Rethinking Justification by Faith: Introduction

Rethinking Justification by Faith: Introduction

In the thought of Paul and the New Testament as a whole, the basis upon which believers are justified and forgiven is not Jesus’ death on their behalf but the new life of righteous that God brings about in them through faith by pure grace. In spite of their sinfulness, God accepts believers as they are, not because Jesus atoned for their sins in his death, but because as they look to Christ in faith they are transformed into the persons God desires them to be for their own good.

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Paul and the Righteousness of Faith

Paul and the Righteousness of Faith

Behind Paul’s language regarding the justification of believers in Christ is the conviction that it is through Christ and the faith associated with him that God brings about in believers by pure grace the new life of justice and righteousness that he wishes to see in all for their own good out of love for them. Because it is not necessary to submit fully to the commandments of the Mosaic law in order to attain that life, even non-Jews can receive it as a gracious gift through faith in Christ.

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Justification, Salvation, and the Work of Christ in Paul’s Thought

Justification, Salvation, and the Work of Christ in Paul’s Thought

Pauline scholars commonly look to the ideas of substitution and participation to interpret Paul’s affirmations that believers have been justified, redeemed, and reconciled to God through Jesus’ death or blood. Here it is argued that both of those ideas as traditionally understood are foreign to Paul’s thought and that a proper understanding of the narrative that lies behind his allusions to Jesus’ death is sufficient to grasp their meaning.

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Did Paul Get Luther Right?

Did Paul and Luther proclaim the same gospel? Although Luther’s understanding of the work of Christ reflects some ideas that are foreign to Paul’s thought, both agree on the heart of the gospel, namely, that justification is by faith alone, since “faith alone fulfills the law.” In Christ God graciously accepts sinners just as they are, so that as they live out of faith, trusting solely in God for forgiveness and new life, they may become the righteous people God desires that they be, not for God’s sake, but for theirs.

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Sola Fide and Luther’s Analytic Understanding of Justification

For centuries, Western Christian theologians have been divided over the question of whether the basis upon which believers in Christ are justified and forgiven is the change and renewal that God brings about in them through faith or instead the atoning work of Christ carried out prior to and independently of any such change and renewal. A reexamination of Martin Luther’s thought on the subject can offer fresh answers to that question.

 

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