Reforming church, culture and our city

Reforming church, culture and our city

Posts Tagged ‘justification by faith

World Youth Day in Sydney

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World Youth Day 08 has raised the question of what’s the difference between our church and the Roman Catholic church. The difference lies in how the following question is answered: ‘how does God justify or make right sinful men and women?’ This was the question that split the church in the 16th century that today sets apart Protestants from Roman Catholics. As Bible believing Christians we believe that sinful men and women are made right with God by faith alone in the atoning death of Jesus alone for their sins. Church tradition, religious practices or good works in any form cannot and will not make you right with God. In Galatians 2:15-16 we’re told that our works cannot make us right with God, but faith in the work of Jesus alone that makes us right with God. To be ‘justified’ is to be declared right with God, and there Paul tells us that, ‘a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ.’

You and I Paul says are declared right with God because of what Jesus alone has done. What has he done for us? Earlier on in Galatians 1:4 we’re told that he died for our sins i.e. he died to pay the penalty for our failure to perfectly obey God’s law; he bears the consequences for our rebellion towards God; he takes the punishment for our sin. Basically what happens in justification, is that you and I stand in God’s court of law before him under his judgment, but in justifying you, God rules in your favour and acquits you. God declares that you are now right with him. And God is able to do this because Jesus substitutes for you i.e. at the cross where he died he took your place; he took your guilty sentence; he bore the consequences of your sins; he died for you so that you and I might go free. He died in your place so that you might be forgiven and declared in a right relationship with God. And all we are asked to do is to trust or have faith in what Jesus alone has done and completed in his atoning death to be justified or made right with God.

When Roman Catholics speak of justification or being made right with God, they believe that it’s a process rather than a once off work that Jesus has completed. They believe that God infuses grace into you that begins a spiritual or moral change, and that over your lifetime as you co-operate with God you will be justified. Being made right with God is one where you contribute to this process, which is why for Roman Catholics the sacraments (certain church practices) are essential, because the sacraments such as baptism, communion, penance are all means to more grace that will help you along the way towards justification. Being right with God for a Roman Catholic depends on their continued obedience. Instead of trusting in the work of Jesus alone, you end up trusting in Jesus and your work to be right with God.

What divides Biblical Christianity from Roman Catholicism is in that little word ‘alone’. Because ultimately it comes down to whether we are trusting in the finished work of Jesus alone to save us, or whether we are trusting in Jesus and our works to save us. We are justified or declared right with God by God’s grace alone, through faith alone in the death of Jesus alone for our sins (Eph.2:1-10; Phil.3:1-9; Rom.3:21-26)

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Written by eugenehor

July 16, 2008 at 3:44 pm