26 August 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

"To declare His righteousness." What is declaring of righteousness? Like the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble powerful.

So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is "declaring," that he has added, "That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."

Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men. And be not abashed and shamefaced. For if He Himself openly declareth Himself to do so, and He, so to say, findeth a delight and a pride therein, how comest thou to be dejected and to hide thy face at what thy Master glorieth in?

- St. John Chrysostom (Homilies on Romans 3)


cheryl said...

Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men.

I'm not sure I understand this statement. Isn't the righteousness of God, made effectual in us, in part through works?

William Weedon said...


Wouldn't you reverse it? Our works are made effectual by the righteousness of God!

cheryl said...

I'm not sure. By "effectual", I meant, "put into effect". That the righteous of Christ which we all have access to and which is in us, is put into effect through what we do.

I'm not sure if I'm saying it right????

Maybe it's better to say that good works cultivates righteous habits?

I've just never understood why, if justification means, in part, "to make righteous", as most christians this side of Geneva grants, then why did Paul say we can't be "made righteous" through works?

Were the Jews in Paul's day trying to be "made righteous" through works, and if so, why was Paul condemning them for it? I mean they were in the Church, it's not like they didn't have faith or lacked belief in Christ. Or does the idea of justification as "made righteous" have nothing to do with Paul?

William Weedon said...


Read through Romans 9:30 and 10:13 and see if that doesn't answer the concern.

It is the righteousness of God which comes to us as a gift that "makes" us righteous, as well as "declares" us righteous - if, of course, does both. But then the good works that we do are the result of that gift of God - which is where Paul ends up in Eph 2:8-10. Even faith, which justifies, being a gift, and we being God's "workmanship" - His new creation - in order that we may do the good works He has prepared for us.

I think what the Apostle (and St. John Chrysostom) specifically rule out is that our "working" can ever be a part of the righteousness which is wholly received via faith.


cheryl said...

I guess I would understand Paul's issues better, if I understood exactly what his opponants were doing. The people of whom he spoke in Rom. 9:30-10:13, were not believers, but those to whom he spoke in the first portion of his letter were. And since they were, I can't understand what it is they were suppose to be doing.

Our working can't ever be apart of the righteousness received by faith, since it is Christ's righteousness. That is true. We can't add or take away from that righteousness. But I guess I'm just struggling with separating faith and works in such a radical way. In my mind, we receive Christ's righteousness by faith, but often it is a faith "working itself out in love". For example, suppose you have a person, who has the option of staying home all day and watching tv OR going out and cutting his neighbor's grass, because his neighbor is too sickly to do it himself. He has a choice; on the one hand, if he stays home, he's rejecting the Spirit's prompting to go help his neighbor. He's sinning by omission, and even cultivating a habit of slothfulness. But if he chooses to go help his neighbor, he is not only doing that out of love for his neighbor, but he is turning his back on sin and toward Christ and His righteousness. He can't merit it. It's not as if Christ has imparted His righteousness to the man as a reward for doing good, but rather, that man, has embraced the good, and in so doing, has embraced Christ. I guess what I'm trying to say is, is that in my mind, we aren't made righteous on account of faith or works. But we are made righteous, or more aptly, we receive the righteousness of Christ through faith and works.

William Weedon said...


I think that the key is not separating them, but just distinguishing them. We receive righteousness always and only by faith; but the faith that receives such righteousness indeed is "a busy, active thing" to quote the good Dr. It cuts that neighbor's grass! Not as the basis of righteousness, but because it has received and now lives in such righteousness.