The Joy of Sharing the Gospel – a Thanks to the Readers
In part 1 of this title, I attempted to give a biblical, glorious, joyous overview of man’s condition in sin and God’s role as initiator, Savior, and majestic, merciful, gracious, loving Lord of salvation. My Roman Catholic opponent Letting Smoke Out diverted the discussion back to issues of where doctrine comes from – which is understandable. He cannot get past the different assumptions we have in starting out in order to then discuss salvation, and so our dialogue has come to a stand-still of sorts.
That, as unfortunate as it is, has not stopped me from being filled with the overflowing desire of joy to share the gospel with him, and with all of you other readers. It has been a fulfillment of a great pent up energy in me to begin this blog – and by the grace of God, to His glory, I have seen around 2,000 visitors since January come and read these posts. What a great privilege and responsibility I have been given! It is my humble hope that the Lord would be pleased to use something written on this website to bring great honor to His Name. This dialogue between the Roman Catholic perspective and my own of the Reformed has been perhaps somewhat amateur, but all the while a privilege and joy. Thank you to everyone who has read, responded, and/or prayed for me in this venture. Please continue to pray for our Roman Catholic friends who have visited and interacted with me here. No, seriously – please stop and pray for them before you continue 🙂
God the Judge – God the Initiator – God the Path – God the Destination – God the Savior
My first post laid out our need for salvation – and how it is initiated by the very One who is our fearful Judge. This is the great mystery of the Christian faith – that God is both our greatest enemy because of our sins, but also our only hope and salvation because He is gracious and merciful. Every false religion or philosophy cannot reconcile these things – and every false religion, Roman Catholicism as chief, reconciles sinful man with God through man’s response, effort, and cooperation.
The stand-alone truth out of all religions is found in the Bible: that God the offended Judge initiates the reconciliation of Himself with His sinful, rebellious creatures… but not only does He initiate and make a way for us to “get right,” He then Himself becomes the path of that salvation in the Man Jesus Christ. LSO (my Roman Catholic opponent) had named our proposed debate “the path to salvation,” which is wonderful since then our focus would be squarely on Christ who said of Himself “I am the way, the truth, and the life”! Wonderful! See, there is not “a path to salvation” except if we are talking about the Person Jesus the Christ, the incarnate Son of God. So far Rome would agree…
We begin to radically depart from one another from here – God the destination and God the Savior. The (inspired, inerrant, infallible) writing of Paul in Ephesians 1 begins to cut through the surface of religion, way past the man-centered doctrines of Romanism, and into the unfathomable depths of God… look:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Did you see that? Read verses 3 – 6 again slooooooowly and with all of your mind engaged with what is being said – go on! Let’s answer a few questions to get us to the point:
1) Who is doing the blessing? Answer: God the Father.
2) Who is getting the blessings? Answer: us.
3) What are the blessings? Answer: every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies.
4) How is He blessing us? Answer: in Christ, having chosen us in Christ before the world began.
5) What is His goal for us in all of this? Answer: that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love!
6) What was God’s motive in all of this unspeakable kindness and power and glory and love? Answer: the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace.
7) Why was all of this done by God? Answer: For His glory, by His grace, for our good.
8) How did He bring us into Christ while satisfying justice? Answer: stay tuned for my next post on the cross 😉
Listen friends, no religion in history can touch these truths. Roman Catholicism comes so close to these truths, but basically in word only, not in practice. When we begin to inspect the meanings and dogmas underneath their words, Romanism could not be further from the Apostle Paul and the rest of the Word of God. Look further:
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace
Who is the worker in all of these things so far? God – and God alone. This defines “grace.”
8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, 9 having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,
His grace for His glory and for our good…
10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
This is the interpretation of the cosmos: all things by Christ, for Christ, and ultimately back to Christ.
11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
According to verse 11, who is working our salvation? Us, or God? Whose will is determinative in our salvation? By His grace, for his purposes, because of love, for our good. Yes!!!
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.(NKJV)
Can a person walk away from salvation once God has applied it to us? Paul? What say you, dear Apostle? “You were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession…” And why has God done all of this? Paul? “To the praise of His glory.”
God is the destination of salvation – He has begun it, worked it out, He is working it out right now, it was His covenant, His initiative, for His fame and glory, because He is good, because He is love, because Christ Jesus is worthy… for the praise of His glorious grace.
But what does Rome say?
From the Roman Catholic catechism section 2010:
“Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” (emphases mine)
Sly, slick, almost true. That is always Satan’s best move – the truth with a twist… a little something extra, a little poison in your milk… and billions have been captured by it. It sounds so good – “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace…” Great! Wow! One problem: the Judaizers of Galatia were saying the same thing, and what does Paul say to them?
I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth,before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? (NKJV)
The gospel is a gift of grace, a love gift which is not merited in the start of it, the middle, or the end. It is all of grace, thank You Jesus my Lord!
This gospel is good news for you, dear Catholic friends. Not against you, never! Don’t be ashamed of having to repent of your religion and good works – they will not save you and it is not worth it to trust in them. I love you because of Christ’s grace and mercy – and I call you in the name of Jesus to repent of your religious works and trust Christ for the righteousness He alone has earned, and receive His forgiveness of sins. He is enough, He is enough for your salvation.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. My next and most likely last post on this subject will be focused on the cross of Christ.
P.P.S. I realize many of you would take the time to deconstruct the basket full of logical, historical, biblical fallacies presented by LSO. I would like to do that too, but I do not want to only post and write on Roman Catholicism on this blog… but perhaps I will return to it someday. Feel free to pay him a friendly visit and interact with his ideas.
Previous posts in this series, starting at the first:
“Do Roman Catholics have the Gospel of Christ?“- Interpreting the Cosmos
“Apologetics” – Letting the Smoke Out
“Dialogue with a Roman Catholic – Introductory Remarks” – Interpreting the Cosmos
“Bible Only” – Letting the Smoke Out
“Roman Catholic Opening Remarks” – Interpreting the Cosmos
“A Word on Interpreting Scripture and Church Authority” – Interpreting the Cosmos
“What is the Biblical Path to Salvation? Reformed View pt. 1” – Interpreting the Cosmos
“On Clarity and Authority” – Letting the Smoke Out
“Either Rome or Reformation – Not Both” – Interpreting the Cosmos
“Sola Scriptura Stalemate” – Letting the Smoke Out