Thursday, April 14, 2011

Justification Other Than by Faith?

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. – Gal 3:8

Is there a justification before the LORD grounded in light received? If Jobal, a man on the other side of the world, has received any measure of spiritual light, is this general revelation a ground of justification? Jobal, a non-believer in Jesus Christ, is certainly one of the heathen mentioned above yet some would have a doctrine promoted that God will justify a man based on what measure of light he has received rather than an explicit faith. Some will state that Jobal is justified by the work of Christ on the cross without an explicit faith in the person of that work. However, the scriptures seem to state something quite different.

 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; -  Ro 3:24-25

Here we find the work of the cross, the shed blood of Jesus Christ, made efficacious by faith in that particular work. It was not the work or atonement alone that saves. Faith is also required. Our Calvinist fellows are often found to equate the atonement with salvation itself using that distinction to oppose unlimited atonement. The passage from Romans not only sets that error aside but it also goes to the heart of the inclusivist error that some of us have been engaged in recently. There is no propitiation lacking faith and therefore it is not the work of Calvary that saves. The work of Christ is a provision made effective only through faith and in that it is not appropriate for the inclusivist to state that this atonement satisfies the requirement for justification. This is clearly applicable to the heathen as well as the Hebrew as noted in Gal 3:8. Was Rahab of Jericho saved by general revelation or did she find redemption through faith? The scriptures tell us she found her refuge by faith.

 By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. - Heb 11:31

Why is it that the inclusivist relies on philosophy and emotional appeals yet cannot present a scriptural argument supporting a general revelation salvation? If a scriptural case cannot be made, why argue against the scriptural case that can easily be presented?


The Seeking Disciple said...

And I would add that those who hold to inclusive beliefs would argue that justification is not by faith either since they argue that there are "righteous pagans" who do not know Jesus. If justification comes only through faith in Jesus then this makes the preaching of the gospel vital just as Jesus said it should be (Matthew 28:19-20).

A.M. Mallett said...

Amen to that, Roy. Men perish because the Gospel is not preached. The LORD gave us this urgency in telling us the laborers are few and the harvest is plentiful. I just do not follow the "righteous pagan" philosophy. It makes no scriptural sense.

SLW said...

That's some of the best stuff I've seen written on the subject over the last few days!

Inclusivism applies the cross (as if it was efficacious in itself) backward and forward in time universally. At its extremity, one would have to, in effect, opt out not to be included (a little like Social Security). The OT patriarchs are used to assert that there is a biblical precedent for applying the atonement of Christ apart from faith in Christ, but I cannot think of one of those paragons of faith who did not have some sort of encounter with or revelation from God which instigated or shaped their expression of faith. So not only is the atonement of Christ inapplicable apart from faith, even in the OT faith came by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

A.M. Mallett said...

Thanks for the comment. This matter seems so straight forward that I marvel at how anybody could argue otherwise. In fact, I don't see a coherent argument presented at all by inclusivists. The word of God always trumps idle speculation regardless of the authority of that speculation.