What is Justification by Faith Alone?
Romans 4:5 says, “To the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.”
Justification by faith alone is the gospel, the belief that we are forgiven our sins and made innocent before God by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the grave. You can do nothing to earn this. It is by the grace of God.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25
Whoever teaches that salvation is a combination of faith and works is teaching a different gospel. The Catholic and Orthodox churches both deny justification by faith alone. Salvation is by faith and the Eucharist, or by faith and baptism. That’s a different gospel.
“If anyone saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification… let him be anathema.” Council of Trent, Canon 9
“The sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are decisive to salvation… What is the event at which salvation truly takes hold? Baptism!” Fr. Theodore Stylianopoulos, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Galatians 1:8-9 says that anyone who preaches a different gospel is accursed. Galatians 2:16 says, “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
Now when a person has been saved, they confirm their faith by obedience. If they do not obey the commands of Christ, they’re still dead in their sins. This is what James meant when he said faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:26).
“Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” 1 John 2:4-6
Someone might say, “Well, what about faith. Isn’t that something that I do?” Nope. Because as you study the doctrine you will find that even faith itself is also a gift from God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
As Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
Genesis 8:22 KJV
Winter is here. And it’s beautiful!
I woke up this morning to another beautiful winter morning. I absolutely love the winter season. I enjoy the cold! the storms! the short days! the winter SUN! Yep, I have been called “strange” & “weird” many times!
“He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”
Psalms 135:7 NKJV
“The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, And hastens to the place where it arose.”
Ecclesiastes 1:5 NKJV
Have you ever wondered what God wants us to understand from the cycle of His seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter?
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV
Winter, also called the “dark season” because it is the season of the year which not only has the shortest days but also the shortest amount of sunlight. The darkness of winter reminds me of our lives before we were called by God and shown His truth for we lived in spiritual darkness. Hallelujah!
“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the day spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Luke 1:78-79 KJV
The darkness of winter reminds me that is the dormant or dead time of year. God’s Word says, we were as “dead in our trespasses and sins”
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins”
Ephesians 2:1 ESV
“even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”
Ephesians 2:5 ESV
When our lives were in the winter season of spiritual darkness, with a mind of rebellion and disobedience to God, in fact enemies of God, “Christ died for us”
“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8 KJV
As I reflect on winter, I see God teaching us about His kind of love. A love that defies understanding.
“Thou hast set all the borders of the earth: thou hast made summer and winter.”
Psalms 74:17 KJV
“From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?”
Job 38:29 ESV
Father God, you created seasons for a purpose.
Spring is full of expectation
frosts abating and an awakening
of creation before the first days of summer.
Now the sun gives warmth
and comfort to our lives
reviving aching joints
bringing colour, new life
and crops to fruiting.
Autumn gives nature space
to lean back, relax and enjoy the fruits of its labour
mellow colours in sky and landscape
as the earth prepares to rest.
Then winter, cold and bare as nature takes stock
rests, unwinds, sleeps until the time is right.
An endless cycle
and yet a perfect model.
We need a winter in our lives
a time of rest, a time to stand still
a time to reacquaint ourselves
with the faith in which we live.
It is only then that we can draw strength
from the one in whom we are rooted
take time to grow and rise through the darkness
into the warm glow of your springtime
to blossom and flourish
bring colour and vitality into this world
Thank you Father
for the seasons of our lives (Faith and Worship)
Many of us know something is fundamentally wrong about sin and this sin-infested world.
And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”
Ezekiel 9:4 ESV
Lot was tormented by the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.
… if he [God] rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. …
2 Peter 2:7-10 ESV
Most of all…
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THE KNOCK ON THE DOOR
A knock on the door the following morning alerted me to the arrival of my sister in law. I was beside myself with joy. With much anticipation we read and examined the messages spoken by the Virgin Mary’s apparition.
These communications were being received by the seers sometimes two or three times a day also weekly. We hoped that by diligent obedience to these heavenly messages we may get closer to Jesus. In the light of these revelations, I resumed my Sunday Mass attendance.
YOU WANT ME TO WHAT?
One day, months after faithfully following to the letter the do’s and don’t’s of the Virgin Mary’s messages, my sister in law informs me that TODAY we had to go to confession. It was urgent, she insisted, the Virgin Mary was giving a special blessing that will consecrate us to her son’s heart, but in order to receive this blessing we had to go confession and do penance TODAY.
Horror!!! I hadn’t gone to confession in years. I quickly contacted my local Catholic Church to find out confession times and very very slowly I made my way there.
Upon my arrival, I was told to wait for a flashing green light above a door with the give away sign “confessions here”. “ where is the confessional?” I asked myself, this was very different to what I was used to, I wanted to run out of there fast but I wanted Jesus more. So I stayed.
Green light flashing!!!, my moment had arrived, I opened the door ever so slowly, I walked into a large room with two chairs in the middle, side by side. On one chair sat a priest, face down, head covered. Sheepishly I sat on the empty chair, after a few awkward moments of silence, the conversation went something like this:
Priest: “In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”
Long long silence…..
Priest: “How long since your last confession ?”
Me: 20 years
Priest: Looking directly into my eyes now, “Twenty years, why bother coming to confession? Why are you here ?”
Me: “The Virgin Mary sent me”, he had a puzzled expression on his face, I then proceeded to tell him the whole story and put him out of his misery.
He assign me penance. I left the church really happy that day, I had obeyed the Virgin Mary and I was consecrated to Jesus’s sacred heart. What more could I ask for ?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
A distant friend I hadn’t seen for a long while surprised us with her visit. Of course, I shared with her all the exciting things that had been happening regarding the Virgin Mary. With a serious look on her face and without stopping to take a breath she informed me that the Virgin Mary and the Catholic Church had nothing to do with Christianity.
WHAT?!!!!, she went to her car, comeback with a Bible and told me to read it.
After she left, I picked up the Bible in put it away. I had been warned in my days growing up in Spain that the Bible was evil and not for us Catholics.
I continued following the Virgin Mary’s book word by word.
My distant friend dropped in soon after, this time she had a video for me. She wouldn’t leave the house until I gave her my word that I would watch it.
The video was about this woman speaking in a church. Her name Joni Eareckson, (you can find more about Joni here Joni Eareckson Tada ). This woman, a quadriplegic, began to speak about Jesus and she was reading from a “Bible”. As her words reach my heart my eyes filled with tears. At the end of her message she said “I’d Rather be in this wheelchair knowing Jesus, than be an able person and no know Him”, her words cut me deeply. I turned to the person watching the video with me and asked? “how does she know Jesus without the Virgin Mary?” the person calmly responded that only Catholics had the special privilege of knowing Jesus through His mother. “Rubbish”, I retorted, “her’s is a different Jesus”. That night I cried myself to sleep. Who was right? Joni or the Virgin Mary?
Early morning the following day the phone rings, my distant friend very agitated almost in tears. She explains that she had a huge fight with her husband (I was aware of their serious disagreements he was Catholic, she wasn’t. He was convinced that her church practiced demonology) She was ringing to ask me if we could spend the weekend at their place. Her idea was for me to go to her Church on Sunday so that her husband could see that it was not as bad as he had imagined. Of course I agreed.
Sunday arrived and we went to church. Very different service to the Catholic Mass I was used to. At the end of the service the pastor called people to the front. My friend encouraged me to go. I reluctantly went only to make her happy. The Pastor asked me if I believed that Jesus died for my sins?, he told me that Jesus died , was buried and rose again so that by believing in Him I may receive Eternal life. I said yes!.
Because I was not from that city, he gave me the name and phone number of a pastor near me so that I could attend his church and grow spiritually. Of course, I didn’t ring. It wasn’t a Catholic Church, so I couldn’t trust it.
WAR BREAKS OUT
A fierce internal battle began to rage in me. Do I believe the Virgin Mary and my sister in law? or Joni, my distant friend and the pastor in her church?. These thoughts were driving me to distruction.
I remember very well the day I ran upstairs to the top floor of my house. I pulled out the Bible my distant friend had given me, then I picked up the Virgin Mary ‘s book and in a loud voice with tears running down my face, I said “ GOD, if you are real, if you really exist, show me which one of these two books is from You?. Throwing the books against the wall I continued,” is it the Bible? Or is it the Virgin Mary’s book?”
Instantly It felt as if a dark veil was lifted, I was coming out of a dark tunnel into the bright sun shining light. I knew then, I knew it was the Bible, God was showing me the Bible was His book. Joy of all Joys!
A BATTLE WON
That day marked the beginning of my spiritual walk with my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. My desire was to know Him like Joni Eareckson did.
The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:13
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”
I had sought the Lord and He led me to Himself.
From that moment, my life began to change. I continued attending the Catholic Church for a few weeks. One Sunday morning before Communion I was reciting the prayer “Lord I am not worthy to receive you but just say the word and I shall be healed” I then heard what sounded like a loud thought within me saying, “Yes you are worthy to receive Me, I payed the price to set you free” From that day I stopped attending Mass.
Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
What now ? Where to from here ?, I decided to check a Christian book shop not far from where I worked. I went in, my gaze fell upon a series of books entitled “The Bible for beginners “ For months I learned the Bible through these little books.
It happened that one of my clients, invited me to her church so they could pray for my healing.
I was going deaf. It was now almost a year that I had been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease. The prognosis wasn’t particularly hopeful . I went to her church, they prayed and miraculously my hearing was fully restored within a week. Jesus in His goodness had mercy on me and healed me.
My love, faith, dependence and trust in Him began to grow more and more, not only because He had healed me but because of who He was in my life. We stayed in that particular church for many years. It was a Pentecostal Church. In this Church I began growing as a Christian, I attended Bible studies, prayed and fellowship with other believers. But I also learned “things” that were not Biblical.
GOD IS FAITHFUL
But God’s Word says that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth. He is faithful. He opened my eyes after years of Pentecostal doctrine, prosperity gospel, Toronto Blessing and your best life now rhetoric.
He led me into what I refer to as my “solid food” time. For 4 years I did not attend any church. The Lord brought into my life three Christian ministers Justin Peters, John Macarthur and Paul Washer. I had never heard of them before. God used these men to shake me out of the false teaching I had believed all those years and bring me into right fellowship with Him.
I can look back now and see how far my Lord has brought me. How He is changing me from the inside out. I couldn’t live without Jesus. I wouldn’t know how. I know one day I will see Him face to face. I will spend Eternity with Him, not because of anything I did but because of what He did. He saved me from God’s just judgement by dying on a Roman cross for my sins. I called out to Jesus and He saved me, a sinner!
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Psalms 18:2 ESV
I love the Lord forever and ever, so thankful for His death on the cross and His shed blood to save a wretch like me. Hallelujah!!!
Note: My testimony is a story of my search for God. A search that span over a period of 4 years.
I will be sharing in two parts.
At the age of five, my parents sent me on a long journey. I was to travel to Spain from Argentina to live with my grandparents until they were able to join me.
My kind and loving grandma was a devout Roman Catholic. From her I learned to both love and fear God. We used to attend Catholic Mass daily. The Ten Commandments ruled my life. If I was bad, God will punish me, so I tried very hard to be good.
My grandma also taught me to pray. We prayed to God, the virgin Mary and some Catholic saints. Saint Barbara was my favourite saint, why you ask?, because she was the patron saint of lightning, I was terrified of storms, so when thunder and lightning ripped the Spanish skies for hours, my grandma and I could always be found under the bed invoking Saint Barbara for protection.
Fast forward eight years…
My family and I arrive in Sydney Australia. Soon after I began attending school. For our Religion class we had a local priest as our teacher. I learned all about, our Mother the Church, the Sacraments, the infallibility of the Pope, confession, mortal sin, venial sin, purgatory and the Virgin Mary. I was an apt student of Religion.
A few years later, my grandfather died, soon after my grandma followed, the day my dad died it ripped me to pieces. I was 17 at the time.
Five years later, I lost my first child from miscarriage. I was almost six months pregnant. The loss of my baby was more than I could handle. I almost went crazy. Add to that a verbally abusive husband.
One day, I began questioning life. What is life all about?, I asked, why am I here?, Is God real?, If God is real why is there so much pain in this world?, who is God?, Does He care?, these questions began to consume my existence. I had to know. I was determined to find out.
To find some answers to this questions I began attending the local Catholic Church. I started going to the 9 o’clock Mass, but it did not satisfy, I was left wanting, there was something missing, so I decided to go to Mass three times on a Sunday. Even the priest questioned my eagerness. After a few months I realised that I was not finding the answers I needed there. And, so began my quest to find God.
Where does one go to find God?, to the local library of course. I brought home a book on Islam, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witness, Hinduism, Mormonism and of course Christianity.
It took me months to study the books individually and summarise the key points and features of each one.
It became evident from my intense study that Jesus Christ was the only one who claimed to be God.
I had arrived at a point in my quest where I had to change direction. Now I was searching for Jesus Christ because He claimed to be God.
Who is Jesus?..how do I find Him?. A phone call from my sister in law brought me the answer I needed.
She had some exciting news to give me, the Virgin Mary was appearing in Medjugorje, a town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with messages to the world about her son. Wow, I was so excited! Who better to tell me about Jesus than His own mum, right?
We planned to meet the following day. My sister in law had a book with daily messages from Jesus’s mum that she couldn’t wait to share with me. I could hardly sleep that night in anticipation of her messages.
To be continued…
Something light-hearted before I go to sleep. 😂
THE GLORY OF GOD REVEALED IN HIS CREATION
If one created in the image of God be so adorable . . . how adorable must be the One who created it!
The sum of all beauty – The Lord Jesus Christ! – Oh how I love Thee!
Lord Jesus, thank You for calling us to follow You with the confident faith of a child!
At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
Matthew 18:1-5 KJV
Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Many go down life’s path with lofty plans
To amass a great fortune of houses and lands
And to live a life of pleasure and ease,
Thinking happiness can be found in these.
Others pursue power and worldwide fame
To be known by all and win their acclaim.
But those without God who attain these goals
Soon find emptiness remains in their souls.
They couldn’t find the happiness they sought
For it comes from Him and can‘t be bought.
If only they realized these things won’t last
Since life is fleeting and will soon be past.
Wealth, worldly pleasure, fame, and power
Will all be gone at death’s dark hour.
And beyond the grave when eternity begins
Those unsaved will be judged for their sins.
If only they would believe in God’s Son
And repent of the sinful deeds they’ve done,
Then they could go down life’s path
Not needing to worry about God’s wrath.
They would have the joy they longed for,
Inner peace, contentment, and much more
For when their lives on earth shall end
Heavenly bliss would at once begin!
“Praise ye the Lord. Praise, O ye servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord’s name is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;
That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.”
Psalms 113:1-9 KJV