Romans 5

This review of Romans 5 is provided by David Clark, a former Mormon and present day generic Christian.

Summary

Romans 5 contains two main themes. The first theme, in vv 1-11, reflects on how and why Christians should boast. They should not boast of anything they have done, but of the work that Christ’s death has done. The second theme concerns the nature of justification, namely that it comes by the free gift of the grace of God.

Reflection

Of course the contents of Romans 5 is much more complicated than my simple summary. However, I wanted to focus on one part of Romans 5, verse 12:

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned

What strikes me here is the complicated nature of sin. I grew up thinking that sin was simply doing something bad. That agrees with the last part of the verse, “all have sinned,” in other words we all do bad things. However sin is more complicated than that.

There is also a global, structural nature to sin, apart from what we do. Paul sees sin as coming into the world and affecting everyone, the proof of this, for Paul, is that everyone dies. Since death is the result of sin, and since everyone dies, everyone is affected by this aspect of sin. Of course Paul sees a connection between this global, structural nature of sin and the act of committing a sin, but they are not the same for him.

It is verses like this that lead me to the conclusion that justification must be by grace alone. Even if one could stop the act of sin, there is still the global, structural problem of sin that pervades our lives. Different traditions identify this problem differenly. Catholics see it as original sin, Calvinists as man’s total depravity, etc. However a tradition looks at this problem, it is a real problem which man cannot solve. No matter what you do, you can’t escape the problem of death; you are going to die no matter what. Likewise, you can’t escape the root cause of this death, this sin which pervades everything and is the cause of death. Hence any salvation has to be by grace alone, because there is nothing you can possibly do to escape this quandry.

So what is left for us to do? Plenty! Look back at verse 5:

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Since God’s love is now in the believer’s heart, the believer must share this love through service and proclamation. By doing this the believer becomes an instrument of God’s grace.

All quotes come from the NRSV

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49 thoughts on “Romans 5

  1. The sin connection is global. Sin is not fair in its devastation.

    But then there is the topic of love. We can understand and reason our way through God’s love being poured out to a good man. But to an ungodly enemy? How do they deserve love? Is that fair?

    Romans 5 shines in the much more, much more, much more, much more gospel persuasion.

    And King sin is no match for King grace.

  2. Nice post!

    You’ve got it, sin is pervasive in this world. On a personal level, it is not only what we ought not be doing, but also all the things that we should be doing, that we aren’t (sins of omission). I think that is a much longer list.

    And then there is the matter of ‘motive’.

    My pastor says “we ought not be worried about the worst things that we do…but rather the best that we do. For it’s not good enough, either.”

    Thanks!

  3. There is also a global, structural nature to sin, apart from what we do.

    Yes. When people fail to recognize this I think it often leads to Christian Fatalism. For example, if a child is born with Down’s Syndrome people might say “Well God must have wanted this.” Nothing could be further from the truth. God did not give the child Down’s Syndrome, sin did. God wants the child to be healthy and made exactly as he intended. God hates Down Syndrome because it’s an example of the pervasiveness of sin. True, God can work through Down’s Syndrome and he can redeem any situation but he does not inflict people with the consequences of sin.

  4. Two verses I’d like to point out from the chapter

    we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

    How is it that we gain access to grace? By Faith

    we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

    I love that passage.

  5. by corrupting all of creation. The world no longer works the way it is supposed to.

    (I’ll acknowledge that God created a world where sin could exist)

  6. I’m not trying to trap you or anything–I assume you are not claiming that Down’s Syndrome is a curse by God for a specific sin or the sinfulness of, say, the kid’s parents (at the very least, because Jesus addressed the issue pretty plainly with regards to the blind man).

    But I’m not sure I see the conenction between human sin and disease. Unless you are talking about human sin bringing about a fallen world where things like disease and death can happen. But then, although “sin” in general is somewhere back in the causal chain, it’s certainly not the proximate cause of a given person’s Down’s Syndrome. Which makes me think that the way you phrase that stuff exaggerates the case. It’s one thing to say “we live in a fallen world where Down’s syndrome happens because Adam and Eve’s sin corrupted God’s perfect creation to the core” and a much different thing to say “sin causes Down’s syndrome.” The latter is really only useful for its rhetorical effect. Because there isn’t really a direct connection between your personal sin, for example, and any given person’s Down’s syndrome. You don’t have to feel personally guilty for hurricanes, lung cancer and the Holocaust every time you masturbate.

  7. Nice write-up, and thanks for noting your Bible translation. Three questions:

    1) I’m still not seeing the proof that “death” to Paul means “physical death.” This came up in the Romans 1 thread (I think). I can see that that’s one possible interpretation, but not the only interpretation. That ambiguity is fine if the “death/sin” connection is somewhat tangential to one’s main point, but here it seems to be vital to your reading of Romans 5.

    2) I also have a question about the “global sin” you mention. Perhaps Tim already answered it, but I want to make sure: Is “a fallen world” what you mean by “global, structural sin”? If not, what do you mean, and where can I find evidence of it?

    3) I get for the most part what you’re saying about the extreme need for grace. But why couldn’t we just say that justification comes by grace because the little we CAN do to secure justification is not sufficient? (as opposed to saying there is NOTHING we can do at all?)

    On the other hand, I may be misreading you entirely if the salvation you’re talking about is salvation from physical death, which surely none of us can do anything about. I guess that takes me back to my question #1.

  8. Okay, a fourth question, this time for everyone:

    4) Do you see a difference between justification, sanctification, salvation, and exaltation? I can’t tell if David Clark, Todd, Tim, and others use those synonymously.

  9. If you’re willing to go all the way back on the causal chain from some kid’s Down Syndrome to original sin, why not keep going back? “Sin” is not an actor, sin is an action: Adam and Eve sinned. So God did not give the child Down’s Syndrome, Adam and Eve did. Or even if you want to generalize, humanity sinned through its agents, Adam and Eve, which means God did not give the child Down’s Syndrome, humanity did.

    But humanity only had the capacity to sin because they were created that way. So God did not give the child Down’s Syndrome, the act of creation did. But again, creation is not an actor, it’s the action. God did the creating. God gave humanity the capacity to sin, like you said. So God did not give the child Down’s Syndrome, but then again it looks like he did.

    And unless you believe there’s something further back on the causal chain to blame the kid’s Down’s Syndrome on–and as I understand Protestant theology, you explicitly and specifically reject that God was caused in any way, i.e. he is the unmoved mover–God gave the kid Down’s syndrome after all.

    The only way to excuse God is to stop thinking about the causation at an arbitrarily early point, like you have done with sin.

  10. It’s one thing to say “we live in a fallen world where Down’s syndrome happens because Adam and Eve’s sin corrupted God’s perfect creation to the core”

    That’s about what I was getting at.

  11. I’m still not seeing the proof that “death” to Paul means “physical death.”

    What do you think he means when he says “death”?

    But why couldn’t we just say that justification comes by grace because the little we CAN do to secure justification is not sufficient?

    Because your adherence to the Law doesn’t conquer death. The world isn’t set right. Your children may still be born with defects, the lion won’t lie down with the lamb, etc.

    Do you see a difference between justification, sanctification, salvation, and exaltation?

    Abosultely

    Justification : being represented by the blood of Christ

    sanctification: the ability through the Holy Spirit to become perfected and no longer sin.

    Salvation: no longer being condemned, somewhat similar to justification

    exaltation: I don’t believe in exaltation, that’s a Mormon doctrine. Instead I believe in glorification (and there are vary degrees of rewards for the glorified).

  12. “What do you think he means when he says “death”?”

    Physical and spiritual death—but most importantly spiritual.

    “Justification : being represented by the blood of Christ”

    Don’t you need to include some reference to physical death in that definition? You say that we cannot work toward our own justification as evidenced by the fact that we will all physically die, so justification to you must resolve physical death.

  13. BrianJ,

    1) I’m still not seeing the proof that “death” to Paul means “physical death.” This came up in the Romans 1 thread (I think). I can see that that’s one possible interpretation, but not the only interpretation. That ambiguity is fine if the “death/sin” connection is somewhat tangential to one’s main point, but here it seems to be vital to your reading of Romans 5.

    Two points. First, I’m no Greek expert, but looking at the Greek doesn’t give me any indication that death (θάνατος) is anything other than death of the body. Second, if you are arguing that he is meaning spiritual death, the passage becomes tautological and doesn’t actually say anything. In LDS theology sin = spiritual death. If you substitute “sin” for death in the passage I quoted it becomes a pure tautology. Here is is: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and sin came through sin, and so sin spread to all because all have sinned.” It’s true, but trivially so, and I don’t think Paul was trying to make a trivial point here.

    2) I also have a question about the “global sin” you mention. Perhaps Tim already answered it, but I want to make sure: Is “a fallen world” what you mean by “global, structural sin”? If not, what do you mean, and where can I find evidence of it?

    Yes, the fallen world is part of the evidence of the global nature of sin. Part of the key to understanding Paul on sin is that he talks about sin in two different ways. The way most people (LDS included) think about sin is a judicial model; you do something wrong, you deserve a punishment, Jesus pays a penalty for you, and you avoid the punishment. However Paul also uses a participationist model to understand sin. Paul would probably say something like sin is a cosmic force or power. However, we would tend to approach it differently because our cognitive world is different from Paul’s. I’m trying to translate Paul’s cognitive world to ours by saying it is structural. Gravity is part of the structure of our world, you can’t escape it (even in a spaceship there is gravity). Death is also structural, there is nothing any of us can do to escape it. In this sense we all participate or will participate in, whether we want to or not, gravity and death. Paul is saying sin is in the same category, it’s part of the structure of our reality (the fallen world).

    Here are some other verses in Romans which make sense on a participationist model, but not so much on a judicial model Romans 5:12-13, 5:21, 6:6, 6:11-12, 6:17-18. Just to be clear, Paul uses both models in Romans.

    3) I get for the most part what you’re saying about the extreme need for grace. But why couldn’t we just say that justification comes by grace because the little we CAN do to secure justification is not sufficient? (as opposed to saying there is NOTHING we can do at all?)

    Because there isn’t anything you can do to stop participating in the structures that make up reality, and for Paul, that includes sin.

    Think of it this way, suppose I tell you that to get a certain reward you have to travel faster than the speed of light. There is nothing you can do by conventional means to do that, the reward will always be beyond your grasp. To go faster than the speed of light would require a fundamental alteration of the structures of space-time. So, in a very real sense, no matter how fast you manage to go, you are in no way closer to going faster than the speed of light. None of that speed will go towards the final solution of the problem, it’s all pointless unless you can change reality. It’s the same with sin. By all means, be as good as you possibly can, just realize that what is needed is something utterly alien to your abilities. Hence, grace doesn’t make up the difference, it makes different.

  14. 4) Do you see a difference between justification, sanctification, salvation, and exaltation? I can’t tell if David Clark, Todd, Tim, and others use those synonymously.

    There is a difference between justification and salvation. However, I am not an expert on theology so I wouldn’t be the best person to articulate the difference. Because of that, I’ll just defer to Tim’s answer.

    As for salvation and exaltation, I would either say they are the same thing, or that exaltation is a Mormon only concept which attempts to correct some issues with LDS soteriology. However, even among Mormons exaltation and salvation are not used consistently, so I think any attempt by Mormons to rigidly segregate them will cause more confusion, not alleviate it.

  15. And unless you believe there’s something further back on the causal chain to blame the kid’s Down’s Syndrome on–and as I understand Protestant theology, you explicitly and specifically reject that God was caused in any way, i.e. he is the unmoved mover–God gave the kid Down’s syndrome after all.

    If you go with Tim’s reasoning the Fall creates an ontological difference, i.e. the world was wholly different pre-Fall than it is now.

    So the question then becomes a question of free will. If Adam and Eve had libertarian free will, then the choice was freely theirs and God didn’t cause it. However, as you point out, many Protestants are not going to subscribe to libertarian free will. So, the problem for them is how to reconcile God’s goodness with the fallen world.

    For me the important part of the Adam and Even story is not the historicity of the account, but the message it is trying to convey. The message is clearly that this world is flawed in a big way and it’s not how God wanted it to be. So now what? And I think that is part of what Paul is trying to address in the book of Romans, what did Christ do and what is God doing to ultimately make the situation right again.

  16. If you go with Tim’s reasoning the Fall creates an ontological difference, i.e. the world was wholly different pre-Fall than it is now.

    But that’s irrelevant ot the question of causation.

    So the question then becomes a question of free will. If Adam and Eve had libertarian free will, then the choice was freely theirs and God didn’t cause it.

    Again, Adam and Eve’s liberatian free will–or anyone else’s free will–doesn’t cut off the causal chain, as long as there’s a preceding “but for” event. Had God not given free will to Adam and Eve, they would not have made the choice to sin, so creation is a causal event.

    Chains of causation don’t just go back to the last free will but-for event.

    For me the important part of the Adam and Even story is not the historicity of the account, but the message it is trying to convey. The message is clearly that this world is flawed in a big way and it’s not how God wanted it to be.

    Right, but that’s not germane to the question of whether God gives kids Down’s syndrome.

  17. Don’t you need to include some reference to physical death in that definition? You say that we cannot work toward our own justification as evidenced by the fact that we will all physically die, so justification to you must resolve physical death.

    Justification resolves my relationship with God it doesn’t reconcile the world to God. It’s a personal thing. But there’s a larger story going on, that God is restoring ALL things to himself. The restoration comes through grace.

    Big Picture = God restores the world through grace
    Small Picture = God restores Tim to Himself through grace.

    I don’t become reconciled to God differently than the rest of creation. As a result of grace, my relationship with God doesn’t end when I meet physical death.

  18. Again, Adam and Eve’s liberatian free will–or anyone else’s free will–doesn’t cut off the causal chain, as long as there’s a preceding “but for” event.

    If you were describing compatibilism, you would have a point. Libertarian free will asserts “an absence of causal predetermination by conditions outside our control.” (Thomas Pink, Free Will, A Very Short Introduction, p. 14. Hence, Adam and Eve’s libertarian free will does begin a new causal chain based on their choices

  19. I meant to add the caveat, “assuming Adam and Eve (and the rest of us) have libertarian free will.” Like I said, if they don’t, then your objections become valid.

  20. If you were describing compatibilism, you would have a point. Libertarian free will asserts “an absence of causal predetermination by conditions outside our control.” (Thomas Pink, Free Will, A Very Short Introduction, p. 14. Hence, Adam and Eve’s libertarian free will does begin a new causal chain based on their choices

    You are conflating but-for causation with predeterminism.

    God’s creative act did not force Adam and Eve to sin, but but for God’s particular creative act, Adam and Eve would not have sinned.

    If I put a landmine outside your front doorstep, and you step out in the morning and get blown to pieces, the causal chain of your death does not break at the moment you made the free-will choice to step outside. But for me putting the landmine outside your front doorstep, you would not have been blown to pieces. That’s a causal relationship. I learned how to plant land mines in the Army. But for my decision to enlist, you would not have been blown to pieces. That’s causal. I would not have decided to enlist without my wife’s consent. But for my wife’s consent, you would not have been blown to pieces. And the chain goes back infinitely, unless you believe in an umoved mover, in which case that’s where it stops.

    Assuming libertarian free-will, you made the decision to step outside, but that doesn’t mean you are the only one responsible for your death. Your argument says that since you made the free-will decision to step out your door, the chain of causation is cut off and nobody but you is responsible for your violent death. That’s complete nonsense.

    Causation is not limited to actions that forced a given outcome with no alternative, but actions that have a but-for relationship with the outcome.

  21. David Clark: Thanks for the response. I few thoughts:

    “Second, if you are arguing that he is meaning spiritual death, the passage becomes tautological and doesn’t actually say anything. In LDS theology sin = spiritual death.”

    That is not my understanding of LDS theology. Rather, sin leads to spiritual death. Thus, it is not a tautology.

    I like your light-speed analogy. Good illustration.

  22. Assuming libertarian free-will, you made the decision to step outside, but that doesn’t mean you are the only one responsible for your death. Your argument says that since you made the free-will decision to step out your door, the chain of causation is cut off and nobody but you is responsible for your violent death. That’s complete nonsense.

    That’s not what I was asserting. If I inadvertently misused some technical terminology to imply that, that’s not what I meant.

    In any case the analogy is flawed. Inadvertently stepping on a land mine has nothing to do with free will. No moral choice was made, i.e. I did not choose to step on a landmine. However, if you gave me fair warning, “Hey, there’s a landmine outside your door.” And I remembered it and purposefully stepped on it, then I would have made a moral choice to commit suicide by stepping outside. That seems to be what Adam and Eve did.

    In any case, arguing free will stuff turns on incredibly fine technicalities, which I am not prepared to argue, and a blog is probably not the best place to hash it out.

  23. That is not my understanding of LDS theology. Rather, sin leads to spiritual death. Thus, it is not a tautology.

    Fine, but you still haven’t shown why I should think of a non-qualified use of θάνατος means anything other than physical death.

  24. In any case the analogy is flawed. Inadvertently stepping on a land mine has nothing to do with free will. No moral choice was made, i.e. I did not choose to step on a landmine. However, if you gave me fair warning, “Hey, there’s a landmine outside your door.” And I remembered it and purposefully stepped on it, then I would have made a moral choice to commit suicide by stepping outside. That seems to be what Adam and Eve did.

    Who said anything about moral choices? The subject matter of a causal event is not relevant to causation.

    You made a free will choice to step out the door, which was not causally predetemined. As a result of your free-will choice to step out the door, you stepped on a landmine and blew up.

    But you blowing up is also the result of other factors, some of which involved free will choices and some of which did not. The process of a land mine exploding does not involve any free will choices, but they still are a part of the causal chain. The guy who made the land mine made a free will choice, as did the guy who put it on your doorstep. Had either of those not happened, you would not have blown up. But also, had you gone out the back door instead of the front door, or maybe if you had just stayed home, you would not have blown up.

    Had any of those things not happened, you would have not blown up. Causation. And most things have multiple necessary-but-not-sufficient causes, which in turn have their own multiple necessary-but-not-sufficient causes.

    But if you believe that God is the ultimate unmoved mover of everything, then he is also the cause of everything, because every causal chain ultimately goes back to him. Including Down’s syndrome.

  25. So, in a very real sense, no matter how fast you manage to go, you are in no way closer to going faster than the speed of light. None of that speed will go towards the final solution of the problem, it’s all pointless unless you can change reality.

    I really like this example, but I don’t agree with your final point. As an educator, I firmly believe that all progress is worthwhile progress. Even if we never achieve the ultimate goal, life is not just about the destination. It is about the journey.

    If life were just about being born, accepting Christ, and then dying so that we can be justified and saved through Christ, then there would be no point to our mortal existence, except possibly for having more children. With this model, it would not be a stretch of the imagination to say that as soon as someone has sexually matured and has procreated, their life is pointless. (I don’t think you are arguing this, by the way.)

    None of what we do will actually return us to God, but it is definitely worthwhile for us to learn everything we learn along the way. I see this as the point of the parable of the talents that Christ taught. And I see this in the message from Paul (throughout all of his epistles) that we become instruments in God’s hands in sharing the Gospel with others.

  26. To continue the analogy Alex. Of course we don’t need to just “get saved” and die. But now that we can go the speed of light, we need to. But before grace enters the equation none of our efforts are really part of the effort to go the speed of light.

  27. Tim – I agree! I was just expressing disagreement with the “all of our efforts are pointless” part. Pointless to getting to the goal, yes. Pointless in all things? No. Perhaps it is our attempt to go the speed of light that leads us to the fundamental change in the universe. If we never tried, why would we even care if it were possible?

  28. Mormon doctrine looks at the fall and sin only slightly differently than traditionals. Just as David explains, the atonement provides an escape from death and hell that make free will possible. Because death and hell are conquered, we have the opportunity and the freedom to choose good from evil and to have this matter at all.

    The relevant scripture is 2nd Nephi 2:

    25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
    26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.
    27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
    28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;
    29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/2_ne/2

    Mormons believe that the world after the fall would not have been a fit place for the probation and testing of this life without the sacrifice and grace of the atonement of Jesus.

    5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
    6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
    7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

    In the Mormon view, however, the fact that grace makes everything possible, is the start of the religion not the end. God provided the opportunity to sin and an escape from sin, in order to create the environment for what he was really after, i.e. the immortality and eternal life. For Mormons, grace is more universally applied, it saves everyone from depravity and gives us free will, and now life is about determining what kind of creatures we want to be, not whether or not we will be saved from death and hell.

  29. David said: “None of that speed will go towards the final solution of the problem, it’s all pointless unless you can change reality.”

    Lehi, above, agrees. Without the grace of the atonement life would be pointless.

    I some ways it is similar to the Prevenient Grace idea, except that this sort of grace was there from the beginning and applies to everyone all the time. The Restored Gospel explains that God’s grace creates the conditions of free choice, which exist from birth, and mitigate the effect of the fall enough to create the potential that people now have.

    In some mysterious sense, Jesus sacrifice happened prior to the fall, the atonement happened when Jesus agreed to be Christ.
    Revelation 13:8 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

  30. “Fine, but you still haven’t shown why I should think of a non-qualified use of θάνατος means anything other than physical death.”

    I never tried. 🙂

    My questions were asked to try to understand how you came to your interpretation, not to convince you that your interpretation is wrong.

  31. My questions were asked to try to understand how you came to your interpretation, not to convince you that your interpretation is wrong.

    Fair enough.

  32. “I totally agree that justification comes by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ.”

    Based on Tim’s definition of justification—being represented by the blood of Christ—it’s pretty much a given that it relies completely on Jesus Christ.

  33. Bible Study said:

    I totally agree that justification comes by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

    What do you mean by “faith alone”?

    One reason I ask is because Paul never uses the phrase “faith alone.” (The only place I’m aware of where that phrase is used in the Bible is in James, who says we’re not justified by faith alone.)

    A second reason I ask (in fact the main one) is because I’m curious what you think Paul means by faith.

    My interpretation of Paul is that he means something like the definition that Tim gave back in his post on Romans 1, “active trust.” The context for Paul in chapter 5 is what he says in chapter 4 about Abraham, who had a complete intent to do what God had told him to do — Paul suggests that circumcision itself wasn’t a necessity but that the complete willingness to accomplishment was. So it’s pretty clear to me that Paul is talking about something more than intellectual assent; he talking about submitting oneself to God’s will, including a willingness to do whatever actions (or deeds or works, depending on which Bible translation you prefer) that God will ask as a result. The implication is that the one who subsequently doesn’t do what God asks him/her to do doesn’t really have faith.

    Is that the way you see it, or do you have a different understanding of what faith means than I do?

  34. Typo: Paul suggests that circumcision itself wasn’t a necessity but that the complete willingness to accomplish it was.

  35. Faith is a gift. We are not saved by anything that WE do, and that includes having faith.

    We are actually saved by the faith OF Jesus, rather than OUR faith in Jesus.

    Jesus was the only one willing to do all that God asked of him. He was the only one who was righteous and faithful.

    And so because of that, and his death, and the forgiveness that he asked for us, and his resurrection, and then the faith that He gives to us to believe it…we are saved. It really has nothing to do with whether or not we are faithful…for none of us has that much faith.

    Jesus himself said that if we had faith the size of a mustard seed that we could move mountains and uproot trees and tell them to jump in the sea…and they would.

    Our faith may be small…but it isn’t how much faith we have that is important, but rather the object of that faith, Christ Jesus, that counts.

  36. To me, chapter 4 is pretty clear that it is talking about Abraham’s faith. Are you suggesting that Abraham had no say in the matter?

  37. That is exactly what I am saying.

    The Bible makes it clear that faith is a gift of God.

    And when we fail to live up to the faith that is given (when we sin), such as David, Moses, Paul, et al (including all of us)…we repent (also by God’s grace) and are forgiven.

    Repentance and forgiveness. Death and resurrection. This is the shape of the life of the believer.

  38. Well, as a Lutheran, I don’t believe we have free will. Not when it comes to the things of God. Our wills are bound.

    We have a free will (to the extent that it is actually free) with regard to earthly things and earthly decisions.

    We believe it’s a biblical view of the sin nature of man.

  39. Pingback: Paul’s Epistle To The Romans | Songs From The Wood

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