Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Justification by Faith Alone in the Tanakh

The teaching of justification by faith alone is the teaching that all those who trust in God and His Messiah are declared righteous. You would not be declared righteous on the the basis of the merits of your good works. Although genuine faith will result in a change and in good works, although no one this side of heaven is perfected.

The Tanakh, the traditional Jewish Scriptures, fully supports this.

First, the Tanakh supports the problem. In Psalm 130 it is written, "If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?"

David, who knew a thing or two about sinning against God, wrote in Psalm 14:
The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.

When Jeremiah describes the new covenant that was coming God says "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remmeber no more." (Jeremiah 31:34)

In the Torah, it is written: "Abram believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6)

The Torah does not read "Abram did a bunch of good stuff and it was accounted to him as righteousness." He was accounted righteous by faith. Later, Abraham's act of obedience proved his faith was genuine.

Speaking of the Messiah, Isaiah writes "by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." (Isaiah 53:11)

We receive the Messiah's righteousness and we give him our iniquities. That is the exchange. Our filth for the Messiah's righteousness.

Zechariah shows this exchange:
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."

The Messiah takes away our iniquity and clothes us in his righteousness. That is truly good news.


Anonymous Moshe ben Avraham said...

I am sorry I will ahve to comment on this "faith" business again. Torah clearly contradicts you on faith is good enough. Lets look at exodus. Here the Jews are caught between the Yum Surf and the Egyptians. The Jews have faith in G-d and know HaShem will rescue them, but the sea has not parted. A Jew who knew that something more was needed walks into the water even though it is up to his neck. Then the sea parted. Not because the jewish people had faith, that was quite appearant, but because a Jew took action and didn't wait for HaShem to save him through faith. You know the episode between Yitzhakh and Asaov? After stealing the brith right from Asaov Yitzhakh fled to Laban and worked for many years. After taking Leah and Reachel, as wives he decides to come back to his home land and hears that his brother is approaching him. Of course Yitzhackh has reason to fear this confrontation. Jacob first sends a fine gift to Asaov to appease him, then he arranges for the appropriate defences in case of attack, and then he prays for HaShem to save his family. Notice the order and actually what happened. He did not go by faith alone, as you Chrsitians try to stress so strongly. First, as this story teaches us, is that one must make practical arrangements for any problems;hence appeasement and then defense. Second, then you daven for HaShem to help you, but do not expect any. If Yitzhakh followed your advice he could have been killed! He was Jewish and had a Jewish education so he followed a much better path. Does this story remind you of any events taking pace today?

8/01/2006 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

First, that story about someone extra jumping in...it isn't in the Torah.

Your use of Jacob and Esau doesn't appear to be pertinent. Justification is a term to denote how one is declared righteous before God. Jacob and Esau's confrontation story doesn't address that topic.

Except maybe the promise is through Jacob and not Esau. "Yet Jacob I have loved; But Esau I have hated." Malachi 1:2-3

Is that due to Jacob being better than Esau or due to the inscrutible purposes of HaShem?

8/01/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Moshe ben Avraham said...

Whoops! Midrash I sometimes mix it in there. Apologies. I make that mistake too much sometimes, but I am getting better. The releavnce of the story is that Yitzhakh did not beleive he would be saved by his faith alone. Funny that you ask that question. I have read this in Torah. Midrash teaches that in many ways Asaov was a better person then Yitzhakh. Why? Because he honored Avraham to the best of his abiltity. Fulfilling the miztvah honor ones parents. Asaov desired this so much that he would even behave better in front of his father. Because of how dedicated Asaov was to doing this one mitzvah Asaov was allowed to be buried in the cave of Mechipilia?. Again Midrash. Yitzhakh, knowing this, made the necessary preperations just in case Asaov was in HaShem's graces. Much like Moshe and Og. Midrash again. Moshe asked G-d if he could kill Og, because of the Miztvah Og performed when he helped save Sarah's life back in the day.

8/02/2006 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...


Esau isn't God, so the example isn't pertinent. The teaching of justification concerns how we are declared righteous before God.

'Abram believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.' Gen 15:6 Things along that line are pertinent.

8/02/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Moshe ben Avraham said...

I disagree. Rabbis' use this stroy all the time to show justification before G-d. I think I will go with the rabbi's on this one.

8/07/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...


Try to give a defense of this showing justification before God. Maybe you can try summing up the rabbis' reasoning.

8/08/2006 10:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Moshe ben Avraham said...

I have summed up the rabbi's reasoning, with my own interpretation in addition. I feel there is little more I can explain. I am not a rabbi; I lack their way with words; nor do I have the knowledge of Talmud they do. I am a learner by nature. Most of my arguments you have read come from other Jews (with a few exceptions). I absorb the material given to me and remember what interests me. That is why I am lacking in certian areas of religious debate.

If your interested. Three people have contributed to my Jewsih education. rabbi Tovia Singer, rabbi Pozner, and my girlfriend Kat Henak.

8/09/2006 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger geoffrobinson said...

Ok then. I'll still say that I see nothing in Jacob's interaction with Esau which shows that Jacob was declared righteous before God on the basis of his works.

8/09/2006 02:01:00 PM  

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