Monday, February 5

Romans 8:10

Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Because of sin, we are all dead men walking. The men in the Confederate cemetery above are dead men in the grave. Physical death is a universal condition of humanity. Everyone, whether they are in Christ or not in Christ, has this destiny. However, those that are in Christ have his righteousness imputed to them and their spirit and soul is life. They are no longer spiritually dead, but are alive for all eternity. They have been redeemed and will only die the one physical death due to the corruption of sin. Those not in Christ are dead men walking physically and spiritually.

Righteousness is a requirement of spiritual life. However, human beings do not have this righteousness, and they have no way achieve it by their own effort. There is one way and only one way to be counted as righteous in the sight of God. While we do not actually become righteous, we can be reckoned as righteous through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus obtained for us what we could not do for ourselves. It is provided to us as gift for all who accept it through faith. Those that accept this gift are spiritually alive and those that reject it remain spiritually dead. This rejection does not cause spiritual death in sinners, but leaves them in the same state they were born in.

Choose spiritual life by placing your faith in Jesus Christ.

13 comments:

Even So... said...

Love the new look...

jazzycat said...

Thanks J.D. The colors match Jazzy. The new blogger caused the change.

Even So... said...

Hey, there is another JD out there...

jazzycat said...

Yes. J.D. the music man has just started a new blog called "Debunking Atheism"! Check it out.

bluecollar said...

Solid theology, Wayne

jazzycat said...

Thanks Mark. It is interesting to note that 100% of the people alive in the world when the soldiers in this photo died are also dead.

Steve said...

You have such rich posts. Thanks!

Exist~Dissolve said...

I'm not sure that this paradigm of vicarious righteousness is the best way in which to imagine the salvation that is realized in the advent of Christ. This righteousness motif which you have suggested leaves little or no room at all for reconciliation, recreation, etc., for the relationship between humans and God is characterized primarily, if not exclusively, on the basis of a third party (so to speak), this abstracted notion of "law" to which both God and humans are subject. In such a model, salvation is understood negatively, i.e., as privation of punishment for sin.

However, the Scriptures do not characterize salvation in such an apophatic way. Rather, salvation is about the recreation of the person and their reconciliation with God. It is about participation in the life of very God. In this light, salvation is not about the speculative relationship of a person to some abstracted concept of "righteousness;" rather, righteousness is defined and realized in how one is relationally connected to God. The former model creates an eternal and interminable distance between God (the disseminator of "justice" so called) and humans who are related to this God on the basis of their standing re: the law. The latter, however, defines the relationship of God and humanity on the basis of real relationship. In this sense, there no longer remains an abstracted barrier and liaison between the two.

It's interesting, because Paul (who you are quoting in this series of posts), speaks quite clearly about the deficiency of the paradigm of law to define the relationship between humans and God. To Paul, it is not that one legal framework (i.e., that of the Old Covenant) has simply been replaced by a new one (i.e., the New), but rather that the entire paradigm of "law" is inadequate to encapsulate the salvation that is made real in the Incarnation of Christ. Even the prophets of old envisioned this reality, for the covenant for which they longed was one in which the people of God would no longer be such by proxy--that is, by the intermediary work of "law." Rather, they looked for the day when the words, "they will be my people, and I will be their God" would be fulfilled. In Christ, this reality breaks into humanity's relationships, as the paradigms of law and retribution are overturned in God's dramatic judgment of the same in Christ. Here, a new way of living and relating to God is introduced, one not demarcated by "standing" in relation to arbitrary and abstracted notions of "righteousness," but rather one in which righteousness is based upon sharing in the life of very God.

jazzycat said...

Exist,
Thanks for your comment that seems very complicated to me. However, Paul in Romans clearly verifies what I have said in this short and to the point post.

Grace is a gift that justifies those who place their trust in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. This also includes a righteousness received through the same faith. It is all in the following verses and Romans 8 is amplifying the role of the Holy Spirit in this grace:

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Thanks for your comment that seems very complicated to me. However, Paul in Romans clearly verifies what I have said in this short and to the point post.

Well, I would certainly disagree. Paul appears to agree with you because you presuppose that he is speaking on the basis of Western, forensic conceptions of "justice" and "law." However, that such a direct equation can be made is hardly evident and, as I would argue, is a significant stretch that cannot be substantiated by a rigorous examination of the meta-contexts of Scripture (unless, of course, one wishes to place Paul outside of such, which raises a host of entirely different questions and problems).

Grace is a gift that justifies those who place their trust in the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. This also includes a righteousness received through the same faith. It is all in the following verses and Romans 8 is amplifying the role of the Holy Spirit in this grace:

I agree that it is grace that justifies those who have faith in Christ. However, the issue here is the meanings which are being assigned to the words. You presume, in light of your allegiances to Western conceptions of justice and law, that the notion of justification relates exclusively to a legal framework of relationship, i.e., God the judge vs. humans the judged. While I certainly will not deny that this is a possible interpretation, I do not think it is the only possible one, nor that it is the most meaningful in light of the theological implications of the Incarnation and atonement of Christ.

As I would argue, justification--rather than being limited to the notion of being "off the hook" from God's wrath against sin, is more appropriately deployed to describe the newness of life into which humans are recreated when they are joined into relationship with God through Christ. To limit justification, sanctification, etc. to merely legal relationships with God (that is, getting further and further away from the negative consequences of the same), IMO, destroys or significantly mitigates the full mystery and robust meaning of what Christ came to do.

That is, if the human problem of sin were merely that we are subject to the consequences of the divine law (which is what a legal conception of justification presupposes), it is difficult to imagine why God could not simply "get over" the enmity which God had towards human sinfulness. As God is not bound by any external compulsion (e.g., there is no notion of "necessity" which requires God to act in one way or another), there is no compelling reason why the satisfaction of this wrath must come through punishment, and especially that of Christ. Moreover, the questionable equation of the punishment of Christ for sin with the entirety of human sin merely underscores the arbitrariness of a legal conception of justification.

THerefore, as the problem of human sin is not God's anger, but rather humanity's separation from God on account of their own desire to be separated from God (and attendant inability to remedy this self-destruction), the answer to atonement and justification must answer what God in Christ does to change humanity so that 1.) they might be able to be reconciled to God and 2.) they might be able to persist in this relationship.

The model I have been suggesting, that is, of atonement focused on human recreation and restoration, answers these questions satisfactorily. In Christ, God encounters the entire force of human sinfulness, submitting to their judgment and indictment of divine holiness. Though killed by their power, Christ is justified even in the midst of sin's judgement of sin, for God raised him from the dead, showing that sin's indictment and judgment of God was entirely depraved and without merit. Shown thus to be entirely false, the powers of human sinfulness and evil were overcome, their power extinguished by God's definitive judgement of them in the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, now humans who are joined to Christ through faith are no longer subject to the power and destruction of human sinfulness but are rather able to participate in the newness of life which Christ experienced in the resurrection. Furthermore, this sharing in resurrection of life is more than a simple identification; unlike forensic models of atonement that apply the merits of Christ's atonement to humanity only vicariously, the model I am proposing suggests that to participate in Christ is to truly and fully become a new creation, even as Paul proclaimed in his letters to the Corinthians. We are not new creations merely by proxy or covering; rather, by faith in Christ, we share in the newness of life which God granted to him in the resurrection, our entire persons recreated and restored, our hearts reconciled to God.

Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith."

This verse very explicitly affirms what I have said. Judicial models of justification operate within the paradigm of law: whether one is speaking of Mosaic covenant or Christ's work, the law is the fundamental delineation of human relationship to God. In the one, the law of Moses stands as the intermediary between humans and God, and righteousness is proximal to the law and foreign to the person. In the same way, the logic is extended without change to considerations of Christ's work, and the righteousness of the law which is had by proxy is merely replaced with a proximal righteousness which is from Christ. However, it is entirely difficult for me to see how this notion relates to what Paul is saying. In these verses, Paul claims that the salvation of God which is made manifest in Christ is had through faith. In saying this, he is making an implicit indictment of the law which creates an interminable barrier between divine and human relationships. The promise of faith, to Paul, is that this barrier has been once and for all removed in the work of Christ, for Christ has overcome humanity's enmity toward God and the power of sin. However, the forensic model ignores all of this, and merely makes Christ's work the continuation of the previous hegemony of Law. In such a model, no real change occurs in the person--as righteousness is had merely by proxy, one must assert that the sinner remains a sinner for eternity, relating to God negatively through the "shielding" righteousness of Christ. I would suggest that such a view is insufficient to deal with the problem of sin, for it perpetuates the divine/human barrier eternally. No real relationship occurs in such a righteousness-by-proxy, as humans would live out eternity related to God-the-principal-of-law, not to the Triune persons of the Godhead.

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it-- 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

These verses, again, beautifully illustrate my point. Paul quickly recounts the history of human sinfulness--it is demarcated by enmity with God represented in the dividing wedge of the law which is incapable of producing reconciliation with God. However, the grace of God is revealed in Christ, as God overcomes human sinfulness. But notice what happens: In overcoming human sinfulness and the law, God does not replace one paradigm of law with another. Rather, that justification comes by faith apart from the confines of the law reveals that God in Christ operates completely outside of the bounds of the law. This is only natural, for if justification could not come according to the law, it would curious if Christ's work proceeded according to its rules...No, in Christ, God refuses to participate within and thus perpetuate the oppression of the law.

But why is this? Well, the oppression of the law exists because of humanity's sinfulness. The law encapsulates and fully represents the sinful attempts of humanity to be reconciled to God on their own terms. In essence, the law is a robust picture of everything that occurred in humanity's rebellion against God. However, when rescuing humanity, God operates not according to law, but grace. To operate according to law, in essence, would have been for God to capitulate to the claims of sinful humanity's pride: atonement on the basis of the law would have been to thoroughly and eternally give a seal of approval to humanity's primal rebellion. However, God does no such thing. Rather, in the life and death of Christ, God reveals that human reconciliation with God is not based upon law, but rather grace. That God has "passed over former sins" reveals not that God has withheld punishment (which would be, according to legal conceptions of atonement, thoroughly unjust of God...), but rather that from the earliest times reconciliation with God is of faith. In such a pronouncement, God reveals that human ideals of law, justice and retribution are the wrong paradigms for understanding relationship with God. Such constructs merely substantiate and proliferate the programme of human sinfulness. In the cross, God is Christ eschews these paradigms, clearly and definitively revealing the way to justification, not through the law but rather by faith in Christ.

But see what has happened? As the legal basis of justification no longer remains, what does the righteousness that comes from faith look like? If it is no longer delineated by one's "standing" in relation to the law, how should we define it? Per my previous statements, I would suggest that a good starting place would be the recreation, restoration and reconciliation of the person which occurs through Christ's work in the Incarnation and atonement. As Christ has been raised to newness of life in resurrection, so those who have faith in Christ share in this newness of life. As Christ has, in his very person, revealed the restoring and reconciling purposes of God in human history, so the justification which is by faith embodies this restorative and reconciling power. We are not righteous merely by proxy or pronouncement. Rather, even as we share in the newness of Christ's resurrected life by faith, so also by faith we share in his righteousness. In our very beings, we are recreated in the likeness of God. God is not tricked into thinking we are Christ by some outward covering; rather, our persons are restored and reconciled to very God as we participate within the newness of Christ's resurrected life. Truly enough, this righteousness is not our own. It is not something we have earned or created for ourselves. But it is real within us. It is not a covering that is placed on our heads by a legal pronouncement; rather, it becomes intrinsic to who we are as persons as we are continually recreated and renewed in the image of God through faith in Christ. That we should be made righteous is, in reality, the only hope that we have, for to be "righteous" is to be reconciled to God. Within a legal framework, one could be declared righteous by divine fiat; however, the divine pronouncement does not create the reconciliation which is necessary for us to escape the patterns and cycles of sinfulness, destruction and annihilation in which we persist. No, we must become new creations, and this is the way that Christ has paved for us.

jazzycat said...

As I would argue, justification--rather than being limited to the notion of being "off the hook" from God's wrath against sin, is more appropriately deployed to describe the newness of life into which humans are recreated when they are joined into relationship with God through Christ.

I believe you are talking about adoption that follows closely after justification in the salvation process. Justification gives the “no condemnation” verdict (Rom. 8:1) and adoption gives the benefits you describe.

it is difficult to imagine why God could not simply "get over" the enmity which God had towards human sinfulness.

This would compromise his holiness, righteousness, truthfulness, justice etc. He has sworn to punish sin and he must do it or violate his character.

Moreover, the questionable equation of the punishment of Christ for sin with the entirety of human sin merely underscores the arbitrariness of a legal conception of justification.

No, the math works well here. Infinite penalty required. Finite man must serve infinite sentence to satisfy justice. Jesus of infinite worth times a short finite time equals infinite satisfaction which is enough to cover all the sins ever committed.

……………………….the answer to atonement and justification must answer what God in Christ does to change humanity so that 1.) they might be able to be reconciled to God and 2.) they might be able to persist in this relationship.

Right, the answer is regeneration and is a work of God the Holy Spirit.

………………………….We are not new creations merely by proxy or covering; rather, by faith in Christ, we share in the newness of life which God granted to him in the resurrection, our entire persons recreated and restored, our hearts reconciled to God.

After regeneration and faith we become more and more sanctified but are still sinful until death when the final step of glorification occurs. However, we are reconciled at the moment of adoption.

…………………….In such a model, no real change occurs in the person--as righteousness is had merely by proxy, one must assert that the sinner remains a sinner for eternity, relating to God negatively through the "shielding" righteousness of Christ. I would suggest that such a view is insufficient to deal with the problem of sin, for it perpetuates the divine/human barrier eternally. No real relationship occurs in such a righteousness-by-proxy, as humans would live out eternity related to God-the-principal-of-law, not to the Triune persons of the Godhead.

This problem is solved at glorification when the redeemed sinner will be transformed and made sinless, perfect, and no longer able to sin.

……………………..Rather, that justification comes by faith apart from the confines of the law reveals that God in Christ operates completely outside of the bounds of the law. This is only natural, for if justification could not come according to the law, it would curious if Christ's work proceeded according to its rules...No, in Christ, God refuses to participate within and thus perpetuate the oppression of the law.

No, no, Christ fulfilled the law for sinners. He did what we couldn’t do. Check out Romans 5 and Jesus’ role as the second Adam. Through faith we have access to Christ paying sin debt and also receiving his righteous covering. This justifies.

……………..But it is real within us. It is not a covering that is placed on our heads by a legal pronouncement; rather, it becomes intrinsic to who we are as persons as we are continually recreated and renewed in the image of God through faith in Christ. That we should be made righteous is, in reality, the only hope that we have, for to be "righteous" is to be reconciled to God……………….

We have a serious disagreement here and I think you are going to be hard pressed to prove this from Scripture or from empirical evidence. If this is the core of your “model”, perhaps you should present it to someone much more theologically astute that me and see what they offer in response. I am not being short as I have been long already, but if you have a serious departure from orthodox Pauline theology, I think you should air it out with someone more qualified than me.

Exist~Dissolve said...

I believe you are talking about adoption that follows closely after justification in the salvation process. Justification gives the “no condemnation” verdict (Rom. 8:1) and adoption gives the benefits you describe.

But what picture of God-human relationships does this leave us with? The framework of justification which you suggest supposes that God is unwilling to be reconciled to humanity in the absence of violence and retribution. Yet the ultimate expression of this retribution in enacted within God's ownself. Therefore, one must assert that on the one hand, God is unwilling to be reconciled to sinners because of some internal necessity to punish sin, and at the very same time, God is the only one who can "pay" the necessary debt of this internal judicial necessity. In such a scenario, the only reconciliation that occurs is that which transpires within God's own being, as God does that which God requires to be reconciled to humanity. However, if from start to finish the necessity lies entirely within God's own person--never touching upon the human problem of sinfulness---then I honestly cannot see how justice is served more through God's self-punishment rather than by God simply "getting over" the need for the same.

This would compromise his holiness, righteousness, truthfulness, justice etc. He has sworn to punish sin and he must do it or violate his character.

Why would such an act compromise God's holiness? If God is truly holy in and of God's own being, then that which God does is holy, regardless of the phenomenological consequences which ensue. To suggest that one action or another would violate God's holiness is to imply rather straightforwardly that there exists some standard external to God to which is subject and against which God's actions are judged to be holy or otherwise.

As to God's swearing to punish sin, I do not understand how this squares with the passage you quoted in your previous response. If God "passed over" sins committed in the past, then God has not punished them. Morever, simply transferring the punishment of all sin to Christ's death is not in keeping with the picture of justice you have suggested, for how can one person justly endure the punishment of sin for another? If the transferability of "debt" and punishment is as you have suggested, why should we not allow criminals to choose surrogate sufferers for their crimes? Or why should parents not be allowed to serve jailtime in their children's stead? Obviously, in light of Western, abstract conceptions of justice, such a suggestion is absurd and would reveal justice-so-called to be entirely arbitrary. However, by suggesting that such a model is fitting for atonement is to place an infinitized arbitrariness on the justice of God. That is, if God can transmute the sins of all humanity to the one person of Christ, and in his singular death punish all sin, then the justice that is supposedly upheld is shown to be entirely arbitrary and capricious. But if it is demarcated by arbitrariness and capriciousness, then there is no remaining impetus to appeal to some internal dynamic of "constancy" within the psychology of God that would require particular actions (the same which would be required in the model of justice which you have suggested).

No, the math works well here. Infinite penalty required. Finite man must serve infinite sentence to satisfy justice. Jesus of infinite worth times a short finite time equals infinite satisfaction which is enough to cover all the sins ever committed.

The math is not the biggest problem; the more serious detriment of such a notion of justice is the fitness of it in light of presumptions about Western notions of justice. While one could possibly say that Christ's suffering is equivalent to the suffering due for all of sin, the problem lies in question of whether or not it is fitting that one person could be able to suffer for all. Even more problematic, however, is the question of whether or not it is fitting that God should suffer for the sins of humanity. In human terms, it is conceivable that a judge could suffer for the judged (even though the fitness of this is extremely questionable in terms of the abstract conception of justice in Western thinking). This would only be permissable because both the judge and judged are subject to a greater law that is external to both and which imposes its will upon both. With God, however, no such scenario can be conceived, for God is not bound to an external judicial directive that would establish the fitness of such an action. Rather, as you yourself have admitted, this judicial impetus is located within Godself. Therefore, there is nothing in the scenario of divine suffering that establishes the notion of justice that you have described. After all, as God is not a sinner and not subject to the consequences of the law of sin (which you have described), there is no way in which God could interact with the consequences of this law in a retributory way. And even if God did, justice (as you have described it) would not be served, for God's punishment is not because of sin (for God is not a sinner). Therefore, either way that one looks at it, the only conclusion that can be reached is that God does, in fact, simply "get over" the impetus to punishment which you advocate, for even in the punishment and suffering of Godself, God's justice is not engaged nor satisfied.

This is precisely why I suggest that a new paradigm for understanding atonement and God's justice in desperately needed. The view which you advocate leaves us with a picture of a self-conflicted God who acheives atonement not by dealing with the problem of sin, but rather by resolving the divine conflict between the desire (and, as you have suggested, need) to punish and divine grace.

Right, the answer is regeneration and is a work of God the Holy Spirit.


But does the view you hold to really teach this? If we are righteous merely by "proxy" and "covering," then what meaningfulness does the concept of "regeneration" offer? If we are still dead in sin and accepted by God only because we are "masked" by Christ, in what way are we "new" creatures?

After regeneration and faith we become more and more sanctified but are still sinful until death when the final step of glorification occurs. However, we are reconciled at the moment of adoption.

How do you understand the concept of "reconciliation?" If we are ever sinners, able to relate to God only by the proxic "covering" of Christ, what then is the nature of this reconciliation and adoption? To me, it sounds like we are adopted by someone who lives halfway across the universe that only wants to know us if we look like his oldest natural child...not really a very robust image of adoption and reconciliation, IMO.

This problem is solved at glorification when the redeemed sinner will be transformed and made sinless, perfect, and no longer able to sin.

Why is the problem not solved until glorification? I thought the problem was solved in atonement...the solution you seem to be suggesting appears to insinuate that death is the final solution to the problem of sin. After all, if we cannot be transformed into being pleasing to God until we are dead, then it is death---not the work of Christ---that is the ultimate arbiter of salvation to human persons.

No, no, Christ fulfilled the law for sinners. He did what we couldn’t do. Check out Romans 5 and Jesus’ role as the second Adam. Through faith we have access to Christ paying sin debt and also receiving his righteous covering. This justifies.

I do not understand how you can appeal to Romans 5 to prove this point. Paul's entire logic in Romans 5 is a juxtaposition of law and grace, not the verification of the law as you propose. He says that the paradigms of the law are what held the human race in captivity to sin. How can they then be the foundation for salvation? Therefore, the gift which is given in Christ does not operate on the basis of law (which would only perpetuate the slavery and destructive power of human patters of sin), but rather on the basis of grace. Jesus is the second and victorious Adam because, whereas the first chose law and self-justificaiton and his pattern for relating to God, the second Adam chose grace. Therefore, this act of rejection of the law and embrace of grace becomes efficacious for all those who will be joined to Christ, for by entering into the newness of his life, they are able to escape the patterns and corruption of law.

We have a serious disagreement here and I think you are going to be hard pressed to prove this from Scripture or from empirical evidence. If this is the core of your “model”, perhaps you should present it to someone much more theologically astute that me and see what they offer in response. I am not being short as I have been long already, but if you have a serious departure from orthodox Pauline theology, I think you should air it out with someone more qualified than me.

The Scriptures testify quite clearly that the modus operandi of salvation is the recreation of the person, not a legal pronouncement. If salvation were about divine fiat, God could have effectively declared us righteous without the Incarnation, for as I have already pointed out, there is nothing which requires God to act one way or another in order to fulfill divine righteousness and justice. THerefore, as the problem of sin is NOT that God needs a change of mind, but rather that we need a change of heart, the Incarnation is entirely necessary so that we might be recreated in the image of God and the righteousness of Christ. Without a fundamental and intrinsic change in our very person, we have no hope of reconciliation with God, for not even a divine pronouncement of judicial innocence can save us from the destructive and annihilating power of sin. Only the reconstitution of the person can be salvifically efficacious, and this is what we have in Christ. Anything less, IMO, is a serious degradation of not only the necessity of salvation, but even more importantly the incredible gift of grace that is manifest in Christ and the newness of life and being which he offers to all without condition.

Concerning "Pauline orthodoxy," a quick review of historical theology will reveal that the judicial/forensic view of Pauline theology which you claim is "orthodox" (i.e., universally held) is actually quite a recent phenomenon, and does not nearly characterize the whole of historical theology concerning the Pauline theological programme.

jazzycat said...

Exist,
I feel like to answer your many points would really be re-answering what I have already stated and you have already interpreted in a manner that I did not intend (for example: my explanation of the need and results of regeneration). Therefore, maybe you could present your total thesis on your blog and present it to some seminary student bloggers and get their input.

I have visited your blog, but I do not choose to jump through hoops to be able to comment. Maybe you could make that easier.

Wayne