Protestants and Catholics "Unite" in the Judgment Hour?
The Orlando Sentinel newspaper:
"The Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran churches have ended a nearly 5-century dispute over how people achieve salvation, officials said Friday. The accord represents 'a decisive step forward in the process of reconciliation'....." "It's not a document of compromise," said Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who heads the Vatican's office for relations with other denominations, "It's a document based on truth, but in a spirit of reconciliation." "The two sides crafted compromise language on 'basic truths' regarding what theologians call 'justification' or how humankind achieves salvation. For the Lutherans, salvation depends on the grace of God received through faith in Jesus Christ, while Catholics maintain that good works also are involved. The declaration states that divine forgiveness and salvation come "solely by God's grace" and that good works also flow from that." "The declaration and the new additions will be formally signed Oct. 31,(1999) in Augusbug, Germany."
This so-called agreed upon statement on "justification by grace" is not a new position for the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has always taught that sinners are justified by grace alone. The central issue of the conflict of the Protestant Reformation is how one defines "grace". The Catholics have always taught that sinners are saved by "infused" grace. Protestants have always taught that sinners are justified by "imputed" grace.
Thus thousands of Protestants were slaughtered in the Inquisition because they believed that God justified us by imputing Christ's sinless life to the account of the sinner, that is, God justifies the ungodly by faith alone in the imputed righteousness of Christ without works of obedience to the Law of God. To the Protestants, good works are the "fruit" of justification but never the "cause" of our salvation. God accepts us because Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and died an atoning death upon the cross of Calvary. Christ's doing and dying are imputed to the account of the sinner and this doing and dying of Christ are ALWAYS the basis of our acceptance with God.
The Catholic concept of "infused" grace means that God first puts righteousness or the inclination to righteousness into our hearts, then He accepts us on the basis of this righteousness in our hearts. So in the final analysis, sinners are saved by the goodness that God puts in their hearts. The Catholic position says that God puts graciousness in our hearts then justifies us upon the basis of this righteousness within us. The Protestants say no! God does not justify us on the basis of anything in our heart, but solely upon the basis of the goodness in the sinless life of Jesus. The sinner who believes in the imputed righteousness of Christ then receives the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable the believing repentant sinner to begin to walk in the way of obedience, BUT this obedience is NEVER the basis or cause of our acceptance with God. It is always because of faith alone in the righteousness in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those who believe the Roman Catholic way of justification by "infused" grace believe that they are accepted by God on the basis of having God's sanctifying grace put in the heart and therefore can never know if they have enough goodness to be saved. They are aware that they still have sin in their lives so they must always live in fear that they are not sanctified enough to be saved on the Judgment Day. Thus the Roman Catholic spends his life seeking enough holiness within his heart to be saved on the final Judgment Day. Since most believers (the Catholic Church does believe that some believers do attain to sinless perfection and acknowledges this special group of sinless believers by canonizing them as "Saints") do not become sinless in this life, the Catholic faith teaches that those who have venial sin remaining in them will spend enormous amounts of time in Purgatory suffering for the venial sins that they were unable to eradicate from their lives while they were alive. (The pain and sufferings of "Purgatory" are as terrible and real as the pain and suffering of "Hell" except that it is only temporary in nature. Hell, according to Roman Catholic teaching, is eternal, unending anguish and suffering in the fires of God's punishment of lost sinners.)
Protestants teach that a believer can have full assurance of complete forgiveness and eternal life so long as the believer trusts in the perfect sinless life and atoning death of Christ for his salvation.
All believers are striving for holiness of life as Paul tells us in his epistle to the Hebrews:
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" Heb 14:12
and see also Peter's admonition:
"As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation, because it is written, 'Be ye holy; for I am holy.' " 1 Peter 1:14ff,
but so long as they are trusting in Christ, their lack of perfect sinlessness is not imputed to them and they may rest in the assurance that they are accepted and accounted perfect in the merciful reckoning of God. Thus we begin the Christian life trusting in the imputed righteousness of Christ and we end the Christian life—either at death or at the second coming of the Lord—trusting in the imputed righteousness of Christ.
"For by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8ff
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—Jews first and also Gentiles. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." Romans 1:16-17 New Living Translation
We are made right in God's sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. 23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. 24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. Romans 3:22-24 New Living Translation
For the Protestant, "Not of works" includes even the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
For the Catholic, "Not of works" means not of "our own" works. But they believe that these "works" are "God's works", therefore man cannot take any credit for the works, but because these works are "God's works in our hearts", they think that these works can justify us.
In the final analysis, Catholics believe in justification by sanctifying righteousness imparted and infused into the heart of the believer. Protestants believe in justification by the righteousness that is imputed and reckoned to us and which is in the person of Jesus Christ who is in heaven at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
The Antichrist will never concede to the truth that justification is by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone. If she would concede to this, then her power to claim that she holds the keys to this "sanctifying infused grace" through the administration of the sacraments would be overturned. People would be free to come to Christ and find salvation without first passing through the word of any man, either an earthly "priest" or a heavenly "Saint" to bestow some infused merit.
The real heart of the issue is perfectionism. The Catholic Church teaches that only sinless "Saints" can go directly to heaven without passing through Purgatory to purge them of remaining sin. The Protestant Reformation (and the apostle Paul in Romans 3 and 4) clearly teaches that there is no one, believer or unbeliever, who is without sin in this life. All must be justified only by the personal righteousness of Another, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. The sanctification of even the best of believers still falls short and must be covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ.
Catholic theologians fear that if one teaches that no one is justified on the basis of inward holiness, then the believers will not pursue holiness of life and would fall into a libertine lifestyle, but just the opposite is true. The soul that is saved by being freely forgiven and accounted righteous without works is then free to serve from gratitude rather than fear. As the apostle Paul puts it, "the love of Christ constrains us". A Christian is free to walk in the way of God's commandments and serve God and our fellow man, not to BE saved, but since Christ died for us ungodly sinners, we ARE saved by His perfect life. The Protestant Christian is "Saved to serve". The Catholic believes he is "Saved by serving" (with God's help of course!).
Can a Christian lose his salvation? Of course he can, IF he ceases to believe he is a sinner justified only by the imputed righteousness of Christ. Then he has fallen from grace and begun to trust in his sanctification. Do some ABUSE the Gospel and think that since repentant sinners are justified by grace alone without the deeds of the Law then one can willfully disregard the Law of God and transgress with high-handed pre-meditated transgression of the Law, the Ten Commandments? Yes there are many who mistakenly believe this horrible distortion of the gospel, but as Paul states,
"Why not say, then, 'Let us do evil so that good may come?' Some people, indeed have insulted me by accusing me of saying this very thing! They will be condemned as they should be." Romans 3:8 TEV.
Paul was no Antinomian. He urged his converts to lives of good works and obedience to the commandments of God, but he always affirmed and continually re-affirmed that all are saved only by the imputed righteousness of our sinless Substitute and Surety, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our faithful and merciful High Priest who continually reckons and accounts us as faultless before the Law of God. As we walk in repentant faith below, the incense of His perfect righteousness above in the heavenly sanctuary covers our imperfect lives and is even added to all of our good works to make them acceptable in the eyes of the Law of God which always demands perfection.
There will never be a time before the coming of the Lord when we will not be justified by faith alone. We are only and always complete "in Him" by faith alone.
Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solo Christo, Sola Scriptura. Most of the Protestants today have reached across the gulf and grasped the hand of the Papacy. The Papacy is welcoming them back with open arms to embrace of the Dragon. The Sunday sabbath will be her mark of authority to change the Everlasting Covenant to one of salvation by works of inward holiness and infused grace. The true seventh-day Sabbath on the other hand will be the sign of those who are justified before the Law of God by his unmerited grace alone through faith alone in the imputed righteousness of Christ alone as revealed in the Bible alone.
On Christ the solid Rock we stand, all other ground is shifting sand.