Not So Random Thoughts 37

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy
The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformer’s theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed with varying degrees of adequacy by Augustine, and Gottschalk, and Bradwardine, and Wycliffe, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only. The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration—the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. (Johnson and Packer’s introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will).

For hundreds of years up to the time of the Reformation Roman Catholicism had set itself up as the standard of orthodoxy and for the standard of holiness and righteousness. Rome had many men who were quite moral according to its standards and there was a lot of fruit of some kind, which is to say that they had outward good works. But Rome was flawed at the core since it did not preach a true Gospel by that time. Without the Gospel, there is no true justification and as such no true sanctification. There were many, many false prophets who masqueraded as true prophets in fancy clothes and a lot of religious sounding performances.

Martin Luther was raised up by God (following Wycliffe and Hus) and set on a path to recover the true Gospel which true fruit comes from. A person without the true Gospel can be very religious and given to asceticism and outward good works, but that person cannot have true fruit. The only true fruit comes from Jesus Christ the vine and without the Gospel no person has Christ and cannot bear the fruit of Christ. Rome, which was without the true Gospel and in response to the Reformers setting out the true Gospel denied the true Gospel at the Council of Trent (years 1546-1564). In other words, the people were being led astray by a false gospel and false prophets and were on the broad road that leads to destruction.

One of the great errors of Rome was putting the power of salvation in the will of man and also in the institution of the external church. The great doctrine of justification as taught by Luther and the Bible relies upon the sovereign grace of God and not the will of man and is not given by the institution of the external church. Once again, Rome had a lot of orthodoxy in their creeds but that orthodoxy did not extend to their views of the Gospel. As in the times of the earthly sojourn of Jesus, when the Pharisees distorted the commandments of God in accordance with themselves and their own abilities rather then the Gospel, Rome did the same thing. The paths of Rome was littered with false prophets and external religion that set out a false gospel that was on the broad path. It is true that they had monks and ascetics that practiced grueling forms of religion, but they did not receive the fruit from Christ and so their fruit was not from a good tree.

Modern Protestantism can be likened to Rome in the time of the Reformation in at least several ways. There are some who think of the church as the dispenser of grace. There are many (vast majority) who seem to think that the power of salvation is within the power and ability of the will of man. There are many who think that their external works in and of themselves are evidences of true fruit. However, true fruit can only come from the true vine and the true vine is Christ Himself. True fruit comes from Christ and not the will of the man or the workings of the fles of the man. True fruit comes from grace and not the works of man.

The Reformation (by God’s hand) brought to us by the grace of God more than the stated words about the Gospel. It was bringing a truer view of the Church and it brought us God Himself in Christ. It brought us Christ Himself rather than just words about Christ and not just bread and wine which was said to be Christ. It brought us true prophets (preachers of the true Gospel) instead of leaving people in the hands of false prophets. It brought true fruit rather than leaving us false fruit and without the tools to discern what true fruit is. The sovereign grace of God is the only kind of grace there really is, though people speak of it in ways that denigrate what it really is. There is much more to the narrow gate and the narrow path than seems obvious, but that is also true of false prophets. The modern day abounds in false prophets and false so-called gospels. We need a new Reformation in the sense that we need a new visitation of God among His people.

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2 Responses to “Not So Random Thoughts 37”

  1. Cafazzo Franco Says:

    so how is a man justified before God and on what basis?

  2. Richard Smith Says:

    A man is justified by God and not by the work or act of a man. A man must be broken from his pride and self so that the man can be united to Christ and granted a new heart. The person who is united to Christ is justified (declared just and righteous by God) on the basis of Christ alone. God promises grace to the humbled, but no one can humble self by the powers of self as that would then be earning grace. The person must ask the Lord to humble him and break him from self and pride rather than our power of self humbling self (though not a true humiliation at all) to obtain grace. No, God breaks the heart and truly changes the person’s heart.

    The person with Christ is justified by Christ alone. The person with Christ (or who is one with Christ and married/united to Christ) has Christ as his righteousness and Christ as his wrath-bearer. Christ is needed for justification. Christ is needed for true spiritual life. Christ only comes to sinners by grace alone and so there is nothing a sinner can do to obtain grace by seek the Lord and ask Him to grant it and work it in the soul.

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