Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rome: Its Teachers and Followers in Light of Paul

The apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit declared that if he or even an angel from heaven preached any other gospel other than that which he preached let him be accursed.

With respect to the gospel, what the apostle had in view was not the finished work of Christ but rather the appropriation of that work. In other words, the apostle was not addressing whether Jesus died for his people and rose again for their justification. Rather, the apostle was jealous to protect and desirous to declare the good news of how the finished work of the Savior must be appropriated so that one can be saved. The apostle had in view justification by faith apart from works (Galatians 2:16).

The apostle taught that the forgiveness of sins and a right standing before God comes only through the monergistic work of the Holy Spirit and not by obeying God’s ordinances (even by grace). By being baptized into the finished work of Christ sinners become heirs with Christ according to the promise that was made to the patriarchs (Galatians 3:29). It is only through union with Christ that one is clothed in Christ’s righteousness (Galatians 3:27). Upon union with Christ the sinner is imputed with Christ's perfect righteousness, constituted as such, and then pardoned and declared legally not guilty for the sake of Christ. The apostle indexes the instrumental cause of the sinner’s pardon and right standing before God to faith and faith alone. Faith is the gift of God that is immediately present within the sinner the moment he is recreated in Christ and found in Him (Philippians 3:9).

The apostle distinguishes between the "bewitched" saints and the false teachers who did the bewitching by perverting the gospel of grace. The apostle’s unambiguous anathema was placed upon those who perverted the gospel and not upon the confused congregants who were about to fall from grace as it were. The apostle in the tradition of Christ always dealt more severely with the religious leaders who made proselytes twice the sons of hell as themselves (Matthew 23:15). It is the godless man who slips in unnoticed and denies the Sovereign Lord’s gospel of grace who faces the greater condemnation (Jude 4). Accordingly, we do well to consider what we are teaching because it is the teacher who will incur the more severe judgment (James 3:1). We should want to ensure that we are not found among those who will be destroyed for smuggling in damnable heresies (2 Peter 2:1).

The churches at Galatia were confused. The gospel was faint and in some sense unrecognizable; yet the church existed in a visible form with visible sacraments and the apostle addressed his audience as "brethren." It is noteworthy that Israel had an incorrect view of circumcision and how corporate membership related to salvation. Nonetheless, even given a perverted use of the sacrament it still distinguished the Jews from the world, marking them out as the visible people of God. Accordingly, Roman baptism, although perverted, is to be honored. Moreover, Israel called for the crucifixion of their Messiah; yet the apostle John records for us that that Christ came to “his own” who received him not. How are God’s covenant people to be identified? Is it by the orthodoxy of the gospel or the visible signs of the covenant (or both)? How are the Popes to be viewed? Well that’s an easy one. Let the Pope and his Bishops who pervert the gospel and lead people to hell be accursed - and all our Roman Catholic friends be saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

He who cannot pronounce curses cannot pronounce blessings.


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Gaetano said...

There are no quotations presented to defend your claim that the popes have perverted the Gospel. I noticed your engagement on De Regno Christi about being "well-versed" in the degrees of the Council of Trent. Maybe you could use this handy familiarity and provide a quotation or two from Trent to demonstrate your claims--rather, your curses on fellow believers in the Triune God, the divinity of Christ, His death, resurrection, and coming, the necessity of grace, etc., etc., etc.

Reformed Apologist said...


Do you really want me to take the time to go to the shelf, grab Trent and quote it back to you? Trent placed their unambiguous anathema upon the gospel as articulated in the Reformed confessions. I trust you do not wish to debate that point. But then, what point would you like to debate? You see Matt, somebody is preaching another gospel. What I respect about the delegates to Trent is that they understood that Protestantism and Romanism are on a collision course over the gospel. Somebody's way leads to hell.

You want to point to things like: “believers in the Triune God, the divinity of Christ, His death, resurrection, and coming, the necessity of grace, etc., etc., etc.”. If you understood Trent and the gospel it condemns you would not cite such things. Many believe in the Trinity and Christ’s divinity yet are damned. One reason is that many who believe in those teachings also believe that grace is “necessary” but not sufficient to save! Trent teaches that by grace men contribute to the meriting of eternal life. In the sixth session, held January 13, 1547, Romanism - in chapter 16 and canon 32, affirmed that man’s good works are “also the good merits of him that is justified…” and by these good works man merits “increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life…” and to disagree is to receive Rome’s anathema. Moreover, Protestantism teaches that the instrumental cause of justification is faith alone, whereas Rome teaches it is water baptism (sixth session; chapter seven). In a word, Romanists deny that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy that remits sins for Christ’s sake. (Canon twelve, chapter 16).