An investigation of the concept of justification in Romans 5:18 and its implications for the Wesleyan doctrine of prevenient grace
Nefitala, Halissone Jamissone
MetadataShow full item record
The universal terms related to condemnation and justification in Romans 5:18 reveal the double dimension of justification. In the same manner that sin is contemplated as both universal and individual, as is justification. The universal dimension of justification is beyond faith and good works for salvation, while the individual dimension follows one’s faith for salvation. When justification is interpreted as synonymous with eternal salvation, the universal terms found in Romans 5:18 seem to imply universal salvation or universalism. One might argue that in the same manner that all human beings are condemned in Adam’s act of disobedience without their own choice, so also all humans are to be justified in Jesus’ act of obedience without their own choice. However, the Bible reveals that eternal salvation requires a human response to what God has provided universally. To counteract universalism, some argue that the universal terms in Romans 5:18 do not include every person but only the elect. This position deemphasises the universal aspect of justification depicted in this passage because the universal terms are applied to both condemnation and justification which means that the target of justification is the same as the one of condemnation. The literature reviewed in this study revealed the gap in resources concerning the universal nature of justification without falling to the extreme of universalism and this research sought to fill this gap. The study showed that both universalism and the doctrine of unconditional predestination undermine the urgency of Christian ministry because if all will be saved, there is no need for evangelism, missions, or discipleship. On the other hand, if God has already elected those who will be saved, then there is also no need for evangelism, missions, or discipleship because the human response cannot change God’s decree. This study investigated the meaning of the universal terms of both condemnation and justification in Romans 5:18. To reach this goal, the researcher applied a historical-grammatical exegesis of the aforementioned Biblical text to discover the sense and meaning of this passage. He then correlated the passage with the entire canon to discover its relationship with the entire Bible. The researcher discovered that throughout the history of Christianity, almost all scholars and theologians agree that for justification to take place some conditions must be made. It was also revealed that sin put humanity into a situation of being unable to fulfil the required condition for their salvation. In this way, when the Bible speaks of justification in a universal manner it refers to God’s righteousness which includes His faithfulness in creating all the conditions necessary for the reconciliation with sinful humanity through the atoning work of Christ. This act is universal and independent of human action. When the Bible speaks of justification in an individual manner it refers to the way human beings exercise their choice to receive God’s universal offer. Thus, the study concluded that Romans 5:18 supports the Wesleyan doctrine of prevenient grace.
Africa Nazarene University