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. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Hey Scott. I think it has been stated over and over this is about more than justification. I take great comfort in the fact that justification is by faith alone and I believe Travis made that point very obvious. I take great comfort in the scriptures like John 5:24 which state I have everlasting life now. In relationship to making it to glorification Philippians 1:6 gives me great comfort that God will cause me to persevere. But when we get to scriptures like James 2:24 and Hebrews 6:6 things need to be untangled and understood. There are reasons for why God put those scriptures and warnings in the Bible. There is a reason why Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13:5 when his authority was being challenged.

    Rom 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
    Rom 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    Rom 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    Jas 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only

    The following verses have a context to be understood also.

    Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

    2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

    People need to know that Paul was writing about one thing concerning Abraham's life while James was writing about a different time and situation. We need to understand why they were being written and highlighted. Paul and James were writing for two different purposes. We don't learn that unless we struggle and wrestle with the Scriptures as a whole unit.

    There are good reasons why men wrote about the topic Travis has gathered. I for one was not alarmed by the Title even. It is topically correct in my estimation.
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree wholeheartedly. I myself don’t struggle w these truths; however, people with a lesser knowledge base could find themselves shipwrecked. That’s my concern. I would refrain from preaching on such elements.

    Work out your salvation w fear and trembling... we are saved, being saved and will be saved!

    Deep thinking upon these two statement will cause any believer who holds to J by FA, to pause.
  3. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I prefer to help those with lesser knowledge gain a better understanding. We all need to keep growing. To shortcut or be weak in anything can be dangerous. Maturity requires struggling and a good challenge. To make any topic a priority outside of understanding Union with Christ and His Mediatorial office is dangerous. I have seen a lot in 38 years. We all need the whole Bible for the whole man.
  4. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    I'm baffled that there has been so much opposition on this thread to the bare statement that good works are necessary for salvation. Will anyone get to heaven who has never loved God or neighbor? Is it not necessarily the case that a believer will bear good fruit?
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  5. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    In regards to this subject, specifically, I disagree. But I love you nonetheless.
  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Not that I disagree. It’s the blurry fine lines and micro-minutia that is teased out of this highly deep subject. Most everyone on this board, especially those that hold to justification by faith alone, understand the principle as you described in your last post. The heat being generated in this thread is secondary to language being incorporated into the doctrine, which seems to cause unneeded tension.
  7. Phil D.

    Phil D. Puritan Board Junior

    I agree with this point. It seems everyone involved might be satisfied if we would simply do as Bruce noted and use the more nuanced phraseology "good works are necessary in salvation." I don't doubt that most PBers are theologically astute enough to distinguish what Travis is saying from rank legalism. But regarding the chosen titular phraseology, even though employed in times past and all well and good, in the present environment of continuing Federal Vision heresy and obfuscation, the less ambiguous our phraseology the better. And not everyone reading this headline is a PBer - its on an open forum viewable to all.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2019
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Works testify that we have been born again, and are a direct result of that having already occured.
  9. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    That seems to be the essential rub. Perspective comes into play.

    "Be ye holy...." Yes, of course it is necessary.

    "You know them by their fruit...." Undenied.

    "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Yes, Captain.

    "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves." (My perspective--focus on me):

    Following this commandment to examine myself, I look closely at what I think my best work might be, and see pride mixed in. Oops, in trying ever so hard, if I am an honest Christian, I see my best efforts are stained by sin--So much for being holy.

    So what now? The rest of the story: repent and cling to Christ.

    Rom 7:24-25 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
    I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord....

    In our day, I think when dealing with works, (especially in the context of recovering from Federal Vision disruptions) the personal perspective ("have I done enough?") needs to be addressed.

    That was my main concern on the topic. Works ought not be suggested to be an end in themselves, but another way for us to rejoice in and rely on our Lord Christ.
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  10. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The issue is whether they are necessary antecedents, accidents, and consequents to various links in the ordo salutis. Who could doubt that they are?
  11. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Nobody should treat the subject of good works in relation to salvation in a cavalier manner--I agree that it could be pastorally destructive. But who can blame a guy for collecting various resources from the past which touch on the subject, on an academically oriented webpage, while endeavoring to outline the various distinctions used by the older writers?
  12. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Well, to be clear, I'm not "blaming" anyone.

    But I keep in mind the audience of this forum, too. Thousands of people all over the world read these discussions, not just academics. That's why I see the hashing out on this thread to be a good thing.
  13. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    I see what you're saying, but on the other side, the thread is titled "are good works necessary to salvation." This is then immediately followed by "While maintaining justification by faith alone, the Reformed have historically answered this question: Yes".

    To me it comes across as a fire starter, and the casual Christian seeing this may not be in a theological place to comprehend the depth of this, and may just take the statement for its face value and come to bad conclusions. Just my thought, but I'm thankful for the work of collecting the documents.
  14. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    My point....
  15. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The academically oriented webpage I referred to was Travis's page. I get that PB isn't an academic website.
  16. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Right--but who has done that here?
  17. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    The subject matter itself could be 'pastorally destructive', which was my earlier point. Possibly, this thread should have been in the Officers only area of PB?
  18. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Brother, the subject matter is the truth of God. It's part of the body of doctrine revealed in the Scriptures. How can we say that scriptural, revealed truth is pastorally destructive?

    The irresponsible handling of the truth can be destructive. However, Travis has handled these issues quite carefully, if one only takes the time to read his page.
  19. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I understand; however, I am sure u would agree that this item is not simply parsed and anyone that says it is is not being honest. It was not a subject to be considered, in general conversations, given its capacity for misunderstanding until most recently when the FV guys stated plugging away on it. Granted, they have abused the doctrine, but when one looks at both examples, they run pretty close and the former could be simply reconciled (along Travis' line) and the other flawed, very easily-especially by one who does not have a theological acumen.
  20. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Where is the place on the PB to discuss things that require "theological acumen"? Or is this not a place to discuss things that require theological acumen?

    And second, why has someone featured such a "dangerous" thread? I am guessing that wasn't Travis' doing.
  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    This is automatic most of the time based on activity.
  22. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Seems like that is something that mods should have control over...
  23. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    W/ all due respect, I am not going to go back and forth on the issue. I said my piece. For the record, I have no issue w/ Travis nor his piece. I appreciate his webpage and work. Simply put, imagine for the moment that this came out during the FV controversy timeframe. How do u think this would have been received? All I am saying is that the subject matter is not for the weak in heart. It is heady. As Tyler mentioned, if handled incorrectly, it could be pastorally destructive. I am not saying that Travis didn't handle it pastorally, but readers who are not theologically educated, could. I mean, for goodness sake, how many times have we discussed this item anywhere. Most people avoid it like the plague because it sounds FV and is mind-bending, trying to reconcile these facts, correctly. Most can't.
  24. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    They do. Do you want it unfeatured?
  25. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    I don't! However, with many of the mods being against Travis' work, I am surprised it was featured. Understanding that it is automated makes more sense.

    That said, I would like to know where on the PB something like this can be discussed if it is too insensitive for the broader PB community.
  26. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    It seems to me folks have made this personal, as our MW used to say, instead of simply discussing the matters. Travis site is a useful resource, and I don't think any moderators are saying it is not of use. But somethings in the way they are handled have come up more than once on PB where some folks have disagreed with something posted. Travis's site is not above criticism, nor beyond a reasonable defense and appreciation. Our aim should be to disagree agreeably when those collide.
  27. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Discussion is what is going on right now. If the mods were "against" it in the sense that it was clearly unconfessional, the thread would have been gone already.

    I suppose I need to make my thoughts even clearer: If one is going to post something provocative, expect pushback. If one is going to post a link to something provocative offsite, then an introductory explanation might be useful to prevent a lot of pushback.

    I'll give a more extreme hypothetical: Let's say I write a sound essay on justifiable homicide for other criminal defense lawyers to read. I go through various defenses one might employ in a murder case, citing case law and statutes, and I then precisely define various terms and make nuance qualifications in the work.

    Then I post a link to that essay here, saying something like "In Washington, you get to kill people."

    I think I'd expect a bit of pushback too.

    It's the matter of presentation that I think most are worked up about.
  28. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    It can be destructive both ways Scott. I think you would agree with me that there has been a rash of neonomism and presumption upon the Lord's graciousness the past many years. But a very good Pastor or friend can distinguish what an individual needs to hear. Sometimes we need our Nathans as David did. Sometimes we need to be reminded that Christ Paid it all, the just for the unjust, and that He will complete His work in us. Philippians 1:6
  29. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Fair enough, the title of the thread is a bit provocative. But you don't even have to get further than the first statement in the post, where Travis states:

    "While maintaining justification by faith alone, the Reformed have historically answered this question: Yes."

    At this point, I would expect theologically curious persons (or even those who have read the book of James) to dig in deeper to understand how this is all resolved.

    Like Scott, I'll bow out of this aspect of the discussion now. I don't think I have anything further to say. Blessings!
  30. RJ Spencer

    RJ Spencer Puritan Board Freshman

    I for one am thankful that I, a mere layman, could participate in this conversation. The only theological training I have comes from my own study and I did not find the subject matter difficult. I have stated numerous times on this thread that I believe just as faith comes as a gift out of regeneration so to do good works. So, we can say of both faith and good works that they are necessary for salvation. They are not completely synonymous, I know, Faith is necessary for Justification and good works are not. But they are both gifts from God and we recognize that the one that is justified Will be sanctified.
    Faith that comes out of us, rather than from God, is not true faith. Works that come out of us, rather than from a regenerate heart, is not saving works.
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