Now that You Have Professed Faith, You Cannot Trust the Promise Until You See Works?

Stoever, A Faire and Easy Way, explains that “John Cotton professed himself unable to believe it possible for a person to maintain that grace works a condition in him, reveals it, makes a promise to it, and applies it to him, and still not trust in the work. Even if a person did not trust in the merit of the work, he still probably would not dare to trust a promise unless he could see a work?”

“Grace and works (not only in the case of justification) but in the whole course of our salvation, are not subordinate to each other but opposite:as that whatsoever is of grace is not of works, and whatsoever is of works is not of grace.”

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2 Comments on “Now that You Have Professed Faith, You Cannot Trust the Promise Until You See Works?”

  1. David Bishop Says:

    Love that second paragraph!

  2. markmcculley Says:

    The familiar moral/ceremonial distinction was often used by Roman Catholics against the Reformers, when the topic was justification by imputation vs justification by our law-keeping. Calvin would not allow the Romanists this distinction in order for them to say that only some kind of our works were not a condition of salvation. Calvin ruled out all of our works (even “works of faith”) as having any part in our justification.

    The curse does not attach to the ceremonies. Rather, the ceremonies picture the way out from the curse. If you say that “law” in these texts is only the ceremonies, then you have ceremonies that damn rather than ceremonies that prefigure Christ and the cross.

    David Gordon –For Paul, nomos is a synecdoche, a figure of speech that refers to the Sinai covenant in its entirety, by referring specifically to its most salient or prominent aspect: law. The clearest indication of how Paul uses the term is at Galatians 3:17: “the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.” In this context, it is unmistakeable that “the law” is that covenanting act at Sinai that comes 430 years after the covenant with Abraham, which was characterized by promise

    Is Galatians only about justification, so that the “soft legalism” (for progress in holiness) can be corrected without suggesting that anybody is not yet justified, to whom Christ is of no profit?

    “In most definitions of legalism by New Testament scholars, the possibility of ‘soft’ legalism is not even considered. The ‘legalist’, for Cranfield, is the one who tries to use the law ‘as
    a means to the establishment of a claim upon God, and so to the
    defense of his self-centeredness and the assertion of a measure of
    independence over against God. He imagines that he can put God under an obligation to himself, that he will be able so adequately to fulfil the law’s demands that he will earn for himself a righteous status before God.’ For Moule, legalism is ‘the intention to claim God’s favour by establishing one’s own rightness.’ For Hübner, those who see righteousness as based on works define their existence in terms of their own activities, leave God out of consideration, and, in effect, ‘see themselves as their own creator.’ For Daniel Fuller, legalism ‘presumes that the Lord, who is not ‘served by human hands, as though he needed anything’ (Acts 17:25), can nevertheless be bribed and obligated to bestow blessing by the way men distinguish themselves.’

    in Paul’s argument it is human deeds of any kind which cannot justify, not simply deeds done ‘in a spirit of legalism’. Paul’s very point is lost to view when his statements excluding the law, and its works from justification are applied only to the law’s perversion. (Stephen Westerholm, Israel’s Law and the Church’s Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters (Eerdmans, 1998, p 132)


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