Response to criticism of 'The Roman Catholic view on justification'

Following is a response to a paper written by a Catholic in an attempt to refute my analysis of the Roman Catholic position dealing with justification. I have permission from the author to reproduce the entire paper here and respond to it. My responses to his comments are in green. All original grammar and syntax have been retained.


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A refutation of Matt Slick's misrepresentation of the Church's beliefs

Matt Slick is an evangelical Protestant who runs the website ministry Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. He unfortunately believes that the Catholic Church is apostate, but this belief is based on a misrepresentation of our beliefs. The following is a refutation of his attack on justification.

However, Roman Catholic doctrine denies justification by faith alone and says:
"If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema" (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 9).

Here 's the operative phrase in this: in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification. Just what does it mean to cooperate? It means that we must work with God, we must live a Christian life. "You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? "James 2:19-20. The Church is condemning the belief that all you have to do is put your faith in God, but do nothing else. That you do not need to avoid sin or live the Christian life. That is the heresy condemned.

This Roman Catholic not only fails to understand the biblical doctrine of justification by faith, but he also does not understand the Bible's teachings on works in relation to it. I will present the biblical position here and refer back to these biblical truths in this paper.

Justification is the legal declaration by God upon the sinner where God declares the sinner righteous in His sight. This declaration is based upon the work of Christ and nothing else. This means that a person is declared righteous by God based upon nothing more than the person's believing in, trusting in, and receiving Christ. This is so because Jesus, God in flesh, has done all that is necessary to make us right before the Father. We cannot add to the work of Christ. If there were anything that we could add, then it would be required of us. But, we can do nothing which is why it says in Gal. 2:21, I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly. In other words, Jesus didn't need to die if our righteousness could come, in any way, through the Law; that is, through our own effort or works. Following are several verses that demonstrate these truths:

  1. Gal. 2:16, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
  2. Phil. 3:9, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."
  3. Rom. 3:24, "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus."
  4. Rom. 3:28-30, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one."
  5. Rom. 4:3, "For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
  6. Rom. 4:5, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,"
  7. Rom. 5:1, "therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"

Being justified is concurrent with regeneration; that is, God regenerates us and justifies us in His act of saving us. Our regeneration is the work of God in us. It produces a change in us: 2 Cor. 5:17, says "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." This change has a result of doing good works. But, the good works do not obtain our justification nor do they increase it. They are simply the result of being a new creature. This is why James says, "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead," (James 2:26). James is demonstrating that true faith brings true regeneration which results in true works. (See my article, Are We Justified by Faith (Romans) or by Works (James)?) False faith brings false regeneration which results in false works. Again, this is why James says, "What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14). Notice how James begins his comments on this subject by mentioning those who say they have faith, but don't demonstrate it by their works. In other words, their works demonstrate whether or not they are truly saved in the first place; that is, they are a result of true saving faith. This is where all the cults and the Roman Catholic church error. They all see our works as contributing to our salvation and this is why they quote James 2:24, "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." But, and this is crucial, they fail to look at the context of James' statement. The context that James is dealing with is that works result from true faith and those works are before men, not before God. James' whole point is to demonstrate that true faith results in true works and false faith results in false works or no works at all. James is distinguishing between mere mental acknowledgement and heartfelt trust, the latter, of which, is what Paul speaks of in Romans 3-5. Furthermore, Paul echoes James' sentiment when he says, "For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death," (2 Cor. 7:10). True faith has a true result. False faith has a false result. If you say you have faith (James 2:24), then let's see your works because your works demonstrate what is in you. But these works do not get us saved or keep us saved or contribute to our salvation in anyway.

Therefore, the Roman Catholic who has written his paper in an attempt to refute my paper does not understand the biblical doctrines of justification and regeneration. This is because he holds to the Roman Catholic teaching which is in serious error.
Let's continue.

"If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema." (Canon 14).

The same heresy is condemned here. What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14

The Canon is not saying the same thing as James. Canon 14 is condemning justification by faith alone. James is not dealing with this issue. James is dealing with those who say they have faith but have no works when works are what demonstrate the truth of that faith -- the faith that has resulted in regeneration also results in true works. This person does not understand what James is saying and he does not understand the doctrine of justification as demonstrated in the Bible. In fact, throughout his entire paper, he never once refers to Paul's declaration of justification by faith. You'd think that if he wanted to make his position biblical, he would appeal to the scriptures that deal with it. But, he does not. Therefore, his position is weak and incomplete.

We can see that Roman Catholic theology pronounces a curse of excommunication, of being outside the camp of Christ if you believe that you are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus.

Such a statement brings chills to my soul. Notice how he affirms that the Roman Catholic church condemns the idea that you are saved by grace through faith alone in Jesus. But what does the Bible say?

  1. Gal. 2:16, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
  2. Phil. 3:9, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."
  3. Rom. 4:5, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,"

Again, this person, and the Roman Catholic church, has failed to see what justification is and what James is saying. Justification is by grace through faith that results in regeneration that results in works. The works follow regeneration and in no way contribute to it. They are the result of regeneration, not the cause of it.

Again, a misrepresentation:
Paragraph 1697 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church -a catechesis of grace, for it is by grace that we are saved and again it is by grace that our works can bear fruit for eternal life;

Does the Roman Catholic Church specifically state that we are "saved by grace and works"? Not that I am aware of and neither do the above Catholic Canons state such a thing. But, when the Roman Catholic Church negates justification by faith alone, it necessarily implies that we must do something for justification, for if it is not by faith alone, then it must be by faith and something.

How sad it is to see such false doctrine taught as truth. Notice that he has yet to quote the Bible's teaching on this issue except for James -- and that out of context.

So what is it that we must do to be justified? Is there anything that we can add to the finished work of Christ on the cross that would merit for us justification either alone or in combination with what Jesus has done? Not at all. But, this Roman Catholic, like the cults, thinks that we can contribute to our salvation and position before God through our own efforts.

Really? Well then what do we add? If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 1)

Of course! The Roman Catholic church does not teach that we are justified before God by our own works. The cults doesn't even teach that. But, like the cults, it teaches that we are justified before God by His grace and our works -- not just our works. This is the whole point and this critic of my paper has failed to see this distinguishing truth.

"If any one saith, that the grace of God, through Jesus Christ, is given only for this, that man may be able more easily to live justly, and to merit eternal life, as if, by free will without grace, he were able to do both, though hardly indeed and with difficulty; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 2)

If any one saith, that without the prevenient inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and without his help, man can believe, hope, love, or be penitent as he ought, so as that the grace of Justification may be bestowed upon him; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 3)

If any one saith, that men are just without the justice of Christ, whereby He merited for us to be justified; or that it is by that justice itself that they are formally just; let him be anathema. (Council of Trent, Canons on Justification, Canon 10)

Of the acts to be performed by Catholics for justification, baptism is the first requirement is: I do not see the Bible saying anywhere that we are justified by baptism.

The admission of this Roman Catholic that baptism is necessary as a first requirement demonstrates two things: that there is more than one requirement to be justified and that baptism is necessary for justification. Both are in error.

Well, perhaps you are skipping those verses: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5.

There are five basic interpretations to this section of scripture in reference to water. This paper is not meant to discuss the issues of baptismal regeneration. Nevertheless, the five views are as follows.

  1. The water refers to the natural birth.
  2. The water refers to the Word of God.
  3. The water refers to the Holy Spirit.
  4. The water refers to the ministry of John the Baptist.
  5. The water refers to the water of baptism as a requirement for salvation.

Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic assumes one position, that baptism is necessary for salvation, and goes on to make a case based upon that position. Of course, he ignores the justification verses (listed 1-7 at the beginning of this paper) that clearly state justification is by faith, not faith and baptism, not faith and something we do.

Nevertheless, instead of repeating my paper on John 3:5, I urge the reader to examine it here: Baptism and John 3:5. I will, however, quote one portion of it:

Paul tells us that the gospel is what saves us and that the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Baptism is not included in the description of the gospel. This explains why he said he came to preach the gospel, not to baptize: "I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel..." (1 Cor. 1:14-17). If baptism is necessary for salvation then why did Paul downplay it and even exclude it from the description of what is required for salvation? It is because baptism is not necessary for salvation. Therefore, John 3:5 must be interpreted in a manner consistent with the rest of scripture and not be held to mean that baptism is part of becoming saved.

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5.

Paul is referencing the visible representation of what it means to be saved. Baptism is the public demonstration of this regenerative work. It is a visible demonstration of the covenant work of God. It is not the thing that saves us since we know that we are justified by faith. Rom. 5:1, "therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul clearly and explicitly declares that we are justified by faith.  Baptism is repeatedly left out of the justification formula.

Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you-- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:21.

See my paper on Baptism and 1 Pet. 3:21. In short, the key word in this section is the Greek antitupon. It means "copy," "type," "corresponding to," "a thing resembling another," "its counterpart," etc. It is what the NIV translates as "symbolizes," the NASB as "corresponding to that," and the KJV as "like figure." Baptism, then, is a representation, a copy, a type of something else. The question is "Of what is it a type?", or "baptism corresponds to what?".

If we look at the context, an interesting possibility arises, though I will admit, not the favored interpretation among scholars. What does baptism correspond to? Is it the flood? Or, is it the ark? What was it that saved Noah and his family, the flood or the ark? Obviously, it was the Ark. Noah built and entered the ark by faith and he was saved (Heb. 11:7). The flood waters destroyed the ungodly. Also, Peter consistently refers to the flood waters as the means of destruction of the ungodly (2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6), not the salvation of Noah and his family. Rather, it was the Ark that saved, the ark that Noah entered by faith. It may very well be that baptism refers to the Ark, not the waters. That is why the rest of the verse says, "not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God", which is consistent with what Paul said in Col. 2:11-12, where He equates baptism with being circumcised of heart.

Finally, Rom. 5:1, "therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul clearly and explicitly declares that we are justified by faith. Baptism is repeatedly left out of the justification formula.

Good works, according to Roman Catholicism, are also required and are rewarded with going to heaven: "We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere 'to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ" (CCC, par. 1821). The above quote clearly states that heaven is the "eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ."

Does this Catholic believer purposely ignore what the CCC says in par. 1821? Notice that it clearly states that heaven is the reward for doing good works "with the grace of Christ." Now, this is a tricky statement from the CCC. It is trying to appear to be biblical, but it is not. It is trying to maintain that our reward for being good is to go to heaven (works righteousness) while at the same time stating that our good works are done by the grace of Christ -- thereby trying to assert that it is all by grace. This is double-talk and heresy!

Our works do not send us to heaven - period! The blood of Jesus cleanses us of our sins and by faith we are justified. We are justified by the blood of Jesus, not our baptism, not our works done by the grace of Christ. The CCC is in error and contradicts the word of God.

Really? I suppose that the phrase "accomplished with the grace of Christ" means nothing to Slick. What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? James 2:14

I suppose that by Mr. Slick's theology we must have only faith, no works.

Catholic theology asserts that works are a predecessor to justification in direct contradiction to God's word which states ". . .that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law",

Without a proper understanding of justification and works, this kind of error he teaches will continue. I have already demonstrated from scripture the proper position on justification and how works are related to it. This Roman Catholic is only continuing to build on the same error.

Ah, distorting our beliefs. What a wonderful thing to see.
1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus' proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.
2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

I am not distorting the beliefs of the RCC. This critic simply does not understand the biblical doctrines in relation to the RCC error and it is he, along with the RCC, that is distorting the truth of God's word.

And just to pre-empt Matt's attack about merit:
2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

More double talk. "The merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God." In other words, the person does the good works that gain him heaven. But lest this sound like he earns his salvation all the catholic has to say is that the good works are by the grace of God. In other words, it is just as I have been saying all along on CARM. Catholic theology teaches the infusion of God's grace into a person (CCC, par. 2023) that enables him/her to do good works by which we are judged for salvation (CCC, par. 1821). This is false. We are not judged for salvation based upon our works, but based upon the work of Jesus. The RCC double-talk is still false and dangerous.

Roman Catholic theology asserts that God's grace is granted through baptism and infused into a person by the Holy Spirit. This then enables him or her to do good works which then are rewarded with heaven.

Wrong. Heaven is not a reward for our works. It is a reward (though I do not prefer that phrasing) for turning to God and living the Christian life that we are exhorted to by the Bible.

On the contrary, I am quite right because that is what the CCC says: "We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere 'to the end' and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ" (CCC, par. 1821).

This is what the Catholic church teaches; namely, that our works merit heaven. Whether or not they are supposedly accomplished with the grace of Christ is immaterial. Nothing of our own hands is worthy to enter into the realm of heaven because our works are touched by sin. It is that simple. The RCC position is nothing more than double-talk that causes Catholics to think they can contribute to the finished work of Christ on the cross and earn heaven through their own works all the while saying that it is by grace so they can then say they are saved by grace. Anathema to that twisted teaching!

In response, I turn to God's word at Gal. 3:1-3:
"You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Does not the above scripture clearly state that receiving God's Spirit is by faith and not by what we do?

Yep. But that's not something that we disagree with:

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

Rectitude means, "Moral uprightness." Look at what it is saying. "Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's "moral uprightness" through faith in Jesus Christ." That is not what justification means. Again, justification is the legal declaration by God upon the sinner where God declares the sinner righteous in His sight. This is based solely and completely on the work of Christ and we receive this justification by faith (Rom. 5:1). Again, the RCC is wrong.

Is [salvation] something we maintain through our effort? Not at all.

Actually, the Bible rather disagrees. but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27

To compound his error, this Catholic now asserts that we keep our salvation by our works and quotes 1 Cor. 9:27. This verse is not saying we keep our salvation by our works. Is there any verse that says we keep our salvation by our works? No, there isn't. But there are verses that speak to the contrary: "You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal. 3:1-3). Are we to believe that we can perfect in our works, what God has done on the cross? May it never be!

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, Colossians 2:18

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 2 Timothy 4:7 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; Philippians 2:12

As is typical with those who believe they can contribute to their salvation, they often quote verses that appear to support their position. None of the verses cited above say we keep our salvation by our works. They simply tell us that we are to keep living as Christians and to strive hard in doing this. None of them tell us we earn or keep our salvation.

Is it by doing these acts of penance that the Catholic is able to regain his justified state before God? I am astounded to think that they are taught to believe that by their works of penance justification is regained.

The penance is a symbol of our repentance. It is how we turn back to God and submit ourselves once more to Him. "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance," Luke 3:8

Notice the switch in terms from penance to repentance. This is what the RCC says about penance:

  • "It is through the sacrament of penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church...This sacrament of penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism," (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 980).
  • "By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of penance ," (CCC par. 986).
  • "To receive Confirmation one must be in a state of grace. One should receive the sacrament of penance in order to be cleansed for the gift of the Holy Spirit," (CCC, par. 1310).

Penance is a sacrament, according to the RCC, necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after being baptized; it is a means of being cleansed.

The way of being cleansed of our sins is by confession of our sins to the Lord and asking the Lord to forgive us (John 14:14; 1 Cor. 1:2). It is God who forgives sins and this forgiveness is based upon what Jesus has done, not upon what we do in penitential works whether they be works of service, self denial, or repetitious prayers, as are often required by the RCC for a person to complete/receive forgiveness of sins.

What a foul and ugly doctrine it is that adds to the finished work of Christ the sin-stained works of our hands and heart. Such is the position of the cults and all false systems that have a false understanding of justification by grace and thereby try to contribute to what Jesus has done.

In conclusion, Matt Slick is attacking a straw man version of Catholic belief and our beliefs are quite rigidly backed up Scripturally.

On the contrary. I have established even more the error of the Roman Catholic church. May those who are in it abandon loyalty to that earthly organization and bow at the feet of Jesus, not Mary's feet, and may they not seek to please God through any of their own efforts but rely completely and totally on the grace of God found in the work of Christ on the cross. Christians are, after all, justified by faith (Rom. 5:1) for if it is by works in any way, then it is no longer grace: Rom. 11:6, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."

  • Rom. 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."
  • Rom. 10:9-10, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; 10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
  • Gal. 3:24, "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith."
  • Eph. 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
  • Phil. 3:9, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."
  • 1 Tim. 1:16, "And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life."

May Jesus, my Lord and Savior, receive all the glory and praise for His work of salvation. I trust Him alone for the forgiveness of all my sins and put no trust in any work of my heart or hand to obtain or maintain my salvation for I am a sinner, foul and diseased of soul who has, by the grace of God, been granted the righteousness of Christ, by my faith alone, so that I might stand before the Father, not of my own merit, not of my own sincerity, but of the merit and grace of Christ upon which and in which I stand alone. I can do no other.

 

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