JUSTIFICATION -- The Nature of Faith

Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, January 19, 2023 with No comments

 COOPER: We can talk about justification for a long time, but we will try to navigate it piece by piece.  But before we tackle justification, let's begin with the nature of faith. 

 with the Reformation, the definition of faith itself was questioned.  In the period just prior to the Reformation, faith was just looked at as acknowledging something as true. It's a misunderstanding that stands today, especially among RCs in terms of how they think Lutherans think about faith.  This is far from accurate, and is a caricature of Lutheranism. What we mean by faith goes far beyond mental assent...

Is assent to propositions an element of faith? Is logic a part of faith? It is, but that's not all that faith entails..

As Lutherans, we divide saving faith into three different elements: 

NOTITIA -- your knowledge of the facts of the Gospel. 

ASCENTARE -- acceptance of the facts

FIDUCIA --- trust. 

We have scriptures that say "contend for the faith (Jude 1:3)." This passage is not necessarily talking about personal faith, but it has a broader scope. 

We will also be looking at Romans 3 & 4. Paul explains justification masterfully, as well as in Galatians. 

In Romans 4, Paul quotes Genesis 15. What's happening in Genesis 15? God is establishing His covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15: New American Standard BibleWhat then shall we say that Abraham, [a]our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified [b]by works, he has something to boast about; but not [c]before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”Now to the one who works, the wages are not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”

Romans 4 is probably the clearest and detailed text on justification. There is nothing in this text that describes faith as just intellectual acceptance. Rome says that faith needs something else to be valid, because they believe that faith is simply mental acceptance of the truths of the faith. Rome would say, "faith formed by love." 

Dr. Cooper had a conversation with a Roman Catholic philosopher about Romans 4.  What happened was that Mr. Philosopher did not really deal with Romans 4, but wanted to keep moving on to other texts. 

We believe in love just like Rome, but we look at love differently. Lingan is a Lutheran who wrote on Luther's doctrine of vocation, and it is really good. Faith is Christ-oriented and receieves love. Love is different from faith in that it descends. So for Luther, love belongs to the left-hand kingdom, or this world.  Faith is heavenly; love is earthly. Speaking of faith, how do we even reconcile infant faith and baptism with the idea of mental agreement with the faith?


What do we do about infant baptism? There are tons of passages in the Bible. But Psalm 73 stands out because it's a Psalm of Asaph-- John the Baptist, David and Asaph. 

  1. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their hearts, took a child and had him stand by His side,
  2. and He said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.”
  3. 15 Now they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. 16 But Jesus called for the little ones, saying, “Allow the children to come to Me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 

  4.  Infant faith and infant baptism are proofs that faith is more than just intellectual belief.  Now that we've spent so much time on faith, we will dive into justification proper!! JUSTIFICATION -- WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

  5. It is a significant point of debate. What is justification? We generally define it as a legal term, where we are declared righteous. There is both forgiveness and imputation of righteousness in justification. 

  6. Roman Catholics -- made righteous vs. Protestants -- declared righteous ---

  7. Augustine saw justification as God making us righteous, versus being declared righteous. But interestingly, Luther does not follow Augustine in this.  Why? Augustine did not have knowledge of New Testament Greek (Koine Greek). This is a major problem, because many of the Western Fathers spoke Latin instead of Greek.  So less and less people understood the Greek New Testament, and were relying on the Latin translations. Jerome's Vulgate is an example of this problem. The Vulgate mistranslated justification. By the time of Luther, the Latin translation says "do penance" instead of "repent." During the Renaissance, one of the things that were revived were the ancient languages. 


  9. The theme of the Renaissance was for people to get back to the sources (ad fontes).  Luther was a mystic and Melanchthon was a humanist. When the two of them joined forces, they were reading the Theologica Germanica (anonymous) as well as the writings of Renaissance humanists. So all of this influenced their views on faith, and justification and righteousness.


  11. First, Lutherans make a distinction between two kinds of righteousness -- Coram Mundo (our righteousness before man), and Corum Deo (our righteousness before God).  Any renewal that we have in our will is all God's doing. When the Holy Spirit works, He is still working through us. We really have faith, but the credit is the Spirit's credit.  We recieve love, redemption, justification and sanctification, all by faith: 

  12. 1 Corinthians 1:28-31 28 and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no human may boast before God. 30 But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  

  13. So we place all our insurance in and on Christ. Period.  Galatians is crucial for this. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+3&version=NASB.  Now there are different terms Lutherans use to describe justification, which we will look at below. 

  14. OBJECTIVE VS SUBJECTIVE JUSTIFICATION -- Objective is universal, this reality that the world has been justified through the work of Jesus. Subjective --- You HAVE to recieve by faith that Christ died for you in order for it to be effective.   One of the reasons why this was so controversial because of the "Kokomo Theses" put forth by one of the WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) districts. But it is important to note that 1 Timothy 3:16 and Romans 4:25 say.  They talk about us being justified in the Spirit (vindicated is the English word used).  More to come on all of this as we explore more Orthodox Lutheran doctrine!!