Justification: A New Covenant Blessing -- By: Zane C. Hodges
JOTGES 19:37 (Autumn 2006) p. 79
Justification: A New Covenant Blessing
President Kerugma Ministries Mesquite, Texas
In a previous article, it was shown that the prophecy in Jeremiah 31 about the New Covenant involved a promise of regeneration.1 This article will consider the question of whether it also entailed a guarantee of justification. After all, as seen in the previous article, Paul considered himself a minister of the New Covenant. Again, I quote his words in 2 Cor 3:5–6:
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Of course, the doctrine of justification by faith was a crucial part of the Pauline gospel. The question being raised is this: Did Paul think of justification by faith as a benefit included in the promises made in the New Covenant?
The solution to this question is not quite as obvious as the issue discussed in the previous article. It is plain that the New Covenant anticipated regeneration, but did it also anticipate justification?
II. Forgiveness Under the New Covenant
There is no question that forgiveness is one of the New Covenant benefits. For this we have the authority of the book of Hebrews, which states in 10:15–18:
JOTGES 19:37 (Autumn 2006) p. 80
And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
The last words of this quotation are not from Jeremiah but are the words of the writer of Hebrews. Notice his comment, “Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.” The word remission here, of course, is the Greek noun aphsis which is the standard NT noun for forgiveness.
Clearly the author of Hebrews understands the New Covenant words, “their sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more,” as guaranteeing the forgiveness of sins.
III. Forgiveness and Justification Compared
For anyone who sees no distinc...
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