Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Reviewing Dr. White's "LIVING OUT SOLA FIDE"

Nakakatawa ang mga sinabi ni James White bago niya ipangaral ang kanyang sermon. Buti na lang daw at may mahaba-habang break sa pagitan ng pagsasalita niya at ang pagsasalita ng naunang speaker na si Steven Lawson para magkalimutan nang kaunti. Sa husay ni Lawson sa preaching, magmumukha daw siyang kawawa kung paghahambingin sila… hahaha…

Mas kilala nga naman si Dr. White bilang apologists at debatista, hindi niya forte ang preaching. Pero sa pagkakataong ito, maganda ang pagkakahatid ni Dr. White sa kanyang sermon na pinamagatang “Living Out Sola Fide

As an introduction, Dr. White asked the listeners why were they not afraid of the wrath of God when they woke up in the morning. There are many persons who wake up daily without the fear of the wrath of God because they don’t think about the wrath of God; they don’t know the gravity of their sins. On the other hand, Christians know they are deserving of God’s wrath because of their sins, but why are we not afraid of God’s wrath?

The answer is because someone died on the cross on as a substitute for us, and by his merits, we were declared righteous by God. If we look within ourselves, we are looking at the wrong place.

He used several texts in this sermon. The first one is Romans 5:1. I guess Dr. White uses the 1995 update of the NASB so I will use it in this review.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

He asserts that the gospel of Rome with the introduction of sacramentalism, merits, mediators, etc. offers no peace. Roman Catholics are unsure of their standing because they are not sure if they have fulfilled “all the requirements necessary for justification”.

Contrary to the Roman Catholic system, biblical peace looks back at God’s finished act of justification. Justification is something that God has done in the past. “Having been justified” is past tense.

Dr. White also tackled a textual variant on this verse since some Catholic apologists used it. On same manuscripts, there is a one-letter difference:
a. The widely accepted reading is in the indicative mood: “we have peace with God”
b. The other reading is in the subjunctive mood: “let us have peace with God”

The first reading is preferred but even if it is in the subjunctive mood, it is simply an exhortation to the effect “let us enjoy peace with God”

He also tackled the meaning of the Greek word eirene translated as “peace” in the verse. It is the counterpart of the Hebrew word Shalom. It is not merely a ceasefire. It is a wellness of relationship. He likens the Roman Catholic system with the situation of Israel and Gaza where there are tanks and other weapons are lined-up along the border. For in the Roman Catholic system, one mortal sin could eradicate justification. He recalls one of his debates with Fr. Mitchell Pacwa, a Jesuit scholar who is very knowledgeable in languages. Even Dr. Pacwa admitted that he doesn’t know how to reconcile the Roman Catholic system with the Hebrew concept of Shalom.

He also laments the inroads of inclusivism and pluralism within evangelicalism. According to the polls, over 50% of evangelicals believe that there is another way of salvation aside from explicit faith in Jesus. We cannot compromise on this issue because if we do, we are saying in effect that God sacrifice his precious Son when there are other ways.

He informs the listeners that in the modern Roman Catholic catechism, there are more sections on indulgences that on justification. They can no longer sell it but they can still obtain it.

There are other texts that he tackled but to make this post shorter, I will go immediately to James 2. This is where a Roman catholic will go to once he learns that you believe in Sola Fide. The Roman Catholic apologists will be quick to point out that the phrase “by faith alone” only appears once in the Bible,

“You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)

He stressed the importance of reading James with its main purpose: “an exhortation for believers to live according to their profession of faith”.
The key to understand this is to start at verse 14, “if someone says”. Someone makes a claim that he possessed faith, yet there is no evidence in his life.

Dr. White used an illustration of a man who claims before airport authorities that he has a passport. “ I have it”. Yet he is unable to show it. The claim is not enough. A man who claims to have faith yet have no love for God does not possess faith at all.

He says that the proper translation is found in NASB and ESV, “can that faith save him”. I found that NIV has the same effect with “can such faith save him”. The answer is obviously NO. We cannot be save by a faith that cannot demonstrate its existence because God has a purpose in saving us—that is Christlikeness.

Naturally, upon discussing James 2, he proceeds to address a perverted version of Sola Fide called Easy Believism, those who believe that a mere intellectual assent to the gospel secures salvation for a person. WALANG PAGBABAGO sa BUHAY. He quotes 1 John 2:25, “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:”

He concludes: “ When we talk about the solas, we talk about the gospel… God has a purpose in building his church and the only way he does it is throught the proclamation of the gospel.”

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