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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

Monday, February 18, 2013

John Robbins: Good Works and Justifying Merit: Roman Catholic and Protestant Theology


"Thus did this man of God [Luther]  teach that we can never look within us for any work of justifying merit."  John Robbins


Good Works and Justifying Merit

In returning to the Bible, the Protestant Reformers utterly rejected the idea that works wrought by the power of the Holy Spirit in us can obtain the grace of justification. Although the Roman Catholic position on good works and infused grace was clothed with the appearance of sanctity, Luther discerned that it was a diabolical doctrine devised to lead men astray from the objective Gospel. Roman Catholic doctrine teaches men to trust in God’s work in them. God’s work and their own works become indistinguishable. Roman Catholic theology leads them actually to depend upon their own works. Armed with the great teaching of the sinfulness of man’s nature, Luther was able to show that the good works of the best saints are defiled by the sinfulness and imperfection of human nature. “For there is not a just man on Earth who does good and does not sin”(Ecclesiastes 7:20). “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Good works, declared the Reformers, can only be considered good if the merits of Jesus are added to them to make up for their deficiency and imperfection.

Wrote Luther, “No one can be certain that he is not continually committing mortal sin, because of the most secret vice of pride.” The pope condemned this statement in his bull excommunicating Luther, but the Reformer responded, “Therefore I must retract this article, and I say now that no one should doubt that all our good works are mortal sins, if they are judged according to God’s judgment and severity and not accepted as good by grace alone.” Again he declared, “Every good work is sin unless it is forgiven by the mercy of God.” In A Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians (176, 177), Luther thundered that the merits of all works, “before grace and after,” should be thrown down to Hell. Thus did this man of God teach that we can never look within us for any work of justifying merit.

Click here to read the Trinity Review article.

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