"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Office Hours Broadcast | Main | What the Bible Says About Baptism »

    Is the Reformation Over?

    "Rome has always taught that justification is based upon faith, on Christ, and on grace. The difference, however, is that Rome continues to deny that justification is based on Christ alone, received by faith alone, and given by grace alone. The difference between these two positions is the difference between salvation and its opposite." - see Dr. R. C. Sproul's article here.

    Posted by John Samson on September 2, 2009 04:06 AM


    In his criticism of Rome, Dr. Sproul ought to keep in mind that we are not saved through adherence to correct doctrine. Salvation is solely by God's grace.


    We all understand that we are not saved by mere adherence to correct doctrine, though Scripture is clear that we can be damned for false doctrine (2 Peter 2:1), but your comment is strange to me in that "salvation solely by God's grace" is the entire point of Dr. Sproul's article.

    Rats. The commenting system ate my reply. I'll try again in the morning.

    Dr. Sproul's criticism of the RCC included the statement: "At the moment the Roman Catholic Church condemned the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone, she denied the gospel and ceased to be a legitimate church."

    First, justification though faith, while Biblical, isn't the gospel. The gospel is "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised again the third day in accordance with the scriptures." Rome affirms this.

    Second, having read the Catechism of the RCC, I find that I'm in agreement with some 70% of it. I also note that the me of today only agrees with about 70% of the me of 30-some years ago. Heavens, back then I was an Arminian (even though I didn't even know what that term meant), and I now think Arminianism is straight from the pit of hell. But I was as saved by grace then as I am now. The point is that my incorrect doctrine didn't prevent God from saving me through His son, even though I was surrounded by Baptists who didn't know what they were.


    I am with Sproul all the way. Of course, Christ dieing and rising is the Gospel, but so is how we appropriate the benefit of it - and Romans 3 and 4 and elsewhere makes it clear that it is by faith alone that we are justified and works are not a factor. (Rom 4:4,5, Eph 2:8, 9). As Luther said, justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls.

    And so, instead of salvation being solely by God's grace, you have salvation by grace + correct knowledge. Where Romans says, "not of human will or effort" "well, salvation still depends on getting certain doctrines right."


    God's grace causes a person to put their faith in the real biblical Jesus (not the Jesus of the New Age, or the Mormons, or the Jehovah's Witnesses) and to believe the true Gospel (not a counterfeit).. The Judaizers of Galatia added one thing to the Gospel of grace and look at Paul's reaction (Gal 1:8, 9).. you tell me.. is correct belief important? Of course it is - on the fundamentals of the Gospel. God in His grace leads people to believe it and embrace it.. Christ Himself, as Savior and Lord, received by grace alone through faith alone, all to the glory of God alone.

    First, you're putting God in a box. Elect infants, for example, don't understand the Gospel. So the moment you make the condition "grace which results in adherence to the doctrine I think Scripture teaches", you're adding to the Gospel.

    Second, the deep epistemological question is, "how do you know that you have correct belief? Is your faith really genuine? How do you know?" Are you really sure you're in line with what Scripture teaches? Is God not gracing those who don't agree with you? What deviation percentage is allowed before someone is no longer part of a legitimate church? Is your answer supportable from Scripture?


    You misquote me and do not answer my question about the Galatian Judaizers - they added just one thing to the Gospel of grace (circumcision) and came under the anathema of God. Grace leads us to believe in the right Jesus and the true Gospel, and in doing so, does not add to grace, but as Jesus said to Peter when he recognized Jesus for who He really is, Jesus gave the credit to His Father who revealed this to him.. "you are blessed.. flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but My Father." Such was NOT an addition to grace, but grace having its work in the life of His elect servant Peter. How can you say otherwise?

    Sincere trust in a false Christ does not save precisely because the false Christ is no Savior at all. Jesus taught that doctrine is important.. see John 8: 58 "unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins." Do you believe Jesus added to grace to say such a thing?

    Grace leads us to the true Christ - the Christ of Scripture, where He alone saves by grace through faith alone.

    What happens in the case of elect infants is mysterious and is not something Scripture explicitly reveals concerning how their "faith" justifies.. I leave that to the truth of Deut 29:29.. where the secret things belong to the Lord, and the things revealed belong to us. I am not responsible to believe the things He has not chosen to reveal (but simply to trust Him where I do not understand) but I certainly am responsible to believe the things He has revealed in His word. Here I find that the Holy Spirit brings God's elect people to the true Christ and never a false one. Regarding percentages.. percentages are never mentioned in Scripture.. what it teaches though is that God will save all who put their faith in Christ and will keep them from damnable heresies.. "a stranger they will not follow" (John 10:5).

    In Matthew 24, where deception and false Christs abound, the magnitude of the deception is so severe that "if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived" - thank God, it is not possible, not ultimately anyway, for Christ never loses any of His true sheep. This is my confidence.. not my ability to see every heresy that would damn my soul (even though I study and work hard to avoid them) but my confidence lies in God's ability to bring me back to the soundness of the Christian faith should I wonder off. My confidence is ultimately in His grace alone to keep me, not my ability to stand.. though stand I must.

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