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Do Words Matter?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
January 24, 2022 12:01 am

Do Words Matter?

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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January 24, 2022 12:01 am

Was the Reformation merely a trivial debate over some theological words -- an unnecessary squabble over doctrinal vocabulary? Today, Michael Reeves shows that when the gospel is at stake, the words we use bear eternal significance.

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The 16th century scholar Erasmus said the sum of all religion is peace and unanimity of these can scarcely stand unless we define as Nicholas possible. In other words, don't define your beliefs to Catholic all will never have peace welcome you renew your mind as we begin a new feature in your series we call Reformation truths. Dr. Michael Reeves is our teacher and he's going to address a 16th-century mindset that unfortunately exist today in the church. The theological precision isn't that important to look at common misconceptions about the Reformation to reveal that the gospel itself was at stake and still is welcome in this series we're going to look at some essential Christian Scripture sin, grace, justification, union with Christ, the new birth, the glory of God. These old truths that the reform was dug deep into, and each one can be understood in quite different ways. Indeed, looking to see each of these topics is understood in remarkably different ways by different Christian traditions. I will see is that the reformers didn't simply trump its belief in justification all Scripture grace they fought to articulate a very specific biblical understanding of these truths they so you could believe in justification by faith for salvation by grace and still not have anything like the biblical gospel in mind for you can mean things by justification will grace the Scripture simply do not mean a vague understanding of these truths will see will not bring life change and world change the reformers soul with that clear understanding of these truths, how my hope in the series is that will come together to appreciate that when we have the mainstream reformers clarity on the precise meaning of these truths that swing will share that joy that resolution and that gospel, the gospel. It is the power of God for salvation like Scott is the darkness take Martin Luther as an example will see that long before the Reformation as a monk looks up always believed in justification by God's grace. However, it was only when he gained clarity on how different the apostle Paul's understanding of it was that he could say here I felt I was altogether born again. I will enter paradise itself through gates and slaughtering them will be about growing in gospel delight through growing in gospel clarity, I will be doing that as we walk in the footsteps of the reformers, letting them the guides now, the suggestion that the issues of the Reformation might still be life sits uncomfortably with our culture today. Most Christians today would follow all the say with Dr. Samuel Johnson, my thoughts are. I think all Christians whether papists or Protestants agree in the essential articles that differences all trivial on political rather than religious. Don't just that we lament divisions in the church reaction reveals something in us that his paps more important than Protestant Catholic relations to mountain as the debates of the Reformation sound like the nicotine wars over words. We also rarely worth squabbling over whether justification is by faith as Rome agreed for by faith alone is the reformers insisted about level one word surely a culture feels like an interest only those with a quick list of doctrinal sensibilities.

And as for the strong language used in those debates. It sounds shrill and unloving today in our culture. I suggest those debates are relevant now, you might as well campaign for the reintroduction of burning at the stake this ounce of backward, so harsh in the 21st-century. Our culture does not trust me words in our culture. The scene is the weapons of manipulation tools of spin. We are tolerant of the spirit of the Reformation to replace the old to with the pulpit as the focal point of the church is long gone from pulpit. We think that strikes out cultures for authoritarian and this was just what some thought the time of the Reformation.

The right 16th-century scholar Erasmus said the sum of all religion is peace and unanimity of these can scarcely stand unless we define as Nicholas possible.

In other words, don't define your beliefs to Catholic all will never have peace. In the spirit of Erasmus is really conquered in our day.

Simply putting our culture today. We do not like theological precision for our culture feels the courses division of the issues that are not the most relevant. Luther unsurprisingly responded bluntly to Erasmus. He said you with your peaceloving theology. You don't care about truths about that was a little harsh and the screams of the lives were put to death for their beliefs might suggest to us, that's a little more toleration little less harshness might not of been a bad thing, but as we look at the history of the Reformation with. Ask all beliefs were dying for rule is mountains suffered for nothing before they delete for was either untrue or irrelevant.

I would like to go to be mistaken. Each side of the Reformation debate the other sides mountains were mistaken, but their fates to mom from us more than simply flippant dismissal is what's really going on is we relegate these theological issues because of the submerged cultural assumption that not actually true, because these are hardly small concerns that will be debated in the Reformation. What will happen to me when I die. How can I know is justification the gift of a righteous status by faith alone, or process of becoming more holy justification by faith, in which case, confidently rely on Christ alone for my salvation. It is my justification also rest on my own holiness and fall more is at stake than a fussy concern to dull the eye across the T of doctrine was so worrying about Erasmus indifference to doctrine, with its imprisoning corrosive effect. Erasmus was only ever able only ever wanted to sponge down the system that he was in so he could take pot shots at bad popes, he could wish people were more devoted because Erasmus was unwilling to engage with deep doctrinal issues in his day. He could never bring about more than cosmetic changes to the church in his day he was doomed ever to remain a prisoner of where the church was and so it must be in a world conquered by Erasmus filled with his spirit. For as long as doctrine is ignored.

We must remain captives of the ruling system or the spirit of the age, whatever that must be my hope will get to see the lack of clarity on these essential truths creates a host of postural problems in Christian lives and yet doctrinal vagueness or confusion is not always easy to spot. So let me give you an example. A few years ago a pool was taken to measure the presence of evangelicalism in Canada or in the US and respondents were marked down as evangelical if they agreed with four statements that the Bible is the inspired word of God that I have committed my life to Christ and consider myself to be a converted Christian, but it is important to encourage non-Christians to become Christians and forth through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. God provided a way for the forgiveness of my sins.

Sending those sound very theologically evangelical statements, each one I don't not faces a significant percentage of Roman Catholics would label evangelical.

If a court so with a small down in Canada or as evangelicals well Roman Catholic, while half of the American Catholics interviewed scored three out of four on the evangelical test and none of this was to offend the Catholics concerned for a good number already referred to themselves as evangelical.

The problem with the pole, however, was that it raised none of the issues of the Reformation in the 16th century. Both sides of the Reformation divide would happily have signed up to all four statements I found themselves labeled evangelical inspiration of the Bible commitment to Christ mission God's provision of salvation through Jesus. Whenever points of contention. Let's take an even trickier example of doctrinal vagueness or confusion that isn't obvious when in fact the looks very clear on the surface.

On October 31 Reformation Day, 1999, the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran world Federation signed the joint declaration on the doctrine of justification, claiming we are now able to articulate a common understanding of justification by God's grace through faith in Christ and the joint declaration held out pretty detailed account of the theological agreement shed over the doctrine of justification, and it was detailed and persuasive enough to lead many to think the fundamental theological differences of the Reformation, especially justification have nothing result, the eminent historian Prof. Mark know for instance, boldly declared if it is true, as once was repeated by Protestants conscious of the anchorage in Martin Luther or John Calvin. Justification is the article on which the church stands a full's than the Reformation is a set, you can see why he'd say that when you read the joint declaration is limited so Catholic it could be hot to imagine these words are open to possible but completely incompatible theological interpretations. 12.

Listen carefully. It says the justified live by faith comes from the word of Christ and is active through love and what Christian could object, but does that love contribute to the believer's righteousness before God.

Roman Catholic view or does it follow from it. The traditional evangelical view when auto take paragraph 50 wish. Amazingly, it appears to affirm a Reformation distinctive grace alone, it reads together, we confess the Lutheran world Federation on the Roman Catholic Church by grace alone and faith in Christ saving work and not because of any merit on all parts we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping them calling us to good works, yet what could be taken as an affirmation of justification by grace alone is in fact only a statement by his grace alone. God renews our heart transforming us to do good works, it doesn't. So the question do those good works and that renewal play a part in the justification of the believer. It sounded so tight, so persuasive, but hadn't actually delved deep enough see how hard it can be to spot the problem joint declaration speaks of justification by faith and even grace alone because it can be hard to spot you can give the impression that the differences are too small to be significant suddenly feels more positive, less mentally taxing simply to say they look pretty similar with each theology is practically applied to real lives. It becomes clear how different they are and how deep those differences go, take the question of assurance of salvation the matter that drove Luce up on his quest, according to the joint declaration. It says no one may doubt God's mercy and Christ's merit. Every person however may be concerned about his salvation when he looks up on his weaknesses and shortcomings. Recognizing his failure. However, the believer may yet be sucking the goat intensity salvation confused this I mean we can have assurance will not reach you again. This would joint declaration says no one may doubt God's mercy and Christ's merit. Every person however may be concerned about his salvation when he looks upon his own weaknesses and shortcomings.

Recognizing his own failures. However, the believer may yet be certain the goat intensity salvation so can a believer have assurance or not we may not doubt Christ's merit God's mercy.

Yet we may be concerned about our salvation. We look upon her and weaknesses. I'm confused.

The declaration explains them a person consistently lose or renounce faith and self commitment to God and his word of promise.if he believes in this sentence he cannot at the same time believe God is unreliable in his word of promise to help with saying is God is faithful to say but only to save those who maintain their self commitment to God and his word of promise.

So the assurance of believers rests upon their own self commitment now compare that with how loose the spoke of the believers assurance. These theological differences that could've looks small now see when it is played out on the postural ground of assurance. See how different Luther sounds. Luther said the believer can have assurance for her sins cannot now destroy since they all laid upon Christ and swallowed up by him on the believer has that righteousness in Christ, her husband, of which she may boast as of own in which she can confidently display her sins in the face of death and hell and say if I've sinned. Yet, my Christ, in whom I believe has not sinned and all his his righteousness is my home, my my sin is is is the bride and the song of Solomon says, my beloved is my I am his. There is doctrinal clarity works out into real lives see the difference looking with the joint declaration with ultimate concern, worry because our personal shortcomings or confidently with Luther saying all his is my I know my my sin is his. The use of the two applications that reveal to white different theologies and it gives just one example of why we should want in this series to gain the reformers clarity on these issues through flower say we couldn't grow that assurance we can grow in Luther's own resolution. We can grow in Christ. The Reformation brought assurance to Christians when an incredible message. Salvation by God's grace alone is a message of incredible freedom as we realize that we don't want to work our way into heaven. The weight of her burden of sin is listed as almost a physical relief to that venture listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Monday climb.

We web Dr. Michael raises our teacher this week.

He is president of the union school of theology in Wales and is a regular speaker in our league international conferences. Dr. series called Reformation truths reveals the stark contrast between Roman Catholic and Protestant traditions and helps us see why the Reformation was necessary and white still matters. Five centuries later will be glad to send you this eight lesson series when you give a donation of any amount to look at your ministries, you can request it online that Renewing Your Mind.org or you can call us with your gift at 800-435-4343 this series by the way has been added to link interconnects that we regularly update our interactive courses that are giving you the opportunity to study at your own pace or with a group interconnect is an online learning and discipleship community designed to help you grow in your faith and you can learn more@connect.ligonier.org before we go today.

I thought it would be helpful for us to get a little more perspective on the Reformation, Dr. Steven Nichols is the president of Reformation Bible college and he has a podcast called five minutes in church history. This clip is from the episode titled what is Reformation day of the first Reformation day was October 31 1517 and on that day Martin Luther, a monk in the city of Wittenberg nailed his 95 theses to the church door. Now why would Luther do that in order to understand why Luther was doing that we need to introduce a few more characters into the scene.

One of those characters was Albert of Brandenburg, now Albert of Brandenburg was not old enough to be a bishop yet in 1517 he was already bishop over to cities which was against church law and on top of that he wanted to be the Archbishop of Mons will to hold these three offices was also against church law and that meant that Albert needed a papal dispensation. So now we enter another character into the story and this character is Leo the 10th, Leo the 10th of the Medici family in Florence like that family was a patron of the arts. It was Leo the 10th who brought Michelangelo in to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling there in St. Peter's Basilica and so Albert, needing a papal dispensation Leo the 10th was in a position to give him one. The two met and like good businessmen.

They struck a deal, and for 10,000 tickets. Albert could have his three bishoprics, but there was an issue for Albert, his money was largely in land not in cash and so he needed to raise the money to fund this is so we enter yet another character, and this is the enterprising monk tensile tensile devised a jingle to sell indulgences. These were supplied by the Pope, and these indulgences allowed not only for your past sins to be forgiven but for your future sins to be forgiven and these indulgences also allowed you to get your relatives out of purgatory, and so tensile began selling these indulgences will this development deeply troubled Luther he saw how these things were contrary to the church's doctrine. At the time and that these practices were rather renegade and so he does what a scholar could do.

He goes into his study and he pens his 95 theses for debate. He does this on October 31, because November 1 was a crucial day in the church calendar November 1 was all St.'s day and so the day before would be hallowed evening or as we say Halloween and so on October 31 1517, Luther nails his 95 theses to the church door that's Dr. Steven Nichols from five minutes in church history, and you can find that podcast in your favorite app store with a perspective on the beginnings of the Reformation. I hope you'll join us again tomorrow is Dr. Michael Reeves continues his series and is a preview Scripture alone is the authority the rules of the governs all atherosclerosis and there would be no Reformation without districts. I hope you'll join us tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind


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