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Finding Peace with God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
October 27, 2022 12:01 am

Finding Peace with God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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October 27, 2022 12:01 am

Martin Luther was once paralyzed by a guilty conscience. Then he discovered the truth of God's grace. Listen today as Sinclair Ferguson teaches that the Reformation was a rediscovery of the only way that sinners can have true peace with God.

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Paul's letter to the Romans is essential in understanding Martin Luther. Among other passages in Romans, chapter 5 jumped out to him. God demonstrated His love for us in this, that while we were so sinners for us, Christ died. The knowledge that He died bearing His sin under the judgment and wrath of God and the realization that therefore He was free from that wrath, He was free from that judgment, there could be no condemnation for Him. And there in the book of Romans, Luther rediscovered the gospel.

Little did he know that he was sparking a fire that would engulf Europe and mark one of the most important events in church history. Today on Renewing Your Mind, we continue our look back at the important people and events of the Protestant Reformation, when brave men stood against the power of the Roman Catholic Church and demanded a return to the scriptural definition of salvation. Today's message is from Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, and it's titled simply, Peace with God.

Paul writes in Romans, chapter 5 and verse 1, therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. There are, I think, two kinds of evangelical ministers, as there were two kinds of reformers. There were those who fairly calmly, consistently, carefully expounded the Scriptures and did disclose very little about their personal lives.

And you would immediately think, I'm sure, of John Calvin. And there were others who dragged their friends and their congregations through their spiritual discoveries until eventually they and their congregations ultimately realized and experienced the power of the gospel. And I think it's fairly clear when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door 500 years ago, October the 31st, that he was a man who was still struggling to understand the gospel. I'd like to go to all the Lutheran churches in the world and say, hands up, all of you who have read the 95 theses and understood them, because well known as they are, most Christians probably lack the patience to read through them all.

As you know, they were intended as points of academic discussion written in Latin, probably for only scholars and priests to read. But there are occasions, especially as Luther makes his way towards the end of the 95 theses, that you feel he is really on the edge of understanding the gospel and perhaps even more in his agony of heart over the falsehood of indulgences, longing that he and the people to whom he was already preaching knew what it was to have real peace with God. And so, he writes in theses 92, away then with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, peace, peace, and there is no peace. And it was of course only when he discovered the real significance of the saving righteousness of God that he discovered true peace in Jesus Christ and was able to say that he felt himself to be born again and the very doors of heaven opened to him. And he entered into paradise, not only for the future, but paradise here on earth in the assurance of faith and genuine peace with God. And he discovered, as many people have discovered since who know relatively little about the Reformation, that the ways of salvation that were being offered to him, afforded to him in the traditions of the church could never bring his guilty conscience peace.

One of those ways, as you know, was expressed in a little Latin formula, that a man should do what was in him, faquere quod insa est. And as he cooperated with God's grace, then eventually a righteousness would be produced. He would stumble and fall, but there was a way of contrition and penance and if necessary indulgence and perhaps if he proved to be an extraordinary saint, he might become so righteous that God could actually justify him. And Luther very early on understood there was no salvation and no peace to be found in such a way. He began to learn that our basic problem is we are in curvatus in se, turned in upon ourselves, and there is no good in us, there is no power to cooperate with the grace of God. And there is no man or woman who has ever lived apart from Jesus Christ, who has ever done enough to be justified. But there was another way, and it was Luther's own way.

It is the way of many men and women, which is why Luther's message resonates still with us today. And it was this way, if I can just be sorry enough for my sins, then I may at the end find justification. And so Luther confessed his sins, was sorry for his sins, did penance for his sins and found that there was no peace, there was no hope in this false gospel. He might have been able to sing earlier on in his life, not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy law's demands. He could sing, could my zeal nor respite know?

And he could also sing, could my tears forever flow? All for sin could not atone, thou must save and thou alone. And then in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, he discovered the righteousness of God, the believing righteousness of God that covers us, cloaks us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, enables us to stand before God as righteous as Jesus Christ because clothed in his righteousness.

And immediately this happened to him. As Paul says here in Romans chapter 5, he found true peace with God. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

That little expression at the end is so significant as Luther discovered. He discovered, as been said, that we are certainly not justified by our works. We cannot be justified by our sorrow.

We are not even justified by our faith. We are justified by Jesus Christ through faith. And when he came thus to trust in Jesus Christ, the peace of God broke over his life just as it broke into the life of the apostle Paul. In a marvelous way, as Paul goes on to say, in Luther's life of tribulations that you cannot read or sing his mighty fortress or his safe, strong hold, our God is still without understanding this was a man whose peace was threatened by tribulations. And he understood the guarantee that is given to us in the gospel of which Paul goes on to speak, but rather than destroy our peace with God, tribulations work patience and patience that endurance that produces character and character produces hope, hope of the glory of God.

That is to say certainty of the glory of God because it does not depend on my righteousness but on Jesus Christ's righteousness. And I can no more be seized from the glory of God through my tribulations than heaven can be emptied of Jesus Christ. And like Paul, more and more, contrary to all that had been wrought in his instincts from his earliest childhood when he had seen that portrayal of Jesus Christ seated on the rainbow throne as the judge of sinners and the condemner of sinners. He now discovered in the depth of the gospel and was poured out into the depths of his heart that Jesus Christ came into the world because he loved sinners. And so he began to grasp, not least because now he was able to read Erasmus' New Testament, but all of his salvation was to be found, not in his doing, but in Christ's dying, Christ's dying. And because of Christ's dying, he said the love of God is actually poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. And you can hardly read Luther and think about all that Dr. Thomas has told us about what he did without really feeling this was a man who was filled with the Holy Spirit and constrained by the love of Christ. And he understood where to look for that love, to look to that same Jesus Christ, not enthroned upon any rainbow of this world, but enthroned upon the cross of Calvary for the forgiveness of our sins. And so as he himself studied Paul's letter to the Romans, he remembered that it was true, that at just the right time, when we were still powerless, in Erasmus' Greek Testament for the ungodly, Christ died. Very rarely will anyone for a righteous man die, though for a good man someone might possibly die, but God demonstrated his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners for us, Christ died.

The knowledge that he died bearing his sin under the judgment and wrath of God and the realization that therefore he was free from that wrath, he was free from that judgment, there could be no condemnation for him as long as he was in Christ Jesus, his Lord. So many people have gone Luther's way. I remember a number of years ago a friend telling me that he was called to the bedside of a dying lady, a lady brought up in the same church as Martin Luther, who for all that she had done, and she had done so much that she had been made a dame of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen, renowned throughout the land for her good works.

And a non-Christian nurse came to my friend and said, will you visit her, because she is no assurance of salvation. Well, of course she had no assurance of salvation until she looked in faith to Jesus Christ and found, as Martin Luther did, that there is a righteousness in him that covers all my sins and prepares me for the judgment day and gives me boldness on that great day to stand before him clothed in a righteousness that is divine. Our evening began with the story of Tetso selling his indulgences, preaching in a criminally emotionally way into the broken hearts of men and women who feared their families were in purgatory, and because he failed in his ministry, Tetso became a depressed, disconsolate, broken and rejected man. In his dying days, Martin Luther himself wrote to him to speak to him a word of counsel and peace and gospel hope. And you contrast that with Martin Luther, and those last words of his found written out, we are beggars, this is true, and discovering that although he was a beggar, he was able to die in the unfailing love of the Lord Jesus Christ. So that three times from the dying lips of Martin Luther came the words, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

God so loved the world that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ given to us in the gospel of His grace. Isn't that a great reason to remember the Reformation? Isn't that a great reason to thank God for Martin Luther?

Isn't it also the greatest reason to understand that we are still surrounded in our world? They may not be churchgoers today as Luther was a churchgoer then and his companions churchgoers longing for salvation, but they need salvation. And they believe that there are two ways in which they will find salvation.

They will be able to do enough or they will be able to be sorry enough. But they slowly discover by God's grace as we pray for them that they can neither do enough nor be sorry enough, but they have nowhere else to look. And dear friends, we need to remember as we think about the Reformation and as we glory in the theology and the doctrine of the Reformation and the discovery of these great biblical doctrines that the Reformation was not simply a recovery of doctrine. It was a spiritual awakening of an extraordinary degree in which men and women were finding Jesus Christ and being found by Him. And we want to sound again that note that's already been sounded this evening, that we need a new kind of Reformation.

That is to say we need a new awakening. My own great, great predecessor in gospel preaching in Scotland, John Knox, you know when he was asked to explain how it was that the Reformation came about, did not answer it was because of Martin Luther or because of John Calvin or because of John Knox. But says Knox, because God gave His Holy Spirit to ordinary men in great abundance. That's the explanation for Luther.

That's the explanation for the Reformation. And as we celebrate it tonight and tomorrow and look forward to the future, we need to cry to God that He will send the same Spirit again. We need to pray like Elisha and his companions. Not just where is the Lord God of Elijah, but where is the Lord God of Martin Luther? You did it once, Lord.

In your infinite mercy do it again. Give your Holy Spirit with your word to ordinary men in great abundance that they may be filled with the peace of Christ and the love of God and bring the gospel to a needy, lost, broken, and dying world. This is our prayer for our Savior's sake, amen. The Reformation addressed a central question, a question that's just as important today, more than five centuries later, how can I find peace with God? Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson has reminded us of the peace we find when we realize, as Luther did, that justification is by faith and by faith alone. Dr. Ferguson's message is from an event Ligater Ministries held several years ago.

R.C. Sproul gathered with our teaching fellows and a large crowd at St. Andrews Chapel to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. And we'll share more from that event in just a moment, but first let me recommend our resource offer today. It's Dr. Sproul's book, Luther and the Reformation.

In it, R.C. follows the major events of Luther's life and explores the gospel recovered by Luther and the other reformers. And you contact us today with a donation of any amount, we'll also include R.C. 's 10-part teaching series by the same title. Request both of these resources when you call us at 800-435-4343.

If you prefer, you can give your gift and make your request online at Well during that Reformation 500 event, Ligater CEO Chris Larson invited Dr. Sproul and the teaching fellows to the stage for question and answer time. And one of the questions addressed a contemporary movement involving younger Christians who have embraced certain aspects of the Reformation, but not all. Has the young, restless, and reformed movement built on or detracted from the historical message of the Reformation?

That's a big question, and there's a great complexity to the answer, I think. But one thing we need to always keep in mind is that truth is never a fad. And when God's truth goes out and never returns void, it always goes forth and accomplishes precisely what God has intended. And we need to be grateful for God's truth going forth to the young, to the aged, to all. And we need to contend for that truth and continue to proclaim that truth and to be grateful for the truth of the Lord going forth. And so what we need to do is to be faithful in cultivating that truth and discipling the young. Simply giving them the truth and then letting them run off on their own, but rather mentoring them and coming alongside them, and older men coming and mentoring younger men, and older women in the churches coming and mentoring younger women, and helping them grow as disciples of Jesus Christ so that they might not simply have a flash in the pan with reformed theology in the Bible, but that they might come to learn to know how to love the Bible, how to love the Lord Jesus Christ, how to grow in the Lord Jesus Christ into maturity in the church of Jesus Christ, and that we would not divorce young people or anyone for that matter from the church, but that we as God's people in all the church would be examples to the young, and that we would be examples in our faith, and that we would be examples in our worship, and that we'd be coming to worship and attending worship, attending to the means of grace.

And that will be the example to the younger generations as they see us living out the gospel in our own lives. Dr. Sproul, as we assess the Reformation, where should our confidence be placed? Well, where was it for Luther? Where was it for Calvin?

Where was it for Knox? You know, Luther certainly didn't find a whole lot of confidence in Luther. Calvin didn't find a lot of confidence in Calvin, Knox didn't find a lot of confidence in Knox.

That's not why we're here talking about these men, because our confidence is not in those men. We are profoundly grateful for what they did in their hour and at the time of such great crisis in the church for the recovery of the gospel. What a glorious and wonderful thing that happened that God used these people, and for which we are profoundly grateful, not only to God, but we say how beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bringeth good tidings. And so, we do celebrate and honor the magisterial reformers for their boldness, for their courage, and for their commitment to the truth of the gospel and of the Word of God.

But they knew, just as we know, that our confidence can only be in Christ anywhere else we place is an exercise in vanity, and again, a fool's errand. And so, after Luther died, there were moments of discouragement. After Luther died, you know, the movement went on. It didn't end with his death or with Calvin's death, but back at Bittenberg, when Luther died and the message came from ice-lipping, and the message was delivered to Melanchthon. And Melanchthon was teaching a class, and somebody beckoned him out and whispered in his ear that Luther had died. And so, he went and he said to his class, the charioteer of Israel has fallen. And after the funeral services and the different orations and all of that, there were times of discouragement that came to Bittenberg, to the university. And whenever the faculty would go through a blue period, a down period, Melanchthon would stand before the faculty and he would say, gentlemen, let's sing the 46th. And everybody knew what he meant because his most famous hymn that Luther wrote was, The Mighty Fortress is Our God, based on Psalm 46. Well, at the heart of the Reformation lies this question, what is the gospel? Tomorrow, Dr. Sproul will help us understand why there's such a wide divide between the Roman Catholic and Protestant views of salvation. I hope you'll join us Friday for Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-05 22:45:28 / 2022-11-05 22:50:08 / 5

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