The driving interest of every believer should be the glory of God. This is no less true, and more true, in the case of His work in the plan of redemption and in the individual’s salvation.
How is God most glorified in salvation? By doing it all himself. Placing some of the motive, some of the means, some of the merit for salvation in the hands of sinful man robs God of glory. This is the duty of the believer, then, to acknowledge God’s preeminence, his sovereignty, his glory, in salvation.
“Merit” figures prominently in discussion about salvation, and who is to be justified before God. The Reformation principle solus Christus — Christ alone — is still relevant today, when individuals and groups of Christians look around to assign merit to many things other than, or in addition to, Jesus Christ.
Does Mary provide merit? Do the saints? Does the individual believer provide anything of merit toward the person’s salvation? According to Scripture, none of those do. Only Jesus has merit necessary for justification. There is no other name under heaven…Acts 4:12
Because God justifies through faith alone, we must repent and believe (Romans 3:21-30).
How is a person justified? By grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone. So said the Reformers, and the reformed. When we say we are justified “by faith alone,” we mean that works have no part in our justification.
Because God is free to save whom he will, we must praise his grace.
Why does God act to justify some? By grace alone. That is, there is nothing that compels God to demonstrate grace; not the goodness of man, not demands of justice…nothing. It is by God’s good pleasure that he justifies those who don’t deserve it.
Because God has spoken, we must not raise earthly powers above God’s word.
The Reformation principle of sola scriptura — Scripture alone — is still relevant today. The Roman Catholic church continues to give equal weight to the Bible and to the pronouncement of church councils. Further, protestant churches increasingly depart from the authority of Scripture, relying upon conventional wisdom, personal opinion, and cultural dictates.
The church needs to consistently promote the authority and the sufficiency of God’s word.
As a test, I frequently ask people “What does the Gospel say to that?”
For example, if the topic is gender confusion, I try to help people formulate a broader response in light of the Gospel. But people typically respond with law of some kind:
Genesis says God created man male and female
You should not lie with a man as you would lie with a woman
They exchanged the glory of God for a creature
All of these are some form of “just stop it.” They are true, and are legitimate expressions of God’s will for us in the area of gender identity. But they don’t get to the heart. The Gospel provides a more comprehensive response — including law — that addresses what has happened to distort the heart’s desires.
But in the last few years I noticed that in relation to a believer’s sanctification, not only in the area of mortifying certain sin but also in general spiritual growth, there is an increasingly tendency to tell people things like “just remember the Gospel.”
For years I have warned that permitting retail establishments to intentionally misspell words would have dire consequences.
Schoolkids with minds full of mush would grow up confused about what to do with the letter Q. Adults learning English would face difficulties discerning how to spell certain breakfast pastries. Fans of beef and fowl alike would forget how to spell chicken. General havoc and mayhem would ensue.
A recent report by Google about which states need help spelling which words proves my fears were well-founded.
Google is a great help in research, such as “how to spell prestidigitation.” One of the drawbacks, however, is that Google records such things, and now everyone knows what your state’s citizens can’t spell.
Another drawback is the inability to use a dictionary, because, well, you have to have some skill in spelling to find the word you need to spell properly. And, because, well, you have to properly identify a book.