Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, February 27, 2009

R. C. Sproul Comments on the Difference Between Justification and Salvation

Definitive sanctification breaks the power of sin so that we can make meager baby steps in progressive sanctification but even our progress is nothing compared to God's holiness. It would be like trying to walk across the universe starting from earth. In other words, it is impossible to trust our progress in sanctification as any basis whatsoever for assurance of salvation. It is only the cross of Jesus Christ that saves us and that salvation was objectively accomplished on the cross 2,000 years ago.  --Charlie J. Ray

[Note:  I have changed my views slightly since this article was posted originally.  I do believe now that assurance is attained from sanctification.  However, justification is still the ground and the basis for sanctification.  Sanctification results from justification.  The purpose of justification is our progress in sanctification.  However, justification is a forensic declaration based on the cross.  Sanctification is infused into the mind and heart and is subjective.  03/27/2015.  Charlie].

Roman Catholic theology confuses justification with sanctification. On the other hand, many Evangelicals confuse justification with salvation as if the two were equivalent terms, resulting in an "incipient antinomianism" or lawlessness. In this video, R.C. Sproul explains that salvation is the point at which we repent, i.e. conversion; salvation is a process of sanctification (however imperfect that sanctification may be); and salvation is completed at the point of our death (often called "glorification"). Justification is a legal or forensic declaration of not guilty and the merits of Christ's perfect life are credited to us. Christ suffers in our place on the cross and bears all the penalty for our sins in the past, in the present, and in the future. This substitutionary atonement satisfies God's law, the just penalty of the law, and removes our guilt. The basis for our justification is not sanctification.

 The sole basis for our justification is Christ and his holy life and his atoning death. However, our salvation includes all three aspects I mentioned earlier. That is, salvation is our justification, sanctification and our glorification. R.C. also mentions the ordo salutis. Roughly speaking, the ordo salutis is the logical and/or temporal order in which our salvation is unfolded. According to Reformed theology, this would be election, predestination, regeneration, conversion/repentance, justification, sanctification, and glorification.

 One of the major issues leading to the division between Roman Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation is the distinction between justification and sanctification. Justification and sanctification must always be distinguished from each other. Justification is our legal declaration of "not guilty" based on the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross. Christ died for our sins to justify us before God in the final judgment. It is outside of us and it is an objective fact based on what Christ completed for us by meriting eternal life for us in his perfect obedience on earth and by dying in our place for our sins on the cross. Roman Catholicism committed the error of confusing sanctification, which is an inherent process inside our souls where we are made more and more like Christ as we live a Christian life, with justification.

 The Roman Catholics can never be sure they are saved because they base their salvation on obedience rather than on justification by faith alone. For Roman Catholics justification is inherent in the soul and the sinner is made actually righteous through a subjective infusion of righteousness into the heart or mind. This flies in the face of Romans 7 where Paul clearly says that we remain sinners even after we have been legally declared righteous and begin the process of living a sanctified life. This is why low church Anglicanism has absolutely nothing in common with high church Anglicanism. High church Anglicanism commits the same theological error which the Roman Catholics have committed. It has confused justification with sanctification and ignores the fact that justification is a legal or forensic declaration and is absolutely not the process of being inherently and progressively sanctified in our walk with Christ.

Addendum: Salvation is all of God and even our sanctification is a monergistic work of God.  We do not "cooperate" with God's grace even in sanctification and it is only God who keeps us from falling away into apostasy.  God promises to keep the elect in spite of our capricious and sinful wills.  While definitive sanctification is imputed along with our justification, definitive sanctification is not sinless perfectionism (Wesleyan entire sanctification).  Definitive sanctification breaks the power of sin so that we can make meager baby steps in progressive sanctification but even our progress is nothing compared to God's holiness.  It would be like trying to walk across the universe starting from earth.  In other words, it is impossible to trust our progress in sanctification as any basis whatsoever for assurance of salvation.  It is only the cross of Jesus Christ that saves us and that salvation was objectively accomplished on the cross 2,000 years ago. Charlie  03/02/2012

[Addendum:  I don't erase older posts.  I have been reading Dr. Gordon H. Clark's books and my views have changed.  Dr. Clark says that regeneration and the perseverance of the saints are monergistic.  But sanctification is synergistic because it is God who works in us to cause us to both to will and to do according to His good pleasure.  Philippians 2:11-13.   Also, the Westminster Confession of Faith does say that obedience gives us an assurance of our salvation.  Charlie 3/22/2016]


Charlie J. Ray said...

I understand that ministers have to make a living and that ministries have to raise support. But the fact that this video was removed due to a violation of copyright seems to indicate to me that ministers and ministries are more concerned about income than about propagating the Gospel.

What do you think? Is the Gospel free or is it not?

Reasonable Catholic said...

I don't believe Roman Catholicism confuses justification and sanctification. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we (Catholics) believe we are justified by our initial conversion through faith when we repent. This justification cannot be merited. That gets us to purgatory. We believe we are still sinners after this. That is why we have confession. Then, we believe we are sanctified through works, and this helps us get from purgatory to heaven. This is consistent with what Paul said about beginning the process of living a sanctified life.

What I don't understand is how Protestants can believe that final salvation is based on faith alone. That theology does not take into account James 2: "see how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

It seems that James may even have been trying to correct Paul who taught justification by faith apart from works.

Jesus taught it both ways. He taught that salvation comes through faith, but it also comes through works. The scriptures that support this are:

sheep and goats-
Inherit the kingdom because of your works of love
Matthew 25:34-36

Matthew 7:21
Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my father in heaven.

Luke 10:25-28
Do this and you will live (fulfill the two greatest commandments)

Matthew 5:18-19
Whoever obeys and teaches the commandments will be greatest in heaven

Matthew 5:17
Jesus did not abolish the law, rather he came to fulfill it

John 15:10
Keep the commandments to remain in God's love

None of this diminishes the significance of Christ's sacrifice on the cross! We cannot be forgiven without God's grace; it's simply God's will for us to participate with Christ in his work of salvation.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Mr. Catholic:

Unfortunately, God requires you to keep ALL the LAW PERFECTLY. This is what you don't get. You have broken every one of God's laws and you pretend that you are sinless. Since God requires ABSOLUTE sinlessness only Jesus could be saved. Everyone else would be lost. UNLESS justification is imputed to us by legal declaration and NOT infused in the heart.

Sanctification is ALWAYS imperfect and therefore CANNOT now or EVER justify us before God, not even after baptism.

The 39 Articles of Religion puts it this way:

Article XI
Of the Justification of Man
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

Article XII
Of Good Works
Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.

We believe in doing good works. But the problem is you're trusting in your own good works and not in the perfect righteousness of Christ. It is only HIS righteousness than can make us righteous. His righteousness is credited to us as if it were our own. God does not see our unrighteousness anymore but only the perfect merits of Christ.

Unless you acknowledge that your works are filthy rags in the sight of God and that only Christ can justify you now or ever, then you will be lost forever.

Quoting the law to me only proves to me that you don't get how high God's standards are. You will never measure up!

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23 ESV)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10 ESV)
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. (Psalm 51:3 ESV)
To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. (Daniel 9:9-10 ESV)
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. (James 2:10-11 ESV)
Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:24 ESV)
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath. (Psalm 6:1 ESV)

Charlie J. Ray said...


Warren said...


Thanks for your blog...just found it today.

I know this is an old post, but I wondered if you could deal directly with the comments by Reasonable Catholic. Your reply quotes Protestant tradition and some Scripture, but you never addressed the passages of Scripture that Reasonable Catholic mentioned.

How does the Reformed tradition, which holds to salvation by faith alone, understand James 2:24, which says that we are justified by works and not by faith alone?

Thanks for any insight you can give. (And if you've already done so in another post, I'd love to have the link...)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Rome teaches that Rome gets to twist the Scriptures out of context and claim to be infallible in doing so. Not only this, but Rome gets to say, "We have addition revelation in our oral traditions." Nice dodge. However, the Scriptures are self-validating as the very words of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. So any explanation of one verse in James that would contradict what both Jesus AND Paul teach would be incredible.

James 2:24 is obviously dealing with the "kind" of faith we display before men and the kind of faith which validates our witness before men, i.e. our "justification" before men.

Clearly James also recognized that Abraham was justified by faith alone and knew Paul's writings:

and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"--and he was called a friend of God. (James 2:23 ESV)

Notice James does not say that Abraham earned or merited justification or righteousness. It says along with Paul that Abraham BELIEVED God. Notice it doesn't say that Abraham's works pleased God. It says Abraham BELIEVED GOD... And what? Read the next part of the verse carefully..... AND IT WAS COUNTED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

James does not contradict Paul. In fact, Paul does not teach antinomianism as the Roman Catholics falsely would have the Reformers say. Paul would agree with James here that faith produces works. But that is way different from saying that works merit righteousness, justification, or right standing with God. Good works do not merit eternal life and nowhere in this pericope does James come anywhere near saying such a thing.

In fact, James makes it clear that the focus of this passage is not justification before God but before men:

and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:16-18 ESV)

Who are we showing our works to? The "you" in this verse is not preceded by any substantive reference to God but rather to the hypothetical objector on the human level.

Clearly the Roman Catholic must twist the entire passage out of the context of the New Testament to make it fit a preconceived Roman Catholic tradition which is based on the traditions of men rather than the Word of God recorded in the Holy Scriptures.

The reason there was a Protestant Reformation in the first place was that the Reformers read the Bible in Greek and Hebrew and discovered that tradition and the Latin Vulgate were not accurately representing what God's Word plainly says. This is also why the Roman Catholic Church insists to this day that the individual is not to read the Bible and interpret its plain meaning for himself.

I hope this clarifies things.

Part 1

Charlie J. Ray said...

Regarding Jesus, you'll find if you read Him in context that Jesus NEVER says that we deserve ANYTHING from God. His point over and over again was to shoot down the self-righteous attitudes of the Pharisees (read here semi-pelagians of every stripe, including Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholics and Eastern Orthodox).

For example:

"Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and recline at table'? 8 Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink'? 9 Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'" (Luke 17:7-10 ESV)

And when anyone came to Jesus professing to be blameless or sinless, Jesus either outright called them a brood of vipers or He exposed their sin by commanding them to do something revealing their sin:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:7-8 ESV)

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17 ESV)

And when the rich young ruler said he had kept all the law Jesus exposed him by commanding him to sell all his possessions and give to the poor:

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:21-22 ESV)

This command of Jesus is not meant as a universal command to us today BUT it does reveal that IF Jesus DID ask us to do this we are ALL what? GUILTY OF BREAKING THE COMMAND NOT TO COVET. Covetousness is idolatry. And everything we have belongs first to God:

"But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. (1 Chronicles 29:14 ESV)

The problem with Pharisees is they read everything from a self-righteous point of view instead of from the point of view of Scripture: We are all sinners and no one keeps the law so well as to merit ANYTHING from God whatsoever:

Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-9; Psalm 143:2

Charlie J. Ray said...

I find it odd that Roman Catholics do not understand Protestant and Reformed theology whatsoever, YET Protestants seem to get Roman Catholic theology clearly. I wonder why that is?

I guess Rome has to strike out at a straw man: antinomianism.

Too bad Catholics are unwilling to deal with the actual arguments of Reformed Protestants rather than caricatures....

Unless of course you DO know what we understand the Scriptures to teach AND you have instead chosen to attempt a bait and switch tactic.

If the former, you will need to inform yourself. If the latter, you have made a grave mistake.



Shirley said...

GMTA - You and I seem to think a lot alike. I am doing a research paper as I am taking Biblical Studies to obtain my bachelors degree at the age of 47 as of Monday at Liberty University and I stumbled upon your article. I am glad I did. It is not easy anymore to find people who think as we do. I say "I'm Reformed NOT miss - informed. : ) Also check your facebook account. I have requested you as a friend. Shirley Weinell. God Bless!

Shirley said...

GMTA - We think a lot alike. I am obtaining my bachelors degree at Liberty University in Biblical Studies/Religion and am in the process of doing a research paper and I stumbled upon your blog. It is kinda hard to find people who think as we do. I say "I am Reformed NOT miss-informed!"
Check your facebook I requested you as a friend. If you get a message saying that I cannot have anymore friends let me know by PM and I will fix it.
Thanks for writing your blog.
I am very tired please forgive any type O's
Shirley Weinell - proverbs3@gmx.com

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hi, Shirley. I believe I have already added you in FaceBook. Let me know if I didn't get it right:) May God's peace be with you!

Charlie J. Ray said...

"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 NKJ)
"Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48 NKJ)

God does not grade on a curve. He requires 100% sinless obedience. Those who miss the mark are lost (Romans 3:10-23). Only those who believe that Jesus alone could atone for the sins of His elect will be saved.

He accomplished everything by fulfilling the moral for us in His sinless life (active obedience) and by His passive obedience He went to the cross as a legal substitute for the sins of His elect people.

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:21-28 NKJ)

Charlie J. Ray said...

One thing I forgot to mention is that Rome does accept forensic justification at the point of baptism. All the sins of the past are wiped out and the baptized Catholic has a clean slate. But where the papists equivocate is that AFTER baptism any sins committed subsequently must be paid for through the sacrament of penance. Also, the papist view is that at baptism the person is not only imputed with forensic righteousness but also infused with justifying righteousness. It is here that the papists are equivocating because they use Romans 5:5 to say that righteousness is infused into the heart, making it subjectively pure. That is not the biblical view at all. While Protestants do recognize that sanctification is progressive (Philippians 3:10-16), there is no point in conversion or during the lifetime of the Christian at which the Protestant says that the heart of the believer is made absolutely pure. For papists every sin committed after baptism lowers the level of one's subjectively infused righteousness and only doing penance can restore some level of inherent purity. For Protestants purity of the heart occurs only at the point of death and glorification. (Romans 8:30; 9:23).

But the papist cannot have assurance of salvation precisely because he or she rejects the absolute forensic view of justification as a one time declaration at the point of conversion. Even more to the point, justification is an eternal decree to election, the particular atonement of the cross, and a predestined end for those who were unconditionally elected in eternity prior to creation. (Revelation 13:8; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; Romans 5:1-2; 8:30; Isaiah 53:11).

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