Thesis

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Thesis

  1. 1. THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION PRESENTED FOR THE HINDU MIND-SET A Thesis of the Professional Project Presented to the Faculty of the Grace Theological Seminary Winona Lake, Indiana In Partial Fulfillment Of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Ministry Track: Intercultural Studies by Dale Sanders Doron WINONA LAKE, INDIANA DECEMBER, 2007
  2. 2. CONTENTSINTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................... 1Statement ........................................................................................................................ 1Attitudes ......................................................................................................................... 1Purpose ........................................................................................................................... 4Scope .............................................................................................................................. 4Need ............................................................................................................................... 5Development................................................................................................................... 6THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION......................................................................... 8Introductory Statements and Development of the Subject................................................ 8Old Testament Roots: God’s Method of Salvation........................................................... 9 The Garden of Eden .................................................................................................... 9 God’s Covenants ....................................................................................................... 12Christ-- The Lamb of God: God’s Provision for Salvation............................................. 14 The Coming of Christ............................................................................................ 14 The Question of Righteousness.............................................................................. 15Paul’s Revelation: God’s Way of Salvation................................................................... 17 Introductory Statements............................................................................................. 18 Definitions ................................................................................................................ 19 Definition Compilation.............................................................................................. 21 Definition without the Mathematics........................................................................... 22 Elements of Emphasis ............................................................................................... 22 Hebrew and Greek Words ......................................................................................... 27 Two Major Aspects of Justification ........................................................................... 28 iii
  3. 3. The Great Solution: The Gift of God ......................................................................... 29 Paul’s Explanation of Justification in His Letter to the Romans................................. 30 The Theme Stated (Rom. 1:1-17)........................................................................... 31 Righteousness Needed (Rom. 1:18-3:20) ............................................................... 32 Righteousness of Christ Imputed (Rom. 3:21-5:21) ............................................... 33 Insights and Considerations Pertinent to the Understanding of the Doctrine ofJustification with Hinduism in Mind ............................................................................. 39 1. Transgression against God’s Standard of Righteousness ............................ 40 2. Self-help vs. God-help ............................................................................... 41 3. Reincarnation............................................................................................. 42 4. Finality ...................................................................................................... 43An Overview of Justification by Faith........................................................................... 43The Statement of Justification in its Basic Essence:....................................................... 44The Gospel for All Nations ........................................................................................... 44HINDUISM: THE HINDU MIND-SET ........................................................................ 46A Brief Summary of the History of Hinduism ............................................................... 47The Scriptures of Hinduism........................................................................................... 49 The Vedas ................................................................................................................. 50 Upanishads................................................................................................................ 52 Law of Manu............................................................................................................. 53 Mahabharata.............................................................................................................. 54 Ghagavad-Gita .......................................................................................................... 54 The Ramayana .......................................................................................................... 55Major Teachings of Hinduism....................................................................................... 56 iv
  4. 4. The History of the Teachings of Hinduism ................................................................ 56 Brahman.................................................................................................................... 57 Atman ....................................................................................................................... 58 Maya......................................................................................................................... 59 Karma ....................................................................................................................... 60 Dharma ..................................................................................................................... 62 Samsara..................................................................................................................... 65 Moksha ..................................................................................................................... 73Major Elements of Hindu Thought Considered in Presenting the Doctrine of Justification..................................................................................................................................... 76 Brahman.................................................................................................................... 77 Emanation from Brahman ......................................................................................... 78 Desire to Return to Brahman ..................................................................................... 78 Dharma ..................................................................................................................... 79 Reincarnation ............................................................................................................ 80 Karma ....................................................................................................................... 81 Caste System............................................................................................................. 82 Inclusivism................................................................................................................ 83 Humanity .................................................................................................................. 83The Statement of the Doctrine of Justification............................................................... 84The Gospel Contextualized for the Hindu Mind-Set ...................................................... 84APPROACHES FOR TEACHING THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION................ 86Felt Need Approaches ................................................................................................... 86 Dharma Approach ..................................................................................................... 86 v
  5. 5. Setting................................................................................................................... 86 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 87 Application............................................................................................................ 87 Caste System Approach............................................................................................. 88 The Dalit Approach................................................................................................... 88 Setting................................................................................................................... 88 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 88 Application............................................................................................................ 89 The Higher Caste Approach ...................................................................................... 89 Setting................................................................................................................... 89 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 90 Application............................................................................................................ 90 Peace with God Approach ......................................................................................... 91 Setting................................................................................................................... 91 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 91 Application............................................................................................................ 91 Worship/Pleasing God Approach............................................................................... 92 Setting................................................................................................................... 92 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 92 Application............................................................................................................ 93Theological Approaches................................................................................................ 93 Emanations from Brahman........................................................................................ 94 Setting................................................................................................................... 94 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 94 vi
  6. 6. Application............................................................................................................ 94 Karma – Works ......................................................................................................... 95 Setting................................................................................................................... 95 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 95 Application............................................................................................................ 95 Reincarnation ............................................................................................................ 96 Setting................................................................................................................... 96 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 96 Application............................................................................................................ 97 Judgment/Evaluation................................................................................................. 97 Setting................................................................................................................... 97 Bridge ................................................................................................................... 98 Application............................................................................................................ 98Discernment.................................................................................................................. 99 Warnings................................................................................................................... 99 Posture of Humility ............................................................................................... 99 Soft spots .............................................................................................................. 99 Time.................................................................................................................... 100 Invitation vs. Pressure ......................................................................................... 100 The Relational “Probe”............................................................................................ 101 Relational Acquaintances .................................................................................... 101 Relational Receptivity ......................................................................................... 101 Timing ................................................................................................................ 102 Gospel Adhesiveness........................................................................................... 102 vii
  7. 7. EVALUATION .......................................................................................................... 104 The Evaluation of Rev. Joy John, Academic Dean of the Seminary ................. 104THE WAY OF WORKS ............................................................................................. 115Karma Marga.............................................................................................................. 115Karma Yoga................................................................................................................ 115Definition.................................................................................................................... 115History........................................................................................................................ 116Practice ....................................................................................................................... 118THE WAY OF WISDOM........................................................................................... 119Jnana Marga................................................................................................................ 119Jnana Yoga ................................................................................................................. 119Definition.................................................................................................................... 119History........................................................................................................................ 120Practice ....................................................................................................................... 120 The Sankhya System ........................................................................................... 122 The Yoga System ................................................................................................ 122 The Mimansa System .......................................................................................... 122 The Vaisheshika System...................................................................................... 123 The Nyaya System............................................................................................... 123 The Vedanta System............................................................................................ 123THE WAY OF WORSHIP.......................................................................................... 125Bhakti Marga .............................................................................................................. 125Bhakti Yoga................................................................................................................ 125Definition.................................................................................................................... 125 viii
  8. 8. History........................................................................................................................ 125Practice ....................................................................................................................... 126 The evaluation of Dr. Joy George, president of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of the Asian Christian Academy....................................................... 129 Summary of the Evaluations from the Faculty Members of the Evangelical Theological Seminary of Asian Christian Academy of Bangalore, India .......... 133CONCLUSION........................................................................................................... 134BIBLIOGRAPHY....................................................................................................... 137 ix
  9. 9. ABSTRACTTitle: THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION PRESENTED FOR THE HINDU MIND-SETAuthor: Dale S. DoronDegree: Doctor of MinistryDate: Dec. 18, 2007Adviser: Dr. Tom StallterThe Purpose of this project is to bridge the great chasm between the spiritualunderstanding and perception of the Hindu and the Biblical concepts of the doctrine ofjustification by faith in Jesus Christ. The flow of the development of the subject beginswith recognizing the challenge of the Western mind-set of the difficulty in understandingthe concepts of Hinduism which molds so tightly the Hindu mind-set. The charge thatChristians often preach the gospel with out communicating much perceptible truth is thefoundation on which this project is built. The assumption is that in order to communicatetruth to any effective level the communicator must not only understand his own messagewith great clarity he must also thoroughly understand the mind-set of the receptors of hismessage. This is particularly important when the same spiritual terms appear in twodifferent religious systems such as Christianity and Hinduism but have differentmeanings . Great effort has been taken to the define terms both in Christianity and inHinduism so the communicator can speak truth that is understood in the Hindu mind-set.Chapter one explains the need for carefully understanding the teachings of Hinduism as itforms a mind-set for the Hindu to interpret all spiritual truth. Chapter two analyzes thedoctrine of justification by faith with many of its implications of the works salvation ofHinduism in contrast to a faith salvation of Christianity. Special attention is given toPaul’s explanation of justification in Romans three. Chapter three details the history,growth and main tenets of Hinduism. Also the major teachings of Hinduism that areparticularly troublesome for the Hindu to understand the faith based teaching ofjustification are selected. These are given special attention in the next section. Chapterfour is a group of ten suggested approaches of presenting the truth of justification withthe Hindu mind-set clearly in the mind of the presenter. The first six are of a felt needsnature. The last four are from a theological perspective. Chapter five is the summary andresponse to the evaluation of the Indian faculty of the Evangelical Theological Seminarynear Bangalore South India. Chapter six is the conclusion and implications of the study.Unless the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the understanding of a Hindu, or any one else forthat mater, all human attempts to be clear, understandable, and persuasive will in the endbe futile. Knowing that only the Lord Himself can ultimately draw men unto Himself,however, does not exempt us from striving to present a clear, understandable, andpersuasive presentation of the truth that alone can save men eternally. x
  10. 10. INTRODUCTION Statement This study analyzes Hinduism to discover the heart of Hindu thought that keepHindus from understanding and accepting the biblical doctrine of justification. In thatregard, the doctrine of justification is analyzed and stated in its most essential terms.Next, the elements of Hindu thought, which present barriers to understanding andaccepting the doctrine of justification, are identified and examined. Then, a statement ofthe doctrine of justification is offered in a contextualized presentation for the Hindu.Also, suggestions are presented of how that presentation may be approached mosteffectively in teaching and preaching. Attitudes The writer has great apprehension and deep humility as he offers thesesuggestions as a way to explain the heart of the Gospel, the doctrine of justification, tothose of a Hindu mind-set. He is initially and will continue to be open and receptive toany insight or criticism that would make the goal of communicating the foundation of thegospel to Hind more achievable us. The writer’s sensitivity is generated from several sources. First is the vastness ofHinduism. The acclaimed oldest religion of the world is the third largest. Hinduism’smassive collection of scriptures and writings set forth and explain its origin, history,sects, tenets, practices, and personalities. It is presumptive of anyone to attempt anexhaustive survey, study and research of such an overwhelming amount of material inorder to speak with absolute authority on the Hindu mind-set. 1
  11. 11. 2 Second, and maybe most significant, is the historical record of those who havecome from the West with the gospel to India. They often have made glaring errors intheir naïve attempts to present the gospel clearly and persuasively to Hindus. Initially,gospel carriers of the West have the timeless, universal message of redemption in Christin a Western wrapper.1 Effort was not exerted to extract the essential gospel from itsWestern practice and its local forms.2 Nor was effort exerted to learn the forms andshapes of Indian-Hindu thought patterns to “rewrap” and package this good news forpresentation to the people of India.3 The good news packaged in a Western style, notdistinguishing the message from its form, was often presented as God’s timeless messageto India.4 Many times it was insisted and even demanded that Christianity in India shouldlook the same as it does in the West.5 This egotistical, superior attitude not only is wrong, 1 Paul Gupta, Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 2006), 11, 12.Lingenfelter details how missionaries have imported a Western style of training national leaders. He callsthis a “tragedy” because most nationals do not recognize how they imitate Western patterns and lose theirvision to equip leaders for church planting. 2 H. L. Richard, Following Christ in the Hindu Context (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library,1998), 19, 20. In contrast to the normal, arrogant ways that Western missionaries usually behave,understanding neither the culture of India nor the religion of Hinduism, N. V. Tilak’s conversionexperience was refreshingly different. He met a European missionary on a train who offered him a seat,was extremely polite and gentle, discussed Indian poets and poetry, was familiar with Sanskrit literatureand slowly turned the conversation to Tilak’s opinion of Christianity. 3 Gupta, Breaking Tradition, 22. Gupta is emphatic that, though formal education and evenaccreditation do have their place, they are “ill suited and cannot effectively equip evangelists, churchplanters, and apostolic leaders for ministry.” 4 Richard, Following Christ, 51, 52. In a “most confidential” letter to a friend V.N. Talikconfessed, “I am really tired of Missions and Missionaries. These with their agents form an institutionwhich is day by day degenerating. They are guided by selfish motives; they are slaves to self-sufficiency,pride and the world. Expecting those who join the flock and live in and for worldly motives, no otherperson can do anything for their country as long as they depend on these petty lords and their satellites.There is no end to their underhanded dealings; there is no end to their dependence on their flatterers…” Tothe missionaries he said, “How long are you going to spoon-feed us? Let us stand on our own feet. Do notinterfere. Let us try. Let us battle the waves; let us die, but let us learn to swim.” This “missionary failing”was captured in his poetic description. “You have set up for yourselves a kingdom of slaves; do not call it akingdom of God. We dance as puppets while you hold the strings; how long shall this buffoonery endure?” 5 B. V. Subbamma, New Patterns for Discipling Hindus (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library,1970), 37, 38. This remains a prominent problem in India today. The pressure to leave one’s caste andcustoms and accept the forms of a Christian church in another caste is described in detail by Subbamma. 2
  12. 12. 3anti-biblical, and anti-gospel it is most offensive to the sensitive Hindu who is very muchin touch with the limitations of human perception and authority. “Good news carriers”should have come originally in the spirit of humility and let the authority be seen and feltin the message of the gospel and not in the messengers and their forms. Doubtless theimpact of the gospel on India would have been a great deal different from what it istoday.6 Third is the awareness that truth has not really been communicated until thereceptor genuinely understands what has been said.7 The writer is of deep conviction thatthis area has been vastly overlooked, neglected, and grossly misunderstood by the bulk ofmissionaries during the history of global missions.8 The meaning of a term in the mind ofShe gives numerous illustrations of the same dynamic existing among Lutheran, Baptist, and nationalIndian churches. 6 Ibid., 50, 51. Subbamma argues that when independence in India took place, the church was nolonger identified with foreigners, particularly the British. This was a barrier that kept many Indians fromcoming to Christ. She predicts that the opportunity now exists for “tremendous growth.” 7 Eugene A. Nida, The Theory and Practice of Translation (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1969),1. Nida, in answering the question, “Is it a correct translation?” gives this explanation: “Correctness mustbe determined by the extent to which the average reader for which a translation is intended will be likely tounderstand (italics mine) it correctly.” The goal of all communication is that the receptor understandscorrectly the message communicated. Everett M. Rogers and Thomas M. Steinfatt, Intercultural Communication (Prospect Heights, IL:Waveland Press, Inc., 1999), 113. Rogers defines communication: “Communication is the process throughwhich participants create and share information with one another as they move toward reaching mutualunderstanding” (italics mine). David J. Hesselgrave, Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally (Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishing House, l991), 40, 41. Hesselgrave follows the model of Aristotle of explaining communicationconsisting of “three points of reference: the speaker, the speech, and the audience.” The speaker/sourcemust “encode” the message and the audience/respondent must then “decode” the message. Later, hedistinguishes between “inherited” meaning and “imparted” meaning, pp 65, 66. He explains thatwords/symbols have no intrinsic meaning but only that which is imparted to them. Thus, for truecommunication to take place, the imparted meaning of the speaker encoding the message and the receptordecoding the imparted meaning must be similar for understanding to happen. 8 David Filbeck, Social Context and Proclamation (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1985),2, 3. Filbeck cites a number of examples where a proclamation of the gospel was given by a missionary butbecause of previously held worldviews, the receptor did not understand the intent of the message at all andarrived at a wrong conclusion. 3
  13. 13. 4the speaker and in the mind of the receiver must have a large overlap of commonmeaning before any serious communication can take place. The fear is that this may havebeen a large area of failure in the past.9 Purpose The purpose of this project is to state as clearly as possible the core concept of theonly way God has established for a man to become right with Him in such terms andforms that Hindus will clearly understand the issues upon first hearing it. This is not tosay that a clear explanation will result in acceptance initially. It does, hopefully, precludeany misunderstanding of what the real issues are for becoming right with God presentlyand eternally. Scope The hope of the writer is to suggest to Indian Christians, pastors, teachers, orprofessors some ways to present the doctrine of justification to unbelieving Hindus and toexplain this theological truth to new or untaught converts to Christianity. It is also hoped that the suggestions of this project reflect serious thinking in theright direction, grappling with the basic issues in understanding how to explain to aHindu the heart of the gospel, the doctrine of justification. A second aspect of the scope is the limitation of its intended use. The suggestionsare not given as a beginning point to present the gospel to a Hindu. Certainly there areother points of contact with Hindus that are far better in appealing to their spiritual needthan to begin by explaining the doctrine of justification. The history of evangelism inIndia and gifted evangelists could suggest much more effective ways of getting Hindus to 9 S. Devasagayam Ponraj, An Introduction to Missionary Anthropology (Chennai, India: MissionEducational Books, 2004), 14, 15. I base my conclusion on the pandemic struggle that Indian missiologistsseem to be having today in attempting to identify an effective contextualized presentation of the gospel forIndian cultures. Ponraj is just one of a number of Indian missiologists actively addressing this need. 4
  14. 14. 5listen to the gospel and in drawing them to the Savior than giving a theological lecture onthe doctrine of justification. However, somewhere in the process of a Hindu’s hunger for deliverance and histhirst for righteousness or in the process of explaining how God’s plan works there willarise the crucial need to explain the doctrine of justification. At that point, hopefully,these suggestions will be most helpful. Need If there is one biblical truth that challenges and exposes the inadequacies ofHinduism, it must be the doctrine of justification. Of course there are many areas ofHinduism that do not coincide with revealed Biblical truth, but with respect to mankind’seternal relationship with his Creator, the doctrine of justification is highly significant. Thefollowing are some of the salient reasons for its importance in knowing God personally,intimately, and eternally. 1. It (the doctrine of justification) explains that man is created by God and separated from Him not emanating from God. 2. It explains that man sinned against God, offending Him and breaking the original relationship that existed between God and man, and for which man is accountable. 3. It explains that there is no way that man alone can repair the relationship that is lost and be able to return to God even in all of his efforts in countless reincarnations or innumerable rituals (works) performed. 4. It explains that the merciful God designed only one plan, not three ways of deliverance (as Hinduism teaches), that man can be restored into relationship with God immediately and eternally. 5
  15. 15. 6 5. It explains that God took the initiative, designed the plan, provided the Redeemer, and designated the only acceptable path: faith in His Provision--Christ’s complete payment for the offense of all mankind! 6. When a convert to Christ comes from the orientation of Hinduism, he will need to experience a basic reorientation to the biblical truth of justification by faith. Perhaps more than any other, the doctrine of justification by faith helps Hindus understand the purpose of the incarnation of Christ.10 Development The development of the paper follows.Chapter One – Introduction This section gives the purpose and explanation for the paper.Chapter Two – The Theological Foundation This section includes the theological statement of each aspect of the doctrine ofjustification and what elements need to be emphasized. It shows that Scripture is the basisfor the doctrine. The doctrine of justification is viewed biblically and historically with anemphasis on those aspects that will be troublesome for Hindus to understand or accept itsteachings.Chapter Three – The Theoretical Foundations In this section a brief history and development of Hinduism is given. Next, themajor teachings of Hinduism are stated. Then, some of the elements of Hinduism thatmake it difficult for a Hindu to understand or accept the doctrine of the justification by 10 Right With God, ed. David A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 13. Carsonsuggests that having brought up the question, “How shall anyone be right with God?”… presupposes that itis desirable and possible to be right with this God.” 6
  16. 16. 7faith are selected and explained. Finally, the contextualized presentation of the doctrine isproposed.Chapter Four – The Implementation The plan of presenting the teaching or preaching of the doctrine of justification isgiven. Several approaches are suggested as starting points that ultimately end with apresentation of the doctrine. Some of these approaches reflect a felt need. Others aremore theological. They begin at the point where a Hindu is thinking or has been taughtconcerning Hinduism.Chapter Five - The Evaluation The plan for evaluation has been the submitting of the project to the facultymembers of the Asian Christian Academy (graduate level seminary) of Hosur, TamilNadu near Bangalore, India, for their evaluations of the accuracy of understanding theHindu mind-set and the potential effectiveness of presenting the contextualizedstatement.The writer’s evaluation will be based on the feedback from the ACA faculty.Chapter Six – The Conclusion 7
  17. 17. CHAPTER 2 THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION Introductory Statements and Development of the Subject The doctrine of justification of the believer, through faith in Christ’s finishedwork on the cross, is not just a few clever insights of the apostle Paul to be found in theNew Testament after the Gospels’ record of the life of Christ. Nor is justification anaddendum to the gospel of Christ as a pleasant afterthought or postscript to the biographyof a great religious martyr. Justification by faith in the cross work of Christ is the heart ofthe Gospel.11 Indeed, there is ultimately no gospel, no good news, for the world if thewhole point of Christ’s great sacrifice was not to make men right with God and to makepeace with God.12 Otherwise, the only good news of Christ’s resurrection was that Healone had conquered death for Himself. But what about the rest of humanity? No one elsecould ever qualify to achieve what He, the sinless man, had achieved. Emphatically, the teaching of the entire Bible is that to get right with God onemust be justified by faith in the completed substitutionary cross work of Christ, whichincludes His death and His resurrection.13 Before stating this truth in its most essentialcomponents, an attempt to show that justification by faith was introduced by God in theOld Testament will be presented. Further, it will be shown that God never deviated fromHis plan or purpose throughout all of human history. God’s designing and allowing the 11 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 722. 12 Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1986), 345. 13 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 729. 8
  18. 18. 9crucifixion of Christ was the goal and heart of His plan of redemption for the entire race.Thus justification is neither new nor added to God’s way of salvation but intrinsic fromthe very beginning. In order to present the gospel to Hindus, or to any man, the doctrineof justification must be communicated clearly and contextually. Men without hope needto understand with deep comprehension the heart of the message of the gospel. Old Testament Roots: God’s Method of Salvation The purpose of God’s revelation of Himself to man is much more that justimparting unknowable data about God’s attributes and His actions. His revelation is notmerely a giant answer book on all you always wanted to know about God but were afraidto ask. The theme that seems to run through the Bible from Genesis to Revelationaddresses the relationship between God and man. The Garden of Eden The record begins with an announcement of God’s eternal preexistence andalmost immediately explains man’s non-preexistence by virtue of his creation by God.This simple, clear but profound information establishes the facts concerning man’sorigin. He was created by and is separate from God, not an emanation from God, yet manbears some image of or likeness to God, Gen. 1:26, 27. The creation account also communicates that the relationship between God andman was initially very good. This relationship apparently continued for an indefiniteperiod of time, Gen. 1:26, 31; 2:1-25. But it was not to remain that way. God had giveninstructions for man’s behavior. He set boundaries and limitations and consequencesshould these boundaries be transgressed. 9
  19. 19. 10 The Lord God commanded the man, “…from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” Gen. 2:17. Man’s willful, rebellious decision to disobey God’s instruction created a breechbetween God and himself. That breech was serious and had eternal implications. Fromthat point men have been asking the question, “How can man be right with God?” God actually gave the answer before man ever asked the question the first time,Isa. 65:24. In the first statement of God’s justice He, also, included the first statement ofhope for re-establishing a relationship with Himself. “He shall bruise you on the head,and you shall bruise him on the heel” Gen. 3:15. This bit of information is a reference toChrist and the redemption that He was later to complete on the cross. On the cross Christaccomplished the defeat of Satan, the defeat of his death grip on humanity, and therelease of the human race. Based on this most significant event of all human history, Godultimately justifies all men who will put their faith in Christ’s substitute payment of theirpenalty. God neither gives nor will He accept any other method for reconciliation withHimself This exclusiveness of God opposes the legion of suggestions, systems, andmethods of salvation and reconciliation (including Hinduism) that men throughout historyhave invented. Only God has the right and authority to create and establish a method ofreconciliation. But His grace and compassion motivated Him to do it. Compared to men’sattempts at reconciliation however, a glaring distinction blatantly stands out betweenGod’s plan and all the other plans of men’s inventions. God comes to man! In the course of history the promise of God is repeated and expanded. The God who intervenes with his word of promise also bridges the gulf by mighty acts of deliverance. No Babel tower of man’s building can avail to join earth to heaven and to determine where God should descend. God came down his own stairway at his 10
  20. 20. 11 own time to make Bethel the house of God, the gate of heaven (Gen. 11:4; 28:12- 17).14 “In the fullness of time God sent His Son” (italics mine) Gal. 4:4a. In God’s plan of justification by faith in His work, God takes the initiative ofcreating the plan and its terms, providing the only acceptable substitute, and setting thetime and the means. Thus He receives all the glory from start to finish for it is all of Him.Man only responds. Man gets no glory, cannot boast, has no basis for self-pride. The planis for all. There are no exceptions, substitutes, or mixing plans or alterations for anyonefor any reason. “God is just and the justifier of all who believe,” Rom. 3:26. But in this seed promise of salvation (Gen. 3:15) initiated by God there is a“suspended” sentence. Human history is set under a suspended sentence, but a sentence that awaits a time of judgment and of final restoration….Just as God is the judge whose verdict is final and just, so God is the Savior, the only one who can provide deliverance from the penalty of his own judgment. The great theme of the Old Testament is that ‘salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9).15God gave many indications that His final judgment was pending. Though scatteredrandomly through Scripture, taken together, these indications are a solemn reminder thatGod is still in charge and has not forgotten His word of judgment. The following aresome examples. • God’s immediate judgment fell on Adam and Eve. (Gen. 3:13-24) • All mankind dies physically. (Rom. 5:14) • A whole generation of mankind died in the flood of Noah’s day. (Gen. 7:21, 22) 14 Carson, Right with God, 24. 15 Ibid., 24. 11
  21. 21. 12 • Sodom and Gomorrah burned to the ground. (Gen. 19:24, 25) • Israel spent 70 years in captivity. (Jer. 25:11, 12) • The temple in Jerusalem was burned and the stones scattered in 70 AD. (Matt. 24:2) • World empires have been judged and destroyed according to the prophetic Word of God. (Dan. 7:1-28; 8:1-27)16 In contrast to God’s keeping His word with regard to His promise of judgment, Godalso has kept His word with regard to restoring man to relationship with Himself. Hedemonstrates throughout the Old Testament that the restoration process does not dependon man’s wisdom or effort but on His grace and choice. “God chooses not Cain, but Abel; not Ishmael but Isaac; not Esau, but Jacob; not Reuben, but Judah; not Eliab but David; not Amnon, but Solomon.”17 God is the initiator and pursuer of the restoration process. It is based on Hiscompassion, His grace, and His plan. God’s Covenants God sprinkles His covenants down through history. Each one gives insight intoGod’s character of longsuffering with the human race. God’s patience and forbearanceexplain why his final judgment has not yet fallen in human history, Rom. 2:4. God had asHis goal the restoration of the entire race (though not necessarily each individual in therace). But He chose to accomplish that through One man. That One would come througha certain individual, even Abraham, Gen. 12:1-3. Thus, God makes a covenant withAbraham, Gen. 17:1-21. From Abraham comes the nation of Israel. God’s choice of 16 Ibid., 24. 17 Ibid., 25. 12
  22. 22. 13Israel was not because of anything good in them but because of His own goodness,namely the promise that He made to Abraham and His desire to bless the nation, Jer.29:11. At this point in Israel’s history God introduces His law and another covenant, theMosaic covenant, Exod. 19:1-8. The Ten Commandments are the heart of the statementof His law. On the surface one might quickly conclude that God was giving His people abehavioral plan to earn their way back to God and to keep in relationship with Him.However, nothing could be further from God’s intent for His law. God set forth Hisstandard of acceptance. But the fact is no one could possibly meet that standard. But evenif one could, there would still remain the sin nature that would continue to produce sin aslong as the individual existed. Nothing in the law was designed to give a new nature. Thatsin nature would remain, disqualifying anyone from establishing an eternal, restoredrelationship with God. To fellowship with God requires cleanness and purity. The sacrificial system ofthe law provided and dictated how that could be accomplished temporarily. Complyingwith that system one could offer his worship acceptably to God. But it is to be noted thatthis temporary relationship was not a permanent one and would have to be repeated asoften as sin was committed. Something remained unchanged in the heart of theworshipper that was deep and part of his being that had not been corrected. He needed anew heart. The law served several purposes in God’s economy. It obviously declared God’sstandard of righteousness. It served to teach that no man could produce his ownrighteousness by keeping the law. Probably the highest achievement of the law was tobring men to Christ. Only He, of all men, could and did keep the law. The righteousness 13
  23. 23. 14which Christ produced in keeping the law, God made available by imputation to all whobelieve in Christ. Again God took the initiative and promised to give a new heart, Ezek. 36:26. Nowa new covenant can be established with Israel that will be kept, Jer. 31:31-34. Upon thisbasis an eternal relationship can be built. To get right with God something right(righteousness) had to be done for man. He was totally unable to do anything pureenough, clean enough, or holy enough that would be acceptable to God. A righteousnessneeded to be produced on man’s side for the basis of a relationship to be established orsustained with a righteous God. Christ-- The Lamb of God: God’s Provision for SalvationThe Coming of Christ In the final analysis, of all the events of Christ’s human life and experiences, theprimary purpose of His coming to earth stands out loud and clear. He declared, “I camethat they might have life and have it abundantly,” John. 10:10. He explained His activeinitiative of the process, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that whichwas lost,” Luke. 19:10. This simple but profound statement says it all. He came on amission…. “to seek the lost”…with an intended goal…“to save them.” The means toaccomplish His purpose was clearly articulated by John the Baptist.. Said John, “Behold,the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John. 1:29. At that point no onebut the Savior Himself had any clue that the accomplishment of that prophetic statementmeant the cross for Him. Jesus was focused on His agenda to carry out His purpose. He made a specialeffort to explain His actions and intents along the way. Christ knew what He was doing 14
  24. 24. 15and He was in complete control of His life. What, to an observer, may have seemed likethe whims of human response to Christ and His claims were carefully orchestrated byGod the Father. These responses to Christ, which ultimately resulted in His death,accomplished the provision of salvation and provided the means to get right with God.The Question of Righteousness 1. At the very outset of Jesus’ public ministry He prevailed over John’s resistanceto baptize Him with the explanation that His baptism was necessary to fulfill allrighteousness, Matt. 3:15. Though theologians have haggled for centuries over theprecise meaning of what Jesus meant by that statement, one thing is crystal clear. Jesuslinked His ministry to righteousness, being right with God. All that He would do from thefirst day of His public ministry would be tightly tied to righteousness. 2. In fact when, later in His ministry, Jesus was talking to the chief priests andelders in the temple, He reminded them of righteousness as it was linked to John’sministry. “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believehim,” Matt. 21:32. 3. Jesus recognized and instructed those who lacked righteousness and knew theirdeficiency. Those who longed to possess righteousness were exactly in line for that gift.He confirmed, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shallbe satisfied,”( italics mine) Matt. 5:7. The profoundness of this statement verified whatHe was about to accomplish with His life and sacrifice. Not only was righteousnessneeded, but it would be provided by the Father’s perfect provision of His Son. However,it would take the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost to explain the significance ofGod’s control. Peter detailed the sovereign control of God over those events, 15
  25. 25. 16 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know, this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power (Acts 2:22-24). Peter expounded the sovereign control of God again to the crowd that watchedhim heal a man on the way to the temple. This time he highlighted the righteousness ofChrist’s life. Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One (italics mine) and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses (Acts 3:12-15). 4. Jesus constantly focused on righteousness, reminding the people that God’sstandard of righteousness was higher than anything they had observed in their experience,especially that demonstrated by the scribes and Pharisees. Repeatedly He warned, For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20). 5. In fact, Christ emphasized righteousness in his ministry. His very instructionsuggested that there were three aspects of the people’s perspective on righteousness thatneeded correcting. First, they had not made righteousness their priority for He said, “Seekfirst,” implying this had not been their priority. Second, their commitment to righteousness was lacking, for He said, “Seek…”The imperative tense and the strong action word “seek” suggest they had not been puttingeffort toward the pursuit of righteousness. 16
  26. 26. 17 Third, the most significant and most important aspect of Jesus’ instruction is inthe phrase “His righteousness.” Jesus was not telling the people to produce their ownrighteousness. That is very significant. Jesus knew their righteousness was not goodenough, not acceptable. The scribes and the Pharisees were doing their best and their bestwas not enough. In fact, no man’s righteousness is enough or acceptable to God. Jesusplainly, clearly, emphatically instructed the people to seek God’s righteousness. This kindof focused seeking implies that having found God’s righteousness, there might exist somehope for them. Hope that God would give to them some of His righteousness which aloneis acceptable to Him. God might be pleased in His grace to do that for them. Christ putsemphasis on being headed in the right direction and having the right attitude. Getting offto the right start and on the right road, God would lead them in the way. In fact, He hadgiven them the law as a school master to lead them to Christ. He would surprise them intheir pursuit by giving (imputing) righteousness to them, the righteousness Christ hadprepared for them. Paul’s Revelation: God’s Way of Salvation “Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness” Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness, My beauty are, My glorious dress; ‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, With joy shall I lift up my head. Bold shall I stand in Thy great day, For who aught to my charge shall lay? Fully absolved through these I am, 17
  27. 27. 18 From sin and fear, From guilt and shame. Lord, I believe Thy precious blood, Which at the mercy seat of God Forever doth for sinners plead, For me, e’en for my soul, was shed. Lord, I believe were sinners more Than sands upon the ocean shore, Thou hast for all a ransom paid, For all a full atonement made. Text: Nicolaus L. Zinzendorf; Translation by John Wesley18 Introductory Statements A right understanding of justification is absolutely crucial to the whole Christian faith. Once Martin Luther realized the truth of justification by faith alone, he became a Christian and overflowed with the new-found joy of the gospel.19 Thus far, the primary and consistent truth of God’s justifying men by faith alonein His plan has been seen in the Old Testament and in the focus of Christ’s becoming aman and coming to the earth. Now, the focus will be on the apostle Paul who of allScripture writers best explains the ramifications of the doctrine of justification by faith.He explains, illustrates, and defends the doctrine in its final and fullest form. Though hementions the truth in his epistles to a number of the churches he started, he develops thetheme in his letters to the Romans and the Galatians. Two aspects of this teaching makeup the core of the truth. One is God’s subtracting sin and its guilt from the believer, basedon Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice for man. The other is God’s declaring the believerrighteous, based on His placing Christ’s righteousness on the believer’s account. Thesetwo aspects will be considered more closely in the unfolding of Paul’s statements of the 18 The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration, ed. Tom Fettke (Waco, TX: Word Music, 1986), 193. 19 Grudem, Systematic Theology. 722. 18
  28. 28. 19events of justification. Definitions A number of definitions are given to get a full feeling of all that is involved in thedoctrine of justification. Authors emphasize different aspects. An important point issometimes missing in some definitions. Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which he (1) thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ’s righteousness as belonging to us, and (2) declares us to be righteous in his sight.20 By justification we mean that act of God by which, on account of Christ, to Whom the sinner united by faith, He declares that sinner to be no longer under condemnation, but to have a standing of righteousness before him.21 To be justified means to be declared righteous. Because of our position in Christ, whereby Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, God declares us righteous because we are clothed with righteousness.22 To justify means to declare righteous. Both the Hebrew (sadaq) and the Greek (dikaioo) words mean to announce or pronounce a favorable verdict, to declare righteous. The concept does not mean to make righteous, but to announce righteousness. It is a courtroom concept, so that to justify is to give a verdict of righteous.23 Justification is there declared to be an act of God, accomplished by one single divine volition, completed by one single act in each instance. It is declared also to be an act, a forensic act; that is, an act of a Judge, not an act of God as Sovereign.24 Paul’s thesis is that God justifies sinners on a just ground, namely, that the claims of God’s law upon them have been fully satisfied. The law has not been altered, or suspended, or flouted for their justification, but fulfilled by Jesus Christ….On the 20 Ibid., 723. 21 Emery H. Bancroft, Elemental Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1960),215. 22 Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications,1995), 203. 23 Ryrie, Basic Theology. 343. 24 A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976), 295. 19
  29. 29. 20 ground of Christ’s obedience, God does not impute sin, but imputes righteousness to sinners who believe, (Rom. 4:2-8; 5:19).25 In the New Testament, justification is the declarative act of God by which, on the basis of the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning death, he pronounces believers to have fulfilled all of the requirements of the law which pertain to them. Justification is a forensic act imputing the righteousness of Christ to the believer; it is not an actual infusing of holiness into the individual. It is a matter of declaring the person righteous, as a judge does in acquitting the accused.26 Justification is the act of God whereby He acquits the gospel believer of the divine verdict of condemnation and declares him to be righteous.27 Imputed righteousness is the ground of justification. God declares the one justified forever whom He sees in Christ. It is an equitable decree since the justified one is clothed in the righteousness of God. Justification is not a fiction or a state of feeling; it is rather an immutable reckoning in the mind of God.28 Justification may be defined as that act of God whereby He declares righteous him who believes on Christ.29 A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when in the judgment of God he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness….Thus we simply interpret justification, as the acceptance with which God receives us into his favor as if we were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.30 Taken collectively these definitions contain the following twenty-five elements indefining the doctrine of justification. The number following each element refers to the 25 George J. Zemek, A Biblical Theology of The Doctrines of Sovereign Grace (Little Rock, AR:B.T.D.S.G., 2004), 171, 172. 26 Millard J. Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, ed. L. Arnold Hustad (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 1992), 318. 27 Floyd H. Barackman, Practical Christian Theology (Bible School Park, NY: Practical Press,1981), 267. 28 Lewis Sperry Chafer, Major Bible Themes, ed. John F. Walvoord (Grand Rapids: ZondervanPublishing House, 1974), 200. 29 Henry Clarence Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology (Chicago, IL: Wm. B.Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973), 362. 30 John Calvin, Institutes of The Christian Religion, trans. Henry Beveridge (Edinburgh, England:T and T Clark, 1869), 37, 38. 20
  30. 30. 21number of times that particular element is specifically cited in the collection ofdefinitions. Definition Compilation Justification is the single (4) Immutable (1) Eternal (1) forensic, legal (4) decree (1) (an act) of God (11) Who is acting as judge (1) whereby a sinner (3) under just condemnation (2) who by faith in Christ’s (4) atoning death (1) comes to be in Christ (2) and has his sins forgiven (2) and is thus declared by God (14) announced (Hebrew and Greek words) (1) righteous (4) by virtue of imputing Christ’s righteousness to him (6) not made righteous or infused with holiness (2) but acquitted (2) as accused (1) because the demands of the law (3) 21
  31. 31. 22 have now been satisfied (1). Definition without the Mathematics Justification is the single, immutable, eternal, forensic, legal decree (an act) ofGod. God is Judge whereby a sinner under just condemnation, who by faith in Christ’satoning death comes to be in Christ. He has his sins forgiven and is declared righteous byGod by virtue of imputing Christ’s righteousness to him, not made righteous or infusedwith holiness, but acquitted as accused because the demands of the law have now beensatisfied. Elements of Emphasis Of the 25 elements or aspects identified in this definition, nine have been chosen.They are chosen because their importance to the basic concept of justification andbecause of their relevance to communicating this truth to the Hindu way of thinking. Inchapter 3, we will discuss in depth these and other aspects of justification as it relates toHinduism. The purpose here is only to show the link and the importance of the focus.Those nine aspects of justification are: 1. It is God. God takes the initiative and creates an acceptable way to restore man.31 Initially and ultimately God is pursuing man, not the reverse. All religions, including Hinduism, present man’s attempts to placate and to pursue God. Their attempts are always on their own terms and by their own methods. The total concept of justification is just the opposite. 2. It is a forensic, legal act. This is a court case. God has a required standard of behavior.32 He gave consequences should that standard be violated.33 God now 31 Ryrie, Basic Theology, 344. 32 Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, 324. 22
  32. 32. 23sits as Judge.34 He is righteous. He demands righteousness.35 The accused ischarged with unrighteousness which carries the death penalty. Will the guilty becondemned or acquitted? How? Why? There is but one judgment with no reviewsand no second chances. Hinduism lacks the perspective of a broken divinestandard and judgment. Also, Hinduism suggests, by virtue of its teaching ofunlimited reincarnations, that if you don’t get it right this time there is alwaysanother opportunity.3. Justification is declared, announced. The pronouncement of the RighteousJudge is always right and final! He makes a value judgment and He has Hisreason.36 In fact, he wants men to know Who is that reason. His Son made thepayment on our behalf. His Son, our substitute. His righteousness, our sin. Hisdeath, our life. His pain, our peace. His efforts, not ours. All religions, Hinduismincluded, suggest that our efforts will win favor with God and somehow make usacceptable again, or merged back into the essence of God. The presence andmagnitude of our sin are either forgotten, or minimized or not recognized at all. 374. It is by faith in Christ…The Biblical distinction between faith in Christ ascompared to faith in a guru, a prophet, a religious leader, or a holy man isenormous. In Hinduism, one is free to mix and blend the instructions and insightsof others. One is even encouraged to mix and blend instructions. Not so with faithin Christ. He claims to be the only way. He alone is pure, holy, and acceptable to33 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 723.34 Ryrie, Basic Theology, 343.35 Ibid., 344.36 Ibid., 345.37 Barackman, Practical Christian Theology, 268. 23
  33. 33. 24God. He is the only way to God. One cannot mix or blend the impurities of thethings or people of the world that are under condemnation with the purity andholiness of Christ. This exclusiveness of Christ, as the only way with no mixturesand excluding all others, is the hardest truth in Christianity for Hindus tounderstand and accept. For the Hindu, this is arrogance at its worst, lacking thehumility of understanding the reality of human limitations. How can man know itall? How can he know absolutely the final answer without doubt, particularlywhen spiritual matters are being addressed?5. It is in Christ. Faith in Christ results in a union with Christ that is bestexplained in the New Testament as being “in Christ” (a doctrine not addressed inthis paper). This relationship with His Son is precisely what allows God to beholy and just and compassionate in light of our guilt and pending eternaljudgment. In fact, in union with Christ, i.e. in Christ, the Father now can treat usas He does His guiltless, holy, righteous Son! Hindus continue to struggle withtheir dharma (duty) which is endless, ultimately undefined and having no absolutestandard of measure to know if one has totally satisfied the requirement or not.6. Justification is because of Christ’s righteousness. Jesus, the second member ofthe trinity, possesses the eternal attribute of righteousness. Anything he does is anact of righteousness.38 It is pure. It is holy. It is right. When He became a man andbegan to perform acts and deeds on the earth, each one was righteous. He alwaysdid what pleased His Father, Jn. 8:29. His life was pure, perfect. He became thespotless Lamb of God. Therefore He could become a sacrifice, the first perfectsacrifice ever offered. This One could, because of His purity and His deity, offer38 Ibid. 24
  34. 34. 25an adequate sacrifice for all mankind. A deeper truth is here. How could one manstand in the place of all men? The explanation of how another single individual,Adam, could cause the death of all men helps us understand how that conceptworked with Christ. This concept will be examined more closely later in thischapter. Hindus, along with many others, cling to their attempts to please andplacate god. They think they have God figured out and attempt to get to Him bytheir own inventions of worship and service. Few, if any, have taken the time oreffort to ask what way God will accept. Does He already have a way in place thatwill enable one to get right with Him? The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” The wayis Christ’s righteousness imputed to our account.7. It is imputed. Christ’s righteousness is a gift given to each one who believes,who will receive what He did for him.39 The transaction is awesome to behold.The perfect, sinless, pure One is willing to suffer the pains of death for others (allthe race). They have no hope, no possible way of escaping the certain eternalsentence of hell’s torment and eternal separation from God. God then is willing toaccept His Son’s perfect sacrifice, not just for one but for all mankind, thuspaying their penalty and erasing their sin and impurity. Though cleansed,however, they are still without righteousness. Again, God accepts His Son’sperfect, pure record of righteousness and puts that on the now clean but emptyaccount of the ones who by faith are “in Christ.” God accepts no other way. Hedid all the creating and making. He has the right to be absolute and exclusive! Heshall receive all the glory for He has done it all, from planning, to providing topursuing, to declaring the repentant, believing sinner righteous in His sight!39 Ibid., 269. 25
  35. 35. 26Hindus work hard, even a whole lifetime, to produce a righteousness that will notmeet the perfect, pure, holy standard that God has set. But the good news is thatGod has already provided a way that allows His standard to be met in His Son.His provision is available to all through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness,to all who will offer only His work and not theirs to God.8. Justification is not being made righteous. The one who carefully reflects on theexactness of what God did may raise the point: All this was done on behalf of thebeliever. But it was not done to the nature of the sinner-believer. That is true.God’s acts of declaring righteous and making righteous are two distinct activitiesof God. The second, making an individual righteous, is not within the scope ofthis paper to discuss at length. Hindus put an emphasis on the right performanceof a deed with little or no understanding of the need of a character that producesonly righteousness. They see the act as a requirement to be learned and performedas a duty. The new nature that God produces in a believer is the outflow of Hislife and character in His children, not the demand of rituals or the duties to familyand society.9. It is immutable. God’s decrees, pronouncements, and declarations are eternal,immutable, and unchangeable. He never gives His word then retracts it. He neverpromises what He cannot keep. He always knows what is ahead so He is able tokeep His word. In short He planned that all future sinful acts of men would beadequately covered by the payment of His Son forever.40 Thus His declaration iseternally permanent. All who come to Christ, Hindus included, can rest secure inGod’s declaration of justification.40 Ibid. 26
  36. 36. 27 Hebrew and Greek Words The best way to understand the concept of righteousness and the act of declaringone righteous is to look at the basic words used in the Old Testament and the NewTestament. The concept is based on these terms and their meanings. The Hebrew andGreek terms, righteous and righteousness, appear approximately 545 times in the Bible.41They are used in various ways with regard to God and man. The main Hebrew word is qdc. The word means, “rightness or righteousness.”42It refers to what is right, just, normal; rightness, justness in weights,measurements, government, causes, speech, ethical issues, and controversy.43 The termprecludes a norm, a standard or a law by which the action is compared and measured.44Then judgment is passed based on its acceptance.45 The main Greek word is dikaiosunh. The word means, “uprightness, justice as acharacteristic of a judge, or as required of men by God in a moral or religious sense.”46The New Testament word gets much of its meaning from the Old Testament word usageand meaning. The focus of this paper is on Paul’s use of the term. The starting-point for an understanding of what Paul means by the dikaiosunh qeou is provided by legal righteousness. According to Rom. 9:30 the Law is a nomos dikaiosumhs because it demands righteousness. Paul has a strong forensic use of 41 Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 959, 960. 42 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 724. 43 Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of The OldTestament (Glasgow, Scotland: Oxford University Press, 1907), 842, 842. 44 Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 318. 45 Ryrie, Basic Theology, 343. 46 William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament(Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1957). 27
  37. 37. 28 justification. Forensically does not mean “as if” he were righteous, since the sovereign sentence of God is genuinely pronounced. Nor does it mean that moral rectitude (character) is attained. What it does mean is that the man who has dikaiosunh is right before God.47 Two Major Aspects of Justification Among a number of very important facets of the doctrine of justification, twoseem to be the focal point in the need for justification. One is the sin problem that man has, which makes him hopelessly guilty beforeGod.48 Man has never been able to deal with his sin record and the guilt it has causedhim.49 The record is indelible, irremovable, and unpayable. He cannot reduce it, changeit, alter it, or escape it. Three phases continue to drive nails into his eternal coffin. Heinherited some of it, he personally has produced some of it, and he helplessly continues togenerate more of it. He is doomed by what he didn’t do, by what he has done and by whathe continues to do, but can’t stop doing it. His debt and doom grow daily without anyhope or insight to change his condition or nature. Over the history of his race he hasattempted many ways to escape the justice hanging over his head, to ease the ache of hissoul, and to remake the nature of his being but all have desperately failed. There is nopeace with God. His soul knows only constant pain. And his nature only continues toproduce lawlessness and rebellion. His sin problem is literally and eternally killing him.He has no hope. The second major aspect is his need for righteousness. Everything man does istainted with sin and impurity. He just can’t meet God’s high standard of absolute 47 Theological Dictionary of The New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley(Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964), Vol. II, 202, 204. 48 Barackman, Practical Christian Theology, 268. 49 Addison H. Leitch, Interpreting Basic Theology (Great Neck, NY: Channel Press, Inc., 1961),99. 28
  38. 38. 29holiness. By men’s standards some may pass. But by God’s standards “there is nonerighteous, not even one.” Rom. 3:10. These two major needs are the focus of the doctrine of justification. Man’s recordof guilt and his inability to change his nature have left him in a pending state of eternaljudgment. The doctrine of justification changes all of that and more! Hindus need to beconfronted with these facts and the explanation of the remedy. They may be totallyunaware of their condition and this desperate situation. This lack of awareness certainly isbecause of a lack of information. Also, they have been focused on their dharma (duty),not realizing that all their efforts are totally incapable of changing their condition orfuture. The Great Solution: The Gift of God Not until one understands the seriousness of the condition can he totallyappreciate the enormity of the solution. People often do not even recognize a solutionuntil they realize what the real problem is. An old adage states, “You have to get a manlost before you can get him saved.” The sentence of death is upon the whole human race. God’s compassion hascaused the exercise of his abundant grace to supply the gift of His Son’s sufficient work.He has produced righteousness enough for us all. Again let it be noted that God has takenthe initiative, devised the plan, provided the cure, and extended the offer to the entirerace.50 No amount of human effort and no blend of human works will be acceptablealongside God’s single, holy provision. God’s supply is in the righteousness of His SonJesus Christ. This provision is applicable only to “those who receive the abundance ofgrace and of the gift of righteousness through the One, Jesus Christ,” Rom. 5:17. Hindus 50 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 729. 29
  39. 39. 30will begin to realize the enormity of the provision only when they begin to understand theseriousness of their spiritual condition. Paul’s Explanation of Justification in His Letter to the Romans This deeper explanation of justification is given for the following reasons. First,the need to understand the essence of justification in its basic concepts .This involvesstripping away any of its historical cultural trappings picked up along the way in Europeand in the West. These trappings would impede understanding for Eastern thinkingpatterns, namely the Hindu mind-set. Second is the need to be alert for aspects of the doctrine of justification thatparticularly must be emphasized or highlighted for the Hindu in light of hismisunderstanding of reality. Hindus are unaware of having transgressed God’s standard,indeed that God even has a standard of expected behavior. They, as well as all people, areguilty of not having measured up to God’s standard. Third, one must work systematically through Paul’s presentation of the doctrineof justification to answer the logical questions of why, what, and how such a radicalanswer is the final solution to man’s universal question: How can man be right with God? Though Paul referenced the teaching of justification to almost all the churches heplanted, his most serious explanations are given in his letters to the Galatians and to theRomans. The letter to the Galatians targets particularly the attack by Jews who insistedthat keeping the law together with of what Christ had accomplished on the cross werealso necessary. “Yes, Christ’s sacrifice was necessary initially,” they argued, “but law-keeping was necessary to continue to stay right with God.” Paul’s argues not only is thatwhat Christ did was not only sufficient initially and throughout their lives and for finaljudgment but that to add anything to what He had done was indeed another gospel and 30
  40. 40. 31should come under God’s curse, Gal. 1:8. Paul’s purpose in writing of justification to the Roman believers, however, ismuch broader. Here he explains the whole concept of justification with great detail toteach the total truth of justification and particularly its centrality to the Gospel. Withoutjustification there is ultimately no good news for man. That is to say, if Christ died androse again only to prove His power over death, what benefit does that offer for the rest ofthe human race? They are not righteous. They are still guilty of sin. Paul shows thatGod’s method of justification is the only divinely certified way back to God.The Theme Stated (Rom. 1:1-17) From the moment of man’s creation he has been in need of righteousness tocontinue a relationship with his Creator. Man was created perfect and pure. But Godwanted to establish a continuing relationship with man based on his responsive obedienceto Him, thus creating righteousness in man. Up to that point man was pure, clean butwithout righteousness, i.e. doing right acts, measuring up to God’s standard of conduct.Theologians refer to this state or condition as unconfirmed holiness. He was pure butuntested. Tested. The “test” is the key event and pivotal point in man’s relationship to hisCreator. When the test was given, man failed to produce righteousness. Severeconsequences requested from that failure. Man’s failure separated him from God,including death physically and spiritually. His failure caused an eternal separation,including death and torment that he had no ability to reverse. He was in desperate need ofoutside help. Enters the gospel. Paul shows that in the gospel revealed the righteousness ofGod, Rom. 1:16, 17. All men, including Hindus, have striven to produce their own 31
  41. 41. 32righteousness in order to be reinstated with God. Paul’s revelation is that it is only God’srighteousness that is acceptable, and that righteousness has been made available.51Righteousness Needed (Rom. 1:18-3:20) The availability of God’s righteousness stands out even more greatly whencontrasted with His wrath against unrighteousness, (1:18-27). God reveals His wrath, butHe reveals His righteousness, Paul describes the enormity and universality of God’s judgment from threeperspectives. First is the insistent spiraling down of mankind against the attempts of Godto halt man’s downward direction. On three different occasions God finally gavemankind over to their rebellious desires (1:24, 26, and 28). Righteousness is neededbecause of man’s universal rebellion against God’s restraint. Second, righteousness is needed because those who judge others for unrighteousdeeds are no better off themselves. They are guilty of the same things. Understandingtransgression and criticizing others for their sin does not exempt one of his guilt. Thus, heneeds righteousness from some source other than himself (2:1-17). Third, righteousness is needed by those who do not follow and obey the law ofGod. Having the law does not exempt one. Doing the law does. But no one is able to dothe law completely, producing righteousness acceptable to God. All fall short, all areguilty (3:10, 23; 2:18-3:30). Hindus must be informed of the guilt of the world, theirs included, and that God’swrath is definite and pending. Therefore, they and all mankind are in desperate need of arighteousness that is acceptable to God. That righteousness is not to be found among anyof the attempts of the human race or among any of the religious systems of the world, 51 Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, 325. 32
  42. 42. 33including Hinduism.Righteousness of Christ Imputed (Rom. 3:21-5:21) Paul makes the great announcement about the availability of God’s righteousnessto mankind. This is vital for Hindus to understand. The imputation of Christ’srighteousness is the only method available by which man can return to God. For this tohappen, an understanding of the issues and the significance of the divine provision isprerequisite. In Romans 1:17 Paul said God’s righteousness was “revealed”. In Romans3:21 Paul said God’s righteousness was “manifested.” First it is uncovered and then it isexplained. He makes several helpful statements about God’s righteousness. 1. This righteousness is separate from the law.52 The implication is that any attempt to keep the law, even if it were successful, would not be adequate. Why? Because performing a current requirement has no power to erase past sins. Law-keeping at its best can only establish one’s record from this point forward.53 But even that gave little hope, for Jews for centuries had attempted to keep the law. No one had succeeded yet. This was good news that righteousness apart from the law might have some future. (See Rom. 3:21.) 2. This righteousness was not a total surprise for it had been announced by the law itself and by the prophets.54 This righteousness had exposure in the Old Testament. God’s righteous character had been displayed on 52 Bancroft, Elemental Theology, 217. 53 Hodge, Evangelical Theology, 295. 54 Bancroft , 216. 33
  43. 43. 34 numerous occasions. Others had been declared righteous apart from doing any law-works. The Messiah had been identified as “My Righteous Servant,” Isa. 53:11. See Rom. 3:21. 3. This righteousness was to be possessed by means of faith not by an achievement of works or any other effort on the part of man.55 The reception channel was faith, not doing.56 Through the ages a few seemed to have understood.57 But the bulk of the human race did not understand. Though it was not new it was being revealed that this is the way, the only way, man could achieve an acceptable righteousness -- through faith.58 (See Rom.3:22.) 4. This righteousness was in Christ.59 That was new. Never before had anyone understood that the only acceptable righteousness to God (right acts in response to His standard) was the righteousness which Christ had performed.60 (See Rom. 3:22.) 5. This righteousness was available to all who would believe.61 No distinctions were made, for all had sinned and were equally in need of this righteousness. This righteousness was adequate for all. No one’s need exceeded the quantity that was available in Christ. In fact, the degree of55 Ibid., 218.56 Zemek, A Biblical Theology, 171.57 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 199, 200.58 Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 320, 321.59 Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 203.60 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 199.61 Zemek, A Biblical Theology, 218. 34
  44. 44. 35 guiltiness of individuals is not even addressed. (See Rom. 3:22, 23.) 6. This offer of righteousness resulted in a state of justification. Once the righteousness produced by Christ was made available and a person availed himself of it by faith in Christ, he was justified.62 God declared him righteous.63 This was God’s act, not man’s. Man’s character did not change, but his position and relationship to God did change based on what God declared64 (3:24) 7. This righteousness was a gift. Gifts are gifts! A gift cannot be earned or paid for.65 It does not require prior qualification. Anything within the recipient that smacks of merit disqualifies the item exchanged as a true gift. Otherwise, it becomes something given in exchange for merit, achievement, or wage. A gift is a gift! This gift of righteousness is totally undeserved and unearned. No one qualified for it by means of anything he may have done to deserve it (See Rom. 3:24). 8. This righteousness-gift was motivated by God’s grace.66 The compassionate, loving heart of God motivated the grace of God to provide this righteousness for the human race. God was not compelled to deliver man. But His grace moved Him to provide a plan that would not violate His justice or His holiness and yet would totally restore man at all levels. His plan would pay the debt for the entire race. His plan would impute62 Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 203.63 Grudem, Systematic Theology, 724.64 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 200.65 Ibid., 203.66 Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 203. 35
  45. 45. 36 righteousness to everyone who would believe in Christ. His plan would restore His relationship with individuals and the race as a whole. His plan would be eternally irrevocable.67 His plan would ultimately conclude with a nature in man with confirmed righteousness and the ability to perform righteously for all eternity. His grace generated all that and more. Amazing grace! (See Rom. 3:24). 9. This righteousness provided a propitiation to God’s wrath. God did not change the severity of His sentence. Nor did He settle for anything less than what He demanded. His demands were totally met. He was completely satisfied.68 He was pleased. He was at peace with mankind.69 Justice had been served.70 Judgment had been extracted (See Rom. 3:25). 10. This righteousness had been produced publicly. God put His Son on public display for all to see. At the crucifixion, no one, except the Savior, had a clue of what was happening. Eternal redemption was being provided for the entire human race. No one understood what was happening. Now for hundreds of years, man has been able to look back and relive that day with all of its significance, understanding deeply and in detail what God did with His Son on the cross. Righteousness was provided publicly. 71 (See Rom. 3:25).67 Bancroft, Elemental Theology, 219.68 Chafer, Major Bible Themes, 197, 198.69 Ibid.70 Ibid.71 Bancroft, Elemental Theology., 218-220. 36

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