Waking up this morning, I had big plans to dive into a blog post explaining the doctrine of justification by faith, thereby settling the stage for discussing the Reformation. Indeed this doctrine brought Martin Luther to an understanding of Biblical salvation so powerful that he quickly recognized the corruption in the Church. From this basic teaching, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli and the other 16th Century Reformers rediscovered the Bible’s teachings on fundamental matters of the Christian religion.
The doctrine of justification by faith alone stands in sharp contrast to Rome’s insistence that faith requires human works to augment it. Offering a detailed comparison of the two schools of thought is essential in understanding why 21st Century Protestants must not equivocate on this issue. Unity between Protestants and Catholics sounds noble and Biblical, but once you understand Rome’s official position on justification by faith alone, you can’t avoid the fact that Roman Catholicism preaches an entirely different gospel than the Bible presents.
And Scripture is painfully clear about how Christians should respond to different gospels.
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. ~~Galatians 1:6-9 (ESV)
Well!–that’s pretty nasty of the apostle Paul to say, isn’t it? Yet he wrote those words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That being the case, we need to seriously examine what Scripture says about justification, what Rome says about it, and how Martin Luther and the other Reformers recovered the Biblical doctrine. Make no mistake: this doctrine holds the key to understanding why Christians cannot, and must not acquiesce to Pope Francis’ claim that the Reformation has ended.
As I said, I woke up this morning with plans to write about the doctrine of justification. But I got distracted by other blogs, a Twitter conversation that gave me a good belly laugh and a powerful Justin Peters sermon on YouTube. As a result, I didn’t begin blogging on time. The type of essay I need to write on this subject necessitates linking to several sources –a time-consuming task even for an able-bodied writer. (Hint: I type with a pointer on my head.)
Does all that mean today’s blog post was a complete waste of time? I don’t think so. In fact, I believe the Lord sovereignly used my inability to plunge into a full-blown discussion of justification in order to get me to explain why the doctrine of justification is so critical to Biblical Christianity. Who would care whether or not God justifies people by faith alone or by a cooperation between faith and works unless we first established that the Holy Spirit won’t tolerate a counterfeit gospel? But now that we’ve seen how sharply He condemns those who adhere to deviations from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can begin to examine this issue that ignited the Reformation.
I had plans. Apparently, so did the Lord.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin