Tuesday, October 16, 2007

By Grace Alone is by Faith Alone

"Some Romanists will say that they too teach justification by grace — by Christ’s righteousness, in fact. But the righteousness of Christ which they claim justifies is not Christ’s own personal righteousness reckoned or credited or given or imputed to believers. Romanists refer to the righteousness which Christ works into the life of the believer or infuses into him in his own living and behavior. It is not Christ’s personal righteousness but the believer’s personal righteousness, which he performs by the grace of God.

It is Christ’s righteousness versus the believer’s own righteousness. It is Christ’s achievement versus the Christian’s achievement. It is an imputed righteousness not an infused righteousness. It is a gift of God versus an accomplishment of man. These two righteousnesses are as different as righteousnesses could conceivably be.

It does come down to the way it has been popularly stated for the last four and a half centuries: Protestantism’s salvation by faith versus Rome’s salvation by works. That is not a technically accurate way to state this vital difference, But it points to the truth. The Protestant trusts Christ to save him and the Catholic trusts Christ to help him save himself. It is faith versus works. Or, as the Spirit of God puts it in Romans 4:16 (NIV), "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace, and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring." It is "by faith SO THAT IT MAY BE BY grace...."

If a Romanist wants to be saved by grace alone, it will have to be by faith alone. "The promise comes by faith so that it may be by grace." You can’t be saved "sola gratia" except "sola fide"...

...We agree with Roman friends — salvation is by grace. That is the reason it must be by faith. If it is a salvation based on works that come from grace, it is not based on grace but on the Christian’s works that come from grace. The works that come from grace must prove grace but they cannot be grace. They may come from, be derivative of, a consequence of, but they cannot be identified with it. Faith is merely union with Christ who is our righteousness, our grace, our salvation."

-Excerpt from Justification by Faith Alone by Dr. John H. Gerstner

38 comments:

kmerian said...

Of course the flip side of this is that if a person goes to hell, in Catholicism, it is that persons fault, But using the logic put forward by this author, if the Protestant goes to hell it is Jesus' fault. Jesus' fault that he choose not to give them enough faith, therefore they did not get the grace they need.

This is one of the reasons I reject protestantism. The complete abdication of personal responsibility

e i e said...

It is a good thing you started a new thread. Otherwise you'd get stuck trying to tell that unbeliever what he must do to be saved. You'd then tell him he has to do something, and well, there goes the whole grace alone thing as you imagine it means.

With "grace alone," as these folks demand you believe, preaching is useless. God either saves the poor sap or not. Why tell him to seek Christ, repent and pray when he is utterly unable to do so anyway?

So God calls us to repent when we can't. He calls us to worship him when we can't. He calls us to take up our cross and follow him when we can't. Sounds like the same God who says, come let us reason together? This gospel boils down to "Today if you hear his voice, do nothing and God will soften your heart, unless you are chosen for damnation as is the vast bulk of humanity, then glory be to God, you're toast!" Good news? Not for most of humanity it isn't.

E i E

e i e said...

"This is one of the reasons I reject protestantism. The complete abdication of personal responsibility."

This also might account for the ease with which they seem to shamelessly judge others as fit for heaven or hell--Sovereign God predestined me do it, so it must be correct to do: good fruit vs. bad fruit and all, ya know?

Still, let's not paint all of Protestantism with a broad brush, Kmerian. I think the "grace that actually isn't grace" crowd is a small minority. They often attack other Protestants with nearly the same gusto that they attack Catholics, although they give them a "pass" on the "another gospel" line.

E i E

Rhology said...

This is one of the reasons I reject protestantism. The complete abdication of personal responsibility

Well, that would only be a reason (valid or not) to reject 5-pt Calvinism, Kmerian. Not "Protestantism". Not all Prots are 5-pt Calvinists.

Jason L. said...

Kmerian: "personal responsibility" in what exactly? Justification or sanctification?

Through God's grace, the believer has much to do as they are sanctified. They must turn from sin every hour of every day, obey the Word of God and perform works of love, kindness and meekness toward others. I have a lot of responsibility, but would I do these things without a regenerate heart that is forever enslaved to my Master? Hardly.

Please clarify your question if you have time. Thanks.

Carrie said...

It is a good thing you started a new thread. Otherwise you'd get stuck trying to tell that unbeliever what he must do to be saved. You'd then tell him he has to do something, and well, there goes the whole grace alone thing as you imagine it means.

Those are some bold words from the one who responded to the supposed non-believer in the last thread with these words of wisdom:

“ You are a man of reason and as such it is your response to whatever call you have that matters.”

“Thus I suggested you look toward your spiritual understanding and seek God Himself, not my opinions of Him. In short: pray. The worst that could happen is nothing.”

“You've obviously seen enough of these conversations to know how each party would answer that question. I do not deem it is the important thing for you to consider right now. If you are drawn to Christ, run to Him! If not, do not play at it, as at best it occupies me addressing you vainly and at worst puts you at risk if there is any truth to Christianity.

I'll not address "who is right" anymore in this thread. I've no intention of "winning" an argument at the cost of endangering a soul.

Enough is Enough
(I'm outta here.)”


Instead of hanging around here casting stones I would suggest you figure out what the gospel is and how to deliver it to a non-believer.

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Anonymous said...

"Instead of hanging around here casting stones I would suggest you figure out what the gospel is and how to deliver it to a non-believer."

He told the person to turn to Christ! No wait... "If you are drawn to Christ, run to Him" he said. What blasphemy! Where did this stupid Catholic get the idea that the Gospel has anything to do with what we do? I'm going to be so happy to see the Glory of God shine out when E i E burns in Hell!

faithful said...

Here is a quote by De Rosa found on page 120 of this book: “One reason
for there being more prostitutes in [Papal] Rome than in any other
capital city was the large number of celibates. The convents were often
brothels. Women sometimes took a dagger with them to confession to
protect themselves against their confessor. Chroniclers tell of clerics
spending their days in taverns, their nights in the soft arms of their
mistresses.”

And here is a quote by De Rosa taken from pages 121 and 122 of this book:
“The curious thing is that [Martin] Luther had no intention of leaving
the [Roman Catholic] Church – until it dawned on him that a divided
Christendom was better than one over which the pope rules in denial of the
Gospel.Better by far to be ruled by the open Bible than by a corrupt and
apparently irreformable papacy. Western Christians still debate the wisdom
of Luther’sjudgment. His analysis did not differ from Dante’s. What was
wrong with the [Roman Catholic] church was the papacy’s libido dominandi,
its insatiable lust for power.”

And here is a quote by De Rosa taken from page 177 of this book: “There
is no known case of a secular prince or magistrate refusing to punish
anyone convicted of heresy by the friars of the Inquisition. Popes made no
bones about it: any prince who did not burn heretics as charged by the
Inquisition would be excommunicated himself and go before the same
tribunal for heresy. Far from being guiltless, the inquisitors were still
guiltier by implicating the civil power in their crimes. What made the
sufferings of [Roman] Catholics at the hands of the Inquisition so
poignant was that they were being tortured and burned, not by the
church’s enemies but by her holiest defenders acting on the orders of the
Vicar of Christ [i.e., the Pope].”

Let us NEVER forget that up to 50 MILLION innocent Bible-believing
Christians fell victim to Papal Rome’s “Holy” Office of Inquisition –
just during the official timeframe of the Inquisition [1203-1808].

Anonymous said...

VICARS OF CHRIST: The Dark Side of the Papacy” by Peter De Rosa

Sorry. I forgot the reference to the book itself.

Rhology said...

And now for something completely different, by anonymous and Sr de Rosa.

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Carrie said...

Alright, enough with the conspiracy junk. I'm debating whether to delete...

e i e said...

Well, they found me out. It's a good thing I used a handle and not my real name. David better hide, before they get him.

I was just wondering what I'd say to Carrie, whose comment I found somewhat enegmatic, then along comes this stuff. Exposed!

I know this can't be one of your regulars, Rhology. We disagree, but we both like to stay on the same planet while we do it. I won't even make any remarks about S.S. -- way too unfair a target.

E i E

e i e said...

Actually, I have to admit that this does make a good case for me to go easy on the "anti-Catholic" descriptor. Carrie: I take back what I said about you being an anti-Catholic zealot. You got nothing on conspiracy boy.

E i E

EgoMakarios said...

Why was Abel's offering "by faith" according to Hebrews 11:4 while Cain's was not? Because Abel followed the command God gave, to sacrifice blood, whereas Cain came up with his own idea of what to sacrifice, vegetables. Faith then includes obedience to the commands of God and grace includes God's revelation of those commands. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. What grace? Build an ark. And Noah, by grace and through faith, "prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith."

Rhology said...

According to Rom 11:6 and Eph 2:8-10, grace and works cannot be mixed lest grace become no longer grace.

This is why we take the whole Bible into acct when we exegete. In this case, Abel's offering was right BECAUSE he had faith. Cain's wasn't b/c he didn't.
Same with Noah - he was righteous AND SO received the command to build the ark.

Rhology said...

And I'd add that, in the biblical faith, man is responsible for his sin and therefore his going to hell. Not God.

Pontificator said...

Is Gerstner's construal of the Catholic understanding of justification accurate? No. I hope that anyone hoping to truly understand the Catholic view will read some good Catholic presentations on the subject. I stress the plural ("presentations"), because in fact a diversity of views exist within the Catholic Church, bounded by the dogmas of Trent. But an excellent place to begin is John Henry Newman's Lectures on Justification. Though written while an Anglican, these lectures, with the Catholic footnotes, faithfully represent what has in fact become the consensual view within Catholicism. Read these lectures and you will see that it is false to say that "the Catholic trusts Christ to help him save himself."

Carrie said...

Is Gerstner's construal of the Catholic understanding of justification accurate? No.

It is Catholic justification as seen from a Protestant viewpoint. Certainly you can follow his point? Grace is not grace unless it is by faith so unless the Catholic viewpoint is by faith ALONE, then his assessment is accurate.

Carrie said...

This is one of the reasons I reject protestantism. The complete abdication of personal responsibility

kmerian, your objectives are based on a human idea of fairness which doesn't play out well when talking about God.

ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, therefore all of us deserve hell.

Albert said...

Thanks for the post, Carrie. That explains why ecumenism is wrong. The Gospel of the Bible and the Protestant Reformers is really at odds with the "Gospel" of Rome. That's why I choose to remain a Christian and a Protestant (Evangelical).

Blessings,
Albert (also an ex-Catholic)

EgoMakarios said...

"According to Rom 11:6 and Eph 2:8-10, grace and works cannot be mixed lest grace become no longer grace."

Yet the example of Noah shows that what is done by faith is considered a work of God, not man. Works of man's own devising and of the obsolete Law are worthless, being not of faith or of faith in the wrong thing. Following the Law is as worthless to my salvation as building an ark would be, since the Law is not God's particular revelation to me anymore than the command to build of the ark is. Nowhere, therefore, does Paul say that following Jesus' teachings do not justify as he does that the works of the Law do not justify.

kmerian said...

Rhology, you are right, I should correct myself, that is why I reject Calvinism.

Jason, but Calvinism states that you don't have to work "every hour of every day" either you are saved or you are not, working is irrelevant.

Anonymous, if you want to know the "truth" about the Catholic Church, I suggest you go to Vatican.va would you send someone to a neo-nazi website to read the truth about Judaism?

Also, such christian charity you show! "By their fruits you shall know them".

Ok, I am done with these. Carrie or Rho, can I recommend deletion so that we can get on with some intelligent debate?

Carrie, I do agree that we all deserve hell, but I disagree that God created us solely for that purpose. The Bible tells us that God wills all to be saved and that God loves the entire world. Not just the "Elect".

Carrie said...

Ok, I am done with these. Carrie or Rho, can I recommend deletion so that we can get on with some intelligent debate?

Yeah, I will delete them.

I don't usually like to delete comments but I will in this case.

Carrie said...

Carrie, I do agree that we all deserve hell, but I disagree that God created us solely for that purpose. The Bible tells us that God wills all to be saved and that God loves the entire world. Not just the "Elect".

Then why doesn’t he save all?

This is the problem with these types of fairness arguments from a human perspective, they all can be broken down with a variation of the same objection. Catholicism has made the blunder of dealing with what appears to be unfair by a “you will be judged on your response to whatever light you are given” but that really isn’t a biblically-based argument. It is a man-based argument.

kmerian said...

For God so loved the world (notice it is not: "For God so loved the elect"), that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (make disciples, not identify the elect), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

This is not some "idea" of fairness. Surely not all will accept Christ, but God calls on us to preach to all, so that all may have the choice. There is an "elect", but we should never presume to know who they are or are not.

Carrie said...

This is not some "idea" of fairness. Surely not all will accept Christ, but God calls on us to preach to all, so that all may have the choice. There is an "elect", but we should never presume to know who they are or are not.

I never said we shouldn’t.

But you said you reject Protestantism (Calvinism) because of the lack of personal responsibility but that is not true. We have ALL sinned, therefore we ALL deserve hell. If God chose to save none that would still be a just decision on his part since we all DESERVE hell because of our sinfulness. Saving even just one would still be an act of mercy.

So where is the lack of personal responsibility?

Rhology said...

EgoMakarios,

Works of man's own devising and of the obsolete Law are worthless, being not of faith or of faith in the wrong thing.

Sorry, this is not possible.
Look again at Ephesians 2:8-10.

8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Note how it's NOT the result of works, which is what you are saying, that salvation is at least PARTLY due to works.
Note also how the ***same*** good works that God has prepared for us to do are the same works that are NOT the cause of our salvation.

That alone is enough to call out the RC and EO systems as false.


And kmerian, no Calvinist claims s/he can know who the elect are either. You may have known that; I'm just sayin'.

Peace,
Rhology

David Waltz said...

Hello Carrie,

You posted the following:

>>[Pontificator] Is Gerstner's construal of the Catholic understanding of justification accurate? No.

{Carrie] It is Catholic justification as seen from a Protestant viewpoint. Certainly you can follow his point? Grace is not grace unless it is by faith so unless the Catholic viewpoint is by faith ALONE, then his assessment is accurate.>>


Me: Until this morning, I have not been able to spend anytime on the internet since my last 10/15/07 afternoon post, so I am playing ‘catch-up’. As such, if my following comments have already been addressed, please forgive me.

I disagree with Dr. Gerstner’s assessment (which you seem to endorse); and here is why: grace is something GIVEN by God, but faith is something DONE by man. The distinctions are too great to equate them. Everything which is necessary for salvation is GIVEN by God (GRACE ALONE, for all graces given by God are UNMERITED), and these graces are SUFFICIENT to accomplish their intent.

Now, I am not aware of any Scripture which states that justification/salvation is “not by grace alone”; however, James is quite clear concerning faith: “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”

Trent agrees with the Scriptures (grace alone, but not faith alone); as such, I side with Trent, and not with Dr. Gerstner.


Grace and peace,

David

Carrie said...

Everything which is necessary for salvation is GIVEN by God (GRACE ALONE, for all graces given by God are UNMERITED), and these graces are SUFFICIENT to accomplish their intent.

Sufficient to accomplish what?

Carrie said...

Now, I am not aware of any Scripture which states that justification/salvation is “not by grace alone”; however, James is quite clear concerning faith: “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”

Why don't you take this up on Rhology's current post.

David Waltz said...

Hi Carrie,

Arrrgh…was I that unclear? Sufficient to accomplish salvation. The only graces (unmerited) necessary for salvation (GIFT) are the graces (unmerited) given by God.


Grace and peace,

David

Carrie said...

Sufficient to accomplish salvation.

That is what I thought you meant but that doesn't make sense.

If grace were sufficient for salvation, then grace would save you on its own. It wouldn't need your cooperation.

This is why Gerstner says "the Catholic trusts Christ to help him save himself".

Pontificator said...

David wrote: "grace is something GIVEN by God, but faith is something DONE by man."

David, this does not accurately represent the Catholic position either. The Second Synod of Orange, reaffirmed by the Council of Trent, is clear that faith is in some sense a gift of God. Canon 5:

'If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism--if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism-if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.'

David Waltz said...

Hi Pontificator,

You posted:

>>David, this does not accurately represent the Catholic position either. The Second Synod of Orange, reaffirmed by the Council of Trent, is clear that faith is in some sense a gift of God.>>

Me: It seems I am having a somewhat difficult time communicating my thoughts in this thread. In no sense did I intend to deny that faith is a gift from God, and as such it is also a grace given by God. However, faith is multifaceted. Faith is called a “work” (ergon) by our Lord:

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:28, 29)

And Paul also wrote of the “work of faith::

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father. (! Thess. 1:3)


Faith can be “dead” or “living”. Faith can be “increased” (“grows”). Faith “works through love”.

So, though faith is certainly a gift from God, faith is also something one exercises.


Grace and peace,

David

David Waltz said...

Hi Carrie,

You wrote:

>> If grace were sufficient for salvation, then grace would save you on its own. It wouldn't need your cooperation.>>

Me: I disagree, and have devoted two threads on my blog that address what I believe is a misunderstanding on your (and some others) part:

More on the Sufficiency of Grace

And:

James White’s confusion concerning Sufficient Grace


Grace and peace,

David