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Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
My complete profile...
Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich
His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole
[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos
Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead
There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
| Question: Was Jesus Born Righteous?
|Was Christ our Lord born righteous, or did He, through subsequent acts of obedience, progress from a neutral starting point to "righteousness" by means of works?
We really have two choices:
 Christ was born righteous, and His subsequent obedience maintained that righteousness (like being born a virgin and subsequent abstinence maintains that virginity), or
 Christ was born neutral, and His subsequent obedience produced righteousness (like being born neutral, and becoming a virgin through subsequent abstinence)
Noah, or so we read in Genesis 6:9, was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Does this mean that Noah was justified before God on his own dime? Not if Paul has taught us anything - but it does teach us something about what righteousness means - since this is the first mention of it in scripture - it has to do with being blameless.
The man who has never received a command and therefore has never disobeyed a command, is just as blameless as the man who has received thousands of commands and obeyed all of them. The latter hasn't produced blamelessness by and through his obedience, he has only maintained the state of blamelessness he started with.
The distinction is critical, for if we say that righteousness is produced by obedience, then any act of obedience will produce a new state of righteousness (i.e. blamelessness); we can't have it both ways, either Christ was born righteous and maintained that righteousness through obedience, or Christ was born neutral, and produced "new" righteousness through obedience. If the former then what is to say that all babes are not born righteous, and if the latter, then what is to say that all who obey are not made right by the righteousness that their own effort produced?
This seems like a good and logical place to open the topic to discussion.
posted by Daniel @
I was hit by a truck on my way to work today.
I'm fine though, praise the Lord for His mercy, not only to me, but to my family.
It's a good day to be a Calvinist, then.
Oh, yes . . .
Glad you're OK, and all that.
David, thanks. So whaddya think? Righteous at birth, or generated thereafter?
Me, or Jesus? Just kidding.
Remember, Jesus didn't begin his existence at his incarnation. Whatever he was at that moment, he had been from eternity. So the question is, was he righteous when God was saying "Let us make man in our image," and if not, what does that say about the Godhead? (Colossians 2:9)
I do remember this. Surely God is without blame, but we are not talking about Christ's divinity here, we are talking about His incarnation - whether the babe was born a virgin, or became one (metaphorically speaking).
I don't believe he became anything. He merely took on human flesh, and set aside some attributes of his deity. Flesh (i.e., physical flesh) is only flesh. The real identity exists with or without it.
Sorry to hear about your accident. Bummer.
Jesus was born Christ the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, to take away the sins of His people.
He was born as righteous as He ever would be would be my take. As a child He was righteous; and as a young lad; and as an adolescent; and as a man.
Jesus was sinless, and so righteous. Wouldn't that be so?
David, I am convinced, contrary to many I suppose, that Christ did His miracles, not in His own divinity, but by and through the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
I believe that prior to the baptism in the Jordan, Christ lived as Adam in the Garden - perfect, without sin, but tempted on all counts even as we are tempted. The virgin birth was a sign to show us that Christ was not Adam's son, but a second Adam. He was not born into a living separation from God as a result of Adam's sin, but was born alive (spiritually speaking), that is, He was born into this world, but not separated from God - He was fully aware of God, not because He was Christ, but in exactly the same way Adam and Eve (pre-fall) were aware of God. Being the second Adam, He had not been separated from God by sin, and so was fully aware of God.
After His baptism in the Jordan however, He began to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. He possessed through the Holy Spirit's gifting, every gift (prophesy, teaching, discernment, miracles, etc.) - on top of his living, unbroken communion with God. This was given for the ministry God called Him to.
Everything that Christ did during the incarnation - every miracle, every healing, even the way he knew the hearts of men and what they were thinking - these all were not the product of His own divinity, for He did not call upon His own divinity - had He done so, the life He lived would not have been a human life, it would have been a God life.
I stand amazed that Christ lived as a man rather than as God in human flesh, for in doing so He showed us the way we -can- live also. Had Christ been merely God in flesh, He could hardly expect us to take up His cross and follow Him, for He would be asking us to do in our flesh, what He did in His divinity - that is, He would not be leading us in the way we should go, but rather just showing us what the best walk looks like.
Now, I am aware that the view that I hold to (that Christ's miracles etc. were not done in the strength of His own divinity but in the power of the Holy Spirit) was anathemized by Cyril in his letter to Nestorius (it being the ninth of twelve anathemas he pronounced). The third ecumenical councel didn't accept the anathema's, but the council of Chalcedon (twenty years later) approved them, so that makes me a heretic twice over, since I also believe in justification by faith alone which was likewise anathemized at the Council of Trent. I am a very bad Catholic after all.
Yet there it is. I don't imagine that Jesus was two separate people the divine personality, and the human - rather I believe that the person of Jesus during the incarnation, set aside all divine prerogative, and lived -entirely- as a man, dependant upon God the Father for provision, and the Holy Spirit for ministry. He was the second Adam, so He was not born enslaved to sin, nor unaware of God's presence.
I believe He was born sinless, and therefore righteous, even though this state of righteousness was by no means "new" -- since Christ pre-existed the incarnation and was "righteous" at that time. His righteousness therefore was not the product of obedience, but something He was born with - not something he inherited in this life from His deity, but rather a state of having never offended God that continued into the incarnation.
But what of new babies? They don't have an eternal history of righteousness that they bring with them into this life. They are knit together in their mother's womb by God, and come into this world innocent, having never offended - and by virtue of that innocence, they come into the world righteous. Not because they are obedient, and their obedience produces righteousness - but because they haven't ever disobeyed God.
That's where this is going.
Don, I think you get it. He was sinless, so He was righteous, the two are the same.
Some very good thoughts of Christ in His humanity, being empowered by the Spirit. Yet, Jesus said, "For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will."
And Jesus said, no man knows the Father, except to those whom Jesus wills to reveal the Father.
I agree that Christ was 100% human, but He also was the Son of God, nothing like Adam.
Deep deep things of God. I love to think on them.
Don, those are some good thoughts too.
The Father has indeed left all judgment to the Son, but that judgment is yet to come, for Christ was not sent by God (in the incarnation) to judge the world, nor was election something that Christ decided upon during the incarnation - Surely Christ gives life to whom He will, but whom He will was decided long before the incarnation, likewise, Christ chose whom He would reveal the Father to long before Adam was ever made. It wasn't as though Jesus was making it up as He went along, rather He was obeying the harmonious will of God - described as his own judgment and choice beforehand and after, but made known to Him in the incarnation, not through His own divinity, lest He should be more than a man, but rather through the Holy Spirit or through communion with God. However His own eternal will was revealed to Him in the incarnation, He certainly didn't transgress it. ;)
These are not entirely deep things, but are mentioned in scripture. Mary was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit (c.f. Matthew 1:18)Christ cast out demons by the Spirit of God (c.f. Matthew 12:28), and offered Himself to God without blemish through the Holy Spirit (c.f. Hebrews 9:14. When they blasphemed the things He was doing, He warned them that they were blaspheming the Holy Spirit (c.f. Matthew 12:32). It isn't like the angel didn't say to Mary, "The angel answered and said to her, " The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God." (c.f. Luke 1:35). I mean, the Holy Spirit did come upon Him at His baptism, and in Luke 4:1, as He leaves the Jordan to enter the wilderness, He is described as being "full of the Holy Spirit". In Luke 10:21, we read that Christ rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit when He prayed "I praise you Father..." - even in the book of Acts we read that He gave the apostles instructions (though they were face to face) by the Holy Spirit.
I mean, it isn't like this is one of the hidden mysteries of God - it is rather the plain recording of scripture that Christ spoke by the holy Spirit, rejoiced in the Holy Spirit when He prayed, drove out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit, regarded blasphemy against his ministry as speaking out against, not Himself or His own divinity - but rather blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
The question is did Jesus manifest His own deity on earth, and live like a God in the flesh, or did Jesus live like a man and entrust Himself entirely to God? The former, while sufficient for answering such questions as, "How did Jesus perform miracles?" is nevertheless bankrupt when it comes to questions like, "How am I to walk as Christ walked, when He was God and I am not?" The answer to the second is trivial when one understands that Christ emptied Himself - the answer is you walk as Christ walked - trusting God for your provision in all things. You walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit as Christ walked. You minister in the strength that God provides, just as Christ did. Christ is the first among the brethren who are like Him in their walk, the cornerstone, the fore runner. We are to walk on the path that He walked.
Christ was 100% human, that means He lived like a man, and not like a God-man. He was fully God, but fully man, and not a hybrid. I think few people in the church truly understand this, and if they did they would gasp at the profound glory and beauty of it.
Our Lord surely was full of the Holy Spirit, and even having the Spirit without measure.
Jesus was always alive in God, since His birth. He always was the Christ and Lord. He left His glory He had with the Father, and took on flesh. Fully God & fully Man.
He never had to be born again, like all other humans. And He had the Spirit subsequent to His being who He is. Yet one is not born again without the Spirit, who blows upon hearts like a wind, where He sovereignly chooses.
And even though the Spirit is a Person, the Triune God is One.
I'm just rambling a bit Daniel.
I think you're last comment was well spoken. And I think I agree. Well I definitely agree with the heart of what your showing here.
Jesus of Nazareth was a Man, and He lived for the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
And yet Jesus was different, because He was the Son of God. The Father said, "This is My beloved Son." Jesus is the only begotten, and he is the Messiah.
He is a Man, with the capital M, for He was divine. Even as a Man, He was able to forgive sin Himself. Because he was God. He also accepted worship as a Man.
There's a difference with Jesus, and yet, there is the same manner of living set forth for us all in His life. Yet, He, and only He could bear the sin of the world, and take the holy wrath of His Father upon His body. No other could live a perfect sinless life, and no one else could have gone to Calvary, not even every man whoever lived combined, would be able to do what Jesus did.
What a Man indeed, and what a Savior!
Don, that was well and graciously stated. Jesus was indeed a Man with a capital M, amen.
While the second Person of the Trinity is certainly within His right to forgive sins, yet the incarnate Christ testifies this of Himself in the incarnation, that all things had been handed over to Him by the Father (c.f. Matthew 11:27, John 3:35, 13:3 etc.) and that He had received from God the Father all authority, both in heaven and on earth (c.f. Matthew 28:28, John 17:2); which is to say that while Christ was Lord during the incarnation; even that authority was given Him by God, and not something he took upon Himself through His own deity. Paul writes that Christ was "the head over all rule and authority", to which we all say, Amen. I believe with all my soul that Christ could have forgiven sin on the authority of His own deity, but chose instead to do so on God's authority which scripture says was given to Him. I believe that because I believe it is more consistent with the humility of the incarnation.
It is one thing to marvel at a God man, and quite another to marvel at God becoming a man in every way, not 99%, but the full 100%. Not 99% reliant on God the Father, but 100% reliant. There is something in us, I think, that because we understand the divinity of Christ, wants to attribute everything that Christ did to His own deity, but scripture doesn't do that, and it robs, I think, Christ of the fullness of glory. God becoming, and living as, a man is infinitely more glorious than God coming to earth in man's flesh, and exercising His own divinity through that flesh, relying on Himself and His own divinity rather showing us what God looks like in flesh rather than what the path we are to follow looks like by walking that path before us Himself --with no more resources in Himself than any one of us has. We need to stop thinking of the incarnation as God walking around doing God things in the flesh, but rather as God becoming a man and doing God's will in the strength God provided for it. That is what Christ did in the incarnation - there was more to His life than moral teaching, miracles, and dying for our sin, He did all that without the use of His own deity in order that we might know and trust what God will do for us who likewise rely entirely on God. He was the Bread that came down from heaven...
I love talking about these things. ;)
I need some clarification on one particular thing that you said-
They are knit together in their mother's womb by God, and come into this world innocent, having never offended - and by virtue of that innocence, they come into the world righteous.
Now if babies come into the world righteous then what need would they have of a Saviour? I take it that at some point after birth they would commit sin and not be righteous anymore, but what of babies that die in innocence. Would they need Christ as Mediator and Saviour?
Mitch, That's the hundred dollar question.
Christ did say that He did not come into the world to call the righteous, but to call sinners (c.f. Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, and Luke 5:32). Likewise, Christ is the propitiating sacrifice that justifies sinners, that is, Christ reconciles those who need reconciling.
When scripture says that there is no one who does not sin, I think it means just that; there isn't anyone who can (in their own strength) overcome sin, but -all- fall short of the glory of God. It doesn't mean that everyone is guilty as soon as they are born so much as it means that everyone is going to sin given the chance.
Thus the hardest question I think concerns babes who die in their innocence. They inherit the fallout of Adam's curse (born into a world wherein sin and death reign), but they are not yet condemned by their own sin. Since they have no sin, they do not require the propitiating work of Christ, that is they do not require someone to save them from the penalty of sin; but can it be said that they have no need whatsoever of Christ?
I think the answer lies in the nature of the fall.
You see, even though a babe is born righteous, that righteousness does not, and cannot undo Adam's curse. The babe is still born in need of reconciliation not because of it's own sin, but because it has been born into a world that God has cursed, that Satan rules through sin and death, and it has been born in bondage to sin. I believe that this reconciliation must still take place through a union with Christ, so that the babe is reconciled to God by God's own grace.
This is different a sinner being reconciled to God by God's own grace through faith - for the sinner must by faith unite with Christ and be saved, but the innocent babe does not have to overcome personal sin by faith, but is reconciled by God's grace in Christ, not through personal faith, but by God's grace alone.
Having said all that, this is just my own speculation. It could be bang on, but it could be way, way off.
The bottom line is that there is only one gospel, and only one way for sinners to be saved. On that we all agree. But if God does reconcile innocent babes to Himself, whether just some babes or all babes, He clearly does so without them having to exercise "saving faith" in Christ.
That is so jarring a thought that they deny the possibility because it makes their theology more complex than they are willing to allow. God hasn't told us how He saves babes, but I think scripture shows that He does. We know full well how God saves sinners, but we have no real foothold in scripture to say how God saves innocent babes.
Thanks for asking that question Mitch, it is a very excellent one, in that it gets to the core quickly. I wish I had a good, solid, proof-texted answer, but all I have is (I hope) an informed guess-timate.
Do you have any thoughts on this? I know that many believe (and by many I mean, many better-than-I-am-theolgians) babes are simply guilty, and go to hell when they die, or they say they are guilty of Adam's sin, and so they need Christ to save them, etc., or that they are innocent, but not righteous (which is what this post is attempting to debunk), etc. So my observations are not ignorant of the grand things that those more apt than I have already considered, it is just that they all seem, even as my opinions here must seem, ... lacking.
"..and it robs, I think, Christ of the fullness of glory. God becoming, and living as, a man is infinitely more glorious than God coming to earth in man's flesh,"
That's a solid thought. Thanks for the dialog Daniel. Good stuff.
One last comment. How about Jesus receiving worship from man?
Don, I think if Christ were two people, man and God, then it would be inappropriate to worship the man, but since Christ is both Man and God so it was and is appropriate to worship Him. Note: Nothing in scripture suggests that Jesus stopped being a man after the resurrection. Surely He took up the glory that He had set aside during the incarnation, but this does not imply laying aside His humanity. So in a real sense, we worship the same person now in glory as they worshipped in His humility; for as we have already established, the person of Christ was there in the flesh.
If that helps.
"Nothing in scripture suggests that Jesus stopped being a man after the resurrection."
I agree. "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus"
One more question. So does this mean that God changed? Did this affect His attribute of Immutability?
Don, During the incarnation, the second Person of the Trinity entered into creation in a way that neither the Father, nor the Holy Spirit did. While He was on the earth, Jesus grew in grace and wisdom. Immutability does not mean that Jesus was woodenly the same, it means that the person of Christ did not change.
So I think the incarnation did not affect the immutability of Christ, unless (or until) we re-invent a new sort of immutability that means more than was ever meant by the original theological label.
I am not a great theologian or anything remotely close to one, but I always thought that *all have* sinned also includes babes. I figure since the penalty for sin is death and some babies die in innocence that that means that they had at least one sin. Otherwise why would they suffer the penalty for sin?
If they are born righteous, then wouldn’t we have to work around the text that says no one is righteous?
No idea and I could be way off base with this, which is why I asked for some clarification.
Mitch, reading Romans 3:23 in the context Paul is discussing how being Jewish (as opposed to a non-Jew; i.e. Gentile/Greek) is of no "extra" benefit to the sinner. When Paul says all are sinners, he means both of the previously identified groups: Jews and Gentiles are sinners.
I want to be clear here. Paul's argument is that both groups are equal in that both groups are sinners. That is the point Paul is making, and that is what he intends to convey by saying that all are sinners. Whether every last person on earth is a sinner or not, that isn't the point Paul is trying to make here, and even if that is the case, to project that thought into what Paul writes here is to exalt a narrow grammatic possibility above a very clear authorial intent, for the sake of a pre-existing theological opinion.
We can say, I think, that all birds have wings. I mean, maybe there is some weird wingless bird out there that I don't know about, or what have you, but seriously, when I say all birds have wings I don't expect anyone to contest that. I am speaking in general, and using hyperbole, for surely there are some birds that have had their wings removed, but by and large it is certainly true - all birds have wings. Yet, when the dove was an egg, it certainly didn't have wings yet. Have I lied? Do not all birds have wings? They do, but not all birds are birds yet. Just as not every person grows up into what they will inevitably be if they did grow up.
Which is to say that even though the context of Romans 3 by no means demands it, I have no problem saying all are sinners, but mean simply that all will eventually sin given the chance, so that everyone who can comprehend what I am saying can be certain that they are included in the group. I do not mean by that saying however to imply that all are sinners, for God is not a sinner, nor are animals sinners - just humans, and only those who have rebelled against God.
Now, about dying and sin...
Did Elijah not have sin? Yet he did not die a physical death, but was taken up alive in a flaming chariot. The wages of sin -is- death, but it certainly cannot be the physical death that some of us (and certainly not all of us) will undergo. Consider when Christ returns - some will not die, but will be changed in the twinkling of an eye - where is the wages of their sin?
I want this to be rock solid: If God gives even one person physical death as a wage for their sin - and then fails to give that same wage to others who sin - God is unjust, for if physical death is indeed the wage of sin, then God must dish it out to every sinner, and not just some of them. That is what justice looks like. If sin has a wage, it must be paid or the one who pays wages is unjust. So we can know for certain, I think, given that not everyone will die physically, that the death we are talking about is the second death.
Now, that being (or so I contend) the case, physical death is not the wages of sin, but a consequence of the fall, for in that fall all Adam, and all of Adam's race (meaning us) was cut off from the tree of life. This separation was not because of our individual sins but part of the curse that we are all under. Hence physical death comes from Adam's sin, and not our own.
Does that make sense?
I’m not sure that I agree that the wages of sin is the second death; allow me to ramble a bit to see if something useful comes out.
I’m not willing to concede that Elijah did not die and my reason is tentative right now so I will try to study it more, but here is what I base it on John 3:13. Also, later on in John chapter 11 Jesus tells us that if we live and believe in him we will never die. This I take to mean the second death, since clearly the disciples have all passed away.
Mitch, I think you are on a good track.
Does the bible say anywhere that believers will go to heaven? If not, why do we imagine that Elijah went to heaven? To Abraham's bosom maybe, but heaven. Scripture speaks of us living on a new earth under new heavens, not us living in a new heaven. There is a new Jerusalem that is coming to the new earth - whether a physical place, or a metaphor for a spiritual reality I cannot say for certain - but what is certain is that it isn't in heaven, it is on a new earth. The idea of us going to heaven when we die, although very popular - even in Christian circles, doesn't come from any scripture I am fammiliar with, though I am open to correction on this matter.
Given that, the notion that Elijah died as buttressed by John 3:13 isn't viable, since it doesn't imply that Elijah went up to heaven, but only that Elijah did not die and was taken to be where other people go when they die, but without having to die to get there.
Likewise, when Christ returns, there will be many who are alive who will not die, but will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye - without dying - effectively demonstrating that if the wages of sin are physical death, then they have side-stepped the wages of their sin, where everyone else could not escape it. That creates two groups of sinners - those who pay sins wages by their physical death, and those who do not - and it creates an injustice because how can God mete out a wage to one, and not another.
You are right, when Jesus tells us that if we believe in Him we will never die, He -is- talking about the second death. In order to make this happen, Jesus passed through the second death with us "in" Him - (c.f. Romans 6 - we are baptized (immersed fully) into Christ) so that the death that He died, He died once for all that are in Him. Just as Noah passed through the flood of God's judgment save within the ark, so too we pass through the second death in Christ. We truly do not taste that death, but Christ tastes it, and when God raised Christ up from the second death (as declared by the resurrection), it demonstrated that all who are in Christ are accepted by God, for if God held anything against us, He could never have raised Christ from the second death while we were united to Him.
There is a big picture here, of course, and we are covering a lot of the map, but I hope that flushes it out a bit.
I don't remember if I really struggled with the notion of God's justice, but I do remember that my first impression was that I thought when God forgave sin, He did so without punishing anyone - it was only later that I learned that every sin is punished, and no sin goes unpunished, so that forgiveness didn't mean God simply forgot about a sin, or let one go unpunished, it meant that the forgiven sin was forgiven because it was punished in Christ. A just God cannot give two different judgments for the same crime. Thus, if God kills the body because of sin, he must kill every body because of sin, and the fact that the bible clearly says that not all will die, but some will be alive and transformed on that day that Christ returns, we must conclude that physical death is not the wage of sin, but that it is the consequence of Adam's sin, even as scripture shows, since we were cut off from the tree of life, whose fruit would have continued to provide physical life to Adam and Eve had they been allowed to eat it.
I hope I am not wearing you out with all this. Let me know.
Thanks for the interaction and no you are not wearing me out, I am not quick on this stuff and it takes me some time to mull it over to fully grasp it.
My hang-up is that if babies are righteous then I cannot see why they would need Christ and it would mean that there is another way to heaven or salvation. It also brings in the dilemma of when does this age of righteousness end for the individual? I’ve seen some studies that state that babies lie as early as 6 months, would we then have to get into intentional sin and sins of ignorance?
Anyways, I will think on this and see if I can clear the cobwebs out.
Thinking on whether babies are born righteous a little more I came across Philippians 3:8-9
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:.
It seems that whatever righteousness we may or may not have is not true righteousness, for it seems that true righteousness is of God by faith. Also, when I look at Romans 5 the Apostle tells me that this death is not the second death because people died from Adam to Moses. It goes on to tell me that this righteousness is a gift and came about by Christ.
I still struggle with the idea that some will be in heaven by their own righteousness, rather than the perfect righteousness of Christ through faith. I will keep mulling this over.
Mitch, In the context of Philippians, Paul is addressing the error of the Judaizers who were teaching that a man is made righteous by keeping the law. Paul's argument is that when he was looking to the law for righteousness as a Jew, he was blameless - that is, he regarded himself as righteous by keeping the law. But in Christ Paul realized that his own law keeping was rubbish, and that he needed a righteousness that surpassed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees (to borrow from the words of Christ) - that is, Paul understood that once you lose your virginity, you cannot re-obtain it by thereafter abstaining, keeping the law doesn't restore you to a sinless state, nor can it. You are condemned because of your sin, and all your law keeping doesn't change that. Paul sees the futility of appealing to one's own law keeping as a means of obtaining blamelessness. He was, by his own opinion as a former Pharisee, "blameless" because he kept the law (though in actuality he wasn't even doing that much!), but even had Paul been able to keep the law perfectly after having sinned, this keeping of the law - this "righteousness" was not enough to cancel his sin debt. Thus he regarded his law keeping as a means of obtaining blamelessness as rubbish, and rightly so. As a sinner, Paul could not recapture a state of blamelessness once it had been lost, and so the only way Paul could achieve a truly blameless state again was not by keeping the law, but, as we read in Philippians 3:9, by having the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
You rightly say that whatever righteousness a sinner may or may not have (by keeping the law/being obedient) is not true righteousness. The only way a sinner can reclaim righteousness is to receive it anew from God through faith in Christ. It isn't that there are two ways to be saved, because as Matthew 1:21 tells us, Jesus will save his people from something, so that when we talk of salvation, we are talking about being saved from something, and the something we are talking about is not described as "hell" it is clearly stated there, "...you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins". There is only ONE way to be saved from your sin, and that is by faith in Christ. But babes who have no sin do not need to be saved from it. So we are not talking about two ways of salvation, because whenever we talk of salvation, if we are to remain biblical in our reference, we are necessarily speaking about salvation from sin. It stands to reason then, if we are speaking about babes as sinless, that we cannot speak of them being saved from their sin and remain coherent in our reasoning.
I too am mulling this over. I don't write as one who has all the answers and some settled opinion, rather that in discussing these things I hope to examine what I believe and compare it to, and conform it to, scripture.
With regards to Romans 5; I think you are referring to verses 12 and 14 to make your point: "death spread to all men because all sinned" and the death here is a physical one since it refers to all who died (physically) from Adam right up to Moses.
Verse twelve says that death came into the world through Adam's sin, and that death passed through to all men, then (in the Greek) "ef w pantes hmarton" The last two words are "all sinned" but the preposition "ef" (really a form of "epi") means "on" or "at" and "w" here is a pronoun, "which". thus, "at which all sinned" - that doesn't really mesh will with our English phrasing, "death passed through to all men at which all sinned". There is no small debate about how we ought to translate this weird little prepositional phrase. here are the Net bible notes:
The translation of the phrase ἐφ᾿ ᾧ (ef w) has been heavily debated. For a discussion of all the possibilities, see C. E. B. Cranfield, “On Some of the Problems in the Interpretation of Romans 5.12,” SJT 22 (1969): 324-41. Only a few of the major options can be mentioned here: (1) the phrase can be taken as a relative clause in which the pronoun refers to Adam, “death spread to all people in whom [Adam] all sinned.” (2) The phrase can be taken with consecutive (resultative) force, meaning “death spread to all people with the result that all sinned.” (3) Others take the phrase as causal in force: “death spread to all people because all sinned.”If the contested meaning of this passage truly is causal (i.e. it means: because all sinned), then your point is made - physical death must be caused by personal sin. That means, since some die moments after conception, that we disobey God before we have formed the brain we need to rebel against God with.
My inclination is, for the sake of reason, to set that particular possible interpretation aside and examine the others to see if they also produce an implausible scenario. The consecutive force makes the most sense to me - that death spread to all people resulting in all people sinning. That is exactly what we see in real life.
Which is to say that I am not yet swayed by the argument of Romans 5, since there are underlying interpretational issues at hand. Translating the prepositional phrase with a consecutive force seems to support both our reality, our sense of reason, and while not necessarily supporting my understanding, it certainly does it no injury. If we take it as a causal thing, then we have a problem in that we have to swallow the idea that newly conceived life, though incapble of thought, never-the-less disobeys God somehow, and that is incomprehensible to me. So far my faith has never transgressed my sense of reason, that is, nothing I believe every word of the bible, and have never had to hold something as true stands contrary to reality. Some things are mysteries, but nothing I find in scripture runs contrary to reality. I find myself, therefore, presently unable to accept the notion that this prepositional phrase ought to be understood as causal. It could be a relative clause, as the federalist would argue, that "death spread to all people for all sinned in Adam" - but that doesn't sit right with me.
I confess, I find the discussion fraught with all sorts of complex and sensitive issues, and I want to be careful in discussing them not to poo-poo anything just because I may be blind to something someone else sees. I am, nevertheless, enjoying the discourse and the light that comes from it.
I’ve no idea if a newly conceived life is capable of thought and I agree that Romans 5:12-14 can be taken in a way that is more favorable to your position, but I’m still left with the idea that in heaven we will have some there on account of their own righteousness. In my limited understanding I see verse 17 saying that this righteousness comes as a gift by Jesus Christ.
Allow me to ramble, if we are counted righteous by something that is alien from us- meaning not our righteousness- due to our Federal Head being Christ is would make sense to me that we could be counted un-righteous due to our Federal Head being Adam.
One point that I would like clarification on, if the wages of sin is the second death then would that apply to Christ who paid the penalty for us? Did Christ experience the second death or the physical death or both/neither?
Thank you for making me think on this. I’m enjoying the dialogue.
Mitch, if a babe gets to heaven for being blameless, it won't be because he or she generated that blamelessness, rather it will be because God created them blameless, and chose to take them to heaven in that state. They will not be able to say that they stand in their own righteousness, for they did nothing to gain or even to hold onto it - rather God, in His mercy and Grace, created them blameless, and took them from this life before they could incur blame. Thus I don't know that I would describe babes in heaven as being their in "their own righteousness".
Perhaps a bit more definition may help clear up the water there.
David said he had been young, and old, but never saw the righteous begging. He also said that God will never let the righteous totter, etc. We could find a whole lot of verses in scripture that discuss practical (as opposed to justifying) righteousness. How can a deacon or elder be blameless if he has ever sinned even once? He cannot - so that when we talk of practical righteousness, we are not talking about something that can justify us before God, but rather whether or not we are living in the sort of practical obedience that is commonly called righteousness. This is the righteousness that Paul disdains as it pertains to justification - not that Paul disdains obdedience, but that he doesn't look to obedience to justify him, or anyone else.
When we speak of sinlessness and the righteousness that is inherent in it - we are not talking about that which law keeping/obeying produces, for we have already shown that keeping the law/obedience cannot produce the sort of righteousness that justifyies a believer. Thus when we speak of being righteous in the sense that one is entirely free from blame, we are talking about something that came into being without having been produced by the one who possesses it. I use the example of virginity often because it knits so well into the discussion. Who can claim, on the day that they were born, that they were a virgin because of their obedience? None. They were created virgins, and remained so until they lost their virginity, either in sin, or in marriage. They may be able to argue that their obedience maintained their virginity - but it didn't produce it, and that is the same principle with regards to blamelessness or sinlessness. No infant in the author of its own sinlessness/blamelessness. If they enter into the new Jerusalem, it will not be on account of their having produced something in themselves by which they merit the new Jerusalem, it will be because they received grace in being taken before they destroyed forever the sinless state into which they were born, that is, they will not have transgressed the gift of righteousness they received through God's grace (at conception) like those of us who have lived to understand sin have.
With regard to federal headship...
I don't believe that I am counted righteous due to Christ being the head of me. I believe that I am counted righteous because I have been united to Christ in His death and resurrection so that when Christ was on the cross, I too was on the cross with Him, through the union presented in Romans 6. In a very literal sense, God punished my sins "in" Christ because I was "in" Christ through this same union. Christ died physically on the cross, but in that moment both He and whomever was in Him through this same spiritual union all died the second death together. Christ's body was put in the grave, When God raised Christ from the dead, it was not just the raising up of Christ's dead flesh - it was that God, being just, could not allow Christ, who was innocent to remain dead (spiritually), but had to raise Him up for the sake of His own righteousness. Since the union between us (who are in Christ) and Christ was stronger than death, it meant that in order to raise Christ up from the second death, God had to raise all of those who were in Christ up as well.
It is as if there were co-joined twins who shared one heart between them; one of whom was found guilty of murder, and sentenced to death. In order to kill the guilty, the innocent twin would also have to die since the death penalty demanded that they stop the heart of the murderer. So they stopped the heart that both twins relied upon, and the guilty twin, along with his innocent brother, died. Yet in order to sustain justice, the innocent brother had to be revived, and so they put those electric paddles on the heart shared by the twins and brought them back to life on account of the innocent twin - but in doing so, they raised not only the innocent twin, but the guilty one as well. The guilty twin condemned them both by his crime, but the innocent twin restored them both by his innocence.
In order to save us from our sin, Christ co-joins Himself to us so that our condemnation becomes His. We die spiritually in Christ, along with Christ, and in doing so the debt of our sin is paid. Not that God points a gun at the innocent Christ while looking at us and pretending Christ is guilty - that would be sick, no, by coming and co-joining us to Him spiritually, Christ made it so that in order to punish us, God would have to punish Christ also, and this for this one purpose: that His righteousness would require God to raise Him again from this death, and in doing so bring us who are in Christ through death with Him and into life.
That is what Noah's ark is a picture of - us, in Christ, passing through judgment by virtue of our accepting God's provision - for it was God who sent His son to be the Ark (Christ) who would carry us through death and into life again.
So when I think of our righteousness, I don't think of it as coming from Christ's headship, rather I think it comes from our union with Christ, as described plainly enough in scripture, and again, in old testament imagery.
For that reason I find the idea of headship wanting. It is a nice argument, and if there were no better argument, I might be inclined to hold it as sort of a working argument of the sort where I don't know how a thing works, but I know what the outcome looks like, so I use the best model I can think of that would produce that output.
Scripture speaks about the consequences of a father's sin affecting his children and his children's children. We see this in real life all the time. How many abused children grow up to abuse their own children? How many drunks beget drunks? Surely if I ignore my children in rearing them, both I, and my children, will reap the consequences of my sin. Scripture says it, and reality confirms it.
But when it comes to condemnation - to punishment - scripture says that the father shall die for his own sin, and not the son for the father, nor the father for the sins of the son. In otherwords, scripture itself argues against the whole idea of federal headship, so long as we understand that the passages which speak of the consequences of sin (sins of the father visited on the sons and son's sons) is not the same as the passages which speak of condemantion for sin (each man shall be put to death for his own sin).
That is why I don't buy the whole federal headship idea. I know it works for a lot of people, especially those who like to preach the tithe (c.f. Abraham and Melchizedek).
Now, onto the clarification, if I am able. ;)
If the wages of sin is the second death, would that apply to Christ? Yes, I believe it would and does.
Christ experienced physical death on the cross - but so what? Lot's of people were experiencing physical death on crosses back then. It wasn't his physical death that paid for our sins - it was the spiritual death - the pouring out of God's wrath.
Christians have been dying for hundreds of years. If even the smallest part of God's wrath is physical death - then Christ didn't receive all of our punishment, just some of it - and more, those who are transformed in the blink of an eye when Christ returns, will not experience the same wrath=death that everyone else experienced. No, if Jesus paid it all, then physical death was not what paid for it, it had to be spiritual death.
So Jesus died physically, which was a crime in itself, but more importantly, spiritually, and when He did, those who are in Christ died with Him, so that they passed from death into life with Chrsit when Christ was raised.
Thanks for hanging in there. I think these things are worth considering, and I too am enjoying the dialogue, as it is making me critically examine things in a way I would otherwise brush over without thinking too deeply about them.
I apologize too for all the little spelling mistakes and extra and/or missing words. I am writing these comments extemporaneously, and there is no spell checker and whatnot in this little window - and I am loathe to use the preview, for it always makes me want to rewrite my comments, and I tend to rewrite them even longer than the original (brevity is the soul of wit, and I am a witless soul it seems!)
I will take this weekend to try and think about what has been said and see if I can wrap my mind around it.
My first impression though is given the example of the co-joined twins that the one that murdered would still be guilty. There is nothing there that suggests that the innocent twin took the sin of the other.
I will think on this and have a great weekend!
P.S. Be careful when riding.
Mitch - you are right; the twin who committed murder would still be guilty murder, and so his own life is forfeit - but the life that is raised is not his life, but the life of his twin, which he partakes of through their union. So even though he is guilty, he partakes of the life of his brother, and in doing so passes through the judgment.
For the Christian, we partake of Christ's life - Christ is raised, and we are raised in Him (and therefore with Him). It isn't that we become innocent, it is that our death satisfies God's righteous requirement, and so we would stay dead were it not for Christ whom God raised, and whose life we partake of through that spiritual union.
Have a wonderful weekend!