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"...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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  • « Hypocrites Beyond All Hope of Cure | Main | Question About the Validity of Arguing for Paedo-Baptism from Colossians 2 »

    Don't Mess With The Gospel

    In this message from the Together for the Gospel Conference earlier this year, Dr. R. C. Sproul reflects on 50 years of ministry and all the philosophical changes that have taken place in the western world, none more earth shattering than the crumbling condition of the evangelical church due to its failure to grasp the biblical gospel. In the presentation below, at around the 29 minute, 9 second mark, Dr. Sproul outlines the clear differences between the biblical Gospel and the "gospel" of Rome. It is well worth viewing this passionate and clear call to the Church from one of God's choice servants. - JS

    T4G 2010 -- Session 2 -- R.C. Sproul from Together for the Gospel (T4G) on Vimeo.

    Posted by John Samson on August 3, 2010 03:55 PM

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    Differing views about imputed righteousness
    Lutheran view:
    Philipp Melanchthon, a contemporary of Martin Luther, stressed the classic Lutheran desire to distinguish carefully and properly between Law and Gospel. In doing so he emphasized that Law binds, convicts, and drives people, while the Gospel proclaims repentance, the promise of grace, eternal life, and proclaims their liberty in Christ.[16] Reformed view:

    The Reformed and Presbyterian churches have generally followed the Lutherans on the importance of distinguishing the law and the gospel. Articulated in terms of Covenant Theology, law and gospel have been associated with the Covenant of Works and the Covenant of Grace, respectively. Historically, they have been more open to the broader biblical language the Lutheran Formula of Concord calls "correct" but not "proper." Recently, some prominent theologians have disputed the centrality of the law-gospel distinction in the Reformed tradition.
    Roman Catholic view:

    "The Catholic idea maintains that the formal cause of justification does not consist in an exterior imputation of the justice of Christ, but in a real, interior sanctification effected by grace, which abounds in the soul and makes it permanently holy before God. Although the sinner is justified by the justice of Christ, inasmuch as the Redeemer has merited for him or her the grace of justification (causa meritoria), nevertheless he or she is formally justified and made holy by his or her own personal justice and holiness (causa formalis)." Although internal and proper to the one justified, this justice and holiness are still understood as a gift of grace through the Holy Spirit rather than something earned or acquired independently of God's salvific work. Put starkly, the Roman Catholic Church rejects the teaching of imputed righteousness as being a present reality. This is at the very center of the disagreements between the Roman Catholic Church and Lutherans, and remains the primary sticking point to a unification of these traditions to this day.

    Many who hold to the doctrine of imputed righteousness reject the Roman Catholic teaching of gratia infusa (infused grace) because Lutheran and Calvinist anthropology (see total inability) allow no room for the Roman Catholic concept of synteresis (a "spark of goodness"). In other words, the image of God is completely lost as a result of the Fall into sin. In regard to salvation, there is nothing in a sinner that is worth being redeemed by God, if based on the intrinsic merit or worth of the sinner. The necessity of imputed righteousness stems precisely from there being nothing internal onto which God's grace can be fused. Something altogether more radical must be done to make a sinner righteous; the sinful nature must be killed and replaced by a new nature made by God; "positional sanctification" is achieved by the divine declaration of imputation.

    From Wikipedia,"Imputed Righteousness". After reading all this theological nitpicking, I'm left with the question:"Does God really care if righteousness is infused or imputed?" This seem like human pettiness at its worst.

    E. Lee,

    I realize the issue at first glance does not sound too important but it is vital in it touches the issue of whether Christ alone saves by His righteousness alone, or is it Christ plus our inherent righteousness. One of these is the biblical gospel and one is definitely not. Add one thing to the gospel and we have the anathema of God as the Galatian Judiazers found.

    Dr. R. C. Sproul wrote the following: "What is it in the last decades that has made the first-century gospel unimportant?" The dispute over justification was not over a technical point of theology that could be consigned to the fringes of the depository of biblical truth. Nor could it be seen simply as a tempest in a teapot. This tempest extended far beyond the tiny volume of a single teacup. The question, "what must I do to be saved?" is still a critical question for any person who is exposed to the wrath of God.

    Even more critical than the question is the answer, because the answer touches the very heart of gospel truth. In the final analysis, the Roman Catholic Church affirmed at Trent and continues to affirm now that the basis by which God will declare a person just or unjust is found in one's "inherent righteousness." If righteousness does not inhere in the person, that person at worst goes to hell and at best (if any impurities remain in his life) goes to purgatory for a time that may extend to millions of years. In bold contrast to that, the biblical and Protestant view of justification is that the sole grounds of our justification is the righteousness of Christ, which righteousness is imputed to the believer, so that the moment a person has authentic faith in Christ, all that is necessary for salvation becomes theirs by virtue of the imputation of Christ's righteousness. The fundamental issue is this: is the basis by which I am justified a righteousness that is my own? Or is it a righteousness that is, as Luther said, "an alien righteousness," a righteousness that is extra nos, apart from us -- the righteousness of another, namely, the righteousness of Christ? From the sixteenth century to the present, 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. There is no greater issue facing a person who is alienated from a righteous God.

    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, regardless of all the rest of her affirmations of Christian orthodoxy. To embrace her as an authentic church while she continues to repudiate the biblical doctrine of salvation is a fatal attribution. We're living in a time where theological conflict is considered politically incorrect, but to declare peace when there is no peace is to betray the heart and soul of the gospel."

    (from Tabletalk Magazine, September, 2009)

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