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Posts Tagged ‘Grace Alone’

Joy Because of Justification

by Erroll Hulse

WE have seen that humiliation because of sin is the first experience of Christianity and without it there can be no salvation. The good news of the Gospel is for sinners only. The self-righteous cannot be saved because they trust in themselves and their own works. The degree to which sinners will experience conviction and feel their guilt varies. After conversion the experience of humiliation because of sin can be intense as is seen in many examples — Job, Isaiah, Peter and Paul. The depth of humiliation has a profound effect upon the believer, particularly with reference to understanding and practising the doctrines of grace. Spurgeon put it this way:

Hardly a glimmer of the humbling truth of our natural depravity dawns on the dull apprehension of the worldly-wise, though souls taught from above know it and are appalled by it. In divers ways the discovery comes to those whom the Lord ordains to save. . . . There is a vital connection between soul-distress and sound doctrine. Sovereign grace is dear to those who have groaned deeply because they see what grievous sinners they are. Witness Joseph Hart and John Newton whose hymns you have often sung, or David Brainerd and Jonathan Edwards, whose biographies many of you have read.1

Also we have observed that the new birth takes place after, before or during conviction, i.e. in some cases it might precede, in other cases it might follow. That the new birth precedes saving faith and saving repentance is fundamental to the Reformed faith, but, again as we have seen, it has always been a matter of debate as to how much conviction or preparation goes on in a sinner before the new birth is wrought by the Holy Spirit. Some believe in more preparatory work prior to the new birth than others. Jonathan Edwards in his writings……

Read the entire article here.

Justification and Imputation

by Persis Lorenti

On October 31, 2017, many Christians celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. My church held a service where several pastors spoke on the theological importance of this historical event, namely the recovery of the doctrine of justification by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone for God’s glory alone. This indeed is a wonderful truth that is the ground of the gospel. What then is the ground of justification? The doctrine of imputation.

Apart from God’s intervention, Romans 3:23 is true for every man, woman, and child. We have fallen short of the glory of God, and we have fallen in two respects. We are guilty of breaking the law, which is a capital offense. (Gen. 2:16-17) God cannot sweep our sin under the rug and maintain His holiness. Therefore, sin must be punished. (Ps. 5:4-6, Heb. 10:26-31) We are also guilty of not keeping the law. (Deut. 5:29-33) God our Creator rightfully demands perfect obedience, but our best efforts are filthy rags. (Is. 64:6) Therefore, these two mammoth obstacles must be dealt with in order for us….

Read the entire article at Reformation21.

Justification and the Old Perspective

by Jeffrey Stivason

Charles Spurgeon’s famous quip goes something like this, “I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines, that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are surely and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus.” We might say something similar about justification. We may describe it as the Reformed perspective or Protestant perspective on justification but it is nothing other than the truth of God revealed in Scripture. In this article, I simply want to point out the constituent elements of the doctrine of justification and make reference to their Biblical support.

First, we must affirm that man is fallen in Adam……

Read the entire article at Reformation21.

Justification and the New Perspective

Jeffrey Stivason

The New Perspective now feels old. Or to say it differently, it has gained stability in the academy and in the church. Tom Wright, its leading salesperson, is as intelligent as he is winsome. He also has the instincts of a pastor. Hence the Everyone’s Commentary, which has quickly become a staple in the church, is reaching, well, everyone! The New Perspective is leaching into the pews at an accessible rate. So, as we think about justification I think it’s a good idea that we address the New Perspective on Paul (NPP).

Let me begin by saying that Robert Cara, Provost, Chief Academic Officer and Hugh and Sallie Reaves Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, has gifted the church with a book titled, Cracking the Foundations of the New Perspective. It is a text meant to equip pastors who are ill-equipped to answer arguments rooted in Second Temple Judaism made by advocates…..

Read the entire article at Reformation21 

Why Evangelicals Must Engage Roman Catholicism

As I speak to different audiences and at various conferences, the question comes back over and over again: why should Evangelicals bother engaging Roman Catholicism? Let me suggest four reasons.

It’s a Global Issue

Wherever you go in the world – North and South, East and West – you will find people who call themselves Roman Catholics and with whom all of us will interact in one way or another on matters of faith. You will also encounter the Roman Catholic Church through its institutions and agencies: parishes, schools, hospitals, charities, movements, etc. According to the 2020 edition of the Pontifical Yearbook, Catholics around the world amount….

Read the entire article here

Justification and Roman Catholicism

by Stephen Unthank

It shouldn’t surprise Protestant readers that our Roman Catholic friends (or maybe they’re not your friends) really do believe that God justifies sinners. When they read Romans 3:19-26 they also say “Amen!” But of course, it’s what is meant by the term justify that needs careful clarification. In fact, it’s that very definition which makes the difference between calling our Roman Catholic neighbors merely a friend or a brother.[1]

The history of Rome’s understanding is itself variegated and in no way lends itself to an easy retelling, at least not in a short article like this. There’s a story about an argument over justification by faith, held during the two-decade deliberation of the Council of Trent, where “the Bishop of La Cava wrenched the beard of the Cretan Bishop of Chironissa, who had commented that he was either a knave or a fool for sounding a bit like Martin Luther on justification.”[2] And yet, you could turn to many of Thomas Aquinas’ statements on justification and easily conclude that he sounds exactly like Martin Luther. That is to say, there is not a clearly defined doctrine of justification which is easily traceable throughout the history of the Catholic Church. This is partly why there could be such a vague document like the Evangelicals and Catholics Together, which plays on how close Catholics and Protestants can seemingly come. Yet, being close is not the same thing as being faithful and when it comes to the Gospel, faithful is essential whereas being close is still an eternally distant “close.”

It is not quite right to say that the Roman Catholic church opposes salvation by grace through faith. Their own Catechism explicitly states that a person is made right with God by God’s grace, and that grace is accepted by faith. “The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit….

Read the entire article over at Reformation21  

The Wednesday Word: When a Guilty Sinner met the Gracious Saviour

When a guilty sinner met the gracious Saviour the result was blessing (see Luke 7:36-50).

The Bible tells us that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-10) but grace makes no sense to the person who has not seen their lostness before God. Just as, when we are sick, our stomachs despise and reject health giving food, so the proud person rejects salvation by free grace.

To my unbelieving friends I would ask a question… have you become aware of your spiritual destitution? Have you discovered that your sin has already damned you? (John 3:18). Instead of being pure, have you discovered that your heart, like everyone else’s, is deceitful, and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Do you not know yourself? Instead of your works being good, outside of Christ they are either “bad” or “dead” (see Philippians 3:4-9; John 6:28-29; Hebrews 6:1-3).

So, here’s a question, if you are a sinner at best, …what are you at worst?

The truth is, outside of Christ, we are all desperately wicked and guilty before the all-holy God. Guilty! Guilty of sins, innumerable sins, and responsible for every one of them!

Terrible!

But, what a wonderfully suitable Saviour we find in the Lord Jesus. He was and is full of grace. What He was … is what He is! He never changes.

Do you remember Simon the Pharisee?

No?

Let me then ‘stir up your pure mind by way of remembrance.’ Simon, a local leader of religion, ‘condescended’ to entertain the Master with a meal (see Luke 7:36-50). I’m sure, at the back of it, he prided himself on having such a famous man as Jesus for a guest. But, during the feast the Lord disrupted the party by announcing forgiveness and grace for a local prostitute. Simon was both shocked and offended. Grace will do that to us at times. Simon, you see, was self-righteous. In his estimation, Jesus was not for the likes of her. But this woman, this notorious sinner, had what Simon had not… she had a knowledge of personal guilt. Simon was ignorant of his.

This poor woman placed herself at the mercy of her Maker. And how did Jesus respond?

He forgave her.

Grace outweighed her guilt and she went home with the Master’s triple announcement:

“Thy sins are forgiven;” (Mark 7:47).

“Thy faith hath saved thee;” (Mark 7:50).

“Go in peace” (Mark 7:50).

Evidently, before she met Jesus, conviction of sin had taken possession of her. She rightly judged herself guilty, turned to the Lord for mercy and was met by perfect grace.´´Perfect Grace!´´ What a description of the character of God. Grace changed the dear woman’s hell into heaven and cleansed her filth.

In this story, guilt entered the lists with grace and grace triumphed. It’s no wonder then that we can boldly say, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief ” (1 Timothy 1:15).

So, let’s ask a question, … do you know Him? If you say you do, let’s ask another question … is He is precious to you? If you don’t know and love Him then may the Lord open your understanding and may you, “acquaint thyself now with him, and be at peace; …” (Job 22:21).

The unsaved’s desire is to get away from God … and keep away from Him (John 3:19-21). Unless grace, therefore, intervenes, your wish will be granted, and you will eventually find yourself excluded from God forever. In the Lake of Fire, there is no grace. Grace never visits. Rays of mercy make no surprise appearances. (see Matthew 25; Luke 14). I urge you, therefore, to “Believe (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31). Rest on Him, He is the sure foundation (Isaiah 28:16).

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Grace! Grace! Grace! Part 2

by D. G. Miles McKee

Ephesians 2: 8-10.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast…..”

Matthew Henry’s commentary on our text says: “Every converted sinner is a saved sinner. Such are delivered from sin and wrath; they are brought into a state of salvation and have a right given them by grace to eternal happiness.

“The grace that saves them is the free, underserved, goodness and favour of God; and He saves them, not by the works of the law, but through faith in Christ Jesus, by means of which they come to partake of the great blessings of the gospel; and both that faith and that salvation on which it has so great an influence are the gift of God.”

Salvation is entirely by Grace. Paul says in Ephesians 2:1: “You has he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” We were spiritually dead. We had no spiritual understanding. What did we deserve but a good burial? …If even!

In Ephesians 2:2-3 however, as we read on, we learn the strangest thing, we discover we were dead but walking .. literally we were “walking dead men”…. We were zombies-like walking according to the world system, which is against God, and following “the prince of the power of the air,” which is Satan.

There’s a story about a graveyard in an area in Ayrshire, Scotland, where once a stranger was buried. It greatly distressed the people of that particular parish, so much so that they put a notice up on the outside of the graveyard that read, “This graveyard is reserved exclusively for the dead who are living in this parish.” Funny!

But we were living dead people. We were alive, just like Adam was physically alive after he had sinned, but nevertheless spiritually dead. We were living and were dead, but God made us alive. Grace! Grace ! Grace!

Here’s a good way of looking at grace… Notice in Ephesians 1:1 the apostle calls believers saints. However, look at what we once were. Ephesians 2:1-3..

Dead,

Walking in the devil’s path,

Children of disobedience,

Children of wrath.

And what made the difference? It was grace.

In addition, 2 Timothy 1:9 tells us we are chosen by grace;

In Ephesians 1:7 we learn that we have redemption by grace;

We are adopted by grace Ephesians 1:5.

By that same grace we are accepted Ephesians 1:6.

By grace we have the forgiveness of sins Ephesians 1:7.

By that same grace we have been made alive together with Christ Ephesians 2:5.

He has glorified us by grace Ephesians 2:6.

Nowhere in the Bible is credit given to man regarding his salvation. It is all of grace! The making alive, the undeserved favour, the faith, the union with Christ, the good works that follow after salvation are all the gifts of Almighty God!

Is it any wonder then that Paul would write in Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

To “glory” is “to boast”. Paul is saying that we cannot boast in anything except the cross of the Lord Jesus. That’s another way of saying that we are saved by grace. All our prosperity, all our accomplishments, all our doctrinal understanding, and even all the accumulated knowledge over our lifetime is nothing to glory about. We can boast only in the grace of God as seen in the cross, the cross of Christ! Glory to His name!

To be continued.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Grace! Grace! Grace! Part 1

Ephesians 2: 8-10.

“For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Ephesians has been called the Alps of the New Testament because some of the things taught in it are amazingly glorious. Here are but two of them …

1) We are saved by grace plus nothing, and

2) We are saved by grace minus nothing.”

The Greek word for grace is “Charis.” It means, ‘unmerited and undeserved favour.’ It is, ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.’

Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “There is no more wonderful word than ‘grace.’ It means unmerited favour or kindness shown to one who is utterly undeserving. It is a free gift to those who deserve the exact opposite, and it is given to us while we are ‘without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

We are saved by grace!

We are delivered from the wrath to come by grace (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

We are given eternal life by grace (Romans 5:21).

Religion knows nothing of grace. Religion seeks to find favour with God by doing something (Romans 10:3). In religion, good works are a premium. But under grace, the sinner is freely declared not guilty. Have you grasped that for yourself?

But there’s more. The believer is not only forgiven he is also acquitted. And how is this done? It is done simply on the merits of another person, the Lord Jesus Christ (Leviticus 16; 1 Peter 3:18). Now that’s grace!

In Ephesians 2:6-9, Notice what grace isn’t!

‘It is not of ourselves.’

There was and is nothing we could do to deserve salvation. We may say, “What about faith? Isn’t that something I do?” No! Faith is a gift of God. It is not of works lest anyone should boast.

Have we then no work to do in this great matter of our justification? In a nutshell, NONE!

What work can we work to obtain personal salvation? NONE! What work of ours can buy forgiveness or make us worthy of Divine favour? NONE!

Has the Lord commanded that we crawl around the earth on our hands and knees? NO!

Has He decreed that we should whip ourselves and deprive ourselves of everything good? NO!

So, what work has God commanded us to do to obtain salvation?

Once more …NONE!

Romans 4:5 “To him that works not, but believes in Him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” There is only one work which can save us, and that work is not ours, but the work of the God/Man. And that work is finished (John 19:30). It can never be repeated. Salvation is all Grace, Grace, Grace!

SAVED!

‘Saved’ is another great Bible word from our verse. It means deliverance. It means life in contrast to the death. It must be remembered that God is obliged to save no one. All of us have sinned and rebelled. All of us deserve death, not salvation. God was not and is not bound to come and rescue a defiant humanity….that’s why we love GRACE!

In Ephesians 2:1 the Word says, “You has he (God), quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sin.”

He is speaking of spiritual death here and in the past tense. We were dead! But, things are different now. We have been made alive. We are saved. We are no longer under wrath…..we are saved. And how did we get saved? … Grace! Grace! Grace!

John Stott puts it this way: “You were saved through faith, and even this faith by which you are saved is God’s gift.” This is an essential truth. We must never think of salvation as a kind of a transaction between God and us in which He contributes grace, and we contribute faith. For we were dead and had to be brought alive before we could believe.”

To be continued.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Jesus + Nothing

No church saved us.

No religious act on our part saved us.

We were, are and will be entirely saved by Christ alone.

We are saved by the free, unconditional, invincible grace brought to us in the doing, dying and rising again of Christ Jesus the Lord.

For when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. That’s you and that’s me! For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man, someone would even dare to die. But God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s priceless!

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (see Romans 5:6-10).

Christ’s sinless life and atoning death have been accepted by the Father as ours. His doing and dying of two thousand years ago is the only ground of our acceptance with God today.

“Here we have a firm foundation;

Here the refuge of the lost;

Christ’s the Rock of our salvation,

His the name of which we boast.

Lamb of God, for sinners wounded,

Sacrifice to cancel guilt!

None shall ever be confounded

Who on Him their hope have built.”

Thomas Kelly

Christ alone has been found pleasing in the Father’s sight. So, since repetition is the price of learning, let’s say it again….There is but one reason and only one reason for our acceptance by God—Christ Alone!

There is no other way to God but in, through and by Christ.

Let us not forget that Jesus unashamedly claimed to be God in human flesh appearing. If, therefore, the one true and living God has come to save us, what other way to God can there be? Since Christ alone is God, we can ruthlessly and immediately dispense with all other supposed ways of salvation. They are all fabrications of men’s imaginations and devising. There is only one salvation, and it comes to us in Christ alone.

When we declare that we are saved by Christ alone, we stand opposed to the teachings which state that Christ’s sacrifice is insufficient without the addition of some manner of sacrament administered by clerics. What sheer, Christ belittling, nonsense is this?

Others say that Christ saves but not without our good works. How they cling to their inferior and flawed works as they fear to rest entirely on the good works of the Saviour … yet they damn us for not joining them in their folly.

Others say that Christ’s sacrifice is worthless without us adding faith to the equation. They say that our believing does the saving! Thus they oppose the teaching of Christ Alone. While it is true that faith apprehends the Gospel, faith is not our Saviour. We rest, not on faith, but on Christ alone.

Enemies of the cross urge the necessity of something more than Christ alone for salvation Without their particular addition they say that we cannot be saved. In these schemes, Christ’s sufficiency as the Saviour is consequently denied.

When we follow their logic, we must conclude that the Christ in whom they trust is at best a partial saviour. He lacks something, a certain something, provided by them that somehow augments His person and work.

What a dishonour to Christ Jesus. God has come here to rescue and save His people yet He is incapable of saving without the help of some form of mediation on man’s part. Sheer rubbish!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com