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Due to my different schedule this semester my posting was off for today. I don’t know about tomorrow or the day after either. But I will get my schedule hammered out soon enough and get back to regular posting.
And, for a warning, since it is another school semester my blog posting may slow down. Hopefully it will not slow down very much. But school alway stake priority over blogging.
“When Jesus judges our imperfection, he does it with such compassion that he releases us from the fear that we must pretend to be better than we are. He assures us that if we will be honest with God, God will be gracious with us. And the moment we enter into a gracious relationship with God, we not only fall heir to the promises of the gospel, but we are also ready to accept our present duties in the kingdom of love.
With pride dethroned, we are able to accept a much more modest concept of the self. We are delivered from the error of thinking that we must prove ourselves all the time. Kindness and truth become acceptable signs of status. Destructive anxiety cannot overwhelm us, for we are content to leave the work of salvation to God.”
~Edward John Carnell, The Kingdom of Love and the Pride of Life (Grand Rapids, 1960), pages 152-153.
HT: Ray Ortlund
We will now explore how Christ’s vindication or justification by the Spirit is the believers’ justification by God. Because of the believer’s union with Christ they are indentified with the risen one; all that is His becomes theirs; His was the vindication by the Spirit. Therefore, they are also vindicated or justified by the Spirit by being raised with Christ.
Romans 4:25 states that Jesus Christ was “delivered up for our trespasses (παρεδόθη διὰ τὰ παραπτώματα ἡμῶν) and raised for our justification (ἠγέρθη διὰ τὴν δικαίωσιν ἡμῶν).” The phrase is identified as a pre-Pauline statement which is a christological interpretation of Isaiah 53:12. The flow of the chapter is at the end of a discourse by Paul on the faith of Abraham.
Paul explores the quality of the faith of Abraham in verses 16-22. He is building on the point that the promise made to Abraham came, not by the law, but by faith (v13). Thus, he is establishing the truth that the promise transcends ethnic boundaries. It is by faith that the promise is granted; and this faith is not an abstract faith; it was a God-centered confidence. Abraham’s faith was in God’s resurrecting power. It was this faith which made him to be counted righteous (v22). Then Paul turns to the readers and makes present-day application from Abraham’s faith. “Paul understands the work of God in Christ as an out working of the word of God to Abraham….the work of God in Christ brings the promise that created Abraham’s faith to fulfillment.” Now, a child of Abraham puts faith, in likeness of Abraham, into Jesus Christ who was resurrected by the God of Abraham. Jesus, then, died for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Faith in the God who resurrects Christ grants the believer the righteousness obtained by the sacrifice of Christ. His resurrection becomes justifying to them because of the union they have with Jesus by faith. The righteousness which Christ possessed becomes theirs so that they, the unrighteous, partake in the righteous rendering of the resurrection of Christ.
Christ’s death procured for us the justifying righteousness of God (5:9). We were under the just condemnation of the law of a holy God with no hope of justifying ourselves (Rom 3:19-20). In our stead, Christ offered himself as a propitiation of our sins. Christ, by His death on the cross, satisfied God’s holy demands (Rom 3:25). Christ was the holy one who perfectly fulfilled the laws demands and so offered Himself as the satisfaction in the sinners’ place (Rom 3:25, 5:18-19). However, on the third day true justice was established again. The Spirit vindicated the Righteous Son by raising Him from the dead (1 Tim 3:16). He was treated in the sinners’ place, but God did not let His Holy One see corruption (Ps. 16:10). God declared that indeed Jesus was just, that He was the Christ.
There is debate on the usage of διὰ. It is used twice in the verse as the preposition to each phrase. There is nearly universal agreement that the first usage is causal meaning, “because of.” But such a usage is strange if understood in the clause we are looking at as pointed out by Bird, The Saving Righteousness of God, 76-77. Thus a “final” usage should be seen; he was raise “for our justification.” See Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans, 252; Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 289; Robertson, Epistles of Paul, 354; Morna D. Hooker, “Raised for our Acquittal (Rom 4,25)” in Resurrection in the New Testament, ed. R. Bieringer, V. Koperski, and B. Lataire (Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 2002), 323. Schreiner, Romans, 235, will say that the second usage of διὰ can be understood causally
C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans, The International Critical Commentary, ed. J. A. Emerton and C. E. B. Cranfield (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1975), 251. Also see Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, ed. Ned B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, and Gordon D. Fee (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 288, who makes the point that Paul “has fully integrated the elements of the tradition into his exposition.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1998), 235.
“being ethnically Jewish is insufficient; one must follow Abraham’s faith. Conversely, Abraham is also the father of uncircumcised believers.” Mark A Seifrid, “Romans” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, eds. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 626.
Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4 ESV)
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2 ESV)
God appoints for Abram a promise land (v.1) and assures him that his descendants will be a great and significant nation (v.2). The name for which the builders of Babel had yearned (11:4) is to be given to Abram (Kaiser 2000; 18). Furthermore, the name he is to receive will be ‘great’ (v.2). Over against the people’s attempt to establish a world centre in Babel, Abram is promised that around him and his descendants a great nation will be gathered, a nucleus that will be the company of the redeemed, the new people of God (Drumbrell 1994: 34).
~Andreas J. Köstenberger and Peter T. O’Brien, Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission, p. 29
Sin promises to give, yet when followed, the yield is empty.
God promises to give, and when followed the promise is realized. And in ways that no human could comprehend.
I know the frustration which builds within myself. I see where my life is right now, and where I am called to be. I see the beauty of Christ likeness, then I see how unlike Christ my actions, attitudes, and thoughts are. I hear the magnificent high calling God has for me in Christ to follow Him no matter the cost. Yet, I mourn about the fact that my feet continue to drag in the dirt when trying to follow this call. I can get so frustrated with where I am at in my Christian life. Christ summons all of my life, and I want him to have it all; but oh, there is so much of my life which is in pattern to my old life. I have such a long way to go.
I do know this lack of sanctification does not disrupt my standing with God. My assurance with God is not found in how well I am doing. Instead, my assurance is found in the objective, unchanging, firm work of Christ. When doubts about my relation to God creep in my mind the sole place I turn is God’s work, not mine. I did not plan on being saved from my sinful condition, the Father planned before the beginning of time to save me. I did not find a way out of my rebellion, Christ came to me in this world of rebellion against Him. I could never atone for my sins, Christ offered Himself in my place to take the wrath that should have been mine. I could never bring forth the faith to believe, so the Spirit gave me a new birth. This is the rock I rest on, that God is for me. He is the one who saved and justified me. What God is, is sure and unmoving. Though my feelings sway from happiness to depression when looking upon my short comings; God’s love and work of salvation never changes.
So I am not hopeless amidst these short comings. I know that God is always for me because of His work in sending Christ in my place. But what to do with these frustrations in my failures?
I do not believe that God wants me or you to live and identify with our lack of conformity to Christ. God says in Romans 6:13 that in the heat of this battle to do righteousness and to turn from sin that we are “those who have been brought from death to life.” Christians are a resurrected people. A change has happened. Newness of life has come. No ,we have not reached the full resurrection of the new creation. But the beginnings of that full resurrection has already happened in our lives when we trusted in Christ. God is now at work in my life and in yours, if you are trusting your life and salvation with Christ. The dominion of sin has been broken, and a new work has begun. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
Did you read that? There is fruit coming from this new life! Fruits of righteousness are now a part of my life and your life. Just think, before our newness of life we were dead tree stumps. Rotting and degrading. But now, by the resurrecting power of God there is life! We are living branches in the source of life, Christ. And what we get to experience now is fruit! Do you grasp this? What was once dead is now having the fruit of the Spirit come from it. What has once barren now has the fruit of Christ’s righteousness coming from its branches!
What rejoicing is mine and yours in the truth that we are producing works of righteousness. Do I live perfectly? No, sadly. I long for the time that no selfishness will destroy relationships, when no sin will come between me and Christ. Even though, however, I don’t have it perfectly, I can see the fruit coming from my life. I can experience a life where, even though it is a little bit, I get to do selfless acts. I get to serve others, though the fruit is small. I get to experience and live the joy of of obedience and faith, though little it may be. A little fruit is better than no fruit.
I can rejoice in the little strides of righteousness that are done in me by the Spirit. For such things are a fore taste of the coming banquet of the coming new heavens and new earth. Praise God I get small experiences with the assurance that I am going to have in full in a coming day. Rejoice, oh my soul, for there is fruit!
The intro video to Grace Community Church is phenomenal. They did a great job capturing the true nature of the church in the video. May their story be the story of all our churches.
You can visit their website here.
Dane Ortlund asked several scholars and pastors how they would sum up the bible in one sentence. Here are their replies,
The OT storyline appears best to be summarized as: the historical story of God who progressively reestablishes his new creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend that new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful (defeat and exile), all of which issues into his glory; the NT storyline can be summarized as: Jesus’ life of covenantal obedience, trials, judgmental death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit has launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-and-not-yet promised new creation reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend this new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful, unto God’s glory.
God was so covenantally committed to the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him may have eternal life!
God is in the process of recreating the universe which has been corrupted by sin and has made it possible for all those and only those who follow Jesus to be a part of the magnificent, eternal community that will result.
The Bible tells how the loving Creator God restored a lost humanity and cosmos through reestablishing his rule through Jesus Christ and the provision of life to His honor.
God has made promises to bring His people to Himself and He is fulfilling them all through Christ.
A holy God sends his righteous Son to die for unrighteous sinners so we can be holy and live happily with God forever.
Apprenticing with Jesus to become human again.
God glorifies himself in the redemption of sinners.
The Triune God is the beginning, middle, and end of everything, ‘for from him (as Creator) and through him (as Sustainer and Redeemer) and to him (as Judge) are all things’ (Rom 11:36).
Jesus is the promised Savior-King.
The movement in history from creation to new creation through the redemptive work of Father, Son, and Spirit who saves and changes corrupted people and places for his glory and their good.
The message of the Bible in one sentence is that genuine truth, unlike every human philosophy, is far too luxuriant, too enthralling, too personal, too all-encompassing, too sovereign, and too life-changing to be reducible to one sentence (or, as Einstein once put it, the challenge is to ‘make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler’).
God is redeeming his creation by bringing it under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
‘God so loved the world that the gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).
God, who made us and everything else, loves us and gave himself for us that we might live forever with him as new creatures in a new creation—the news is good!
The message of the Bible is the transforming grace of God displayed preeminently in Jesus Christ.
The Lover of our souls won’t let the romance die, but is rekindling it forever.
God created mankind in order to love them, but we all rejected his love, so God sent His Son to bear our sins on the cross in order that by believing in His sacrificial atonement, we might have life.
The Bible is the record of God’s promise of and deliverance through Jesus Christ.
The message of the Bible is twofold: to show how people can be saved from their sins through faith in Christ’s atonement AND how to live all of life as a follower of God.
God reigns over all things for his glory, but we will only enjoy his saving reign in the new heavens and the new earth if we repent and believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the crucified and risen Lord and who gave himself on the cross for our salvation.
Verbum caro factum est.
The first sentence that comes to mind is that of my colleague Michael D. Williams, who describes the Bible’s story about the world as follows: God made it, we broke it, Jesus fixes it!
The main message of the Bible is that the one true God is displaying his glory primarily in redeeming and restoring his fallen creation by fulfilling his covenant promises and commands through the glorious person and atoning work of Christ.
Scripture tells us the story of how a Garden is transformed into a Garden City, but only after a dragon had turned that Garden into a howling wilderness, a haunt of owls and jackals, which lasted until an appointed warrior came to slay the dragon, giving up his life in the process, but with his blood effecting the transformation of the wilderness into the Garden City.
He—God in Christ—shall reign forever and ever; so today if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart but believing the good news take up your cross and follow Jesus.
This is part 2 of this paper. The first part can be read here.
1 Timothy 3:16
In 1 Timothy 3:16 we will see that the Holy Spirit vindicated Christ by raising Him from the dead. The nature of this vindication is forensic in its action. The forensic work was the act of raising Christ from the grave in light of his unjust condemnation.
1 Timothy 3:16 is in a hymn or creed which was used by the early church. The focus of the hymn is Christ, the mystery of godliness (τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον) spoken of in verse 15. The hymn is a theological and salvation-historical explanation of Christ.
There is much debate about the structure of the hymn. Since we are not clear on how the readers of the letter would have understood the structure of the hymn, we do not have absolute certainty about its exact structure. The debated understandings of the structure, however, do not present any conflict with the interpretation proposed by this paper. Thus, this discussion will be passed by and the interpretation of the verse will be discussed.
The single line which this paper wants to expound upon is the second one in the construction: “vindicated (or justified) by the Spirit” (ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι). Let us look at the phrase “by the Spirit” (ἐν πνεύματι) first, then, we will see what is meant by the term “vindicated” (ἐδικαιώθη).
Debate ensues on the meaning of ἐν πνεύματι. Does it mean, “by the Spirit,” or “in the spirit,” or “in the Spirit”? When it comes to the identity of πνεύματι (either being spirit, or of the Holy Spirit), Knight makes a good observation that the very next usage of πνεῦμα in 4:1 is without qualification and undoubtedly refers to the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is best to see the identity of πνεύματι in 3:16 as being the Holy Spirit.
With that being the case, should we read ἐν as expressing agency or location? Does vindication happen “by” or “in” the Spirit? Even though context would favor understanding it as locative (all other usages of ἐν in the verse are locative): it is best to see vindication has happening “by” the Spirit. The reason being is that it makes no sense to say that Christ was vindicated in the Holy Spirit in the same sense as all the other locations listed. What would that location be? How is there a location, as in the other sense of ἐν, in the Holy Spirit? Thus, the best way to read this phrase is that Christ was vindicated by the Spirit.
What was the act of this vindication which was done by the agency of the Holy Spirit? Parallels with Roman texts strongly point to the resurrection as being the means by which the Spirit vindicated Christ. Romans 1:4 speaks of Jesus being “declared to be the Son of God…according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead.” Romans 8:11 testifies that Spirit raised Jesus from the dead: “The resurrection of Christ is the Spirit’s work…the Spirit raised Christ so that he would be exalted and glorified.” Such parallels strongly attest to seeing the phrase in view as speaking to the same thing.
The nature of the vindication needs to be discussed. The hymn uses an aorist passive rendering of the word δικαιόω, which is translated either “justified” or “vindicated” in all translations. Christ was vindicated or shown to be right by the Spirit through His resurrection. This vindication would most certainly be tied with Jesus’ claim of being the Messiah. “The resurrection ‘vindicated’…the claims that Christ had made during his lifetime.” Also, “His claim to be Christ was demonstrated and validated by the resurrection.” Thus, Christ’s witness concerning Himself was vindicated by the Spirit in resurrecting Him.
Yet, the vindication needed did not stop with Christ’s claims about Himself during His life. Christ’s life cannot be separated from His death. It was not only that the people ignored Christ’s claims to be the Messiah. The vindication needed is not only about dignity and correcting error. They heard the claims He was making and killed Him for them. It should be pointed out that the cross should not be forgotten in this vindication. Thus, along with Christ’s claims during his life being vindicated, one should also see a forensic aspect to the vindication. Jesus was legally sentenced to a criminal’s death by means of crucifixion for his claims.
The reality of the crucifixion permeates the need for a forensic vindication, for the culminating point of Jesus’ ministry to the people of Israel was their crucifixion of Him. Man heard Christ’s claim of Messiahship—and killed Him; that was their judicial rendering on the validity of His claims. However, the Spirit had a different rendering in light of the evidence! He overturned the unjust rulings of evil man by raising Jesus from the dead. A forensic dimension has to be understood in the usage of δικαιόω here. Thus, the Spirit vindicated or justified Christ by resurrecting Him.
According to what we read in 1 Timothy 3:16, Jesus Christ was vindicated and justified by the Holy Spirit by His resurrection. He was declared right in the sight of the Father because His testimony concerning Himself was true. The Spirit fulfilled one of His parts in redemptive history by making Jesus conquer the grave over against the unjust acts of man. In doing so, the Spirit proved to the world that Jesus was indeed who he claimed to be.
“One may debate whether the statement is more like a creed or more like a hymn, but absolute certainty seems elusive.” George W. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992), 183. For purposes of ease it will be referred to as a hymn from now on. Though, this does not mean that this paper is taking the position that it is a hymn.
I. Howard Marshall, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Pastoral Epistles, The International Critical Commentary, ed. J. A. Emerton and C. E. B. Cranfield (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 1999), 499.
For a helpful overview see Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles, 183-184.
Cf. William D. Mounce, Pastoral Epistles, Word Biblical Commentary, vol 40. ed. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Waco, TX: Word Book, 2000), 216-18. Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles, 183-184
Contra Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, 526 and A. T. Robertson, Epistles of Paul, Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 4 (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1931), 577.
Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 766, would say that Christ was vindicated in the spirit. Meaning that, the location of the vindication is not in the Holy Spirit but in a spiritual realm of existence. This realm was entered into by Christ when He resurrected. But the verse does not say he was vindicated, “to enter into” but, “in” or “by.” His interpretation does not work with the words.
Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 487.
Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York, NY: United Bible Societies, 1996, c1989), S. 1:743.
Gerhard Kittel and Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), S. 2:214-215. Cf. also Marshall, The Pastoral Epistles, 525; Knight III, The Pastoral Epistles, 184.
However, all the above authors stop with just saying that the vindication is about the life of Christ. No forensic aspect with the death of Christ as part of the vindication is stated.
For good argument for the forensic aspect see Michael Bird, The Saving Righteousness of God: Studies on Paul, Justification, and the New Perspective (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2007), 53-54.
“To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, at the heart of all our praying must be a biblical vision. That vision embraces who God is, what he has done, who we are, where we are going, what we must value and cherish. That vision drives us toward increasing conformity with Jesus, toward lives lived in the light of eternity, toward hearty echoing of the church’es ongoing cry, “even so, come, Lord Jesus!” That vision must shape our prayers, so that they things that most concern us in prayer are those that concern the heart of God. Then we will persevere in our praying, until we reach the goal God himself has set for us.
~D. A. Carson, A Call To Spiritual Reformation, p.62