Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Modern Assault on Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

Not sola fide too!In addition to sola scriptura probably the doctrine most characteristic of Protestantism is justification by faith alone. This was what really brought about the break from Rome. Rome has held to a synergistic view of justification faith+works, so the idea that we are saved by faith wasn't repulsive it was the alone (That really is Rome's beef with all the five solas). So were the reformers right in adding the "alone" faith?

Scripture certainly seems to be in favor of a faith based justification as we see in numerous places:

"And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness," (Rom 4:5)

"For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." (Rom 1:17)

"For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." (Rom 3:28)

These are but a few examples of scriptures that led the Reformers to abandon Rome's system of justification, scripture seems to teach that man is justified by faith apart from works (or alone). It has been held by orthodox Protestantism that by faith in Christ we actually receive the righteousness of Christ (His perfect life lived in our place) while on the cross Christ takes our guilt/sin upon Himself, a double exchange. It is this part of justification that is under attack today, the doctrine of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. It is this part of justification by faith that has been challenged in recent years. The challenge is spearheaded by protestant who argue for a "New Perspective on Paul". The most well known New Perspective voice is Anglican theologian N.T Wright.

New Perspective in a Nutshell:

I am trying to be as succinct as possible on the NP issue to make this into a single post. Phil Johnson in a lecture on the NP notes five distinctives of Wright's NP of Paul:

1) We have misunderstood 1st century Judaism.
2) We have misinterpreted Paul's argument with the Judaizers.
3) We have mistaken what Paul meant by "The works of the law."
4) We have misconstrued Paul's doctrine of justification by faith.
5) We have misread what Paul wrote when he spoke of "The righteousness of God."

To clarify this a little more, by saying we have misunderstood 1st century Judaism the NP means that 1st century Judaism really wasn't a works based righteousness system as is often viewed. Rather 1st century Jews had a strong emphasis on divine grace. We misinterpreted Paul's arguments with the Judaizers in the sense that Paul wasn't arguing how one becomes a Christian, the problem he addresses is should X pagan converts be circumcised. "The Works of the law" in Wright's understanding Paul did not mean the moral requirements of the law, rather he meant the ceremonial such as circumcision, feasts etc (What about Romans 7 where Pauls specifically talks about covetousness?). Fourthly, a big one, the NP states that in Paul's mind justification had nothing to do with someone's rightstanding with God, as it was about how we come together as a covenant community. The "righteousness of God" is not an asset that can be imputed, rather it is merely God's covenant faithfulness.

Thus, if Wright is right evangelicals have the gospel all wrong, he says:
"The gospel is not one gets saved in an individual and historical sense."

Justification therefore is based on covenantal unity, God's righteousness to the believer is His faithfulness, this seems to make justification a process, rather than an event which Wright clearly rejects. There is no imputation of righteousness to the believer in the NP, righteousness is not something which can properly be imputed (This of course raises questions about what did Christ's cross actually do? Wright is fairly silent on this although he has endorsed a book which argues that the imputation of our sins upon Christ to appease the wrath of God, is Divine child abuse). It is this one area of the NP that I want to address, if the stuff above has whet your interest to understand this NP more (and arguments against its scholarship) check out this page at Monergism.

How the NP and Wright get Justification Wrong:

I am only going to deal with the erroneous views of justification and imputation here, which in part are:
1) Justification in Paul's mind is not an event so much as a process, 2) Justification in Paul's mind is not having to deal with a sinners standing with God so much as a community. 3) Justification does not involve a transfer of "the righteousness of God" to sinners (imputation).

1) The NP gets justification wrong by describing it in a non-historic fashion, justification is not something that has happened to believers as it is happening. Again this is the New Perspective on Paul, so how does Paul describe justification? I think in two ways, a) As a past event and b) as a future pronouncement at the final judgment.

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1)

"Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God." (Rom 5:9)

Justification is described by Paul in a past tense, it clearly is an event that has taken place with believers which also has future ramifications. These two verses are also a serious problem to the NP's view on 2).

2) Justification int the NP view is not so much dealing with the sinners standing with God as it does talk about the sinners entrance into the community of the Church and acting as a community member should. Thus, justification is a process not an event. This "process" sort of think looses its footing when we see justification described by Paul in terms of "having been", continuous processes can't be described in a perfect past tense. Anyway, problems from Paul with point #2:

"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." (Rom 3:20)

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom 5:1)

I cite Romans 3:20 and 5:1 to show that justification in Paul's mind is vertical not horizontal as Wright asserts, it has everything to do with man's rightstanding with God. Man's sinfulness and guilt and God's wrath and justice, are on a collision course so to speak. Yet if historic prostestantism is right Christ comes and credits His righteousness to those who believe in Him, thus God is just in letting the guilty go free for they deserve nothing less, because in Christ they are not guilty. This brings us to 3.

3) Another major point of departure of the NP from historic Protestantism is a denial of the imputation of Christ's righteousness, I will focus on this more heavily than the above two. Does the bible teach that Christ's righteousness is imputed to those who have faith in Him? Wright asserts that the only passage that might seem to teach this is 1 Cor 1:30. I agree that 1 Cor 1:30 certainly seems to teach imputation but that is not the only nor the most clear passage on this issue. There are several passages that deal with this matter:

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:3-4)

Here it seems apparent that based upon Christ's finished work the law is fulfilled in some people (those who have faith in Christ).

"It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,
who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification."
(Rom 4:24-25)

Christ was delivered for our trespasses and raised for our justification and it is counted (imputed) to us by faith.

"He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption." (1 Cor 1:30)

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (1 Cor 5:21)

With the last two verses I think it is clear that Christ was delivered to take our sin and impart His righteousness to us. You would have to do some serious exegetical tricks to get around the clear cut meaning of 2 Cor 5:21. Before I end the post though I don't want this to be a mere defense of the right answer, we need to treasure the doctrine of imputation. A good way to do that is to see how this doctrine radically transforms lives. This doctrine is a tremendous freedom giver to the guilty conscience. John Bunyan comes to my mind, Bunyan struggled with a stark uncertainty of his standing with God until the truth of Christ's imputed righteousness broke in upon his wavering soul, Bunyan writes:

"One day as I was passing into the field . . . this sentence fell upon my soul.Mr.John Bunyan Thy righteousness is in heaven. And methought, withal, I saw with the eyes of my soul Jesus Christ at God's right hand; there, I say, was my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, God could not say of me, he wants [lacks] my righteousness, for that was just before [in front of] him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse, for my righteousness was Jesus Christ himself, "The same yesterday, today and, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).

Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed. I was loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so that from that time those dreadful scriptures of God left off to trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing for the grace and love of God." (John Bunyan, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, [Hertfordshire: Evangelical Press, 1978, orig. 1666], pp. 90-91)

The truth that broke Bunyan's bonds of despair as he saw his guilt before a holy God was the truth of Christ's imputed righteousness. The imputed righteousness doctrine teaches that Christ's righteousness is our righteousness by faith. Thus, our consciences can rest for the guilt that we so often see is now covered in the righteousness of Christ given (imputed) to us. We by faith alone in Christ are holy and without blame before God on account of Christ's righteousness in our behalf, this is what it means to be justified by faith.

4 comments:

natamllc said...

Justification, Justification

wow

Here is what I know and can personally speak too about Justification by Faith.

I know that I know that I know this!

I had my first "awakening" at an AA Allen tent revival in Eureka, Ca. around 1958-9 on Halloween night.

I was almost 5 or 6 years, being born November 1953.

I was dressed up as a WW2 soldier wearing a uniform, green plastic army helmet, a canteen full of kool aid and a plastic bayonet attached to my army belt around my waist and for a rifle, a pillow case. I was armed and dangerous knocking on doors trick and treating hoping to fill the pillow case with candy before I came home for the night!.

I was serious. People were having a good laugh.

Why do adults do that at Easter having the Easter bunny and a Santa Claus at Xmas around children having a good laugh? Is there something I don't know about Santa and the Easter bunny? hmmmm

Anyway, I heard this noise that drew me to the tent. I came toward the noise and saw the tent and a lot of activity. I thought it was a halloween party and went to it. I went inside the tent and bamb! the Presence of God was inside that tent. I stepped out and I felt normal again. I stepped into the tent and bamb! that "Presence" again. One more time doing this in and out business and I quickly lost interest because they were not offering candy but little Gideon bibles instead.

Isa 65:1 I have been sought, not by those who asked. I have been found, not by those who sought Me. To a nation not calling on My name, I said, Behold Me! Behold Me!
Isa 65:2 I have spread out My hands all the day long to a rebellious people who walk in the way not good, after their own thoughts;

Some weeks later I was "tricked" into going to Sunday School at a local Church by a gimmick. The bus driver of the Sunday School bus offered me a white poker chip if I would get on his bus and attend Sunday school. He said the chip, white, was worth one cent. If I got on board his bus the following week he would give me another different colored poker chip worth five cents; and another poker chip a different color worth ten cents the following, a quarter and then finally the fifty cent chip on the fifth Sunday. He said that after I came on board and attended Sunday school five Sundays in a row I could then, on the following, or sixth Sunday, go to the Church candy / toy store in the basement and purchase things, CANDY, TOYS or bible story books with those 5 poker chips. I got to go see the store every Sunday. In fact we had to walk right past the store to get to the classroom for Children's church. hmmmm

The only thing was I couldn't miss a Sunday. It worked and I attended Sunday school six Sundays in a row. I wonder why? I don't remember what I bought, but I know it was candy and gum; yum yum and I clearly remember I couldn't concentrate on the bible story that sixth Sunday being anxious for it to end so I could go to the store and cash in!!!

Then, many years later, I came out to a Christian community, the Lighthouse Ranch, desperate, lonely, broken up and quite confused about life. I was now just 21 years old.

I was on the property about an hour and then left with my first Bible, given to me to read, to read!

I remember going back to my house with this deep longing and desire to Read about Jesus Christ without being told.

The person who gave me the Bible opened it to Matthew's Gospel and said start reading there. I did. I got to verse 21 of Matthew one:

Mat 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.


BAMB! BAMB! BAMB!

I hit the deck like you would if an incoming missle was launched heading your way.

I cried and cried and cried. I was so filled with Joy and a deep hunger came over me to READ THE BIBLE and read about Jesus Christ. I did. That experience was on a Thursday around 11 a.m. and I didn't eat or sleep fully until after Church the following Sunday at the Veterans Memorial building in Eureka, Cal. I read and read the Bible and by Sunday morning around 6 a.m. I was just starting to read at Romans 14 and remembered the guy who gave me that Bible saying something about coming to Church on Sunday at 8:30 a.m. I got changed and washed up a bit and headed for Church.

Gospel Outreach was using that facility on Sundays so that after Church everyone apart of that ministry could eat lunch together and after, walk around town and evangelize until the evening service.

It was July 21st, 1975, a Thursday.

That following Sunday I was invited to move to the Lighthouse Ranch and become one of His "disciples", live communally and go to bible studies and prayer meetings. YEAH.

It took me more days to unwind and disconnect from the world but finally I moved to the Ranch shortly after that.

Phi 4:6 Be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and by petition with thanksgivings, let your requests be made known to God;
Phi 4:7 and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Phi 4:8 For the rest, brothers, whatever is true, whatever honorable, whatever is right, whatever pure, whatever lovely, whatever of good report, if of any virtue, and if of any praise, think on these things.
Phi 4:9 And what things you learned and received and heard and saw in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

After a year or so living there with this Ministry work project of Gospel Outreach I was priviledged to attend a "home spun" Ministry School, the G.O. School of Ministries taught by Jim Durkin and his wife Dacie. I got to live with them communally.

We lived with them for over 3 years and started some "ministry" businesses besides attending their school of Ministries.

During one of the "sessions", Bible studies, [we met daily seven days a week having prayer at 6 a.m. til 7, an hour bible study til 8 a.m. and then we ate breakfast then went to work, worked all day and had Bible studies every night. We met in the morning and evening on the weekdays, on Saturdays we met four times for prayer, bible study and discussions about the Gospel of the Kingdom and on Sundays three time plus Church. This went on day after day, week after week, month after month for several years as we were being equipped to bring this Gospel of the Kingdom to the lost. We had extensive training in preparation for the Work of Ministry. We fasted every Wednesday]. On this one night Jim opened up a deep understanding of those verses quoted from Philippians 4 and posted above.

His main point was two-fold.

First, the difference between the PEACE of God and the GOD of peace; if you noticed, verse 7 says: the PEACE of God while verse 9 says: the GOD of peace.

Second, he put forward the idea of Apostolic authorities and following him as he followed Christ and if we learned and received and heard and saw what he did and did it too, the Very God of Peace would be with us!

Yes, it's true. There are men of God alive today that if you follow their LIFE EXAMPLES in this life, the God of Peace will be with you too!

How does this fit into Justification by Faith you might be wondering?

I am glad you are wondering!

The FREE gift of God is ETERNAL LIFE.

The wages of sin is eternal death!

To truly understand Justification one needs to understand what it means to receive the FREE GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE. To realize you have received this GIFT, you also realize what you didn't have before receiving it:

Joh 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
Joh 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

So consider with your imagination now a moment that you are a little boy or girl and your family celebrates Xmas. You buy gifts for others and on Xmas eve or Xmas morn you exchange gifts.

Now consider God shows up during the gift giving and offers you His FREE GIFT of Eternal Life. You accept it and receive it. He hands you a box. The gift of Eternal Life is inside this beautifully wrapped box, with a bow and a name tag with your name on the tag.

You hurriedly open the box and look inside and see Eternal Life, then a deep exhilirating feeling floods your soul as you look at the GIFT and realize it's yours freely given to you by God Himself; it is a glowing bright LIGHT of Holiness, Majesty, GLORY having with it a deep sense of purity all about it, it is as clear as fresh pure water flowing, beautiful to behold! It is God in a box! The Only True God and Jesus Christ Who He sent to give Life to the World!

And you realize that God just gave you the Gift of Eternal Life! You are finally "awakened" to this Gift.

Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins
Eph 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by (grace ye are saved;)
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Eph 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

First, ask yourself whose possession were we before receiving the Gift of Eternal Life?

Paul says here, we were dead in tresspasses and sin, a part of a company of peoples of the world whose god is the devil, Satan, Lucifer, the bad red dragon, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience. We were his possession! YUCK

Also Paul says: Eph 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;
Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Now consider this, before you received the Gift of Eternal Life, you were without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world! WOW and a big WOW WOW!!

That's the state of the world today right now as you read this. That was my condition before God cried out to me as Isaiah says He did, Isaiah 65:1, BEHOLD ME, BEHOLD ME.

Justification, Justification

Now note this from Romans 5:16 and the Greek word used translated JUSTIFICATION in that verse:

Rom 5:16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification.

G1345
δικαίωμα
dikaiōma
dik-ah'-yo-mah
From G1344; an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: - judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness.


The word JUSTIFICATION means quite literally, an EQUITABLE DEED.

Note now the Greek word used in verse 18 translated JUSTIFICATION:

Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

G1347
δικαίωσις
dikaiōsis
dik-ah'-yo-sis
From G1344; acquittal (for Christ’s sake): - justification.

This word means ACQUITTAL!

Ok, get it?

Jesus did the equitable DEED.

We are ACQUITTED by God and not condemned to eternal damnation, the right and just punishment for our evil deeds, thoughts and words.

But wait, this cannot be. I am a sinful man!!! I am a guilty person given over to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that worked in me, a child of disobedience!!! I have sinned, committed unforgiveable sins, and after all that and even now, God declares me Righteous, ACQUITTED as if I had never sinned.

Here is the struggle. How can this be?

The prince of the power of the air, the accuser of the brethren, the spirit that controls and manipulates guilty sinners with shame and condemnation comes and speaks to us whom God gives Eternal Life too that THESE THINGS CANNOT BE.

There is this struggle to accept God's promise of JUSTIFICATION because we "know" ourselves. And more so now that the LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS has come alive in us.

We see how Paul deals with it when we read and ponder and embrace Romans Chapter 7:

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Rom 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
Rom 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

And just a few verses down:

Rom 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

So, Justification is by FAITH. This FAITH is Christ in us the Hope of Glory. It is a Gift from God and as Jesus describes it, God hides Himself but reveals Himself by showing us Christ, which is an act of His Will. Notice also that Jesus exercises His own Will in revealing the Hidden Father to us:

Mat 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Mat 11:26 Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.
Mat 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Where is the exercise of the will of man in this justification by Faith?

As someone concluded, GOD DOES HIMSELF TO US!

Finally Paul says it so well here:

Gal 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
Gal 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
Gal 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Now I am alive.

Why?

Because God came and justified me.

How?

By coming and revealing Himself to me through the giving of the Gift of Eternal Life, the free Gift that He is able to give all who believe that Christ died on the cross for their sins too, according to the Scriptures, and was buried, and was raised again from the dead according to the Scriptures that we might now have justification to Life in Jesus Christ the Lord for the Glory of God our Heavenly Father by the sanctification power of the Holy Ghost.

2Co 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
2Co 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
2Co 13:13 All the saints salute you.
2Co 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Tim said...

A couple questions arise for me when I read the post:

1.) Are you assuming that faith is not only knowledge of salvation, but also active walk?

2.) If justification by faith is a one-time event rather than a process, what do you believe is the result of a believer who decides at some later point to walk away from the Christian faith?

3.) How do you see the parables of Jesus cursing the fig tree because it bore no fruit fitting and the sheep & the goats with the sole event of justification?

Bob said...

Michael-
"I was dressed up as a WW2 soldier wearing a uniform, green plastic army helmet, a canteen full of kool aid and a plastic bayonet attached to my army belt around my waist and for a rifle, a pillow case. I was armed and dangerous knocking on doors trick and treating hoping to fill the pillow case with candy before I came home for the night!."

Ha ha! That's great it's funny picturing you as a rambuncktious little kid.

Bob said...

Tim-
You asked:
"1.) Are you assuming that faith is not only knowledge of salvation, but also active walk?"

Not the faith which justifies. The faith which brings about a rightstanding between the sinner and God is alone. (Faith itself is not what saves but Christ's merit on our behalf, imputed righteousness)

""And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness," (Rom 4:5)

Here we see the faith that saves is not mingled with works but rather a naked trust in what Christ has done. **However**if it be true faith it will produce good works, now the works themselves are in no way meritorious toward our justification but are evidences of our justification.

"2.) If justification by faith is a one-time event rather than a process, what do you believe is the result of a believer who decides at some later point to walk away from the Christian faith?"

Well I am a Reformed Christian so I don't think that the person ever really believed to begin with, they never were really justified to begin with. Good question (problem for Arminians)

"3.) How do you see the parables of Jesus cursing the fig tree because it bore no fruit fitting and the sheep & the goats with the sole event of justification?"

Another good question. Well, as I said in response to question 1, I think that we are saved by faith alone however true faith is never alone but it will produce fruit. So when people are condemned for not bearing fruit or not caring for the down trodden, the issue is not that they would have been justified had they done those things. Rather, had they been justified they would have done those things.

There are many people outside of Christ who do humanitarian works, they are building on sand because they start no with Christ...thus their charitable deed are not unto Christ and are dead. But for the one who trusts in Christ to save does his good deeds unto Christ and builds upon the rock which will stand in the judgement. Same deeds different foundations.