Archive for March, 2010

Justification … the first and keenest subject of controversy between us

March 13, 2010

I have recently been re-reading some of the 7 volume edition of Calvin’s “Tracts and Letter” and so was reminded of a classic Calvin quote on justification.  The context is Calvin’s response to Cardinal Sadolet’s letter to Geneva:

… justification by faith, [is] the first and keenest subject of controversy between us.  Is this [a right understanding of justification] a knotty and useless question?  Wherever the knowledge of it is taken away, the glory of Christ is extinguished, religion abolished, the Church destroyed, and the hope of salvation utterly overthrown … I will briefly explain to you how we speak on this subject … We bid a man begin by examining himself … to sist his conscience before the tribunal of God, and when sufficiently convinced of his iniquity, to reflect on the strictness of the sentence pronounced upon all sinners.  Thus confounded and amazed at his misery, he is prostrated and humbled before God; and, casting away all self-confidence, groans as if given up to final perdition.  Then we show that the only haven of safety is in the mercy of God, as manifested in Christ, in whom every part of our salvation is complete.  As all mankind are, in the sight of God lost sinners, we hold that Christ is their only righteousness, since, by his obedience, he has wiped off our transgressions; by his sacrifice, appeased divine anger; by his blood, washed away our stains; by his cross, borne our curse; and by his death, made satisfaction for us.  We maintain that in this way man is reconciled in Christ to God the Father. by no merit of his own, by no value of works, but by gratuitous mercy…

Powerful words – and as relevant as the day they were penned!