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Faith Alone: Imputation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
December 10, 2020 12:01 am

Faith Alone: Imputation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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December 10, 2020 12:01 am

Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross for sinners. But how is His atoning work applied to us? Today, R.C. Sproul continues his discussion on justification by faith alone.

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Jesus death on the cross was the result of guilt on his part, but rather he is a substitute for us and God transfers our guilt to him and when he dies on the cross he is taking the negative judgment the wrath of God to satisfy God's judgment. God is really punishing our sins when he punishes Christ as Christianity and emotional is by faith alone through the substitutionary death of Christ. But there are some Christian traditions that disagree with that statement.

Welcome to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday. I'm really well, our teacher, Dr. Cecil continues his series. What is reformed theology with a look at a crucial aspect of Christ's atoning work we've been addressing the question what is theology, and in our last session we gave a brief introduction to the chief article of historical evangelical theology which article is embraced by reformed theology as well as by all other Protestant denominations, historically, namely the doctrine of justification by faith alone, which was the central issue of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. I want to go on with our exposition of that doctrine. And we've already looked at the meaning basically of the word justification and we spent time on the rest of the formula justification by faith alone and I want to look at the particular elements of this formula again. To recap the term justification means that acts by which God declares sinners to be just in his sight, not part of the controversy of the 16th century rested on the etymological derivation of the word justification. Our English word justification comes from the Latin used a four car and in the medieval church.

What happened was the doctrine of justification began to be expounded in light of the background of the Latin Vulgate the Latin interpretation and translation of the Bible, rather than on the basis of the Greek New Testament and the problem that emerged as early as St. Augustine was that the term used for Carteret in the old Roman judicial system meant to make righteous to make righteous use this for Carteret means to make and so the idea began to emerge that God would never declare somebody to be righteous until he had first actually made them righteous in some manner.

Whereas, according to the reformers, the Greek New Testament word that they assume they has to do with this accounting of people or reckoning people or deeming people to be righteous before they actually become righteous. Now it is also important to say here that part of the debate over justification focused on how justification comes to pass. When we use the formula justification by faith we are using a form of speech. The word by here which is in our language, a dative word and refers to what is called the dative of means, or more specifically, the instrumental dative and so part of the debate of the 16th century focused on the question of what is the instrumental cause or the means by which justification takes place on the Roman Catholic Church. Justification is seen as requiring faith, at least in the case of adults but initially justification is accomplished through what Ron called the instrumental cause of baptism that is in the sacrament of baptism. Grace is infused into the soul and the infusion or the pouring in of this grace into a human soul is saving grace, and then as a person receives this infusion of grace as an infant. They are placed in a state of grace and they are kept in that state of grace unless or until the person commits a sin that is so grievous that it is called mortal sin and mortal sin is defined as being mortal, rather than venial because it is a sin so serious that it kills the grace this in the soul. Even as a person can grow to adulthood commit a mortal sin still have faith but loses the grace of justification, so the person who's in a state of mortal sin can still have true faith and not be justified so that person in order to be restored to a state of grace has to come through what the Council of Trent called the second plank of justification for those who have made shipwreck of their souls and the second plank of justification is defined by the church as the sacrament of penance, not in a very real sense, the whole controversy in the 16th century centered around the sacrament of penance. We know that the indulgence controversy that arose in Germany when textile was going around peddling his indulgences and so on. That was all linked to the church's doctrine of the sacrament of penance, which include several elements for a person who is committed mortal sin to be restored to the state of salvation. In other words, to regain justification. They had to avail themselves of the sacrament of penance, which is performed by the church and it has several elements to it. The first of which is sacramental confession person had to go to the priest and confess their sins father lives and I've done such as such and such and also included in the sacrament of penance is priestly absolution whereafter the penitent has made his act of contrition, and so on and done everything that the church requires the priest says K's, although I absolve you of your sins and then the next dimension of penance that was required for person to be restored to a state of grace was to perform works of satisfaction so faith was required. Confession was required priestly absolution was required and works of satisfaction will require another church with very careful at this point to say that these works of satisfaction did not provide what they call condign merit merit that is so virtuous merit that is so authentic merit that is so meritorious that it would impose an obligation upon a just God to reward the person, but rather it was a lesser kind of merit that Rome defined as congruous merit maritime decor grew up, and that congruous merit is merit that is real merit, but it rests upon the prior reception of grace and it is a merit that is less than condign merit, but it is meritorious enough to make it fitting or congruous for God to restore a person to justification.

So the means by which justification took place was chiefly sacramentally in the first instance through baptism in the second instance through the sacrament of penance know the reformer said no.

The instrumental cause in their their borrowing from the language of the church in the language of tradition which has its roots in Aristotle's fine distinctions about various types of causes, wherein Aristotle defined the instrumental cause is that, through which a work was performed in his analogy was like a sculptor who was making a piece of sculpture and he was shaping a piece of rock or wood into a statue. The instrumental cause of his work would be his chisel. That's the tool or the instrument he uses to accomplish his purpose. Reformer said that the instrumental cause of justification is faith. Faith is the means by which the righteousness of Christ is given to us melt that raises another issue that perhaps more than any other point of the dispute was the center of the controversy and that is the debate between grace that comes through infusion and grace that comes through imputation, infusion of grace was the Roman Catholic view the through the sacraments. Grace in quantitative terms and described quantitatively is infused or poured into the soul of the person and now that person has the righteousness of Christ poured into their soul now without that righteousness of Christ. There is no justification Protestants. I'm sorry to say, have often slandered the Roman Catholic Church for saying that the difference between historic Protestantism and historic Catholicism is that the Protestants believe that were justified by faith in the Roman Catholics believe that were justified by works as if there was no need for the work of Jesus Christ.

That's pure slander to the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church is always taught that the work of Christ is absolutely essential for our salvation, but here's how it works.

The question then is how does the work of Jesus Christ and the merit of Christ become appropriated to me. How does it benefit me well again romance with this by the sacramental infusion of the righteousness of Christ into the individual soul, then the individual has to cooperate with an assent to this infused grace to such a degree that they become actually righteous so that, as Trent declares righteousness and true righteousness in hairs within them, and only when they actually become righteous through these help and assistance of the grace of Christ is not on their own strength they cooperate with it, but once the infused grace of Christ is given to the soul and the sinner cooperates with it, to a degree that the center becomes actually righteous. Then and only then will God declare that person righteousness when the reasons why they have to have a doctrine of purgatory and thousands of years of cleansing and purging to continue working in the soul until that person becomes wholly enough to become declared just by God. Now the Protestant doctrine is this Protestant believe that something is infused to the Christian at the time of his conversion and that is the imploring of God the Holy Spirit, which works within us to help and assist us for our growth in sanctification but with respect to justification the Protestant view is that God justifies those who have faith by imputation now imputation means. This involves a transfer from one person's account to another, so that the righteousness of Jesus is transferred in God's sight to the believers account so that when God looks at the believer. He doesn't see the believer's sin. In legal terms. Rather, he views that person under the covering of the righteousness of Christ and this concept of imputation has two dimensions to on the one hand, the atonement is seen as being center to our salvation. Because when Jesus dies on the cross he dies as a substitute for us. He dies vicariously as the sin bearer of Israel as the lamb without blemish, to whom God imputes the sins of the people. The Old Testament drama of the day of atonement, the priest would lay his hands upon the scapegoat signifying a symbolic transfer of the guilt of the people to the victim would be driven out of the presence of God. And so in terms of the New Testament view of the cross, Christ is the suffering servant who bears the sins of his people, not because he himself and his own humanity becomes inherently wicked, but rather he is a substitute for us and God transfers our guilt to him and when he dies on the cross he is taking the negative judgment the wrath of God to satisfy God's judgment. God is really punishing our sins when he punishes Christ because he's transferred our sins to him.

Bob often said that if you ask a six-year-old child in Sunday school. What did Jesus do for you. The child has learned enough in Sunday school to answer by saying Jesus died on the cross for my sins. So yes, that's true house. If all it would take to justify the ungodly is for Jesus to pay the negative penalty of the curse of God against evil. He could've come down from heaven and gone directly to the cross and then returned in glory, but instead he is born of the woman he is submitted to the law and his whole life is lived in rigorous obedience to every point of every requirement that God gives to his people. Why why did he say to John, baptize me, it is necessary to fulfill all righteousness. Here, the reformers understood the place of the active obedience of Christ, that Christ not only paid the negative penalty for our sin, but he positively achieved perfect righteousness is of all he did was pay for our guilt that we just simply put us back to square one. Put us back to the status. Adam had before the fall. Not guilty but innocent in the sense of not bearing any sin. But having no positive obedience to commend himself before God's justice no basis for a righteous granting of reward. The granting of eternal life, and of heaven with Christ not only dies for us. He lived for us. That's the whole point of the gospel is that not only are my sins transferred to him on the cross but his perfect righteousness is transferred to me whenever I put my trust in him. So again when God judges us and declares us just he declares us just because Christ is just and because we are in Christ by faith. And that's why the instrumental cause of justification is faith because it's faith that is the tool where the instrument that links us to Christ. The Lutheran system that the merit or the righteousness by which sinners are justified is what he called a used to see him alien at foreign justice, or an alien righteousness, a righteousness that Luther said is extraextra outside of us. If I have to wait before true righteousness manifests itself perfectly inside of me. How long will I have to wait to be justified have to wait forever. But the good news of the gospel is that God justifies the ungodly, freely by giving to all who believe a righteousness that is properly speaking, not their own. It is somebody else's righteousness is the righteousness of Christ. That alone meets the test of the standard of God's perfect judgment and so again we say that justification is by faith alone.

This is mere shorthand for saying justification is by Christ alone because the grounds of our justification is the righteous merit of Christ, who alone has perfect justice in the sight of God and that is given to us freely when we believe in. So what's left for us to look at in this brief exposition is where we mainly were justified by faith.

James tells us you know you believe in God you do well, even the demons believe, and tremble. And so it's possible for us to think of faith as simple intellectual assent to correct ideas and if you say what you believe. Jesus diffuse a guy I believe that that doesn't constitute, in and of itself, saving faith, or at least three elements to saving faith according reformers that they distinguished forcible notation, which is the information the data.

There is content of the gospel that we must believe we must believe that Jesus is our Savior we must believe that he died on the cross for us. We must acknowledge it to be true that we are sinners before I holy God. That's the information. The second element is a sense of use, or intellectual assent.

I have to agree that these things are true, the Jesus truly died for my sins. But again, it's not just passing theology exam. A person can be aware of the information, and even agree that it is true. But Satan knows the content and Satan knows that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, but he's not redeemed by that. Why because the crucial element of saving faith is what's called fiduciary from Nokia which means personal trust and reliance and saving faith is given to all of those who put their trust in Christ and in his righteousness, and put their trust there alone while reformers said that justification is by faith alone, but not by faith that is alone the true faith.

If you're really resting in Christ and it really counted righteous by God. If you have true faith that faith will immediately necessarily and inevitably produce the fruit of sanctification and of no fruit follows from your justification. It is perfect proof that there was no justification because the idea of faith without the fruit of obedience is what James called a dead faith, and that can't justify anyone.

So for Luther, justification is by a faith that he described as a file's Viva, a faith that is alive a faith that is vital, a faith that shows itself by faithful mass but again the issue itself is how my justified not by my not by my own by the righteousness of Christ.

Christ, that's Dr. Z scroll from his series, what is reformed theology and you're listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday.

Thank you for being with us. So many believers are unfamiliar with the Protestant Reformation and the importance of the doctrines that grew out of it. I hope Dr. scroll's explanation.

This week is has been helpful for you. We must come to a biblical understanding of who Christ is what his death meant and what justification means were making all 12 of Dr. scroll's lessons in the series available to you on three DVDs call us with a gift of any amount of will send the series to you again.

It's titled what is reformed theology car number is 800-435-4343 but you can also make a request and give your gift online@renewingyourmind.org in the book of Jude were told to contend earnestly for the faith that means we need to understand the word of God and make sure that were aligned with it. That's really what this series is about that the biblical concept of faith alone must be a line of demarcation.

The reformers understood that in we need to stand firm, as they did so. Contact us today with your gift at 800-435-4343 or web address again is Renewing Your Mind.org the Christian church in America. For the most part doesn't consider itself to be reformed at a later national conference a few years ago, RC was asked why so many Christians seem to oppose reformed theology or Calvinism.

And here's how he responded thereto fundamental things. I think that people find it very hard to leave semi Pelagianism and read and embrace Augustinian is the first is that they sense in the doctrines of grace that that theology of Calvinism teaches a corrupt view of God, a God who is not good. A God who may be sovereign, but he's not fair because he the idea that people have is that he arbitrarily chooses to save some, but not others and that puts a shadow on the integrity of God and people really struggle with that and it takes a board over the head in the Bible to get you to see your view of God is not high enough. It's not you have really really understood how righteous he is, how holy he is. I've had autonomic people say to me that of the books I've written. The two they've read that were the holiness of God and chosen by God and they say I loved holiness of God you hated chosen by God and I'm saying what that tells me you either didn't understand the holiness of God or he didn't understand chosen by God, and I think the one that didn't understand was holiness of God because of you really understand the holiness of God that you understand if you understand who God is and you understand who you are, you know, your only hope. Under heaven is the sovereign grace of God the Savior, but the second problem with people have is they believe that reformed theology extinguishes free will and not only hurts our view of God hurts the view that we have of humanity and the big problem I see there is that the vast majority of people have an understanding of free will that is taken and humanistic, not biblical. The Bible teaches that we have free will, in the sense that we have the ability to choose what we want but is very clear that there's a problem with our 12 that the desires and inclination of our hearts are only wicked continually and that we are not free in our sin were dead in our sin were in bondage to sin.

And this free will that we celebrate is one that is in prison by sin is not anything like what the secular world is teaching people from the day they going to kindergarten and so people have been in the word brainwashed with a humanistic view of humanity rather than a biblical view of humanity and consequently humanistic and pagan view of God and so we have to.

It takes really getting immersed in the Scripture to grow in our understanding of who we are and our understanding of who God is, if we learn those two things in reformed theology is easy, but we are encouraged by the number of people who are embracing reformed theology, not just here in the US, but around the world and grateful to be a trusted source for the tomorrow leader president Chris Larson will join me as we tell you about plans for even greater outbreak.

I hope you'll join us Friday for Renewing Your Mind


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