Lee Irons in his article Romans 2:13: Is Paul Coherent? argues that Romans 2:13 is a hypothetical or “empty set” assertion. Thus, when Paul says “the doers of the law” will be justified, he does not intend to tell us either that there will be a future justification or that at such a future justification any doers of the law will actually be justified. On page 63 he affirms: “Therefore, contra Dunn and Wright, justification must not be subdivided into an initial justification by faith and a future justification dependent on a life of good works.” This essay will argue that, though Irons’ concern for the maintenance of free justification is laudable, yet his denial of a future justification according to works represents a significant over-simplification of the New Testament use of both the words justification and righteousness. In vindication of this thesis I will examine both the verb meaning to justify (dikaiooo) and the noun meaning righteousness (dikaiosunei).
It is not the purpose of this essay to argue that the verb meaning to justify is used frequently of a free justification which is already possessed by believers in which the ungodly are justified based on the righteousness of Christ alone through grace alone and faith alone (Rom. 3:21-5:21). This is joyfully granted.
It is the purpose of this essay to show that this verb is also used of a future (and in some sense a present) justification in which evangelical obedience justifies or vindicates the genuineness of the believer’s faith and, thus, the believer himself.
At least two key passages in the New Testament manifest this usage of the verb: Matthew 12:37 and James 2:21-26. Next time we will look at Matthew 12:37.
Tom Hicks on Mar 5, 2010 12:05pm
Looking forward to what’s coming! Will you also deal with Romans 2:13 and give your own view?
Mark Mcculley on Mar 8, 2010 7:56pm
Have you read J Fesko’s new book on the classic Reformed view of Justification? (P and R). He also takes the view that the justified elect have already passed from death to life. The very resurrection of these justified elect will show that they have already been judged in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
As Rob Zins points out, “justify” in James cannot be stretched to mean “shown to have been justified”.
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.