Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Schreiner on Righteousness and Justification

I found this great quote from Thomas Schreiner on Justification and Righteousness in Romans (HT: Mike Bird).

"The term 'righteousness of God' in Rom 1:17 ... is clearly fundamental for all of Romans, and it is unlikely that it can be confined solely to forensic or transformative categories. Those whom God has vindicated he also changes. In my opinion, it is doubtful that the term Paul features in presenting his gospel would contain only a forensic dimension. This transformation does not involve eperfection, and it is also crucial to see that God's transforming righteousness is still an alien righteousness - given by God as a gift to sinners. Nor is there any suggest that sinners somehow prepare themselves by good deeds to receive this righteousness. The saving righteousness of God is a gift received by faith alone, and God declares sinners to be in the right before him on the basis of Christ's atoning death. Yet God's declaration of righteousness - which is a gift of the age to come invading the present evil age - is an effective declaration, so that those who are pronounced righteous are also transformed by God's grace. Such a transformation is due solely to God's grace and does not involve a perfect righteousness, nor is there any suggestion that the good works that follow this transformation merit eternal life. Nonetheless, as Rom. 6 shows, believers are changed by the grace of God, and this transformation is an essential ingredient in God's saving work. The use of the verb dikaioun in Rom. 6:7 demonstrates that God's declaration of righteousness really frees people from sin. Similarly, in Rom. 5:19 Paul teaches that those who are incorporated into Christ Jesus are actually made righteous, just as those in Adam are truly made sinners. The forensic is the basis for the transformative, but the one cannot be sundered from the other. Those who are the recipients of the ministry of the Spirit have also been transformed by the ministry of righteousness (2 Cor. 3:8-9). Just as those who are condemned are actually guilty, so too those who are vindicated on the basis of the cross of Christ and his atonement for sinners (Rom. 3:21-26) have also been made righteous by God's gracious work (cf. Rom. 14:17). God's forensic declaration is effective because the Lord who was crucified on behalf of sinners was also raised from the dead (Rom. 4:25), and thus sinners live in a new way (Rom. 6:4)."

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