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Paul and James Reconciled

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by Kenneth Roberson, Nov 8, 2020.

  1. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    Lack of Christian character? Did I say that?

    Yes, there is a way to reconcile James and Paul, with Paul meaning "by faith alone", and James meaning "not by a faith that is alone."

    It is Jas 2:24 that is an incorrect statement:

    "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  2. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    It's not an incorrect statement, though, it's just one that can be easily twisted and most people when seeking to "reconcile" the two statements are trying to force one to conform to the other. James and Paul are complementary, it's simply their differing concerns lead them to apply similar wording to opposite contexts. Polemicists want Paul to be saying that we are free to do as we like, so long as we "believe" in Christ, on the other side they want James to be saying that our good deeds are what effects our salvation. Both of those are incorrect, and Paul and James both agree that what saves is that we believe God. Paul's concern, principally, is what gives our salvation its content and that is purely Jesus. James, though, is examining what it means to believe God. Any who reads all of Paul's writings would be hard pressed to come away with the impression that Paul has no concern for how we conduct ourselves, as that makes up far more of his writing than the theological concerns so understanding "salvation by faith" as an empty confession of faith is beyond the scope. Our conduct matters and must be in accord with our faith, or else we are deceiving ourselves when we claim to have faith.
     
  3. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    No, what saves that we believe in the Promise.
    I really like your response. Just to clarify:

    Does your statement "what saves is that we believe God" equate to "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement (one who would turn aside his wrath, taking away sin) through faith in his blood"? (Ro 3:25)

    Does "what gives salvation its content is purely Jesus" equate to simply believing that Jesus is the Son of God, who reconciles sinners to God?

    Does "James is examining what it means to believe God" equate simply to "justification" (declared "not guilty," given right-standing in God's court), which is the subject James is examining (Jas 2:24)?
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  4. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    The first would be a yes, the second a qualified yes, and the third partially. The qualification for the second is that simply believing that Jesus is the Son of God, who reconciles sinners to God is sufficient but by its very nature will result in more than just believing. The reason I cannot take the third as a simple yes is that justification is more than simply being declared righteous, it is actually being made righteous. As I said earlier, the difference between James and Paul is how they use the word "by" because James is using it in a declarative sense whereas Paul is using it in a substantial sense. From James, we learn that our justification is made known through works while from Paul we learn that our salvation is purely a work of God. The dead faith James is speaking of is a false confession of belief because if you truly believe that Jesus died on the cross for you, in gratitude you will do as He commands and it will be a joy.
     
  5. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    But if I don't apprehend (lay hold of) Jesus' death on the cross to satisfy God's justice personally on my sin, do I actually have saving faith in his blood (Ro 3:25), which is the means of righteousness (justification) from God (Ro 3:22)?
    Two things:
    1) Declaring one righteous ("not guilty") and being made righteous ("not guilty")
    are one and the same with Paul.

    2) There are two kinds of righteousness in the NT: justification and sanctification.
    Justification is the declaration by God of "not guilty," giving right-standing (only) before God (Ro 4:5).
    Sanctification is the process of growing in righteousness (holiness) through obedience (Ro 6:19, 22).
    The declarative sense is the substantial sense in Paul because, in God's declarative sense, "not guilty" (justification) makes one not guilty in the substantial sense.

    James states:
    "Was not our ancestor Abraham considered (regarded as) righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?" (Jas 2:21).
    Yes, he was regarded as righteous in Ge 23, but that was not when he was made righteous,
    that was not when "Abraham was justified"--Ro 4:1-3 (declared "not guilty"),
    that was not when guiltlessness was imputed through faith to him,
    which was some 40 years earlier back in Ge 15:6.

    James' use in 2:21 of "considered (regarded as) righteous" is not Paul's usage of justification in regard to Abraham in Ro 4:1-3, which usage is always "made righteous" ("not guilty" in substance).

    James' use of righteous (justification) in 2:21 is confusing at best,
    while in 2:24 it is actually contradictory to Paul:
    Jas 2:24 - "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."

    Ro 4:5 - "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God
    who justifies the wicked (those with no good works),
    his faith is imputed (credited) to him as righteousness."
    I've always thought that "gratitude" is a complete miss, based in human rationale.

    It is for the sake of relationship and desire for him that one does what he commands.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  6. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    The separation of justification from sanctification is an innovation of Luther, and while it serves a purpose in denouncing the practice of penance and other false works-based salvations it now seems to cause confusion allowing for license and antinomianism. This is partly because "justification" has come to be most strongly associated with Roman court proceedings rather than the Kingly inspection it is most likely referencing, a change that can be seen in the 4th and 5th century starting with Augustine. Jesus justifies us in both senses of the word, through declaration and through making that declaration an actual truth. Most of what you are saying is systematic theologies developed by men, it's philosophy and can be useful but it is not ultimate truth.
     
  7. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    Actually, it's an "innovation" of the revelation Paul received from Jesus personally, in the third heaven.
    We find this use of "justification" nowhere else in Scripture until Paul.
    But Augustine wasn't Roman. . .Paul was. . .writing to those who lived under the reference points of Roman rule. It is Paul who associates justification with Roman court proceedings.
    Yes, sanctification (righteousness) is the fruit of justification (righteousness)--Ro 14:17; 2Co 6:7, 14; Eph 6:14; Jas 5:16; 1Pe 3:2.
    But in NT usage, "justification" does not have two senses, it is "righteousness" that has two senses.

    Indeed, justification (God's declaration of "not guilty")--no longer guilty of the sin of Adam (Ro 5:14), no longer under the wrath of God on unbelief (Jn 3:18, 36), does produce the fruit of holiness (righteousness), but justification in itself is not holiness, it is only right-standing before God's court.

    Paul sometimes distinguishes between effects and their inseparable source/cause--faith from works, works from justification, holiness from justification, where even though the two are inseparable--as works are the necessary results/proof of true faith, as works are the necessary results/proof of justification, as holiness is the necessary result/proof of justification, Paul presents these effects as distinct from their source/cause, because the distinctions are important to rightly understanding his revelation.

    Eph 2:8-9 - "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. . .not by works. . ."
    (faith separated from works).

    Ro 4:5 - "However, to the man who does not work but trusts God (i.e., faith) who justifies the wicked,
    his faith is credited as righteousness (works separated from justification).

    Ro 6:19, 22 - ". . .offer them (your bodies) in slavery to righteousness, leading to holiness"
    ". . .the benefit you reap leads to holiness"
    (justification separated from holiness). Also see1Tim 6:11; 2Tm 2:22, 3:16; Heb 12:11.

    Likewise, with righteousness in justification.
    Paul distinguishes the two kinds of righteousness--one is right-standing (justification),
    the other is the character produced in obedience (sanctification), which

    sanctification (righteous character) is the result of the obedience which results from
    justification (righteous-standing before God). Paul is emphatic in distinguishing between the two kinds of righteousness, because works (obedience) are a component of sanctification (righteousness), but are emphatically excluded from justification (righteousness).
    As your hermeneutic is developed by men?

    Systematic theology is simply a coherent presentation of the relationships of Biblical truths, which truths are not presented in any particular order in Scripture.
    And to the degree that systematic theology conforms to those truths, in the context of all Scripture, it is ultimate truth, the Word of God, being understood in the light of the whole counsel of God.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  8. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    The problem is you're treating God's declaration of righteousness as a fiction, separating righteousness into something declared and something realized. Righteousness is only one thing, having right standing with God. Justified/justification is used in multiple senses throughout the NT as both the moment of coming into and the reason for right standing. By separating justification and sanctification in the manner you are you are placing a moral law as existing independent from God's declaration, when in fact righteousness is wholly and entirely based on God's statement. As for your statement about Paul/Augustine, the Roman court model hadn't developed during Paul's time which we can see by the manner in which he was tried in Acts 24-26, where it was the governor/Caesar who decided a person's fate not a judge/jury and the questions went beyond merely a guilt/innocence question and the decision was seen as an absolute fact. Augustine, on the other hand, lived in a time when law was tried in a similar manner to how we now do it, where the decision is an abstract declaration separate from what is necessarily true but instead is in accordance with a technical standard.
     
  9. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    But it is Paul who treats God's declared righteousness as a fiction, by
    separating righteousness into
    something declared excluding works (justification)--Ro 4:5 and
    something realized through works of obedience (sanctification)--Ro 6:19, 22.
    And both "the moment of coming into" and the "reason for" right-standing
    are one and the same--God's declaration (pronouncement).
    But it is Paul (Ro 6:19) who places a moral/law (work of obedience) as existing in
    sanctification (righteousness)--Ro 6:19, 22,
    independent from God's declaration (statement) of justification (righteousness),
    w
    hich emphatically excludes a moral/law (works of obedience)--Ro 4:5.
    And Paul reveals that the governor/God's declaration of right-standing before him (justification)
    is an absolute fact, made a fact by his just declaration of it, and does decide his fate.
    But it is Paul who reveals that God's declaration of "not guilty" and in right-standing with him is
    not Augustine's abstract declaration separate from what is necessarily true, but
    is God's declaration not separate from what is necessarily true, because
    God's pronouncement of it causes it to be necessarily true.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  10. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    No, Paul doesn't do any of the things you're ascribing to him. In no way does he treat it as if the one declared righteous is not actually righteous, Romans 4 isn't about soteriology it's a contradiction of circumcision. Paul's arguments are directed against Jewish Christians who think their justification comes according to the work of circumcision but Paul is emphasizing that God did not need that external sign to know Abraham was righteousness, instead recognizing his righteousness before instituting his circumcision. This is not the same as excluding a moral law, which is why James serves as such a perfect complement taking the exact same verse from Genesis and applying it to another situation with the same punchline. God knew Abraham was righteous, and when Abraham acted according to the righteousness that God recognized Abraham's righteousness was revealed. There's no indication that Abraham was not actually righteous when God declared it, in fact to read it that way defies the Genesis account. Romans 9 Paul isn't separating obedience to God's justice from the declaration of righteousness, he is laying out that God's justice is a product of His character. You're cutting up this letter into snippets in order to create a philosophical system without understanding the context and in so doing are completely twisting Paul's words.
     
  11. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    It is Paul's own words which do the ascribing.

    Paul treats it as the one declared righteous being made righteous by the declaration.

    Soteriology is about the salvation in Jesus Christ.
    Salvation is by faith, which justifies.
    Ro 4 is about justification--the forgiveness of sin, right standing before God
    which results from faith, and which justification saves from God's just wrath on sin at the Judgment.

    "A man is not justified (pronounced righteous) by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law (good works) no one will be justified (righteous)." (Gal 2:16)
    Their is every Biblical indication that Abraham was not righteous when God declared (pronounced) it:

    All are born condemned by the sin of Adam (Ro 5:18); i.e., original sin,
    all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Ro 3:23),
    the whole world is a prisoner of sin (Gal 3:22),
    no one is righteous, not even one (Ro 3:9-19),
    God has bound all men over to (locked them up in) disobedience (Ro 11:32),
    by nature (with which we are born) objects of wrath (Eph 2:3),
    condemned already (by Adam's sin) if we do not come out of unbelief (Jn 3:18),
    God's wrath remaining on us (because of our fallen nature) if we reject the Son (Jn 3:36),
    justified freely (given right-standing; i.e., righteous) by his grace (Ro 3:24),
    justified by faith apart from observing the law (not by any good works)--(Ro 3:28; Gal 2:16),
    not justified by works (any and all good works), but by justification (righteous) being
    imputed (ascribed, assigned vicariously) to him (Ro 4:1-5).

    Righteousness was imputed (ascribed vicariously) to Abraham (Ge 15:6; Ro 4:1-5, 9, 22; Gal 3:6)
    because his fallen nature did not have it.
    Even James says it was imputed (2:23), it was not recognized in him.
    Righteousness was imputed to Abraham solely because he believed. Abraham had kept no law, rendered no service and performed no ritual that earned credit to his account before God. His belief in God, who had made promises to him, is imputed (credited) to him as righteousness (justification), not recognized in him, just as Christ's righteousness is imputed to those who believe in him (Ro 5:18-19).
    My error--should have been Ro 6:19, 22, where righteousness (sanctification) is something we grow in, a present on-going process, "righteousness leading to holiness," not a completed action in/by justification.
    To really get what you are saying, I need you to address the Scriptures I have presented in my posts to you, showing how (in the context of all Scripture) they twist Paul's words. You keep scooting on by them to make another point. . .not working for me.
    I'm not getting it, because I am taking Paul at his words, in their context.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  12. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I'm not disagreeing with Paul stating the declaration makes someone righteous. It's actually a matter of what it means to be righteous and what a declaration from God means that keeps it from being fictional. The righteousness isn't something the person possesses on their own separate from the declaration, though they willingly agree with God. Righteousness entirely depends on God's...well, there's not really a good word for it so I'll just say "opinion"...and when God declares someone righteous that declaration shapes reality. James is saying "God declared Abraham righteous, so we can look at what Abraham did to understand what it means to be righteous." while Paul is saying "God declared Abraham righteous, and God alone dictates what righteousness is." When Paul expands on righteouesness later he's not necessarily distinguishing it from God's declaration, but instead saying "You are righteous, God has declared it so you have to act like it!" Saying justification is separate from sanctification makes sense when you're denouncing religious rites as salvific, but putting a hard line between them is counter to the Biblical picture.
     
  13. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    God has declared (spoken) it, therefore it is (as all creation was simply spoken into being),
    so work it out (Php 2:12) in obedience.

    Sanctification through obedience is the fruit of justification by faith alone.
    True, Paul often doesn't distinguish between the righteousness of justification and the righteousness of sanctification, but the context shows which it is, where it means justification almost twice as often as it does sanctification, and a few times meaning both.

    But the whole point of it all is that it is all of grace, and none is of merit, so that no one can boast (Ro 4:2-3; Eph 2:9), for
    "It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." (Php 2:13)
    Just religious rites? No good works are salvific (Eph 2:8-9).
    But Paul puts a very hard line between righteousness (sanctification) and God's declaration.

    "God has declared it, but not because of any good works" (Eph 2:8-9) has to be a hard line
    to protect that truth from
    "you are righteous, so work it out" (Php 2:12), which is totally the work of God (Php 2:13).

    Don't let those guys beat up on you too badly in that debate.:preach:
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  14. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    As I said, a lot of what you are doing is regurgitating a systematic theology. And the fact that you declared a book of the Bible in error demonstrates the issue with such systems, they cannot rectify the whole witness and so cut out the pieces they disagree with. James and Paul speak of the same righteousness, the same justification, and the same works. You're correct in denying merit of good works, but an issue comes up when you divorce good works from righteousness in that it gives room to false confessions and treats them as equal to a true confession of faith which produces good works. Justification, in theory, is separate from sanctification but to treat it as such in practice often leads astray and the Biblical basis for such a separation is suspect since justify/justified/justification is used in regards to both by basically every Biblical author.
     
  15. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    So your issue is with the Reformation. Now I see where you are coming from.
    And on that we couldn't be in more disagreement, for I love the Reformation, I thank God for the Reformation!
    So you nullify the Reformation because it "cut out the pieces they disagree with."
    I say it is you who is cutting out the pieces one disagrees with, in the name of a "hermeneutic" that approaches the God-breathed (2Tim 3:16) Holy Scriptures as if they were just human literature, no such approach being found anywhere in the NT regarding the understanding of Scripture.
    They do not, and you arrive at this conclusion by treating the Word of God as if it were simply human literature.
    So misunderstanding of a doctrine justifies changing the doctrine? Is that how truth is determined now?
    You don't see the fallacy of your principle?
    And now we see where treating the God-breathed Holy Scriptures as just human literature leads. . .Paul's revelation from Jesus Christ personally regarding justification apart from works is reduced to powerless theory.
    I am getting the picture now!
    Treat the Word of God as simply human literature,
    thereby minimizing the foundation principle of justification apart from works,
    and allowing the separation of justification from works to be regarded as powerless theory,
    then declare the Biblical basis for such separation as suspect because "every Biblical author" employing those hermeneutics
    uses "justification" in regards to both with and without works.

    Nice circular reasoning from the mind of man.

    However, Paul engages in much systematic theology in Romans.
    And Paul's distinction in justification and sanctification is emphatic and clear.
    It is James who does not accord with Paul's clear, concise and emphatic language, when he states:
    "a person is justified by what he does" (Jas 2:24).

    The righteousness of justification consists only of a guiltless standing before God,
    it is not the growth in righteousness (holiness) of obedience.

    I see the distinction between sanctification and justification as necessary to maintain Paul's
    emphatic importance of justification (and salvation) without works (Ro 4:5; Eph 2:8-9) from
    becoming antinomianism.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  16. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    I see it in the opposite direction, separating them makes the claim antinomian because sanctification becomes assumed to be automatic. Discipleship doesn't simply happen to us, it is a matter of putting our faith to work.
     
  17. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    Paul's emphatic distinction between them is my measure.
    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
  18. Fervent

    Fervent Well-Known Member

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    Paul's emphatic distinction, in that he uses the same words to express both concepts?
     
  19. Jesus is YHWH

    Jesus is YHWH my Lord and my God ! Supporter

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    There are no conflicts between James and Paul on the matter of justification by faith. James could not be contradicting Paul's letters in Romans or Galatians for they had not yet been written! Paul explains that sinners are justified by faith in chapters 3 & 4. James explains that a person's faith is dead unless it is proved by works. We are not saved by works, but the faith that saves us leads to good works. Paul wrote about our standing before God, James wrote about our witness before the world. James wrote to Jewish believers who still worshiped in the Synagogue while Paul wrote to the Gentiles.

    Lets compare the book of James with the gospels and see if James stacks up with the teachings of Jesus. In Matthew 5:3 and Luke 6:20 we have the Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor (in spirit) for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Luke 6:24 adds woe to the rich. Compare this with James' language Let the believer who is lowly boast in being raised up, and the rich in being brought low, because the rich will disappear like a flower in the field. James 1:9-10 Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? James 2:5 Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you. James 5:1 In Luke 1:52-53 is also an example of the message of the reverse that James mirrors. The lowly are lifted up; the rich are sent away empty, just like in James 1:9-10. In the Gospels and in James the promise is for the future, but for the present times as well. The believer can boast today in 1:9, the rich should weep and wail now in 5:1. The promises of theses verses are a comfort for the persecution the Christian community is experiencing. Matthew 5:10 offers a blessing for the persecuted, as does Luke 6:11-12. Luke 6:22-23 goes on to offer blessing when we are hated, excluded, reviled and defamed. In a similar way James 1:2-4 calls the community to joy when facing trials. James 1:12 offers blessings and the crown of life to those who endure temptation. And James 5:10 calls all who show endurance = blessed. Matthew and Luke each have additional beatitudes that are found in James. Matthew 5:9 says that peacemakers will be called the children of God and James 3:18 offers a harvest of righteousness for those who make peace. Luke 6:21 and 6:25 promises that the hungry will be filled, those who weep will laugh, the full will be hungry and those who laugh will mourn. Believers are exhorted to lament and mourn and weep, and to let laughter turn into mourning in James 4:9. James 4:6 is a similar reversal; God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James uses additional teachings from the Sermon on the Mount. Luke 6:27 and James 2:8 repeat the Levitical law to love our neighbors as ourselves. Matthew 5:17-19 insists that the law and prophets are not abolished, while James 2:8-11 insists that breaking any one law is breaking the whole of the law. James 1:25 says that those who not only hear, but also DO the law will be blessed. In Matthew 5:21-22 it is not enough to avoid murder, even those who are angry are subject to judgment. James 1:19-20 says we must be slow to anger, for anger does not produce God's righteousness. As we can clearly see James and the teachings of Christ were almost identical and this would be natural since James was the brother and disciple of Jesus.

    There is no conflict between the teachings of Paul and James except for those who misunderstand truth. Genuine faith will produce fruit in the life of the believer as Jesus taught. James calls this fruit works in his epistle. In fact all the apostles taught that true faith produces works. In Ephesians 2:8-10 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." This passage puts faith and works in their proper order. It is faith alone that connects us with the free salvation offered in Jesus Christ. This salvation is a gift. Our works have nothing to do with it and cannot add to the salvation found in Jesus Christ. Works will follow after salvation and are the product of it and are created by God in the believer. These passages verify this truth as well- Titus 3:4-8; Hebrews 6:9; 10:39; 1 John 3:6;3 John 11.

    Paul is stressing the root of justification (faith) and James is stressing the fruit of justification (works). James teaches that works are the proof of faith. This is indicated by the fact that James stressed that we should show our faith in 2:18. It must be something that can be seen by others in 'works' in 18-20. James acknowledged that Abraham was justified before God by faith, not works, when he said, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness

    When Paul speaks about someone being justified he has in view God's declaration that a sinner is righteous. When James uses that same word he has in view the demonstration of a person's previously justified state. A person demonstrates by his obedience what God has already declared about him (James 2:23 when quoting Genesis 15:6)Looking at it another way James is using the word justify with the meaning "to demonstrate or show to be righteous or to vindicate oneself." This meaning for the Greek word is also found in Luke 7:35, 10:28-29, 16:15 and, Matthew 11:19, and in Romans 3:4. In Luke 16:15, Jesus says to the Pharisees, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts." Similarly, we read in Luke 10:29, "But he wanted to justify himself." James is saying that one can demonstrate before men that one has been declared righteous by God. One can demonstrate this by doing good works, just as Abraham did by sacrificing his son Isaac (2:21; cf. Gen. 22:9-12) long after God had declared him righteous. James says that this later "work" demonstrated God's declaration in Genesis 15:6 to be true and fulfilled (James 2:23). If you cannot understand the different ways in which Paul and James are using justification and faith then you are unteachable. They are looking at it from two different perspectives; one being from Gods vantage point (Paul) and the other from mans (James)knight

    hope this helps !!!
     
  20. Clare73

    Clare73 Blood-bought

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    If in fact he did not clearly distinguish between them,
    then how do you know they express different concepts? Where would you even get the idea?

    Paul emphatically distinguishes between the righteousness from God that is without works,
    and our growth in that righteousness which involves works.

    And that growth in righteousness (sanctification) can "be assumed to be automatic" only if you know nothing
    of the rest of Paul's revelation regarding righteousness.

    It's not for us to improve on Paul's revelation regarding righteousness for the sake of protecting it from antinomianism.
    He's already done that in the clear distinctions he presents in his revelation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
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