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Q. 13. Is man voluntary in the exercise of faith? A. He is. While faith is the gift of God, it is the voluntary act of man. (g)
Q. 14. In what way is faith produced, continued, increased, and strengthened?
A. Ordinarily by the preached Gospel, the sacraments, prayer, and the other means of grace. (h)
Q. 15. What is the fruit and evidence of true evangelical faith?
A. Obedience to God, and benevolence to men. Good works are the principal characteristic of Gospel faith, and flow from it as naturally as streams do from their fountain. (i)
Q. 16. Is faith without works of any avail to salvation?
A. It is not. It is merely speculative, dead, and wholly delusive to the soul. (j)
Q. 17. Will a person's merely believing that his sins are forgiven, that Christ died for him in particular, and that he shall be saved, warrant him in the confidence that he possesses saving faith?
A. Certainly not. These are by no means the direct objects of true faith. If a person has not love to God and man, and obedience to the Divine precepts, he should wholly distrust his faith.
Mark xvi. 16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
(g) Eph. ii. 8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.-Heb. xii. 2. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
(h) Rom. x. 14. 17. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
(i) James ii. 21-24. Was not Abraham our Father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
(j) James ii. 17. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Q. 18. Was the faith of the Patriarchs and Prophets of the same nature with the faith of Christians in the present day?
A. It was, though attended with this circumstantial difference-the former believed in Christ as the Messiah who was to come; the latter believe in Him as the Messiah who has come. It may be observed, too, that the faith of those who live under the Gospel dispensation is probably more enlarged, as embracing more objects, and more distinctly under a clearer and fuller revelation, than the faith of the saints of old.
Q. 1. What is meant by evangelical justification? A. It means God's acceptance of a sinner. This implies the pardon of sin and the accounting of him righteous. It does not make him really holy or just, but only declares, or considers him, in the eye of the law, to be holy or just, and treats him, as it respects a future state, as though he had never sinned. (a)
Q. 2. What is the difference between legal and evangelical justification?
A. Legal justification is justification according to the strict demands of the law. Holy angels are justified upon strict legal principles. So might mankind be, had they never sinned. But, being sinful, they can never be justified by deeds or works of law, ceremonial, judicial, or moral. Every attempt, therefore, at justification by law, is fruitless, and an attempt
(a) Eph. i. 6, 7. To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In whom we have redemption, through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.-Rom. v. 9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.-Acts xiii. 38, 39. Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.
to detract from the grace of God, and the honor of Christ, to exalt man and annihilate the salvation of the Gospel.—Evangelical justification is justifieation, not on account of personal inherent righteousness, but on account of the righteousness or merit of Christ, which has commonly been called imputed righteousness. Man under the Gospel is justified as ungodly-as sinful, though not as impenitent or unbelieving; for repentance and faith are indispensable conditions of forgiveness. (b)
Q. 3. In what way is the sinner justified? A. By grace through faith. Grace provided the plan of justification, and revealed it in the Gospel; grace absolves the sinner, and reckons him righteous. But this is done not for, but through faith. Faith is that by which a sinner receives justification. Faith accepts Christ, or His atonement, or righteousness, and is thus counted for righteousness. Thus the grace of God is the source, the righteousness or atonement of Christ the ground, and faith the recipient, of justification. (c)
(b) Rom. iv. 3-7. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace. but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works; saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Rom. iii. 20. 28. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.
(c) Gal. ii. 16. 21. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.-Rom. iii. 24. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.-Rom. v. 1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.-Rom. iii. 22. Even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.-Phil. iii.
Q. 4. At what time is the sinner justified?
A. He is justified upon the first act of true evangelical faith—his past sins are all forgiven, and the covenant, in which he has now become personally interested, secures his voluntary application by faith to the blood of Christ for the pardon of his future sins, which will be forgiven when he so applies, and not before.
Q. 5. In what light are good works to be viewed in justification?
A. They are to be viewed only as an expression of true faith, and an evidence of justification. Mankind are not justified by works, nor partly by works and partly by faith, but wholly by faith. (d)
Q. 6. Is there any discordance between the sentiments of Paul and James, respecting the doctrine of justification?
A. No; they perfectly agree. Paul wrote against those who held to justification by works or deeds of law, and who objected to justification by faith; and James wrote against those who believed in justification by a faith that was merely speculative, or by an assent of the understanding which was not attended with the consent of the heart, and with good works. Hence Paul taught, that a man was justified not by works, but by faith, but he meant that faith which works by love, and constrains to obedience; and hence James taught that a man was not justified by faith, meaning a mere speculative faith, but by works, and by these only as evidence of that operative faith which is the sole condition, or instrumental cause of justification. (e)
9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.-Gal. iii. 11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for the just shall live by faith.
(d) Rom. iii. 20. 28. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.
(e) Rom. iii. 26, 27, 28. 30, 31. To declare, I say, at this time
Q. 7. Does the method of justification by faith make void the law, and tend to licentiousness?
A. Most certainly not. But it establishes the law, by presenting the highest motives to love and obedience, and opposes all antinomian or licentious sentiments and practices. Faith in its nature is holy, and is productive of practical godliness; and justification by it excludes all boasting, and exalts free grace; while justification by works fosters a spirit of pride and vain glory. (ƒ) Q. 8.
Who is the author of justification?
A. God. The Father appoints the way, and gives His Son to prepare it. The Son sustains the law by enduring its curse, and thus provides a righteousness. The Holy Spirit makes known the way, and induces the sinner to comply with it. And then God wholly absolves the believing sinner from punishment in a future state, and treats him as though he had never sinned.
Q. 9. What are the effects of justification upon those who are justified?
A. Peace and happiness from God, acceptable approaches to Him in religious duties, and a hope of everlasting life. And the enjoyment of these is presumptive evidence of the believer's justified state.
Q. 10. Is the doctrine of justification by faith to be viewed as important?
his righteousness; that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. Seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.--James ii. 20-24. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which. saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works man is justified, and not by faith only, (f) Rom. iii. 31. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.