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Righteousness Through Faith.

Righteousness Through Faith.

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Published by glennpease
BY JOSEPH AGAR BEET
BY JOSEPH AGAR BEET

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Published by: glennpease on Jul 29, 2013
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RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH.
BY JOSEPH AGAR BEET
WE now turn, in our search for salvation, to theGospel announced in Rom. i. 16. These wordsevidently mean that the good news announced by Christis an instrument through which the infinite power of God is put forth to rescue from the penalty and powerof sin all those, Jews or Gentiles, who believe the goodnews. This statement Paul goes on to explain bysaying that in the Gospel is revealed a RIGHTEOUSNESSOF GOD, BY FAITH and for faith ; and that this is inharmony with an ancient prophecy which announced,in view of impending disaster, that by faith the righteous man will live. He means that while the Gospel ispreached a veil is lifted disclosing a "righteousness of God ; " that this unveiling is brought about in each caseby faith and is designed to lead to faith ; and that inthe Gospel the saving power of God is put forth for allwho believe.Similarly, in ch. iii. 21, after proving that both Jewsand Greeks are all under the burden of sin and thatthe Law was given to bring all the world speechlessand guilty before God, Paul suddenly and triumphantly87JUSTIFICA TION. [PART II.declares, " But now, apart from law, a righteousness of God has been manifested, testimony being given in itsfavour by the Law and the Prophets, a righteousness of God through belief of Jesus Christ for all who believe."He means that, although the ancient Scriptures bearwitness to the manifestation afterwards made in Paul sday, this manifestation itself was made on principlesindependent of the great principle underlying the Law,viz. that God s favour is conditional on obedience toHis commands. The words " through faith " and " forall that believe " correspond respectively to " by faith "and "for faith" in ch. i. 17.The most important part of these assertions is theconspicuous phrase, three times used, RIGHTEOUSNESSOF GOD. It demands now our best attention. Alreadywe have seen that righteousness is that conformity withthe supreme standard of right which the Judge acceptsas the condition of participation in the blessingspromised to Israel. Our chief difficulty is the relationdescribed by the words of God. In ch. iii. 5, 25, 26God s righteousness , etc., is evidently an attribute of God,viz. the agreement of His words and actions with thestandard laid down for man. For in v. 5 the phraserighteousness of God was suggested by a quotation fromPs. li. 4, " that Thou mayest be justified in Thy words,"and is contrasted with " our unrighteousness ; " and invv. 25, 26 the same phrase is explained by the wordsfollowing, "that He may be Himself righteous and a justifier of him that has faith." This righteousness oGod differs from that of man only as God, the Judge,LECT. XL] RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH. 89
 
differs from man who is judged. A man is righteouswhose conduct agrees with that prescribed in the Law :a judge is righteous who impartially pronounces sentenceaccording to the declarations of the Law. And in thissense, in Rom. iii. 5, 25, 26 we read of the righteousnessof God.This simple meaning of the term will, however, notsatisfy the conditions of Rom. i. 17, iii. 21, 22. Forthe harmony of God s action with His own law wasrevealed, not in the Gospel, but long before Christwas born. It underlies conspicuously the entire OldTestament : cp. Ezek. xviii. 25, 29, Ezra ix. 15, Ps. vii. 9,xi. 7, Jer. xii. i. Nor would the revelation of God sattribute of righteousness prove the Gospel to be "apower of God for salvation." Nor again would itpresent any parallel to the prophecy of Habakkuk, " therighteous man will live by faith." Moreover, in no sensecan it be said that the manifestation of God s attributeof righteousness was " apart from law." Nor was it" through belief of Jesus Christ " : for this divine attribute is less conspicuous in the New Testament than inthe Old. These accumulated objections compel us, inspite of its use in Rom. iii. 5, 25, 26, to seek for thephrase righteousness of God in vv. 21, 22 and in ch. i. 17another meaning.The same phrase meets us again twice in Rom. x. 3.In ch. ix. 30 we read that " Gentiles, the men who werenot pursuing righteousness, have obtained righteousness,even the righteousness which is by faith. But Israel,while pursuing a law of righteousness, has not attained90 JUSTIFICA TION. [PART 1 1to such law." This Paul explains by saying that " notknowing the righteousness of God, and seeking to set uptheir own righteousness, they have not submitted to therighteousness of God This cannot mean that the Jewswere ignorant of God s impartial administration of Hisown laws. Nor would such ignorance explain theirrejection of the Gospel. Nor again would this rejectionbe described as a refusal to " submit to the righteousnessof God Evidently these last words arc a contrast to" their own righteousness," and to " the righteousnesswhich is from law," in v. 5. We notice also in v. 6,in close agreement with ch. i. 17, "the righteousnesswhich is by faith," an evident contrast to the foregoingrighteousness " by works " and " from law."In 2 Cor. v. 21 we read : " Him who knew no sin, onour behalf He made to be sin, in order that we maybecome righteousness of God in Him." The earlier partof this sentence can only mean that God made Christto be, by His suffering and death, a manifestation of thenature of sin, so that by contemplating Him who knewno sin men may learn its deadly effect. The latter partof the sentence cannot mean that men are to becomean attribute of God. It evidently describes the reconciliation to God so conspicuous in vv. 18-20.A close parallel to Rom. x. 3 is found in Phil. iii. 9.Paul desires " to be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, that which is from law, but thatwhich is through belief of Christ, the righteousness whichis from God on the condition of faith." Evidently " nothaving a righteousness of my own " is a contrast to
 
LECT. XI.] RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH. 9" seeking to set up their own righteousness." And thefurther description, " that which is from law " reproducesexactly " the righteousness which is from law " in Rom.x. 5. The contrasted phrase, " the righteousness which isfrom God on the condition of faith," is a conspicuousparallel to the ignored "righteousness of God" and to" the righteousness from faith " in Rom. x. 3, 6.Putting together all these passages and observing thatthey all refer conspicuously to the salvation announcedby Christ on the condition of faith, accepted by Paul,but rejected by most of the Jews, it is impossible todoubt that the phrase rigJiteousness of God in Rom. i. 17,iii. 21, 22 is equivalent to " the righteousness from faith"in Rom. x. 6, and to "the righteousness from God onthe condition of faith " in Phil. iii. 9. If so, the righteousness of God in these passages is a righteousnesswhich God gives ; just as " the peace of God " inPhil. iv. 7 is a peace which God gives. So in John xiv.27 : " My peace I give to you." It is that conformitywith the divinely erected standard which God requiresas a condition of His favour and of the blessings whichHe has promised, a conformity which is also God s gift.As such, it is a marked contrast to Paul s " own righteousness," a righteousness derived, if at all, " from law."It is revealed in the Gospel : for, until the good newsannounced by Christ, conformity with the will of Godwas only an object of vain effort. By announcingsalvation for all who believe, God made known and gaveto men a conformity with the divinely prescribed condition of the favour of God unknown before. This92 JUSTIFICATION. [PART II.fulfilment of the divinely imposed condition is " throughfaith of Christ." And this condition was announced" for faith " ; i.e. in order that henceforth faith may beman s mental attitude towards God. As independentof previous obedience to the law, it is " apart fromlaw." But Paul shows that faith as a condition of thefavour of God is in harmony with various statements inthe Old Testament. Thus righteousness through faithreceives "testimony from the Law and the Prophets."And we shall find it to be an instrument used by the" power of God, for salvation, to all % that believe."If the above exposition be correct, Paul asserts inRom. i. 17, iii. 21, 22 that GOD RECEIVES INTO HisFAVOUR ALL WHO BELIEVE the good news announcedby Christ. They enjoy the Judge s approval, and willobtain the blessings promised by God. Consequently,righteousness is theirs ; a righteousness not their own,i.e. derived from their own effort, but received as a giftfrom God by belief of the good news announced byChrist. They have found what all men need, and whatmany Jews in Paul s day sought earnestly, the approvalof the great Judge before whose eyes all human actionand thought lie open and before whose judgment seatall men must some day stand. We seek further information touching this wonderful gift of righteousness.Passing from Rom. iii. 21, 22 to v. 24, we notice theword BEING-JUSTIFIED, an English rendering of thepresent participle passive of a Greek verb meaningto make-righteous. The same verb occurs again in

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