The Mail Room
Letters from Volume 36
Welcome to the Mail Room for Present Truth Magazine! This is where we post some of the interesting letters which we receive from our viewers. All of our viewers are invited to E-mail us your comments and views and we will post these views for all to consider!
I have thoroughly enjoyed your emphasis on justification by grace through faith alone. We surely need to recapture this central emphasis of the Reformation if we hope to see a new revival and reformation in our day. In every revival of major consequence we see this doctrine as the focal point of all preaching, teaching and writing. We saw it in the Reformers, the Puritans, the "Marrow-men" in Scotland, the Wesleys and Whitefield. All the great men of God saw this as the heartthrob of true religion. Without it, all was lost; with it, they changed the world. The gates of hell cannot stand against God's church when this great truth is preached, but must open up before our attacks and release their captives to our King. Let us pray that the church of God, the catholic (i.e., universal) church of our Lord, will once again be set on fire by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the true evangelical gospel.
May I point out what appears to be an erroneous interpretation on page 7 of your December issue, where you state: "This makes it clear that the believer's holiness of life (sanctification) is not included in 'the righteousness of God.'" You base this conclusion on Paul's declaration in Romans 3:21 that "the righteousness of God" is "apart from the law." Apparently, then, you equate the keeping of the law with holiness of life (sanctification). Certainly you don't believe this! What is Romans all about if it isn't the Christian way in contrast to merely keeping the law?
Obedience of Faith
I have read the issue of Present Truth on "Righteousness by Faith" (Part 3). I am especially interested in the nature of faith in justification and its similarity, or difference, in sanctification. The distinction by Bishop J. C. Ryle is mentioned. To quote from page 12 of your magazine: "That justification is by faith alone he affirms; that sanctification is by faith alone he denies. ' . . . not once, he says, 'are we told that we are "sanctified by faith without the deeds of the law."'
It seems to me that the "obedience of faith" (Rom. 1:5; 16:26) in justification is the same kind of response to the work of the Holy Spirit as the "obedience of faith" in sanctification. Justification is the declaration of God in response to the repentant rebel, who is freely pardoned on the basis of sacrifice. The "obedience of faith" in sanctification is of the same kind as in justification. Both are accomplished in response to faith in what God has said; one being based on sacrifice, the other on the law. One is justified "by grace through faith" and sanctified "by grace through faith." Grace is God's provision in Christ (death and life; sacrifice and law) for justification and sanctification. Grace is not received by a passive faith for justification or sanctification, but one is imputed and the other imparted in response to the active obedience of faith. God does not justify the rebel who continues in rebellion any more than He sanctifies the believer who continues in sin. If faith is understood as a responsive act of obedience to what God has spoken, then justification is God's declaration of pardon to the repentant rebel's initial act of faith, and sanctification is the continuing process of "perfecting holiness" in response to successive acts of faith. At least in this sense, "the righteousness of God" is neither imputed nor imparted on the basis of "a legal fiction" but on the basis of a real change. Not that faith has "merited" God's pardoning grace, "but only for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone."
In regard to the "Letters" section in your December issue, I was particularly upset by your flippant subtitle, "Blackmail?" assigned to a letter from John Robbins, District of Columbia. How many letters of protest against the September issue on "Election" do you require to warrant your long-overdue repudiation of Karl Barth? That "scholar" on your staff who endorses the blasphemous cavil of Karl Barth is unfortunately confused himself. A careful reading of Dr. Gordon H. Clark's Karl Barth's Theological Method (Presbyterian & Reformed Pub. Co., 1963) will sufficiently erase any confidence in that monstrous miscreant. Of course, a little more loyalty and obedience to God's Word should have alone stimulated your procrastinated response on this issue.
The article, "Ecumenical Developments between Roman Catholicism and Non-Christian Religions," was most factual. As a veteran missionary in Southeast Asia, with service in India, Sri Lanka and Singapore, I can attest to its verity.
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