Written by Nicholas T. Batzig | Sunday, April 14, 2019
The justification that Paul has in mind is clearly a justification before the court of God–it is a legal declaration that a man or women is counted righteous by faith alone. The Apostle could not be any clearer. He then appeals to Genesis 15:6 for a defense of this doctrine–rooting it in the earliest of Old Testament revelation. The doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone is the epicenter of the truth of the Gospel of God’s free grace in Christ.
Almost nothing is as important as it is for the minister of the word of God to give the people of God the right meaning of whatever portion of Scripture he is preaching. R.L. Dabney, in his Sacred Rhetoric, explained what a minister is doing if he does not rightly divide the word of God in his preaching. He wrote,
“The falsehood of that man is full of impiety, who, avowedly standing up in a sacred place to declare God’s message to perishing souls, says that the Holy Spirit has said what He has not said…One may ask, ‘Am I not justified, provided the meaning I give, although not actually placed in the text by the Holy Spirit, is still a Scriptural truth taught elsewhere in the word?’ I answer, ‘No; this is only a palliation.’”1
Though Dabney’s sentiments are correct–since the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture and has breathed out every word of God in the Old and New Testament–his statement opens for us the question about how we are to handle those difficult portions of Scripture and those texts that can be understood in a number of ways consistent with the rest of the canon.
Though every word and every text in Scripture has one meaning–and though we must prayerfully and diligently labor to arrive at that divinely intended meaning–no man (our Lord Jesus excepted) will ever be able to say that he has infallibly arrived at that one meaning with every interpretive approach. This leads us to what theologians have called the analogy of faith (i.e. the analogia fidei).