Audio: Exposition of the Nine Points (pt 9)-Two Stages of Justification?

Exposition of the Nine Points (pt 9)-A Two Stage Justification?

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  1. I’ve heard the “legal fiction” charge from mostly Roman Catholics, but who is really believing a fiction in this matter of justification? The Protestant view being based on the righteousness of a truely righteous representative may by rejected, but it cannot be called legal fiction with any warrant.

    The view that states that one who has only partial righteousness can be recognized as truely righteous is the view that believes a fictional righteousness. It seems to me that the rock throwers here are living in glass houses while throwing their rocks at a brick wall.

  2. Clark:“They said, ‘In this life, you’re justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But, at the judgment, its a little different.’ What’s the effect of that? If in this life you’re justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but at the judgment you have to stand partly on the basis of Spirit wrought sanctity, what good does it really do to say ‘In this life.’ Who’s worried about standing before God in this life?… So they confess the orthodox faith but then they set it on fire by saying ‘at the judgment its different.'”

    “Look, for example, at Romans 2:13. This is one of the verses to which they appeal. This might be the linchpin verse for their case… You can’t smuggle into Romans 2:13 grace and cooperation or Spirit wrought sanctity. That’s not in this passage. That’s not in this context.

    Thank you Dr. Clark. How does this relate to men like Piper who affirm the imputed righteousness of Christ as the only basis (in both “justifications”), but who also say there is a difference between initial justification and final justification, with our works playing the determining role in our final justification?

    For example, in his sermon on Romans 2:13, Piper says:
    The phrase “will be justified” expresses getting right with God….What is the gospel about? It is about future judgment….I think that when Paul says, “doers of the law will be justified,” he means that there really are such people, and they are the only people who will be acquitted at the judgment. This is not a hypothetical statement. It is a statement of actual, experienced fact. When Christ comes into a person’s life by the power of the Holy Spirit through faith in the Gospel, that person becomes a “doer of the law.”

    Summarizing Piper’s view in comparison to Wright’s, Christianity Today said:
    Piper: Present justification is based on the substitutionary work of Christ alone, enjoyed in union with him through faith alone. Future justification is the open confirmation and declaration that in Christ Jesus we are perfectly blameless before God. This final judgment accords with our works. That is, the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives will be brought forward as the evidence and confirmation of true faith and union with Christ. Without that validating transformation, there will be no future salvation.

    Here are other quotes from Piper:

    Several times Paul listed certain kinds of deeds and said, “those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In other words, when these deeds are exposed at the judgment as a person’s way of life, they will be the evidence that their faith is dead and he will not be saved. As James said, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). That is what will be shown at the judgment…. In other words, the way one lived will be the evidence whether one passes through judgment to life or whether one experiences judgment as condemnation. (Future Grace, p366)

    “If we do not have a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus says, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:20). Everything we have seen in this chapter shows that Jesus is not thinking here mainly of his own righteousness that is imputed to us. He is thinking of the kind of internal transformation and external application revealed in the following six antithesis of Matthew 5:21-48.” (What Jesus Demands form the World p209)

    How then can I say that the judgment of believers will not only be the public declaration of our differing rewards in the kingdom of God, according to our deeds, but will also be the public declaration of our salvation – our entering the kingdom – according to our deeds? The answer is that our deeds will be the public evidence brought forth in Christ’s courtroom to demonstrate that our faith is real. And our deeds will be the public evidence brought fourth to demonstrate the varying measures of our obedience of faith. In other words, salvation is by grace through faith, and rewards are by grace through faith, but the evidence of invisible faith in the judgment hall of Christ will be a transformed life. (Future Grace, p364)

    It seems clear to me that while he affirms Christ’s imputed righteousness as the only meritorious cause, he makes both faith and works co-instrumental at the final judgment (which, as you pointed out, is the only one that really matters).

    Your thoughts are appreciated.

    (Btw, your comments about “rationalism” were quite absurd.)

    • Brandon,

      Why is it absurd to identify rationalism and moralism? In the history of theology rationalists have always been moralists and moralists have always been rationalists. Further, Luther himself connected the two in his distinction between a theology of glory and a theology of the cross. The theology of glory refers at once both to rationalism AND to moralism. The spring from the same well.

      Show me a rationalist who isn’t a moral or a moralist who isn’t a rationalist?

      As to Piper, he’s just flat wrong and he needs to repudiate this teaching. It’s contrary to the Reformation, to the Reformed confessions, and to the gospel.

      I think John Fesko has done a terrific job on this. I should have remembered to encourage people to read his fine book on justification.

      • Show me a rationalist who isn’t a moral or a moralist who isn’t a rationalist?

        According to your definition of “rationalist” (someone who seeks to resolve paradoxes), Gordon Clark was a “rationalist.” Gordon Clark was not a moralist. Doug Wilson is not a “rationalist.” Doug Wilson is a moralist.

        Please let me know if I have misunderstood your meaning.

        • Gordon Clark WAS a rationalist. See my essay

          “Janus, the Well-Meant Offer of the Gospel and Westminster Theology,” in David VanDrunen, ed., The Pattern of Sound Words: A Festschrift for Robert B. Strimple (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2004), 149-80.

          To be fair, I don’t think GC was a moralist but his definition of faith, in justification, was intellectualist. It isn’t that of HC 21 or BC 22-23 or WCF 11.

          When I said ‘rationalist’ in the lecture I was thinking in soteriological categories. I was thinking of Baxter or the meonomians or the Remonstrants et al

          Sent from my iPhone

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