Full Text for Romans- Volume 25 - The Lutheran Understanding of Romans 7 and Galatians 2:20 (Video)

No. 25. >> So is the effect of Christ's intervention limited to being forensic in character? I hope I'm asking this correctly. I think I'm struggling with understanding the historic Lutheran interpretation of Romans 7 in light of Galatians 2:20. >>PROFESSOR DAVID I. M. LEWIS: Well, David, you've had a lot of questions on this particular part of Romans. And I appreciate the questions very much because again, I think this is a very key part of Romans that we should study and look at. As Fransman says, he sees these chapters as discussing how the Gospel creates a new life. Now, Fransman sees the first part of Romans, Romans 1:18 through Romans 5:21 as how the Gospel creates a new status. And there your question about forensic justification really applies. In that first section of Romans where Paul first makes the case that everybody has sinned, leads up to the conclusion in Romans 3:19 through 20 that everybody is silent before God, everybody is answerable to God's court. Everybody is guilty. He then gets into his proposition where he makes the case that now a righteousness of God apart from the law has been manifest. And this righteousness of God is justification. It's God's act of justifying, of declaring righteous, those who believe in Jesus. And this is forensic justification. And Fransman's summary really shows this well. That what happens with that forensic justification is we have a new status. And what that status is is righteous. That's what God has declared to those sinners who nevertheless believe in Jesus as the redemption and as the atoning sacrifice. God declares them righteous for the sake of what Jesus has done. And so that is what forensic justification is. Now, I suppose that if Paul had ended his epistle in Romans 5 Verse 21, then all we could do is preach those good old-fashioned Lutheran sermons that you're justified. You're justified. You're justified. Okay. Maybe we would have to talk reconciliation and atonement and redemption and forgiveness every once in a while. But your basic question: Is the effect of Christ's intervention limited to being forensic in character? And the simple answer is: No. Because Romans doesn't end at the end of Chapter 5. And Fransman's summary of Chapters 6, 7 and 8 is very clear. I think it's what Paul is doing. The Gospel creates a new life. And so Christ's intervention does not end with our being forensically justified, with that declaration of righteous. We find in these three chapters that in fact, Christ's intervention goes further than that new status. And Christ's intervention, what is more, it creates the new life. And this, again, is why it's good for us to focus upon those various Gospel terms, each of which looks at Christ's death and resurrection from a different vantage point. We've already talked about justification being very key in that first part of Romans, very central to Paul's understanding of the Gospel. But there's also reconciliation, redemption, atonement, forgiveness, each looking at the same events, Christ's death and resurrection, but from a different vantage point. And what we do find in Romans Chapter 6 is the motif of participation. Again, in the new perspective of Paul, it would actually try to argue that the motif of participation was more central to Paul's thought than the motif of justification. And one problem with the new perspective is often this participation is cast in what we Lutherans might call kind of a law mode. In other words, you get in to the Christian faith by being justified, declared righteous, when you believe. But now it's kind of up to you to stay in the Christian faith by you actively participating in Christ's crucifixion, death and resurrection. And so the focus may often fall upon you and what you're doing. However, that is not Paul's focus as we made clear when we talked about Romans Chapter 6, David, with your first question. Remember those passive verbs. You were baptized into Christ. God acted upon you. You were buried with him in baptism. God acted upon you. You were crucified with Christ. God acted upon you. God raised Jesus. And so in the same way he raises you into a new life. And this view of the Gospel, this participation model is now really working into now how this now affects your present life. And it could be true that maybe we as Lutherans, especially because of that tendency to read Romans 7:7 through 25 out of context, not considering Romans Chapter 6 and the first part of Chapter 7 and not considering Chapter 8, maybe we leave people with this simple idea that: Well, all that matters is forensic justification. You've been declared righteous and that's it. Don't worry about what happens in your life after that. You're going to struggle with sin. But the answer is always simply forensic justification. Well, Christ's intervention isn't limited there. We know because Paul goes on and discusses this participation model. And it's very key that we see the participation model from the perspective of Gospel. That is God is acting when he acted in these ways upon us. All those passive verbs. We were acted upon. And that happened in our baptism. Our baptism is Gospel. As we look into Romans 8, got has given us the Spirit. And now it is the Spirit who is working in our lives so that we would be dead to sin. That we would not be slaves to sin. That instead, we would be slaves of righteousness. That we would not be slaves to the law. And that when the law has its second use upon us and it condemns us, that we would not be left in condemnation. But that we would be freed from condemnation. And it would be in the Spirit and not the law that we would actually be enabled to lead this new life where now we do live for our God. We do his will. Do we struggle with sin? Yes. But where the Spirit is, there's going to be the Spirit led life, as well. And so a true view of the participation model would be to simply say that yes, good works are taking place in the life of the Christian. The Christian is walking in God's will. The Christian is being sanctified. But who is doing the work? It is not us. It is him. And this participation model then describes the reality of our union with Jesus Christ. And it describes the new quality of life that a believer in Jesus has today. So in other words, there's been a tendency among Lutherans to say that Romans 7 is the last word. We have the struggle with sin. And that's going to be the Christian life from baptism until the resurrection. Tough. But you know, even in that section, Romans 6, 7 and 8, it's not the last word. Because we have Romans 8 in response to Romans 7. And we have Romans 6 leading up to Romans 7. And we've got God acting upon us in such a way that we have a new life right now, which is why Paul is exhorting the Romans not to sin, not to be slaves to sin. Not to think that they can sin and take advantage of God's grace. And he's going to exhort them later in Romans 8 to be mindful of their new life in the Spirit and to walk in that life. To be mindful of the things that the Spirit is mindful, not things that their sinful flesh are mindful of. And Paul is putting this again from the perspective of Gospel. This is God acting, this participation model. And so then let's turn to the passage that you cited, Galatians 2. This is Paul speaking in Galatians. Again, the theme of Galatians have very similar of that to Romans. Except in Galatians Paul is definitely attacking a problem in the church where people have fallen away from the pure Gospel and he's trying to persuade them back. In Romans he's presenting his Gospel. But in both places he's defending and presenting the Gospel. Well, this is the proposition section of Galatians. Beginning in Verse 15 Paul writes: We are ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners. 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 this in Jesus Christ 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. Now, there we've got Paul talking about justification, forensic justification. But his proposition in Galatians 2 continues in Verse 17. So forensic justification is not the last word. But if in our endeavor to be justified in Christ we, too, are found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not. For if I rebuild what I for down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. And now Paul explains why the Christian should not remain in sin as he's mentioned in these verses and this is the participation model. Listen. For through the law I died to the law so that I might live to God. In other words, Paul says again: I've died to the law. I have been crucified with Christ. There it is again. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. And notice how Paul references that. It's the life I live now in the flesh. And so yes, there is a new life that is experienced by the Christian now. But notice who is living the life. Who is doing the work. This is pure Gospel participation model. It's not I. But it is Christ who lives in me. And so he concludes in Verse 21: I do not nullify the grace of God. For if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. And so notice how here Paul almost perfectly blends together these two motifs of justification and participation. Justification model, I mean, that's where the Christian life begins where you are declared righteous and now your conscience is free of guilt. And for Luther then that freedom means I'm free now to live for my God. Because I don't have to worry about whether I measure up to his standards. He has already expressed his love for me in Christ by giving me the status of righteous. And now I've got this new life. And even this new life is Gospel. It's Christ who I have received in my baptism who is living in me. It is the Spirit of God that God has given me that is propelling me to walk and lead this life. And so David, yes, the forensic model and that forensic justification remains very central in our teaching and preaching. But if we're going to be truly Pauline scholars and Pauline theologians, we cannot ignore what he is writing about in Romans 6, 7 and 8, either. And I think Fransman sums this up very beautifully. That first part of Romans shows how the Gospel creates a new status. And now the second block, Romans 6, 7 and 8 shows how the Gospel creates a new life. But remember, that this life we live, it's not us doing the work. It is Jesus who lives in us who is living this life. It is the Holy Spirit God has given who is leading us. And so indeed, we can say that this, too, is Gospel. Good news for the people that we have been called to preach and teach God's Word.