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Date:         Thu, 3 Aug 1995 09:23:28 +0200
Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      Catechism, 28
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

Q. What does it profit thee now that you believe all this?
A. That I am righteous in Christ before God. Rom. 5:1.

In  the  previous questions, we have dealt with the main points  of  our
belief. These points are contained in twelve articles. Here they  follow
1.  I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
2.  And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord;
3.  Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary;
4.  Suffered  under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and  buried,  he
    descended into hell;
5.  The third day he rose again from the dead;
6.  He  ascended  into heaven, and sits at the right hand  of  God,  the
    Father Almighty;
7.  From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
8.  I believe in the Holy Ghost.
9.  I believe a holy catholic church; the communion of saints;
10. The forgiveness of sins;
11. The resurrection of the body;
12. And the life everlasting.
These  twelve  articles deal with God the Father, God the Son,  God  the
Holy  Ghost, church, resurrection and everlasting life. Now the question
is:  What  does it profit you now that you believe all this? The  answer
is:  Through the belief of all these points, I am righteous before  God.
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ". (Romans 5:1)

Q. How art you righteous before God?
A. Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ.

Only  by  a  true faith in Jesus Christ, you are righteous  before  God.
There  is  no  other means, whereby you are righteous before  God.  Yes,
through  works,  you  can be righteous before men but  not  before  God.
Abraham  appeared to be righteous in men's eyes by his good  works,  but
only the faith in the future Messiah saved him. "And he (Abram) believed
in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness". (Genesis 15:6)
To  be  righteous before God, all other means except faith are excluded.
Further,  all  forms of faith in Jesus, except *true*  faith,  are  also
excluded. Not by a dead "faith", but by a true, living faith in  Christ,
you  are  righteous before God. "Therefore we conclude  that  a  man  is
justified by faith without the deeds of the law". (Romans 3:28)

Q. How is it to be understood that you art justified by faith only?
A. Thus: that the perfect satisfaction and righteousness of Christ alone
are imputed to me of God, by which my sins are forgiven me, I become  an
heir  of  everlasting life; and that I cannot receive that righteousness
by any other means than by faith.

Many  know  that you are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, but  also  many
don't know how that must be understood. Cannot only righteous deeds make
one  righteous? How is it that faith justifies a man? And when  you  are
justified by faith, how does that go? This will be explained here:
Christ was without sin.
Moreover, he perfectly obeyed the commandments.
He was punished for the sins of others.
His  perfect righteousness was so great, that it would be enough for the
whole world.
I am a sinner, and am summoned before God's court of justice.
The  Judge, God, acquits me because of the imputation to me of  Christ's
perfect righteousness.
This imputation is done by God, and I receive it through faith.
In this way, He forgives my sins.
I inherit everlasting life, because now I am righteous.
     So,  in  short,  it is God Who counts me righteous,  on  ground  of
Christ's obedience, and only by faith I receive that righteousness.

Q.  Why  cannot our good works be our righteousness before God, or  some
part thereof?
A.  Because  even  our  best  works, in this life,  are  imperfect,  and
polluted with sins.

Even  our  best works, we do in this life, are imperfect. And,  how  can
something   imperfect  be  righteousness?  That  cannot  be.   Something
imperfect is sin, and not righteousness. Some examples follow now, which
show that our good works are polluted with sins.
     Let's  imagine,  John  goes  to help  his  friend.  When  done,  he
afterwards says to one, that he has helped his friend. And in his heart,
John  thinks that he isn't such a bad fellow, for he has helped someone.
He  speaks  about it, and is proud on it. Now, it is clear, that  he  is
sinning in doing so.
     Another  example.  You  daily help your  old  mother  with  getting
dressed.  She is old, and needs some help to do this. When  in  company,
you hear the people saying that you daily help your mother. You feel  in
your heart, that you are proud on it.
     It  is  a sure thing, therefore, that even our best works, in  this
life,  are  imperfect, and polluted with sins. That is  why  those  good
works cannot be our righteousness before God.

Q.  Do  our good works then merit nothing, which yet God will reward  in
this, and in a future life?
A. This reward is not given out of merit, but of grace.

We  read  in Scripture about reward, given to righteous people.  How  is
that?  When  we read about reward, why is then said that our good  works
merit  nothing? Isn't this against Scripture? The answer is  easy.  When
God gives us reward, He does not so according to the merit of our works,
but He gives it of grace.

Teus Benschop  |  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl  |  editor of the list Chr-Exp

           "A Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel"

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