Saturday, March 17, 2018

Critiquing The Roman Catholic View On Justification

  • Presenting The Roman Catholic View Of Justification:
Click on image to get a better view
          -First of all, it should be noted that Roman Catholicism maintains that salvation (how one is made right with God) is a complicated, lifelong process that is maintained through the performance of good deeds. It is believed that original sin is washed away at baptism, and that the Holy Spirit infuses grace into souls to make them righteous. While the initial stage of justification is claimed to be unmerited and achieved through water baptism, the progressive stage is maintained throughout life by means of charitable works, obedience to church laws, and participation in church rituals (CCC 980, 1459, 1460, 2010, 2068, 2080). In summary, the Church of Rome teaches that one must partake in the seven sacraments, obey the Ten Commandments, pray to saints, and obtain indulgences in order to merit eternal salvation in heaven. This is unmistakably a works-based justification system.
  • Consider The Following Quote From The Council Of Trent:
          -"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 XXIV)
  • Consider This Excerpt From The Apostolic Constitution On Indulgences:
          -“Good works, particularly those which human frailty finds difficult, were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners from the Church's most ancient times.”
  • Consider This Excerpt From The Roman Catholic Catechism:
          -“The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation.” (CCC # 1129)
          -"We can divide up this process into a number of stages: first, there is an initial justification which occurs at conversion; second, there is a progressive justification which occurs as a person grows in righteousness; and lastly there is a final justification which occurs on the last day. There is also the possibility of a loss of justification and a subsequent re-justification which occurs when a believer returns to the faith."
  • Consider This Excerpt From The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Online:
          -"Although the sinner is justified by the justice of Christ, inasmuch as the Redeemer has merited for him the grace of justification (causa meritoria), nevertheless he is formally justified and made holy by his own personal justice and holiness (causa formalis)."
  • Contrasting The Teachings Of The Roman Catholic Church With Scripture:
          -On the contrary, the New Testament Scriptures never recognize a distinction between the phases of progressive and initial justification. Nowhere does the Bible instruct us to split justification, as has been done by the modern Church of Rome. The written Word of God contains no examples, descriptions, or even explanations of this twofold process of justification taught by Roman Catholicism. Neither is biblical grace viewed as a substance that is transferred through physical objects and rituals (sacraments). A courtroom analogy is used to describe the instantaneous event of justification. We see words that have strong legal overtones such as impute, reckon, and counted (Romans 4). Romans 8:33-34 uses forensic categories. This means that God declares us to be righteous. God the Judge declares our status with Him, whether we be pronounced justified or condemned in His sight. Old Testament texts such as Deuteronomy 25:21, 1 Kings 8:32, Job 9:20, 13:18, and Proverbs 17:15 use the term "justify" in a legal sense. Paul drew his understanding of that term from the Old Testament. Justification is not a lengthy, ongoing process that is maintained through good works (Luke 18:9-14; Romans 5:1; 1 John 5:13). He is even given the title of Judge in Scripture (Genesis 18:25). The Old Testament writers even resort to legal imagery within the context of God pronouncing judgement (Micah 6:1-2; Isaiah 41:21). There is no such thing as being “partially saved.” According to the Bible, we are either justified or not. It cannot be both ways. Our righteousness is based on the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 3:8-9). He was punished on our behalf (Isaiah 53; 1 Peter 2:24). Justification is accomplished by the grace of God through our faith in the atonement sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ, and that alone (John 3:16). Works have absolutely no bearing on our justification in His sight (Romans 4:2-8; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5-7). We cannot possibly merit our justification, not even by keeping the Law (Romans 3:20; 27-28). Our own righteousness could never save us from eternal condemnation in hell because God’s Law demands perfect righteousness (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10-11; James 2:10-11). Our own righteousness is imperfect at best (Psalm 130:3-4; Isaiah 64:6; Mark 10:18). So Christ needed to obey the law perfectly in our place so that we could be redeemed (John 4:34; Romans 5:18-19; Galatians 4:4-5; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5). Justification is strictly a free gift of God offered to us out of His love for us (John 3:16; Romans 3:24-26). It is not something we can earn, even in part. Justification is by faith, apart from the merit of good works (Galatians 2:16). Those who add their works to faith in Christ for salvation are in reality frustrating the grace of God (Galatians 2:21). Scripture equates doing good deeds with the intention of meriting justification with living according to the flesh (Galatians 3:2-4). The Law requires perfect obedience (Galatians 3:10-11). Scripture affirms that everybody has broken God's commandments. Thus, seeking justification through good works has been rendered an impossibility (Galatians 3:22). In fact, those who seek justification by works have severed themselves from God's grace (Galatians 5:4-5). Jesus Christ will be of no benefit to those who add even one work to His work on the cross (Galatians 5:2). A works-based gospel is a complete departure from the sufficiency of Christ, and so is a false gospel which has no power at all to save (Galatians 1:6-12). The gospel is based on the work of Christ alone and is to be received by faith alone.
  • Sanctification:
          -The process that concerns our spiritual growth is called sanctification, which means to be set apart by God according to His purpose. It is the process of God conforming us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 9:13-14). This begins after conversion. We contribute to this process through good works with inexpressible gratitude for what God has done for us, not because we earn eternal salvation. While the Church of Rome correctly denies that works save us, the hierarchy contradicts itself when it requires that people do things in order to obtain salvation in heaven. Justification is either obtained by God’s grace, or solely by human effort. It cannot be both ways at the same time (Romans 11:6). Grace is unmerited. It is entirely a gift of God. Salvation is not something that we deserve (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Justification is by faith alone, but is never alone. Works will always accompany a genuinely saving faith. They are the result, not the cause, of a saving faith. Works are simply the product of faith. We are saved in order to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Nonetheless, the biblical gospel is a gospel of grace, not law. The biblical gospel is not a works or performance based gospel. If we can make amends for sin, then Christ's atonement is either insufficient or unnecessary. The simple, biblical answer to the question of how man is made right with God is to believe on Him (Acts 16:29-31). We are to place our trust in Him. The Bible defines the Gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Never is baptism, sacraments, observance of special days, or any other Roman Catholic concept prescribed in Scripture as criteria for salvation. These were "added" by man to the biblical gospel.
  • Comments On The “Logizomai” Controversy:
          -Critics of imputed righteousness occasionally argue that the Greek word logizomai that is found in commonly cited proof-texts such as Romans 4:5 do not mean “crediting” or “reckoning” righteousness to our account, but rather refer to as being “considered as” righteous. Even though the word can without a doubt mean what detractors of vicarious atonement claim fits with other scriptural passages, we also know from texts such as 2 Timothy 4:16 that logizomai can mean impute something on somebody’s behalf. So we can logically interpret the Greek word in the sense of the Lord Jesus Christ’s righteousness being credited to our account. Furthermore, opponents of penal substitutionary theory have the dilemma of explaining what it means for God to not impute sin to believers in passages such as Psalm 32:1-2, Romans 4:7-8, and 2 Corinthians 5:19. God credits righteousness to Christians "apart from works." Their sins have been "forgiven" and "covered" (Romans 4:7-8). God declares believers to be righteous, just as He declares unbelievers to be unrighteous. Justification is not an ongoing process, anymore than condemnation is an ongoing process. This source sheds more light on the meaning of this Greek term found in Romans 4, "The word logizomai is a bookkeeping term that means “to put on one’s record” or “to credit to one’s account.” In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the term often appears where individuals must treat a person or object as if it were something other than what it is inherently. For example, when the Levites received tithes, they were not to treat these tithes as actual tithes that had already been devoted to the Lord. Instead, they had to regard these tithes as their income and then pay a tithe to the Lord themselves from what had been given to them. Inherently, what the people gave were tithes. But the Levites reckoned them as income (Num. 18:25–32). Taking this all together, we see that in Romans 4 logizomai means to credit something to a person’s account and regard that person not according to what he has done or who he is but according to what is credited to his account." In the case of Romans 4:3, the word transliterated autō means "to him". This is important because it signifies what is being done in the "reckoning" or the "accounting". God is not looking at what is in Abraham, but He is giving to him something that he does not have. It is clear that the direction of the "counting" is from God to Abraham and not from Abraham to God.


  1. Another great post! thanks Jesse, for all the time you put in spreading the Gospel.
    Be sure to check out my explaining salvation post when it comes out, I think it's scheduled for next month. That is if you don't mind.

  2. Excellent post, and I just LOVE that diagram demonstrating the horrible ideology of works salvation with the RCC

  3. I would be glad to share this information on my blog but one quick question. Could you tell me where this section from the article comes from in scripture? "In the Bible, the courtroom decision analogy is used to describe the instantaneous event of justification."

  4. It is not so much a particular reference to Scripture as the term "courtroom" is an analogy used to describe the role of God as Judge and how He pardons sin. The metaphor best corresponds with the forensic language used in Scripture.