The unity of the doctrine of justification by faith as it is progressively revealed in Holy Scripture
Our Old Testament studies in the doctrine of justification lead to the conclusion that believers were justified under the Law, not by obedience to the Law, but by fleeing from the threats of the Law to the refuge of faith in the Promise given to Abraham. This is how they became children of Abraham and heirs with him of the same Promise. The Old Testament offerings pointed to the expiation of sins through the shedding of blood and to the appeasing of God's wrath indicated by the symbolism of the smoke ascending thus indicating a pleasing sacrifice to God. In the Prophets, the Servant (Isaiah 53) is described as the Righteous One who justifies many. The righteousness that Abraham received through faith in the promise, Isaiah now indicates that this same righteousness is provided by the Servant of the Lord. This shows the progressive nature of the revelation regarding justification. In Jeremiah 23, we see the transfer of righteousness. The Messiah is described as being righteous or establishing righteousness and he becomes "our righteousness." This is expressed in older Protestant theology by the phrase "the imputation of Christ's righteousness". We conclude that believers are counted righteous before God because he permits them to share Christ's status of acceptance before him. In the Psalms we find emphasis on substitution and atonement, and the revelations of a suffering messiah who would bear the sins of the people. The revelation received warranted confidence that God was a forgiving God and that, atonement having been made, forgiveness was not only possible, but sure and certain to all in covenant with Yahweh, showing the unity of the doctrine in both testaments. From our studies in Matthew we conclude that Jesus had not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, rather, he came to fulfil them. The Law and the Prophets pointed to him, but the Law and the Prophets demanded righteousness. Until now the Law had only been broken, never kept, but this man never breaks it; he keeps it perfectly; he is the Righteous One. Considering the forgiveness of sins, in both Luke and Acts we come to the conclusion that it is the same forensic reality; that in both books it is conditioned on repentance and faith. However, in Acts it is clearly and demonstrably based on Christ's death and resurrection, and the promise of the Holy Spirit. We conclude from the writings of Paul, that justification is basic to Paul's doctrine of salvation, and, theologically, Paul's writings contain the most highly developed expression of this truth in the New Testament. Paul gives first place in Romans to the 'good news' that God graciously justifies sinners through faith alone in Jesus Christ apart from the works of the law. Romans 1:16-17 contains Paul's thesis in the book of Romans: that the power of God is revealed through the gospel for all who have faith. In the remainder of the letter be argues the case for this thesis and defends it against objections. He begins in 1: 18 -3:20 by arguing that God is righteous and makes no difference between Jew and Gentile in the matters of sin, judgement and salvation. Both are justified in the same way, by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and apart from works of the law.
- ETD@PUK