The following is a four point summary of the
absolute importance
and complete opposite
differences between Roman Catholicism and the Reformation.


Justification according to Rome

Justification according to the Reformation


1. Justified by God’s work of grace in man


1. Justified by God’s work of grace in Christ

2. Justified by faith which has become active by works of charity


2. Justified by faith alone

3. Justified by infused righteousness

3. Justified by imputed (outside of yourself)


4. Justification means making a man righteous in his

own person


4. Justification means that a man is accounted



1. JUSTIFIED BY GOD’S WORK OF GRACE IN CHRIST – “Solo Christo” meaning Christ alone

There are two phrases that must not be confused as they are poles apart with opposite meanings:

(1) “in Christ” which is Christ’s work FOR us – this is the doing and dying of Christ.

(2) “Christ in you” which is Christ’s work IN us – this is the work that the Holy Ghost does in the believer’s heart before being saved. St Paul and the Reformers state that we are justified solely on account of Number 1 – Christ’s work for us. The Reformation became known for the three slogans – sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola Christo (Christ alone)


2. JUSTIFIED BY FAITH ALONE“Sola fide” meaning faith alone

“By faith alone” was the war cry, catch phrase and gathering signal of the Reformation. The Reformers stressed that nothing else was needed to be justified except that a man believe in what God had done for him.

They knew that a man could simply believe on the fact of what was already in existence. God’s act of redemption had already taken place at the cross. The empty tomb was the only proof needed for Christ to have perfectly atoned for all sin. In order to be justified, man had only to believe, no work needed, that Christ had become sin for him. As the scriptures say Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Rom 3:28. As we know, believing is not a work (Eph 2:8-9

From this belief, God would supply the saving faith needed for justification (Gal 2:20). This had to be 100% total faith that only God could supply after a man believed. This total faith is the only faith that can put a man into Christ.

In the Old Testament it was different as it was the man’s faith that ‘saved’ him as he could not be put into the death of Christ at that stage, “…the just shall live by his (the man’s) faith.” (Hab 2:4). However, continuous belief in the Old Testament, would not see a man go straight into heaven when he died, but into Abraham bosom as a temporary holding place for the ‘saved’. Man’s imperfect faith = Abraham’s bosom. God’s given perfect faith = heaven.

Rome and the papists were willing to concede that a man could be justified by faith alone as long as that faith was made active with works of charity. The Reformers saw through this trickery as a veiled and clouded attempt to support being justified by faith alone, as the charity of works was actually the fulfillment of the law, that comes after being justified not with it. The Reformers therefore insisted on sola fide, faith alone, as they knew that charity and acts of love, would come after a man was set apart (sanctified) – these acts would be the fruit in man’s experience on the Christian path of holiness. Love and acts of charity to other Christians are the fruit of justification (Rom 5:1-4,5)

Harley Hitchcock 

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