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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 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Justifying Faith? Heritage Reformed Churches   »   Home Page   «   

I saw the following excerpt on the homepage of The Heritage Reformed Churches website:

The Nature of Justifying Faith

Justifying faith is not a simple assent to the truths of the gospel. Judas knew the Scriptures, and without doubt assented to the truth of them when he was a zealous preacher of the gospel; but he never had so much as one ounce of justifying faith in his soul…

Even Judas’ master, the devil himself — one far enough, I suppose, from justifying faith — assents to the truth of the Word. He goes against his conscience when he denies it. When he tempted Christ he did not dispute against Scripture, but from Scripture, drawing his arrows out of this very quiver (Matt. 4:6). And at another time, he makes as full a confession of Christ as Peter himself did (Matt. 8:29, compared with Matt.16:17). Assent to the truth of the Word is but an act of the understanding, which reprobates and devils may exercise. But justifying faith has its substance both in the understanding and the will; therefore it is called a believing ‘with the heart’ (Rom. 10:10). ‘Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest’ (Acts 8:37). It takes in all the powers of the soul.


It seems fairly obvious to anyone who has read the Bible that Judas was not a true believer. However, if Judas or the devil knew the Bible and the Gospel it is certainly no sign that they "assented" to that knowledge. Knowing something and assenting to the propositions of that something are two different things. I can know that the Bible says that Jesus is the Son of God. But to know that the Bible says that is not the same thing as "assenting" to that knowledge. In short, assenting to a doctrine is the same thing as believing it is true.

I can know that 2 + 2 = 4. But if I deny that it is true I am obviously not assenting to the proposition that 2 + 2 = 4.

Does the devil believe the Gospel or assent to its truth? Obviously not. So the question is how can these writers make a distinction between knowing what a proposition says and assenting to it and knowing what a proposition says and having "justifying faith"? Basically, there is no logical reason for such a distinction. To be saved all one needs is the knowledge of the propositions or truth claims made by the Gospel and then to simply assent to them or believe them. That IS justifying faith. One has to wonder what more is necessary to be saved than believing the Gospel? Apparently there must be some secret work we must do in addition to believing which makes for the "justifying faith" advocated by the writer in the quote above. The Bible simply says that Abraham BELIEVED God and was justified! (Romans 4:3). To believe the propositions of the Gospel message is to be imputed righteous or counted righteous. The Protestant and Reformed view is that the elect are "declared righteous" even though "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:10-23; 1 John 1:8-10). The epistle to the Romans and 1 John are both addressed to the Christian churches, by the way. That means that both epistles declare that Christians are sinners.

It seems to me that the purpose of those who say that faith is not enough but needs something else is that they wish to confuse justification with sanctification as if sanctification were the basis for salvation rather than the objective justification accomplished for the elect on the cross. Sanctification is always imperfect and therefore can never be a source of assurance of salvation whatsoever. To emphasize sanctification as necessary for salvation is in essence to deny justification. (See Articles 9-18 of the 39 Articles). Sanctification is a sign to other men of a valid profession of faith and a living or lively faith. (See Article 12). It is nothing more nor less than this.

While those who are in open sin are subject to church discipline (1 Corinthians 5:4-5), it is a matter of correcting immorality not a matter of whether or not the elect are saved by faith alone. In fact, the role call of the saints in Hebrews 11:1ff is a role call of miserable sinners as anyone reading the Old Testament can easily tell from the inspired record. It is not possible for an elect person to commit apostasy or to permanently fall into egregious doctrinal error or egregious immorality. God always gives the gift of repentance at some point in time--perhaps even on the death bed! (Psalm 139:16; Hebrews 9:27). What is the difference between a David and a Saul? Election. (Romans 9:11-13). Our only comfort comes from knowing that God granted us faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and repentance (Acts 11:18; Romans 10:12). This is why works do not comfort us. Who knows what our capricious will might do in the future? The only guarantee is the seal of God (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV).

Click here to see the original quote and link: Heritage Reformed Churches » Home Page «


2 comments:

aztexan said...

Seems to me that Satan well knows the Gospel, which is why he is so adept at twisting it subtly to make it of none effect. He knows what it is, knows it is true, knows that it saves the elect, and HATES it. The fact that he knows (and therefore believes it; for one cannot be said to "know" what he does not believe) the Gospel, however, is of none effect unto poor ol' Lucifer and his minions, for it is not extended to them but to mankind only. Satan and the demons can understand and believe the propositions of the Gospel all the livelong day (yea, as they shall for the rest of eternity), but it will do them no good because the Message don't apply to them.

What I want to know is where Scripture tells us that Judas was ever "a zealous preacher of the Gospel." I must have missed that verse. The picture I've always come away with is that Judas was wont to sit on his ass and pinch coins from the communal purse while the others were doing actual Kingdom work. I don't doubt that he dutifully went through the motions as best he could manage whenever necessary, but I just have never pictured him as even a particularly great pretender, y'know? I've always pictured him as hiding in plain sight, his duplicity and wickedness not detected by the others because they were all so self-absorbed, preoccupied, undiscerning and - let's face it - stupid at times.

Charlie J. Ray said...

as·sent
   [uh-sent] Show IPA
verb (used without object)
1.
to agree or concur; subscribe to (often followed by to ): to assent to a statement.
2.
to give in; yield; concede: Assenting to his demands, I did as I was told.

Dictionary.com

The devil and the demons have been sealed in their rebellion. That is true. But so have the reprobates like Judas. It was predetermined by God's set plan and foreknowledge. (Acts 2:22, 23; 4:27, 28; 1 Peter 2:8). I don't think the devil "assents" to the Gospel or agrees with it, even if he knows it is true.

Peace...

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