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Reformation and Justification

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Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

While the king중종 after 연산군 reigned in Yi dynasty, an Augustinian monk nailed a piece of paper onto the door of the church of the Castle of Württemberg.  The date was October 31, 1517.  It was an invitation to other scholars to discuss about certain points of abuse by the Church of Rome in selling of indulgencies.  Neither the monk nor the Church of Rome knew the import of the event.  But the Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, was about to bring in the greatest revival of the Church since the days of Apostles and to change the western world thereby the whole world forever.

There was the birth of the Protestant church.  Many see the reformation as the fruit of mere theological debates between the Reformers and the theologians of the Church of Rome, the main issues remain in much deeper root.  Some others think the reformation was but inevitable political moves at the medieval Europe, the main issues of the reformation were not political in nature.

It is important for us to know the main issues of the reformation thereby we know why we are what we are; the Protestants.

I.                    Direct Cause – Sale of Indulgencies

St. Peter’s Dome is at once the glory and the shame of papal Rome. It was built with the proceeds from the sale of indulgences which broke up the unity of Western Christendom. The magnificent structure was begun in 1506 under Pope Julius II., and completed in 1626.

The difficult and complicated doctrine of indulgences is peculiar to the Roman Church. It was unknown to the Greek and Latin fathers. It was developed by the mediaeval schoolmen, and sanctioned by the Council of Trent (Dec. 4, 1563), yet without a definition and with an express warning against abuses and evil gains.

In the legal language of Rome, indulgentia is a term for amnesty or remission of punishment.  In ecclesiastical Latin, an indulgence means the remission of the temporal (not the eternal) punishment of sin (not of sin itself), on condition of penitence and the payment of money to the church or to some charitable object. It maybe granted by a bishop or archbishop within his diocese, while the Pope has the power to grant it to all Catholics.

The sacrament of penance includes three elements,—contrition of the heart, confession by the mouth (to the priest), and satisfaction by good works, such as prayer, fasting, almsgiving, pilgrimages, all of which are supposed to have an atoning efficacy. God forgives only the eternal punishment of sin, and he alone can do that; but the sinner has to bear the temporal punishments, either in this life or in purgatory; and these punishments are under the control of the church or the priesthood, especially the Pope as its legitimate head. There are also works of supererogation, performed by Christ and by the saints, with corresponding extra-merits and extra-rewards; and these constitute a rich treasury from which the Pope, as the treasurer, can dispense indulgences for money. This papal power of dispensation extends even to the departed souls in purgatory, whose sufferings may thereby be abridged.

The rebuilding of St. Peter’s Church in Rome furnished an occasion for the periodical exercise of the papal power of granting indulgences. Julius II. and Leo X., two of the most worldly, avaricious, and extravagant Popes, had no scruple to raise funds for that object, and incidentally for their own aggrandizement, from the traffic in indulgences. Both issued several bulls to that effect.

Tetzel traveled with great pomp and circumstance through Germany, and recommended with unscrupulous effrontery and declamatory eloquence the indulgences of the Pope to the large crowds who gathered from every quarter around him. He was received like a messenger from heaven. Priests, monks, and magistrates, men and women, old and young, marched in solemn procession with songs, flags, and candles, under the ringing of bells, to meet him and his fellow-monks, and followed them to the church; the papal Bull on a velvet cushion was placed on the high altar, a red cross with a silken banner bearing the papal arms was erected before it, and a large iron chest was put beneath the cross for the indulgence money. Such chests are still preserved in many places. The preachers, by daily sermons, hymns, and processions, urged the people, with extravagant laudations of the Pope’s Bull, to purchase letters of indulgence for their own benefit, and at the same time played upon their sympathies for departed relatives and friends whom they might release from their sufferings in purgatory "as soon as the penny tinkles in the box."

II.                  Starting Point – Nailing of ninety five Theses

Through the study of the Bible, and particularly Romans 1:17, Luther came to a knowledge of justification by faith alone.

In the autumn of the year 1510, after his removal to Wittenberg, but before his graduation as doctor of divinity, Luther was sent to Rome in the interest of his order and at the suggestion of Staupitz, who wished to bring about a disciplinary reform and closer union of the Augustinian convents in Germany, but met with factious opposition. In company with another monk and a lay brother, as the custom was, he traveled on foot, from convent to convent, spent four weeks in Rome in the Augustinian convent of Maria del popolo, and returned to Wittenberg in the following spring. The whole journey must have occupied several months. It was the longest journey he ever made, and at the same time, his pilgrimage to the shrines of the holy apostles where he wished to make a general confession of all his sins and to secure the most efficient absolution.

He ascended on bended knees the twenty-eight steps of the famous Scala Santa (said to have been transported from the Judgment Hall of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem), that he might secure the indulgence attached to this ascetic performance since the days of Pope Leo IV. in 850, but at every step the word of the Scripture sounded as a significant protest in his ear: "The just shall live by faith" (Rom. 1:17).

III.                Irreconcilable Differences – Justification

Justification is man’s acceptance with God or his being regarded and treated as righteous in His sight.

Dr. Eck “You have not answered the question put to you. We did not call you here to bring into question the authority of Councils; there can be no dispute on that point here. We demand a direct and precise answer: will you, or will you not, retract? ”

Luther “Since your most Serene Majesty, and your High Mightiness, require from me a direct and precise answer, I will give you one, and it is this. I cannot submit my faith either to the Pope or to the Councils, because it is clear as day they have frequently erred and contradicted each other. Unless, therefore, I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or on plain and clear grounds of reason, so that conscience shall bind me to make acknowledgment of error, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything contrary to conscience.  HERE I STAND. I CAN DO NO OTHER. MAY GOD HELP ME. AMEN.”

The former was a doctrine of Merit depending on the imperfect works of sinful men.  The later was a doctrine of Grace founded on the finished work of Christ.

All sins contracted before baptism were said to be pardoned in Baptism, but pardoned not in the sense of blotted out as criminal offences, but in the sense of being ‘deleted’ in the heart of the baptized person.  All sins were deleted by an infused principle of grace.

All sins contracted after baptism were held to be pardoned, not by an act of God’s grace, but only in the sense of eternal punishment being taken away while temporal punishment remained to be endured.

The pardon of these sins was left to be secured by the confession of the penitent and the absolution of the priest by the sacrament of Penance in this life and by the sufferings of Purgatory in the life to come.

The Church of Rome confounded the term ‘Justification’ with ‘Sanctification.’

Justification, considered as an act of God, is the mere infusion.

Justification is the mere recognition of a righteousness inherent in the sinner himself.

Justification is not an act of God’s grace, acquitting him of guilt, delivering him from condemnation, and receiving him into His favor and friendship.

The Reformers held and taught that Justification is ‘an act of God’s free grace, whereby He pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us righteous in His sight.’

It is an act of God external to the sinner.

The Church of Rome denied that we are justified by that faith which ‘receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation.’

We are justified by faith informed with charity, or love, which is the germ of new obedience.

This faith is first infused by baptism.  It is restored or renewed by confession and absolution after baptism.

These sacraments effectually deliver the sinner from all punishment, except such as is endured in penance, or in purgatory.

The Reformers held and taught that we are ‘justified by faith alone, simply because faith receives and rests upon Christ alone for salvation, and apprehends and appropriates His righteousness as the ground of acceptance.

There is a faith, which is immediately and invariably effectual in securing the pardon of a sinner and his acceptance with God.

This faith does not consist in the bare assent of the understanding, but involves the cordial consent of the whole mind looking to His righteousness as it only prevailing plea.

This faith has an immediate and certain efficacy, simply because it unites the believer to Christ, and makes him a partaker of His righteousness.

This faith will never be suffered to die out, but will spring up unto life eternal.


On the morning of the 31st October, 1517, the elector said to Duke John,

“Brother, I must tell you a dream which I had last night, and the

meaning of which I should like much to know. It is so deeply

impressed on my mind, that I will never forget it, were I to live a

thousand years. For I dreamed it thrice, and each time with new

circumstances.”

Duke John: “Is it a good or a bad dream?”

The Elector: “I know not; God knows.”

Duke John: “Don’t be uneasy at it; but be so good as tell it to me.”

The Elector: “Having gone to bed last night, fatigued and out of

spirits, I fell asleep shortly after my prayer, and slept calmly for about

two hours and a half; I then awoke, and continued awake to midnight,

all sorts of thoughts passing through my mind. Among other things, I

thought how I was to observe the Feast of All Saints. I prayed for the

poor souls in purgatory; and supplicated God to guide me, my

counsels, and my people according to truth. I again fell asleep, and then

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dreamed that Almighty God sent me a monk, who was a true son of

the Apostle Paul. All the saints accompanied him by order of God, in

order to bear testimony before me, and to declare that he did not come

to contrive any plot, but that all that he did was according to the will

of God. They asked me to have the goodness graciously to permit him

to write something on the door of the church of the Castle of

Wittemberg. This I granted through my chancellor. Thereupon the

monk went to the church, and began to write in such large characters

that I could read the writing at Schweinitz. The pen which he used was

so large that its end reached as far as Rome, where it pierced the ears of

a lion that was crouching there, and caused the triple crown upon the

head of the Pope to shake. All the cardinals and princes, running

hastily up, tried to prevent it from falling. You and I, brother, wished

also to assist, and I stretched out my arm; — but at this moment I

awoke, with my arm in the air, quite amazed, and very much enraged at

the monk for not managing his pen better. I recollected myself a little;

it was only a dream.

“I was still half asleep, and once more closed my eyes. The dream

returned. The lion, still annoyed by the pen, began to roar with all

his might, so much so that the whole city of Rome, and all the

States of the Holy Empire, ran to see what the matter was. The

Pope requested them to oppose this monk, and applied

particularly to me, on account of his being in my country. I again

awoke, repeated the Lord’s prayer, entreated God to preserve his

Holiness, and once more fell asleep.”

“Then I dreamed that all the princes of the Empire, and we among

them, hastened to Rome, and strove, one after another, to break the

pen; but the more we tried the stiffer it became, sounding as if it

had been made of iron. We at length desisted. I then asked the

monk (for I was sometimes at Rome, and sometimes at

Wittemberg) where he got this pen, and why it was so strong. ‘The

pen,’ replied he, ‘belonged to an old goose of Bohemia, a hundred

years old. I got it from one of my old schoolmasters. As to its

strength, it is owing to the impossibility of depriving it of its pith

or marrow; and I am quite astonished at it myself.’ Suddenly I

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heard a loud noise — a large number of other pens had sprung out

of the long pen of the monk. I awoke a third time: it was daylight.”

Duke John: “Chancellor, what is your opinion? Would we had a

Joseph, or a Daniel, enlightened by God!”

Chancellor: “Your highness knows the common proverb, that the

dreams of young girls, learned men, and great lords have usually some

hidden meaning. The meaning of this dream, however, we shall not be

able to know for some time — not till the things to which it relates

have taken place. Wherefore, leave the accomplishment to God, and

place it fully in his hand.”

Duke John: “I am of your opinion, Chancellor; ‘tis not fit for us to

annoy ourselves in attempting to discover the meaning. God will

overrule all for his glory.”

Elector: “May our faithful God do so; yet I shall never forget, this

dream. I have, indeed, thought of an interpretation, but I keep it to

myself. Time, perhaps, will show if I have been a good diviner.”5

So passed the morning of the 31st October, 1517, in the royal castle of

Schweinitz. The events of the evening at Wittemberg we have already

detailed. The elector has hardly made an end of telling his dream when the monk comes with his hammer to interpret it.


To their amazement, the princes found that a change had somehow come

over the scene. Luther no longer stood at their bar—they had come

suddenly to stand at his. The man who two hours before had seemed to

them the accused, was now transformed into the judge—a righteous and

awful judge—who, unawed by the crowns they wore and the armies they

commanded, was entreating, admonishing, and reproving them with a

severe but wholesome fidelity, and thundering forth their doom, should

they prove disobedient, with a solemnity and authority before which they

trembled. “Be wise, ye kings.” What a light has the subsequent history of

Europe shed upon the words of Luther! and what a monument are the

Popish kingdoms at this day of the truth of his admonition!

At the conclusion of Luther’s address Dr. Eck again rose, and with a

fretted air and in peevish tones15 said, addressing Luther: “You have not

answered the question put to you. We did not call you here to bring into

question the authority of Councils; there can be no dispute on that point

here. We demand a direct and precise answer: will you, or will you not,

retract? ”

Unmoved, Luther replied: “Since your most Serene Majesty, and your

High Mightiness, require from me a direct and precise answer, I will give

you one, and it is this. I cannot submit my faith either to the Pope or to

the Councils, because it is clear as day they have frequently erred and

contradicted each other. Unless, therefore, I am convinced by the

testimony of Scripture, or on plain and clear grounds of reason, so that

conscience shall bind me to make acknowledgment of error, I can and will

not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything contrary to

conscience.” And then, looking round on the assembly, he said—and the

words are among the sublimest in history—“ HERE I STAND. I CAN DO NO

OTHER. MAY GOD HELP ME. AMEN.”

But God visited and tried him. Two incidents that now befell him brought

back those feelings and convictions of sin which were beginning to be

effaced amid the excitements of his laureation and the fascinations of

Aristotle. Again he stood as it were on the brink of the eternal world. One

morning he was told that his friend Alexius had been overtaken by a

sudden and violent death.8 The intelligence stunned Luther. His companion

had fallen as it were by his side. Conscience, first quickened by the old

Bible, again awoke.

Soon after this, he paid a visit to his parents at Mansfeld. He was

returning to Erfurt, and was now near the city gate, when suddenly black

clouds gathered overhead, and it began to thunder and lighten in an awful

manner. A bolt fell at his feet. Some accounts say that he was thrown

down. The Great Judge, he thought, had descended in this cloud, and he

lay momentarily expecting death. In his terror he vowed that should God

spare him he would devote his life to His service. The lightning ceased, the

thunders rolled past, and Luther, rising from the ground and pursuing his

journey with solemn steps, soon entered the gates of Erfurt.9

The vow must be fulfilled. To serve God was to wear a monk’s hood — so

did the age understand it, and so too did Luther. To one so fitted to enjoy

the delights of friendship, so able to win the honors of life — nay, with

these honors all but already grasped — a terrible wrench it must be to tear

himself from the world and enter a monastery — a living grave. But his

vow was irrevocable. The greater the sacrifice, the more the merit. He must

pacify his conscience; and as yet he knew not of the more excellent way.

Once more he will see his friends, and then — He prepares a frugal supper;

he calls together his acquaintances; he regales them with music; he

converses with apparent gaiety. And now the feast is at an end, and the

party has broken up. Luther walks straight to the Augustinian Convent, on

the 17th of August, 1505. He knocks at the gate; the door is opened, and

he enters.

To Luther, groaning under sin, and seeking deliverance by the works of the

law, that monastery — so quiet, so holy, so near to heaven, as he thought

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— seemed a very Paradise. Soon as he had crossed its threshold the world

would be shut out; sin, too, would be shut out; and that sore trouble of

soul which he was enduring would be at an end. At this closed door the

“Avenger” would be stayed. So thought Luther as he crossed its threshold.

There is a city of refuge to which the sinner may flee when death and hell

are on his track, but it is not that into which Luther had now entered.

Friday came, and on Friday the Church has forbidden the faithful to taste

flesh. The table of the monks groaned under the same abundance as before.

As on other days, so on this there were dishes of meat. Luther could no

longer refrain. “On this day,” said Luther, “such things may not be eaten.

The Pope has forbidden them.” The monks opened their eyes in

astonishment on the rude German. Verily, thought they, his boldness is

great. It did not spoil their appetite, but they began to be apprehensive

that the German might report their manner of life at head-quarters, and

they consulted together how this danger might be obviated. The porter, a

humane man, dropped a hint to Luther of the risk he would incur should he

make a longer stay. Profiting by the friendly counsel to depart hence while

health served him, he took leave, with as little delay as possible, of the

monastery and all in it.

Again setting forth, and traveling on foot, he came to Bologna, “the throne

of the Roman law.” In this city Luther fell ill, and his sickness was so sore

that it threatened to be unto death. To sickness was added the melancholy

natural to one who is to find his grave in a foreign land. The Judgment Seat

was in view, and alarm filled his soul at the prospect of appearing before

God. In short, the old anguish and terror, though in moderated force,

returned. As he waited for death he thought he heard a voice crying to him

and saying, “The just shall live by faith.”3 It seemed as if the voice spoke

to him from heaven, so vivid was the impression it made. This was the

second time this passage of Scripture had been borne into his mind, as if

one had spoken it to him. In his chair at Wittemberg, while lecturing from

the Epistle to the Romans, he had come to these same words, “The just

shall live by faith.” They laid hold upon him so that he was forced to

pause and ponder over them. What do they mean? What can they mean

but that the just have a new life, and that this new life springs from faith?

But faith on whom, and on what? On whom but on Christ, and on what

but the righteousness of Christ wrought out in the poor sinner’s behalf? If

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that be so, pardon and eternal life are not of works but of faith: they are

the free gift of God to the sinner for Christ’s sake.

So had Luther reasoned when these words first arrested him, and so did he

again reason in his sick-chamber at Bologna. They were a needful

admonition, approaching as he now was a city where endless rites and

ceremonies had been invented to enable men to live by works. His sickness

and anguish threw him back upon the first elements of life, and the one

only source of holiness. He was taught that this holiness is restricted to no

soil, to no system, to no rite; it springs up in the heart where faith dwells.

Its source was not at Rome, but in the Bible; its bestower was not the

Pope, but the Holy Spirit.

“The just shall live by faith.” As he stood at the gates of death a light

seemed, at these words, to spring up around him. He arose from his bed

healed in body as in soul. He resumed his journey. He traversed the

Apennines, experiencing doubtless, after his sickness, the restorative

power of their healthful breezes, and the fragrance of their dells gay with

the blossoms of early summer. The chain crossed, he descended into that

delicious valley where Florence, watered by the Arno, and embosomed by

olive and cypress groves, reposes under a sky where light lends beauty to

every object on which it falls. Here Luther made his next resting-place.4

One day he went, under the influence of these feelings, to the Church of

the Lateran. There is the Scala Sancta, or Holy Stairs, which tradition says

Christ descended on retiring from the hall of judgment, where Pilate had

passed sentence upon him. These stairs are of marble, and the work of

conveying them from Jerusalem to Rome was reported to have been

undertaken and executed by the angels, who have so often rendered similar

services to the Church — Our Lady’s House at Loretto for example. The

stairs so transported were enshrined in the Palace of the Lateran, and every

one who climbs them on his knees merits an indulgence of fifteen years for

each ascent. Luther, who doubted neither the legend touching the stairs,

nor the merit attached by the bulls of the Popes to the act of climbing

them, went thither one day to engage in this holy act. He was climbing the

steps in the appointed way, on his knees namely, earning at every step a

year’s indulgence, when he was startled by a sudden voice, which seemed

as if it spoke from heaven, and said, “The just shall live by faith.” Luther

started to his feet in amazement. This was the third time these same words

had been conveyed into his mind with such emphasis, that it was as if a

voice of thunder had uttered them. It seemed louder than before, and he

grasped more fully the great truth which it announced. What folly, thought

he, to seek an indulgence from the Church, which can last me but a few

years, when God sends me in his Word an indulgence that will last me for

ever!5 How idle to toil at these performances, when God is willing to

acquit me of all my sins not as so much wages for so much service, but

freely, in the way of believing upon his Son! “The just shall live by faith.”6

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From this time the doctrine of justification by faith alone — in other

words, salvation by free grace — stood out before Luther as the one great

comprehensive doctrine of revelation. He held that it was by departing

from this doctrine that the Church had fallen into bondage, and had come

to groan under penances and works of self-righteousness. In no other way,

he believed, could the Church find her way back to truth and liberty than

by returning to this doctrine. This was the road to true reformation. This

great article of Christianity was in a sense its fundamental article, and

henceforward Luther began to proclaim it as eminently the Gospel — the

whole Gospel in a single phrase. With relics, with privileged altars, with

Pilate’s Stairs, he would have no more to do; this one sentence, “The just

shall live by faith,” had more efficacy in it a thousand times over than all

the holy treasures that Rome contained. It was the key that unlocked the

closed gates of Paradise; it was the star that went before his face, and led

him to the throne of a Savior, there to find a free salvation. It needed but to

re-kindle that old light in the skies of the Church, and a day, clear as that of

apostolic times, would again shine upon her. This was what Luther now

proposed doing.

The words in which Luther recorded this purpose are very characteristic.

“I, Doctor Martin Luther,” writes he, “unworthy herald of the Gospel of

our Lord Jesus Christ, confess this article, that faith alone without works

justifies before God; and I declare that it shall stand and remain for ever, in

despite of the Emperor of the Romans, the Emperor of the Turks, the

Emperor of the Tartars, the Emperor of the Persians; in spite of the Pope

and all the cardinals, with the bishops, priests, monks, and nuns; in spite

of kings, princes, and nobles; and in spite of all the world, and of the devils

themselves; and that if they endeavor to fight against this truth they will

draw the fires of hell upon their own heads. This is the true and holy

Gospel, and the declaration of me, Doctor Martin Luther, according to the

teaching of the Holy Ghost. We hold fast to it in the name of God. Amen.”

Definition (pp. 17-18)

Justification is man’s acceptance with God or his being regarded and treated as righteous in His sight.

            According to this formal definition, Justification may seem to be possible only in the case of innocent and unfallen beings and to be utterly beyond the reach of such as that are guilty and depraved.

The Gospel of Christ provides the only answer to the apparent problem of Justification of guilty and depraved men before God.

The five points of the doctrine of Justification in opposition to the prevailing opinion of the Jews at the time of the Apostles.

Abraham was justified, not by works, but by faith.

Having been justified by faith, Abraham was consequently justified by grace.

Having been justified by grace through faith, justification came to him, not through the Law, but through the Promise.

Having been justified by faith in God’s free promise, he was not justified by circumcision or any other outward privilege.

Having been justified by grace through faith in God’s promise, he had no ground of boasting, or of glorying, or of self-righteous confidence.

The Indulgences in the Romish Doctrine (pp. 100-108)

The Scholastic Theory of Merit brought forth the proclamation of Indulgences.  It was not only a practical abuse but the visible embodiment of a whole system of false doctrine.

Luther saw the contrast between the Bull of Indulgences with the Gospel of Christ.

The Bull of Indulgences was an invention by the Church and the Gospel of Christ was a divine revelation.

The former was a doctrine of Merit depending on the imperfect works of sinful men.  The later was a doctrine of Grace founded on the finished work of Christ.

The doctrines which led to the invention of Indulgences.

The Romish doctrine of the pardon of sin. 

All sins contracted before baptism were said to be pardoned in Baptism, but pardoned not in the sense of blotted out as criminal offences, but in the sense of being ‘deleted’ in the heart of the baptized person.  All sins were deleted by an infused principle of grace.

All sins contracted after baptism were held to be pardoned, not by an act of God’s grace, but only in the sense of eternal punishment being taken away while temporal punishment remained to be endured.

The pardon of these sins was left to be secured by the confession of the penitent and the absolution of the priest by the sacrament of Penance in this life and by the sufferings of Purgatory in the life to come.

The Romish doctrine of personal righteousness and merit.

The works done before the infusion of a principle of grace into his heart at baptism might constitute a claim only in equity (meritum ex congruo).

The works done after this infusion, constitute a claim in strict justice (meritum ex condigno) on the favor and acceptance of God.

The Romish doctrine of Supererogation.

Holy men and women had been enabled, by assuming the vows of poverty, celibacy, and humility, or observing the ‘Counsels of Perfection,’ to lay up a large fund of redundant merit.

This redundant merit was transferable to all that might wish to participate in it.   It was available for the benefit of others.

The Romish doctrine of the guardianship and control of the fund of merits.

The Supreme Pontiff had the commission to administer this fund of merits.

Subordinate agents were delegated by the Pontiff to distribute them in his name.

The Doctrine of Justification of Luther (pp. 108-112)

The publication of the Pope’s Bull and the open sale of Indulgences by Tetzel in the neighborhood of Wittemberg first roused the spirit of Luther.

Luther was convinced that the invention of Indulgences had grown out of certain false doctrines on the subject of a sinner’s justification.

He was led on gradually to assail all the fundamental errors of the Church of Rome, above all, the doctrine of the Mass.

In the Mass, a priestly caste made reconciliation for the sins of the people instead of the only High Priest.

In the Mass, the sacrifice which they offered, was not a mere sacramental commemoration of the one all-sufficient sacrifice for sin, but a repetition of it.

The imperfection, which belonged to the sacrifices that were offered under the Law, was thus transferred to the sacrifice of the Christ.

The Contrast between Romish Writers and the Reformers on the Doctrine (pp. 112-126)

The nature of Justification.

The Church of Rome confounded the term ‘Justification’ with ‘Sanctification.’

Justification, considered as an act of God, is the mere infusion.

Justification is the mere recognition of a righteousness inherent in the sinner himself.

Justification is not an act of God’s grace, acquitting him of guilt, delivering him from condemnation, and receiving him into His favor and friendship.

The Reformers held and taught that Justification is ‘an act of God’s free grace, whereby He pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us righteous in His sight.’

It is an act of God external to the sinner.

It is a forensic and judicial change in his relation to God.  It is not a change in his moral and spiritual character, although this must always accompany or flow from it.

It is the present privilege of every believer, however weak his faith, and however imperfect his holiness.

The ground of Justification.

The Church of Rome substituted the inherent righteousness of the regenerate, for the imputed righteousness of the Redeemer.

They rejected the imputed righteousness of Christ.  They only admitted Christ’s righteousness to a partnership with our own.

A first Justification is by the original infusion of righteousness.  A second Justification is by that same righteousness remaining inherent and become actual.

They supposed that Paul speaks of the first Justification and James speaks of the second Justification.

The Reformers held and taught that we were justified ‘only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,’ or put down to our account.

If God is to accept us as righteous, it must be such a righteousness as is adequate to meet and satisfy all the requirements of that perfect Law.

The requirements of that perfect Law both penal and preceptive were fulfilled by the passive and active obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ became ‘the end of the Law for righteousness to every one that believes in His name.”

Our inherent righteousness, even were it perfect, could not cancel the guilt of our past sins.

The work of the Spirit in us was not designed to secure our Justification in any other way than by applying to us the righteousness of Christ, and enabling us to receive and rest upon it by faith.

The means of Justification.

The Church of Rome denied that we are justified by that faith which ‘receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation.’

We are justified by faith informed with charity, or love, which is the germ of new obedience.

This faith is first infused by baptism.  It is restored or renewed by confession and absolution after baptism.

These sacraments effectually deliver the sinner from all punishment, except such as is endured in penance, or in purgatory.

The Reformers held and taught that we are ‘justified by faith alone, simply because faith receives and rests upon Christ alone for salvation, and apprehends and appropriates His righteousness as the ground of acceptance.

There is a faith, which is immediately and invariably effectual in securing the pardon of a sinner and his acceptance with God.

This faith does not consist in the bare assent of the understanding, but involves the cordial consent of the whole mind looking to His righteousness as it only prevailing plea.

This faith has an immediate and certain efficacy, simply because it unites the believer to Christ, and makes him a partaker of His righteousness.

This faith will never be suffered to die out, but will spring up unto life eternal.

They rejected the whole doctrine of sacramental Justification.

The effect of Justification.

The Church of Rome held that the effect of Justification was neither so complete in its own nature, no so infallibly secured.  The present condition of the justified man and his future prospects depend on some further satisfaction for sin, or there is no warrant for the certain hope of eternal life.

It is possible for a Christian to rise to a state of perfection in the present life, and even to merit rewards both for himself and for others.

However, Justification is the same with Sanctification.  There is no one point at which a sinner can believe himself to be actually justified.  A state of Christian perfection is left to depend on his final perseverance.

The Reformers held and taught that it is the present privilege of every believer from the instant when he receives and rests on Christ alone for salvation.

Justification properly consists in the free pardon of sin and a sure title to eternal life.

It is a complete, final, and irreversible act of divine grace, by which he is translated at once and forever, from a state of wrath and condemnation, into a state of favor and acceptance.

It is either accompanied or followed in the present life by ‘the assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.’

It is indissolubly connected with ‘glory, honor, and immortality’ in the world to come.

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