THE TWO TYPES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Eric Snow Sermonette Notes for 1-13-00
For many centuries, Christians of many different groups have argued about how Paul’s salvation theology should be interpreted. Skeptics could have easily asked questions such as these: Did Paul contradict himself about how people are saved? Did he have a “love/hate” relationship with the law? Did he believe obedience was necessary for salvation sometimes, and then deny it other times? In particular, did he contradict himself about how Christians become righteous in God’s sight?
I shall maintain that Paul didn’t contradict himself about how righteousness was gained, but that he believed two types of righteousness existed.
S.P.S. So today we shall show that Paul believed that Christians should be righteous both from obeying the law and from having faith in Jesus’ role as personal Savior.
Some years before the split occurred in our parent organization, I used to debate the man who was my best friend at the time over this very issue. He was one turning evangelical Protestant before it became the “in” thing, and was turning against how we had traditionally interpreted Paul’s writings. I would point out the texts we’re going to look at here to show Paul believed in two types of righteousness. I never did get a response from him on this issue that satisfied me!
Righteousness here comes from obeying God.
Notice the chain link: v. 16, “obedience resulting in righteousness,” v. 19, “righteousness resulting in sanctification,” and v. 22, “resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” Hence, Paul ties actual obedience to salvation!
But now, did Paul contradict himself?
Romans 10:6-13, then v. 4 if have time (explain).
Notice v. 10 especially: Here righteousness comes from having faith in the Lord.
Two types of righteousness: Not a difficult conclusion! Need to explain all of Paul’s writings, not just cite those texts which favor your own viewpoint, and ignore the rest. True scholarship.
One type of righteousness is imputed, and gained by faith alone. It means the same thing as justification, of having no sin on us based upon God saying we have no sin on us after we say we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. It’s totally by grace through faith alone, as Protestants teach.
The other type of righteousness is gained by actually becoming righteous by building holy righteousness character as we follow the Holy Spirit. This comes from developing habits of obedience in our everyday lives. This is what is known as “sanctification,” of becoming holy.
God wants us to have both in order to be saved.
Remarkable summary of Paul’s soteriology, that is, salvation theology. Esp. note vs. 3:21-22, 28, 4:4-6: Imputed righteousness is a scriptural concept.
So in conclusion, let’s remind our Evangelical Protestant critics that good theology can only be formed by citing ALL the texts relevant to a particular doctrine. For the Apostle Paul, there were two types of righteousness, one of which was imputed, the other actual. One of them God gives us by grace through faith alone, the other we gain as we obey His law as the Holy Spirit helps us. The Bible doesn’t contradict itself once we really understand what is going on.