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.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sanctified by Sacraments? or Justified by Faith Alone? John Robbins Responds

[The following is an excerpt from the late John Robbins of The Trinity Foundation.  Robbins gave a talk on the presuppositional apologetics of Gordon H. Clark.  Amazingly, he mentions the issue of sanctified by sacraments, which had come up in a discussion I had with someone offline.  To read the original article click on, An Introduction to Gordon H. Clark. Charlie.]

Salvation is by faith alone. Faith is belief of the truth. God reveals truth. Faith, the act of believing, is a gift of God. “By his knowledge, my righteous servant shall justify many.”

Clark’s view of salvation, reflected in the Westminster Confession’s chapter on justification, is at odds with most of what passes for Christianity today. Popular Christianity decries knowledge. Clark points out that Peter says that we have received everything we need for life and godliness through knowledge. James says the Word of Truth regenerates us. Paul says we are justified through belief of the truth. Christ says we are sanctified by truth.

There are three popular theories of sanctification today: sanctification by works, sanctification by emotions, sanctification by sacraments. The first, sanctification by works, is sometimes expressed by those who claim to be Reformed or Calvinist: They teach that we are justified by faith, but we are sanctified by works. Calvin had no such view, and the Westminster Confession refutes it. The second view, sanctification by emotions, is the view of the Pentecostal, charismatic, and holiness groups. Roman Catholic and other churches that believe in the magical power of sacraments to regenerate or sanctify hold the third view, sanctification by sacraments. But just as we are regenerated by truth alone, and justified through belief of the truth alone, we are sanctified by truth alone as well.

Nota Bene:  Robbins rightly points out that the idea that communicants are "sanctified" by the sacraments is a Roman Catholic idea and not a Reformed view.  One has to wonder where this idea comes from in Reformed circles?

Reasonable Christian Blog Glory be to the Father, and to the Son : and to the Holy Ghost; Answer. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be : world without end. Amen. 1662 Book of Common Prayer


John said...

So how is one's one life not made holy by good works, other than by some convoluted method of denying the meaning of common words?

Charlie J. Ray said...

The idea that doing good works makes someone holy flies in the face of the fact that all humankind has been totally corrupted by the fall of Adam. If you could make yourself holy by doing good works it would imply that you have the power to change your own nature from totally corrupt to absolutely pure and holy.

Sin is not just following Adam's bad example. Sin is a corruption of the human nature and a loss of the divine image and likeness in man. (Psalm 58:3).

as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." (Genesis 6:5-7 ESV)
And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:13 ESV)

John said...

Gen 6 is hardly the final word on humanity, and Noah wasn't included in it.

And whatever loss there may be of the divine image, can be reclaimed in Christ.

Since we are commanded to "be holy yourselves also in all your behavior" (1 Pe), I take it we are meant to obey the command. If we are told to "be holy", then I take it the command can in some measure be fulfilled by us.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Even Paul after his conversion struggles with the sinfulness of his own heart:

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:14-20 ESV)

And finally, God does not lower His standards so you can "appear" more holy than you are. God does not grade on a curve. He expects 100% obedience, not just your best efforts:

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20 ESV)
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48 ESV)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Unfortunately, the Bible reveals that Noah was righteous "by faith" and not by some sort of meritorious works righteousness. Noah believed God and obeyed God's command to build an ark.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:6-7 ESV)

Notice that Hebrews does not say, "Without good works it is impossible to please God." The text says, "Without FAITH it is impossible to please God." What makes the Christian pleasing to God is faith in Jesus Christ, not one's level of sanctification or "deification".

But after the flood was over Noah sinned by getting drunk (Genesis 9:20-25). Let's not forget that there were seven others on the ark with Noah. Nowhere does the text say that they were sinless or even blameless or righteous. And Noah, the hero of the story, is the first to sin after the flood. This is a good indication that the divine image is still corrupt even in believers.

Calvin's Commentary on Genesis 9:22 says:

God had selected eight souls as a sacred seed, thoroughly purged from all corruption, for the renovation of the Church: but the son of Noah shows, how necessary it is for men to be held as with the bridle of God, however they may be exalted by privilege. The impiety of Ham proves to us how deep is the root of wickedness in men; and that it continually puts forth its shoots, except where the power of the Spirit prevails over it. But if, in the hallowed sanctuary of God, among so small a number, one fiend was preserved; let us not wonder if, at this day, in the Church, containing a much greater multitude of men, the wicked are mingled with the good.

Even Calvin seems to miss the point that Noah sinned because he still had the sinful nature within him. After the flood the human race is still corrupted by sin and sin is passed on again to the next generation.

If that is not total depravity, I don't know what is.

The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies. (Psalm 58:3 ESV)

John said...

I didn't think we were discussing being "graded" by God, or whether or not we can achieve perfection. Rather we are discussing whether we can make our lives more holy through righteous living. Since Peter tells us to do it, I believe Peter and not your voyage through tangential verses.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It's too bad you don't believe the entire Bible. Scripture says that you can never be holy enough to merit heaven.

If you sin even once, you deserve hell:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 ESV)

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. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV)

Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:2 ESV)

Charlie J. Ray said...

We are made holy in Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV)

John said...

I thought we were talking about sanctification, not "meriting heaven". We are using Protestant theological categories right? And yes, we are made holy "in Christ". I don't think anyone disputes that do they?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hello? Justification precedes sanctification. You cannot be made holy unless you have first been regenerated and have believed that Christ alone is your righteousness.

"Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, (Romans 4:7-11 ESV)

John said...

Ok, but this article is about sanctification, not what might precede it.

Charlie J. Ray said...


This blog is dedicated to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that would include the fact that justification is by faith alone. Sanctification follows after justification and is always imperfect and can therefore never be the basis for salvation. That would mean that your Eastern Orthodox Church is teaching a false gospel and not the true Gospel.

The 39 Articles of Religion makes it clear that sanctification can never put away our guilt for our sins, which is the point of the article that you didn't get.

Article IX
Of Original or Birth Sin
Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.

Article X
Of Free Will
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

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.

See: Articles 9-18

Charlie J. Ray said...

The Heidelberg Catechism. Lord's Day 33:

Lord’s Day 33

88. In how many things does true repentance or conversion consist?

In two things: the dying of the old man, and the making alive of the new.[1]

[1] Rom 6:4-6; 1 Cor 5:7; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:5-10


89. What is the dying of the old man?

Heartfelt sorrow for sin, causing us to hate and turn from it always more and more.[1]

[1] Ps 51:3-4, 17; Joel 2:12-13; Rom 8:12-13; 2 Cor 7:10


90. What is the making alive of the new man?

Heartfelt joy in God through Christ,[1] causing us to take delight in living according to the will of God in all good works.[2]

[1] Ps 51:8, 12; Isa 57:15; Rom 5:1, 14:17; [2] Rom 6:10-11, 7:22, 8:10-11; Gal 2:20


91. What are good works?

Those only which proceed from true faith,[1] and are done according to the Law of God,[2] unto His glory,[3] and not such as rest on our own opinion[4] or the commandments of men.[5]

[1] Jn 15:5; Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6; [2] Lev 18:4; 1 Sam 15:22; Eph 2:10; [3] 1 Cor 10:31; [4] Deut 12:32; Isa 29:13; Ezek 20:18, 20; [5] Num 15:39; Mt 15:7-9


Charlie J. Ray said...

My, don't the wolves just love to bait and switch? :) I get to choose the topics here:)

Charlie J. Ray said...

Article XIX

Of the Church

The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached and the sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same. As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch have erred: so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of ceremonies, but also in matters of faith.

Charlie J. Ray said...

It's odd that you didn't read the title of the post, John. It clearly says, "Justified by Faith Alone."

We accept the legal principle in the most important human relationships. A woman who ignores a legal relationship (“mere paper”) and tries to establish a relationship with a man by experience alone is prostituting a fundamental law of life. A person who takes property without a deed (“mere paper”) is a thief. In Revelation, Babylon is called a harlot (Revelation 17:5). Babylon is every system that tries to establish a relationship with God on the basis of experience. Sanctification is living a life of fellowship with God. Justification is its legal basis, and without justification no fellowship with a holy God can exist. Fellowship with God demands perfect righteousness at the very beginning. John Robbins in "The Relationship between Justification and Sanctification".

Charlie J. Ray said...

Our life is made holy by means of God's Word, not by doing good works:

(John 17:17 ESV) Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

(Ephesians 5:26 ESV) that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Sanctify them
1Th 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2Th 2:13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

1Pe 1:22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,

Joh 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

your word is truth
2Sa 7:28 And now, O Lord GOD, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.

Psa 119:160 The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.

Charlie J. Ray said...

And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. (John 17:19 ESV)

John said...

Even your title confuses your own categories. Did you really want to confound justification and sanctification in the title?

Verses about sanctification through God's word hardly excludes other aspects. One doesn't exclude the other.

But even the verses you quote discuss purification from obedience. But I will continue to wait to you deal with the verse I gave:

1Pet. 1:15 be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;

If you can be holy in your behavior, then behavior is an important part of holiness.

Another example:

2Tim. 2:21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [wickedness], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

If you avoid wickedness, then you will be sanctified.

This is so simple, and quoting endless verses about the importance of God's word doesn't alter it.

Charlie J. Ray said...

John, yes, it is so simple that you cannot even read the entire Bible and understand even the most basic doctrine of all: justification by faith alone. Unless you have right standing with God, none of your good works are acceptable to God:

Article XIII

Of Works before Justification

Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ, neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea, rather for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.

I realize you're in bondage to your own self righteousness. But Paul has an answer for you:

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4 ESV)

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith-- (Philippians 3:8-9 ESV)

I understand that the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic didn't read or understand Scripture. I just didn't know that it extended so far with those who pretend to offer an apologetic for their views.

Word of advice: before you try to bait and switch a topic or create a straw man... you should actually understand what the other side is saying. But since your reason is corrupted by the sinful nature I doubt you're able to do this. Perhaps God will grant you the grace to see and hear the Gospel truth?

Charlie J. Ray said...

I will continue to wait for you to read the article to which I linked and to interact with it, since that IS the topic:)

1 Peter 1:11 and 2 Timothy 2:21 cannot be understood apart from other Scriptures that bring out Peter's meaning more clearly. Scripture interprets Scripture:)

You might think it is brilliant on your part to come to my blog and try to bully things around and bait and switch but I see it merely as your avoidance of the REAL issue here: do your good works and personal holiness make you worthy of salvation? Yes or no?


Romans 3:10-12; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8-9; Psalm 143:2; Psalm 130:3

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3 ESV)

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. (Psalm 90:8 ESV)
If I sin, you watch me and do not acquit me of my iniquity. (Job 10:14 ESV)

But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? (Psalm 76:7 ESV)

Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. (Nahum 1:6 ESV)

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap. (Malachi 3:2 ESV)

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