Jon Moffitt: Hi, this is Jon. Today on Theocast, we’re answering one of your questions. A common question we receive quite often is this: do Roman Catholics go to heaven? That’s a great question. We’re going to actually contrast the historic Roman Catholic perspective and what we would say is the Protestant Reformation understanding of justification. Then we’re going to change the conversation a little bit to whether there are evangelicals, and even maybe those who are confessional Reformed, who are going back to Rome and holding to perspectives of justification that are very close to the Roman Catholic view.
In the members’ podcast, we look at this whole conversation from a pastoral perspective and what it is that really kind of boils Justin and I’s blood when we think about this conversation. We hope you enjoy.
Justin Perdue: Speaking of assurance and speaking of Ask Theocast, we had a question submitted by a listener that we want to address here today. On the podcast, a brother wrote in and asked, “How accurate does somebody’s theology need to be in order for them to be saved?” He had in mind a number of his Roman Catholic friends and people close to him. He said, “I have these Roman Catholic people in my life who are trusting Christ for their salvation and are looking to him for their standing before God, yet they had these very abhorrent views on other issues of doctrine and practice. What am I to make of that?”
In one sense, he asking whether there will be Roman Catholics in heaven or is it a situation where all Roman Catholics, because of the teaching of their church, will be condemned?
Jon Moffitt: To answer your question, if there needs to be 100% accuracy in all our theology, then no one will make it to heaven other than those who were inspired when writing Scripture. There are levels of disagreement that is okay because they aren’t based upon our justification. This is why there are different denominations. We, as we hold to the 1689 London Baptist Confession, we disagree with our Lutheran brothers, our Presbyterian brothers, and even some of our Baptist brothers who are not Calvinist. But those disagreements, I would not call any of them non-evangelical or that the doctrine they’re holding to are heretical or anti-gospel, because the ground of their salvation is on Christ alone. Therefore I can say praise be to God – they are my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
When it comes to Roman Catholic theology, that is a little bit more complicated. If a consistent Catholic holds to the historic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, they do not believe that one is justified by faith alone. They do believe in Jesus Christ; they trust in him. If you asked a Roman Catholic at any level whether they were orthodox or new to the faith if they have faith in Jesus Christ, and that he died on the cross for sins, they would say yes wholeheartedly. This isn’t a podcast about Mormons, but Mormons would say the same thing.
But the question then becomes this: is that sufficient for your right standing before God? The answer to that would be no. The way I would answer this is that I do believe that Roman Catholics, and it doesn’t matter how long they’ve been in it, that there will be some in heaven because, whether willingly or not, they are going to go against the historic teaching and they believe in Jesus Christ alone to be sufficient for their salvation.
I personally call those people inconsistent Catholics because they’re not agreeing with their church’s doctrine. If they believe in Jesus Christ alone – and to be clear, a lot of the Roman Catholic teaching is very accurate – we hold the same understanding of the virgin birth of Mary, the Trinity, and the eternality of God.
Justin Perdue: They hold to the ecumenical creeds, which we do too.
Jon Moffitt: That would be my answer. Those who would, either knowingly or unknowingly, deny the foundation theology of salvation of the Roman Catholic Church, those people will definitely be justified as it is written according to Scripture.
Justin Perdue: Inconsistent Catholics will be in heaven – I think that’s helpful. A consistent Catholic who holds to the official teaching of the Roman church is someone that we would understand to be denying the gospel. One way I might put it is there are going to be many Roman Catholics in heaven in spite of the official teaching of their church. In spite of many of the things that their church formally teaches and hold to, they are trusting Christ alone for their standing before God entirely. They understand that Jesus has saved them.
This hits close to home for me. My wife is Italian and her grandfather came over from Italy and died here in the States as a part of the Roman Catholic Church. My wife remembers having a number of conversations with her grandfather of the course of years where he was very clear that he was trusting in Jesus and Jesus only for his salvation. My wife’s parents were Protestants, and my wife obviously is too. These conversations matter a lot to us when we’re dealing with loved ones and family members. My wife would say, “I don’t know, only God knows, but I really think that my grandfather was a Christian.” He was meaning to trust Christ in spite of the fact that he was in the church of Rome. There are many people that would fit that description, but we want to be really clear about the differences that do exist between Reformation Theology and Roman Catholic Theology.
500-plus years ago, the Protestant Reformation started in a recognizable way as people look back on history. 1517 is the year that most people point to with some of the events that transpired there. If we think about the Reformation itself, it’s been said by many, and we agree, that the formal battle of the Reformation was over sola scriptura – meaning that Scripture alone is the only ultimate and final authority for the church in matters of doctrine and practice. But the material battle, the heart and soul of the Reformation if you will, was over sola fide – that being faith alone. So the answer to the question of how a sinner is saved and reconciled to a holy God, it is by faith alone, in Christ alone, grounded in the grace of God alone. It has nothing to do with our works or our obedience; it’s all about the works and the obedience and the merits of Christ applied to sinners by faith. So that is the watershed; that’s the real dividing line where the rubber meets the road.
The difference between being a Reformed Christian and being a Roman Catholic is that that we believe we can be assured of salvation in Christ by faith, and we believe that Jesus has done everything; we don’t achieve righteousness, but rather we receive righteousness by faith in Jesus.
What we want to do now for a few minutes is highlight these distinctions using some language from the Council of Trent, which occurred from the mid-1540s to the mid-1560s in response to the Protestant Reformation. It was Roman Catholic ecumenical council. We want to compare those teachings to Reformation Theology as articulated in the 1689 London Baptist Confession.
Just a really quick note before I throw it back over to Jon: the 1689 is worded almost identically to the Westminster Confession from the 1640s and the Savoy Declaration that occurred in the 1650s; the Westminster Confession being a Presbyterian document, and the Savoy Declaration being written by those known as independents or congregationalists in the middle of 1600. So we’re all speaking the same language of the Reformation from the 17th century.
Jon Moffitt: As it relates to justification by faith alone, historically speaking, those who claim a Protestant Reformation Theology, we are all going to agree on the same conclusions with Lutherans, Presbyterians, Independents, and Baptists. Historically speaking, for those who would hold to Protestant or those who are protesting against Rome, it’s in relation primarily to our justification and our sanctification. One of the issues is that Rome mixed the two – and this is going to become very important later when we bring this up about modern evangelicalism. Rome mixed justification and sanctification; they became one and intertwined where you have to separate those categories. Because if you don’t get the order – that’s called ordo salutis or the order of salvation – then one, you lose assurance and two, you lose the gospel. A good example of what I mean by mixing the two is something that Justin has mentioned before: Council of Trent, session six, canon 24.
This is not a theology that they have necessarily denied. There’s no document that says they have rejected these canons and don’t believe in this teaching anymore.
Justin Perdue: It’s still the official teaching of Rome.
Jon Moffitt: If you’re going to be catechized by Rome, this is what you will learn as part of their catechesis. If you’re new to the word catechism, catechism is definitely not an exclusively Roman Catholic term; we catechize as well. Anyway, to be trained by Rome, it says this, “If anyone says that the justice [or justification] received is not preserved and also not increased before God through good works but those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema.” Or another way to say that is cursed; you’re going to be cursed by God and by church, condemned as guilty, if you believe that you are saved by faith alone and that your works are the fruit of your justification – which is the Protestant reformation perspective; we believe that your good works are the works of the Spirit that are given to you after your regeneration. Rome is saying that your good works not only justify you, but they increase your justification or they sustain your justification. That would be a clear distinction.
Justin Perdue: It’s critical that we make that distinction – that we understand that good works flow out of justification, and that they are in no way a part of it. We’re going to unpack that more in just a moment.
To speak from the positive side of things – from our perspective in terms of what is accurate biblically – I want to turn our attention now to chapter 11, paragraph one on justification from the 1689 London Baptist Again, this is going to read identical to the Westminster Confession and the Savoy Declaration. It reads this way: “Those God effectually calls he also freely justifies. He does this, not by infusing righteousness into them but by pardoning their sins and accounting and accepting them as righteous.” It’s not that righteousness is infused into us and we somehow become inherently righteous, it’s that we are counted as righteous. How does this happen? The statement goes on, “He does this for Christ’s sake alone and not for anything produced in them or done by them.” It’s very clear; it’s for Christ’s sake alone, and it’s not because of anything that’s produced in us, and it’s not because of anything that we have done that God counts us righteous.
We go on. “He does not impute faith itself, the act of believing, or any other gospel obedience to them as their righteousness. Instead, he imputes Christ’s active obedience to the whole law and passive obedience in his death as their whole and only righteousness by faith.” These words are precise and wonderful that it is by faith; faith is the vehicle, it’s the means, it’s the mechanism by which the righteousness of Jesus in obeying the Law perfectly, and the merits of his death where he satisfied for our sin and died under the Law, are applied to us. We are now in Christ Jesus and vitally united to him by faith, not by anything that we have done.
The last sentence of the paragraph reads this way: “This faith is not self-generated; it is the gift of God.” Salvation, in other words, belongs to the Lord. God does it; we don’t do it. We are recipients of the grace of God in Christ Jesus, and we receive the merits and the works and the righteousness, the holiness, the satisfaction of Christ by faith alone. We are saved by Christ. So we are very clear that nothing that we do or anything that’s produced in us by way of fruit is the groundwork of our justification and standing before the Lord. It could never be that.
Jon Moffitt: Some of you may be brand new to Confessional Theology, and you may have stumbled across this looking up something or someone referred this to you; you need to understand that we aren’t moving from a Roman system to another system. You need to understand that the confessions are what we would say are the abbreviations of Scripture. It helps systematize and give a brief explanation that is historically accepted by confessing believers. At the bottom of what Justin just read, if you were to take all of these Scriptures and print them out, you would come to the same conclusion. You have Romans 3:24, you have Ephesians 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Philippians 3:8, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 1:12, and Romans 5:17 just to name a few. You take one paragraph that says what these Scriptures are teaching is this, and it helps provide an explanation.
This is the same thing as a sermon. If you were to preach a sermon, you are bringing clarity to the all of Scripture.
Justin Perdue: Correct. What confessions are doing essentially is Systematic Theology. What Systematic Theology is to survey the Scripture in its totality and say this is what the Bible teaches about this doctrine.
In particular, chapter 11 is on justification in our confession. All it is a group of men situated in the 17th century looking to other like-minded believers who have also produced very similar confessions, and they corporately look to the Bible and ask, “What does the Bible teach about justification and how can we, in a very clear way, articulate this in a number of paragraphs to summarize the Bible’s teaching on this topic?”
We’re not saying that confession is the authority; we’re saying the Bible is the authority, and this confession is a helpful, historically tested document that gives us some clarity and sheds some light and illuminates Scripture for us. So we are doing the exercise of theology as a corporate group, as a people who live now, and we’re doing it with people who are long dead. We’re looking to the Bible to understand what it says about, in this case, justification.
Jon Moffitt: That’s what sola scriptura means – that the authority of what Scripture means comes from Scripture itself, which is contradicting to the Roman Catholic theology where the authority rests within the interpretation of the church.
To help you understand, word it this way: what does the Bible say about justification? Here’s a helpful conclusion from all of Scripture. This is one of the things that, after reading this paragraph, and this is also what the Roman Catholic church will point to immediately as well, one will say, “What about James 2? It’s very clear there that James says you have to do works well.”
They have a paragraph that helps explain that – that’s the next paragraph in the 1689 London Baptist Confession. It’s in 11.2. “Faith that receives and rests on Christ and his righteousness is the only instrument of justification.” Just to clarify, and they point to Romans 3:28 for that, “Yet it does not occur by itself in the person justified, but it is always accompanied by every other saving grace. It is not a dead faith but works through love.” This is Galatians 5:6 and then in James 2:17. What they’re saying is it is the result of the grace received; it cannot be the ground of the grace received. Meaning that those who are justified, who are regenerate, who received the gift of faith – Ephesians 2:8-9 – from that gift, believers will see the fruit of the Spirit in their life. It does not say at what level, it just says it will be evident there. That’s where we wholeheartedly believe that Christians will do good works. We’re never told to what level, but the evidence of it is there.
As I said before, what the confession is trying to help the believer understand from Scripture is that it is separating how you’re standing before God versus your obedience to God. You cannot mix those two together. It’s called the ordo salutis, right? It’s the order in which you are saved and part of that salvation is you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is faith, you are regenerated and you come to life. Once you come to life, then you obey. What the Roman Catholic system is doing here is that they’re mixing the two and requiring both for right standing before God.
Justin Perdue: Let me interject something before you go to canon 30 of the Council of Trent. If we’re going to talk about the distinctions between us and Rome – Reformation Theology and Rome – I have a couple of thoughts. First thought is, as we’ve already mentioned at least once in the podcast, is that no Roman Catholic is going to dismiss faith there. Any running Catholic is going to acknowledge the place of faith, the value of faith, and the goodness of faith in Christ. “Yes, I believe in Jesus. I’ve been taught to believe in Christ.” When we read, for example, Paul’s letter to the Galatians, it’s very clear that in that context where Paul is writing to the church and saying, “I can’t believe how quickly you’ve turned to a different gospel, not that there is another one,” he’s riding into a situation where it’s not as though faith in Jesus has been rejected altogether. It’s that works of the Law have been put next to faith in Christ as what’s required for righteousness. So it’s believe in Jesus, but also be circumcised; believe in Jesus, but also do these works of the Law.
Roman Catholicism is as another example. There’s nothing new under the sun is another example of what I would call Jesus-plus Theology. Yes, believe in Christ but also cooperate with the grace of God and the sacraments. Yes, believe in Jesus Christ, but also do these good works and be obedient in these ways so that you will preserve or increase your justification. If you’re not doing these things or not doing them well enough, then there will be payment required from you in some capacity.
Second thought, which will transition nicely to canon 30, is that the difference in one sense between us and Rome is that we understand that salvation, the work of redemption, is over. It’s completely done. It’s finished. When Jesus on the cross said it is finished, he meant what he said. Atonement has been accomplished. Satisfaction for sin has been made. Righteousness has been fulfilled, and now it is counted in its totality and its completeness. It is counted to wretched sinners by faith; it has nothing to do with what they’ve done, has nothing to do with what they will do, or with what’s going to be produced in them. They are saved by Jesus, and it’s applied to them by faith. It’s over.
We talk about the gospel being objective. It’s outside of us. We talk about the gospel being a declarative reality in that it is done, and Rome does not believe that because there is still something the sinner has to do because it’s not really complete.
Jon Moffitt: Just to read a section of the next paragraph, which is 11.3, it says, “By his obedience and death, Christ fully paid the debt of all those who are justified. He endured in their place the penalty they deserved. By this sacrifice of himself in his bloodshed on the cross, he legitimately, really, and fully satisfied God’s justice on their behalf.” Here they quote Hebrews 10:14 which says, “For by a single offering,” which is Christ, “he has perfected,” meaning that something can’t be perfect if it’s still lacking, “he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”
What we are saying is that Scripture teaches that the blood of Christ shed on the cross was sufficient. It was the final sacrifice. There is no longer a need for animal bloodshed. There are no longer sacrificial systems. It is Jesus Christ blood on the cross. It’s always been Jesus Christ blood on the cross. When the gospel was preached to Adam and Eve, it was the sufficiency of something outside of themselves. It was never the animal sacrificial system. So the moment that you say you need something else…
Let me put this back to the Council of Trent. Canon 30 says, “If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the doubt of eternal punishment is so blotted out to every repentant sinner that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema.” So they make it very clear that they don’t believe that Jesus Christ’s sacrifice… It’s almost like Jesus paid for most of it, now you need to do your part. That’s how they’re wording it. Let me just clarify as it’s a little bit older English. It says, “If anyone says that after the reception of the grace,” so what they’re saying is after you received justification, “the guilt is so remitted,” it’s so gone, it’s not there, “and the debt of eternal punishment,” what you still owe God, “is so blotted out to every repentant sinner that no debt of temporal punishment remains.” What they’re saying is even after you received forgiveness, you still have a little bit of debt left to be to pay, and that’s what you pay off here while you’re here. If you can’t fully pay it off here, then you’ve got to pay it off in purgatory. That is not what Scripture at large teaches; the authority of Scripture teaches that we have received full payment when Christ died on the cross.
Justin Perdue: Full payment. Then also, as we’ve dated from 11.1 and 11.3 from the 1689, it’s the payment piece but it’s also his active obedience to the Law. So the penalty has been paid in full, and all of the righteousness and holiness required has already been counted to us.
This maybe a good place to transition to some of the concerns that we have about evangelicalism today. Even some monks would claim the label of Reformed. The idea that the penalty is fully paid is not that controversial, but then I think sometimes the truth that the holiness and the righteousness required is already ours in Jesus produces some ripples and some waves for many people. We say this all the time on Theocast: we’re very clear that it’s over and Jesus has done it and all the righteousness and holiness required is already ours, we’re resting in Christ, and there will be fruit of the Spirit produced in us and our lives will be transformed. That’s true. But we are already safe and there is nothing left to be done; there is no work left to be performed. When you start talking like that, people wig out and they charge you with all kinds of things. The most common thing that will be hurled at people like us is that we are against the Law, we’re antinomian, we don’t think that Christians need to concern themselves with how they live, and that’s not what we’re saying. We don’t need to go there right now. I want to go back just to highlight a huge problem that I think exists in evangelicalism even amongst those that might claim the label Reformed.
Go back to that session 6, canon 24 piece from the Council of Trent where there’s the language about justification and how our good works preserve and increase the justification obtained by faith. No Protestant, no evangelical is going to say that our justification is increased by our good works, but there is a lot of teaching and preaching and counseling out there that makes it sound a lot like our justification is preserved by our obedience and good works. There are a lot of preaching and teaching that’s done in a sort of threatening way where it sounds this way: if you’re not obeying appropriately, if you’re not dedicated enough or disciplined enough or sincere enough, and if your good works are not there to the extent that they need to be – again, I’m not sure who defines that standard – but if there are not enough good works there, then you may very well not be justified. Yeah, you’ve trusted Christ, but now you better get to work as though there is something left to be accomplished.
In light of the confessions and the clear teaching of Scripture here at Theocast, we could not be more strongly opposed to that kind of thinking and that kind of teaching that you need to keep yourself in good standing before the Lord through your obedience. Absolutely not. You are in good standing before the Lord in Christ Jesus by faith, now live in him. Of course we’re going to concern ourselves with what the Scripture says about how we’re to live. We obey now because we can, we’ve been delivered from the dominion of sin and we’re now in Christ by faith and had been vitally united to him and raised to walk in newness of life. Praise the Lord.
But we’re not doing any of those things for merit, and we’re not doing any of those things to keep ourselves justified. We’re not doing any of those things to contribute somehow to our final salvation. We understand that secure. It’s, it’s absolutely over to the extent that Christ is sitting down in heaven.
Jon Moffitt: This always comes from a concern that if you won’t take serious the responsibility of Christianity, if you’re assured… They’re coming from a good place – they want people to take serious the holiness of God, and they want people to take serious their own holiness. But the mistake that you make is motivating people out of fear when the gospel removes all fear and doubt. There is no doubt and there is no fear for those… Let me quote Scripture to you, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That means you cannot be condemned, which removes fear and doubt because fear and doubt come from an insecurity: will I be condemned for this? Can I be counted guilty? And Paul says, you will not be counted guilty, not for past, present, or future sins. Because if you are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, if you’re an adopted child by faith, you have zero reasons to fear or doubt. Now, some of you may think you can just test the grace of God and go on sinning. Paul says, “May it never be.”
I understand the motivation behind it. I don’t agree with it, but it is logical. Chad Bird wrote this book called up Upside Down Spirituality because it is – the world thinks you should believe about God this way, and then you read the Bible and it’s flipped; it’s the exact opposite. You must die to live. You must give up all to gain all. This is a complete contradiction of logic.
Justin Perdue: It’s counterintuitive to us. We think that in order to produce righteous living, there has to be some sort of skin in the game; there has to be some sort of motivation in terms of escape of punishment or merit, and the Scripture says no, that this is actually supernatural. This is something that the Holy Spirit of God produces in those who are born again. The redeemed obey not out of fear and not for merit, the redeemed obey because they’re safe, because they’ve been united to Jesus because they’re changed, because they love God, because it’s for their joy and for their good, it blesses their neighbor – I could go on and on and on. This is why the redeemed obey.
I want to make an observation really quickly before I pivot to one last conversation piece for this regular portion of the podcast. What you said about Rome is right. There was a concern that people live morally upright lives and live lives that are characterized by holiness, and this has always been true throughout the history of the church. There has been a number of what I would call holiness movements over the last 2000 years. They all are concerned with this issue.
If you tell people that it’s over and that there’s nothing that they must do in order to be saved, then people will not live in an upright fashion. People are going to run off into licentiousness. They’re going to sin the daylights out of the thing, so we can’t tell them that. We’ve got to really put some weight on them to obey and to be holy. I could name all kinds of movements that would be characterized by this. Methodism is one. Wesleyan Theology was a response to Reformation Theology. “We can’t tell people this or they’re going to live licentiously.” The entire project of revivalism is all centered around this, and it’s critical that we understand that the evangelical church in America hails from all of that. It is so interwoven with not only pietism, which is something that we talk about all the time, but revivalism is just part of the DNA of the evangelical church.
So the evangelical church in America, by and large, is a holiness movement; it’s very concerned with moral transformation. We want to say that we’re all for moral transformation; we’re all for the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We are standing on the tabletops and are pounding the desk, so to speak, to contend for the truth of the gospel and the sufficiency of Christ to save sinners.
The next thing that I will make an observation on…we’ll see where this goes and we’ll wrap this up soon. I think we can look back over the last decade and see very clearly some really concerning tendencies amongst evangelicals. Around 2012 or 2013, and some may be familiar with this, there are rows of really intense, even ferocious, debates amongst evangelicals – in particular amongst the Calvinistic evangelicals. It was over the issue of sanctification. The issues were prompted by some moral failures of some prominent pastors. But then it became this conversation about whether sanctification is the process by which we are being conformed to the image of Jesus and being made more holy. Is that something where God alone does the work or is it something where we do work along with God? Is it monergistic – one worker being God, or is it synergistic – which has two workers, God and us? Many well-meaning Calvinistic evangelicals became Roman Catholic in how they started to talk about obedience and sanctification during that time. There were all kinds of well intended but really unhelpful overreactions to some prominent failures, and some of the things that were being said and written bore bad fruit in the evangelical church – and many people don’t really have the tools with which to discern them. They’re not equipped to be able to discern all of these things. Whenever you start to weave works into the groundwork of salvation in any way, you are making your way back to Rome and you are standing against the flow of Protestant Reformation Theology.
There were many guys that were writing and saying stuff seven or eight years ago, and are still maintaining those positions that you might acquire the right to eternal life by faith alone, but you will be finally saved by faith plus works.
Jon Moffitt: The sad part is it’s not even over. There are still people writing things like that today. We’ve made mention to them in the past, and maybe we’ll put them in the notes here. We made comments about recent articles by Mark Jones, John Piper, and even Kevin DeYoung. This concerns where they are not being clear and because of their lack of clarity, they cause confusion.
What’s interesting to me is that every evangelical believes that God is sovereign flat out. It would be hard to be evangelical if you deny the sovereignty of God. It would be really complicated in your theology. That means to be sovereign is to know and do whatever it is that you want. So God is all knowing and He can do whatever He wants, no one can stay his hand – Daniel 4:39. When someone tells me that God has to look to your good works to determine the genuineness of your faith, that means that God doesn’t know something, that He is dependent upon you to determine His actions so He will determine that you basically deserve salvation because you did enough good works. That is a reason to boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that you receive the gifts of faith by grace so that you don’t boast. At the end of your life, you walk up to Jesus and you say, “Obviously I’m a believer because look at what I did for you.” You now have a reason to boast – and this is what Justin said earlier: salvation is of the Lord. Ephesians 2: God knows before the foundations of the world who He chose that would be in Him, that would be in Christ. He never looks to your obedience to determine your justification ever.
Now, the church looks to your obedience to determine whether your confession meets your regeneration. This is where church discipline comes into play. This is where Galatians 5 and 6 come into play because if our brother is caught sin and if they’re unwilling to repent, then we have to treat them as an unbeliever – meaning that they need to be treated like they need the gospel again. But God does not need your good works and never will look to your good works to justify you.
So when someone tells me at the end of your life, God’s going to look at you – this is exactly what has been told by the men that I have mentioned before – that God, at the end of your life, will look to see if you have enough godliness to determine whether you’re His child or not, that sounds like a God who doesn’t know His own children. It doesn’t sound like a God who knows to whom He has set His heart on to save.
Justin Perdue: God does know all of His own. Even Matthew 7 comes to mind when people come to Jesus and say, “Lord, I did all these things.” And He says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” It’s very clear that He knows who His own are.
I think a very good observation about that text could be made – that I don’t have time to unpack right now – that those people are claiming that their good works in Jesus name is the reason that they should be accepted.
I have a couple of texts that come to mind – and we’ll wrap it up with this. Speaking to the biblical principle that we are not to boast in ourselves in any way, but boast in Christ in God alone, Jon already mentioned Ephesians 2. I’m also mindful of two other passages from the apostle Paul. One is 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 where he says that because of God, we are in Christ Jesus. There again we have the sovereignty of God everywhere. Because of God, we’re in Christ Jesus who has become to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Jesus is wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Paul’s conclusion is, “so that as it is written,” he cites Jeremiah 9, “‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” That is beautiful. Jesus is absolutely sufficient to save, and he’s done it all. What does that produce? It produces doxology, praise of God, and it produces boasting in the Lord and not in anything you’ve done.
Another text: 1 Timothy 1:15-16. Paul talks about how he is the foremost of sinners and how God has shown him great mercy in Christ. And he says that the mercy and the patience of Christ that was shown to him, as the foremost, was to display the riches of Christ patience to all the saints who would ever trust in him for salvation.
Paul’s point is this: “I’m the foremost of sinners, and Jesus has been patient and merciful and gracious as the day is long to me. He will be to you also.” Where does that lead Paul? 1 Timothy 1:17. It leads him to doxology, to the King of the ages, the only one be praise and honor and glory forever.
This is the point, and this is the Reformation doctrine too: salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. It’s clearly there in the Bible, and we have nothing to boast then because we don’t do anything. God does it, and God has saved us, and we praise Him and thank Him, and we rest in Jesus.
Jon Moffitt: I have more written on my board that we’re not going to get to in the regular podcast. This is why we offer premium content for our members. This is just a simple way for you to help support what we’re doing here at Theocast – a monthly way in which we continue the Reformation through all of the different mediums that we have through books and articles.
We have a class that’s coming soon, a class that we’re putting together, that we will announce later. It’s coming in about a month and we’re going to make that a part of our membership as well. If you want to know more about that, you can go to theocast.org and you can learn there. We also have a lot of free episodes there, and also a free book, Faith vs. Faithfulness: A Primer on Rest, where we actually unpack a lot of what we’ve said today.
Thank you for listening. We’ll see you over in the members’ podcast.