eternal kingdom of God when Christ returns to reign in the Eschatological Age (Moo 2000).

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

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Bibliography

anonymous. Ancient Greek Philosophy. Edited by James Fieser, Bradley Dowden, & Kirby Jeremy. 2016. http://www.iep.utm.edu/greekphi/ (accessed May 01, 2016).

 

Bredfeldt, Gary J. Great Leader, Great Teacher: Recovering the Biblical Vision for Leadership. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2006.

Duvall, Scott J., and Daniel J. Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.

Moo, Douglas J. Romans. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

 

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UNDERSTANDING THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS
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A Treatise on Faith & the Glorification of God

In the Mind & Hearts of all Believers

The Apostle Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans in the winter of 56-57 AD while visiting Corinth during his third missionary Journey and was preparing to deliver “the donations of the Saints to the mother Church in Jerusalem “and thus will be delayed in his anticipated visit of the Roman Church.[1] Many themes have been suggested for the Epistle of Romans however the overlying theme could be seen righteousness by faith and the necessity of faith and the glorification of God in all areas of one’s life. The purpose of Pauls’ visit and the treatise is to further to proclaim the Good News ,or inclusive Gospel of Salvation, to all People and to fulfill God’s divine provincial plan of Kingdom fulfillment.

This plan or reconciliation and redemption is available to all who are willing to be justified by faith by the gracious acts accomplished during the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Regardless of any cultural or any other prejudices of the law all are redeemed from sin and reconciled by Christ and faith alone and none can come to righteousness through any work or deed. However, Christian living requires a live of lived in faith and Glory to God which will require a transformation of the mind and result in the circumcision of the heart and rebirth into a new body and indwelling and transformation of Spirit.[2]

 The Date

Written during Paul’s third missionary before his departure to Jerusalem and during the period in which many Jews were in exile from Rome and Italy (Acts 18) under the orders of Claudius but According to Moo, many were slowly returning to the city.[3]

The Audience

The Epistle to the Romans was written to the believers or Body of Christ living in Rome. The congregation was composed mainly a gentile community, some of whom may have been “Godfearers” or Gentile converts to Judaism and then Christianity but the vast majority would have been those from the general gentile populous those who lived outside the Law of Moses and thus were uncircumcised and practiced the customs of eating the unclean foods. Even though the Council of Jerusalem ( Acts 15)  had decided that such restriction should not prohibit one from being a brother in Christ or disciple fear of assimilation and loss of national identity and misinterpretation and a desire to hold true to the ways of the Old Covenant still remained among Judaic believers and their Hellenistic ( Gentile) brothers[4]. However, as mentioned above many Jews were returning to the city after being expelled under the edict of Claudius and as such, there was a Judaic presence in the city both in the body of the believer and the synagogue and as was Paul’s custom and God’s directive Paul would witness first to the Jews then to the Gentiles. Thus, the Letter is attended for all believers, or saints, regardless of nationality or cultural identity.

 

The Occasion

As briefly mentioned above Paul wrote the Epistle during the winter of AD 56-57 in Corinth while preparing to deliver the gifts of the Saints to Jerusalem to help with the needs of the church and the people. This universal church offering was most likely a crisis relief effort to meet the needs that occurred from the three-year famine that occurred during the reign of Emperor Claudius around 45-48 AD and would have had financial impacts on the area and the people of region (Acts 11).

Additionally Paul writes the Epistle with a sense of regret for not being able to visit Rome at an earlier date and having to be delayed but encouraging the church he is coming and Eager to proclaim the Gospel and the necessity of faith to the Church.[5] Finally, Robert Stein adds it was “Paul, not Peter, responsibility to mister to the Roman Church as the church in this city was primarily a Gentile and not Judaic Church. Additionally He commits on the uniqueness of the introduction of the Epistle in which Paul states how he was divinely appointed by Christ to serve as the Apostle to the Gentiles. This divine appointment by the risen Christ and through the Spirit was received by faith and is done so to bring about the obedient faith in to whom have received gracious faith in the risen Christ as he has.[6] Moo also comments on this adding that the purpose is the Proclaim the Gospel to the People of Rome.[7] Additionally, the assignation of Claudius has placed a new Emperor Nero in on the throne who would eventually become a vicious persecutor of both Jew and Christian.  This persecution and attempted assimilation onto the Jews would lead to the failed uprising of the Jewish zealots and the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70.[8] Additionally, fulfilling the warnings of the prophets and the promise of the destruction of Jesus and proving that no one can be made righteous to God by works, deeds or upholding the Law along it must be accomplished in the inseparability of action and faith and a life lived for the glory of God.

In regards to the situation the Jews were allowed back in Rome due to the assassination of Claudius and thus as a political attempt by Nero to try to appease Jewish populous in the Empire and as an end the disturbance and thus a means to avoid a possible revolution. Nero ascended the throne in 54 AD but this pacification would not last long. In 64 AD, the fire of Rome was blamed on the Christians and was the catalyst for the Persecution of Christians and Jews under Nero, which lasts until 68 AD.  Most historians claim Nero actual started the fire of Rome as an attempt to discredit the Christian and Jews. Christians and Jews refused to worship the Emperor as God and Christians were accused of cannibalism (for the belief in the Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper), and for undermining Roman cultural traditions and in the Words of Tacitus “Nero Blamed Christians who are hated for their abominations and punished them with refined cruelty. Christ from whom they take their namesake were executed under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. Stopped for a moment, this evil superstition reappeared, not only in Judea, where was the root of all evil, but also in Rome, where all things sordid and abominable from every corner of the world come together. 

Thus, those who confessed [to being Christians] were arrested, on the basis of their testimony a great number condemned, although not so much for the fire itself as for the hatred of humankind.”[9]  The common fable that Nero played his lyre dressed as an actor singing about the destruction of Troy was done so he would be memorialized in Epic Poems as a hero of Rome, great Poet and savior of the people as the who order the setting of the fire. Two sections of the city, which were spared by the fire, were the Christian and Jewish sections. The fire burned ten of the fourteen sections and left the citizens vengeful and seeking justice with many, aware that Nero set the fire so he could rebuild Rome to be more to his liking and splendor. To apiece the people and his own cruelty Nero would dress Christian s dogs and have them killed, or parade them around in his garden in a circus where he dressed as a charioteer would exact cruel punishment.. In AD 68 was impeached and executed by the Senate and after a volatile year was replaced by Vespasian as Emperor ending the Persecution the Christians and Jews.

The term Godfearer can apply to Hellenistic Jews or Gentile Converts to Judaism and is associated with individuals who did not uphold to all the commandments of the Law of Moses, whether it be circumcision, dietary customs, or other restrictions listed in the Judaic Law in in the Old Testament. At times, it simply means one whom is chosen by God or lives in obedient faith. In contrast, a proselyte is a convert who uphold all the Judaic traditions of culture and religious Law. In the 1st century, a Pharisee would tend to be more inclined to view those who did not uphold the commandments that were more of a doctorial or religious nature were, as a Sadducee would tend to emphasize cultural and national identity.  Additionally, those of the Diaspora populous would be a bit more tolerant where as those in Judea and Palestine would view any one of a Hellenistic view or background and a Gentile in a negative manner.[10]

Purpose

Although, many sub themes run through the Epistle of Romans Paul’s intent or Purpose is clearly defined in the introduction. “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of Godthe gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him, we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1-7 NIV).” What Paul is stating it is by divine election and appointment and the leading of the Spirit he has been called and sent to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles. This divine election is his apostolic calling for seen by the prophets, that the resurrected decedent of David will be the Son of God and reign in Heaven at the resurrection. All people Gentile and Jews are called to live in obedient faith to the Son of God and all authority and power is given under his name alone. His salvation is only available by grace to those who live by faith alone.

Moo states although many purposes have been stated for the intent or theme for Romans the Gospel should be seen as the primary focal point or position of Romans.[11] The purpose of Romans is to spread the Gospel to all people of Rome first to Jews then Gentiles. Paul additionally plans to expand on this message in a different manner. Through encouraging, convincing and rebuking of the ways of Flesh and the rebirth of the Spirit.  This transformation of the mind that lead to a circumcised heart and a life of obedient faith for those justified thru faith. Justification and Salvation is the gracious gift, which was granted thru the crucifixion, resurrection and the hyper-exaltation of the Lord of All Creation the Son of God, in which one is born into a new image in the likeness of Christ or his Eikōn.

 

The purpose of the letter is thus to establish the need of obedient faith and proclaim the inclusive Gospel in Rome in order to fulfill God’s Kingdom calling. [12]Obedient faith includes such issues as justification by faith in which one is declared righteous or forgiven of past transgressions only by the grace of the sacrificial act of Christ on the cross and in his resurrection and exalted ascension.

Furthermore, justification is similar to when a judge pardons ones actions or a debt is paid in full by another and forgotten in addition to forgiven. Thus, no deed, work or human action can gain God’s favor and bring about restoration.

Additionally, Paul speaks of the need for the transformation of the mind, sensible thinking, the circumcision of the heart applying that a life live by faith also requires dying to the ways of sin, resisting temptation and total reliance and dependence on the Authority and Power of Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. A life that is to be live in service to God,  for the glory of God, and in a relationship with God lived on the precepts of love, a unity of heart and mind and a interdependence with the community and not live out of an independent selfish nature. Finally, all believers are called to proclaim the gospel and further the kingdom of God.

Although salvation may begin with the individual, it expands through the community and then explodes in an inclusive nondiscriminatory global fashion. As it was for the 1st century, Roman Church be today. We must set aside our difference so we can fulfil God’s plan of Kingdom fulfillment through the Good News of the Gospel.

In God, Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

 

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Bibliography

Blackwell, Ben C., John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, . Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015.

 

Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. Vol. I. New York: Harper One, 2010.

 

Haris, M. D. The MD Haris Institute. December 11, 2011. http://mdharrismd.com/2011/12/19/proselytes-god-fearers-and-relations-between-jews-and-gentiles-in-the-bible/ (accessed March 26, 2016).

 

Moo, Douglas J. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

Stein, Robert. Biblical Training. Spring 2003. https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library (accessed March 25, 2016).

 

Towns, Elmer L., and Ben Gutierrez, . The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2012.

 

[1] Elmer L. Towns, and Ben Gutierrez, . The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey. ( Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2012), 132.

[2] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[3] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[4] As evident in Paul’s frustration with the Jews in Corinth & Macedonia during his third Journey (Act 18 :5-6)

[5] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[6] Robert Stein. Biblical Training. Spring 2003. https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library (accessed March 25, 2016).

[7] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[8] Ben C. Blackwell, John K. Goodrich, and Jason Maston, . Reading Romans In Context: Paul and Second Temple Judaism. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 24.

[9] Justo L. Gonzalez. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. Vol. I. ( New York: Harper One, 2010), 43-46.

[10]  M. D. Haris. The MD Haris Institute. December 11, 2011.  The MD Haris Institute. December 11, 2011.

[11] Douglas J. Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[12] Douglas J Moo. The NIV Application Commentary: Romans. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

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THE EPISTLE OF ROMANS

Justification by Faith

“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:21-22 NIV).”

The issue of justification by faith and the relationship of works and the law has any role in salvation has been a doctrinal controversial since the Reformation. Martin Luther felt strongly that one is justified and thus restored to righteous by faith alone that he viewed this issue and Romans 3:21-26 is the central theme of the Bible.[1] Luther was strong in his conviction that faith and not works leads to one being declared worthy and significant, or righteous by God, he wished to have the Book of James declared uncanonical but included it in the Apocrypha of the Lutheran Bible with the following preface.

“In the first place it is flatly against St. Paul and all the rest of Scripture in ascribing justification to works.  It says that Abraham was justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac; though in Romans 4 St. Paul teaches to the contrary that Abraham was justified apart from works, by his faith alone, before he had offered his son, and proves it by Moses in Genesis 15. Now although this epistle might be helped and an interpretation devised for this justification by works, it cannot be defended in its application to works of Moses’ statement in Genesis 15. For Moses is speaking here only of Abraham’s faith, and not of his works, as St. Paul demonstrates in Romans 4. This fault, therefore, proves that this epistle is not the work of any apostle.[2]

“In the second place its purpose is to teach Christians, but in all this long teaching it does not once mention the Passion, the resurrection, or the Spirit of Christ. He names Christ several times; however, he teaches nothing about him, but only speaks of general faith in God. Now it is the office of a true apostle to preach of the Passion and resurrection and office of Christ, and to lay the foundation for faith in him, as Christ himself says in John 15, “You shall bear witness to me.” All the genuine sacred books agree in this, that all of them preach and inculcate Christ.[3]

Paul build his arguments with his thesis statement in Romans 3:21 22 No one can be redeemed righteous by the Law but is given to righteousness or justified in faith alone and by the profession of believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He then explains all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. This redemption is only available by the atonement, or blood sacrifice, that was offered up for all humanities sins on the cross, and in this act of ultimate justice, the sins of all humanity past, present and future are paid in full. This act was given out of grace alone.

He explains God is the God of all people both those under the Law although justification is achieved by faith not in observation or keeping the works of Law. He explains however, we do uphold the Law as faith does not nullify the Law but rather affirms the Law. It is in, by our Faith, and out of faith that all works and deeds therefore result. Thus work and deeds are a result of faith not a way of achieving faith or maintain righteousness or one is relational standing with Law.  The Greek word for faith, and believe chosen by Paul is Pistis / Pisteuo. In Greek mythology Pistis is the Spirit of faith, truth and honest who fled Pandora’s Box and abandoned humankind.

 

On the Issue of Continuity of Righteousness (James 2: 14:26)

Paul, continues his argument in Romans 4 illustrating the Life of Abraham and his obedience of Faith as result from the gracious promises and blessings bestowed on him as the result of his Salvation not  any actions or deed of his own intent as the results that led to the Covenant Relationship ( Righteousness.) Additionally Paul uses the illustration of the promise and blessing of an heir and nation to illustrate the inclusiveness of Salvation to all humanity. Furthermore, in the promise of the child being born to a barren mother shows ability as creator and originator of all thing. He who can create Life out of that which is formless or empty. He then states, “Abraham is the father of us all and God gives Life to the dead and call things that are not as though they were.” This passage, alludes to Eternal Life, and illustrates who Christ conquered sin and death.

Paul concludes by stating that Abraham offspring’s will be like him who had unwavering faith , when at 100 Sarah gave birth to Isaac and through his strengthened and unwavering faith he gave the glory to God and this is why we credit him righteous( romans 4:22). Finally concluding the words were not written credit to him for Abraham alone but for all of us also. However, for us this faith comes only in Jesus, our Lord raised from the dead, who conquered death and sin and was resurrected for our justification Romans 4; 23-25).

James 2: 14-26 states reasonable argument that on the surface level appears contrast Paul’s logical defense on Justification by Faith alone.  James contends faith, works and deeds are all necessary starts off by illustrating that if one has faith and does not practice deeds such as acts of charity can one truly be saved.  The key here I believe is a missing word James is not saying can one achieve righteous but can one who claims to have repented of sin and profess believe in Christ and thus have the Holy Spirit within truly be counted as righteous. Paul will build on this assumption himself in Romans 7, 8 and 12).

James states “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (James 2: 17). After the initial process of repentance, justification, baptism, transformation and sanctification process occurs and is ongoing. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” James continues, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder (James 2: 18-19).”  James states that faith without deeds is meaningless but faith and resulting deeds illustrates true righteousness. He then compares the works and faith of Abraham (In his sacrifice of Isaac) and Rahab the prostitute (who was made righteous by assisting the spies and gave them lodging), as examples how faith works and deeds are inseparable. However, the key to understanding James is that faith and deed result from faith not lead to faith or righteousness.  The righteousness James references here is more in lines with obedience of faith or sanctification of Paul. This is evident in his closing statement “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead (2 James 26).”

Thus, why many theologians have argued about a debate in position on justification between Paul and James and the position of faith, works and deeds , the main issue is over a misunderstanding on what James understood as righteousness.  For James righteousness is a state of obedient faith that produces actions and deeds as a result of faith in an ongoing process in the Christian life similar to or even equivocal to Paul’s view of transformation, obedience of faith and sanctification. The issue is thus one of church doctrine and dogma and not an issue of historical or apostolic significance as Luther and others claim.

When on is considering the issue of justification by faith from the perspective of Paul it is clear the Paul is stating that one is declared worthy and significant to be a member of God’s people and entitled to all the privileges of citizenship. The entitlements of citizenship are freedom from rigid servitude to any form of the law.-in such things humanity will never earn God’s favor.

However, the principle of obedient faith is an ongoing process of sanctification and transformation of the mind and heart. By resisting the ways of worldly things, immoral actions, and the giving one’s self-over to the guidance, care and direction of Christ and the Holy Spirit (Romans 12).  Furthermore, one is to glorify God in all areas of one’s life by being a living sacrifice and serving others out of humility (Romans 12:1-8). Finally, a life of active love is living out of the obedience leading of faith.  This form of Christ-likeness forms the standard of Christian conduct (Romans 12:9-21).

The initial act of justification is a gift of both grace and mercy given freely offered by Christ to all and is the result of the atoning sacrifice which serves as the repaid of sin that was offered up and fully redeemed on the Tree of Calvary. Therefore, Paul is merely stating that no good deed, moral action, or even attempt to obey and live by the Law of Moses can grant one Eternal life. One must repent, profess in faith in Jesus Christ alone. This is a heartfelt and spirit led desire to trust and believe that a life lived in sin is futile. Only in and thru Jesus who is both man and God can on achieve eternal life.

The Epistle of James is a book of wisdom. It teaches one how to apply inseparability of deed and action through faith and become Christ-like. Thus, James is writing on sanctification and Christian living.   In contrast, Paul’s principle of justification of faith applies to the initial act of one entering into the covenant of God or being granted citizenship into the Kingdom of Heaven.

The church doctrine of justification is centered on a social and cultural view. For Luther, the sacraments and all the “unneeded requirements of the Catholic Church seemed to complicate the complicate the matter of faith and brought distress, confusion and even uncertainty of one’s eternal security.” Thus, Luther concluded that once one is justified one’s faith is sanctified all one must do is live by faith alone. “Sanctification is nothing over or above living obediently by faith alone for in Jesus all are declared holy and righteous[4].”

An Analogy from History

An analogy from history may help clarify this position: When we were under the oppressive rule of England and sought our founding fathers wrote a The Declaration of Independence and stated are decision to succeed from the reign of rule. When we repent of our sins and profess That Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior our Authoritative King who died-for all sin, we state our intent to be set free from the oppression of the reign of Satan, self and the world itself.

In response to the Declaration of Independence, the Revolutionary War was waged as we fought for our Independence. The war we as believers wage is in part still going on and is why we must put on the Armor of God. In practice of the disciplines of truth, righteousness (morality), evangelism (Gospel), obedience of faith (trust and worship of God in all things), Salvation (   redemption, renewal, sanctification) and above all else study, mediation, and proclamation of the Word of God. Finally, we must pray for all people as well as we must under all occasions and circumstance whether we are in the face of adversity or giving the glory for blessings to God (Ephesians 6, Duet. 26:11).

However, the war is partial over as Christ conquered sin and death on the Tree of Calvary and the Bible provides all the necessary tools and serves as our Constitution or moral and spiritual guidebook, which is written on our heart.

As our nations is intended to be a melting pot of all oppressed and dispersed people we as soldiers under the commission of Christ and being restored to his Eikōn are commanded to make disciples of all people from every nations regardless of any cultural differences[5]. We serve as mentors as they strive by faith to enter citizenship into the Kingdom of God.

The main issue for Paul is how we become citizens to God’s Kingdom. Paul is merely stating throughout his argument on justification by faith alone we can never earn God’s favor. However after he builds his argument of how we are declared worthy and significant by the grace and mercy of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross and how the blood sacrifice fully paid the price for the sins of all humanity regardless of culture.  All must practice a life in obedience of faith.  This ongoing process of sanctification that he introduces in Romans 6:1-23 is one that involves a full transformation of mind and heart (Romans 12).  It requires of dying of selfish ways, and all though we are free from obligation of any form of the any laws we serve as living examples in our new body. This new image is a likeness of Christ or Eikōn. We live under a new moral code of ethics built on faith, love and for the Glory of God (Romans 12:3-Romans 15:13). Key points include being a good citizen, defense of the weak, not judging others sins as all are sinners themselves, encouragement, keeping the 10 commandments, not harming others and trust and hope in the power of the spirit which provides joy and in the scriptures. The last point simply is as a call for evangelism.

Many see salvation as only available to “The Elect as Paul speak of those who are predestined and chosen by God in Romans 8: 30-36. However if one carefully reads it is simply a statement of encouragement that for one who lives in obedience of faith and life that “ neither death nor life, angels or demons or any powers can separate us from creation once we are in the love and Eikōn of Christ and living for his Glory( Romans 8:38). For more on free will versus predestination on would recommend reading “The Salvation Debate” and Eternal Security Debate in Across the Spectrum  by Boyd and Eddy[6].

 

In God Christ and Spirit,

Trent Rindoks

 

Image result for tomb of christImage result for Holy Spirit

 

 

Bibliography

Boyd, Gregory A., and Paul R. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

Diehl, D. W. “Righteousness.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 1033-103. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Luther’s Treatment of the ‘Disputed Books’of the New Testament. 2016. http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html (accessed April 8, 2016).

Moo, Douglas J. “Romans. NIV Application Commentary.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000.

Packer, J. J. “Justification.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, by Walter A Elwell, 643-646. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

The Lausanne Covenant. Vol. 4th, in Perspectives On the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorn Stephen C, 764-768. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

 

[1] Luther’s Treatment of the ‘Disputed Books’ of the New Testament. 2016. http://www.bible-researcher.com/antilegomena.html (accessed April 8, 2016)

[2] Ibid

[3] Douglas J. Moo, “Romans. NIV Application Commentary.” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000).

[4] Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), 162-163.

[5] For more on diversity issues & world evangelism consult The Lausanne Covenant ( 1974):

The Lausanne Covenant. Vol. 4th, in Perspectives On the World Christian Movement, edited by Ralph D Winter, & Hawthorn Stephen C, 764-768. Pasadena: (William Carey Libary, 2009).

[6] Gregory A., Boyd,  and Paul R. Eddy, Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009).

 

 

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