Are good works necessary to salvation?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Travis Fentiman, Sep 11, 2019.

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  1. RJ Spencer

    RJ Spencer Puritan Board Freshman

    The OP wasn't about justification only, but about salvation. Salvation is more than just our justification. It includes our regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. Christ didn't die for our justification alone, His atonement includes our sanctification. What a glory to know that the truly regenerated one will move on to good works.
    Again, good works are a fruit of the Spirit. We are not talking about good works that originate in man, for we all agree that such works are filthy rags.
  2. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    God sees all who gave been justified as already in their finished state though, as we await the resurrection event!
  3. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Being justified and glorified seem to be linked in a sense, as if it is so sure to happen, that we can say we are glorified currently.

    And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
    Romans 8:30 ESV
  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    In the mind if God, we are even now seated in Heaven in Christ, but from our view, waiting on resurrection.
  5. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    I appreciate your willingness and patience in considering these things.

    I readjusted that section on 'How Works are not a Means & Instrument of Salvation' in order to be more clear, specifically in not only explaining further ways in how faith and works do not operate the same as instruments of salvation, but also positively defining how they are instruments of salvation in different ways.

    Also, the only reason I even brought up the phrase 'co-instruments' (which I don't like for the same reasons you enunciated) is because some prominent persons have used it. What is to be made of the phrase? One can't deny that it may bear some truth in it, and therefore may have an orthodox meaning, despite the ways in which the phrase is abused, or is suspicious.

    In all of this, my introduction is only intended to be an introduction, and to give some of the conclusions I have come to on the subject, and suggest for others. Frankly, my introductions are the least well done part of my work: I am usually quite tired by the time I gather all the resources and have little energy to fully, analytically write a strong and detailed indepth analysis of the subject.

    My main purpose is to point one to the resources themselves, which will much more explain these things. Nearly every resource on the page is gold.

    And by the way, for all reading, I have not omitted anything in my collection. These resources and quotes are not cherry picked. That 90% of them agree on the main things on the subject is not coincidental.

    If one wants some truly interesting and helpful fodder for discussion (and to learn something), for instance, see Davenant. That is only one person, from about 50 referenced that we can learn from on this.

  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    If one is going to talk casually about good works and salvation for a popular audience to understand then they're better off using works like The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification or The Marrow of Modern Divinity. These are helpful in how they establish the Christian who lacks sophisticated categories of thought.

    If one is going to make scholastic distinctions then one should not use casual language that is easily misunderstood. You can read the Scholastics like Turretin who can make fine distinctions that will go over the head of most listeners but who are you trying to reach? Are you trying to impress others or edify the Body?
  7. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman


    Your questions are apparently directed towards me?

    I had preferred not to write a book on the subject like Marshall and Fisher did, especially for a webpage, though I linked plenty of chapters from books on the page. And I doubt that the books you recommended are so easily comprehended by the popular audience, most of whom wouldn't read a book on the subject at all.

    Thanks for letting me know what you think I should do.

    And I am trying to edify the body of Christians out there. I assume that an interested Christian person is capable of comprehending a short article that lays things out well enough, including some scholastic distinctions.

    The alternative to seeking to grow in knowledge about the Word and our faith in a full orbed way, in order to appreciate more truth and sharpen our grasp of it (especially in ways that are not often touched on in our contemporary Christianity) is to remain retaining an immature and reduced faith, liable to the many errors on this topic (which many people have made on this thread already).

    I am truly disappointed that more people are not grateful for the immense amount of work I have made available to all on this subject. Most of the resources on the page are gold, and are incredibly helpful on growing in this subject. I would think people would be appreciative to read Ursinus, Rollock, Perkins, Brooks and the many others on this topic. Or are they too scholastic for a popular audience?

    I would also hope people would be grateful for the amount of time and work that goes into translating Latin titles and quotes from some of reformed history's brightest minds. But I have been proven wrong.

    The Lord bless you Rich. I hope you will use whatever influence you have with Christian people for their edification (Eph. 4:12-13) and not discourage them therein.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
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  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    The warnings about not using certain terminology that could confuse the impressionable listener are legitimate and have their appropriate place. Indeed, I issued one of these warnings myself earlier in the thread. Still, I get the distinct impression that those who have reacted negatively to Travis starting this thread are engaging in reaction.

    Most people who regularly contribute to PB have some grounding in systematic theology and have a capacity for understanding careful, scholastic distinctions. The resource made available in the OP seems to be directed to such people, not to the recent convert.

    If you have an issue with something that Travis has written on the subject on the RBO webpage, then why not highlight it and discuss it here so that we may know what the issue is? Otherwise, I think that this thread will die the death of a thousand people talk past each other.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
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  9. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you for the work you have done, Travis. I, for one, am greatly appreciative for the work you are doing with RBO. Be encouraged by the good fruit it has borne. I consult it regularly.
  10. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    By your "fans" to your response, I know you would like to wrap yourself in the blanket of drawing out important categories of thought that the Reformed Orthodox brought forward. Having read Turretin and others, I have no problem with the specific distinctions as they are made for the purpose they are made. An elenctic theology has a specific purpose to correct and persuade at a certain level of discourse and correct course.

    My point about the Marrow of Modern Divinity and The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification is not to simply give these books to the unlearned and let them sort through the texts but it is the *approach* of the texts toward the unlearned.

    A person with such a Pastoral heart, as Bruce has repeatedly noted, would know the hearer well enough not to lead with "Are Good Works Necessary for Salvation?" and then proceed to tell them that the answer is found in an article that makes a variety of scholastic distinctions - some from the extreme voices in the broadly Reformed orthodox.

    When I speak of salvation, I understand it encompasses the full range of Christ's work as the Mediator of the Covenant of Grace. I understand the language used by some of the Reformed to include even the manner in which faith is a condition of interest.

    That said, when I speak to most people, I also understand that they tend to mean justification when they speak of salvation. We can (as the Pharisees and Scribes did) despise the unlearned or we can condescend to them. The Marrow and The Gospel Mystery are good examples of condescension worthy of imitation for the people to whom we minister.

    It's important to note that the Westminster Standards have these distinctions in the background but they don't choose to lead with them but to provide pastoral language that can be confessed and understood. There is an entire chapter in the Westminster Confessions devoted to how good works relate to salvation. It does the important work of articulating them in an accessible manner where the Church has come together to shave off some rough edges of those who might speak or write in ways that could be misunderstood. Your article is, at best, one man's collation of some writers and your interpretation of them. Is the work of Travis to be preferred to how the Confessions present the material and the Catechisms pose the relevant questions under consideration?
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  11. cmt72

    cmt72 Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree with you on what happened while he was on the cross. I should have been more clear with my question. I should have phrased the question as; Prior to the cross, Did the thief have any works? My point being, our works do not save us, only the Blood of Jesus. Thanks
  12. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Since the "fans" of Travis' post/site/whatever are being called out, I'll note my thoughts.

    I thought the title of the thread was to pique interest (which it clearly has done!). The linked resource is very careful in its introduction, even so far as to speak about a sensitive category: elect infants!

    This actually seems quite pastoral to me. Once again, I have to wonder how many people who are criticizing this have actually read his site. So, from the resource's introduction:

    Carefully worded in my estimation. It seems to me that a key distinction between justification and salvation has been lost. I guess I didn't see the day coming where the PuritanBoard would be this closed off to a good discussion and simply claim the topic is not pastoral. This is a theology discussion board and no one (to my knowledge) has shown that the content on the site is not orthodox. Unlike the FV controversy, this does no violence to justification by faith.

    Now, would I preach through Turretin's Institutes? No. But I sure am glad that it helps sharpen me and help make for clear theological distinctions! I take Travis' site in the same way. It helps to sharpen us and think more clearly in several areas.
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  13. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I wasn't being critical. Honest. I always said the same thing until about a year ago when I was studying Luke for leading a small group.
    And like I said, I would be happy to send you a PDF of the section of Richard Lenski's commentary on Luke. Just ask.


  14. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    I fear that one who calls such statements of the necessity of good works unpastoral is in great danger of considering the very words of Scripture unpastoral, given that they are often less carefully qualified than the authors quoted in the op. "He shall give unto each according to his works."
  15. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Say what you will, the title of the page/paper is "the necessity of good works," which would only be controversial if confronting people who are antinomian or who are accusing the Reformed of antinomianism. That they are necessary is Reformed, and how/how not they are necessary is crucial.

    The title of this thread is a question: "Are good works necessary to salvation?" That's provocative, indeed, especially when the answer "yes" is made out to be almost the first and last word on the topic.

    Then, there's the matter of the gradual maturity over time of the Reformed expressions, and eventual confessional statements on the subject. Rather than saying or contenting ourselves with such a non-nuanced question and answer, as has been pointed out in the thread already, the maturer and better declarations say that good works are necessary in salvation, rather than to/unto salvation.

    "To" or "for" salvation should be regarded as retrograde prepositions in this context, more indicative of the era of struggle of the Reformed to arrive at the truest and best expressions that eliminated confusion; and drew the clear lines between the legalism of Rome and the antinomianism of the libertines, which both were repudiated.

    The place of good works in the believer's life, and the sense in which they will be of any value in the end are perennial issues. Why certain treatises were written, sermons given; and when, and the nature of the opposition, etc.--these are important considerations for deciding how historical theology shall be used in a helpful manner. "Consensus" is a broad and fuzzy category. Even all the "greats" were not equally great on every matter to which he offered his judgment.

    We should be gracious in verbal exchange on this board; while we are plainspoken and clear on what we view as vital, or as distinct about who we are. This area of theology is no small thing, and men should argue about the important things.
  16. Charles Johnson

    Charles Johnson Puritan Board Freshman

    You speak of "more mature" statements, but the quote from Rutherford, which does not differ substantially from the others, is from a Westminster divines at the end of his life, over a decade after the conclusion of the assembly, in a work highly commended by Voetius, himself the standard bearer of mature reformed orthodoxy in the Netherlands. The difference in question is not between "mature" and "immature" formulations from the Orthodox era, it's between the range of expressions that were considered acceptable in the Orthodox era and the more limited scope of language thereafter, after the fallout from the marrow controversy, the collapse of the establishment churches, and the distilling of reformed thought through the chroniclers that followed - guys like John Brown of Haddington in Scotland and the Princeton men here in America.
  17. cmt72

    cmt72 Puritan Board Freshman

    I didn't take it critically Brother, and yes feel free to send me the PDF.
  18. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    This file is the Title Page and all of chapter 23. The part about the thieves starts in verse 32, although the whole chapter is excellent.
    It was a little too big to upload on the PB so I put it up. Here's the link.
    If it opens in your browser, download it, and use your PDF app. Sorry about the highlighting.

  19. cmt72

    cmt72 Puritan Board Freshman

    OK. I read what you sent me and I think we simply view "works" from a slightly different perspective. In my mind, The thief confessed his faith in Jesus and repented. I can see where someone might view that repentance as "works". I am not disputing that. I still believe that he was saved by Grace, through his confession of Faith, in Jesus as the Son of God, apart from any works of his own. "And this malefactor speaks out before all these other mockers, retracts what he has previously u$ered to the same effect, and takes his place beside Jesus. Already by rebuking the other he confesses his own true faith in Jesus."

    Maybe we are on the same page and I don't realize it! I'm slow to understand sometimes...Thanks for sending the link in any case.
  20. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    We do not ever get more saved, but are maturing in Christ and being confirmed daily. Too much of Christianity today seems to have a NT Wright view that never really saved until a final verdict rendered after death!
  21. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    I'm not sure where we are missing each other. Maybe I can help.

    Below are a medley of Questions and Answers from Fisher's Catechism based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. They were found from page 3 through page 538, so they are entirely out of context. I read through them all I can say that I know not any disagreement I have with any of them.


    Q. 21. Can no man glorify God acceptably, unless he first believe in Christ?
    A. No; for, “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” Heb. 11:6; and, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” Rom. 14:23.

    Q. 22. How is it that faith in Christ glorifies God?
    A. As it sets its seal to the record of God, John 3:33; and unites us to Christ, from whom only our fruit is found, Hos. 14:8.

    Q. 23. Is not God glorified by the good works of believers?
    A. Yes; “herein,” says Christ, “is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit,” John 15:8.

    Q. 24. What are these fruits brought forth by believers, by which God is glorified?
    A. They may be summed up in faith working by love, Gal. 5:6; or, their aiming, in the strength of Christ, at universal obedience to the law, as the rule of duty. Phil. 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

    Q. 15. Is there any danger of inverting this order, and of making duty done by us, the foundation of believing the Lord to be our God?
    A. There is exceedingly great danger; for it is the very soul of Popery. By inverting this order, they were led back to a covenant of works, and the doctrine of the merit of good works, which is the foundation of the whole Antichristian superstructure.

    Q. 16. Do not we find frequently in scripture, a reward promised to good works, Psalm 19:11 — “In keeping of thy commandments there is a great reward:” Psalm 58:11 — “Verily there is a reward to the righteous?”
    A. True; but this is a reward of grace, not of debt: the man that is rewarded, must be a believer in Christ, whose person is first accepted, through his union to Christ by faith, and the imputation of his righteousness, before any of his works or duties can be accepted, Eph. 1:6; Gen. 4:4.

    Q. 10. Are not men to have rewards given them according to their good or evil works, and consequently may be said to be in a state of probation, as well as Adam was?
    A. The consequence will not hold; because these rewards are of another kind than could have taken place under the covenant of works, though it had been fulfilled; for now, they are either rewards of impartial justice, for evil works, the wages of sin being death; or rewards of free mercy to the doing persons; not for their good works, but according to them, 2 Cor. 5:10.

    Q. 11. What is it for God to dispense rewards of free mercy to his people, not for their good works, but according to them?
    A. It is to bestow these rewards, not on account of any worth or merit that is in their good works, in themselves considered, but as they are evidences of union with Christ, in whom their persons and performances are accepted, and through whom the rewards of grace are freely conferred; for, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom. 6:23.

    Q. 114. Are not good works mentioned as the ground of the sentence, Matt. 25:35, 36 — “I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat” &c.?
    A. These good works are mentioned, not as grounds of their sentence, but as evidences of their union with Christ, and of their right and title to heaven in him, John 15:5, 8; even as the apostle says in another case, of the unbelieving Jews, 1 Cor. 10:5 — “With many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness:” their overthrow in the wilderness, was not the ground of God’s displeasure with them, but the evidence of it.

    Q. 115. Will there be any mention made of the sins of the righteous?
    A. It appears not; “In that time, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none: and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found,” Jer. 5:20. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth,” &c. Rom. 8:33, 34.

    Q. 60. Why is the righteousness of Christ said to be received by faith alone?
    A. That works may be wholly excluded from having any share in our justification, less or more, Rom. 3:28 — “Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law.”

    Q. 61. If good works have no influence upon our justification, of what use are they to the justified?
    A. Though they cannot justify us before God, yet they are good “evidences” of our justification, being the fruits of a true and lively faith, James 2:18, they “adorn the profession of the gospel, Titus 2:11, 12; stop the mouths of adversaries, 1 Pet. 2:15; and glorify God, John 15:8.”

    Q. 11. What would be the consequence of making our faith, repentance, and good works, the procuring cause of our escaping the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin?
    A. This would be setting aside the satisfaction of Christ, and making a saviour of our duties, than which nothing could nail us more effectually down under the curse, Gal. 3:10 — “As many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse.”

    Q. 20. How may we know if we have that faith which feeds on Christ in the word and sacrament?
    A. Where this true and saving faith is, it is of an appetising nature, whetting the spiritual appetite after more and more of him, Isaiah 26:8, 9; it purifies the heart, Acts 15:9; accounts all things but loss for Christ, Phil. 3:8; and is careful to maintain good works, Titus 3:8.
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  22. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I just read the article in more detail and find it highly problematic in its basic form. What it is missing in its centrality is the Mediator of the Covenant of Grae through Whom the believer receives all evangelical graces. This is not a minor matter. To jump to the response of the believer in faith as if works are a fruit of faith misses the vital relationship of Christ at the center of all evangelical graces.

    Notice, in contrast, the structure of the Westminster Standards that begin with the incapacity of man to have fruition with God apart from Covenant and then the introduction of Christ the Mediator from Whom all evangelical graces flow.

    About the only reason, the Mediator is introduced in this paper is when quoting the Westminster Standards. Nomos, from the Marrow of Modern Divinity, could have written much of this article and drawn conclusions without reference to the Covenant of Grace. The paper suffers from grounding good works within the work of the Mediator and places the Christian as the primary actor in his response to God imputing righteousness to him.

    Those who think this is somehow a repudiation of good works simply don't understand the heart of Reformed Covenant theology. Even our "condition to interest" (faith) is that which the Spirit produces and our faith as such is not our contribution.

    To my thinking, any theology that tries to construct a theology of justification, sanctification, and glorification without Christ as Mediator at the center is inherently flawed. Any paper that tries to marshall quotes from Reformed thinkers without placing this at the center is misrepresenting the nature of the case.
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  23. cmt72

    cmt72 Puritan Board Freshman

    I honestly believe we are on the same page. I appreciate the conversation. Thanks for sharing the literature as well. I agree with the q&a.
  24. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    I would like to see what Travis's response to Rich's critique is (assuming that the former has the time to reply). If the resource linked in the OP had just been a list of quotations, then Rich's criticism would not be valid. But the problem here is that the linked-to article is claiming to set forth the Reformed view of salvation and good works. Any discussion of this subject, if it is to do justice to the Reformed position, must set the mediatorial work of Christ and the covenant of grace at the forefront.

    I think Rich has touched on precisely why many of us find the current obsession in some circles with salvation and good works to be increasingly unbalanced. For instance, I keep hearing it said that The Marrow of Modern Divinity is Antinomian. Now, granted, I have only read the edition in Thomas Boston's works (so I may have missed something), but when I ask people for specific examples of Antinomianism in The Marrow, all I ever hear in response is either nothing or else anecdotal claims about Edward Fisher being a recovering Antinomian and that factor may have influenced him. Such critics seem to overlook the fact that part of the book is an exposition of the moral law, which is strong prima facie evidence that it is not Antinomian (not to mention the book's dialogue with an Antinomian).

    Having said that, I am not an uncritical admirer of The Marrow. It does affirm Hypothetical Universalism notwithstanding Thomas Boston's well-meaning attempts to water down its obvious teaching. Still, just because an author is wrong on one thing does not mean he is wrong on everything, and The Marrow is well within the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy - so much so that it was endorsed by some members of the Westminster Assembly who were very definitely not Antinomians.
  25. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Didn't these people ever read Part Second of The Marrow? It is an exposition of the Ten Commandments that in Boston's work goes on for 68 pages. The following excerpt is only the beginning of their discussion (Evangelista and Nomologista) about the implications of the Ten Commandments recently expounded. Here is Antinomista's closing remark from Part First.

    Ant. And truly, sir, I am now fully convinced that I have gone out of the right way, in that I have not had regard to the law, and the works thereof, as I shold; but, God willing, I shall hereafter (if the Lord prolong my days) be more careful how I lead my life, seeing the ten commandments are the law of Christ; and I beseech you, sir, remember me in your prayers. And so, with many thanks to you for your pains, I take my leave of you, beseeching the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with your spirit.” Amen.


    Nom. But, sir, are you sure that the Lord requires that every man should keep all the ten commandments according as you have now expounded them?

    Evan. Yea, indeed he does; and if you make any question of it, I pray you, consider further, that one asking our Saviour, which is the “great commandment in the law?” he answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” “This,” says he, “is the first and great commandment; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” Matt. 22:6–9.

    Whereupon, says a famous spiritual expositor, “God will have the whole heart;” all the powers of our souls must be bent towards him, he will have himself to be acknowledged and reckoned as our sovereign and supreme good; our love to him must be perfect and absolute: he requires, that there be not found in us the least thought, inclination, or appetite of any thing which may displease him; and that we direct all our actions to this very end, that he alone may be glorified by us: and that for the love we bear unto God, we must do well unto our neighbour, according to the commandments of God. Consider also, I pray you, that it is said, Deut. 27:26; Gal. 3:10, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Now, if you do consider these things well, you shall perceive that the Lord requires that every man do keep all the ten commandments perfectly according as I have expounded them, and concludes all those under the curse that do not so keep them.

    Nom. Surely, sir, you did mistake in saying that the Lord requires that every man do keep the law of the ten commandments perfectly; for I suppose you would have said, the Lord requires that every man do endeavour to keep them perfectly.

    Evan. No, neighbour Nomologista, I did not mistake, for I say it again, that the Lord requires of every man, perfect obedience to all the ten commandments, and concludes all those under the curse that do not yield it; for it is not said, Cursed is every man that does not endeavour to continue in all things, but, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things,” &c.

    Nom. But, sir, do you think that any man continues in all things as you have expounded them?

    Evan. No, no; it is impossible that any man should.

    Nom. And, sir, what is it to be under a curse?

    Evan. To be under the curse, as Luther and Perkins do well agree, is to be under sin, the wrath of God, and everlasting death.

    Nom. But, sir, I pray you, how can this stand with the justice of God, to require man to do that which is impossible, and yet to conclude him under the curse for not doing it?

    Evan. You shall perceive that it does well stand with the justice of God, to deal so with man, if you consider, that this law of God, or these ten commandments, which we have now expounded, are, as Ursinus’ Catechism truly says, “A doctrine agreeing with the eternal and immortal wisdom and justice that is in God;” wherein says Calvin, “God hath so painted out his own nature, that it doth in a manner express the very image of God.” And we read, Gen. 1:27 that man at the first was created in the image or likeness of God; whence it must needs follow that this law was written in his heart, that is to say, God did engrave in man’s heart such wisdom and knowledge of his will and works, and such integrity in his soul, and such a fitness in all the powers thereof, that his mind was able to conceive, and his heart was able to desire, and his body was able to put in execution, any thing that was acceptable to God; so that in very deed he was able to keep all the ten commandments perfectly.

    And therefore though God do require of man impossible things, yet is be not unjust, neither does he injure us in so doing, because he commanded them when they were possible, and though we have now lost our ability of performance, yet it being by our voluntary falling from the state of innocence in which we were at first created, God has not lost his right of requiring that of us which he once gave us.

    Nom. But, sir, you know it was our first parents only that did fall away from God in eating the forbidden fruit, and none of their posterity; how then can it be truly said, that we hare lost that power through our own default?

    Evan. For answer to this, I pray you consider that Adam by God’s appointment, was not to stand or fall as a single person only, but as a common public person, representing all mankind which were to come to him; and therefore, as in case if he had been obedient, and not eaten the forbidden fruit, he had retained and kept that power which he had by creation, as well for all mankind as for himself; even so by disobedience in eating that forbidden fruit, he was disrobed of God’s image, and so lost that power, as well for all mankind as for himself.

    Nom. Why then, sir, it should seem that all mankind are under sin, wrath, and eternal death?

    Evan. Yea, indeed by nature they are so, “for we know,” says the apostle, “that whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God,” Rom. 3:19; and again says he, “We have proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin,” Rom. 3:9. And in another place he says, “We were by nature children of wrath even as well as others,” Eph. 2:3; and, lastly, he says, “So death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” Rom. 5:12.

    Nom. But, sir, I pray you tell me whether you think that any regenerate man keeps the commandments perfectly, according as you have expounded them?

    Evan. No, not the most sanctified man in the world.

    Nom. Why then, sir, it should seem, that not only natural men, but regenerate men also, are under the curse of the law. For if every one that keepeth not the law perfectly be concluded under the curse, and if regenerate men do not keep the law perfectly, then they also must needs be under the curse.

    Evan. The conclusion of your argument is not true; for if by regenerate men you mean true believers, then they have fulfilled the law perfectly in Christ, or rather Christ has perfectly fulfilled the law in them, and was made a curse for them, and so has redeemed them from the curse of the law, as you may see, Gal. 3:13.

    Nom. Well, sir, now I understand you, and have ever been of your judgment in that point, for I have ever concluded this, that either a man himself, or Christ for him, must keep the law perfectly, or else God will not accept of him, and therefore have I endeavoured to do the best I could to keep the law perfectly, and wherein I have failed and come short, I have believed that Christ has done it for me.

    Evan. The apostle says, Gal. 3:10. “So many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse.” And truly, neighbour No-mologista, if I may speak it without offence, I fear me you are still of the works of the law, and therefore still under the curse.

    Nom. Why, sir, I pray you what is it to be of the works of the law?

    Evan. To be of the works of the law, is for a man to look for, or hope to be justified or accepted in the sight of God, for his own obedience to the law.

    Nom. But surely, sir, I never did so; for though by reason of my being ignorant of what is required and forbidden in every commandment, I had a conceit that I came very near the perfect fulfilling of the law, yet I never thought I did do all things that are contained therein; and therefore I never looked for, nor hoped that God would accept me for mine own obedience, without Christ’s being joined with it.
    Evan. Then it seems that you did conceive, that your obedience and Christ’s obedience must be joined together, and so God would accept you for that.

    Nom. Yea, indeed, sir, there have been my hopes, and indeed there are still my hopes.

    Evan. Ay, but neighbour Nomologists, as I told my neighbour Neophitus and others not long since, so I tell you now, that as the justice of God requires a perfect obedience, so does it require that this perfect obedience be a personal obedience, that is, it must be the obedience of one person only. The obedience of two must not be put together to make up a perfect obedience: and indeed, to say as the thing is, God will have none to have a hand in the justification and salvation of any man, but Christ only, for, says the apostle Peter, Acts 4:12, “neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Believe it then, I beseech you, that Christ Jesus will either be a whole Saviour, or no Saviour, he will either save you alone, or not save you at all.

    Boston, T. (1850). The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Explication of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism. (S. M‘Millan, Ed.) (Vol. 7, pp. 439–442). Aberdeen: George and Robert King.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  26. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I assumed the mediatorial work of Christ in the Covenant of Grace by stating that Christ meritoriously fulfilled it and we didn't in an earlier response to Daniel.

    Maybe I am missing something here Rich. And maybe the page needs to clean this up but I have had to deal with major problems here in my area with fundamentalists who are acting in a same manner as Tullian has been acting. Yes, it is in like manner in Reformed Churches as well as Fundamentalist Baptist Churches. I didn't reply to Bruce's asking me about the situations as I am not desiring to name name's and get into those situations. But we have a major problem with Leadership's actions and those who follow them. Something does need to be taught in a very balanced sensitive way. Things need to be exposed and the qualifications of Eldership be realigned. We need to see that some men are qualified for Church office and others are disqualified via 1Timothy 3:2.

    I do know that we need to understand the differences concerning conditions as faith and repentance are conditions to justification. They are fully a result of Christ's working for us and in us as the Spirit applies that work. We do have major Problem's Houston. I suspect you have heard some of the rumblings the past few years having been an Elder.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  27. RJ Spencer

    RJ Spencer Puritan Board Freshman

    I'm reading The Morrow of Modern Divinity for the very first time. Phenomenal book! I had heard long ago that it was antinomian, but once I saw it mentioned here I figured I'd give it a go. Not antinomian at all. It answers many of the issues brought up in this thread.

    I enjoyed the conversation on this thread, I don't believe any one changed their minds and I still answer to the affirmative.
  28. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Dear Rich (@Semper Fidelis),

    I sometimes wonder if we’d say things to someone’s face the way we may online? I was speaking to my sister the other day and we were disagreeing about a minute point, though we were in much greater agreement over most everything relating to the conversation. I made the poor choice of focussing on the small part I was uncomfortable with. The result was I came across as if things had to be said my way. My response made it seem like I was looking for magic words. Even if my point was correct and important in its own right, I said it in a way that was more distracting than helpful. For this I repented to her. This problem seems propounded online, though.

    It’s easy to think about our online friends as less than people-- at least we likely wouldn’t speak with people face to face the way we would speak to them online. Now I may disagree with Travis on some things-- EP being one example. We’ve discussed this in person at my church and at my house. But not only things that we disagreed about, but things that we agreed about! He came to my house and we talked about all kinds of things. We even took out the Psalter and sang together.

    Now if you had a family member spend much time on something for your benefit and the first thing you said about it was disparaging, how do you think they’d respond? Do you really speak to family members in person the way you (and some others) spoke to Travis online? You indirectly referred to me as one of his “fans.” Such pejorative and insensitive word choices are immediately a turn-off even before your words are heard.

    I understand that words are important. But meaning is more so. I do believe that Travis was careful in describing the word choices he was using with scholastic distinctions. One may disagree with the helpfulness of such word choices, but do any of us disagree with the meaning of the doctrines? Reducing “salvation” to justification may be something that people confuse, but the confusion is neither biblical nor helpful. As those with pastoral concerns, these distinctions-- whether we prefer the wording or not-- are helpful in leading the people of God.

    You said:

    Did Travis say that his formulation on this page was to be preferred over the Confession’s wording? Is the confession designed to be the “end all” in our particular word choices when discussing any particular doctrine? A confession, is a compromised document as far as word choices are concerned. It needed to be worded in a way that everyone could agree with. Rich, Im sure you already know this, but you don’t seem to reason as if you do.

    Finally, must we always speak to Christ’s Mediatorial work when discussing good works? If so, Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is woefully unbalanced. I highly doubt you’d critique Christ’s own sermon concerning a lack of inclusion of His Mediatorial work, though your criteria seems to logically necessitate this critique. Not every sermon or writing is comprehensive in its scope and we have many biblical and theological writings that are not inclusive of Christ’s Mediatorial work in relation to good works. Certainly Christ’s sermon was pastoral.

    I’m calling you out on this not because you’re alone in what I believe to be an uncharitable critique of Travis on this point, but because yours seemed the most blatantly cutting and pejorative.

    Thanks for hearing me out.


    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
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  29. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I always think of "salvation" as the title under which justification, sanctification, and glorification fall. So if you mean, do you have to have good works to be justified the answer is no. If you mean do you have to have good works in order to show the work of sanctification, the answer is yes. The Bible makes it clear that justification is God's work and sanctification is God's work with our cooperation to the Holy Spirit in obedience to his law.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  30. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    This might just be the rub. After reading Tim's post, it dawned on me that I never actually heard a word from Tim-technically speaking. Everything I read, seemed to be in my voice. Inflection is not true here. For all I know, the guy was screaming angry! Possibly just woke up and incoherent. Dialoging is tricky. Many times, a short burst may come across as rapid fire. Granted, words hurt and we must be careful. All of us have different mechanisms in our personalities. Very few of us have any touchstones in relation to our actual personalities; and many of us, in person would be seen much differently, face to face. Over the years, my dialoging has changed greatly. Some times, a few sentences escape the control I desire and things are flung out emotionally. Sadly. But generally, I just state my case and move along.

    In regard to Travis' post. I have refrained from gettin in on this thread because I don't really like the subject. Tinkering around with justification by faith alone, bothers me and I don't really want to go there. in my opinion, and keep in mind, this is just my impression; the subject matter and terms are not helpful. It's like trying to squeeze more lemon out of an already squeezed lemon-half. But hey, I get it. Thats what theologians do. I am not a great mind. I try, at best. This might be one of the few things I don't really warm up to; given its complexity and the inability to actually decipher it to another person without confusing the issue more. Since it resembles some of the FV language at times, I sort of, turn my head when I read anything like it. It doesn't surprise me in the least that the historic men that dealt with the subject are saying what they are. Delve deeply into Burgess and some of the other great men of age and u will see that many times, they seem to get a bit closer than we would like to baptismal regeneration when speaking of infant baptism and our progeny.

    Last week in Sunday school, this exact subject came up. I was compelled to say, 'You know, there are a few great men of faith who held to this very thin distinction on justification where they tease out of it the need to have a work involved in our justification. I believed I raised my hand and then retrieved it. I thought, 'why muddy the water?' It's a tricky subject. The title of the opening post implies we need a work-without distinctions (in the title). It is akin to 'click-baiting'. Have I ever done this in the past with FB posts or my web-page? Yes, I have.

    Not to defend Rich, that he needs any defense, but again, we are dialoging and hence, many times, the reader is reading into the response, how the poster might be postured. Can this be avoided? I don't really know. Can ones posturing be seen from what is dialoged? Sometimes. Is it fully accurate? I have to say, no. But using certain terms, does seem to indicate a troubling response.
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