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October 13, 2021 12:01 am
Protestants affirm that we're justified by faith alone. But where does our faith in Christ come from? Is it something we muster up, or does God give it to us? Today, R.C. Sproul shows that these questions go back much earlier than the Reformation.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind to. People can both affirm the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
One of them says the faith by which I'm justified is a gift from God. The other one says yes, I'm justified by faith alone, but faith is something that I did see the difference.
The difference is important is faith come from we born with a little bit to help us when we needed what is God given to us. It's an age-old debate. Pelagius argued with Augustine about it in the fifth century, Luther brought it up again of the 16th century and it's a point of contention today is Dr. RC scroll from his series God alone going to continue with our series of study on the five solos of the Protestant Reformation. We've already had to messages on the question of solar fee day or justification by faith alone, which was the material or the substantial issue over which the Reformation was fought and closely related to the doctrine of solar fee day is the doctrine of Sola Grazie Veronica however you want to pronounce it. Which means, literally, by grace alone now in the Middle Ages in the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, the leading theologian was St. Thomas Aquinas and the church. Since that time has referred to Thomas as the angelic Dr. the doctor angelic is the doctor of the Angels. They have another nickname for the great St. Augustine who ministered at the end of the fourth century and into the beginning of the first century and Augustine's nickname is Dr. Grazie. That is, he's known as the doctor of grace in church history because he is the one who first formulated this idea of Sola Grazie and that notion that Augustine articulated was recovered and recaptured in the Reformation by his two main disciples of that.
Martin Luther, who was an Augustinian monk at first before the Reformation began and from John Calvin who in all of his writings apart from his citations, quotations and allusions to passages from sacred Scripture. The single individual from whom Calvin quotes the most in terms of frequency was of course Augustine and so we look back to Augustine and the controversies in which she was involved to get a source of understanding of this idea of Sola Grazie before I look back to Augustine. However, I like to read a passage from the historical introduction to the English translation of Martin Luther's famous workday servo arbitrator that is the on the bondage of the will that was put out by the Fleming Revell Company many, many years ago. This book, which Luther wrote in response to a Rasmussen of Rotterdam's diatribe is the volume that Luther himself considered to be his most important work in the lengthy historical introduction to it was penned jointly by a man by the name of Johnston, in collaboration with Dr. JI Packer and it's from that introduction that I like to read a brief statement at Packer and Johnson that make this assertion. Quote justification by faith alone is a truth that needs interpretation the principle of Sola file is not rightly understood until it is seen as anchored in the broader principle of Sola Grazie and Melanie interrupt myself at this point hear what Packer and Johnson are saying is that you can't really understand the Protestant doctrine of Sola file unless you understand it against the deeper question against the backdrop of the doctrine of Sola Grazie, no one, Packer and Johnston make this assertion they're not making this out of whole cloth.
Because this is precisely the point that Luther was making in his book against a Rasmussen generally grasps Sola fee day until or unless you really understand this principle of Sola Grazie. Let me continue from that the historical introduction.
What is the source and status of faith.
That's the question when a worse word is faith come from and what is its status. Is it the God given means whereby the God given justification is received or is it a condition of justification which is left for man to fulfillment the understand the difference there is faith God given, or is it simply a condition for our justification that God does not provide. But what we must provide in order to be redeemed.
So, for example, as I think we will see two people can both affirm the doctrine of justification by faith alone. One of them says the faith by which I'm justified is a gift from God. The other one says yes, I'm justified by faith alone, but faith is something that I did see the difference and that's what Packer and Johnson are talking about here, he says, is it a part of God's gift of salvation or man's own contribution to salvation is our salvation. Holy of God or does it ultimately depend on something that we do for ourselves. Those who say the latter as the Arminians later did thereby deny man's utter helplessness and sin, and affirm the form of semi-Pelagianism is true after all it is no wonder than the later reformed theology condemned Arminianism as being in principle I returned to wrong, because in effect it turned faith into a meritorious work and was a betrayal of the Reformation because it denied the sovereignty of God in saving sinners, which was the deepest religious and theological principle of the reformers thought Arminianism was in reformed dies of renunciation of New Testament Christianity in favor of New Testament Judaism four to rely on oneself for faith is no different in principle from relying on oneself for works and the one is as unchristian and anti-Christian as the other in the light of what Luther says to Rasmussen. There's no doubt that he would've endorsed this judgment Melanie to say here. When I first read that I blinked so I can't believe JI Packer and his compatriot would speak so strongly about Arminianism as to say that it is unchristian in this respect, and anti-Christian. In this respect when it in fact makes faith, a work that we do and becomes the basis in the final analysis of our salvation. Let me try to soften that a little bit as I believe that Packer as well as I do, believes that Arminians are Christians and don't belong to the temple of the antichrist, we differ strenuously on this question that they're debating here but when you talk to Arminians they shun away from the idea that the faith that they bring to the table is a righteous meritorious work that becomes part of the grounds of their salvation. Every nominee never dealt with on this point affirms truly affirms that justification is by faith alone by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and not by our works, even though they believe that faith is something that we bring to the table but that's different from saying that they believe that their faith is a good work that is the basis of their salvation. I don't say that maybe what these men are saying is if they were really logically consistent with their situation with their doctrine, they would have to say that but were not always logically consistent and sometimes we escape the heresy by a lucky inconsistency where a happy inconsistency as the case may be. Also when they say this idea is as unchristian or anti-Christian as other matters are. I need to soften that I'm sure that there are ideas in my head in my theology that are wrong, and insofar as there wrong there unchristian, and insofar as there wrong. There are anti-Christian and I think that's true of all of us that all of us pick up ideas along the way that are really not compatible with Christian thinking and in the fact we we been seduced by anti-Christian ideas.
I say today that the average concept of free will that most Christians use in their thinking is a pagan notion they don't embrace paganism. They don't see it as a pagan notion I'm convinced that is a pagan notion but it's one thing for me to say you have unchristian elements in your thoughts and say therefore you're not a Christian to the difference. Now those elements in your thought may be so unchristian as to make you and unchristian. You may have the unchristian idea that Jesus you say are your Christian but you don't believe in the deity of Christ. That's the case I would say that unchristian idea is so significant that it vitiates your profession of faith in Christ altogether.
So I hope we have that stripe now this whole idea of Sola Grazie that Packer and others are talking about here is related historically to two other theological issues we've seen that is indirectly related to justification will come back to that, but the two major theological concepts by which this phrase. Sola Grazie has immediate application are number one. The doctrine of original sin because it was in that context that this idea was first affirmed by Augustine and second of all, the doctrine of election and so it's original sin and election that are the twin doctrines that are related closely to the idea of Sola Grazie or so will look at that now as we proceed in our study quick overview of the history and by the way, I've written an entire book on the question of the relationship of Sola Grazie to our salvation and to the issue of original sin and free will, entitled willing to believe for a go through the whole historical debates on this issue. Beginning with Pelagius, and Augustine and cussing at us and Luther and the Roman Catholic view and the Arminian view. The dispensational view Edwards's view, and so on throughout church history will in any case, let's look first at the historical provocation that led to this phrase in the teaching of Augustine and it came about in the so-called Palladian controversy that took place roughly around the turn-of-the-century from the fourth of the fifth century and it began when Pelagius was a British monk who came to Rome to visit Roman heard of the reputation of the great Augustine, but when he came to Rome, he was appalled by the behavioral patterns in the licentiousness of members of the church and those who were professing Christ. They seem to be living godless lives and so in a very real sense Pelagius wanted to be a reformer of the morals of the Christian church of his day and he was disturbed by a famous prayer that had been written by St. Augustine where in that prayer.
Augustine said this.
Oh God grant what thou dost command and command what thou dost desire now. The second part of the prayer that God would command from his creatures.
Whatever it was pleasing for God to command Pelagius certainly agreed that God had the right to impose obligations on the creatures that he has formed in his own image. He believed that God was morally sovereign and that he is the lawgiver, not we, we are not the ones who create the law of God, no problem with that part of the prayer. It was the first part of the prayer that distressed and so greatly in which Augustine said, oh Lord, grant what thou dost command Pelagius was puzzled by this is why would you ask God to grant you a grant is a gift.
After all, why would you ask God to grant you, whatever he commands. That indicates that God is commanding that you do something, that without this grant without this gift you cannot do all this is exactly what Augustine was saying Augustine was saying is that God gave his law to man in creation and man was created to mirror and reflect the character of God.
God is holy and we were created with the mandate to be holy. I mandate to be righteous. I mandate to be perfect, but Augustine says in the fall man was ruined as he fell into a corrupt status by which it was no longer possible for that human being to obey all of the commands of God that man was no longer morally able, or morally powerful enough to live a perfect life and so that the only way we could become righteous would be through God's help through God's gift of grace. So it's one thing to consider man in creation. It's another thing to consider man in his fallen condition in his created original situation. Man could be righteous. According to Augustine after the fall because of original sin. Man could no longer obey the law of God. Not again. Remember that the doctrine of original sin does not refer specifically to the first sin, the original one.
You know the first one that got everybody in trouble know what Original Sin defines or describes in theology is the result of that first sin, the result being the fallen corruption that was the subsequent judgment of God upon the first sin, so that after Adam's sin after Adam and Eve fell than their future descendents are born in sin, born with this human nature that is corrupt by birth, I was no longer able to achieve righteousness. That's why Augustine said since the fall for us to do anything right requires the grace of God. This is where Pelagius objected, he said with the sin of Adam affected only Adam there was no transfer to his progeny of the consequences of this sin, we only sin not because were born sinners, we only sin when we imitate what Adam did, that we are those who ate our original father when we sin, but Adam's sin did not do anything to change the constituent nature of humanity. We are born today in the same condition as Adam was when he was first created so that we have the same abilities. The same powers that Adam had when God first made him Pelagius went on to say that we as human beings still have the power to live perfect lives without grace is not that he was opposed to grace. He said not only can we theoretically live perfect lives without the grace of God, but there are people in fact, many people who achieve that and who actually live righteous lives that's made more difficult because so many people have echoed and imitated Adam by copying being copycat sinners, as it were, that we now live in a society and environment were there so much sin that that makes it hard for the person who still has the constituent nature of the original Adam to make it through life without sinning because there are these negative pressures all around but still the ability is there a moral ability to perfection remains in the soul and the heart of human being since Adam and I went on to say that grace helps, he wasn't opposed to grace his concept was this the grace facilitates living a righteous life in the course the word facilitate means to make it easier, but grace.
Pelagius insisted is not necessary for a person to be righteous so that was the issue and that is the provoke so much of Augustine's insightful teaching on the fall of man and on the doctrine of election or predestination. Now, as a result of this conflict, the church of that time roundly and soundly condemned Pelagius as a heretic and completely rejected Palladian theology not only in the fifth century, but again in the first three canons of the Council of Trent in the 16th century. The church re-affirmed its judgment against Pelagianism and, in fact, in the first century the church ruled in favor of St. Augustine vis-à-vis Pelagius and the principal idea of Augustine can be summarized with these words, moral inability, namely that the fall was so radical and so corrupt sin so invaded our humanity that we are born in a state that the Bible describes in terms of being in a state of spiritual death or in bondage to sin and saying that we are morally impotent to do the things of God.
Augustine said there can be an outward conformity to the law of God from unconverted people and unregenerate people what Calvin would later call specific righteousness or civic virtue. There are still parents that have a natural love for their children and so on. But there is no inclination or desire of the human heart for the things of God because the heart of fallen humanity is now the heart of stone. And in that that heart.
It only has wicked desires continually, and Augustine said, even after conversion that our best works even with the assistance of divine grace our splendid vices because sin is so damaging that it attaches itself to us.
Even after conversion until we are glorified by God in heaven.
And so Augustine is saying without God's doing the work we are powerless to do spiritual good.
That was the issue then that issue was resurrected in the 16th century with a vengeance and we will look at that in our next when we compare the teachings of Pelagius in Augustine we can see that Augustine's claims were rooted in Scripture while Pelagius claimed that mankind retains the moral ability to live a righteous life without God's help, Dr. RC Sproul is been our teacher today here on Renewing Your Mind as we continue his series God alone. This is a helpful examination of the doctrine of justification through the lens of the five solos doctrines that grew out of the Protestant Reformation. RC taught the series in 10 messages in their contained on three DVDs would be happy to send them to you for your donation of any amount to look at your ministries. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343. You can also give your gift online and Renewing Your Mind.word it is our fervent prayer that the church remains faithful in every generation to the biblical gospel, but we know that there are many who are confused about what it means to be justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Perhaps all this is new to you and you like to learn more this series by Dr. Sproles, an excellent place to begin. Each of the messages is about 23 minutes in length, and I think you can see how it's perfect for a Sunday school class or a small group so again for your donation of any amount. We will send you the 10 lessons on three DVDs or phone number again is 800-435-4343 and her web address Renewing Your Mind.word will tomorrow.
Dr. Sproles addresses another angel question is man able to make the righteous decision of choosing God or must God bring regeneration to the human heart.
Join us Thursday as we continue Dr. Sproles series God alone here on Renewing Your Mind