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August 31, 2021 12:01 am
What does it mean to be justified before God? Today, R.C. Sproul defines this important element of salvation and shows how the Protestant understanding of justification differs from the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
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Matters of eternal significance were at stake during the Protestant Reformation. They still are the sticking point that was never able to be resolved then or now is the case of imputation. Rome has always rejected the idea that we are justified on the basis of imputed righteousness, a righteousness that is not our own imputed righteousness may be hearing the term for the first time and wondering what it's all about.
You might think you're in for an ivory tower academic lecture of little importance to your life. But let me encourage you to stay with us on the web and you're listening to Renewing Your Mind what Dr. RC scroll was about to explain is vital to answering the question, what must I do to be saved. We been looking at the posting of the 95 theses by Luther in 1517 and consequently at the Roman Catholic understanding of justification and in Luther's cc he brought in the question. The whole system of justification that was embraced by the Roman Catholic Church at this point he still believed essentially in the Roman system, but questions were beginning to haunt him, and among them was the question of the treasury of merits and the treasury of merits was critical to the whole concept of indulgences. We know how the indulgence controversy created a firestorm at the time, because the way in which Johan pretzel was selling the indulgences.
But the bigger question is, what's this whole thing of indulgences about and where did it come from propaganda developed gradually over the history of the Roman Catholic Church. It was based ultimately on the idea that Christ gave to Peter the keys to the kingdom of the keys of the kingdom and so the Pope was seen as holding the office of the keys and the keys of the kingdom included authority over the dispensing and distribution of indulgences. Jesus said to his disciples whatever sins you remit on earth will be remitted and have an and so on.
Now the treasury of merit became front and center in this whole idea of the sale of indulgences and the treasury of merit is a treasury that contains an infinite amount of merit which is at the power of the church to distribute to those who were lacking merit now in the first place. Chief deposit to the treasury of merits was the marriage of Christ.
But it was not only the merit of Christ that was or is in the treasury because the concept of the treasury of merit still exists in the Roman communion, but in addition to the merit of Jesus was also the merits of Mary and addition to the merits of Mary were added the merits of the saints.
Now there are very few people historically in the Roman view who die and go directly to heaven.
The overwhelming majority of people who die die with impurity still on their soul so they have to go to purgatory have those impurities purged or cleansed before they can go to heaven again purgatory is not hell, they don't go to hell and be punished. Purgatory is not a place of punishment. It's a place of cleansing and it will ultimately for all of those in purgatory, their ultimate destiny will indeed be heaven, but only after this purification process takes place now. The problem then is that people who are in purgatory don't have sufficient righteousness to get them directly to heaven. Now, as I said there were a handful of people historically who died with no impurities on their soul with sufficient merit to get them into heaven directly but not only did they have sufficient merit themselves to go into heaven. But they had 1/3 kind of merit that we haven't discussed yet. We've already looked at the distinction between condign marriage and congruous merit with respect to the sacrament of penance, but in addition to condign merit and congruous merit was his third kind of merit which was called super derogatory merit which is achieved by people producing works of supererogation not irrigation but interrogation super derogatory works are those works that are so good so meritorious that there beyond the call of duty.
It's an excess or extra merit, which, if you for example perform works of supererogation more works and you need to get into heaven. Those extra merits or excess merit is then deposited into the treasury of merit and is from that treasury that the church through the Pope has the power to apply merits to those who were lacking and so in that whole system of indulgences what was going on was that by the giving of alms, the purchasing of indulgences as it were. Withdrawals were made from this treasury and applied to those who were lacking them in purgatory so that they could move ahead to heaven so that concludes our basic overview of the Roman Catholic understanding of justification. I'll talk still further about it when we look at other contrast between the Protestant view, but over against this Luther's cry.
Of course, was Sola for the day. Justification is by faith alone or in a spent a little bit of time looking at Paul's teaching of it in Romans. But just for an introduction to the Protestant view of justification by faith alone. I want to take some time to define the terms first of all, the word justification itself. The word the English word justification comes over from the Latin used a for Kari, which literally meant to make just or to make righteous. One of the problems that produces whole controversy historically was in the early centuries the Latin fathers were not reading in developing their doctrine from the Greek, but rather from the Vulgate, from the Latin translation of the Bible and when the Latin translation of the Bible speaks about justification. It uses the Latin use the for Kari which is drawn from the legal structure of the Roman system of law and again to make righteous means that here's a person who is not righteous and the word to justify means that you make them righteous so that they become truly righteous in and of themselves, and so the system of justification that developed was the system of understanding how an unjust person is made just or righteous that when we talk about the process of being made truly righteous. Were talking not about justification but about sanctification, so we believe that first-served justification and then what follows from justification is sanctification were in the ancient Roman view because of the use of that term used for Kari actually sanctification was preceding justification because God wouldn't pronounce you just until you actually had become just, but the Greek word because soon a does not mean to make righteous it means to count or reckon as righteous or to treat as righteous and so the heart of the Reformation view is that while we are still on righteous we are declared to be righteous by God's applying to us the righteousness of Christ through imputation, which also expand on later and so when God looks at us. He sees that we're still sinful, but he nevertheless once we have faith. He counts us or reckons us or declares us to be righteous.
The Luther's motto to explain that is one you may be already heard the Latin phrase similar… At pack a tour and that was how he tried to define this state of affairs whereby one we are not righteous in ourselves. Nevertheless, in the sight of God. We are considered or counted to be righteous.
The phrase similar US a setback of your main symbol we get the word simultaneous from that and so the symbol means at the same time symbol used this at the same time just or righteous at that. What's that, does that mean that's the past tense of the verb to eat right.
I had my dinner at me simply and member with the Julius Caesar when he stabbed his final words of supposedly at two grew today and means Avenue to Brutus and so that simply means that so symbol used us at at the same time just and pack a tour which means center we talk about little sins as being peccadilloes. If we say somebody's pure we say their impeccable and so that comes from the Latin word for sin. So Luther sang at the very same time we are just and center. Now that sounds at the beginning as a contradiction and what is the law of non-contradiction. Something cannot be a and nine a at the same time and in the same sensor in the same relationship.
Luther is saying here we are at the same time a and nine a righteous and center, but not in the same relationship in and of ourselves. We remain sinners, but we are righteous by virtue of the transfer of Christ's righteousness to ourselves by virtue of the imputation of his righteousness that we said at the beginning of our study of the Roman view of justification that it starts at baptism with an infusion of grace and so a justified person, according to Roman is justified on the grounds of infused righteousness that then is possessed inherently by the believer, the Protestant view is that we are justified not by an infusion of righteousness, but by an imputation of righteousness. I knows I said earlier, at the time of the Reformation. There were all kinds of attempts to overcome this enormous catastrophic split within Christendom and the final one that Regensburg came this close to healing the breach in solving the schism and resolving the theological dilemma, but the sticking point that was never able to be resolved then or now is the case of imputation. Rome has always rejected the idea that we are justified on the basis of imputed righteousness, a righteousness that is not our own, a righteousness that Luther called and alien them used Acxiom and alien righteousness, a righteousness that is extraoutside or apart of us a righteousness that is counted for us but is not our own. If time permits.
Later on will expand that little bit more but I'm just trying to give you the basic definition of justification by faith alone. The second word is the word by SS simple little term and as mentioned before that it has to do with the dative of me that if you ask Rome by what means are we justified they would say the instrumental means by which we are justified is baptism member wants. We started this thing that baptism begins the process of justification and it is the instrumental cause or the instrument by which a person is justified Donatist take a minute to talk about this instrumental cause idea. One of the oldest questions of philosophy is the question of motion and change not remember Heraclitus saying he never step into the same river twice because by the time you put your 2nd foot in the rivers move and you have change the fee only by being a few seconds. Older but he says whatever is is changing change is the singular mark of creature hood and Afinitor and from Aristotle's perspective change was a kind of motion and so he examined that he asked himself either different ways in which things change in different kinds of changes. Well, he says when he looks for chains he's looking for the cause of the change and he said it would be simplistic to assume that causes are singular, when in many cases a change is wrought by the application of several different things and he use the classic illustration of a piece of art, a piece of sculpture, a statue that was being made in order to distinguish among various types of causes and he would say the efficient cause, the main cause that brings the change to place the chief efficient cause for creating a piece of sculpture is the sculptor he's the guy that's making all the changes but there's also the material cause in the material cause for the statue is the block of wood of the block of marble out of which the statue is made and so he defines material causality as that matter, out of which something is made or changes when we talk about the creation of the universe. What would we say is the material cause, thing for Chester was in anything except no matter at least. But God is the efficient and sufficient cause of all of creation. When he creates the world not out of a previously existing substance or matter. He creates an ex Neo are the material causes that, out of which a thing is made, the efficient cause is the one who makes it the formal cause is the idea or blueprint that the artist is using in order to create his subjects. He doesn't just go chiseling away at that piece of marble with no idea in mind of how it's going to look when it's finished, he has to have a form in his mind for it and then the final cause would be the purpose for which something is made in this case. Maybe it is to just make the garden of the Emperor more beautiful and so Michelangelo creates a statue to enhance the beauty of the church or something that's its final cost will the instrumental costs of the instruments that are used, to bring about the change and in the case of making a statue. The instrumental cause would be the hammer and chisel the things that are used by which the change takes place. Easy enough, so one room talks about baptism is the instrumental because it is the means or the instrument by which the person is changed into having this reception or infusion of grace and the reformer say no. The soul instrumental cause of justification is faith is not baptism is not penance it's faith which is the instrumental cause, by the way, though both Protestants and Catholics use the language and terminology of Aristotle's distinctions of causality.
They also both sides added another specific cause which they called the meritorious cause of justification and again we get to the heart of the issue. On what basis does God ever declare a person just for Rome, it's because they are just for the reformed understanding the soul grounds for the justification of a believer is the righteousness of Christ. It's Christ's righteousness and his righteousness alone that justifies us. In fact, the phrase justification by faith alone is simple shorthand for justification by Christ alone right so in the Protestant doctrine.
You have so little file. It's by faith alone, not by faith plus works is by grace alone. Soul aggressors by grace, not merit and it's by Christ alone, not by Christ plus the RN and then we'll get to the third word in this formula justification by faith alone in our next session. When we look at the meaning and significance of the kind of faith just understanding what salvation is and how it's accomplished is of utmost importance. Without that knowledge, the gospel is obscured. That's why this week. Your on Renewing Your Mind where every portions of Dr. RC Sproul series justified by faith alone. This topic is worthy of further study. NRC spent more time in the series than were able to error here this week but when you contact us today with a donation of any amount. We will send you the 10 part series on two DVDs plus a digital copy of the study guide Dr. Sproles classic book faith alone is an excellent treatment of this topic and will include that in the bundle as well for your donation of any amount you can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can give your gift online at Renewing Your Mind.Ward.
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We would not be able to produce series like this one several years ago I sat down with Dr. Sproles and asked him about the importance of providing the historical background of the doctrine of justification, and here's what he had to say. When I teach in the seminary on the doctrine of justification always uses the backdrop of the 16th-century crisis that was provoked by the teaching of Luther lesson if you really want to understand the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone in the Reformation recovery of the doctrine, the 16th-century think it's important to understand it against the backdrop of the official teaching of the Roman Catholic communion about justification so that you can see the clear difference between what happened in the Middle Ages when the gospel one into obscurity and into darkness in the model, the Reformation being post on a breast locks out of the darkness, light that is the light of the gospel was recovered with Luther and the magisterial reformers at that time, but to get it clear in your mind you have to see it in contrast to the Roman doctrine and when people see what the Roman doctrine is and what the reaction of the reformers was against that distortion then they have a much clearer understanding. There's so much fuzziness and confusion today in our time about what the doctrine of justification by faith alone means what the gospel means and Dr. Sproles will continue to clear up the fuzziness and confusion tomorrow as we continue a series justified by faith alone.
We hope you'll join us for the Wednesday edition of Renewing Your Mind