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Faith Alone: The Righteousness of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 12, 2021 12:01 am

Faith Alone: The Righteousness of Christ

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 12, 2021 12:01 am

While the Roman Catholic Church teaches that there is something we can do to pay back our debt to God incurred by our sin, the Reformers pointed to the work of another. Today, R.C. Sproul continues to examine the doctrine of "sola gratia."

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The focus of attention drawn from the abuse of the sale of indulgences to this whole system of penance because Luther saw on it a clear departure from the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone is an important distinction and one that will focus on today here on Renewing Your Mind. We realize that were guilty of breaking God's perfect law, we begin to feel the weight of that guilt. How can we escape the coming judgment.

Is there something we can do the pay back that debt is registered.

Dr. RC Sproul saying the Roman Catholic Church's position is yes, in the form of penance, but the Protestant reformers pointed to the work of another today on Renewing Your Mind. Drs. Paul continues his series God alone is going to continue now with our study of the five bowlers of the Reformation and we began our study with looking at part one of Sola fadeaway which we said was the matter or the essence of the stuff that provoked the Protestant Reformation and I looked briefly at the background of the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification showing you that according to Rome justification is by faith by grace through Christ, but not by faith alone or by grace alone or by Christ alone is we will continue to see and I also pointed out in our last session that according the Roman Catholic Church. The instrumental cause of justification in the first instance is baptism and end in the second instance is the sacrament of penance and when we look at what happened in the 16th century will see that the explosion the theological explosion that rocked the whole ecclesiastical world was provoked by something related to the sacrament of penance and I think most of you are aware of the historical circumstances of Luther posting his 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg, and what provoked Luther to ask for a disputation among the faculty members of the University was something that he considered an abuse of one of the churches practices and that had to do with the granting of indulgences and we remember that what was going on in Saxony and in the neighboring community was that a representative of the Roman Catholic Church by the name of Tatsuo was going about the countryside claiming to the peasants there that if they would donate money for the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome that the giving of that alms would gain for the people who gave the money a papal indulgence or attribution of grace to people who were in purgatory because the church was seen as having the power of the keys. The power to loose and to remit sins on earth or in purgatory. Someone so the Pope had the part of the case and he could grant indulgences that would greatly relieve the amount of time. The people were required to spend in purgatory before they went out and so the whole concept of purgatory was very important to this issue, as well as what was called the treasury of merit the merit that had been deposited in the churches account by which the Pope could draw from and apply it to needy people in purgatory explain a little bit more later, but in the meantime, this beginning of indulgences was linked to the sacrament of penance in this way in the sacrament of penance, which we've already seen the church called it the second plank of justification for those who lost their justification through mortal sin, and what the sacrament of penance required is that the center come to the priest and enter into the confessional and confess his sin, and with that confession. Then came the prayer of contrition and priestly absolution whereafter the penitent confess their sins. The priest would say tales, although I absolve you, not because the church believed that priests have the inherent power on their own authority to forgive sins but rather they were simply extending what I mentioned a moment ago the power of the keys that Jesus gave to the church to bind and loose sins, and that every minister of the gospel in the name of Christ can give people the assurance of their salvation. If they are truly repentant. There was no great dispute about that in the 16th century it was the final dimension of the sacrament of penance that provoked this controversy because after the words of absolution are spoken by the priest then in the sacrament of penance came the imposition of what's called works of satisfaction in these works of satisfaction are the performing of the practice of penance.

You notice historically than when Protestants speak about repentance, they say, be repentant, or simply repent, whereas the normal language of Roman Catholicism historically is that the center is called to do penance. Penance is not something you feel or express, but rather it is something that you do. It is an activity.

It is a kind of work that is required so the works of penance may be very small.

They may mean that all that you have to do is to say, so many Hail Marys so many are fathers or whatever.

Or, in severe cases, more strenuous labors may required of the penitent to show the fruits of their genuine contrition and what the effect of these works of penance doing apprentices is to provide works of satisfaction. Now how does the church, defined that these are works performed to satisfy the demands of God and of his law, which works of satisfaction earned for the penitent merit now here there is some controversy and we have to put on our thinking caps and look at this concept very closely because the Catholic Church distinguishes between two distinct types of merit one is called condign merit or maritime decor and dig know which means merit that is so meritorious that it just judge would be ethically bound to reward it. If those works were not rewarded, then that person would be suffering and injustice. That's one kind of merit but when the church speaks of the merit that comes from the work of satisfaction they qualified this term by saying two things. First that the merit that is done could not of been done without reliance upon divine assistance that it is if you will a gracious merit.

That is, it is a grace induced merit so it's not pure merit in a Palladian sense and the second qualification is that it is called congruous congruous merit maritime decor and grow which means that when the penitent person does these works of satisfaction. God is not strictly by standards of justice required to restore this person to a state of justification, but it is congruous for God to restore the person that is it is fitting for him to restore that person to a state of justification, which is still called a state of grace, so that there's a mixture of real grace. According to Rome and although this is a kind of junior grade merit merit of Congo rather than maritime decor and dig know. Nevertheless, it is real merit. So in this case. Not only is grace required, but in addition to grace.

Merit is required. Not only is faith required, but in addition to faith works are required in these works must be done before a person can be justified now. One of the works of satisfaction with the church defined was the giving of all.

If a person out of a spirit of genuine heartfelt contrition for their sin.

In an attempt to be restored to the state of grace goes through the sacrament of penance if they are sincere and they give alms to the poor or gifts to the working of the church out of sincere repentance, then those arms would count towards completing the works of satisfaction and could lead the church graciously to count these alms as the basis for the granting of indulgences. But when the church for the building of St. Peter's granted indulgences in the 16th century. The church at least tried to make it clear to its people that these indulgences would only actually take place if the giving of alms was done out of a sincere heart but unscrupulous people who work on commission. People like Tuttle was running around not explaining these nuances to the peasants and he had his little jingle that he used every time a builder rings in the pot brings a soul from purgatory flings he was in basically in a crass way duping the peasants into thinking they could buy salvation for their relatives who have been deceased or for themselves and this was in fact this was in fact an abuse of what the church had intended. And when Luther's start of the Reformation. He was not trying to get rid of indulgences. He was even trying to get rid of alms giving or the sacrament of penance or the treasury of merit. He was trying to correct an abuse that he saw that was very harmful to the unskilled and uneducated peasants of Saxony again. Even though this wasn't a place in Saxony.

The people in Luther's prayers were going across the border to take advantage of this lucrative salvific deal and Luther was concerned about this course. Once he raise questions about the abuse, then the focus of attention broadened from the abuse of the sale of indulgences to this whole system of penance because Luther saw on it a clear departure from the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone again to review the system. The church had the power of the keys which was the authority to transfer merit to people who had insufficient merit to get them into heaven, and the source of this merit that was being transferred was what the church then and now calls the treasury of merit in the treasury of merit is more or less an ethical or moral depository that includes the merit of Christ, plus the merits of the holy family.

Joseph and Mary plus the merits of the saints of the church.

Now here's the way it works. Person is justified.

As we sing through the sacraments and if in the Roman Catholic Church. A person so cooperates with grace and a sense to it that they come to the place in the progress or growth of their spiritual lives that true righteousness in the hairs within them. The Latin of the Council of Trent is the word inherent means that if true righteousness is now found within the individual then and only then will God declare them just now.

You remain in that state of justification and less as I said, you commit mortal sin if you commit mortal sin you fall out of justification and had to go back and again reach inherent righteousness before God will declare you just however if you die in mortal sin. You go to hell. That's why the last sacrament. The sacrament of extreme unction is so important. You've all seen the scene of somebody dying in action same calling for the priest rushing the priest there to give them the last rites which began as a healing ministry, but now was given a sort of an extension of the sacrament of penance to make sure they don't die with mortal sin on their soul, lest they go to hell. Now, the vast majority of people according to the church in the church died not in mortal sin if they been going to the sacrament of confession. So but if they die with any impurity on their souls. They go to purgatory, which is so-called because it is the place of purging where the dross is removed and a person is purified because you can't get into heaven until you are perfected until your purified so they're very, very, very few people who when they die go directly to heaven. Most believers when they die have to spend some time in purgatory, whether it's two weeks, two years or 200,000 years, however long it takes to purge their souls of any impurities again, that spelled out as recently as in the Catholic catechism of a few years ago now when in the course of church history there have been extraordinary exceptions. There have been those few saints who lived righteously enough that they didn't have to go to purgatory. But when they die they went directly to heaven because they had enough merit to go to heaven and some of them not only had enough merit to go to heaven that they had access merit which access merit is called works of supererogation not irrigation with interrogation or super derogatory works super derogatory works are works that are above and beyond the call of duty that are so meritorious that they give a person a surplus of merit more merit than they need to get themselves into heaven, and so that surplus merit is then deposited into the treasury of merit and is from that treasury that the Pope can draw for his indulgences by applying merit to people who were in purgatory or who were in need of more merit and on the basis of those merits can go to heaven. Luther examined that and he said if the church at any grace in any heart it would empty the treasury of merit to make sure that everybody was out of there and into heaven, but Luther objected to this because he saw. First of all, a radical distortion of the biblical teaching of justification and also a radical distortion of the sufficiency of the merit of Christ to provide the grounds of our justification. Now that gets me to the absolute ultimate issue of the Reformation which had to do with the grounds of justification. The question was this, on what basis will God or does God ever declare a person to be just Allegra Roman Catholic Church says the only way God will ever declare a person just on the basis of inherent righteousness. We call this analytical justification.

That is when God puts his eye upon you and examines your soul and submit you to his divine analysis if he sees inherent righteousness. There then he will declare you righteous, but not until or unless you are actually righteous.

Will God declare you righteous, not again you can't be righteous without the help of Christ without the help of faith and without the help of grace, but given those helps you still have to reach this level because the only grounds by which God will declare you to be righteous is if righteousness in the hairs in you and this is accomplished through infused righteousness that is that's what helps you become inherently righteous righteousness that comes in the sacrament that is poured into your soul. Christ poured into you.

You cooperate and assent to that righteousness to such an extent that that righteousness then becomes your own. Understand now the Reformation view was this that the only grounds by which God ever declares anyone just is the imputation of the righteousness of Christ. Now the New Testament speaks about Christ as being our righteousness. The idea here is that the ground of our justification is not simply the atonement of Christ, by which he bears the burden of our guilt by taking the punishment of God for our sin but also by the life of Christ, by which he lives a life of perfect obedience to every mandate of the divine law and he is perfect and sinless, and Christ alone, merits salvation in front of a just and holy God because he's the only one who is sinless. He's the only one who is perfectly righteous and perfectly just, and I am not I am an unjust person and if I look at my own attempts.

I am an unprofitable servant. I'm not only imperfect but once I'm imperfect, there's nothing I can ever do to get rid of an imperfect life, you sin once you'll never be perfect because you have that imperfection against her neck up the basis of justification. According the New Testament. According Luther is by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But we are justified by faith alone. In this sense that faith is the instrument by which we embrace Christ, we put our trust in him and in him alone as the grounds for our salvation. And when we put our faith and trust in Christ. The moment we trust in Christ God in a legal action. Transferors or imputes four counts or reckons the righteousness of Jesus to account so that at the end of my life, I stand before the judgment seat of God and I am close. Not in my own inherent righteousness, but I am covered by the righteousness of Christ and God declares me just in the beloved in Christ by the imputation of his righteousness, which Luther insisted was a righteousness that is an alien righteousness that is a righteousness not performed by me, but it's a righteousness performed by somebody else is not performed by me with the help of somebody else, but it's a righteousness that is performed by somebody else. Apart from me is a righteousness that Luther insisted was extra notes apart from us outside of us. It's a Jesus performance that is transferred to my account when I receive him by faith. That's why Paul labor to the point that our justification is given to us freely as a gift of the father. But God calls me just before he makes me just when Roman Catholics came, he won't call me just until I been first made just that's the difference in the one word over which the whole controversy is involved. Is this word imputation you take away the concept of imputation from Protestant doctrine justification you take away solo theater.

You take away solo theater. You take away the gospel. That's why with this doctrine of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to the helpless believer is at the very heart and soul of the gospel itself. You rejected your rejecting the gospel.

That's why the debate was so fierce because nothing lasts in the gospel was in its extent and that's precisely why Dr. RC Sproul taught the series God alone. Glad you joined us today for the Tuesday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb, and that you can see why the debate has been so fierce. Through the centuries to say that we must first become righteous cuts away the very foundation of the biblical gospel. Christ died in our place on our behalf.

And that's great news. This is a 10 part series and ended Dr. Spruill helps us understand the five solos of the Protestant Reformation and what were discovering is that the gospel itself is at stake. All of the messages in the series are contained in a three DVD set, and we would be glad to send this to you for your donation of any amount to leader ministries you can make a request to give your gift or you can call us at 800-435-4343. Over the past several years leader ministries as partnered with life way research to find out what Americans believe about God's salvation in the Bible and the results have consistently revealed that many Protestants today do not understand the doctrines of the Reformation. For example, nearly 40% of self-described evangelicals believe that their good deeds contribute to their getting a place in heaven. That's why we believe it's so important to future series like this.

Perhaps you teach a Sunday school class in your church shortly to small group in your home. These videos are about 23 minutes each, and that provides time to discuss the message and address questions that may come up so you can request God alone is series by Dr. RC Sproul. Her phone number again is 800-435-4343 our web address is Renewing Your and on behalf of all of my colleagues here at leader ministries.

Thank you for your generous financial gift for tomorrow. Dr. Strobel look at an issue the church dealt with in the fourth century the players in this ancient debate may not be as well known to us today, but their ideas certainly are RC addresses the arguments of Pelagius, and Augustine Wednesday on Renewing Your Mind

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