Friday, May 29, 2009

John Stott on Galatians 2:16

...yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. -Galatians 2:16

In his commentary on Galatians John Stott wrote the following in reference to verse 16-

Jesus Christ came into the world to live and to die. In His life His obedience to the law was perfect. In His death he suffered for our disobedience. On earth He lived the only life of sinless obedience to the law which has ever been lived. On the cross He died for our lawbreaking, since the penalty for disobedience to the law was death. All that is required of us to be justified, therefore, is to acknowledge our sin and helplessness, to repent of our years of self-assertion and self-righteousness, and to put our whole trust and confidence in Jesus Christ to save us.



Frontier Forest said...

Pastor, can you tell us a bit about John Stott? Have to confess, I have only heard of him by name? I could google him but would rather hear your critique.

Reepicheep said...

Here's a good overview of John Stott-

He's kind of J.I. Packer - like. I have been blessed for years by John Stott's writing ministry. He came under reasonable fire for questioning the doctrine of eternal punishment. Still, as the above link shows, he recognizes the authority of Scripture even when a doctrine like Hell "feels" so awful.

Zach said...

Amen, indeed.

Frontier Forest said...

I don’t want to chase rabbits over Galatians, but in going to his web browser and reading his quote, “As a committed Evangelical, my question must be -- and is -- not what does my heart tell me, but what does God's word say?" How could he have interpreted God’s inerrant Word about “Hell, as eternal punishment”, any other way but eternal damnation of horrors unthinkable? Christ’s judgment is clear, He warns us of eternal punishment! If the I AM said eternal, the debate ends there.

Zach said...

He's an evangelical Anglican, so you'd probably part ways in your parsing of a number of Scriptural precepts. I think that speaks to perspicuity, but then again, I'm a Papist. :¬)

Reepicheep said...

In fairness, Stott, like Packer, is more Reformed than he his Anglican. He personally ascribes to the Westminster Standards. He takes a Westminsterian view of the Scriptures for sure.

On the matter of eternal punishment he voiced his discomfort with the concept of eternal punishment and dabbled with the teachings of anhilationism, but in the end, agrees with what Scripture seems to teach here, but is honest in saying it makes him uncomfortable.

So, I don't think Stott's view of Scripture is the problem, I think his comfort with what Scripture says is the issue.

Rick Calohan said...

Zach, don’t let the Pope find out that you just “Amen, indeed” justification by faith alone in Christ alone, least you be an Anathema.

Zach said...

I honestly don't much care what Stott believes on this issue, but he has said in Christianity Today:

"I would prefer to call myself agnostic on this issue, as are a number of New Testament scholars I know. In my view, the biblical teaching is not plain enough to warrant dogmatism. There are awkward texts on both sides of the debate.

"The hallmark of an authentic evangelicalism is not the uncritical repetition of old traditions but the willingness to submit every tradition, however ancient, to fresh biblical scrutiny and, if necessary, reform."

So it does seem that he has a heterodox--he would style it "fresh, evangelical"--view of the relevant Scriptures on this issue. In any case, he has good things to say on Galatians.

jeff said...

OK, I have a question. I've been reading about and learning Reformed Theology, and have been enjoying it greatly! God has opened my eyes to things that I've never even cared about before! My question is, how does this statement fit in with R.T.?

"All that is required of us to be justified, therefore, is to acknowledge our sin and helplessness, to repent of our years of self-assertion and self-righteousness, and to put our whole trust and confidence in Jesus Christ to save us."

Does this imply that there is, in fact, something we have to do to receive salvation?

Reepicheep said...

Jeff, great question.

Yes, there is something we "do"- we must believe in the truth of the gospel. People will quibble about what "believe" means (just look at other comments on previous posts here), but we must believe.

NOW....To be clear on belief (a.k.a. Faith/Trust). Faith is the gift of God. In a sense we believe (we do it), but in the deeper sense, God gives us faith so we can lay hold of Christ. So even what we "do" is actually a gift from God (grace).

Ephesians 2:8-9 shows this very vividly-

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

How are we saved? By grace (a gift we do nothing to receive) THROUGH Faith. Faith is the instrument God uses to save us.

So again, YES, we believe (have faith) in Christ, but it is God who gives the faith necessary to do so.

Ray and Janell said...

i loving following your blog posts pastor ... you are an interesting mix to be sure. we should have coffee some time. :0)

Wayne said...

Have you worked through the whole "pisteos Christou" issue?

Reepicheep said...

I assume you are referring to whether "faith in Christ" should be taken as subjective genitive ("The faithfulness of Christ") or objective genitive ("faith in Christ")?

I definitely think the liguistic case is stronger for the objective genitive. Given the context and the whole teaching of Scripture on Justification by Faith in Christ alone I find it hard to see a case for the subjective genitive interpretation.

Wayne said...

Really? When I preach this a few years ago, I found this to be an extremely difficult issue to settle. I went ahead and presented both possibilities when I preached it.