Are we saved simply by believing that we're saved?
Are we justified simply because we believe that we are justified?
Will we go to heaven simply because we demand that God let us in?
Are we justified by presumption?
The Bible seems to contradict itself. It says there is only one God, but it also teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. The doctrine of "the Trinity" is an attempt to harmonize these apparently contradictory statements, a concept which has been accepted as "orthodoxy," even though the word "Trinity" is not found in the Bible.
Consider also this apparent contradiction:
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
We need a doctrine like "the Trinity" to harmonize these two verses. Since the Reformation, only one side of this two-sided coin has been emphasized, sometimes expressed as "Justification by Faith Alone." John Robbins even speaks of "justification by belief alone." When do you ever hear such people speak of "justification by works," as the Bible does? They recoil in horror at the thought. There is a lack of Biblical balance here, and Christendom as a whole is more antinomian for it.
Can a person be saved if he refuses to obey God's commandments?
Can a person be saved if he refuses to practice righteousness?
Can a person be saved if he refuses to put away sinful habits?
Can a person be saved if he simply says "I believe Christ died for me and I demand that His death and righteousness be imputed to me."
Can a person be saved if he simply says "I believe Christ died for me and I demand that I be permitted to spend eternity in heaven!"
If the answer to any of these questions is "no," then what does it mean to say that anyone can be "justified by belief alone?"
Isaiah said of Christ, "The government shall be upon His shoulders." The "Kingdom" of God should be understood as the government of God.
"Justification by faith" acknowledges that we do not perfectly submit to the King, but confess that the King is merciful, and forgives His offending vassals, based not on the merit of the vassal, but on the mercy of God in Christ.
"Justification by works" corrects the person who erroneously believes he is justified by mere assertion or belief that he is, but refuses to take steps to become more obedient to God's Commandments.
"Justification by faith" corrects the person who erroneously believes he has already become perfectly obedient to the commands of the King.
The Bible says there is only one God, but it also teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. The doctrine of "the Trinity" teaches both sides of the coin. The Bible says "by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24) and "that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28). The doctrine of "Justification by Allegiance" teaches both of these apparently contradictory doctrines.
Anyone wishing to become an American citizen must also take an Oath of Allegiance: The oath of allegiance is:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
Millions of people around the world have wanted to become American citizens. They have wanted to flee slavery and tyranny and live in a land of "Liberty Under God."
The Bible says we should want to become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven even more.
It's ironic that many people who say they long for heaven, or denounce anyone who doesn't, live their lives on earth in complete indifference to God's Law, as though God had never spoken a Commandment, and doesn't notice that everyone on earth is ignoring those Commandments. It's hard to imagine that these people really want to be face to face with the God of the Bible, in a place where they cannot escape God and His Law. Read more about heaven here.
It's also ironic that if immigration laws were rigorously enforced, most natural-born American citizens could not qualify for naturalization (becoming an American citizen as if born in a foreign nation). In theory, an American citizen must be opposed to communism and loyal to American ideals. Most Americans don't know diddly about the principles of the Free Market that made America great. Most Americans don't care that America is quickly becoming a socialist/fascist/communist dictatorship.
Not only are most Americans not good Americans, most Christians are not good citizens of heaven. Most American Christians would have to think long and hard if Jesus knocked on their door, briefly reviewed His demands, and said "Follow Me." Many people who say they long for heaven refuse to "beat their swords into plowshares." The earthly machinery of coercion, wealth redistribution, and control are noticeably absent in heaven, and those who are addicted to political power, profit from taxation and vengeance on earth, want something for nothing, and refuse to follow the 12 steps of "archists anonymous" will have to be dragged kicking and screaming cold turkey into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The question that must always be asked is, "Are you sure you want to go to heaven?" This question must especially be asked of those who do not appear to be living on earth as they would in heaven, working to make God's will done on earth as it is in heaven.
One doctrine that serves as a convenient screen for functional autonomy is the doctrine of "Justification by Faith."
Our allegiance to God must be greater than our allegiance to any nation-state, constitution, President or Dictator. As the Apostle Peter put it: "We must obey God rather than Man" (Acts 5:29).
In the past, this was the basis for American citizenship. Because America was a Christian nation, becoming an American was like becoming a Christian. After declaring independence from Britain, Delaware wrote a new constitution in September of 1776 which required the following of anyone seeking to hold political office:
- Article. 22. Every person who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust . . . shall . . . make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit:
- “I ________, do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, Blessed for evermore; and I do acknowledge the holy scripture of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.”
That’s pretty much what it takes to become a Christian.
On May 2, 1778, when the Continental Army had emerged from its infamous winter at Valley Forge, Commander-in-Chief George Washington issued the following orders for the American troops:
The commander-in-chief directs that divine service be performed every Sunday at eleven o'clock in those brigades [in] which there are chaplains; those which have none [are] to attend the places of worship nearest to them. It is expected that officers of all ranks will by their attendance set an example to their men. While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian. The signal instances of providential goodness which we have experienced, and which have now almost crowned our labors with complete success, demand from us in a peculiar manner the warmest returns of gratitude and piety to the Supreme Author of all good.—
The Writings of George Washington, JC Fitzpatrick, ed., Wash. DC: US Gov't Printing Office, 1932, Vol. XI:342-343, General Orders of 5/2/1778
The United States Supreme Court declared in 1892 that America was a Christian nation. But in the 20th century, the Court repudiated that idea and has declared that people whose allegiance to God is greater than their allegiance to the State cannot become members of the bar. They can't even become American citizens. (details)
"But our citizenship is in heaven" (
Can a person be a citizen of heaven if his allegiance to the Bush-Obama regime is greater than his allegiance to God? Can a person be saved if his allegiance to Karl Marx is greater than his allegiance to Jesus Christ? Why were so many Christians executed by the Roman Empire? Can you be justified if you aren't an "anarchist" like Jesus and the early Christians?
Our Theory of "Justification by Allegiance" is confirmed by looking at the concept of "renouncing" and "abjuring" all previous allegiance to other sovereigns, in addition to the positive allegiance one must swear to the king who promises his salvation (protection).
Theologically speaking, the affirmative loyalty is called "saving faith."
The renouncing of all other sovereigns is called "repentance."
Westminster Confession of Faith
II. By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDS, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.
Confession of Faith
II. By it, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature, and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of His mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavouring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments.
Notice that the definition of "repentance" includes not just renouncing all rival sovereigns, but also the affirmative allegiance: "purposing and endeavoring to walk with Him in all the ways of His commandments." The two sides of the coin are inseparable. Nobody can expect justification (forgiveness of sins) without repudiating sin (allegiance to another lawgiver) and committing to obedience to the new lawgiver.
Therefore just as a naturalized American citizen must renounce his allegiance to his old government and swear an oath of allegiance to obey the laws of the United States, a Christian must renounce his allegiance to himself (autonomy) and swear allegiance to God and His Laws (Theonomy).
I passed the California Bar Exam, but was denied my license to practice law by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The full story is here. This was the Court that recently said the words "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are "unconstitutional." This was only the latest in a long series of decisions which are hostile to Christianity.
Any government that will not acknowledge itself to be "Under God" is a government that believes it IS god.
To become an attorney in California, you must take an oath to "support the Constitution." Christians are held to be incapable of taking this oath, because their allegiance to God is greater than their allegiance to the Constitution. If someday a law were created under the Constitution which required everyone to kill off all but 2 of their children (because of the "population crisis"), Christians would refuse to obey that law because "we must obey God rather than men" and God does not permit the slaughter of children.
Most Christians are totally unaware of these historic cases:
In 1892 The U.S. Supreme Court declared that America was "a Christian nation."
That case was overturned in 1931. "We are a nation with the duty to survive" the Court said, and a Christian whose allegiance to the nation is qualified by a greater allegiance to God is a threat to national survival. Our "government must go forward upon the assumption, and safely can proceed upon no other, that unqualified allegiance to the nation and submission and obedience to the laws of the land" is more important than conscientious obedience to the God of the Bible.
In 1945, based on the 1931 case, a Christian was barred from becoming an attorney because his allegiance to God was greater than his allegiance to the State.
God can certainly demand "unqualified allegiance," but to the Nation-State, those who are truly justified will say, "We must obey God rather than man." Both God and the secular State are agreed: You cannot serve both God and nation.
In the eyes of the Messianic State, anyone whose allegiance to Christ is greater than their allegiance to "the government" is an unpatriotic anarchist.
In my case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked my attempt to become an attorney by refusing to reverse the decision of a federal district court which (logically) declared that this 1945 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court barred me from practicing law. I believe America ought to be a nation "Under God" -- can't have attorneys believing that, now can we?
Most people are completely unaware of these court decisions. There are many more, and they all declare that Christians cannot become attorneys, teachers, civil engineers, or certified elevator inspectors. Christians cannot even become American citizens.
The fundamental issue in all these cases is allegiance.
You may say, "But I know good Christians who are attorneys and teachers." You may indeed. Most Christians have never thought much about the issue of allegiance. Not only are most Christians unaware of how Christian our legal system was and how anti-Christian our legal system has become, most attorneys and many judges have never heard of the cases cited in the links above. Your Christian friends who are attorneys and teachers are fortunate: no atheistic judge and nobody from the ACLU challenged their admission to the Bar using the cases that kept me from becoming an attorney. I'm not saying that no Christians are attorneys. I'm saying American law, having undergone a process of secularization, now logically prohibits Christians from becoming attorneys or American citizens because of this issue of allegiance.
Think about this: the second-highest court in the United States -- the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals -- has ruled that children in government schools cannot be permitted to say the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. As Dave Barry often says, "I swear I am not making this up." The issue is allegiance.
America used to be a land of Liberty Under God.
Now how does this relate to the Biblical Doctrine of Justification?
In a nutshell, God justifies those who declare their allegiance to Him and His Kingdom
Allegiance to the God of the Bible means confessing our sin and His mercy. It means committing ourselves and those under our authority to increasing obedience to His Commandments.
The crucial concept of "the covenant" is based on this idea of allegiance. Throughout the Bible, God calls men to Unconditional Surrender and Allegiance. God chooses people to become citizens of His Kingdom. The Covenant is the treaty signed by the vassal promising his submission to the Sovereign. In turn, the Sovereign promises "salvation" -- a word meaning health, welfare, victory, and prosperity -- to His loyal subjects.
Those who are not loyal are "cut off" and they lose their citizenship. Allegiance to the King is essential.
God "justifies" those who want to be "saved."
But "saved" from what?
Can a person be "saved" if he doesn't know what he wants to be saved from?
In a sense, becoming a naturalized American citizen means being "saved" from another government. To become an American citizen, one must renounce his allegiance to the old country. Ideally, a person who becomes an American citizen sees the superiority of America over his old country. This presupposes some understanding about the nature of each country.
You are not justified by mere belief alone, or by the mere claim that God is somehow obligated to send you to heaven. You are justified only when you transfer your allegiance to God and His Law, renouncing your previous allegiance to any other authority and any other law: Satan, "the nation-state," or oneself.
To be saved, we must know something about that from which we wish to be saved, as well as something about that which the Savior promises to provide for us. We must renounce the former, and embrace the latter.
In the Bible, a person who sees the disadvantages of
renounces that old way of life and declares his allegiance to
Salvation means moving from a kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of Light.
It is not the purpose of this essay to claim that one cannot be a citizen of the Kingdom of God and simultaneously a citizen of the United States. This would be guilty of "equivocation": using a word in two different ways. "Citizenship" in heaven or in the Kingdom of God is a theological concept. "Citizenship" in an earthly nation-state is a political concept, a legal fiction with no more inherent theological significance than membership in a bowling league.
But "citizenship" as it is seen in Philippians above involves allegiance -- and renouncing allegiance to a former ruler or system. That former ruler can be Satan, "the powers that be," or oneself. One cannot be justified who refuses to renounce his loyalty to any ruler but God. One cannot be justified who refuses to commit himself to total allegiance to God. Jesus is, in fact, sickened by less than total allegiance.
"Justification by Allegiance" says
"Justification by Faith" replies that obedience to God's Commandments is impossible, and that we all "fall short." "Justification by Allegiance" admits that this is true, but that's why "faith" should be defined as commitment or allegiance. The one who is not committed to perfect obedience to God's Commandments -- at least in principle -- and will not admit that God has a right to demand perfection -- cannot be saved. "Justification by Works" demands some external evidence of this allegiance.
This "Justification by Allegiance" paradigm harmonizes
This paradigm is implicit in the great Reformed Catechisms and Confessions. True Faith is Allegiance, not mere belief. In the Chapter on "Saving Faith" in the Westminster Confession of Faith (14:2), we are told that when we have saving faith, we
believe to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and act differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.
Our God is not a silent and impersonal force. God speaks to us through His Word. "Allegiance" recognizes that every Word God speaks is Law for us, and demands our allegiance, because that is how a vassal rightly responds to a sovereign.
The "Law-Word" of God
Let's review Micah's "Vine & Fig Tree" Prophecy. He describes a new government. We should renounce our allegiance to the old system and become citizens of the new Kingdom. We have called this
Here is Micah's prophecy, from the 4th chapter.
And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the House of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains
And it will be raised above the hills
Victory: The Inevitability of the Conspiracy And the peoples will stream to it.
And many nations will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the House of the God of Jacob,
Catholicism: The Universal Appeal of the Conspiracy That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths."
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Law: God's Law vs. Man's "law." And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation
And never again will they train for war.
Peace: Beating the State's Swords into Plowshares And each of them will sit under his Family: God's Central Unit of Society Vine and under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid.
For the LORD of hosts has spoken.
Garden-Land: Reversing the Stalinization of the Farm Though all the peoples walk
Each in the name of his god,
As for us, we will walk
In the Name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.
"In that day," says the LORD,
"I will assemble the lame,
I will gather the outcast
And those whom I have afflicted;
I will make the lame a remnant,
And the outcast a strong nation;
So the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion
From now on, even forever."
Community: Man is not an Island
In the course of developing the implications of the Third Theme ("LAW" - "That He may teach us His ways") we have discussed Luther's idea of "justification by faith."
The Origin of "Greasy Grace"
On that page we suggested that the Protestant Reformation missed most of the themes in Micah's prophecy, and that as a slogan, "Justification by Works" is a more Biblical slogan than "Justification by Faith" (as it is generally understood today). Our contention is that "Law" in Micah's prophecy does not refer to liturgical ceremonies, but the covenantal relationship God the Sovereign has with His People in every area of their lives. To be rightly related to God's Law is to be rightly related to God.
Why We Should Worship God's Law
A far greater part of the Scriptures consists of exhortations to obey rather than [merely] to believe. Those verses that seem to say we are justified without respect to our allegiance to God's Law have been misinterpreted.
Imagine this scenario: The new President has offered to give you 30 seconds of free air time on all the major networks to say anything you want to say to America. What will you say to the nation?
Justification by Faith?
- OR -
Justification by Allegiance
|"Good Evening, my fellow Americans. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that if you believe in your heart that Christ died for you, you will be saved. We are not under law, we are under grace. Your good works count for nothing in God's eyes. Just believe that Christ died for you and your sins will be forgiven."||"Good Evening, my fellow Americans. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that God is holy and righteous, and is outraged at how we have thumbed our nose at Him and His Commandments. But God is also merciful, and if we are willing lose our lives and give our complete allegiance to Him -- mind, soul, and strength -- willing to obey His every Word, He will heal our land."|
How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment;
righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.
For further reading: What is "Salvation?"
Questions about "Justification by Allegiance"
Some have argued that James was not talking about how we are justified in God's eyes (as Paul was), but how we prove our justification in the eyes of others. O. Palmer Robertson has been on the faculties of Knox, Covenant, Westminster, and Reformed Theological Seminaries. He writes:
At this point, it may be remembered that both Martin Luther and John Calvin responded rather explicitly to the Roman Catholic analysis of these assertions of James. As Calvin says:
That we may not then fall into that false reasoning which has deceived the Sophists [the Romanists], we must take notice of the two-fold meaning of the word justified. Paul means by it the gratuitous imputation of righteousness before the tribunal of God; and James, the manifestation of righteousness by the conduct, and that before men, as we may gather from the preceding words, Show me thy faith, etc. [Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, 314ff.].
According to the Reformers, James does not say that works must be added to faith or included in faith as the way by which men receive God’s judicial declaration that their sins are forgiven. In their understanding, James is not even discussing the way to pardon from guilt, as is Paul. To the contrary, James is describing how a man may show his faith to be genuine (James 2:18), and how faith inevitably will come to fulness or fruition in good works (James 2:22).
This line of argument is obviously wrong. Calvin was not infallible.
James is talking about how our works justify us before God. Read the first two chapters of his letter together, without stopping at the human-created chapter break. Notice:
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
But, James says to his reader:
6 But you have dishonored the poor man.
This means James' reader's justification before God is in peril.
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
Not "you are convicted by church-goers or others who watch you and judge whether your faith is genuine," but convicted before God.
12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. [cf. James 1:25]
Not, "speak and so do as those whose faith will be judged by the watching world."
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
Not, "Can his faith be justified in the eyes of men?" James is talking about our relationship with God.
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?
Justified in the eyes of others? All his servants waited while Abraham went up Mt. Moriah.
In the eyes of Isaac?
No, justified before God.
O. Palmer Robertson writes:
By the five-hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s birth [1483-1983], it might have been expected that the question of the way of a man’s justification before God would have been settled, at least in Reformed and evangelical circles. But history demonstrates that such an expectation fails to take account of the resilience inherent in man’s natural inclinations to find some role for his own performance in determining his position before God.
Nothing in our concept of "Justification by Allegiance" appeals to the "natural inclinations" of man.
Nothing in our concept of "Justification by Allegiance" depends on "performance," "achievement," "attainments," or in any way working up toward God's required holiness and righteousness. Rather than a working "up," "Justification by Allegiance" is a falling flat on one's face before God, acknowledging God's complete sovereignty and authority over every area of our lives. It is not working our way up to "archist," but submitting our way down to "servant."
Government and "the Depravity of Man"
THE DEPRAVITY OF MAN And the Power of the State
Statism and the Depravity of Man
Depravity and Social Order
The Depravity of Man [Madison on Angels]
- What is generally overlooked is that
- as set forth in the Christian Scriptures
- is a moral thing;
- it is not addressed
- to the intellect only,
- but to the will also.
- It addresses itself to the total man,
- and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it
- engages the citadel of the human heart and
- is not satisfied until it hasconquered everything there.
- The will must come forth and surrender its sword.
- It must stand at attention to receive orders,
- and those orders it mustjoyfully obey.
- Short of this
- any knowledge of Christian truth
- is inadequate and unavailing.
- -- A.W. Tozer