But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9)
In part 1 of this series, we saw that the Galatian believers were on the verge of defecting (μετατίθεσθε) from the gospel of the grace of Christ (χάριτι Χριστοῦ) unto a false gospel and put themselves in the hands of those who desire to pervert/distort (μεταστρέψαι) the gospel message. From Acts 15 and the rest of the Galatian epistle, we know that this false gospel is one that would have men find the beginning of their justification in the grace and merit of Christ, but to complete that justification by work and merit of man.
This “other” gospel is none other than the false gospel of Rome. According to the Roman religion, the guilt and punishment for sin are expiated in baptism. From that time forth, sins may be forgiven by use of the church sacraments, but the temporal punishments are yet to be discharged. These punishments must be discharged in life by the work of penance, or after death by suffering in purgatory.
GRACE AND FAITH NECESSARY
In the roman system, justification is in Christ, and by faith and grace. Faith and grace are absolutely necessary (but not sufficient). This “justification” is “in Christ” in the sense that Christ died for sins, Christ’s nature is infused into the initiate in baptism, and in that Christ is received in the Eucharist. This “justification” is by grace in that God has graciously provided the church with the gracious means to dispense grace. And this “justification” is by faith in that faith must be mixed with work for it to be effectual.
The difference between the Roman system and the justification as set forth in the Bible are that: the Bible teaches that justification is the free act of God’s grace whereby he pardons sinners – in other words, it is a judicial act, not a process. True grace is based, from beginning to end, on the merits of Christ imputed to believers ALONE. It is an act of God’s free grace ALONE, apart from any ability of man to cooperate. Finally, it is received by faith ALONE. This is not to say that the Spirit of God does not produce fruit in the believer, He necessarily does. It is to say, that the fruit of justification is not the grounds of justification.
A few examples from the counter-gospel Council of Trent will underscore the differences:
CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.
CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.
CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema.
CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.
CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.
* All the soul damning doctrines delivered by the council can be read here: Council of Trent
GRACE AND FAITH SUFFICIENT?
In the next post we’ll examine this “other” gospel in the light of scripture and compare these teachings with those of true Biblical Protestant doctrine, where in contrast, God’s saving grace and gift of faith are not only necessary, but are sufficient.