In 1997 the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Vatican approved a "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," agreeing on wording that could end four centuries of division between the two. The agreement concluded the seventh of ten rounds of dialogue between Lutherans and Rome.
For the past year the declaration has been studied by the 124 member denominations of the LWF. The deadline for returning their various responses was May 1, and in June the LWF Council is scheduled to determine if sufficient consensus exists within its membership for the joint declaration to be signed.
Of the 66 member denominations of the Lutheran World Federation which have responded, all but four have approved the declaration. "Taken together, the churches which have responded have more than 40 million members (more than two-thirds of the total membership of LWF member churches)" (Ecumenical News International, May 4, 1998).
This is further evidence of how quickly the one-world harlot "church" is forming in our day.
According to Daniel F. Martensen, director of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Department for Ecumenical Affairs, the agreement over justification means the condemnations which were thrown back and forth between Rome and the Lutheran denominations in the 16th century "no longer apply." Martensen says the declaration is "an important step to open new doors for further dialogue and for the exploration of new topics in relationship to our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers."
According to Martensen, the doctrine of justification for Lutherans is "that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God by our own merits, works, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith" (Christian News, March 17, 1997, p. 18).
According to the Joint Declaration, the Roman Catholic Church agrees with this position on justification, but IT HAS A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT GRACE THAN LUTHERANS.
What duplicity! Rome has always claimed to believe in salvation by "grace" through Jesus Christ, but by this it does not mean that a sinner can obtain full and eternal salvation by putting his faith in Christ's finished atonement. Rome's definition of "grace" means Christ died to save man from his sins and this salvation has been given to the Catholic Church to be distributed through its sacraments. Salvation, by Catholic definition, is a PROCESS which begins at baptism, continues throughout life by participation in the sacraments, and continues even after death, as the "faithful" endure the rigors of purgatory for the final purgation of sin. Consider the following quotes from Vatican Council II and the New Catholic Catechism:
"The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. . . . The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are 'reborn of water and the Spirit.' God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism..." (New Catholic Catechism, 1257).
"The Church affirms that for believers the sacraments of the New Covenant are necessary for salvation. . . . The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Saviour" (New Catholic Catechism, 1129).
"The doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated or cleansed. They often are. In fact, in purgatory the souls of those who died in the charity of God and truly repentant, but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions are cleansed after death with punishments designed to purge away their debt" (Vatican II documents, Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences, 3).
Bible terms must be defined by the Bible. To redefine grace so that it involves works and sacraments is to corrupt the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a corruption of the very word "grace." Grace means the free, unmerited mercy of God in Jesus Christ. It means gift. Grace means the opposite of works. Consider what the Bible says about grace:
"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work" (Romans 11:6).
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:24).
The Apostle Paul boldly stated that to corrupt the Gospel of the grace of Christ results in the curse of God. "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:6-8).
The Roman Catholic Church put itself under this curse centuries ago. Those who are joining hands with Rome are deluded. They are placing themselves under the same divine curse.
"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Revelation 18:4).
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