The Ongoing Reformation:
Doug V. Heck
Scripture Alone is Authoritative and Sufficient
Known as the "Formal Cause,"
or Scripture Alone became the battle cry of the great protest against Rome, which believed in a dual authority: the Bible and tradition. The Reformers believed in other authorities, such as church leaders, civil magistrates, church creeds and confessions, but saw these as subordinate to the authority of God as taught in Scripture.
Psalm 19:7-9 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (KJV)
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (KJV)
2 Peter 1:3-4 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (KJV)
[Martin Luther] In the books of St. Augustine one finds many passages which flesh and blood have spoken. And concerning myself I must also confess that when I talk apart from the ministry, at home, at table, or elsewhere, I speak many words that are not God's Word. That is why St. Augustine, in a letter to St. Jerome, has put down a fine axiom - that only Holy Scripture is to be considered inerrant.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)
[Walter Keiser, Jr.] It is no secret that Christ's Church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, junk food; all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and Biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their physical bodies. Simultaneously a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God (Amos 8:11) continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church.
[John Stott] It will not be enough to skim through a few verses in daily Bible reading, nor to study a passage only when we have to preach it. No. We must daily soak ourselves in the Scriptures. We must not just study, as through a microscope, the linguistic minutiae of a few verses, but take our telescope and scan the wide expanses of God's Word, assimilating its grand theme of divine sovereignty in the redemption of mankind. "It is blessed," wrote C. H. Spurgeon, "to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows from you."
Essential Importance of the Doctrine: Known as the "Material Cause," Fide or Faith Alone, was the central affirmation of the Reformation. As Martin Luther said, this is "the article with and by which the church stands, without which it falls." Or on another occasion: "This doctrine is the head and the cornerstone. It alone begets, nourishes, builds, preserves, and defends the church of God; and without it the church of God cannot exist for one hour."
No doctrine is more important to evangelical theology than the doctrine of justification by faith alone Churches and denominations that hold firmly to sola fide remain evangelical. Those willing to yield at this point inevitably capitulate to liberalism, revert to sacradotalism, or embrace even worse forms of apostasy. cf. John MacArthur, article "Long Before Luther: Jesus on the Doctrine of Justification," in Edited by Don Kistler (Soli Deo Gloria, 1996, p. 1)
The doctrine of justification by faith answers the all important question of mankind, as the Psalmist put it: "If You Lord, should mark iniquities who should stand?" (Ps. 130:3) Roman Catholicism teaches that justification begins at baptism, which is the "instrumental cause" of salvation. By this sacrament the grace of Christ's righteousness is infused into the soul and the baptized person is cleansed of original sin and placed into a state of grace. However, the grace of justification is not permanent as it is killed by mortal sin. Rome also teaches that grace, faith and Christ are all necessary for the sinner's justification. They are necessary conditions but not sufficient conditions, as merit must be added to grace.
Council of Trent on January 1547, . If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification let him be anathema. (Council of Trent)
Galatians 1:6-10 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (KJV)
The book of Galatians has been called the Magna Carta of spiritual liberty, the battle cry of the reformation and the Christian declaration of independence. Many church historians maintain that the foundation of the Reformation was laid with the writing of Martin Luther's commentary on Galatians. Luther said, "The epistle to the Galatians is my epistle. To it I am, as it were, in wedlock. Galatians is my Katherine [name of his wife]." The letter is a flashing sword wielded by a burning heart.
In the Scripture itself, we are told that the gospel will precipitate conflict and that the gospel by its very nature is offensive to some and divisive to others So biblically can it be maintained that Catholics and Evangelicals are part of the body of Christ while disagreeing on the gospel message itself?
Matt 10:21-22 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Matt 10:34-39 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
John 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Rom 9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Gal 5:11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.
Anyone who thinks Rome has changed her mind on the doctrine of justification in recent years is mistaken. The Church's position has not changed since the middle part of the sixteenth century when the Council of Trent (1545-64) met to establish Church doctrine on several key issues. This council was called by Pope Paul III in direct response to the success of the Protestant movement. Its voting members consisted of bishops, abbots, and the leaders of religious orders from countries including Italy, Spain, France, and Germany. The decrees this council made concerning justification have never been modified, altered or rescinded by Rome. They remain the stand of Roman Catholic theology today. The Catholic Church continues to uphold the resolutions of the Council of Trent and cites them repeatedly in defense of its teaching. (Ankerberg, p. 45)
Evangelicals and Catholics Together:
The time has come where we must lay aside minor points of doctrinal differences and focus upon the Lord Jesus Christ. (Pat Robertson)
I believe the document represents the most devestating blow against the gospel in at least 1,000 years. Already the declaration is being "translated into Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and Russian for circulation throughout Latin America and Eastern Europe. Soon it will have a revolutionary impact world wide Yet the very heart of the gospel which evangelicals affirm is denied by Catholicism in all its creeds, catechisms, canons and decrees and dogmas, and those who dare to affirm it are anathematized To be saved, a Catholic would have to believe the true gospel and reject Catholicism's false gospel. (David Hunt)
Doctrinal Statement of January 19, 1995 to clarify issues relating to ECT statement that was released on March 29, 1994. (2) Signers were: Charles Colson, J. I. Packer, Bill Bright, John Ankerberg, Michael Horton, John MacArthur, R. C. Sproul, Joseph Stowell, John Walvoord, and D. James Kennedy. Doctrinal Statement written by J. I. Packer.
What is Justification? Forensic justification is, therefore, an act that God does outside of man. It is the judicial pronouncement of God about a sinful man that, as a result of placing faith in Christ, he now stands before God having been given the status of justness. Now, the Roman Catholic Church considers this type of justification a because it involves God calling a person "just" who in and of himself is not just. The question Catholicism raises is, "How can God declare a man to be just when, in fact, he remains a sinner?" This issue has its roots in the dispute stemming from Luther's famous slogan: "at the same time just and a sinner" ( simul justus et peccator ). What Luther meant was that when God sees that a man truly believes in Christ, he then declares that man justified legally in His sight. But at the same time, the pardoned sinner is still a sinner in and of himself (see Romans 7:19, 23, 25; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). Catholicism, on the other hand, believes that God only declares a man to be just after a man works in cooperation with God's grace and has actually become just in and of himself. In other words, God will not declare a "smelly ashtray" to be a "beautiful rose." The Catholic Church believes God declares a person just only after He analyzes the person and finds real righteousness and real justness within the person . cf. John Ankerberg, (Harvest House Publishers, 1995), pp. 22-24.
Justification is the final verdict of God whereby He not only forgives and pardons the sins of the believer, but He also declares him perfectly righteous by imputing the obedience and righteousness of Christ Himself to him through faith. It is on the basis of Christ's life and atonement that God "pronounces believers to have fulfilled all the requirements of the law which pertain to them." Catholic theologians claim that justification is a lifelong process in which an individual increases in personal righteousness.
The Catholic Sacraments:
This is why the historic position of the Roman Catholic Church has been that there is no salvation outside of the Church and salvation only comes by means of grace dispensed by the priest through the Catholic sacraments. Recently changes in Rome since Vatican II, where Protestants are viewed as "separated brethren" - an apparent attempt to help them return to their "Mother Church."
Council of Trent. If anyone says that the sacraments are not necessary for salvaiton and that without the desire for them men obtain God through faith alone the grace of justification let him be anathema. (Canon 4)
1. Baptism (not repeated) cleanses from original sin, removes other sin and its punishment, provides justification in an initial form, spiritual rebirth (John 3:3) or regeneration, and is "necessary for salvation."
2. Confirmation (not repeated) bestows the Holy Spirit in a special sense leading to "an increase of sanctifying grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit" as well as other spiritual power and a sealing to the Catholic Church. Confirmation gives strength from the Holy Spirit to defend the Catholic faith and to avoid temptation.
(or reconciliation) removes the penalty of sins committed after baptism and confirmation. Mortal or "deadly" sins are remitted and the "justification" lost by such sins is restored as a continuing process.
The Catholic Church teaches that after baptism, if a man or woman commits mortal sin, he or she will lose his or her justification. In order to regain justification a person must perform the sacrament of penance. Penance is a particular act or series of acts considered as satisfaction offered to God as a reparation for sin committed. Penance may involve what is known as "mortification" or self-punishment such as wearing an irritating shirt woven of course animal hair, prayer (e.g., the Rosary), or a religious pilgrimage to a shrine of Christ or Mary, or any number of other deeds.
Catholicism teaches the sacrament of penance has three parts: first, "contrition" - a person must be sorry for his sins; second, "confession" - a person must fully confess each one of his mortal sins to a priest; and third, "satisfaction" - a person must do works of satisfaction such as fasting, saying prayers, almsgiving, or doing other works of piety the priest gives him to do.
4. Holy Eucharist . Christ is resacrificed or "re-presented" and the benefits of Calvary are continually applied anew to the believer. This occurs at the Mass.
If anyone says that the sacrifice of the Mass is one only of praise and thanksgiving; or that it is a mere commemoration of sacrifice consummated on the cross but not a propitiatory one; or that it profits him only who receives, and ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, punishment, satisfactions, and other necessities, let him be anathema. (Canons 3, 6, 9)
The Catechism describes the Mass as "the source and summit of the Christian life"; "the sum and summary of our faith"; and "the Sacrament of sacraments."
Holy Communion preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism The Eucharist cannot unite is to Christ without the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins It wipes away venial sins And the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. ( Catechism of the Catholic Faith )
The doctrine of transubstantiation, that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ, was codified in its present form by Thomas Aquinas (1225-74).
5. Marriage grace is given to remain in the bonds of matrimony in accordance with the requirements of the Catholic Church.
6. Anointing of the sick (formerly extreme unction) bestows grace on those who are sick, old, or near death and helps in forgiveness of sins and sometimes physical healing of the body.
7. Holy Orders
(not repeated) confers special grace and spiritual power upon bishops, priests, and deacons for leadership in the Church as representatives of Christ "for all eternity."
1. . This is not depravity, i.e., that man is as bad as he can be, although Dennis Rodman perhaps comes pretty close, nor that men are equally bad, as some are obviously worse than others, but in the sense that sin effects every aspect of our being: the body (it weakens it and leads to death), the soul (it pollutes it into pervertedness), the mind (it twists it), the will (it ensalves it), etc. The total person is corrupted by sin!
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (KJV)
Matthew 11:25-27 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him . (KJV)
2 Timothy 2:24-26 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men , apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (KJV)
2. . Building on the Biblical doctrine of radical corruption, the Reformers determined that the New Testament clearly teaches that God elected some to salvation before the foundation of the world, not conditioned on anything foreseen in the elect. There are different kinds of election: 1. i.e., God chooses to bless some nations and peoples above others (e.g., Jewish, Amos 3:2; Ps. 147:20; Deut. 7:6-8; 10:15; Europe or America vs. China, India, Africa, etc.). 2. i.e., God chooses to bless in special ways some people and not others (e.g., wealth, honor, intelligence, strength, ability vs poverty, dishonor, ignorance, weakness, commonness; one born in Christian home another in pagan home; vocational opportunity, etc.). Spiritual Election, i.e., God chooses to bless spiritually some people and not others, with the gift of repentance, faith, and eternal life. , , mentioned 48 times in the NT.
Probably the most disputed of the five essential points of Calvinistic reformed doctrine, limited atonement seeks to answer the question: Did Christ die to atone for the sins of every human being or did he die for the sins of the elect only? Did Christ offer Himself to make salvation of all men possible or to render certain the salvation of those who had been given to Him by the Father?
[Lorraine Boettner] Did Christ offer up Himself a sacrifice for the whole human race, for every individual without distinction or exception; or did His death have special reference to the elect? It will be seen at once that this doctrine necessarily follows from the doctrine of election. If from eternity God has planned to save one portion of the human race and not another, it seems to be a contradiction to say that His work has equal reference to both portions, or that he sent His Son to die for those whom He had predetermined not to save, as truly as, and in the same sense that he was sent to die for those whom he had chosen for salvation. These two doctrines must stand or fall together. We cannot logically accept one and reject the other.
[John Owen] First, if the full debt of all paid to the utmost extent of the obligation, how comes it to pass that so many are shut up in prison to eternity, never freed from their debts? Secondly, if the Lord, as a just creditor, ought to cancel all obligations and surcease all suits against such as have their debts so paid, whence is it that his wrath smokes against some to all eternity? Let none tell me that it is because they walk not worthy of the benefit bestowed; for that not walking worthy is part of the debt which is fully paid, for (as it is in the third inference) the debt so paid is all our sins. Thirdly, is it probable that God calls any to a second payment, and requires satisfaction of them for whem, by his own acknowledgment, Christ hath made that which is full and sufficient?
[Lorraine Boettner on Matt. 20:28] Notice this verse does not say that He gave His life a ransom for all, but for many. The nature of a ransom is such that when paid and accepted it automatically frees the person for whom it was intended. Otherwise it would not be a true ransom. Justice demands that those for whom it is paid shall be freed from any further obligation. If the suffering and death of Christ was a ransom for all men rather than for the elect on;y, then the merits of His work must be communicated to all alike, and the penalty of eternal punishment cannot be justly inflicted on any. God would be unjust if he demanded this extreme penalty twice over, first from the substitute and then from the persons themselves.
John 10:14-15 , and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (KJV)
John 17:6-10 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received , and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. (KJV)
[Lorraine Boettner] let it be said that Calvinists do not deny that mankind in general receive some important benefits from Christ's atonement. Calvinists admit that it arrests the penalty which would have been afflicted upon the whole race because of Adam's sin; that it forms a basis for the preaching of the Gospel and thus introduces many uplifting moral influences into the world and restrains many evil influences. Paul could say to the heathen people of Lystra that God "left not Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness," Acts 14:17. God makes His son to shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. Many temporal blessings are thus secured for all men, although these fall short of being sufficient to insure salvation.
Objections to Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption.
The terms "will" and "all."
1 Timothy 2:3-4
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (KJV)
The word "will" is used in different sense in Scripture and in every day conversation. It is sometimes used in the sense of decree and sometimes in the sense of desire or wish. A righteous judge does not will (i.e., desire) that anyone should be sentenced to death, yet at the same time he wills (decrees or pronounces sentence) that the guilty person shall be thus punished. A man may will to have a limb removed or an eye taken out, even though he certainly doesn't desire it. Also the term "all" or "every" are often used in a limited way. e.g., Mark 1:5; Acts 4:21; Luke 21:28; John 12:32, etc. Usually, the term is used to refer to both Jews and Gentiles.
The term "world."
1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for
The term could be used in the sense of both Jews and Gentiles or in a limited sense. If these universal passages are applied as the Arminians teach, they cannot escape the doctrine of universalism.
Question: does God love everyone?
In a sense He loves everyone but has a special love for the elect.
4. . This refers to the regenerating work of God, in bringing us to spiritual life so that we are able to sin our sins for what they are, understand Christ and His substitutionary atonement for sin, and have a thorough impression of my responsibility to turn from sin, trust the Savior and surrender my life to His Lordship. This doctrine follows if man's total depravity or radical inability is true.
One of the errors of historic dispensationalism was to follow Charles Finney in teaching that faith comes before regeneration, or that a person is regenerated because of his/her faith instead of the Reformed view that God actually regenerates a person before they are able to exercise faith. This is the central reason why some dispensational teachers failed to recognize that regeneration was not really a change of a person's nature, making Christ's Lordship and progressive sanctification options. No, Finney was wrong. God generates new life in a spiritually dead person, changing the very nature of their soul, giving them a new heart, before they have any capacity to realize the enormity of their sin and exercise faith. Regenerating or the Spirit's efficacious calling comes before faith!
5. This refers to the fact that God will complete what He became and by the power of His Spirit preserve genuine believers in their faith. Their salvation cannot be lost, as Roman Catholicism believes.
1. Luther didn't actually reject the selling and purchase of indulgences but the secularizing of the practice. Tetzel claimed that repentance was not necessary for the buyer of an indulgence and that the indulgence gave complete forgiveness of all sin. The Dominican Tetzel sought to silence the Augustinian Luther. The 95 Theses call for debate on the subject of biblical repentance.
2. Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium (ECT),
signed by 40 Evangelicals and Roman Catholics. The document states:
"Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ
We recognize that
we are called by God to a fuller realization of our unity in the body of
We are called and we are therefore resolved to explore patterns of
working and witnessing together in order to advance the one mission of Christ. We
promise one another that we will work to deepen, build upon, and expand this
pattern of convergence and cooperation
The mission that we embrace together is
the necessary consequence of the faith that we affirm together." Anyone who
attempts to evaluate modern Roman Catholicism can do so only by evaluating what
is on the books - the Council of Trent, Vatican I and II, papal decrees,
authoritative texts, etc. These tell us what Roman Catholicism believes and