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Justification by Faith: A Steadfast Sound

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” —Romans 10:3

Pastor Charles SpurgeonMartin Luther, who, as we all know, continually preached the doctrine of justification by faith, said one day, that he felt half inclined to take the Bible, and bang it about the people’s heads; for they seemed as if they would not get a hold of the doctrine that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, and by that alone. I suspect that knocking people’s heads about with the Bible would not effect any very great result; but that was Martin Luther’s way of putting it. Keep hammering away on that nail: “Believe, believe, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Well, now, that was the particular battle-ground of Luther’s day, so that he said, “The doctrine of justification by faith is the article of a standing or a falling church.” If a church holds and preaches that, it is a church of Christ, notwithstanding many blunders. But, whatever it may preach, if it does not preach that, it is to be questioned whether it is not a fallen church, a church that has lost its true position.

The fight to-day is the same as in Luther’s day. The words have changed, and men make other pretences; but the fight all along the line is still this— Are we saved by our own merits, or by the merits of another? Are we righteous through what we do, or are we righteous through what Christ has done? Is sin put away by tears and repentances, or is sin washed away by the precious blood of Christ, and by that alone? Beloved, I trust that our pulpit will never give an uncertain sound upon this matter.

Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) A Sermon Intended for Reading on Sunday Morning, July 26, 1891 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 37, Sermon No. 2214 “Barriers Broken Down”

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Comment (1)

  1. Jayne Carver

    The precise relationship between faith and good works remains as an area of controversy in some Protestant traditions (see also Law and Gospel ). Even at the outset of the Reformation, subtle differences of emphasis appeared. For example, because the Epistle of James emphasizes the importance of good works, Martin Luther sometimes referred to it as the “epistle of straw.” Calvin on the other hand, while not intending to differ with Luther, described good works as a consequence or ‘fruit’ of faith. The Anabaptists tended to make a nominal distinction between faith and obedience. Recent meetings of scholars and clergy have attempted to soften the antithesis between Protestant and Catholic conceptions of the role of faith in salvation, which, if they were successful, would have far reaching implications for the relationship between most Protestants and the Catholic Church. These attempts to form a consensus are not widely accepted among either Protestants or Catholics, so sola fide continues to be a doctrinal distinctive of the Reformation churches, including Lutherans, Reformed, and many Evangelicals . Nevertheless, some statements of the doctrine are interpreted as a denial of the doctrine as understood by other groups.

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