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Our Salvation Depends on Christ

Written by: Benedetto,Don    Posted on: 03/26/2003

Category: Classic Christian Library

Source: CCN

Our Salvation Depends on Christ, by Don Benedetto   The following article is a short section of one of the most popular books of the short lived Italian  Reformation, titled The Benefit of Christ Crucified. It is estimated that 40,000 - 80,000 copies were printed  between 1541-1548, of which very few remain today due to the fact that most were burned once the title  was placed on the list of prohibited books during the Inquisition. This book was written by Don Benedetto,  a student of the Spanish Reformer Juan de Valdes (1498?-1541) and friend of Peter Martyr Vermigli  (1499-1562). This online edition makes use of a translation from the original Italian into English by  Edward Courtenay (1548), later edited and modernized in 1855 by Rev. R. W. Johnson (Cambridge:  Deighton, Bell, & Co., 1855). This particular edition has been moderately edited in order to ease its  readability.   Our Lord God hath thus sent that great prophet whom He promised, His  only-begotten Son, to the intent that he should deliver us from the  malediction or curse of the law, and should reconcile us unto God, and  make able our will to do good works, healing our freewill, and restoring to  us the likeness of God which we had lost by the sin of our first parents; and  as we know "that under heaven there is given no other name to mankind  whereby we may be saved besides the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 4), let us  therefore run with the paces or steps of our lively faith in him, into his arms  who calleth us crying, "Come to me, all you that labour and are laden, and I  will give you rest" (Matt. 11). What consolation, what joyfulness of heart in  this life, may be compared to this joy and comfort? Having felt himself first  oppressed with the intolerable weight of his sins, afterward, a man will  readily hear this sweet and pleasant saying of the Son of God, who  promised him so mercifully to ease and to deliver him of so great a burden.  But all consisteth in this, that we know from whence our sickness and  misery cometh: for one cannnot comprehend the good until he first  understandeth what is evil; and therefore saith Christ, "If any man thirst let  him come to me and drink" (John 7); in other words, except a man know  himself a sinner, and thirst for righteousness, he cannot taste how sweet this  our Jesus Christ is, nor how pleasant it is to think and speak of Him, and to  follow his most holy life and conversation. If then we know our sickness by  the office of the law, behold then Saint John Baptist showeth with his finger  unto us our merciful healer and Saviour, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God  that taketh away the sins of the world" (John 1). Christ delivered us from  the grievous yoke of the law, abrogating the sharp threatenings and cursings  thereof. He has healed all our infirmities, has reformed our freewill, and has  brought us again to our innocency and the likeness of God. And therefore,  as Saint Paul saith, "As by Adam we are all dead, even so by Christ we all  are revived" (1Cor 15). Then let not us believe that the sin of Adam, which  we have inherited, is of greater efficacy than the righteousness of Christ,  which we have in like manner by faith inherited.   A man might have been sorry that without his occasion he should be born  and conceived in sin, through the iniquity of his parents, whereby death  reigned over all men; but now all sorrow is taken away, for in the same  manner, without our occasion, the righteousness of Christ, and life  everlasting by Christ, is come unto us, death being by him slain. Whereupon  Saint Paul maketh a very goodly discourse,   Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so  death passed unto all men, for that all sinned: "for until the law, sin was in  the world; but sin is not taken into account when there is no law.  Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that  had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression, who is a figure of  him that was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if by the  trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the  gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many. And  the gift is not like the one man's sin, for the judgment came of one unto  condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses unto justification.  For if, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more  shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of  righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ. So then as  through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation;  even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to  justification of life. For as through the one man's disobedience the many  were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many  be made righteous" (Rom. 5).   By these words of Saint Paul we know that the law was given to the intent  that sin might be known, and that thereby we might know that it is not of  greater efficacy than is the righteousness of Christ, by the which we are  justified before God. Therefore as Christ is of more power than Adam, even  so the righteousness of Christ is of more efficacy than the sin of Adam. And  if the sin of Adam were sufficient to make us sinners, and the children of  wrath, apart from anything actually done by us, much more shall be  sufficient the righteousness of Christ to make us righteous, and the children  of grace, without any of our good works. Neither can they be good except  that before we do them we our own selves be made good and righteous by  faith, as affirmed in like manner Saint Augustine. Hereby a man may know  in how much error they be which for any sin, be it never so great, do despair  of the mercy of God, and do think that he is not able to forgive, take away  and pardon every sin, be it never so grievous, when he hath in his only-begotten Son already chastened all our faults and iniquities. Consequently  he hath given a general pardon to all mankind, whereof everyone hath  benefit and fruition that believeth the gospel, that is to say, the most happy  news which the apostles have published throughout the world, saying, "We  even in Christ's stead pray you that ye be reconciled unto God; for he hath  made him which knew no sin to be sin for us, that we by his means might be  that righteousness that before God is allowed" (2Cor. 5). And Isaiah, who  evidently setteth forth so well the passion of Jesus Christ and the cause of it,  that in the writing of the apostles there is not found a better description or a  plainer setting forth. Foreseeing this great benefit of the mercy of God, he  writeth this most godly sentence,   He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted  with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and  we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our  sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But  he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;  the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are  healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his  own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all...Yet it  pleased the LORD to bruise him...He shall see of the travail of his soul, and  shall be satisfied: by his knowledge of my righteous servant shall justify  many; and he shall bear their iniquities (Isaiah 53).   What a great ingratitude and abominable thing it is if we, professing  ourselves to be Christians, and knowing that the Son of God hath taken  upon him all our sins, and has also cancelled them with his own most  precious blood for us on the cross, if we nevertheless go about to justify  ourselves, and to obtain the forgiveness of our sins by our own works, as  though the merits, the righteousness, and the blood of Christ were not  sufficient to do it unless we put thereunto our foolish righteousness, spotted  with the love of ourselves and with the respect to rewards, and with a  thousand vanities; for the which we ought rather to ask of God pardon than  reward. We remember not Saint Paul's threatening of the Galatians, who  being beguiled by false preachers, not believing that justification by faith  was of itself sufficient, did pretend that they would be justified still by the  law, to whom Saint Paul said, "Christ is become of no effect to you,  whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For we  through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal 5).   And now if the seeking of righteousness and forgiveness of sins be by the  keeping of the law, that the Lord with so great glory and open miracles gave  in the hill of Sinai, be a losing of Christ and his grace, what shall we say  then of them that pretend and endeavour to justify themselves before God  with their own law and observations? Let those persons make the  comparison, and after give their judgment. Insomuch as God will not give  that honour and glory to his own law, will they then that he give it to their  laws and constitutions?   This honour he giveth alonely to his only-begotten Son. He only with the  sacrifice of his passion hath made satisfaction for all our sins, past, present,  and to come, as saith in Hebrews, chapters 7, 9, 10, and Saint John in his  first epistle. Through which as oft as we apply by faith this satisfaction of  Christ to our souls, we obtain undoubtedly forgiveness of sins, and by his  righteousness we become good and righteous before God. And therefore  Saint Paul saith in the third chapter of his epistle to the Philippians, after  that he had said that as touching the righteousness which is in the law he  was unrebukeable, he joineth,   But the things that were vantage unto me I counted loss for Christ's sake:  yea, I think all things but loss for that excellent knowledge sake of Christ  Jesus my Lord, for whom I have counted all things loss, and do judge them  but dung, that I might win Christ, and might be found in him, not having  mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which springeth of the  faith which is in Jesus Christ; I mean the righteousness which cometh of  God through faith in knowing him (Phil. 3).   Every Christian man should engrave these most notable words on his heart,  beseeching God to make him taste the same perfectly! Behold how Saint  Paul showeth clearly that whosoever knoweth Christ truly judgeth the works  of the law loss, insomuch as they draw a man from trusting in Christ (in  whom we ought to settle our health), and causeth him to trust in himself;  and aggravating this sentence he joineth therewith, that he judged all things  dung, that he might win Christ, and might be found incorporate in him,  showing that whosoever trusteth in works, and goeth about to be justified by  them, he winneth not Christ, neither is by any means incorporate in him,  and therefore in this truth consisteth the whole mystery of faith; and to the  intent that they should better understand what he said, he joineth to it and  affirmeth boldly that he refused all outward justification, all righteousness  founded in the observing of the law, trusting only and assuredly unto the  righteousness that God giveth by faith to them that believe that he hath  chastened our sins in Christ, as saith Saint Paul, "who was made for us  wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption" ; and therefore (as it is  written) "he that rejoiceth let him rejoice in the Lord," and not in his own  works (1Cor. 1).   Let us then, most dearly beloved brethren, follow not the foolish opinion of  the bewitched Galatians, but the truth that Saint Paul teacheth, and let us  give all the praise of our justification to the mercy of God, and the merits of  his Son, who with his blood hath delivered us from the dominion or danger  of the law, from the tyranny of sin, and from death, and hath brought us into  the kingdom of God. He hath delivered us from the dominion of the law, for  he hath given us his Spirit who showeth us all truth, and he hath made  perfect satisfaction for us to the law, and hath given the same satisfaction to  all his members, that is to say, to all true Christians, so that they may safely  come to the judgment seat of God, being clothed with the righteousness of  Christ, and delivered by him from the curse of the law (Gal. 3) which cannot  any more accuse or condemn us (Rom. 8), nor anymore stir up our  affections and appetites, nor augment sin in us. And therefore saith Saint  Paul, "The handwriting that was against us was cancelled by Christ, and  annulled in the wooden cross" (Col. 2). Christ having delivered us from the  dominion of the law, consequently hath delivered us from the tyranny of sin  and of death, the which cannot hold us any more oppressed, being overcome  first of Christ by his resurrection, and then consequently of us that be his  members, on such wise, that we may say with Saint Paul and Hosea the  prophet, "Death is overcome and destroyed. O death, where is thy sting? O  hell, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is  the law; but thanks be given to God, who bath given us victory through our  Lord Jesus Christ" (1Cor 15). This is that most happy seed which hath  trodden down the head of the most venomous serpent (Gen. 3), that is to say  the devil; and therefore all those that believe in Christ, putting all their hope  and confidence in his mercy, do overcome with Christ sin, death, the devil,  and hell. This is that blessed seed of Abraham, in the which God did  promise to bless all nations (Gen. 22:18).   Every man ought to have trodden down severally that horrible serpent, and  to have delivered himself from the malediction or curse; but that enterprise  was so great that the force or power of the whole world gathered together  was not sufficient to bear it. Our God then being the Father of all mercy,  moved with compassion of our miseries, gave us his only-begotten Son,  who hath delivered us from the venom of the serpent, and is made our  blessing and justification. Let us embrace, most dearly beloved brethren, the  righteousness of Jesus Christ, let us make it ours through faith, let us have a  sure confidence to be righteous, not by our own works, but by the merits of  Christ, and let us live with quiet conscience towards God, and with assured  trust that the righteousness of Christ doth annihilate all our unrighteousness,  and maketh us righteous and holy in the sight of God. In his sight we are as  one body by faith in his Son, therefore no longer will he take us as the  children of Adam, but as his children, and heirs with his own legitimate Son  with all his riches.   If you would like to continue reading Benedetto's treatise The Benefit of Christ Crucified,  the complete text is available in the classical articles section of this website. ReformationINK (www.markers.com/ink) is designed and maintained by Shane Rosenthal. Refer any correspondence to Rosenthal2000@aol.com.

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