Tag Archives | justification

Justification by Works and Faith in 1 Clement

Clement of RomeWhile reading through 1 Clement, I found a nice example of justify (δικαιόω) being used in two different senses (in very close proximity), which nicely parallels its use in the New Testament.

Justified by Works

In this first example, Clement is calling his readers to personal holiness and speaks of their being justified by works (ἔργοις δικαιούμενοι). He seems to have in view a demonstration rather than imputation of righteousness.

30 Seeing then that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all the things that pertain to holiness, forsaking slander, disgusting and impure embraces, drunkenness and rioting and detestable lusts, abominable adultery, detestable pride. (2) “For God,” he says, “resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (3) Let us therefore join with those to whom grace is given by God. Let us clothe ourselves in concord, being humble and self-controlled, keeping ourselves far from all backbiting and slander, being justified by works and not by words [ἔργοις δικαιούμενοι καὶ μὴ λόγοις]. (4) For he says: “He who speaks much shall hear much in reply. Or does the talkative person think that he is righteous? (5) Blessed is the one born of woman who has a short life. Do not be overly talkative.” (6) Let our praise be with God, and not from ourselves, for God hates those who praise themselves. (7) Let the testimony to our good deeds be given by others, as it was given to our fathers who were righteous. (8) Boldness and arrogance and audacity are for those who are cursed by God; but graciousness and humility and gentleness are with those who are blessed by God.

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Michael Horton’s New Systematic Theology

Michael Horton’s long-awaited systematic theology, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way (Amazon | WTS Books), is due out very soon. Zondervan’s website says it’s “coming January 2011.” Amazon says “January 25, 2011.” WTS Books says “February 2011.”

Systematic theologies are one of my favorite categories of books, so I’m really looking forward to picking this one up and adding it to my library.

The Christian Faith


The Christian Faith runs 1,052 pages (which is the last numbered page according to Zondervan’s “Browse Inside” feature).1 It has a list price of $49.99, but the Westminster Bookstore has will be selling it for $30.99, and Amazon has it available for pre-order for $31.17 (or $30.99 for Kindle).

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  1. WTS Books incorrectly lists 960 pages, and Zondervan and Amazon say 1056, perhaps including ads or blank pages at the end.

Edwards on Faith and Works in Justification

Justification by Faith Alone by Jonathan EdwardsIn my estimation, Jonathan Edwards’s Justification by Faith Alone contains one of the most important and misunderstood1 evangelical discussions on the relationship between faith and works as they pertain to justification and salvation. Delivered in 1734 and first published in 1738, it may be found in 1:622–54 of his two-volume Works (Worcester rev. ed.),2 4:64–132 of his four-volume Works (Worcester ed.), 5:351–452 of his ten-volume Works (Dwight ed.), 19:147–2423 of his twenty-six volume Works, as an individual volume, and online in as many as seven different places.

As I continue my discussion on whether evangelicals, who affirm sola fide, are forced to sweep the passages that insist on holiness and good works under the rug, I turn to Jonathan Edwards, against whom no informed person would make such an accusation, as you can see for yourself in the quotations below. Except for the first, all of these selections come from his third and fourth sections, which discuss evangelical obedience and answer objections. I’ve bolded the most relevant portions.

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  1. If you’re concerned about Edwards’s view on sola fide, Don Kistler’s post on the Puritan Board is a helpful clarification.
  2. Cf. Amazon, CBD, Logos, and WTS Books.
  3. Or 19:143–242 including the editor’s preface.

Luther on the Necessity of Good Works

I’m involved in a discussion where the claim was made that the Protestant church has distorted the gospel by removing the necessity of good works for salvation—something the early Christians unanimously affirmed. Luther was singled out as one who cared nothing about good works—at least not in the context of salvation. I pointed out this section from Luther, in which he indicates that “works are necessary to salvation.”

I reply to the argument, then, that our obedience is necessary for salvation. It is, therefore, a partial cause of our justification. Many things are necessary which are not a cause and do not justify, as for instance the earth is necessary, and yet it does not justify. If man the sinner wants to be saved, he must necessarily be present, just as he asserts that I must also be present. What Augustine says is true, “He who has created you without you will not save you without you.”1 Works are necessary to salvation, but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life. On account of the hypocrites we must say that good works are necessary to salvation. It is necessary to work. Nevertheless, it does not follow that works save on that account, unless we understand necessity very clearly as the necessity that there must be an inward and outward salvation or righteousness. Works save outwardly, that is, they show evidence that we are righteous and that there is faith in a man which saves inwardly, as Paul says, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” [Rom. 10:10]. Outward salvation shows faith to be present, just as fruit shows a tree to be good. (“The Disputation Concerning Justification,” LW, 165)


  1. N21: Sermo 170. Migne 38, 923.

Gaffin on Union with Christ

WTSBooks points out via Twitter a 5-part series (plus 2 Q&A sessions) by Richard B. Gaffin Jr. on “The Mystery of Union with Christ.” Gaffin delivered these messages at Matthews Orthodox Presbyterian in March of 2005. I’ve downloaded them and listened to part of the first one. It looks to be a very good series. They are available as free downloads courtesy of SermonAudio.com.

  1. The Mystery of Union with Christ—Part 1
  2. The Mystery of Union with Christ—Part 2
  3. The Mystery of Union with Christ—Part 3
  4. The Mystery of Union with Christ—Part 4
  5. The Mystery of Union with Christ—Part 5
  6. The Mystery of Union with Christ—Q & A, Part 1
  7. The Mystery of Union with Christ—Q & A, Part 2

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An Emoticon in a Lincoln Speech from 1862? ;)

A blog post at the City Room Blog at NYTimes.com has received some attention this week. In “Is That an Emoticon in 1862?” the author explores whether a ;) in a transcript of a Lincoln speech is an emoticon or a typo. Some are convinced that this is the earliest example of an emoticon. Most seem to think it’s simply a typo in the form of accidental transposition (e.g., see the comments here and here).

Here’s an image of the text under discussion:

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Interview with N. T. Wright

N. T. WrightSaid at Southern points to a video interview with N. T. Wright that took place at Asbury Seminary in November of 2007. (Here’s the announcement about Wright’s visit.) Several minutes in Wright shares some brief thoughts on Piper’s book The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright.

The audio from Wright’s chapel talks is also available:

  • Nov. 13 | “Use of Scripture in Contemporary Political Discourse” [ Hi :: Low ]
  • Nov. 14 | “God in Public? Biblical Faith in Tomorrow’s World” [ Hi :: Low ]
  • Nov. 14 | “Acts and the Contemporary Challenge of the Gospel” [ Hi :: Low ]

White Horse Inn: “Sin and Grace in the Christian Life”

white-horse-inn.jpgBeing under the weather for the last few days, I’ve had the opportunity to lie around and listen to MP3s. One I listened to was an episode from Michael Horton’s (Wikipedia) White Horse Inn entitled “Sin and Grace in the Christian Life” (Summary | MP3), dated 8/19/07. I think this was the first time I’d listened to Horton, and my previous exposure to him came primarily through reading his contributions to Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation—a good book, but not without some issues.

The topic of discussion in the radio program was grace and the problem of ongoing sin in the Christian life. Michael Horton led the discussion with Kim Riddlebarger, Rod Rosenbladt, and Ken Jones. I love gospel-centered theology and preaching, and I agreed with much of what they said. However, I found some of the discussion a bit disturbing and imbalanced—perhaps more what they didn’t say than what they did say.

The launching point for the discussion was a recording taken at a Christian conference of answers to the question, “What do you think happens if you die with unconfessed sin?”

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“Faith Reviving” | Augustus Toplady

I recently enjoyed reflecting on this encouraging hymn text with solid theology penned by Augustus Toplady (ERF | ODCC):

Augustus TopladyFrom whence this fear and unbelief?
Hath not the Father put to grief
His spotless Son for me?
And will the righteous Judge of men
Condemn me for that debt of sin
Which, Lord, was charged on thee?

Complete atonement thou hast made,
And to the utmost farthing paid
Whate’er thy people owed;
How then can wrath on me take place
If sheltered in thy righteousness,
And sprinkled with thy blood?

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Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul | Guy Prentiss Waters

Justification and the New Perspectives on PaulGuy Prentiss Waters. Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul: A Review and Response. P&R, 2004. 273 pp.

[rate 3]

I just recently came across Perrin’s evaluation of Waters’s Justification and the New Perspectives on Paul (WTSBooks).

“Whatever the merits of Justification and the New Perspectives as a primer on twentieth-century Pauline scholarship, the author has been less than successful in his interaction with the NPP. Indeed, assuming that Waters’s primary goal is to construct a convincing argument against the NPP (and N. T. Wright in particular), the book must be judged to have failed at a fundamental level.”1

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  1. Nicholas Perrin, “A Reformed Perspective on the New Perspective,” WTJ 67:2 (Fall 2005): 381-89.