Justification and Fatherly Rebuke

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iacobus

Puritan Board Freshman
I originally posted a question in the wading pool about asking for forgiveness and our status as justified sinners, and the response I got was very helpful: essentially, that forgiveness of sins upon our asking is a separate act from the judicial declaration of our righteousness. This really helped to clarify things in my thinking, but related to it, and brought more to the forefront in my mind, is the concept of God's fatherly discipline.

I guess I'm seeing an apparent inconsistency between the declaration of righteousness and the fatherly displeasure, as if to say that it is inconsistent for a man's judicial status to be as one who is righteous, and for that same man to still be subject to punishment. I say apparent, because I believe that if both are shown exigetically, and I believe they can be and has been in the replies to my original post, then they are not inconsistent. What I am wondering is how, historically, men like Calvin, Edwards, and the Reformed tradition has approached the harmonization of forensic righteousness and divine discipline (I mention Edwards because, to my understanding, he asked questions that others tended to shy away from). I thought this question in its new, refined form, deserved a new thread, and any thoughts would be appreciated.

My thinking thus far has been that the answer lies somewhere in the idea that justification is eschatological in nature, while our process of sanctification is temporal, and part of this sanctification is God's fatherly rebuke and our continued repentance.
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Consider the effect of our justification regarding our judicial status before God. Also consider the purpose for which discipline is administered. Mind you discipline and punishment are not interchangeable, but both distinct from the other and applied exclusively to the believer and unbeliever respectively.
 

iacobus

Puritan Board Freshman
Consider the effect of our justification regarding our judicial status before God. Also consider the purpose for which discipline is administered. Mind you discipline and punishment are not interchangeable, but both distinct from the other and applied exclusively to the believer and unbeliever respectively.


Justification renders us judicially righteous, and no longer children of wrath, but children of God's covenant. Discipline is administered for the purpose of conforming God's covenant children to the image of His Son. Punishment is God's wrath against the children of wrath, while discipline is His loving rebuke of His covenant children -- children who, unlike Christ, are not both judicially and actually righteous. Because punishment and discipline are two distinct actions of God against two distinct sets of people, it is not inconsistent for God to forbear wrath (punishment) yet maintain rebuke (discipline).

That was a very helpful line of questioning. Thank you. I hope this is a satisfactory answer. The question has been bugging me for a while now.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Yes, one is punished because he is under God's wrath. One is disciplined because he lives under God's love.

Sometimes this is hard to grasp because we've been trained, in the home, to think of punishment and discipline as the same thing. But in biblical thinking they are far apart from each other. Mutually exclusive, actually. They're attached to completely different standings before God. Punishment is attached to those who are God's enemies. Discipline is attached to those who are justified in Christ and are now God's dearly loved children: "For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives" (Heb. 12:6).

I'm reminded of the Martyn Lloyd-Jones' teaching on the "forgive us our sins" petition in the Lord's Prayer. Why, he asks, does one who's already justified keep asking forgiveness? The answer is that he now has a Father who loves him.

Who is the man who can pray, 'Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors'? He is the man who already has a right to say, 'Our Father'. And the only man who has a right to say 'Our Father' is the one who is in Christ Jesus. It is 'The Children's Prayer'. It is not a prayer for anybody, but only for those who have become children of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the relationship of the child to the Father, and the moment we realize we have offended, or grieved or sinned against the Father, we confess it and ask to be forgiven, and we are sure that we are forgiven.

Asking forgiveness. Discipline. Fatherly rebuke. These are joys and privileges of the justified sons of God. They are far, far removed from punishment.
 
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