Read: Romans 3:1-18
The Biblical and confessional doctrine of justification by faith alone has been the object of constant attacks. These attacks were already launched against Luther. They were launched especially by the Roman Catholic Church, which hated Luther’s doctrine and did all in its power, including terrible persecution, to rid the church of it.
Luther stood firm. He called this doctrine the “hinge” on which hangs the whole church. Or, in another figure, this doctrine determines the standing or falling of the church.
Similar attacks have been made throughout history. They were made wherever the truth of justification by faith alone was preached. They were made in Germany, in Scotland, in the Netherlands, and elsewhere.
They are made again in more modern time with particularly fierce attacks that seem to have paralyzed many churches.
Following John Wesley and his preaching in England, attacks against justification by faith alone were made on the basis of Wesley’s open and radical Arminianism. In the Scottish Church, attacks against this doctrine were made by the Marrow Men, whose objections led to the adoption of the well-meant and gracious offer of the gospel.
Today we face the same attacks. Strangely these attacks come within Reformed and Presbyterian Churches. They come from those who claim to be children of the Reformation; and yet they are not hesitant to deny the most fundamental truth of the Reformation. And the fiercest attacks come from those who want to make salvation conditional. These even plead for a conditional covenant. And from such error comes the error of a conditional justification – justification by faith and works.
What is worse, such views as are being taught in Reformed and Presbyterian circles today rob the child of God of his only comfort. If your salvation and mine depended on the slightest measure of what we do that is pleasing to God, we are lost. It cannot be any different.
To follow these false teachers is to commit the sin of Esau: sell our birthright for a bowl of bean soup.
And so, after teaching us the great truth of Justification by faith alone, without any works, our teacher warns us that in the defense of this doctrine, we will be under constant and sometimes brutal attacks. We must be prepared for this, for if we know before hand the nature of the attacks, we can be ready to meet them.
We must be ready to meet them and stand our ground, for the battle is not only on the level of our intellects; it is a spiritual battle. Our salvation is at stake. To claim justification is partially or altogether based on works is to lose our salvation.
Our only hope is in justification by faith alone; that is, our only hope for salvation is in the cross of our Saviour.
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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