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September 1, 2021 12:01 am
What must you do to be saved? Historically, Protestants and Roman Catholics have answered this question differently. Today, R.C. Sproul looks at the one word that makes all the difference in this dispute.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind. You've heard it said doesn't matter what you believe, just as long as you're sincere while Christianity says eternal life matters concerning what you believe there is a content to the Christian faith and we don't have the authority to fill it up with whatever we want to fill it up with how would you describe the content of the Christian faith.
How would you define Christianity. More specifically, how would you answer the question, what must I do to be saved. Historically, Roman Catholics and Protestants have answered that question differently on the surface, the difference may sound like a matter of nuance is not and it boils down to one word, here's Dr. RC Sproul looking at the Reformation formula justification by faith alone. I want to look briefly now at the question of faith. What is meant in the formula justification by faith alone. By the word faith and in the initial stages of the Reformation the Roman Catholic communion heard Luther teaching a kind of licentious libertinism or anti-nomadism.
The idea that you can just believe in Christ and then live however you want, because works were not considered necessary for justification. And so Luther had the task of defining what saving faith really means and historically there's a difference among scholars as to how the reformers expanded their understanding of the elements of saving faith. Turton, for example, in the 17th century included six or seven or eight subtle nuance elements of saving faith.
Gordon Clark in the 20th century reduce those elements to but the usual customary understanding of the elements of saving faith and historic reform thought is that saving faith consists of three distinct elements and those three distinct elements are called noticed your sensors and for nuclear now.
The first element, no Tisha or sometimes called no time refers simply to the information or the data you've heard it said doesn't matter what you believe. Just as long as your sincere while Christianity says eternal life matters concerning what you believe there is a content to the Christian faith and we don't have the authority to fill it up with whatever we want to fill it up with and so to be justified by faith. You had to have the basic information about Christ, about his person about his work.
He had the have the elements of the gospel better understood that there is a God man Jesus who died on the cross for our sins and so does not amount to the no Tisha or the notate the notes or the information that one has to believe in order to be justified. But in addition to being aware of that data or of that information you have to ascend to the truths of that information.
You have to believe that these ideas of Jesus and his person and his work are realities, not just myths or interesting imaginative ideas and so saving faith requires an intellectual, cognitive, I sent to the truth of the data now so far reformers would say if we have the information that no tissue and we assent to its truth sensors all that qualifies us to be is a demon because the devil knows the information and he knows that the information is true, the devil could make 100 on any theological exam you ever gave him he's not stupid.
He knows the information but in addition to having the intellectual awareness and the intellectual assent to the data, one must have the duty and for do Kia has to do with trust. You must not only again know the information believe that it's true, but trust in it. Personally for your redemption. I've always said that it's very simple intellectually to understand the content of the doctrine of justification by faith alone to get it in the bloodstream as a whole another matter to really trust for eternity. The work of Christ for your salvation and not mixed with that trust in Christ, a reliance on your own performance, or on your own activity or your own works or your own merits or, and this is crucial your own profession of faith.
One of the great problems that we have in our day is distinguishing faith from the profession of faith. Anyone who has faith is called to profess that faith but not everybody who professes faith has that faith. Jesus warns frequently with on the last day many will come to him, saying, Lord, Lord, and we do this in your name to redo that your name so on, and he will save them apart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you please leave these people had made a profession of faith, but they didn't process what they profess elsewhere. He said these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from and that's why this element of food do Kia is so critical to the Reformation biblical doctrine of justification by faith that you have to have true trust and not a mere profession. This is the danger.
For example, that we see. Practically speaking in methods of evangelism that we encounter through church history, there's that movement there that idea called decisional evangelism, where we try to get people to make a decision to believe in Christ and to follow him when I was first converted to Christianity first year as a Christian. The local church where I was going to college was having an evangelistic series of meetings.
I brought this evangelist from some other city to come in, gives this series of messages I met with them privately and he said to me, give me any man alone for 15 minutes and I will get a decision for Christ. I thought after spending 15 minutes with this guy was so forbearing I can understand people give a profession of anything just to get away from. After 15 minutes, but how arrogant it was to think that you can just manipulate people into the kingdom of God is not a philosophical level. There's a different matter.
The British empirical philosopher David Hume and analyzing the substance of belief. How and why people believe what they believe he made it clear that you couldn't make a decision to do lots of things you can make a decision to go to the store this afternoon and go to the store you can make a decision to read a book that you read the book you can make a decision to study the things of Jesus and study the things of Jesus. But what you cannot do as an act of the will is to believe something intellectually that you don't really believe I can't decide to believe that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of my life. I have to be persuaded that I really have to have that essentially use not as a matter of decision but as a matter of persuasion that I've been convinced of the truth claims of Christ before I can put my trust. So again we get a lot of problems with the language that we use with respect to face now. The fourth word in the formula is alone justification is by faith alone and what does that mean it's means that there's no admixture of works in our faith that are in any way the foundation or the basis for God's declaring us to be just if I had a blackboard here and could write on it some little formulae like your math formulas 2+2 = 4. I would write three of them on the board for you. The first would be the Roman Catholic view of justification. Faith plus works equals justification I could write the anti-know me and view the carnal Christian view that so popular in our day.
Faith equals justification minus works, so that you can be a Christian and converted be carnal, Christ is not the Lord of your life and so you believe in the Savior but not as Lord, and so this idea of antinomianism is that you can be a true believer and never have any works. Luther said on the other hand, a different formula faith equals justification plus works, what does he mean he means that if you have true faith you will manifest that true faith by works of obedience after your justified. Now those works that you manifest. After you are justified contribute nothing of merit to your justification. But if they're not there, it proves that you don't have what faith because your true faith will always manifest itself in works so Luther said it this way. Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone saving faith will always accompany itself with works of obedience. But again, when he talks about alone. It means that those works contribute nothing to your justification that another way of saying this is that we are justified by the righteousness of Christ alone. I can't add anything to the merit of Christ. Nor can I ever subtract anything to the merit of Christ.
It's by his merit or his works that were justified. Another way of turning this upside down is to say we believe in justification by works alone. While it would seem to be the exact opposite diametrically opposed to the idea of justification by faith alone, but what I'm getting at is this. We are justified by works, but they're not our works there. His works in us, because Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly in his perfect act of obedience that we are able to be justified before God because he earned the blessing which is then transferred to us. So to see how we can turn that around and say were justified by works alone was large understand this by the works of Christ alone. There's nothing that I can at we will see when we look at Paul's statements in Romans click pulses by the works of the law shall no man be justified but nevertheless were justified by faith in the one who did keep the works of the law. Now I've been saying throughout this discussion the importance of the idea of imputation and I want to just spend a couple minutes. More on that when we distinguish between the Roman Catholic view of justification and the reformed view of justification we make this distinction that the Roman Catholic view is analytical and the Reformation view is synthetic right. You've heard that a thousand times.
You've probably never heard that it what are we talking well when we look at propositions statements. We can distinguish between analytical statements and synthetic statements and analytical statement is literally a tautology. There is nothing new in the predicate this not already found in the subject. If we put a mathematical formula on the board there was a code below, we would say 2+2 = 4. Now there's nothing new on the other side of the = from what was already present in the first part because 2+244, and four equals two clusters are no new information added after the = get that and analytical statement is a statement that is true by definition, may give you another one. A bachelor is an un-married man that whatever you learned after the verb to be about the fella, a bachelor by definition is an unmarried man, a bachelor can't be anything else but an un-married man now you don't turn it around so the unmarried man is a bachelor because he could be a widower and so on.
But we know by analysis that a bachelor is a non-married me so it's true, by analysis and so and analytical view of justification.
According to Rome. God declares a person to be just only if and when that person under analysis is just right, God analyzes the person he sees that that person possesses inherent righteousness. He knows that that inherent righteousness came to the aid of grace and faith in Christ and all that but in the final analysis, God will not make the declaration that he is just, unless under analysis. He is just a synthetic statement is the statement where there is something added in the information in the predicate.
That's not found in the subject if I told you that the bachelor is a wealthy man. I would be predicated of the subject of the bachelor something that's not inherent in the term basher, namely the possession of wells, okay, so now I synthetic statement is something that adds something that's not automatically found in the subject. Nowise the Protestant view called synthetic it's because I am declared to be righteous by God not because he looks at me and finds righteousness by something has been added to me that foreign righteousness, that righteousness that is extra notes that righteousness that is not my own, has been added to me. So when is he looks at me he sees me covered by the righteousness of Christ and declares me to be just only talk about God's declaring people to be just who are not just we frequently use the term forensic justification because justification is a legal judgment whereby God declares someone to be just and you understand what the forensic medicine is in forensic psychology you watch enough trials to know forensic evidence has to do with evidence that is applicable to a legal consideration or to a trial and so when we say the justifications forensic we mean that God judicially declares us to be just now there's a little hitch here. Forensic justification historically been used as a shorthand for the Protestant view but if you look at the Roman Catholic view. You will see that justification takes place in the Roman view when God declares a person drops so even in Rome. Justification is a forensic judgment made by God.
It's a legal statement about our status before him with the differences of course the Catholic view its analytical forensics and in the reformed view. It's synthetic forensics. I can remember when the first document of Evangelicals and Catholics together was put out, and created a firestorm in and then the second document kidnapped much more detailed trying to show that there's been great rapprochement accomplished between Roman evangelicals and I had a very distinguished historian eventual historian who signed a document, call me on the phone and he was so excited he said hoarsely said that in this document is the first time the Roman Catholic Church is declared the justifications forensic isolate the burst your bubble, always taught that it was forensic in the sense that God is the one who makes the legal declaration of those who are to be justified. Also in that particular document. They said we be able to come together on so many issues regarding justification and they think that they have a substantive agreement between evangelicals and Roman Catholics and then ends up. I sent a course imputation is still on the table and they had said earlier in the document that all the elements of justification have been handled there except for imputation Michael Jordan by the point is you can take flour new could take sugar. You can bake cookies and you can have all the elements of chocolate chip cookies but appear on the trunk of chips and that hurts you don't have Java chip cookies you got cookies which it outside of circle and so is again, this issue of imputation remains the sticking point and it is an either/or waiver justified by our righteousness or by somebody else's righteousness.
There's no tertiary quit. Here, there's no way that you can slice and dice that to get rid of the word alone. That's what Luther kept coming back to that outline alone idea that you can't mix it with anything else because it's only Jesus and his righteousness just we are justified by faith and by faith alone. Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind in this Wednesday. I'm we web we have been pleased to feature portions of Dr. RC Sproul series justified by faith alone. This doctrine is at the center of Reformation theology under remains critical for believers today, and while some may have grown weary of the debate. It's important for us to remember that there is no gospel without the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Would you like to continue your study on this topic. Dr. scroll series includes 1023 minute lessons on two DVDs will send you the full series for a donation of any amount to leader ministries, plus a digital copy of the study guide which has questions for group discussion and will point you to other resources are also including Dr. scroll's classic book faith alone. So contact us today with a donation of any amount you can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 and let me give your web address it's Renewing Your Mind.org if you prefer, you can make your request, there perhaps you're trying to explain this doctrine to a Roman Catholic friend or family member and you want to make sure that you have it straight. That's one of the reasons for providing such a substantial bundle of resources today. We want you to have a deep working knowledge of justification by faith alone. So again with your donation of any amount. We will send you the two DVD set with 10 lessons. The digital study guide and Dr. scroll's classic book faith alone. Our number again is 800-435-4343 and our web address is Renewing Your Mind.org, you know, it would be wrong to assume that Dr. scroll taught this series to, in effect, set Roman Catholic straight on the doctrine of justification for week we talked about that one sin that here's what RC had to say, trying to set the Roman Catholics ran transcendent Protestant straight because Protestants messing up as much as Rose Roman Catholics to we think oftentimes all you have to do to be saved is to profess faith in Christ and you profess faith in Christ that doesn't save anybody you have to process saving faith and their millions of people in Protestant churches who believe you could get to heaven by living a good life and by doing the right thing. The Gospels distorted everywhere you turn their millions of people within the Roman Catholic Church but don't understand the church's doctrine and unfortunately they're not trusting in the Roman Catholic doctrine, justification, or trusting in Christ. I believe that that anyone who trusts in Christ as a Christian will go to heaven but they do it in spite of the Catholic Church is teaching us because of what tomorrow we are going to dive even further into this doctrine of justification by faith alone, and we hope you'll join us for the Thursday edition of Renewing Your Mind