Monday, November 19, 2007

The Battle Over Justification By Faith

Justification and the Diminishing Work of Christ
By John Piper

For about ten years now, the biblical reality of justification of by faith has captured more of my time than any other doctrine. There are at least five reasons for this. One is that eight of those years I was preaching through the book of Romans, and justification is at the heart of Romans. A second reason is that I have been surrounded by apprentices that read widely and ask tough questions, and I don’t have the luxury of indefinitely equivocating.

The Embattled Truth of Justification
The third reason is that in those ten years the truth of justification has become increasingly embattled, so that the truth as I see in the New Testament is increasingly confused and reduced and contradicted.

  • The lines between evangelical faith and Roman Catholic teaching have been blurred.
  • The doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s obedience has been denied.
  • The New Perspective on Paul, especially N. T. Wright, has redrawn the map of New Testament theology in such a way that confusion is widespread as to just what justification is and how it relates to the gospel and conversion and judgment.
  • Others have so merged faith and its fruits that the term “by faith alone” has ceased to provide a foundation for holiness but is now virtually identical with it.
  • And some have so changed the ordinary meaning of the word “righteousness” that in the act of justification, it no longer refers to anyone’s right attitude or right action but only to a courtroom verdict of acquittal.

In other words, year after year, as I try to win people to faith in Christ and help my people enjoy the fullness of assurance so they can live radical, risk-taking lives of love, I keep bumping into ever new permutations—John Owen in his day called them “innumerable subterfuges”—of the denial of the New Testament teaching on the imputation of Christ’s obedience to believers.

Click here to read the rest of the article at Desiring God.

John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:

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