Reformation 500: Theology and Legacy – Lecture 3: Faith Alone Justifies, Yet the Faith Which Justifies Is Not Alone: Justification and Sanctification

Greg Strand – December 9, 2016 Leave a comment

Our 2017 EFCA Theology Conference will be held February 1-3 on the campus of Trinity International University. In the introduction to the conference, we will focus on the EFCA’s roots in the Reformation and the Reformation’s legacy in the EFCA.

We are excited for this Theology Conference. Not only are we addressing the Reformation, a timely and important theme in conjunction with the 500th anniversary of Luther posting the 95 Theses, but we have some of the foremost scholars addressing the various themes/topics of the Conference.

In our first two lectures we focus on common Reformation themes, that of sola Scriptura and justification. In our third lecture we address an important and related topic of the Reformation, but not often addressed formally. However, the heart of this topic is never far from any Christian and is certainly constantly relevant for all pastors and Christian counselors. Additionally, there is hardly a time in the history of the church this issue has not been discussed and/or debated.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will address this perpetual question and tension of the Christian faith and life. How do justification and sanctification relate to one another theologically, and what are the implications in the Christian life? The way we answer this question has profound consequences for how we live our personal Christian lives, how we live the Christian life with others and with what expectations, and how we provide pastoral counsel to others. This is one of those doctrines in which it is vital we understand and live out both orthodoxy and orthopraxy, all undergirded by the work of God in the people of God.

Faith Alone Justifies, Yet the Faith Which Justifies Is Not Alone: Justification and Sanctification

Justification by grace alone, by faith alone through Christ alone was the clarion call of the Reformation. It remains the foundation of the Evangelical church today. And yet, this teaching of justification by faith alone concerned the Roman Catholic dissenters because they feared it would foster licentiousness. It would remove all moral motivations to do good works. One of the greatest threats to the Christian faith was the doctrine of assurance, according to some Roman Catholic theologians. Not only did this debate mark the divide between the Reformers and the RCC, there were differences among those promoting Reformation theology. For example, Martin Luther first used the expression Antinomian against Johannes Agricola. Calvin wrote, “It is therefore faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone.” Another historical example of this debate occurred in the Church of Scotland in the early 18th century, referred to as the Marrow Controversy. A continuing and contemporary reflection of this debate is that between those who espouse free grace and those who espouse Lordship. On this side of the fall, this challenge and debate are perpetual and universal. How do the doctrines of justification and sanctification relate? How are they different? Can one have one without the other? To what degree? When does one become antinomian? When does one become legalist? In this lecture we will trace the history of this discussion/debate and address the contemporary manifestation of this age-old dispute, with a focus on the practical application to our pastoral ministry with people, recognizing these doctrines are at the heart of most of our pastoral care and counseling with God’s people.

Mohler is the ninth president of the SBTS and has served in that role since 1993. He is ordained in the SBC and has served in pastoral ministry, has taught theology in the seminary and is now considered one of the foremost contemporary theologians addressing cultural issues from a biblical, theological and historical perspective. Mohler was one of the young theologians used by God in the process of the SBC returning to its roots by affirming the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of the Word of God. Since that time he has not only served the school faithfully, he has also served in the SBC and broader Evangelicalism. I have learned much from reading and listening to Mohler, and I am grateful he is able to join us at our Theology Conference. I am especially thankful he is able to address this important subject.

You can read more about the Conference, the speakers and the schedule here. Please register here. Plan to attend with other staff, elders or leaders in the church.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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