“God reveals his standards to us in his deeds and personal self-revelation, but most explicitly in his revealed law. His law is not arbitrary, but is based on his own nature. The moral law is not something above him, that has authority over him. Nor is it something that he has created, as though (as nominalism would have it) he could change it at will (making adultery to be virtuous, for example). Rather, his moral standard is simply himself, his person, his nature. His acts are righteous because he is a righteous God. Righteousness, therefore, is his desire, his pleasure. The standard of our moral behavior is not an abstract concept, but an infinite person, God himself.” (p259)

In response to Frame here, and his righteousness triad of Standards-Character-Deeds , if God’s standards are based on his character, why is character not in the normative position? The answer may be, because character seems more existential. And clearly for Frame his normative perspective is not quite as internally controlling (ironically!) as for my triadic system, and so for him any part of the triad may be based on any other part. For me, the Trinity is my control and pattern, so although a tri-perspectivalism is retained, if one part of the triad is based on another, that would help me to determine its place in the triad, just as the divine trinitarian pattern is that the Son is from the Father, and the Holy Spirit is from the Father through the Son. Ultimately, I don’t have my own “righteousness” triad yet, so I am still thinking about this.

“Righteousness in Scripture is not only a standard governing conduct, but also a means of salvation. In 1 Samuel 12:6–11, Samuel enumerates God’s ‘righteous deeds’ (v. 7) as his deliverances, both from Egypt and during the time of the judges. This use of righteous is a bit surprising. We can understand how the deliverance of God’s people from Egypt (the OT paradigm of redemption) is an act of God’s grace, or his love. And certainly this deliverance is also righteous, in the sense that it is according to his perfect standards (‘you have kept your promise, for you are righteous,’ Neh. 9:8). But how does this deliverance accord with God’s standards? Israel is a sinful, disobedient people. Surely she doesn’t deserve to be saved. Indeed, as we saw in chapter 11, God doesn’t choose Israel because of her numbers or her righteousness. So why should this deliverance be evidence of God’s righteousness in particular? Does it not indeed pose a problem for God’s righteousness, calling it into question?” (p262)

“And God’s righteousness even brings forgiveness of sins. We learn in 1 John 1:9, ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ Again, forgiveness comes through God’s righteousness. But why righteousness, rather than grace or love, which would seem more appropriate here?” (p263)

Excellent introduction to an important question and discussion! Frame’s answer is that “God rescues the righteous from their oppressors” (p263) and cites Ps 34:15-22. He concludes, helpfully, that “the ‘righteous’ here are not sinlessly perfect, but they are tamim (‘relatively perfect,’ ‘upright’). Further, they are “in the right” over against their enemies who would seek to destroy them. But they cannot rescue themselves, so they cry out to God.” (p263) Frame then goes on to discuss God’s care and interest in the vulnerable, poor, and needy (p264-265). But, Frame also comes around to discuss the role of faith and what we might even call the inherent (if relative or limited) righteousness in crying out to God for help (which as I was reading, I was hoping he would):

“Although their cause is righteous, compared to that of their oppressors, God delivers them, not because of their own good works, but because they cry to God for mercy. They are therefore justified by faith in God’s righteousness, not their own. In Isaiah 45:24, they confess, ‘Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him.'” (p265) 

“So like the salvation of the poor and needy in the OT, our salvation in Christ is by God’s righteousness. Jesus himself is the ultimate remnant, the poor and needy one, oppressed, crying out to God alone. Though Father and Son are estranged for a time, God hears his prayer and raises him gloriously from the dead. And when God raises Jesus, he raises us in him (Rom. 6:3–14). Now we understand why God is not only faithful, but also just, to forgive our sins (1 John 1:9). And we understand that the righteousness of God is not only law, but also gospel. It is not only a standard of conduct, but the power of God unto salvation.” (p267)


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