God Justifies the Ungodly-Romans 4:5

We have seen that justification is the act of God by which He declares as righteous those who accept by faith the righteous works which Jesus performed on their behalf and in their place. Those who have placed their trust in Jesus have been justified, they measure up and are accepted by God because they do so. Paul then concludes his teaching on jusification in Romans 5:19, in which he tells us that “through the obedience of the one man, the many shall be made righteous (justified).” The Greek word “made” here is kathistemi. This is a compound word consisting of histemi (to sit or place) and kata (down). The use of the prefix kata here gives the word an idea of permanence or settledness. It is often translated as to constitute or render, and is used here to refer to the permanence of justification, along with the comprehensiveness of it as well. Those who are justified are “made or constituted” righteous, they have been declared righteous by God and that is what they are, because we are what God says we are, and God is the one who tells us the way things are. In this passage, God tells us that there are really only two kinds of people, referred to here as “sinners” or “righteous”. All who are “in Christ” are righteous and all who are “in Adam” are unrighteous. This is what theologians refer to as imputed righteousness or unrighteousness, the idea that whether we are justified by God depends not on how we behave but on who we are “in”. All who are “in Christ” are justified by God, and all who are “in Adam” will be condemned. This teaching of imputed righteousness has been very difficult for some to accept, for they assert that it is based upon a “legal fiction”, asserting that God cannot declare something which is contrary to fact, that God cannot declare righteous someone who in fact is not. This dispute has raged on for some time, and the real nature of it is not primarily biblical, for the Bible very clearly teaches imputed righteousness, even telling us plainly that “God justifies the ungodly” (Romans 4:5). This dispute is by its nature not biblical but philosophical, and originates in one’s conception of what constitutes a “fact”. The branch of philosophy known as epistemology deals with this issue, for it is the study of knowledge. It essentially wrestles with the issue of just what constitutes knowledge, just what can be known as fact or should be dismissed as myth or belief. At its core, it is an investigation into what “justifies” an assertion and makes it a “fact”, and our subject of imputed righteousness is a prime example of the effect of our epistemology. Those who accept imputed righteousness operate within an epistemology which accepts that an assertion is jutified and to be accepted as fact simply because God said it is so. If God says that’s the way it is, then that’s the way it is. Those who reject imputed righteousness operate under a different epistemology, accepting an assertion as fact only when it accords with their own observation and experience. The bottom line in all of this, then, is that it is up to each human being to choose for themselves what their epistemology will be, to choose what determines whether or not they will accept something as fact or reject it as assertion or speculation. Those who operate under a biblical epistemology will accept what the Word of God says as truth and fact because the fact that God said it is enough to justify it, to make it acceptable as fact. Those who have accepted a more secular epistemology will require some other form of justification, some further “evidence” to accept a biblical assertion as fact. This is the root of the “legal fiction” viewpoint. It is our prayer that all who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior would operate under a biblical epistemology, that they would accept as fact whatever God says, for God’s “word is truth” (John 17:17) and is to be the basis of the epistemology of every believer. We are justified and righteous because God says we are, we have been constituted righteous through faith in Jesus Christ and require no further “evidence” to rest in that knowledge, imputed righteousness is not a legal fiction but an accepted and established fact.

No Comments Christian Philosophy  //  Growing In Grace  //  Salvation and Redemption

Leave a Reply

Pure Spiritual Milk

SEO Copy... Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse nunc turpis, cursus et interdum sed, lobortis vitae nunc. Integer placerat tellus odio, non sodales arcu fermentum id. Mauris vitae eleifend leo, et rhoncus odio. Ut et arcu eu ex tempus ultricies eu vel lorem. Curabitur eu consectetur neque. Suspendisse volutpat nibh urna, sit amet aliquet augue imperdiet in. Etiam eget felis pellentesque, dapibus dolor ut, sodales justo. Mauris eu arcu lectus. Suspendisse odio ex, dignissim sit amet ornare eget, elementum at odio.