Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (3) – R. Hanko

MLuther

The Sweet Exchange: Luther’s Understanding of Justification

At the heart of Luther’s understanding of justification lies the “sweet exchange.” He explains it thus:

Therefore … learn Christ and Him crucified. Learn to praise him and, despairing of yourself, say, “Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given to me what is yours. You have taken upon yourself what you were not, and have given to me what I was not.”4

That exchange of our sins for Christ’s righteousness, Luther understood to be by imputation. Our sins are charged to Christ and His righteousness charged to our account. Thus He was made sin for us and we were made righteousness in Him (I Cor. 5:21), the blessed result being that Christ is treated as Sinner in our place, and we treated as Righteous for His sake. Luther rejected the Romish teaching that righteousness is infused or planted in us and that on account of the resultant change of life we are justified. That, of course, is just another kind of work righteousness.

According to Luther, righteousness is given as gift, then to those who are in fact still sinners, and the one who receives that gift of righteousness is not yet cured of his sin. He is, when justified, at the same time both sinner and righteous (simul iustus et peccator):

We are in truth and totally sinners, with regard to ourselves and our first birth. Contrariwise, in so far as Christ has been given for us, we are holy and just totally. Hence from different aspects we are said to be just and sinners at one and the same time.5

Luther, therefore, often referred to this righteousness by which we are justified as an “alien” righteousness, a righteousness which comes from beyond this world, and which is unattainable by any human effort or merit. It is not only the righteousness of Christ, but of God in Christ. God gives us His own righteousness and Christ is the bringer of it, exchanging it for our sins, a sweet exchange indeed.

The third section of an article by Rev. Ronald Hanko in the October 15, 2001 issue of the Standard Bearer (cf. link below), a special Reformation issue focusing on the life and teachings of the great Reformer, Martin Luther. We are quoting from this article leading up to Reformation Day 2018 (Oct.31).

Source: Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (1) | Standard Bearer

10 Popular Quotes from John Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion” | LogosTalk

Earlier this week Logos.com published this post on its “LogosTalk” blog, and I took note of it, hoping to also use it for a Reformation reflection post this month. Today we do so.

The post selects ten “popular” quotes from John Calvin’s magnum opus, The Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011). Here is part of the introduction that went with the post:

This week we are celebrating the 501-year anniversary of the Reformation by discounting many Reformed resources and featuring Reformation excerpts and reflections on the blog. Enjoy this post about French Reformer John Calvin. John Calvin is one of the most important thinkers in Church history and the author of one of the most influential works in all of the Western canon, the Institutes of Christian Religion.

Calvin’s Institutes hold a prominent place on the reading lists of theological students and scholars around the world and has left its mark in the fields of theology, philosophy, social thought, and legal theory. First published in 1536, it became an instant best seller and has been republished and translated nearly 100 times in dozens of languages.

Calvin’s magnum opus is loved for its comprehensive treatment of the Christian faith, its logical cohesion, and its beautiful, moving prose.

You will also want to note that Logos is having a massive Reformation collection sale. If you are not familiar with them, now is a good time to do so. They specialize in Bible study software and helps, as well as digital book and magazine collections, featuring fantastic collections (including Reformed titles) as well as individual titles. The PRC seminary library has a basic collection to which it is constantly adding items. You may obtain Logos 7 Basic free by visiting the Logos website.

And here are the first four of those quotes; find the others at the Logos link below.

1. On knowing God and self

“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. […] The knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find him.”

— Book 1, chapter 1, section 1 (I, i, 1)

2. On the effect of knowledge of God

“The effect of our knowledge rather ought to be, first, to teach us reverence and fear; and, secondly, to induce us, under its guidance and teaching, to ask every good thing from him, and, when it is received, ascribe it to him. For how can the idea of God enter your mind without instantly giving rise to the thought, that since you are his workmanship, you are bound, by the very law of creation, to submit to his authority?—that your life is due to him?—that whatever you do ought to have reference to him?”

— I, ii, 2

3. On false worship

“Those, therefore, who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits.”

— I, iv, 3

4. On chance and providence

“Suppose a man falls among thieves, or wild beasts; is shipwrecked at sea by a sudden gale; is killed by a falling house or tree. Suppose another man wandering through the desert finds help in his straits; having been tossed by the waves, reaches harbor; miraculously escapes death by a finger’s breadth. Carnal reason ascribes all such happenings, whether prosperous or adverse, to fortune. But anyone who has been taught by Christ’s lips that all the hairs of his head are numbered [Matt. 10:30] will look farther afield for a cause, and will consider that all events are governed by God’s secret plan.”

— I, xvi, 2

Source: 10 Popular Quotes from John Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion | LogosTalk

Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (2) – R. Hanko

Luther-Christ-crucified

Not Fishing in Front of the Net: The Importance of Luther’s Doctrine

As a result of his own experience Luther believed that the doctrine of justification was fundamental. It was for him “the sum of all Christian doctrine,” the doctrine by which the church stands or falls. He considered the teaching of this doctrine of far greater importance than reform of practice and ritual in the church, and insisted that the reform in other areas would follow if the doctrine were brought home to the hearts of God’s people:

We … beg and exhort you most earnestly not to deal first with changes in ritual, which are dangerous, but to deal with them later. You should deal first with the center of our teaching and fix in the people’s minds what they must know about our justification; that it is an extrinsic (external) righteousness—indeed it is Christ’s—given to us through faith which comes by grace to those who are first terrified by the law and who, struck by the consciousness of their sins, ardently seek for redemption…. Adequate reform of ungodly rites will come of itself, however, as soon as the fundamentals of our teaching, having been successfully communicated, have taken root in devout hearts. These devout people will at once recognize what a great abomination and blasphemy that papistic idol is, namely, the mass and other abuses of the sacrament, so that it will not be necessary to fish in front of the net, that is, first to tear down the ritual before the righteousness of faith is understood.2

Reformation often fails because those who seek it do not remember that reformation of doctrine is first and fundamental, especially of such doctrines as these. They cry against abuses but show little or no interest in the doctrines of the church, and are even willing to see those doctrines compromised and cast aside, as the doctrine of justification has been by many evan-gelicals.3 Luther was right. Reformation of doctrine will bring reformation of life, but attacking various abuses will not bring reformation at all, but will be as vain as the kind of fishing Luther describes.

The second section of an article by Rev. Ronald Hanko in the October 15, 2001 issue of the Standard Bearer (cf. link below), a special Reformation issue focusing on the life and teachings of the magisterial Reformer, Martin Luther. We plan to quote from this article leading up to Reformation Day 2018 (Oct.31).

Source: Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (1) | Standard Bearer

Free Reformation Resources – Ligonier and Monergism

We are entering the final week leading up to Reformation Day 2018 (October 31). As always, there are plenty of good resources available to help you deepen your understanding of the history of this great gospel movement and intensify your commitment to the truths recovered during the 16th century.

For example, to mark Reformation Week 2018 Ligonier Ministries is giving away a free e-copy of the book The Legacy of Luther, written by a variety of men in celebration of last year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Here is the note and the link:

He was one of the most influential men of his day. His posting of the Ninety-Five Theses sparked the Protestant Reformation. In him, we find an example of bravery, conviction, and dependence on God’s Word at all costs.

Meet the Reformer who set the world ablaze. In The Legacy of Luther, edited by R.C. Sproul and Stephen Nichols, fifteen distinguished scholars and pastors survey Martin Luther’s life, thought, and lessons for today. In honor of Reformation Week, you can download the ebook edition for free. This book is an uncompromising reminder that, like Luther, we must stand firm for the biblical gospel.

The offer is good through Oct.31, so be sure to get your free copy before then.

Also, Monergism website also has been offering some good free ebooks (now up to 400!), including Luther’s Tabletalk. Here’s the information they provide for this free title:

Luther’s Divine Discourses (as this book was known) stirred up so much anger in the Roman Catholic Church that all copies were ordered to be burnt under an edict by Pope Gregory XIII. One copy was found by Casparus Van Sparr in 1626, whilst building on a house once owned by his grandfather in Germany. The book was wrapped in a linen cloth treated with beeswax and buried in the ground – it was perfectly preserved.

An English friend of Casparus, Captain Henry Bell, brought the book back to Britain and began the work of translation several times but never completed it. He received a vision of an old man who told him he would complete the translation. Two weeks later he was arrested and spent the next 10 years in jail during which time he completed the work and produced what we now know as Tabletalk.

This collection of informal comments was gathered together by Antony Lauterbach and John Aurifaber, who were very close to Luther towards the end of his life.

And, we hope you check out the Reformed Free Publishing Association’s website as well. There you will find a variety of books and ebooks on Reformation subjects, including the fine collection of essays on Reformation 500 published in Here We Stand.

It’s a good time of year to add to your library and to your reading list – as well as to your gift list with Christmas coming up soon!

Luther’s Doctrine of Justification | Standard Bearer

Entering Paradise: The Origin of Luther’s Doctrine

It is impossible to talk about Luther’s doctrine of justification without also talking about Luther’s experience of justification. It is never the doctrine which comes first but the experience and enjoyment of the blessings of God. This was especially and remarkably true in the case of Luther. His doctrine of justification was the fruit of his coming by grace and by faith to know his own justification before God.

He tells the story of his own spiritual pilgrimage:

Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience. I could not believe that he was placated by my satisfaction. I did not love, yes, I hated the righteous God who punishes sinners, and secretly, if not blasphemously, certainly murmuring greatly, I was angry with God, and said, “As if, indeed, it is not enough, that miserable sinners, eternally lost through original sin, are crushed by every kind of calamity by the law of the decalogue, without having God add pain to pain by the gospel and also by the gospel threatening us with his righteousness and wrath!” Thus I raged with fierce and troubled conscience. Nevertheless, I beat importunately upon Paul at that place, most ardently desiring to know what St. Paul wanted.

At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.'” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through its gates.1

This means, too, that the Reformation did not really begin with the posting of his 95 Theses, but with the reformation of Luther’s own life; with a great and gracious work of God in Luther’s own soul. It did not begin with a protest against abuses in the church, but with a God-given and biblical answer to Luther’s own desperate question, “What must I do to be saved?” So it is always.

1. Helmut Lehmann, ed., Luther’s Works (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House: 1959-1967), vol. 34, pp. 336, 337, “Preface to the Complete Edition of Luther’s Latin Writings.” Many of the quotations from Luther’s works were gleaned from Robin A. Leaver, Luther on Justification (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House: 1975).

The opening paragraphs of an article by Rev. Ronald Hanko in the October 15, 2001 issue of the Standard Bearer (cf. link below), a special Reformation issue focusing on the life and teachings of the magisterial Reformer, Martin Luther. We plan to quote from this article leading up to Reformation Day 2018 (Oct.31).

Source: Luther’s Doctrine of Justification (1) | Standard Bearer

The Battle Cry of the Reformation and the Surrender of Greek and Hebrew

Seminary building entrance

This post comes in my role as registrar at the PRC Theological Seminary, an institution that has its roots in the great Protestant Reformation in every aspect (church historical, theological, homiletical, pastoral, and educational) and where we place a strong emphasis on learning the original languages of God’s inspired and infallible Word – Hebrew for the OT portion and Greek for the NT portion.

This blog post by Dr. D. Wallace affirms what we still embrace in the twenty-first century – whole-heartedly and unashamedly. Current and prospective students must know this, but so also must our members. And the reasons why, for without the foundation, we will lose the edifice.

So read on and be reminded why we are truly a Protestant and Reformed Seminary.

Daniel B. Wallace

One of the great ironies and unnecessary casualties of the Protestant Reformation is shaping up in America today. The battle cry of the Reformation was ad fontes—“back to the sources!”—which meant going behind Jerome’s Latin Vulgate and reading the original Greek New Testament. This was coined by Erasmus, the man responsible for publishing the first Greek New Testament in 1516. He was a Roman Catholic priest who was swimming against the current of much of 16th century Catholic scholarship. It was especially the Protestants who latched onto Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. During his lifetime, over 300,000 copies were sold! A few years after his death, the Council of Trent banned many of his writings.

The Reformers also went beyond the Vulgate and translated the Bible into modern languages.

Reformation

Now, half a millennium after Luther nailed his theses to the door of the great Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, theological seminaries…

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RFPA Interview with Prof. R. Cammenga on “Here We Stand”

Last week on its blog the Reformed Free Publishing Association published an interview it produced earlier this year in connection with the publication of its Reformation 500 title Here We Stand: Commemorating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

The interview is with Prof. Ronald Cammenga, editor of the book, which is made up of the speeches given at the PRC Seminary’s 2018 Reformation 500 Conference.

After watching the video and learning more about this significant contribution to Reformation 500 studies, visit the RFPA website and order yourself a copy.

 

 

The Surprising Practice of Binding Old Books With Scraps of Even Older Books – Atlas Obscura


For centuries, an older manuscript sheathed a 1480 edition of the Vulgate. Courtesy Newberry Library

This article appeared in the Atlas Obscura email yesterday (June 14), and what a fascinating story it is concerning a former era of book publishing and binding – especially the example it features at the outset! But wait until you find out about the hidden sermons of St. Augustine that made up another book bound from other books.

Here are the opening paragraphs on this lost book-binding art and the treasures that it contained (Although I will say that I have found later examples of this in some 18th and even 19th century books in the seminary’s library, when the spine had begun to break down.).

Last year, Megan Heffernan, an English professor at DePaul University, was at the Folger Shakespeare Library and studying a folio of John Donne’s sermons printed in 1640. When she opened it up, she was surprised to find that the inside of the front and back covers were plastered with sheets taken from a book of English psalms. “I just thought, ‘How amazing is it to think about sermons sort of spending eternity rubbing up against a totally different kind of liturgical writing?’” she says. The texts’ creators didn’t intend for them to live together, but when the psalms became “book waste”—essentially, printed garbage—they could end up anywhere.

Suzanne Karr Schmidt, a curator of rare books and manuscripts at the Newberry Library in Chicago, jokingly describes these as “turducken books”—a book (or manuscript) within a book within a book. Repurposed scraps like these show up in several dozen places in the library’s collection, either as bindings, mends, or pieces used to reinforce spines.

From the earliest days of bookmaking, binders made use of scraps. Sometimes, it was just mundane material: leases or contracts that had expired or been rendered moot by a scribe’s mistake. In other cases, the bindings illustrate some seismic cultural shift. In these instances, the materials indicate to modern scholars what was important to the people assembling books—or, conversely, what had little or no value to them.

After the Reformation, for example, when Catholicism gave way to Protestantism in Britain, monastic libraries were dissolved and centuries’ worth of manuscripts were suddenly homeless and largely unwanted. This made them “available to a burgeoning print trade,” Heffernan says, “and they could be torn up into strips, or wrapped whole around books.” The change of faith sapped the Catholic materials’ “value as documents to be read,” she says. But their value as raw material—such as vellum, made from animal skin—remained.


Conservators found this 10th-century fragment of a sermon attributed to Saint Augustine in a book from the 1500s. Courtesy of the Newberry Library

For more on this – and the St. Augustine fragment story – visit the link below.

As an aside, I recently purchased a Kindle copy of the Atlas Obscura book, and what a treasure-trove that is! If you haven’t subscribed to their daily (or weekly) emails yet and you are interested in this kind of information (geographical and historical wonders found throughout the world), do so.

Source: The Surprising Practice of Binding Old Books With Scraps of Even Older Books – Atlas Obscura

Book Alert! “The Belgic Confession: A Commentary” by David J. Engelsma

belgconf-comm-DJE-2018This week I received the latest offering from the Reformed Free Publishing Association – my personal copy along with that of the seminary library. The new book may have an unassuming title – The Belgic Confession: A Commentary – but it represents a new subject matter for the RFPA and helps fills a major void in  English for those who embrace this Reformed Confession (also known as the Netherlands Confession).

The author of the commentary is well known – emeritus PRC Seminary professor David J. Engelsma – and his commentary is the fruit of a ministry spent preaching, teaching, and writing about the Reformed doctrines summarized in this Calvinistic creed.

The publisher gives this description of the new book:

An orthodox commentary on the confession, that is, one that is in wholehearted accord with the teachings of the confession, and resolutely faithful to them, will be profitable to Reformed Christians and churches in the twenty-first century, not only for invaluable instruction in the Reformed faith, but also for the maintenance and defense of Reformed orthodoxy.

Founded on holy scripture, the Belgic Confession determines sound doctrine for Reformed churches and believers. This doctrine is rich, lovely, and powerful. The confession also authoritatively exposes contemporary heresies. As they read this commentary which proclaims the doctrine and authority of the confession, all believers who love the Reformed faith will be faithfully guided in the truth of the “old paths.”

Volume one covers Articles 1-21 of the Belgic Confession.

The first volume is a hardover of 368 pages, retailing for $31.95. But join the RFPA Book Club and the title is yours for only $20.77! The author promises in the introduction that the second volume is not far behind (that will cover Articles 22-37 of the Belgic Confession).

BelgicConfession1561

In his introduction, Engelsma sets forth the importance of the Belgic Confession for the modern reader and church member:

As the official authoritative creed of Reformed churches worldwide, how great is the importance of the Belgic Confession! It authoritatively defines the truth of scripture. Explicitly and by implication, it also authoritatively defines heresies. It identifies true churches of Christ in the world. It constitutes the authoritative witness of these churches to other churches and to the world outside the church. On the title (front) page of the original publication of the Confession was a quotation of 1 Peter 3:15: ‘Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.’ It is a document to instruct the members of reformed churches in the biblical truth that they profess, especially the children of Reformed believers. It is the guide of reformed preachers concerning the doctrines they must teach and defend. It is the defense of the Reformed faith against errors by which the faith is threatened, whether by heretics within the churches (always a danger, to all churches) or by the winds of false doctrine blowing upon the true church from without [pp.12-13].

All Reformed Christians interested in bolstering their faith with solid teaching and practical counsel will want to add this volume to their personal and family libraries. And don’t forget those church libraries also. 🙂

Contact the publisher at the information found at the links above to obtain your copy and to join the book club.

This Day in History: The Death of John Calvin | Crossway Articles

In several online places today it was noted that May 27 marks the anniversary of John Calvin’s death (1509-1564). Crossway was one of those sites with a featured article on it.

Dr. Robert Godfrey wrote a fine, brief summary of Calvin’s life and work from the viewpoint of its end, and it is that article that we reference this Sunday night. One of the sections of the article mentions Calvin’s own life of suffering and how that helped him as a pastor to identify with God’s suffering people. He also wrote about Calvin’s “unshakeable confidence” as he faced the end of his life:

The struggles of his life tested his faith. At the heart of his faith was the confidence that for the sake of Jesus, God was his loving heavenly Father. But that confidence had to surmount the temptations and sins, the frustrations and losses, the weakness and death that made up so much of his life. He knew that his struggles were the very ones that all God’s children faced: “The pious heart, therefore, perceives a division in itself, being partly affected with delight, through a knowledge of God’s goodness, partly distressed with sorrow, through a sense of its own calamity; partly relying on the promise of the gospel; partly trembling at the evidence of its own iniquity; partly exulting at the expectation of life; partly alarmed by the fear of death.” But faith overcomes that division. With great assurance Calvin declared, “For the invariable issue of this contest is that faith at length overcomes those difficulties, from which, while it is encompassed with them, it appears to be in danger.”2

Late in his life, as his health deteriorated and his strength ebbed, his friends pled with him to work less diligently, but he refused. By early 1563 he at times was unable to walk due to gout and arthritis. By early 1564 it was clear that his strength was failing seriously. In early February 1564 he gave his last lectures and sermons. Calvin prayed that his mind would remain clear to the end so that he could work. From his bed he continued to dictate letters and his final commentary, on the book of Joshua. His fellow ministers appealed to him to get more rest. He responded, “What! Would you have the Lord find me idle?”3 He was determined to work hard to the end.

You would do well to read the other parts of Godfrey’s article, including Calvin’s expression of thanks to God in his last will and testament and his farewells to his friends (cf. link below). Godfrey ends by quoting Calvin’s close friend and associate (and successor in Geneva), Theodore Beza, who wrote this about Calvin’s final days:

The interval to his death he spent in almost constant prayer. . . . In his sufferings he often groaned like David, “I was silent, O Lord, because thou didst it.” . . . I have also heard him say, “You, O Lord crush me; but it is abundantly sufficient for me to know that this is from your hand.”7 Calvin may also have remembered the words that he had written long ago in his Catechism: “For death for believers is now nothing but passage to a better life. . . . Hence it follows that death is no longer to be dreaded. We are rather to follow Christ our leader with undaunted mind, who, as he did not perish in death, will not suffer us to perish.”8

Source: This Day in History: The Death of John Calvin | Crossway Articles