Essentials of Christianity



In Essentials Unity,

In Non-Essentials liberty,

In All things Charity (Love)

While the above motto is good, we must first know what the Essentials are.

While this author did an excellent job of explaining the essentials of the Christian Faith, I think he left out the most important and primary one – The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.  Without the Holy Scriptures we would know very little, if anything about the Christian Faith.  I am sure the author assumed the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, but nevertheless it needs to be mentioned and explained.

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

What are the essentials of the Christian faith?

Question: “What are the essentials of the Christian faith?”

Answer: The Bible itself reveals what is important and essential to the Christian faith. These essentials are the deity of Christ, salvation by God’s grace and not by works, salvation through Jesus Christ alone, the resurrection of Christ, the Gospel, monotheism and the Holy Trinity. These are the main “essentials” that we should understand and believe if we are followers of Jesus Christ. Let’s look at all of these in a little more detail.

The deity of Christ. Quite simply, Jesus is God. While Jesus never directly says, “I am God” in the Scriptures, He makes it very clear to those around Him, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees, that He is God. John 10:30 says, “I and the Father are one.” Jesus was claiming deity, and, interestingly enough, He did not deny that He was God. Another example is John 20:28, when Thomas says, “My Lord and my God!” Again, Jesus does not correct Him by saying that He is not God. There are many other examples one can find in the Scriptures regarding Jesus’ rightful place in heaven.

Salvation by grace. We are all sinners separated from God and deserving of eternal punishment for our sin. Jesus’ death on the cross paid for the sins of mankind, giving us access to heaven and an eternal relationship with God. God did not have to do this for us, but He loves us so much that He sacrificed His only Son. This is grace, and it is most definitely undeserved favor. Scripture tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor or gain access to heaven apart from His grace.

Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. A truly provocative question to ask someone might be “Do all roads lead to God?” The truth is that all roads do lead to God. Eventually, we are all going to stand before God when we die, no matter what faith we are. It is there that we will be judged for what we have or have not done while we were alive and whether Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives. For the majority of people, this will be a terrible occasion, as most will not know Him or be known by Him. For these people, hell will be the final destination. But God in His mercy has provided all of us the only means for salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 tells us that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” This passage speaks of the name of Jesus and His saving power. Another example is found in the book of John. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). No one gets into heaven except by faith in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ on his or her behalf.

The resurrection of Christ. Perhaps no other event in the Bible, aside from Jesus’ appearance here on earth and subsequent death on the cross, is as significant to the Christian faith as that of the resurrection. Why is this event significant? The answer lies in the fact that Jesus died and then after three days came back to life and rose again to reappear to His followers in bodily form. Jesus had already demonstrated His ability to resurrect others such as His friend Lazarus. But now God the Father had resurrected Him to display His awesome power and glory. This amazing fact is what separates the Christian faith from all others. All other religions are based on works or a powerless deity or person. The leaders of all other religions die and remain dead. The Christian faith is based on Christ crucified and resurrected to life. “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). Lastly, to deny Christ’s bodily resurrection (John 2:19-21) is to deny that Jesus’ work here on earth was a satisfactory offering to God for the sins of mankind.

The gospel. In1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul spells out what the gospel is and how important it is to embrace it and share it with others. He reminds the Corinthians of the gospel he preached among them: “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This is the essence of the gospel. Paul also warns us to be wary of the many “false gospels” that are being offered to the unsuspecting: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9). The pure gospel of Jesus Christ—His death on the cross for sinners and His resurrection to everlasting life—is central to the Christian faith.

Monotheism. Quite simply, there is only one God. Exodus 20:3 states very powerfully, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Monotheism is the belief that there is only one God to be worshipped and served. “‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me’” (Isaiah 43:10). Here we see that we are to “believe” and “understand” that God lives and is one. A Christian will know that there is only one God, the God of the Bible. All other “gods” are false and are no gods at all. “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as Indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:5-6).

The Holy Trinity. While the concept of a “three-in-one God” is not represented by a single verse or passage, it is described frequently throughout Scripture. If we look at Matthew 28:19, we see the verse calling out the Trinity: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” While this verse mentions all three Persons of the triune God, it does not call them the Trinity. So to understand the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, we must look at the “totality” of Scripture and glean from it the definition. In 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, we see how this comes together: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” Again, we see all three Persons being represented but not titled the Holy Trinity.

Finally, the essentials of Christianity would not be complete without the ingredient that binds everything together—faith. “Now faith is the *assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). As Christians we live by this verse with the understanding that we believe in a God we cannot see. But we see His work in our lives and all around us in His creation. We do all of this through faith because we know that faith pleases God. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).


Recommended Resources:The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul EnnsandLogos Bible Software.

While he is not the author of every article on, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.


You may want to read the total article on the meaning of the Greek word “hypostasis”, but I am inserting what I believe to be the best part of the article.



Kenneth West has the following to say about hupostasis in Hebrews 11:1 in his Wuest Word Studies.

The Title-Deed to Answered Prayer – “FAITH is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1 ).  The Greek word translated “substance” had a technical meaning in the business world of the first century.  It referred to one’s property or effects.  It was used in such expressions as “Out of this estate I declare that my husband owes me,” or, “more land than I actually possess,” the italicized words being the translation of the word.  It was also used to refer to “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in the archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.”

Moulton and Milligan in their “Vocabulary of the Greek Testament” say of these uses, “These varied uses are at first sight somewhat perplexing, but in all the cases there is the same central idea of something that underlies visible conditions and guarantees a future possession.”  Thus, they translate “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.”

To substantiate this usage, there is in “Living Yesterdays,” a delightful brochure by H. R. Minn, the story of a woman named Dionysia. She is described as “a woman of set jaw and grim determination.”  It seems that she had lost a case in a local court over a piece of land to which she laid claim.  Not satisfied with the decision of a lower court, she determined to take her case to a higher court in Alexandria.  She sent her slave to that city, with the legal documents safely encased in a stone box.  On the way, the slave lost his life in a fire, which destroyed the inn where he had put up for the night.  For 2,000 years, the sands of the desert covered the ruins of the inn, the charred bones of the slave, and the stone box.

Archaeologists have recently uncovered these remains.  In the box, they found the legal documents.  They read the note, which this woman had sent to the judge in Alexandria, “In order that my lord the judge may know that my appeal is just, I attach my hupostasis.”  That which was attached to this note, she designated by the Greek word translated “substance” in Heb. 11:1.  The attached document was translated and found to be the title-deed to the piece of land, which she claimed as her own possession, the evidence of her ownership.

What a flood of light is thrown upon this teaching regarding faith.  The act of exercising true faith as one prays, or as one leans on the resources of God, is itself the title-deed or evidence of the sure answer to our prayer or the unfailing source of the divine supply. It is God’s guarantee in advance that we already possess the things asked for.  They may still be in His hands, awaiting the proper time for their delivery, but they are ours.  If the answers to our prayers are not forthcoming at once, let us rest content with the title-deed, which God has given us, namely, a Holy Spirit energized act of faith.  We may be absolutely certain that our God will honor this title-deed at the right moment.

When you own something like land, you are given a ‘title-deed’ to prove your ownership . . . it is yours, and no-one can take it from you. Your ‘faith,’ is a title-deed that God holds on your behalf, His promised land. No-one can take this from you . . . there is no persuasion or pressure that can change your ‘stance.’. . . because of its ‘substance’ . . . He stands under you.  You can own something that you do not see, and it is no less yours.

Finally, concerning the use of ‘title-deed, let us read verses 1 through 4 of Hebrews 11 in context, with personal revisions:

(1) Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for, the proof or evidence of things not seen.  (2) For by it the men of old gained witness.  (3) By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.  (4) By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he gained witness that he was righteous, God bearing witness about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

We see that together these four verses act like a preamble to the list of faith events to follow.  These verses also have language that leads credence to the use of title-deed or some other legal variant.

The word “proof or evidence” is the translation of ‘elegchos’, which means, “a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested.”  Thayer (Thayer’s Greek – English Lexicon of the New Testament – Joseph Thayer) in commenting on its use defines it as follows: “that by which invisible things are proved and we are convinced of their reality.”  His second definition of the word is “conviction.”

The words “bearing or gained witness” are the translation of ‘martureo,’ which means, “to bear witness to.”  It is used three times in these verses, and two more times in the remainder of the chapter.  Here the verb is in the passive voice.  Literally, “for by it the elders were borne witness to.”  God bore witness to them that their faith gained victory for them over all obstacles.

To me the translation of the Greek word “hypostasis” is best explained by the concept of “title deed” as proof of ownership.  Those who insisted upon certain essentials being believed before a person could become an ordained minister in the Presbytian Church were called “Fundamentalism”  because they believed that there were certain essentials that must be believed in order to have Christianity.

I will write an article regarding this sometime later.

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

Westcott-Hort Greek Text


The below article is an excellent explanation of the problem with the Westcott-Hort Greek text.  Almost all modern translations are based on the Westcott-Hort Greek text.  While I was in Bible college I did not have the tools or resources to examine the Westcott-Hort theory.  Since I retired from full-time employment I have had time to research almost all of the Biblical issues that concerned me.   I have concluded from my studies that the Textus Receptus as it is so named is truly the best Greek Text.   The Westcott-Hort Greek text is seriously flawed because of their extreme reliance of the two manuscripts:

Codex Sinaiticus

Codex Vaticanus

.The basic argument for the use of these two manuscripts is that they are older that most Textus Receptus manuscripts.  To me this is not a sufficient argument.  Dr. Phil Stringer is an expert on this controversy of KJV only.  He understands the history of the Greek Text and the Revision of the Greek text in 1870 by the Revision committee.   TLC


By Dr. Phil Stringer

This message was given at the 33rd Annual Meeting and Conference of the GraceWay Bible Society meeting, Saturday, October 27th, 2001, held at Brampton Ontario, Canada.


I. The King James Only Controversy.
II. The Primacy of the King James Bible
III. The Westcott and Hort Theory.
IV. Westcott and Hort Only?
V. What You Have to Believe to Accept the Westcott and Hort Theory
VI. Were Westcott and Hort Infallible?
VII. Who Were Westcott and Hort?
VIII. The Doctrine of Westcott and Hort.
IX. Were Westcott and Hort Saved Men?
X. The Work of the English Revision Committee.
XI. Were Westcott and Hort Secret Practitioners of the Occult?
XII. The Fundamentalist Defenders of Westcott and Hort!
XIII. In Conclusion.

I. The King James Only Controversy.

You don’t have to read very much in contemporary, fundamentalist, Baptist literature to come across warnings about the “King James only controversy.”

Dr. Jerry Falwell announces that he is hiring Dr. Harold Rawlings to “refute the ‘King James Only’ cultic movement that is damaging so many good churches today.”
Dr. Robert Sumner warns about the “veritable fountain of misinformation and deceptive double talk on the subject of ‘King James Onlyism’.”
Dr. J. B. Williams refers to those who advocate the King James Only as “misinformers” and as “a cancerous sore.”
Dr. Robert Joyner calls King James Bible loyalists, “heretics”.
Dr. James R. White warns about King James Bible proponents “undercutting the very foundations of the faith itself”.

Such references to the King James Only Controversy are very common. Some refer to loyal supporters of the King James Bible as the “King James Only Cult”. Another common term is the sneering reference to the “King Jimmy Boys.”

However the use of the “King James Bible only” wasn’t always so controversial.
II. The Primacy of the King James Bible

God was doing a great work in England in the early 1600′s. The preaching of the gospel of Christ out of the Matthew’s Bible and the Geneva Bible was leading to multitudes of conversions. Evangelicals and Puritans were becoming a stronger and stronger force in the Church of England and in English culture.

Yet many were concerned that the final translation work into the English language had not been done. King James was persuaded to authorize a new translation. The King James Bible was printed in 1611.

At first there were questions and concerns about this new Bible translation. This was as it should be. No one should accept a Bible translation lightly. By 1640 however, the King James Bible was clearly the Bible of the English people. The Geneva and Matthew’s Bible, once greatly used of God, went out of print. There was simply no demand for them anymore.

The Church of England, with its official evangelical doctrinal statement, used the King James Bible exclusively. It was the Bible of the Puritans, both inside and outside the Church of England. In fact the Puritans began to use the distinctive Biblical English of the King James Bible in the day to day speech.

The King James Bible was the Bible of the Presbyterians, the Congregationalists, and the Quakers. It was clearly the Bible of the Baptists. By 1640 it was the Bible of the Pilgrims (some had used the Geneva Bible earlier).

The King James Bible was the Bible of evangelicals in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. It became the Bible of the English colonies across the Atlantic Ocean. The only religious group of any size or importance in England that didn’t use the King James Bible was Roman Catholicism. All non-Catholics could have been referred to as “King James only people.” When the Methodist Revival stirred England in the 1700′s, it did so with the preaching of the King James Bible. John Wesley, one of the founders of the Methodists, made his own translation of the New Testament. However, it found little acceptance, even among Methodists. Only the King James Bible was in common use.

When English colonies flourished in Australia and New Zealand, the King James Bible was the common Bible of the settlers. When President George Washington took the first presidential oath of office in the new United States of America, he did so with his hand on a King James Bible. Every American president since, with the exception of Franklin Pierce, has done the same.

Over one hundred fifty English translations were produced between 1611 and 1880. However, they found no audience except in a few cults. Most went out of print quickly. The English speaking, Christian world was truly “King James only”.

Baptist preachers produced a Baptist translation of the Bible. They replaced the word baptism with the word immersion. They replaced the word church with the word assembly. However, they found no audience, not even among Baptists. Their translation was soon out of print. The Baptists were truly “King James only”.

As hard as it may be for the liberals and secularists to admit, the American public schools were built around the King James Bible. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, (not exactly a religious right publication), describes the early public schools this way, “Public schools had a distinctly Protestant flavor, with teachers leading prayers and scripture reading from the King James Bible in their lessons”. The Roman Catholic minority objected to the King James Bible and so they developed their own school system. With the exception of the Catholics, the United States was clearly King James only.

Russell Kirk (a Roman Catholic historian) describes the influence of the King James Bible on the United States, “The book that was to exert a stronger influence than any other in Americas was not published until 1611, a few years after the first Virginian settlement: the ‘King James’ translation of the Bible, the Authorized Version, was prepared by English scholars for King James I. Read from American pulpits and in the great majority of American households during colonial times, the Authorized Version shaped the style, informed the intellect, affected the laws, and decreed the morals of the North American Colonies.” Truly the early United States was King James only.

According to Winston Churchill, ninety million copies of the King James Bible had been printed by the mid-twentieth century.

The King James Bible was the Bible of the great modern missions movement of the 1700′s and 1800′s. The missionaries from England and the United States were saved, called to the mission field, and trained under the preaching of the King James Bible. They traveled around the world, introducing the gospel of grace to millions. Many of these missionaries knew little or no Greek and Hebrew. They translated the Bible into 760 languages from the King James Bible. Truly the modern missions movement was a King James only movement.
III. The Westcott and Hort Theory.

In the 1870′s, a challenge arose in the English world to the primacy of the King James Bible. There had always been a challenge from Roman Catholicism, but this challenge came from men who were officially Protestants: Church of England Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott and Cambridge University Professor Fenton John Anthony Hort.

The heart of the Westcott and Hort theory was that the New Testament was preserved in almost perfect condition in two Greek texts, the Vaticanus and the Sinaiticus. Sinaiticus was discovered in a wastebasket in St. Catherine’s Momentary (near Mt. Sinai) in 1844 by Constantin von Tischendorf. The Vaticanus was found in the Vatican library in 1475 and was rediscovered in 1845.

The King James New Testament was translated from a different family of Greek texts. To Westcott and Hort, the King James Bible was clearly an inferior translation. It must be replaced by a new translation from texts that they considered to be older and better. They believed that the true work of God in English had been held back by an inferior Bible. They determined to replace the King James Bible and the Greek Textus Receptus. In short, their theory suggests that for fifteen hundred years the preserved Word of God was lost until it was recovered in the nineteenth century in a trash can and in the Vatican Library. [Editor RAB: that's where they belong.]

Hort clearly had a bias against the Textus Receptus, calling it “villainous” and “vile”. Hort aggressively taught that the School at Antioch (associated with Lucian) had loosely translated the true text of Scripture in the second century A. D. This supposedly created an unreliable text of Scripture which became the Textus Receptus. This was called the Lucian Recension Theory.

Hort did not have a single historical reference to support the idea that such a recension took place. He simply theorized that it must have taken place. In spite of the fact that there is not a single historical reference to the Lucian Recension, many Bible colleges teach it as a historical fact. [Editor RAB: sad but true. One of my professors was one of the contributing editors to the NIV, he did one of the minor prophets. I was not even a year old in Christ when I went off to seminary. I was not brought up in church, and never owned a Bible until my girlfriend gave me one as a gift before I went to seminary. The night I was saved I borrowed a Bible from a Muslim, (THAT IS ANOTHER STORY}. What was so disturbing to me was my professor. I felt he was trying to undermine my faith in the Bible and I told him so. By the way, my girlfriend gave me a King James Bible and told me it was the Word Of God. I married her while I was in seminary. Praise the Lord for a godly wife with godly convictions concerning the Bible. AMEN.]

IV. Westcott and Hort Only!

It is clear that the modern movement to revise the English Bible is based completely on the works of Westcott and Hort.

K.W. Clark writes, “…the Westcott-Hort text has become today our Textus-Receptus. We have been freed from the one only to become captivated by the other…The psychological chains so recently broken from our fathers have again been forged upon us, even more strongly.”

E.C. Colwell writes, “The dead hand of Fenton John Anthony Hort lies heavy upon us. In the early years of this century Kirsopp Lake described Hort’s work as a failure, …But Hort did not fail to reach his major goal. He dethroned the Textus Receptus. …This was a sensational achievement, an impressive success. Hort’s success in this task and the cogency of his tightly reasoned theory shaped – and still shapes – the thinking of those who approach the textual criticism of the New Testament through the English language.”

Zane Hodges, a long time professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, writes, “Modern textual criticism is psychologically addicted to Westcott and Hort. Westcott and Hort in turn, were rationalists in their approach to the textual problem in the New Testament and employed techniques within which rationalism and every other kind of bias are free to operate.”

Alfred Martin, former Vice-President at Moody Bible Institute, wrote in 1951, “The present generation of Bible students having been reared on Westcott and Hort have for the most part accepted this theory without independent or critical examination. …if believing Bible students had the evidence of both sides put before them instead of one side only, there would not be so much blind following of Westcott and Hort.” The two most popular Greek manuscripts today, Nestles-Aland and UBS (United Bible Society), differ very little from the Westcott and Hort text.


You have to believe that people who believed in the Deity of Christ often corrupt Bible manuscripts.
You have to believe that people who deny the Deity of Christ never corrupt Bible manuscripts.
You have to believe that people who died to get the gospel to the world couldn’t be trusted with the Bible.
You have to believe that their killers could be trusted.
You have to believe that the Celtic Christians, Waldenses, Albigenses, Henricians, Petrobrussians, Paulicians, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Protestant churches, the Anabaptists and the Baptists all did not have the pure word of God.
You have to believe that the Roman Catholics and the nineteenth century rationalists did have the pure word of God.


Even though many evangelicals treat the Westcott and Hort Theory as proven fact, there have always been serious textual scholars that challenged it.

The brilliant textual scholar, Dean John Burgon, referred to Westcott and Hort’s “violent recoil from the Traditional Text” and “their absolute contempt for the Traditional Text”. He refers to their theory as “superstitious veneration for a few ancient documents.”

Another famed textual scholar and contemporary of Westcott and Hort, F.H.P. Scrivener wrote, “Dr. Hort’s system therefore is entirely destitute of historical foundation. He does not so much as make a show of pretending to it; but then he would persuade us, as he persuaded himself…”.

It is a phony claim to scholarship to simply parrot the ideas of Westcott and Hort and pretend that you are superior to those who don’t accept their ideas. Those who wish to change the King James Bible, so long greatly used of God and cherished by the English speaking people, need to give clear reasons why!

How do you know that the “older” Vaticanus and Sinaticus manuscripts aren’t corrupt manuscripts? How do you know that the Lucian Recension ever took place? Why do you believe that the evangelicals throughout the centuries were using a corrupt text? Why would you trust Westcott and Hort only?


B.F. Westcott was born in 1825. F.J.A. Hort was born in 1828. They were members of the Broad Church (or High Church) Party of the Church of England. They became friends during their student days at Cambridge University. They worked for over thirty years together on the subject of the Greek text of the New Testament.

Westcott went on to become the Bishop of Durham (England) and served for a while as chaplain to Queen Victoria. Hort is best remembered as a Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University.

Both men wrote several books. They are best remembered for their edition of the Greek New Testament entitled, “The New Testament in the Original Greek”. They are also remembered for being the two most influential members of the English Revised Version committee which produced a new English translation. Scrivener thought that they exercised too much influence on this committee.

Westcott died in 1901. Hort passed away in 1892. Both men had sons who collected their personal correspondence and who wrote biographies about them.


The Scripture

It is clear that neither Westcott nor Hort held anything even faintly resembling a conservative view of Scripture. According to Hort’s son, Dr. Hort’s own mother (a devout Bible believer) could not be sympathetic to his views about the Bible. Westcott wrote to Hort that he overwhelmingly rejected the “idea of the infallibility of the Bible”. Hort says the same thing, the same week, in a letter to Bishop Lightfoot.

When Westcott became the Bishop of Durham, the Durham University Journal welcomed him with the praise that he was “free from all verbal or mechanical ideas of inspiration.”


Hort called the doctrine of the substitutionary atonement “immoral”. In doing so he sided with the normal doctrine of the High Church Party of the Church of England. The Low Church Party was generally evangelical, teaching salvation through personal faith in Jesus Christ. The High Church Party taught salvation by good works, including baptism and church membership.

Westcott and Hort wrote many commentaries that include references to classic passages about salvation. Repeatedly their commentary is vague and unclear. Westcott taught that the idea of “propitiating God” was “foreign to the New Testament.” He taught that salvation came from changing the character of the one who offended God. This is consistent with his statement that, “A Christian never is but is always becoming a Christian.”

Again and again, Westcott’s vague comments about salvation are easy to interpret as teaching universal salvation.

The Doctrine of Christ

It was common in the days of Westcott and Hort for those in the Church of England who denied the Deity of Christ to speak in vague terms! To clearly deny the Deity of Christ was to jeopardize your position in the Church of England. Many High Church modernists learned to speak of the Deity of Christ in unclear terms as a way to avoid trouble.

Many statements by both Westcott and Hort fall into that category of “fuzzy” doctrinal statements about Christ. Westcott and Hort were brilliant scholars. Surely they were capable of expressing themselves clearly on the doctrine of Christ if they wanted to. At best they are unclear; at worst, they were modernists hiding behind the fundamental doctrinal statement of the Church of England.

Other Teachings of Westcott and Hort

There are many other areas that cause fundamental Bible believers to have serious questions about Westcott and Hort. Westcott denied that Genesis 1 through 3 were historically true. Hort praised Darwin and his theory of evolution. Both Westcott and Hort praised the “Christian socialist” movement of their day. Westcott belonged to several organizations designed to promote “Christian socialism” and served as President of one of them (the Christian Social Union).

Both Westcott and Hort showed sympathy for the movement to return the Church of England to Rome. Both honored rationalist philosophers of their time like Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Dr. Frederick Maurice, and Dr. Thomas Arnold. Both were serious students of the Greek philosophers Plato and Aristotle.

There is much about the teaching of Westcott and Hort to deeply trouble any objective Bible believer.


The evangelical defenders of Westcott and Hort are quick to assert that they were saved men even if some of their ideas seem a little strange in our day. They remind people that both were ordained preachers in the evangelical Church of England.

However, there is no doubt that there were many Church of England preachers that were not true evangelicals. The High Church party was well known to teach salvation by works. Within the Church of England there was a vigorous debate between true evangelicals and those who taught baptismal regeneration or some other system of works for salvation. In their lengthy writings, neither Westcott nor Hort ever give an account of their own conversion. They never identified with the evangelicals in the Church of England. They were never accepted by the evangelicals in the Church of England. They were associated with various occult figures, but never with evangelicals.

While Westcott and Hort praised evolutionists, socialists, and modernists, they were bitterly critical of evangelical soulwinners. Westcott criticized the work of William Booth and the Salvation Army. Hort criticized the crusades of D.L. Moody. Hort criticized the soulwinning Methodists.

Both criticized evangelicals. Neither gave anyone any reason to believe that he had ever trusted Christ as his personal Saviour.


In 1870, the English Parliament authorized a revision of the King James Bible. Two teams of translators were hired. Most translators were from the Church of England but there were also seven Presbyterians, four Congregationalists, two Baptists, two Methodists and one Unitarian. The translators were instructed to make as few alterations to the King James Bible as possible.

A similar committee was developed in the United States at the same time. The two committee’s exchanged copies of their work. Several thousand Church of England preachers signed a petition protesting the inclusion of a Unitarian, Dr. Vance Smith, on the Revision Committee. They felt that only saved men should be involved in translating the Bible. Proper translation required the illumination of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Both Westcott and Hort defended Smith and lobbied for his presence on the committee. Westcott threatened to quit if Smith was not included. Westcott and Hort supplied everyone working on the committee with a private copy of their new Greek text. Hort lobbied (some would say intimidated) committee members to follow the Westcott and Hort text. Westcott, Hort, and Bishop Lightfoot pressured the committee to go beyond their mandate for doing a revision of the King James Bible. Dr. Frederick Scrivener opposed many of the changes to be made on the basis of the new Westcott and Hort Greek Text. Committee meetings were referred to as “… a kind of critical duel between Dr. Hort and Dr. Scrivener”.

Arthur Hort described his father’s method for describing the right reading of the text as “to settle the question by the light of his own inner consciousness”. Dean Burgon spoke of Hort’s method as deciding by “the ring of genuiness”. Hort was far more concerned about his feelings than he was about the textual debate over any passage. Westcott referred to the debate over textual readings as “hard fighting” and “a battle royal”.

The original chairman, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, resigned after referring to the project as “this most miserable business”.

Westcott and Hort eventually won most of the debates. After the new English Revision was published, both Scrivener and Burgon published lengthy refutations of the Revision. Burgon attacked the Revision strongly, calling it “excursions into cloud land” and “blowing smoke”. The people of England largely rejected the new translation. Attempts to make it the new Authorized Version of the Church of England met with such protest that Queen Victoria abandoned the idea.

Neither the English nor the American Revision sold very well. They were both soon replaced by other versions. However, the multitude of new English versions were all based upon the same Westcott and Hort Greek text and upon the theories of Westcott and Hort. Their English translation failed but their principles won the day. Even though vangelicals rejected the English Revision and the Westcott and Hort text, it did find supporters. Modernists and rationalists, both within and without the Church of England, praised their work. Theosophy founder, Helen Blavatsky, wrote at great length in praise of the new Greek text.

The defenders of Westcott and Hort claimed that the evangelicals were too simple-minded and unlearned to understand the work of Westcott and Hort and other English “scholars”. Evangelicalism was presented as unscholarly. After a generation, many evangelicals began to feel uncomfortable at always being labeled as unscholarly and uneducated. Some evangelical leaders began to look for ways to reconcile the historic Christian faith with the theories of Westcott and Hort.

These theories and the Greek text of Westcott and Hort began to find their way into evangelical seminaries and Bible colleges on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Two generations after the failure of the English Revision, the theories of Westcott and Hort had become majority opinion in evangelical Bible colleges and seminaries in both the United States and England. Their theories were universally accepted in modernist seminaries. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults bragged about having Bible translations based upon the Westcott and Hort theory.

Compromising evangelicals were suddenly proud of having “scholarship” accepted by the world. They used the same Greek text as the Roman Catholic Church, the modernists and the cults.

A relative handful of Bible believers refused to accept the Greek text and theory of Westcott and Hort. Such holdouts became an irritation to the “scholarly” evangelicals. As study of the issue increased, opposition to the Westcott and Hort theory grew. “Westcott and Hort only” no longer seemed an adequate reason for abandoning the King James Bible. The “scholarly evangelicals” began to react harshly to their “King James only” critics.


In 1993, Gail Riplinger published New Age Bible Versions. In this book, she alleges that Westcott and Hort were practitioners of the occult. It is indicated that they provide a bridge between apostate Christianity and the occult and the New Age Movement.

This charge created a sensation and generated a tremendous amount of criticism for Mrs. Riplinger. It is, of course, a very important charge. An objective look at the evidence for such a charge is important.
Along with Bishop Edward White Benson, Westcott and Hort founded the Ghostly Guild. This club was designed to investigate ghosts and supernatural appearances. The club was based upon the idea that such spirits actually exist and appear to men. According to The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology, the members of the Ghostly Club would “relate personal experiences concerned with ghosts.

This club would eventually become the Society for Psychical Research. According to James Webb in The Occult Underground and W.H. Solter, The S.P.R. – An Outline of It’s History, this club became a major factor in the rise of spiritualism among the elite of English society in the late 1800′s. Many leading occult figures belonged to the Society.

Along the way, Westcott and Hort dropped out of the Ghostly Guild. However, they had plenty of opportunity to be exposed to the occult and demonism before they withdrew.

Westcott’s son refers to his father’s life long faith in spiritualism (Archbishop Benson’s son referred to Benson in the same way). Communion with spirits became quite fashionable in the late 1800′s in British society. Even Queen Victoria, who normally led a responsible Christian life, dabbled in spiritualism. However, it was considered unseemly for Church of England clergymen, and Wescott had to keep his ideas quiet. According to Wescott’s son, Arthur, Dr. Wescott practiced the Communion of the Saints. This was a belief that you can fellowship with the spirits of those who died recently.

Bible translator J. B. Phillips also believed in the Communion of Saints. He believed that the spirit of C.S. Lewis visited him after his death. According to Arthur Wescott, Bishop Wescott also had such experiences with spirits. His son writes, “The Communion of Saints seems particularly associated with Peterborough. He had an extraordinary power of realizing this Communion. It was his delight to be alone at night in the great Cathedral, for there he could meditate and pray in full sympathy with all that was good and great in the past. . . There he always had abundant company.” Wescott’s daughter met him returning from one of his customary meditations in the solitary darkness of the chapel at Auckland castle. She said to him, ” I expect you do not feel alone?” “Oh, no,” he said, “It is full.”

Either Dr. Wescott’s children lied about him or Dr. Wescott was used to meeting with spirits. Bible believers recognize these spirits as demons. Wescott and Hort both joined a secret society called, The Apostles. It was limited to 12 members. One of the other members Henry Sidgwick. He was also stated to have led several professors at Trinity College into secretly practicing the occult. Wescott, his close friend, was also a professor at Trinity College. Strange company for a Christian teacher and Bible translator.

In 1872 Wescott formed a secret society, the Eranus Club. Members included Hort, Sidgwick, Arthur Balfour (future prime minister of England), Archbishop Trench and Dean Alford. Both Trench and Alford would be involved in Bible revision work. Balfour became famous for his seances and practice of spiritualism. The Eranus Club would eventually become known as an occult secret society.

Wescott’s defenders point out that Wescott also eventually dropped out of Eranus. Still he was certainly allied with practioners of the occult in a secret society for a period of time.

Balfour and Sedgwick were involved in several occult organizations, socialism and Theosophy. How many Christians have so many friends prominent in the practice of the occult?

Balfour would also be involved in the founding of the League of Nations and in forming a secret society with Cecil Rhodes (the Round Table and the Council on Foreign Relations).

The evidence for Mrs. Riplinger’s assertions is strong. Would Westcott and Hort’s defenders accept anyone today who had such connections? They were clearly in contact with people who were “familiar” with spirits. There is every reason to suspect that they might also have been in contact with spirits. Based upon their associations, there is no clear reason to reject the suggestion that they were involved in the occult. The balance of evidence creates, at the very least, a strong suspicion of occult influence on both Wescott and Hort (especially Dr. Wescott).


There are fundamentalists who refuse to accept the characterization of Westcott and Hort as liberals (much less occultists)! J. B Williams writes, “I have three of Westcott’s commentaries in my library, and I challenge anyone to find one sentence that would be a departure from Fundamentalist doctrine.”

Keith Gephart writes, “In reality, Westcott had made clear statements affirming orthodox doctrines such as the deity of Christ, in no way was he guilty of heresy and apostasy.” In responding to a critic of Westcott and Hort, Gephart wrote this, “I cannot help but suspect that . . . some blinding presupposition . . .drives you to prove him a heretic at any cost.”

Dr. Stewart Custer writes, “Especially when these men have written in their mature years book after book defending the conservative interpretation of scripture, it is unjust to characterize their whole ministries by a few misinterpretations that they may have been guilty of.”

Evangelist Robert Sumner admits that Westcott and Hort were liberal in theology but he still believes that they were trustworthy to “restore the original text.”

It would be easy to ask at this point if everyone is reading from the same books. How can there be such a difference of opinion about what these men believed and wrote?

It is true that these men (especially Westcott) wrote commentaries in which they used the great doctrinal terms of the Christian faith in a positive way. They used terms that were part of the official doctrinal position of the Church of England (in which they both held prominent positions).

Almost all denominational liberals use the terms expected of them. This is important in maintaining their income, position and influence. The important thing is how they explain those doctrinal terms (or fail to explain them).

Unless you are determined not to see it, it is clear from their commentaries that they put a liberal interpretation on many Christian doctrines. Both of their sons admit that they were accused of heresy because of their books. This understanding of these statements in their commentaries are supported by several external facts.

Westcott and Hort identified with the High Church Party (Broad Party) within the Church of England. In contrast with the more evangelical and conservative Low Church, modernism found it’s home in the High Church Party.

Westcott and Hort constantly praised theological liberals, socialists and other radicals like Coleridge and Darwin.

No similar praise is found for evangelicals or fundamentalists, either in or out of the Church of England. They are normally ignored! When they are mentioned at all, like D. L. Moody, it is with disdain!

Their private correspondence reveals their liberal drift much more clearly then their commentaries. Of course, it was safer for them to admit what they really believed in this forum. Their correspondence also shows that they had concerns that they could not afford to have all of their beliefs known by the general public.

The biographies of Westcott and Hort written by their sons clearly reveal that they were not in harmony with the official positions of the Church of England. Their sons had no reason to lie about them. Certainly their sons had no King James only bias.

It is interesting that some men can’t face the real record about Westcott and Hort. In fact, some who are quick to attack even minor differences with living preachers, take a blind eye to Westcott and Hort.

However, this is easy to understand. Their campaign to replace the King James Bible has been based upon the work of Westcott and Hort only. To admit these men were not trustworthy would be to admit that they have been wrong in a major premise of their entire ministry.

Perhaps we must be forced to suspect that some blinding presupposition drives them to prove that Westcott and Hort were not heretics at any cost. It appears that “scholarship” requires only a shallow reading of Westcott and Hort and ignorance of their personal letters and correspondence. Their defenders do not spend anytime quoting their personal correspondence or the biographies written by their sons.

Their defenders never recount the testimonies of their conversion because no such testimonies exist.


Dean John Burgon was a contemporary and acquaintance of both Westcott and Hort. He was a firm opponent of the Westcott and Hort theory, their new Greek text and the revision of the English Bible that they so heavily influenced. In an article entitled “The Secret Spanking of Westcott and Hort” Burgon wrote: “the text of Drs. Westcott and Hort is either the very best which has ever appeared or else it is the very worst; the nearest to the sacred autographs or the furthest from them. There is no room for both opinions, and there cannot exist any middle view.” In other words things that are different are not the same.

Millions of professing evangelicals have never heard of Westcott and Hort. None the less, their approach to the Scripture is based upon the theory of Westcott and Hort — Westcott and Hort only. No matter how many books, professors, colleges and denominational leaders these theories are filtered through, they are still the work of Westcott and Hort only.

Those who challenge the primacy of the King James Bible in the English speaking world depend on the work of Westcott and Hort.

Westcott and Hort are not a sufficient basis to reject the Textus Receptus or the King James Bible. Their objectivity, scholarship and doctrine are all at best “suspect.” There is no reason to believe that they were saved men. There is more reason to believe that they were influenced by the occult than there is to believe that they were influenced by the Holy Spirit.

Perhaps the “King James Only Controversy” is misnamed. It is really a “Westcott and Hort Only” controversy.

Are you willing to abandon the historic contributions of the Textus Receptus and the King James Bible for Westcott and Hort, Westcott and Hort Only.


If you would like an updated KJV without the Thees and Thous I would direct you to Chris and Trudy Sherburne’s website where you can find a critique of the New King James version “Enough” and a copy of the KJ07 which removes the archaic language from the KJV1611 without changing the essential translation.   Dr. Phil Stringer referred me to this site when I asked him about a good critique of the New King James Bible translation.

Also you should read the article entitled A Paraphrase is not the Bible.

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

What Must I do to be saved?


“What must I do to be saved?” is the question the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas. Paul and Silas answered with the Gospel: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30, 31). The Gospel is all of God’s grace and simple, but many stumble on it, for it goes against our desire to do something ourselves to save ourselves. Rather it is Good News, because Jesus has done it all – it is His person and work a person must look to and believe. Jesus is the Son of God, perfect and without sin, who suffered the punishment due to his people on the cross and the wrath of God due to them that they might enter into direct communion with God once again. This substitutionary sacrifice for his people’s sin, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, sealed eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord for those who believe. What follows gives the Biblical content of what we believe about ourselves, Jesus, and what He did:

What is it a person needs to be saved from?

(1) The wrath of God due to us because of the guilt of our sin  

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18)

And he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)

And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

(2) The consequences of our sin:

(A) Death  

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17)

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread through all men, because all sinned…so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord…. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12, 21; 6:23)

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. (John 8:24)

(B) Condemnation  

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in the Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)

And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification…. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:16, 18)

Hear this from the books of Romans and Ephesians:

First the truth about all of us in our lost, sinful condition:

As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;

There is none who understands;

There is none who seeks after God.

They have all turned aside;

They have together become unprofitable;

There is none who does good, no, not one.”

“Their throat is an open tomb;

With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Destruction and misery are in their ways;

And the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:10-20)

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

And now the good news – the Gospel – showing us what God has done in Christ for his people:

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. (Romans 3:21-31)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace have you been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

This same God-man conquered death for his people as he rose from the dead the third day, and after teaching and comforting the believers, he ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.

What are you to do? Believe what the Bible says about you – you are a sinner who deserves death and the wrath of God because of your sin. Believe what the Bible says about Jesus and what He did – He is the only begotten Son of God, the eternal Word who became flesh and was sinless and perfect; He was crucified on a cross and died bearing the sins of His people and rose again on the third day.

For He made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.  (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:31)

If you would like prayer or do not have a Bible of your own and wish to receive one (no strings attached) please contact us at The Trinity Foundation, Post Office Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692, (423) 743-0199 – voice or (423) 743-2005 – fax, or email May it please the Lord to grant you salvation.

Essays for further reading:

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

How Can a Just God Forgive a Sinful Man?

Through Faith Alone

Only One Way of Salvation

What is the Gospel?

Calvin on the ‘Pernicious Hypocrisy’ of Justification by Faith and Works

The Ground of Justification

The Means of Sanctification

The Relationship between Justification and Sanctification

Justification and the Clarity of the Bible

Contemporary Religion versus the Gospel

Assurance of Salvation

Justification by Faith: Romanism and Protestantism

What is Faith?

Saving Faith

Are You Catholic?

God’s Plan to Save His People

Four Great Certainties


Politics and Religion


The most important issues on earth!

The old maxim is “Don’t discuss Politics or Religion” in a social gathering.  Why?  Because these are the two most volatile subjects of mankind.   But why are they the two most volatile issues of mankind?   My answer is “They are two most important issues of mankind”     One has to do with the rule of earth and the other has to do with the rule of heaven.

I do not like to argue over these to issues, but I have my judgments on these two areas.  My father’s family were dyed in the wool democrats.   My father was a democrat no matter who was running for office.  My grandfather, William Clark, was the same.

However, my oldest sister Kay is Republican.   She is probably the smartist one in our family.   She and her husband were leaders in the Young Republicans organization in Michigan..  The rest of my family is democrats.   I am not a Republican just because someone else is.   Nor do I believe that all Republicans are good leaders.   However, as a general rule they take a more biblical stand of moral issues than most Democrat politicians.   I do not believe that politicians will save our U.S.A.   

But I do believe that God many times gives us the leaders that we deserve.

The Bible says, . “Righteousness exalteth nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Prov 14:34 (KJV)

As Christians we believe in a Sovereign God who rules over all things.   However, we do not know exactly why He allows wicked people to prosper and oppress righteous people.

In a county such as we have part of the “Powers that be” (Romans 12:1ff) are all individuals not just Presidents and other government officials.”   We have a representative Republic not a true democracy, nor dictatorship, or monarchy.

 The 10 Amendments to the Constitution were designed to protect the people from the Government not the Government from the people.  Having said all this now I get to my point.   Senator Mark Kirk has now taken an Anti-Christian action.   I had never trusted Mark Kirk because of his political viewpoints.  Even though he ran as a Republican he fits the picture of a RINO (Republican in name only).  

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil.3:14


Mark Kirk’s AntiChristian Act  

IFI E-Alert” >

Call to Action


Mark Kirk Discriminates Against Christian Pro-Family Think Tank
Written By Laurie Higgins 

Last week, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) confirmed my reasons for vehemently opposing his Senate election.  His obamaniacal act of hubris last week also reminded me of the emails I received chastising me for what some perceived as my wrongheaded, doctrinaire naïveté in opposing Kirk’s election.

Last Friday, Kirk, in league with homosexual activists, abruptly cancelled access to a U.S. Senate meeting room that had been reserved months ago by the Rockford-based Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society.  According to Sen. Kirk’s press secretary, Kirk cancelled the meeting because he “will not host groups that advance a hateful agenda.” And what is the “hateful agenda”?  The question posed on the meeting’s invitation was” [W]hat might conservative Americans learn from Russia, Australia, and other nations about rebuilding a pro-family policy?”  

The discussion panelists were Austin Ruse, President of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute; Allan Carlson, former professor of history at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan and president of the Howard Center;  Stephen Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute and an advocate for human rights in China; and Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Senior Fellow at The Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank of Concerned Women for America.

If Kirk considers these scholars hate-promoters, then logically he must call all orthodox Christian theologians hate-promoters for every contemporary orthodox theologian and every theologian in the history of Christendom has held the same views on the nature of marriage and the nature and morality of homosexuality as these panel participants.  

If Kirk’s Democratic opponent in the U.S. Senate race had won, the Republican Party would be working feverishly to find a candidate to challenge him. Of course, with the Illinois GOP polluted by the corruption and ignorance that plagues much of the Democratic Party, who knows what dubious character they may have trotted out and insisted Republicans support. The assignation “Republican” is no guarantee of integrity, wisdom, or humility.

But with Kirk ensconced in the corridors of the U.S. Senate, (where he works tenaciously for every pro-homosexual bill including Illinois’ recent same-sex “marriage” bill), the Illinois GOP has little motivation to dethrone him. They couldn’t care less if he abuses his position to normalize sexual deviance while trampling the conscience rights of untold numbers of people. 

“Moderate” Republicans (hereafter referred to as immoderates) caterwaul that social conservatives are exclusive, narrow-minded, parochial voters who just don’t get the bigger picture. That bigger picture is centrally shaped, in the exclusive, narrow-minded, parochial view of immoderates, by “electability” and fiscal issues. Their big tent is really not so much big as it is blue-tinged. They don’t really want social conservatives to expand their scope of interests beyond the issues of prenatal rights, marriage, religious liberty, and the post-natal rights of children. They want social conservatives to abandon wholly those issues.

Conservatives, move to the back of the big immoderate purple circus tent and shut your flapping jaws about those irrelevant issues pertaining to sexuality, the First Amendment, and children’s rights—none of which (in the view of immoderates) have any substantive bearing on the public good.

In the meantime, the immoderates unctuously ooze that social conservatives should just let the big daddies who know best—people like Mark Kirk who solicited support from the baby-killing  industry when running for the U.S.  Senate—to run the country for them.

Sen. Kirk thinks that it’s hateful to believe that marriage is inherently sexually complementary, but not hateful to kill the unborn. To Kirk, cross-dressing and perverse sexual acts are moral goods and fighting for the rights of children to survive the womb and be raised by a mother and father are moral evils. What kindof man thinks like this? C.S. Lewis calls men like this “men without chests,” and Isaiah warns, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”

Don’t you fret, oh ye of little conservative minds, your time will come—the immoderates hiss.  Just wait until men without chests have solved our debt problem and then they’ll end the forfeit—I mean, truce—on the “social issues.” Yessiree, once we get out of this $17 trillion debt, our lawmakers will work to restore the proper marriage laws, religious liberty, and children’s rights that they’re allowing to be trampled or, in the case of Kirk, actively and jubilantly trampling.

But does anyone really believe that in the future conservatives will be able to restore marriage laws or repeal the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) so that business owners will have the right to refuse to hire cross-dressers if men like Senators Mark Kirk and Rob Portman (R-OH) have been in Washington D.C. for decades using their power and friendships to shape the votes and views of colleagues?

If right-thinking Americans would spend just a little less time thinking about clever political strategies and just a little more time thinking about truth and courage, we might have a shot at preserving America.

Take ACTION: Please click HERE to contact Senator Kirk to express your opposition to his endorsement of homosexual “marriage,” his engagement in religious discrimination, and his subordination of the wishes of Illinois conservatives to the desires of homosexual activists.  You can also call his Washington D.C. office at (202) 224-2854.



Why memorize?


Why memorize?  This list of Reasons from Scripture Memory Fellowship

Memorizing the Word of God makes it instantly accessible in every situation and for every need.

  1. Memorizing Scripture is specifically commanded by God: “These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children” (Deut. 6:6,7). “Lay up His words in thine heart” (Job 22:22b).
  2. Memorizing Scripture enlightens darkened hearts: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). The word burns and smites (Jer. 23:29), pierces and discovers (Heb. 4:12).
  3. Memorizing Scripture inculcates conviction on the standard of values and righteous­ness as being absolute and unchanging: “Therefore I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:128). Read Isaiah 55:8, 9.
  4. Memorizing Scripture restores broken lives: “He sent His word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions” (Ps. 107:20).
  5. Memorizing Scripture helps spiritual growth: “As newborn babes, desire the sin­cere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). The “strong meat” of the Word for those who go on to Christian maturity (Heb. 5:12).
  6. Memorizing Scripture makes for an effectual prayer life: “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (Jn. 15:7).
  7. Memorizing Scripture motivates spontaneous witnessing: “Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jer. 20:9).
  8. Memorizing Scripture promotes fruitfulness: “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it [keep it in memory], and bring forth fruit with patience” (Lu. 8: 15).
  9. Memorizing Scripture makes continual meditation possible: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night” (Ps. 1:2).
  10. Memorizing Scripture affords comfort and strength in time of trouble: “Unless Thy law had been my delights. I should then have perished in mine affliction” (Ps. 119:92).
  11. Memorizing Scripture guards against sin: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119: 11).
  12. Memorizing Scripture provides wisdom and guidance for daily living: “Lo, they have rejected the word of the Lord; and what wisdom is in them?” (Jer. 8:9). Read James 3:17.
  13. Memorizing Scripture equips for spiritual warfare: The covering of truth, the breastplate or righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword or the Spirit (Eph. 6: 11-17).
  14. Memorizing Scripture is exemplified by Christ: When tempted by the devil, He said, “It is written,” and then He gave the Scripture (Matt. 4).

Do not talk yourself out of it. God has commanded it; we must do it! Use our plan, or use your own plan, but by all means, MEMORIZE!

Work and Witness for the Lord


Dear Friends,

During the last several months I have not posted any articles.  Sorry for my lack of productivity.   I was out of town for about a month and a half getting my dental work done in my home town.  In the Chicago area dental work is very costly.  Even though I have good dental insurance, I need to get my work done at a lower cost.  For example I needed a large number of teeth removed.  My teeth have been bad for years so I decided to have my dental work done.   In the Chicago area I had my teeth checked and received a price quote on the dental work to be done.   It would cost me $177.00 to pull each tooth.   In my home area there is a good dentist who had previously had his dental practice in Kansas City Missouri.   I called him on the phone and ask him how much he charged for removing a tooth.   He said he charged $55.00 unless it was very difficult to pull the tooth.   I decided to visit my home town and stay for awhile to visit my sisters and other long time friends both Christian and non-Christian.  Even though my dental insurance would have paid my dental work in Chicago, I would not have any left after pulling the teeth to put in an upper set of artificial teeth.

This dentist was not only an excellent and trustworthy dentist, I like his personality.  I will have to return another time to finish my dental work on my bottom teeth.

While I was down there, I asked the Dentist to go to church with me.  He agreed and I picked him up and we went to one of the good Baptist churches in my home town.  All of the Baptist churches in my home town as well as the surrounding area are sound in the Faith and have reliable preachers.

My home town has shrunk in population from around 2000 to 1850.   But there is a large lake near the town which now probably has 200 or more people living there.  This might account for the decreased population in my home town.

Suggestion!  You might want to check out some small town away from the large city to get some of your dental work done.  And other type work.   Not everything is cheaper in a small town.   For instance, the cost of groceries is generally higher in my home town.   The auto repair costs are about the same as Chicago.

And my situation may be different than other people.  I have now been retired for over 10 years and have a free place to stay in my home town.  The most expensive item is the gas money to travel back and forth 400 miles (one way).

My son, his wife and 5 children came down with him and my son and his three boys went fishing.   We caught about 30 plus blue gills and 5 nice sized bass. The only problem with fishing is cleaning the fish afterwards.  However, the three boys were thrilled with all the fish they caught.

At present I am in the process of refinancing my home to a lower interest rate.   I will be able to lower my current interest rate about 1% with no closing costs except an appraisal fee.

As a Christian I believe that all I have and all that I possess is the Lord’s and I am just His steward.   I try to be a good steward with all my resources.  I fact this website is totally free except my son purchased a 5 years domain name for me.

I had been thinking of what name to name a website and one day when I was online the site popped up on the side of a web page.  My daughter-in-law had told me that I could get a free blog site from   So I signed up with and the name of the site just popped into my mind.  I didn’t like the sound of “the Bible Answer man” so I used “”.  I explain in a place on my site that I am “a bible resource man” because I am not the only bible resource man.   I am one among many bible resource men.

However, I have been collecting excellent biblical articles for years and so now I have a place to share them with other Christians and unbelievers.  I am now 70 years old and have many health problems and do not know how many more years the Lord will give me.  I want to use my remaining years serving the Lord.  I also want to be a good example and good influence on my son, his wife, and five grandchildren.

Abraham is a good example of a godly father.  This is what the LORD said about him.

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.  Gen 18:19 (KJV)

We should plan to raise godly children who will be an honour to God.

God saved me at the age of 19 and since that time I have continued to serve the Lord.  I completed Bible college with a double major: 1) a major in biblical studies 136 semester hours, and 2) a second major in English Literature.    I had a goal of making nothing but “A”s in my biblical studies.  This I did.  I took after 12 semester hours in Seminary while there.   Then I came to Chicago, Ilinois.    I took additional courses in areas of education:  12 hours at Jane Addams Graduate school in Social work, and approximately 12 hours at Moody Bible Institute in courses that I did not take at the Bible College,  and additional courses in education at Northern Teachers college, and then approx. 12 hours at Trinity Evangelical Seminary in Deerfield.

Even though I did not complete a Seminary degree, I have a well rounded biblical education.

My English Literature teacher in college allowed me to do most of my term papers on biblical areas.   I did a term paper on John Bunyan, John Milton, and John Donne, the poet preacher and other biblically related subjects.

I worked for seven years in a German church in Chicago.   Then I pastored  a Baptist Church in Humboldt Park in Chicago for about 4 years.   I now attend a good Bible Church in the suburbs of Chicago.

My son and wife and the five grandchildren are my pride and joy.   My son is active in his church and the children are active in AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed).  My son was in AWANA for about 4 years in a good Bible church in Chicago.  He has continued to work with AWANA for many years.  Personally I think AWANA is the best Christian Organization for youth, especially for boys.

A friend and I go out soulwinning and witnessing every Friday morning in Chicago and have continue for approximately 4 years.

We believe every Christian should be a witness and soulwinner.   Jesus command us to “Go into all the World and preach the gospel (good news) to every living person. Mark 16:15     There are many ways to preach (proclaim) the Good News of free eternal life.   We talk to people about receiving the Lord and eternal life and we also distribute Christian literature (tracts and Gospels of John) about free salvation.

Evangelizing does not mean that we win people to the Lord.   We sow the seed and God is responsible to make it grow.  To evangelize is simply “to proclaim the good news of free eternal life” and expect God to bring salvation to all who believe. 

6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 1 Cor 3:6-8 (KJV)

So we are successful even when a person does not immediately get saved.  We have done the will of God in that we have obeyed Him in proclaiming His word of Salvation.

Many churches neglect promoting witnessing and soul winning.   My friend and I hardly every see anyone witnessing or soul winning in the Chicago area.   This is a sad thing that churches are not obedient to the Lord’s command. 

If you would like to be obedient to the Lord’s command we will send you some material and ideas about witnessing and soul winning.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.  Prov 11:30 (KJV)

3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.  Dan 12:3 (KJV)

There are many ways to witness and win souls to the Lord.

Please write me or call me 773-934-0592

If your church does not promote witnessing and soul winning you might be better off changing to a church that does.  My son, wife, and children recently changed to a church that promotes soul winning and witnessing.   The church he was attending had good preaching but did not have an emphasis on evangelism, soul winning, and witnessing.

Below is the website of a good Bible memory ministry.

Every Christian must be an effective witness for the Lord.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ please pray for us in our witnessing and soul winning.

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14


Proof of Prophecy


Prophecy is the greatest evidence of the inspiration and inerrancy of Holy Scripture.

One day my sister called me and said she was having doubts about the inspiration and authority of Scripture. At that point I only mentioned the amazing prophecy of Cyrus the Great. But I did promise that I would write an article about this amazing prophecy and email it to her. Below is what I sent her.

Proof of Prophesy

Prediction about Cyrus the Great

God predicts that Cyrus the Great will return the Jewish people from the Babylonian captivity over 176 years before Cyrus the Great is even born. This prophecy was declared by God even before the Jewish people are taken into the Babylonian captivity in 606 B.C., 597 B.C., and 586 B.C.

The below Scripture was written by Isaiah in 712 B.C. which was many years before Cyrus the Great was even born. God also predicts what Cyrus will do. Cyrus the Great will bring the Jewish people back from their captivity in Babylon. This prediction was made even prior to the Jewish people being taken into captivity in 606 B.C., 597 B.C. and finally in 586 B.C. This Jewish captivity lasted 70 years. The Jewish people were returned to their land somewhere around 536 B.C. which is 176 years after this prediction was made. This is indeed an amazing prediction.


One of the attributes of God is His omniscience. He knows the end from the beginning. This prophecy is clear evidence of the Divine nature of Holy Scripture. Isaiah’s prophecy is given 176 years before it actually took place. In Isaiah 46:8-11 God declares His ability to know all the future even before it happens.

8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men: bring it again to mind, O ye transgressors. 9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it. Isaiah 46:8-11 (KJV) Written by Isaiah 712 B.C.

28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Isaiah 44:28 (KJV) Written by Isaiah 712 B.C.

1 Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name,am the God of Israel. 4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. Isaiah 45:1-4 (KJV)Written by Isaiah712 B.C.

13 I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts. Isaiah 45:13 (KJV) Written in 712 B.C.

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:9-10 (KJV) was written in 712 B.C. The Bible which is the Holy Scriptures clearly shows divine inspiration by the clearly fulfilled prophetic events that they predict.

There are many other prophecies that have been literally fulfilled exactly and clearly as stated. There are many fulfilled prophecies of Jesus Christ’s first coming.

This should give all God’s children confidence and hope. My confidence in the Bible, the Word of God, is most convincingly confirmed by God’s prophecies. God’s Word has changed my life through the years. My study of God’s Word has now been for over 52 years. Even now I continue to learn more every year.

God holds His Word in high regard. He states in Psalms 138:2 “…Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy name.”

Psa 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

We are not guilty of bibliolatry when we exalt God’s Word. But we must recognize that God’s Word is to be used in an instrumental sense.

Joh 5:38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

Joh 5:39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Joh 5:40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

The Holy Scriptures were given for the purpose that we might receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. It was not because of the merit of simply reading and studying Holy Scripture.

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14 773-934-0592                                                                 

The book of Romans



Below is a skeleton outline of Romans.   After you have memorized this outline we will start to put some meat on the bones with exposition and memory verses.  The book of Romans is the most complete explanation of soteriology (doctrine of salvation) in the Bible.  It is the systematic Theology of the Bible.  William Tyndale said that Romans was a light and a way unto the whole Scripture.  Salvation has a very wide and comprehensive meaning in Scripture.  I define it as the work of God to remove and deliver all of His creation from the contamination and consequences of Sin.  This includes the material creation as well as mankind. “Forasmuch as this epistle is the principal and most excellent part of the new testament, and most pure evangelion, that is to say glad tidings and that we call gospel, and also a light and a way in unto the whole Scripture, I think it meet, that every Christian man not only know it by rote and without the book but also exercise himself therein evermore continually, as with the daily bread of the soul. No man verily can read it too often or study it too well: for the more it is studied the easier it is, the more it is chewed the pleasanter it is, and the more groundly it is searched the preciouser things are found in it, so great treasure of spiritual things lieth hid therein.[7]”  William Tyndale I recommend you read the below article on Tyndale. My recommendation is that you master the book of Romans. As Henry Ward Beecher said, “All words are pegs to hang ideas on.”   Here are  8 pegs upon which you can begin to hang your ideas.  Memorize them well.


  1. INTRODUCTION – 1:1-1:17
  2. CONDEMNATION –  1:18-3:20
  3. JUSTIFICATION –   3:21-5:21
  4. SANCTIFICATION – 6:1-8:10
  5. GLORIFICATION – 8:11-8:39
  6. EXPLANATION – 9:1-11:36




  1. APPLICATION – 12:1-16:20
  2. SALUTATION – 16:1-27  

Definitions are the Touchstone & Foundation of correct and accurate Biblical Theology.   There is nothing more practical than correct & accurate theology.

Romans is the key to the understanding of the rest of the Bible.  It is the most systematic theology of all the books of the Bible.  Romans is literally the systematic theology of the Bible.

Master the contents of Romans in order to secure the key for all Scriptural understanding.   First memorize each one of the key words for the eight sections of Romans. Then memorize the chapter and verse divisions for each section. 

Then memorize the definition of each of the theological words:  1) Condemnation, 2) Justification, 3) Sanctification, and 4) Glorification.  Memorize these definitions verbatim.

1.   Introduction to Romans

The book of Romans was not addressed to the Church at Rome, but was simply addressed to the saints that be in Rome. To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints:”  Romans 1:7 (KJV).   The churches at Rome were probably small scattered groups of believers.  At this time, no official visit had been made by an Apostle.   The saints at Rome possibly became believers as a result of Jewish Messianic believers that returned from the Feast of Pentacost.

The letter to the Romans is introduction with the qualifications of the Apostle Paul.  He introduces himself as a “slave” of Jesus Christ, an Apostle, selected for the Gospel of God.  He further states the contents of his message: the promises of God to the Jewish people through God’s prophets of the coming Messiah.

The believers at Rome needed to be established in the doctrinal truth of the Good News of salvation.  This letter presents that most systematic theology of salvation in the Holy Scripture.   Paul probably believed this was necessary because no official Apostle had visited the Roman believers to establish them in clear doctrinal understanding.

Romans was written while Paul was in Corinth  “…most scholars would date Romans between A.D. 54 to 59, with a date of 55-56 being preferred.”1

“The consensus of the scholars who contributed to the New King James Version Study Bible say Romans was written in the fall of 57 AD by the Apostle Paul.”2

We know that Paul had a great desire to visit Rome in order to establish the believers there and also because Rome was the center of the civilized world at that time.  Rome was a strategic city for the spread of the Gospel.  Paul states his desire to visit but also states that he has not been able to visit Rome up to the present time.   Paul did get to Rome but not in the way he had planned.   He went there in chains.

Paul was confident that the Gospel of God would have power for salvation even in this proud and illustrious city.  Apparently, there had been Messianic believers already in Rome as early as the reign of Claudius Caesar.  Claudius had expelled some Jews from Rome because of some Jewish quarrel over one named Chrestus.  

“…Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.”  Acts 18:2 (KJV)

According to Wikipedia only some Jews were expelled from Rome but not all.3

 Many scholars believe that this was a conflict between traditional Jews and Messianic believers over the person of Jesus Christ.

During the time of the early Church Messianic Jews were persecuted by traditional unbelieving Jews.  The book of Hebrews was probably written by Paul to Messianic Jews that were suffering from persecution from traditional Jews.   Traditional Jews accused Messianic Jews of being traitors.   This type persecution continued up until the time of Bar Kokhba in (132–136 CE) A.D. when Bar Kokhba fomented a second Jewish war.   At that time Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians separated.  Gentile Christians did not want to be associated with Messianic Jews because Rome did not consider there to be any difference between Messianic Jews and traditional Jews.  Gentile Christians did not want to be consider rabble-rousers and contentious people.   From that time on Christianity took on a decidedly Gentile flavor and even became somewhat anti-semitic.  Because of Bar Kokhba Christianity took a serious bend toward being Gentilized.   All of this deviation culimated in Christianity being made a legal religion under Constantine and “In 395, Emperor Theodosius made Christianity Rome’s new state religion.”5  This joining of the Church and State continued until the Reformation and even beyond.

The theme of Romans is clearly stated in Romans 1:17 “the righteous of God”.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:16-17 (KJV)


2. Condemnation is a judicial, legal, forensic act of God whereby He declares the sinner guilty and worthy of punishment.  Condemnation is not the punishment itself, but is simply the declaration of guilt.   Condemnation is a term that is equal and opposite to Justification.

15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord.   Prov 17:15 (KJV)

   Just like in the human court system once a person has been declared guilty, there will be a later sentencing of the guilty person based on his degree of guilt.   In the case of capital crimes that person will be held in prison until his sentence is actually carried out.   

According to Holy Scripture all men are already declared guilty if they do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but their sentencing will take place at the Great White throne Judgment to determine the degree of their guilt and their punishment.   No one that appears before the Great White Throne Judgment is innocent.   This judgment is just to determine the degree of guilt and determine the degree of punishment.

Jesus said,

18 He that believeth on him (Jesus Christ) is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:18 (KJV)

Everyone that has not believed on Jesus Christ is condemned already because he has not believed in God’s provision for their sin.

36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.  John 3:36 (KJV)


Jesus said that unbelief is sin.    9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;  John 16:9 (KJV)

Romans 1:18-3:20 clearly shows that all men a condemned: all Gentiles and all Jews.

3. Justification by faith was the doctrine that created the Reformation.   It is one of the most important doctrines, if not the most important doctrine, to understand.

Memorize this definition:    Justification is the judicial, legal, forensic act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous or in right standing with Himself based solely on the death of Jesus Christ for the payment of sins.  

Notice first of all that it is a judical, legal, forenic act of God.  It does not make any actual character changes in the person justified.  Note secondly that it is a legal declaration.   This act of justification is not an impartation of righteousness into you.  It is an imputation of righteousness to your account on the books of God in Heaven.  In justification you are not made righteous, you are counted as righteous in the eyes of God because of Jesus Christ’s payment for your sin.  To use the word “made” implies a change in your character which is not true of the act of justification.  When a person truly believes on Jesus Christ for his salvation God immediately justifies him.  We have included three lengthy articles on Justification by excellent scholars Charles Hodge, A.A. Hodge, and Jonathan Edwards.

Does God therefore make no changes in that believing sinner?  Yes, indeed God does make essential changes in the believing sinner.  But that is another work of God call regeneration or commonly called “born again”.   God gives the believing sinner a new nature which is the work of regeneration.  When God justifies the believing sinner He is not satisfied to leave him in his sinful condition.   At that very point there are a number of things that God does for the believing sinner.

Also, immediately at the time a person receives Jesus Christ as Saviour, the Holy Spirit of God comes into his life to indwell and empower him in his Christian life.  This indwelling is a permanent thing and takes place immediately upon receiving Jesus Christ.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.                      Eph 1:13-14 (ESV)

At the same moment that the believing sinner accepts Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord God begins the work of sanctification in him.   The full work of salvation has three aspects: 1) Justification, 2) Sanctification, and 3) Glorification.   But the moment a person believes on Jesus Christ he receives eternal life (John 3:36).   Someone has put it this way.   There are three tenses to our salvation:  1) Past tense – We have been saved from the Penalty of sin- hell, 2)Present tense – We are being saved from the Power of sin, and 3) future tense – We will be saved from the Presence of sin.  These three works of God are the doctrines of salvation: 1) Justification, 2) Sanctification, and                    3) Glorification.

4. Sanctification (progressive)

Our whole Christian life will be a work of sanctification.  Sanctification means to be dedicated and set apart to God.   The word sanctify does not mean to be sinless.   There are several words that come from the Greek root word, “hagios”: 1) holy, 2) holiness, 3) saint, 4) sanctify, and 5) sanctification.   A saint is one who has been “selected and set apart”by God.  He is not sinless but he is “set apart” for God.  He is special to God.  This work of sanctification is probably not completed in this life.   But a person can become fully mature as a Christian in this life.  The word translated “perfect” in the King James version is a word in the Greek that means “mature or of full age.”    It does not mean “sinless perfection.”   Unfortunately, many people do not understand this.  If a person is mature he will not be sinless but he will sin less and less.

5. Glorification is the final act of God whereby He totally perfects us into the likeness of Jesus Christ and gives us new Immortal bodies.   At this point we will no longer be able to sin.  That is truly glorious.  However, until that time we must battle against sin in ourselves and in the World.

Your are also permanently secure in Jesus Christ.   You eternal life is a free gift and it is forever.  Jesus said,

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.  John 10:27-30 (KJV)

However, there is another aspect to your salvation.   God rewards those who serve him faithfully in this life.   Rewards are received for faithful service as a Christian.  Rewards are received for works performed for Jesus Christ.   While eternal life is totally free by grace, through faith, in Christ alone,  rewards are based on a faithful life of serve and good works.  Good works are motivated by a love for God and are things clearly  marked out in the Holy Scriptures as good works.  Christian’s faithfulness and rewards will be determined at the Judgment Seat of Christ.  No truly regenerate person will appear before the Great White Throne Judgment, but all will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account of their Christian life.

11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.  1 Cor 3:11-15 (KJV)

 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  Romans 14:12 (KJV)

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.   2 Cor 5:10 (KJV)

Evangelizing the lost is truly a good work which God has commanded all Christians to do.  Evangelization is presenting the Good News of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  To evangelize does not mean that we have to actually win a person to Christ.   We just have to proclaim the Good News.  Some will believe and some will not believe.  But we have done the work of God when we do what he said, “Proclaim the Good News!”

Success is obeying his command to proclaim the Good News to every creature. Mark 16:15

Because I thought the book of Romans was so valuable I took two formal courses on the book:  One in college and one in Seminary.   Then I memorized the first eight chapters of Romans which is the doctrinal section.

An explanation of the 3 remaining parts (6. Explanation, 7. Application, and 8. Salutation) of Romans will be added later.  We so far have cover the doctrinal sections of Romans.

  Rev. Thomas L. Clark –  773-934-0592


02 Justification – Charles Hodge



Justification  Charles Hodge

 Part I: Justification

When the mind is enlightened by Divine truth, and duly impressed with a sense of guilt, it cannot fail anxiously to inquire, How can a man be just with God! The answer given to this question decides the character of our religion, and, if practically adopted, our future destiny. To give a wrong answer, is to mistake the way to heaven. It is to err where error is fatal, because it cannot be corrected. If God require one thing, and we present another, how can we be saved? If He has revealed a method in which He can be just and yet justify the sinner, and if we reject that method and insist upon pursuing a different way, how can we hope to be accepted? The answer, therefore, which is given to the above question, should be seriously pondered by all who assume the office of religious teachers, and by all who rely upon their instructions. As we are not to be judged by proxy, but every man must answer for himself, so every man should be satisfied for himself what the Bible teaches on this subject. All that religious teachers can do, is to endeavor to aid the investigations of those who are anxious to learn the way of life. And in doing this, the safest method is to adhere strictly to the instructions of the Scriptures, and to exhibit the subject as it is there presented. The substance and the form of this all-important doctrine are so intimately connected, that those who attempt to separate them can hardly fail to err. What one discards as belonging merely to the form, another considers as belonging to its substance. All certainty and security are lost, as soon as this method is adopted, and it becomes a matter to be decided exclusively by our own views of right and wrong, what is to be retained and what rejected from the scriptural representations. Our only security, therefore, is to take the language of the Bible in its obvious meaning, and put upon it the construction which the persons to whom it was addressed must have given, and which, consequently, the sacred writers intended it should bear.

As the doctrine of justification is not only frequently stated in the sacred Scriptures, but formally taught and vindicated, all that will be attempted in this article, is to give as faithfully as possible, a representation of what the inspired writers inculcate on this subject; that is, to state what positions they assume, by what arguments they sustain those positions, how they answer the objections to their doctrine, and what application they make of it to the hearts and consciences of their readers.

It is one of the primary doctrines of the Bible, everywhere either asserted or assumed, that we are under the law of God. This is true of all classes of men, whether they enjoy a Divine revelation or not. Everything which God has revered as a rule of duty, enters into the constitution of the law which binds those to whom that revelation is given, and by which they are to be ultimately judged. Those who have not received any external revelation of the Divine will are a law unto themselves. The knowledge of right and wrong, written upon their hearts, is of the nature of a Divine law, having its authority and sanction, and by it the heathen are to be judged in the last day.

God has seen fit to annex the promise of life to obedience to his law. ‘The man which doeth those things shall live by them’ (Rom. 10.5), is the language of Scripture on this subject. To the lawyer who admitted that the law required love to God and man, our Savior said, ‘Thou has answered right: this do, and thou shalt live’ (Lk. 10.28). And to one who asked him, ‘What good things shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’ he said, ‘If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandment.’(Mt. 19.17). On the other hand, the law denounces death as the penalty of transgression: ‘The wages of sin is death.’ (Rom. 6.23). Such is the uniform declaration of Scripture on this subject.

The obedience which the law demands is called righteousness; and those who render that obedience are called righteous. To ascribe righteousness to anyone, or to pronounce him righteous, is the scriptural meaning of the word ‘to justify.’ The word never means, to make good in a moral sense, but always to pronounce just or righteous. Thus God says, ‘I will not justify the wicked’(Ex.23.7). Judges are commanded to justify the righteous and to condemn the wicked (Deut. 25.1). Woe is pronounced on those who ‘justify the wicked for reward’ (Isa. 5.23). In the New Testament it is said, ‘By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight’ (Rom. 3.20) ‘It is God that justifieth, Who is he that condemneth?’ (Rom. 8.33,34). There is scarcely a word in the Bible the meaning of which is less open to doubt. There is no passage in the New Testament in which it is used out of its ordinary and obvious sense. When God justifies a man, he declares him to be righteous. To justify never means to render one holy. It is said to be sinful to justify the wicked; but it could never be sinful to render the wicked holy. And as the law demands righteousness, to impute or ascribe righteousness to anyone, is, in scriptural language, to justify. To make (or constitute) righteous, is another equivalent form of expression. Hence, to be righteous before God, and to be justified, mean the same thing: as in the following passage: ‘ Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.’(Rom. 2.13) The attentive, and especially the anxious reader of the Bible cannot fail to observe, that these various expressions, to be righteous in the sight of God, to impute righteousness, to constitute righteous, to justify, and others of similar import, are so interchanged as to explain each other, and to make it clear that to justify a man is to ascribe or impute to him righteousness. The great question then is, How is this righteousness to be obtained? We have reason to be thankful that the answer which the Bible gives to this question is so perfectly plain.

In the first place, that the righteousness by which we are to be justified before God is not of works, is not only asserted, but proved. The apostle’s first argument on this point is derived from the consideration that the law demands a perfect righteousness. If the law was satisfied by an imperfect obedience, or by a routine of external duties, or by any service which men are competent to render, then indeed justification would be by works. But since it demands perfect obedience, justification by works is, for sinners, absolutely impossible. It is thus the apostle reasons, ‘As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Gal.3.10). As the law pronounces its curse upon every man who continues not to do all that it commands, and as no man can pretend to this perfect obedience, it follows that all who look to the law for justification must be condemned. To the same effect, in a following verse, he says, ‘The law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.’ That is, the law is not satisfied by any single grace, or imperfect obedience. It knows, and can know no other ground of justification than complete compliance with its demands. Hence, in the same chapter, Paul says, ‘ If there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.’ Could the law pronounce righteous, and thus give a title to the promised life to those who had broken its commands, there would have been no necessity of any other provision for the salvation of men; but as the law cannot thus lower its demands, justification by the law is impossible. The same truth is taught in a different form, when it is said, ‘If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain (Gal. 2.21). There would have been no necessity for the death of Christ, if it had been possible to satisfy the law by the imperfect obedience which we can render. Paul therefore warns all those who look to works for justification, that they are debtors to do the whole law (Gal. 5.3). It knows no compromise; it cannot demand less than what is right, and perfect obedience is right, and therefore its only language is as before, ‘ Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’ (Gal. 3.10); and, ‘The man which doeth those things shall live by them’ (Rom. 10.5). Every man, therefore, who expects justification by works, must see to it, not that he is better than other men, or that he is very exact and does many things, or that he fasts twice in the week, and gives tithes of all he possesses, but that he is SINLESS.

That the law of God is thus strict in its demands, is a truth which lies at the foundation of all Paul’s reasoning in reference to the method of justification. He proves that the Gentiles have sinned against the law written on their hearts; and that the Jews have broken the law revealed in their Scriptures; both Jews and Gentiles, therefore, are under sin, and the whole world is guilty before God. Hence, he infers, that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight. There is, however, no force in this reasoning, except on the assumption that the law demands perfect obedience. How many men, who freely acknowledge that they are sinners, depend upon their works for acceptance with God! They see no inconsistency between the acknowledgment of sin, and the expectation of justification by works. The reason is, they proceed upon a very different principle from that adopted by the apostle. They suppose that the law may be satisfied by very imperfect obedience. Paul assumes that God demands perfect conformity to his will, that his wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. With him, therefore, it is enough that men have sinned, to prove that they cannot be justified by works. It is not a question of degrees, more or less, for as to this point there is no difference, since ‘ all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3.23).

This doctrine, though so plainly taught in Scripture, men are disposed to think very severe. They imagine that their good deeds will be compared with their evil deeds, and that they will be rewarded or punished as the one or the other preponderates; or that the sins of one part of life may be atoned for by the good works of another, or that they can escape by mere confession and repentance. They could not entertain such expectations, if they believed themselves to be under a law. No human law is administered as men seem to hope the law of God will be. He who steals or murders, though it be but once, though he confesses and repents, though he does any number of acts of charity, is not less a thief or murderer. The law cannot take cognizance of his repentance and reformation. If he steals or murders, the law condemns him. Justification by the law is for him impossible. The law of God extends to the most secret exercises of the heart. It condemns whatever is in its nature evil. If a man violate this perfect rule of right, there is an end of justification by the law; he has failed to comply with its conditions; and the law can only condemn him. To justify him, would be to say that he had not transgressed. Men, however, think that they are not to be dealt with on the principles of strict law. Here is their fatal mistake. It is here that they are in most direct conflict with the Scriptures, which proceed upon the uniform assumption of our subjection to the law. Under the government of God, strict law is nothing but perfect excellence; it is the steady exercise of moral rectitude. Even conscience, when duly enlightened and roused, is as strict as the law of God. It refuses to be appeased by repentance, reformation, or penance. It enforces every command and every denunciation of our Supreme Ruler, and teaches, as plainly as do the Scriptures themselves, that justification by an imperfect obedience is impossible. As conscience, however, is fallible, no reliance on this subject is placed on her testimony. The appeal is to the word of God, which clearly teaches that it is impossible a sinner can be justified by works, because the law demands perfect obedience.

The apostle’s second argument to show that justification is not by works, is the testimony of the Scriptures of the Old Testament. This testimony is urged in various forms. In the first place, as the apostle proceeds upon the principle that the law demands perfect obedience, all those passages which assert the universal sinfulness of men, are so many declarations that they cannot be justified by works. He therefore quotes such passages as the following: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one’ (Rom. 3.10-12). The Old Testament, by teaching that all men are sinners, does, in the apostle’s view, thereby teach that they can never be accepted before God on the ground of their own righteous ness. To say that a man is a sinner, is to say that the law condemns him; and of course it cannot justify him. As the ancient Scriptures are full of declarations of the sinfulness of men, so they are full of proof that justification is not by works.

But, in the second place, Paul cites their direct affirmative testimony in support of his doctrine. In the Psalms it is said, ‘Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified’ (Ps. 143.2). This passage he often quotes; and to the same class belong all those passages which speak of the insufficiency or worthlessness of human righteousness in the sight of God.

In the third place, the apostle refers to those passages which imply the doctrine for which he contends; that is, to those which speak of the acceptance of men with God as a matter of grace, as something which they do not deserve, and for which they can urge no claim founded upon their own merit. It is with this view that he refers to the language of David; ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are for given, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Rom. 4.7, 8). The fact that a man is forgiven, implies that he is guilty; and the fact that he is guilty, implies that his justification cannot rest upon his own character or conduct. It need hardly be remarked, that, in this view, the whole Scriptures, from the beginning to the end, are crowded with condemnations of the doctrine of justification by works. Every penitent confession, every appeal to God’s mercy, is a renunciation of all personal merit, a declaration that the penitent’s hope was not founded on anything in himself. Such confessions and appeals are indeed often made by those who still rely upon their good works, or inherent righteousness, for acceptance with God. This, however, does not invalidate the apostle’s argument. It only shows that such persons have a different view of what is necessary for justification, from that entertained by the apostle. They suppose that the demands of the law are so low, that although they are sinners and need to be forgiven, they can still do what the law demands. Whereas, Paul proceeds on the assumption that the law requires perfect obedience, and therefore every confession of sin, or appeal for mercy, involves a renunciation of justification by the law.

Again, the apostle represents the Old Testament Scriptures as teaching that justification is not by works, by showing that they inculcate a different method of obtaining acceptance with God. This they do by the doctrine which they teach concerning the Messiah as a Redeemer from sin. Hence Paul says, that the method of justification without works (not founded upon works) was testified by the law and the prophets; that is, by the whole of the Old Testament. The two methods of acceptance with God, the one by works, the other by a propitiation for sin, are incompatible. And as the ancient Scriptures teach the latter method, they repudiate the former. But they moreover, in express terms, assert, that ‘the just shall live by faith.’ And the law knows nothing of faith; its language is, ‘The man that doeth them shall live in them’ (Gal. 3:11,12). The law knows nothing of anything but obedience as the ground of acceptance. If the Scriptures say we are accepted through faith, they thereby say that we are not accepted on the ground of obedience.

Again: the examples of justification given in the Old Testament, show that it was not by works. The apostle appeals particularly to the case of Abraham, and asks, whether he attained justification by works; and answers, ‘No, for if he were justified by works he had whereof to glory; but he had no ground of glorying before God, and therefore he was not justified by works.’ And the Scriptures expressly assert, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness’ (Rom. 4.3). His acceptance, therefore, was by faith, and not by works.

In all these various ways does the apostle make the authority of the Old Testament sustain his doctrine, that justification is not by works. This authority is as decisive for us as it was for the ancient Jewish Christians. We also believe the Old Testament to be the word of God, and its truths come to us explained and enforced by Christ and his apostles. We have the great advantage of an infallible interpretation of these early oracles of truth; and the argumentative manner in which their authority is cited and applied, prevents all obscurity as to the real intentions of the sacred writers. That by the deeds of the law no flesh shall be justified before God is taught so clearly and so frequently in the New Testament, it is so often asserted, so formally proved, so variously assumed, that no one can doubt that such is indeed the doctrine of the word of God. The only point on which the serious inquirer can even raise a question, is, What kind of works do the Scriptures mean to exclude as the foundation for acceptance with God? Does the apostle mean works in the widest sense, or does he merely intend ceremonial observances, or works of mere formality, performed without any real love to God?

Those who attend to the nature of his assertions and to the course of his argument, will find that there is no room for doubt on this subject. The primary principle on which his argument rests precludes all ground for mistaking his meaning. He assumes that the law demands perfect obedience, and as no man can render that obedience, he infers that no man can be justified by the law. He does not argue, that because the law is spiritual, it cannot be satisfied by mere ceremonies, or by works flowing from an impure motive. He nowhere says, that though we cannot be justified by external rites, or by works having the mere form of goodness, we are justified by our sincere, though imperfect, obedience. On the contrary, he constantly teaches, that since we are sinners, and since the law condemns all sin, it condemns us, and justification by the law is, therefore, impossible. This argument he applies to the Jews and the Gentiles without distinction, to the whole world, whether they knew anything of the Jewish Scriptures or not. It was the moral law, the law which he pronounced holy, just, and good, which says, ‘Thou shalt not covet’; it is this law, however revealed, whether in the writings of Moses, or in the human heart, of which he constantly asserts that it cannot give life, or teach the way of acceptance with God. As most of those to whom he wrote had enjoyed a Divine revelation, and as that revelation included the law of Moses and all its rites, he of course included that law in his statement, and often specially refers to it; but never in its limited sense, as a code of religious ceremonies, but always in its widest scope, as including the highest rule of moral duty made known to men. And hence he never contrasts one class of works with another, but constantly works and faith, excluding all classes of the former, works of righteousness as well as those of mere formality. ‘Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us’ (Titus 3.5). ‘Who hath saved us–not according to our works (2 Tm. 1.9). We are saved by faith, not by works (Eph. 2.9). Nay, men are said to be justified without works; to be in themselves ungodly when justified; and it is not until they are justified that they perform any real good works. It is only when united to Christ that we bring forth fruit unto God. Hence, we are said to be ‘His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works’ (Eph. 2.10). All the inward excellence of the Christian and the fruit of the Spirit are the consequences, and not the causes of his reconciliation and acceptance with God. They are the robe of beauty, the white garment, with which Christ arrays those who come to him poor, and blind, and naked. It is, then, the plain doctrine of the word of God, that our justification is not founded upon our own obedience to the law. Nothing done by us or wrought in us can for a moment stand the test of a rule of righteousness, which pronounces a curse upon all those who continue not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.

Part II: The Demands Of The Law Are Satisfied By What Christ Has Done.

WE have thus seen that the Scriptures teach, first, That all men are naturally under the law as prescribing the terms of their acceptance with God; and, secondly, That no obedience which sinners can render is sufficient to satisfy the demands of that law. It follows, then, that unless we are freed from the law, not as a rule of duty, but as prescribing the conditions of acceptance with God, justification is for us impossible. It is, therefore, the third great point of scriptural doctrine on this subject, that believers are free from the law in the sense just stated. ‘Ye are not under the law,’ says the apostle, ‘but under grace’ (Rom.6.14). To illustrate this declaration, he refers to the case of a woman who is bound to her husband as long as he lives; but when he is dead, she is free from her obligation to him, and is at liberty to marry another man. So we are delivered from the law as a rule of justification and are at liberty to embrace a different method of obtaining acceptance with God (Rom. 7.1-6). Paul says of himself, that he had died to the law; that is, become free from it (Gal. 2.19). And the same is said of all believers (Rom. 7.6). He insists upon this freedom as essential not only to justification, but to sanctification. For while under the law, the motions of sins, which were by the law, brought forth fruit unto death; but now we are delivered from the law, that we may serve God in newness of spirit (Rom. 7.5-6). Before faith came we were kept under the law, which he compares to a schoolmaster, but now we are no longer under a schoolmaster (Gal. 3.24, 25). He regards the desire to be subject to the law as the greatest infatuation. ‘Tell me,’ he says, ‘ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?’ and then shows that those who are under the demands of a legal system, are in the condition of slaves, and not of sons and heirs. ‘Stand fast therefore,’ he exhorts, ‘in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.–Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Gal. 4.21-1; 5.1-4). This infatuation Paul considered madness, and exclaims, ‘O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth crucified among you. This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith ?’ (Gal. 3.1-2). This apostasy was so fatal, the substitution of legal obedience for the work of Christ as the ground of justification was so destructive, that Paul pronounces accursed any man or angel who should preach such a doctrine for the gospel of the grace of God.

It was to the law, as revealed in the books of Moses, that the fickle Galatians were disposed to look for justification. Their apostasy, however, consisted in going back to the law, no matter in what form revealed–to works, no matter of what kind, as the ground of justification. .The apostle’s arguments and denunciations, therefore, are so framed as to apply to the adoption of any form of legal obedience, instead of the work of Christ, as the ground of our confidence towards God. To suppose that all he says relates exclusively to a relapse into Judaism, is to suppose that we Gentiles have no part in the redemption of Christ. If it was only from the bondage of the Jewish economy that he redeemed his people, then those who were never subject to that bondage have no interest in his work. And of course Paul was strangely infatuated in preaching Christ crucified to the Gentiles. We find, however, that what he taught in the Epistle to the Galatians, in special reference to the law of Moses he teaches in the Epistle to the Romans in reference to that law which is holy, just, and good, and which condemns the most secret sins of the heart.

The nature of the apostle’s doctrine is, if possible, even more clear from the manner in which he vindicates it, than from his direct assertions. ‘What then?’ he asks,’shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid’ (Rom. 6.15). Had Paul taught that we are freed from the ceremonial in order to be subject to the moral law, there could have been no room for such an objection. But if he taught that the moral law itself could not give life, that we must be freed from its demands as the condition of acceptance with God, then, indeed, to the wise of this world, it might seem that he was loosing the bands of moral obligation, and opening the door to the greatest licentiousness. Hence the frequency and earnestness with which he repels the objection, and shows that, so far from legal bondage being necessary to holiness, it must cease before holiness can exist; that it is not until the curse of the law is removed, and the soul reconciled to God, that holy affections rise in the heart, and the fruits of holiness appear in the life, ‘Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law’ (Rom. 2.31).

It is then clearly the doctrine of the Bible, that believers are freed from the law as prescribing the conditions of their acceptance with God; it is no longer incumbent upon them, in order to justification, to fulfil its demand of perfect obedience, or to satisfy its penal exactions. But how is this deliverance effected? How is it that rational and accountable beings are exempted from the obligations of that holy and just law, which was originally imposed upon their race as the rule of justification ? The answer to this question incudes the fourth great truth respecting the way of salvation taught in the Scriptures. It is not by the abrogation of the law, either as to its precepts or penalty; it is not by lowering its demands, and accommodating them to the altered capacities or inclinations of men. We have seen how constantly the apostle teaches that the law still demands perfect obedience, and that they are debtors to do the whole law who seek justification at its hands. He no less clearly teaches, that death is as much the wages of sin in our case, as it was in that of Adam. If it is neither by abrogation nor relaxation that we are freed from the demands of the law, how has this deliverance been effected! By the mystery of vicarious obedience and suffering. This is the gospel of the grace of God. This is what was a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks; but, to those that are called, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1.23, 24).

The Scriptures teach us that the Son of God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person, who thought it not robbery to be equal with God, became flesh, and subjected himself to the very law to which we were bound; that he perfectly obeyed that law, and suffered its penalty, and thus, by satisfying its demands, delivered us from its bondage, and introduced us into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. It is thus that the doctrine of redemption is presented in the Scriptures. ‘God,’ says the apostle, ‘sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law’ (Gal. 4.4-5). Being made under the law, we know that he obeyed it perfectly, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and is therefore declared to be ‘the Lord our righteousness,’(Jer. 23.6) since, by his obedience, many are constituted righteous (Rom. 5.19). He, therefore, is said to be made righteousness unto us (1 Cor. 1.30). And those who are in him are said to be righteous before God, not having their own righteousness, but that which is through the faith of Christ (Phil. 3.9).

That we are redeemed from the curse of the law by Christ’s enduring that curse in our place, is taught in every variety of form from the beginning to the end of the Bible. There was the more need that this point should be dearly and variously presented, because it is the one on which an enlightened conscience immediately fastens. The desert of death begets the fear of death. And this fear of death cannot be allayed, until it is seen how, in consistency with Divine justice, we are freed from the righteous penalty of the law. How this is done, the Scriptures teach in the most explicit manner. ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us’ (Gal. 3.13). Paul had just said, ‘As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse.’ But all men are naturally under the law, and therefore all are under the curse. How are we redeemed from it? By Christ’s being made a curse for us. Such is the simple and sufficient answer to this most important of all questions.

The doctrine so plainly taught in Gal. 3.13, that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by bearing it in our stead, is no less clearly presented in 2 Cor. 5. 21: ‘ He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,’ This is represented as the only ground on which men are authorized to preach the gospel. ‘We are ambassadors for Christ,’ says the apostle, ‘ as though God did beseech you by us;: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God’ (2 Cor. 5.20). Then follows a statement of the ground upon which this offer of reconciliation is presented. God has made effectual provision for the pardon of sin, by making Christ, though holy, harmless, and separate from sinners, sin for us, that we might be made righteous in him. The iniquities of us all were laid on him; he was treated as a sinner in our place, in order that we might be treated as righteous in him.

The same great truth is taught in all those passages in which Christ is said to bear our sins. The expression, to bear sin, is one which is clearly explained by its frequent occurrence in the sacred Scriptures. It means, to bear the punishment due to sin. In Lev. xx. 17, it is said that he that marries his sister ‘shall bear his iniquity.’ Again, ‘ Whosoever curseth his God, shall bear his sin’ (Lev. 24.15). Of him that failed to keep the Passover, it was said, ‘That man shall bear his sin’ (Num. 9.13). If a man sin, he shall bear his iniquity. It is used in the same sense when one man is spoken of as bearing the sin of another. ‘Your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms’ (Num. 14.33). Our fathers have sinned, and are not; and we have borne their iniquities’ (Lam. 5.7). And when, in Ezekiel xvii. to, it is said that ‘the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father,’ it is obviously meant that the son shall not be punished for the sins of the father. The meaning of this expression being thus definite, of course there can be no doubt as to the manner in which it is to be understood when used in reference to the Redeemer. The prophet says, ‘The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.–My righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.–He was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many’ (Isa. 53.6, 11, 122). Language more explicit could not be used. This whole chapter is designed to teach one great truth, that our sins were to be laid on the Messiah, that we might be freed from the punishment which we deserved. It is therefore said, ‘He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him.–For the transgression of my people was he stricken.’ In the New Testament, the same doctrine is taught in the same terms. ‘Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree’ (1 Pet. 2.24). ‘Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many’ (Heb. 9.28). ‘Ye know that he was manifested to take away’ (to bare) ‘our sins’ (1 Jn. 3.5). According to all these representations, Christ saves us from the punishment due to our sins, by bearing the curse of the law in OUR stead.

Intimately associated with the passages just referred to, are those which describe the Redeemer as a sacrifice or propitiation. The essential idea of a sin offering is propitiation by means of vicarious punishment. That this is the scriptural idea of a sacrifice is plain from the laws of their institution, from the effects ascribed to them, and from the illustrative declarations of the sacred writers. The law prescribed that the offender should bring the victim to the altar, lay his hands upon its head, make confession of his crime; and that the animal should then be slain, and its blood sprinkled upon the altar. Thus, it is said, ‘He shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him’ (Lev. 1.4) ‘And he brought the bullock for the sin offering; and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering’ (Lev. 8.14). The import of this imposition of hands is clearly taught in the following passage: ‘And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat; and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited’ (Lev. 16.21 22). The imposition of hands, therefore, was designed to express symbolically the ideas of substitution and transfer the liability to punishment. In the case just referred to, in order to convey more clearly the idea of the removal of the liability to punishment, the goat on whose head the sins of the people were imposed, was sent into the wilderness, but another goat was slain and consumed in its stead.

The nature of these offerings is further obvious from the effects attributed to them. They were commanded in order to make atonement, to propitiate, to make reconciliation, to secure the forgiveness of sins. And this effect they actually secured. In the case of every Jewish offender, some penalty connected with the theocratical constitution under which he lived, was removed by the presentation and acceptance of the appointed sacrifice. This was all the effect, in the way of securing pardon, that the blood of bulls and of goats could produce. Their efficacy was confined to the purifying of the flesh, and to securing, for those who offered them, the advantages of the external theocracy. Besides, however, this efficacy, which, by Divine appointment, belonged to them considered in themselves, they were intended to prefigure and predict the true atoning sacrifice which was to be offered when the fulness of time should come. Nothing, however, can more clearly illustrate the scriptural doctrine of sacrifices, than the expressions employed by the sacred writers to convey the same idea as that intended by the term sin offering. Thus, all that Isaiah taught by saying of the Messiah that the chastisement of our peace was upon him; that with his stripes we are healed; that he was stricken for the transgression of the people; that on him was laid the iniquity of us all, and that he bore the sins of many, he taught by saying, ‘he made his soul an offering for sin.’ And in the Epistle to the Hebrews it is said, He ‘was once offered’ (as a sacrifice) ‘to bear the sins of many’ (Heb. 9.28). The same idea, therefore, is expressed by saying, either he bore our sins, or he was made an offering for sin. But to bear the sins of anyone, means to bear the punishment of those sins; and, therefore, to be a sin offering conveys the same meaning.

Such being the idea of a sacrifice which pervades the whole Jewish Scriptures, it is obvious that the sacred writers could not teach more distinctly and intelligibly the manner in which Christ secures the pardon of sin, than by saying he was made an offering for sin. With this mode of pardon all the early readers of the Scriptures were familiar. They had been accustomed to it from their earliest years. No one of them could recall the time when the altar, the victim, and the blood were unknown to him. His first lessons in religion contained the ideas of confession of sin, substitution, and vicarious sufferings and death. When, therefore, the inspired penmen told men imbued with these ideas that Christ was a propitiation for sin, that he was offered as a sacrifice to make reconciliation, they told them, in the plainest of all terms, that he secures the pardon of our sins by suffering in our stead. Jews could understand such language in no other way: and, therefore, we may be sure it was intended to convey no other meaning. And, in point of fact, it has been so understood by the Christian church from its first organization to the present day.

If it were merely in the way of casual allusion that Christ was declared to be a sacrifice, we should not be authorized to infer from it the method of redemption. But this is far from being the case. This doctrine is presented in the most didactic form. It is exhibited in every possible mode. It is asserted, illustrated, vindicated. It is made the central point of all Divine institutions and instructions. It is urged as the foundation of hope, as the source of consolation, the motive to obedience. It is, in fact, THE GOSPEL. It would be vain to attempt a reference to all the passages in which this great doctrine is taught. We are told that God set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins through faith in his blood (Rom. 3.25). Again, he is declared to be a ‘propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world’ (1 Jn. 2.2). He is called the Lamb of God, which taketh away’ (beareth) ‘the sin of the world’ (Jn. 1.29). ‘Ye were not redeemed,’ says the apostle Peter, ‘with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ 1 Pet. 1.18,19). In the Epistle to the Hebrews, this doctrine is more fully exhibited than in any other portion of Scripture. Christ is not only repeatedly called a sacrifice, but an elaborate comparison is made between the offering which he presented and the sacrifices which were offered under the old dispensation. ‘If the blood of bulls and of goats,’ says the apostle, ‘and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself with out spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!’ (Heb. 9.13,14). The ancient sacrifices in themselves could only remove ceremonial uncleanness. They could not purge the conscience, or reconcile the soul to God. They were mere shadows of the true sacrifice for sins. Hence, they were offered daily. Christ’s sacrifice being really efficacious, was offered but once. It was because the ancient sacrifices were ineffectual, that Christ said, when he came into the world, ‘Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me; in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God’ (Heb. 10.5-15). ‘By the which will’, adds the apostle, that is, by the accomplishing the purpose of God, ‘we are sanctified’ (or atoned for) ‘through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all’; and by that ‘one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,’ and of all this he adds, the Holy Ghost is witness (Heb. 10.5-15). The Scriptures, therefore, clearly teach that Jesus Christ delivers us from the punishment of our sins, by offering himself as a sacrifice in our behalf; that as under the old dispensation, the penalties attached to the violations of the theocratical covenant, were removed by the substitution and sacrifice of bulls and of goats, so under the spiritual theocracy, in the living temple of the living God, the punishment of sin is removed by the substitution and death of the Son of God. As no ancient Israelite, when by transgression he had forfeited his liberty of access to the earthly sanctuary, was ignorant of the mode of atonement and reconciliation; so now, no conscience-stricken sinner, who knows that he is unworthy to draw near to God, need be ignorant of that new and living way which Christ hath consecrated for us, through his flesh, so that we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

In all the forms of expression mentioned–Christ was made a curse for us; he was made sin for us; he bore our sins, he was made a sin offering–there is the idea of substitution. Christ took our place, he suffered in our stead, he acted as our representative. But as the act of a substitute is in effect the act of the principal, all that Christ did and suffered in that character, every believer is regarded as having done and suffered. The attentive and pious reader of the Bible will recognize this idea in some of the most common forms of scriptural expression. Believers are those who are in Christ. This is their great distinction and most familiar designation. They are so united to him, that what he did in their behalf they are declared to have done. When he died, they died; when he rose, they rose; as he lives, they shall live also. The passages in which believers are said to have died in Christ are very numerous. ‘If one died for all,’ says the apostle, ‘then all died’ (not, ‘were dead’) (2 Cor. 5.14). He that died (with Christ) is justified from sin, that is, freed from its condemnation and power; and if we died with Christ, we believe, that we shall live with him (Rom. 6. 7, 8). As a woman is freed by death from her husband, so believers are freed from the law by the body (the death) of Christ, because his death is in effect their death (Rom. 7.4). And in the following verse, he says, having died (in Christ), we are freed from the law. Every believer, therefore, may say with Paul, I was crucified with Christ (Gal. 2.20). In like manner, the resurrection of Christ secures both the spiritual life and future resurrection of all his people. If we have been united to him in his death, we shall be in his resurrection, if we died with him, we shall live with him (Rom.6.5, 8). ‘God,’ says the apostle, ‘hath quickened us together with Christ; and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Eph.2.4-6). That is, God hath quickened, raised, and exalted us together with Christ. It is on this ground, also, that Paul says that Christ rose as the firstfruits of the dead; not merely the first in order, but the earnest and security of the resurrection of his people. ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive’ (1 Cor. 15.20, 22). As our union with Adam secures our death, union with Christ secures our resurrection. Adam is a type of him that was to come–that is, Christ, inasmuch as the relation in which Adam stood to the whole race, is analogous to that in which Christ stands to his own people. As Adam was our natural head, the poison of sin flows in all our veins. As Christ is our spiritual Head, eternal life which is in him, descends to all his members. It is not they that live, but Christ that liveth in them (Gal. 2.20). This doctrine of the representative and vital union of Christ and believers pervades the New Testament. It is the source of the humility, the joy, the confidence which the sacred writers so often express. In themselves they were nothing, and deserved nothing, but in Him they possessed all things. Hence, they counted all things but loss that they might be found in Him. Hence, they determined to know nothing, to preach nothing, to glory in nothing, but Christ and him crucified.

The great doctrine of the vicarious sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, is further taught in those numerous passages which refer our salvation to his blood, his death, or his cross. Viewed in connexion with the passages already mentioned, those now referred to not only teach the fact that the death of Christ secures the pardon of sin, but how it does it. To this class belong such declarations as the following: ‘The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin’ (1 Jn. 1.7). ‘We have redemption through his blood’ (Eph. 1.7). He has ‘made peace through the blood of his cross’ (Col. 1.20). ‘Being now justified by his blood’ (Rom. 5.9). Ye ‘are made nigh by the blood of Christ’ (Eph. 2.13). ‘Ye are come–to the blood of sprinkling’ (Heb. 12.22, 24). ‘Elect–unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ’ (1 Pet. 1.2). ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood’ (Rev. 1.5). ‘He hath redeemed us unto God by his blood’ (Rev. 5.9) ‘This cup,’ said the Son of God himself, ‘is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’ (Mt. 26.28). The sacrificial character of the death of Christ is taught in all these passages. Blood was the means of atonement, and without the shedding of blood there was no remission; and, therefore, when our salvation is so often ascribed to the blood of the Savior, it is declared that he died as a propitiation for our sins.

The same remark may be made in reference to those passages which ascribe our redemption to the death, the cross, the flesh of Christ; for these terms are interchanged, as being of the same import. We are ‘reconciled to God by the death of his Son’ (Rom. 5.10). We are reconciled his cross. (Eph. 2.16). We are ‘reconciled in the body of his flesh through death’ (Col. 1.21, 22). We are delivered from the law ‘by the body of Christ’ (Rom. 7.4); he abolished the law in his flesh (Eph. 2.15); he took away the handwriting which was against us, nailing it to his cross (Col. 2.14). The more general expressions respecting Christ’s dying for us, receive a definite meaning from their connexion with the more specific passages above mentioned. Everyone, therefore, knows what is meant, when it is said that ‘ Christ died for the ungodly’ (Rom. 5.6); that he gave himself ‘ a ransom for many’ (Mt. 20.28); that he died ‘the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God’ (1 Pet. 3.18). Not less plain is the meaning of the Holy Spirit when it is said, God ‘spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all’ (Rom. 8.32); that he ‘was delivered for our offences’ (Rom. 4.25); that he ‘gave himself for our sins’ (Gal. 1.4).

Seeing, then, that we owe everything to the expiatory sufferings of the blessed Savior, we cease to wonder that the cross is rendered so prominent in the exhibition of the plan of salvation. We are not surprised at Paul’s anxiety lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect; or that he should call the preaching of the gospel the preaching of the cross; or that he should preach Christ crucified, both to Jews and Creeks, as the wisdom of God and the power of Cod; or that he should determine to glory in nothing save in the cross of Christ.

As there is no truth more necessary to be known, so there is none more variously or plainly taught, than the method of escaping the wrath of God due to us for sin. Besides all the clear exhibitions of Christ as bearing our sins, as dying in our stead, as making his soul an offering for sin, as redeeming us by his blood, the Scriptures set him forth in the character of a Priest, in order that we might more fully understand how it is that he effects our salvation. It was predicted, long before his advent, that the Messiah was to be a Priest. ‘Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek,’ was the declaration of the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David (Ps. 110.4). Zechariah predicted that he should sit as ‘a priest upon his throne (Zech. 6.13). The apostle defines a priest to be a man ‘ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins (Heb. 5.1). Jesus Christ is the only real Priest in the universe. All others were either pretenders, or the shadow of the great High priest of our profession. For this office he had every necessary qualification. He was a man. ‘For inasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also took part of the same, in order that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest; one who can be touched with a sense of our infirmities, seeing that was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.’ He was sinless. ‘For such a High Priest became us, who was holy, harmless, and separate from sinners.’ He was the Son of God. The law made men having infirmity, priests. But God declared his Son to be a Priest, who is consecrated for evermore (Heb. 7.28). The sense in which Christ is declared to be the Son of God, is explained in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is there said, that he is the express image of God; that he upholds all things by the word of his power; that all the angels are commanded to worship him; that his throne is an everlasting throne; that in the beginning he laid the foundations of the earth; that he is from everlasting and that his years fail not. It is from the dignity of his person, as possessing this Divine nature, that the apostle deduces the efficacy of his sacrifice (Heb. 9.14), the perpetuity of his priesthood (Heb. 7.16), and his ability to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him (Heb. 7.25). He was duly constituted a Priest. He glorified not himself to be made a High Priest; but he that said unto him, ‘Thou art my Son,’ said also, ‘Thou art a Priest for ever.’ He is the only real Priest, and therefore his advent superseded all others, and put an immediate end to all their lawful ministrations, by abolishing the typical dispensation with which they were connected. For the priesthood being changed, there was of necessity a change of the law. There was a disannulling of the former commandment for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof, and there was the introduction of a better hope (Heb. 7.12, 18, 19). He has an appropriate offering to present. As every high priest is appointed to offer sacrifices, it was necessary that this man should have somewhat to offer. This sacrifice was not the blood of goats or of calves, but his own blood; it was himself he offered unto God, to purge our conscience from dead works (Heb. 9.12, 14). He has ‘put away sin by the sacrifice of himself,’ which was accomplished when he was ‘once offered to bear the sin of many (Heb. 9.26, 28). He has passed into the heavens. As the high priest was required to enter into the most holy place with the blood of atonement, so Christ has entered not into the holy places made with hands, ‘but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, (Heb. 9.24) and where ‘he ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb. 7.25).

Seeing then we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God (let the reader remember what that means), who is set down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, having by himself purged out sins and made reconciliation for the sins of the people, every humble believer who commits his soul into the hands of this High Priest, may come with boldness to the throne of grace, assured that he shall find mercy and grace to help in time of need.

Part III: The Righteousness Of Christ The True Ground Of Our Justification.

The practical effects of this doctrine.

THE Bible, as we have seen, teaches, first, that we are under a law which demands perfect obedience, and which threatens death in case of transgression; secondly, that all men have failed in rendering that obedience, and therefore are subject to the threatened penalty; thirdly, that Christ has redeemed us from the law by being made under it, and in our place satisfying its demands. It only remains to be shown, that this perfect righteousness of Christ is presented as the ground of our justification before God.

In scriptural language, condemnation is a sentence of death pronounced upon sin; justification is a sentence of life pronounced upon righteousness. As this righteousness is not our own, as we are sinners, ungodly, without works, it must be the righteousness of another, even of Him who is our righteousness. Hence we find so constantly the distinction between our own righteousness and that which God gives. The Jews, the apostle says, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, would not submit themselves unto the righteousness of God (Rom. 10.3). This was the rock on which they split. They knew that justification required a righteousness; they insisted on urging their own, imperfect as it was, and would not accept of that which God had provided in the merits of his Son, who is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. The same idea is presented in Rom. ix. 30-32, where Paul sums up the case of the rejection of the Jews and the acceptance of believers. The Gentiles have attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel hath not attained it. Why? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. The Jews would not receive and confide in the righteousness which God had provided, but endeavored, by works, to prepare a righteousness of their own. This was the cause of their ruin. In direct contrast to the course pursued by the majority of his kinsmen, we find Paul renouncing all dependence upon his own righteousness, and thankfully receiving that which God had provided; though he had every advantage and every temptation to trust in himself, that any man could have; for he was one of the favored people of God, circumcised on the eighth day, and touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless; yet all these things he counted but loss, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, not having his own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Phil. 3.4-9). Here the two righteousness are brought distinctly into view. The one was his own, consisting in obedience to the law; this Paul rejects as inadequate, and unworthy of acceptance. The other is of God, and received by faith; this Paul accepts and glories in as all-sufficient and as alone sufficient. This is the righteousness which the apostle says God imputes to those without works. Hence it is called a gift, a free gift, a gift by grace, and believers are described as those who receive this gift of righteousness (Rom. 5.17). Hence we are never said to be justified by anything done by us or wrought in us, but by what Christ has done for us. We are justified through the redemption that is in him (Rom. 3.24). We are justified by his blood (Rom. 5.9) We are justified by his obedience (Rom. 5.19). We are justified by him from all things (Acts 13.39). He is our righteousness (1 Cor. 1.30). We are made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5.21). We are justified in his name (1 Cor. 6.11). There is no condemnation to those who are in him (Rom. 8.1) Justification is, therefore, by faith in Christ, because faith is receiving and trusting to him as our Savior, as having done all that is required to secure our acceptance before God.

It is thus, then, the Scriptures answer the question, How can a man be just with God? When the soul is burdened with a sense of sin, when it sees how reasonable and holy is that law which demands perfect obedience, and which threatens death as the penalty of transgression, when it feels the absolute impossibility of ever satisfying these just demands by its own obedience and sufferings, it is then that the revelation of Jesus Christ as our righteousness is felt to be the wisdom and power of God unto salvation. Destitute of all righteousness in ourselves, we have our righteousness in him. What we could not do, he has done for us, The righteousness, therefore, on the ground of which the sentence of justification is passed upon the believing sinner, is not his own, but that of Jesus Christ.

It is one of the strongest evidences of the Divine origin of the Scriptures, that they are suited to the nature and circumstances of man. If their doctrines were believed and their precepts obeyed, men would stand in their true relation to God, and the different classes of men to each other. Parents and children, husbands and wives, rulers and subjects, would be found in their proper sphere, and would attain the highest possible degree of excellence and happiness. Truth is in order to holiness. And all truth is known to be truth by its tendency to promote holiness. As this test, when applied to the Scriptures generally, evinces their Divine perfection, so when applied to the cardinal doctrine of justification by faith in Jesus Christ, it shows that doctrine to be worthy of all acceptation. On this ground it is commended by the sacred writers. They declare it to be in the highest degree honorable to God, and beneficial to man. They assert that it is so arranged as to display the wisdom, justice, holiness, and love of God, while it secures the pardon, peace, and holiness of men. If it failed in either of these objects; if it were not suited to the Divine character, or to our nature and necessities, it could not answer the end for which it was designed.

It will be readily admitted, that the glory of God in the exhibition or revelation of the Divine perfections, is the highest conceivable end of creation and redemption; and consequently, that any doctrine which is suited to make such an exhibition is, on that account, worthy of being universally received and gloried in. Now, the inspired writers teach us, that it is peculiarly in the plan of redemption that the Divine perfections are revealed; that it was designed to show unto principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God; that Christ was set forth as a propitiatory sacrifice to exhibit his righteousness or justice; and especially, that in the ages to come he might show forth the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. It is the love of God, the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of which pass knowledge, that is here most conspicuously displayed. Some men strangely imagine that the death of Christ procured for us the love of God; whereas it was the effect and not the cause of that love. Christ did not die that God might love us; but he died because God loved us. ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ (Rom. 5.8). He ‘so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (Jn. 3.16). ‘In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (1 Jn. 4.9-10).

As this love of God is manifested towards the unworthy, it is called grace, and this is what the Scriptures dwell upon with such peculiar frequency and earnestness. The mystery of redemption is, that a Being of infinite holiness and justice should manifest such wonderful love to sinners. Hence the sacred writers so earnestly denounce everything that obscures this peculiar feature of the gospel; everything which represents men as worthy, as meriting, or, in any way, by their own goodness, securing the exercise of this love of God. It is of grace, lest any man should boast. We are justified by grace; we are saved by grace; and if of grace, it is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace (Eph. 2.8, 9; Rom. 11.6). The apostle teaches us not only that the plan of salvation had its origin in the unmerited kindness of God, and that our acceptance with him is in no way or degree founded in our own worthiness, but moreover that the actual administration of the economy of mercy is so conducted as to magnify this attribute of the Divine character. God chooses the foolish, the base, the weak, yea, those who are nothing, in order that no flesh should glory in his presence. Christ is made everything to us, that those who glory should glory only in the Lord (1 Cor. 1.27-31).

It cannot fail to occur to every reader, that unless he sincerely rejoices in this feature of the plan of redemption, unless he is glad that the whole glory of his salvation belongs to God, his heart cannot be in accordance with the gospel. If he believes that the ground of his acceptance is in himself, or even wishes that it were so, he is not prepared to join in those grateful songs of acknowledgment to Him, who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which it is the delight of the redeemed to offer unto him that loved them and gave himself for them. It is most obvious, that the sacred writers are abundant in the confession of their unworthiness in the sight of God. They acknowledged that they were unworthy absolutely, and unworthy comparatively. It was of grace that any man was saved; and it was of grace that they were saved rather than others. It is, therefore, all of grace, that God may be exalted and glorified in all them that believe.

The doctrine of the gratuitous justification of sinners by faith in Jesus Christ, not only displays the infinite love of God, but it is declared to be peculiarly honorable to him, or peculiarly consistent with his attributes, because it is adapted to all men. ‘Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, seeing it is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith’ (Rom. 3.29, 30). ‘For the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For WHOSOEVER Shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’ (Rom. 10.12, 13). This is no narrow, national, or sectarian doctrine. It is as broad as the earth. Wherever men, the creatures of God, can be found, there the mercy of God in Christ Jesus may be preached. The apostle greatly exults in this feature of the plan of redemption, as worthy of God, and as making the gospel the foundation of a religion for all nations and ages. In revealing a salvation sufficient for all and suited for all, it discloses Cod in his true character, as the God and Father of all.

The Scriptures, however, represent this great doctrine as not less suited to meet the necessities of man, than it is to promote the glory of God. If it exalts God, it humbles man. If it renders it manifest that he is a Being of infinite holiness, justice, and love, it makes us feel that we are destitute of all merit, nay, are most ill-deserving; that we are without strength; that our salvation is an undeserved favor. As nothing is more true than the guilt and helplessness of men, no plan of redemption which does not recognize these facts, could ever be in harmony with our inward experience, or command the full acquiescence of the penitent soul. The ascription of merit which we are conscious we do not deserve, produces of itself severe distress; and if this false estimate of our deserts is the ground of the exhibition of special kindness towards us, it destroys the happiness such kindness would otherwise produce. To a soul, therefore, sensible of its pollution and guilt in the sight of God, the doctrine that it is saved on account of its own goodness, or because it is better than other men, is discordant and destructive of its peace. Nothing but an absolutely gratuitous salvation can suit a soul sensible of its ill desert. Nothing else suits its views of truth, or its sense of right. The opposite doctrine involves a falsehood and a moral impropriety, in which neither the reason nor conscience can acquiesce. The scriptural doctrine, which assumes what we know to be true-namely, our guilt and helplessness–places us in our proper relation to God; that relation which accords with the truth, with our sense of right, with our inward experience, and with every proper desire of our hearts. This is one of the reasons why the Scriptures represent peace as the consequence of justification by faith. There can be no peace while the soul is not in harmony with God, and there can be no such harmony until it willingly occupies its true position in relation to God. So long as it does not acknowledge its true character, so long as it acts on the assumption of its ability to merit or to earn the Divine favor, it is in a false position. Its feelings towards God are wrong, and there is no manifestation of approbation or favor on the part of God towards the soul. But when we take our true place and feel our ill desert, and look upon pardoning mercy as a mere gratuity, we find access to God, and his love is shed abroad in our hearts, producing that peace which passes all understanding. The soul ceases from its legal strivings; it gives over the vain attempt to make itself worthy, or to work out a righteousness wherewith to appear before God. It is contented to be accepted as unworthy, and to receive as a gift a righteousness which can bear the scrutiny of God. Peace, therefore, is not the result of the assurance of mere pardon, but of pardon founded upon a righteousness which illustrates the character of God; which magnifies the law and makes it honorable; which satisfies the justice of God while it displays the infinite riches of Divine tenderness and love. The soul can find no objection to such a method of forgiveness. It is not pained by the ascription of merit to itself, which is felt to be undeserved. Its utter unworthiness is not only recognized, but openly declared. Nor is it harassed by the anxious doubt whether God can, consistently with his justice, forgive sin. For justice is as clearly revealed in the cross of Christ, as love. The whole soul, therefore, however enlightened, or however sensitive, acquiesces with humility and delight in a plan of mercy which thus honors God, and which, while it secures the salvation of the sinner, permits him to hide himself in the radiance which surrounds his Savior.

The apostles, moreover, urge on men the doctrine of justification by faith with peculiar earnestness, because it presents the only method of deliverance from sin. So long as men are under the condemnation of the law, and feel themselves bound by its demands of obedience as the condition and ground of their acceptance with God, they do and must feel that he is unreconciled, that his perfections are arrayed against them. Their whole object is to propitiate him by means which they know to be inadequate. Their spirit is servile, their religion a bondage, their God is a hard Master. To men in such a state, true love, true obedience, and real peace are alike impossible. But when they are brought to see that God, through his infinite love, has set forth Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins, that he might be just, and yet justify those that believe; that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saves us–they are emancipated from their former bondage and made the sons of God. God is no longer a hard Master, but a kind Father. Obedience is no longer a task to be done for a reward; it is the joyful expression of filial love. The whole relation of the soul to God is changed, and all our feelings and conduct change with it. Though we have no works to perform in order to justification, we have everything to do in order to manifest our gratitude and love. ‘Do we then make void the law through faith! God forbid: yea, we establish the law’ (Rom. 3.31). There is no such thing as real, acceptable obedience, until we are thus delivered from the bondage of the law as the rule of justification, and are reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Till then we are slaves and enemies, and have the feelings of slaves. When we have accepted the terms of reconciliation, we are the sons of God, and have the feelings of sons.

It must not, however, be supposed that the filial obedience rendered by the children of God, is the effect of the mere moral influence arising from a sense of his favor. Though, perhaps, the strongest influence which any external consideration can exert, it is far from being the source of the holiness which always follows faith. The very act by which we become interested in the redemption of Christ, from the condemnation of the law, makes us partakers of his Spirit. It is not mere pardon, or any other isolated blessing, that is offered to us in the gospel, but complete redemption, deliverance from evil and restoration to the love and life of God. Those, therefore, who believe, are not merely forgiven, but are so united to Christ, that they derive from and through him the Holy Spirit. This is his great gift, bestowed upon all who come to Him and confide in Him. This is the reason why he says, ‘Without me ye can do nothing.–As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit’ (Jn. 15.4, 5).

The gospel method of salvation, therefore, is worthy of all acceptation. It reveals the Divine perfections in the dearest and most affecting light, and it is in every way suited to the character and necessities of men. It places us in our true position as undeserving sinners; and it secures pardon, peace of conscience, and holiness of life. It is the wisdom and the power of God unto salvation. It cannot be a matter of surprise that the Scriptures represent the rejection of this method of redemption as the prominent ground of the condemnation of those who perish under the sound of the gospel. That the plan should be so clearly revealed, and yet men should insist upon adopting some other, better suited to their inclinations, is the height of folly and disobedience. That the Son of God should come into the world, die the just for the unjust, and offer us eternal life, and yet we should reject his proffered mercy, proves such an insensibility to his excellence and love, such a love of sin, such a disregard of the approbation and enjoyment of God, that, could all other grounds of condemnation be removed, this alone would be sufficient. ‘He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God’ (Jn. 3.18).

More articles by Charles Hodge at


01 Justification by Faith alone – Edwards


The doctrine of Justification is probably the most important teaching in the Holy Scripture and yet many church members do not understand this key doctrine.   This doctrine was the basis of the Reformation.  Many churches do not teach this important doctrine.   We are including three articles on this subject and doctrine because of it’s importance.

Justification By Faith Alone Dr. Jonathan Edwards   Dated November, 1734.

Romans 4:5

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Justification by Faith Alone:
The meaning of It
The Truth of It
Scriptural Arguments
Perseverance in our Actions
Ten Objections Answered
The Importance of It

Subject: We are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of goodness of our own.

THE following things may be noted in this verse:

1. That justification respects a man as ungodly. This is evident by these words — that justifieth the ungodly, which cannot imply less than that God, in the act of justification, has no regard to anything in the person justified, as godliness or any goodness in him, but that immediately before this act, God beholds him only as an ungodly creature, so that godliness in the person to be justified is not so antecedent to his justification as to be the ground of it. When it is said that God justifies the ungodly, it is as absurd to suppose that our godliness, taken as some goodness in us, is the ground of our justification, as when it is said that Christ gave sight to the blind to suppose that sight was prior to, and the ground of, that act of mercy in Christ. Or as, if it should be said that such an one by his bounty has made a poor man rich, to suppose that it was the wealth of this poor man that was the ground of this bounty towards him, and was the price by which it was procured.

2. It appears, that by him that worketh not, in this verse, is not meant one who merely does not conform to the ceremonial law, because he that worketh not, and the ungodly, are evidently synonymous expressions, or what signify the same, as appears by the manner of their connection. If not, to what purpose is the latter expression, the ungodly, brought in? The context gives no other occasion for it, but to show that by the grace of the gospel, God in justification has no regard to any godliness of ours. The foregoing verse is, “Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” In that verse, it is evident that gospel grace consists in the reward being given without works, and in this verse, which immediately follows it, and in sense is connected with it, gospel grace consists in a man’s being justified as ungodly. By which it is most plain, that by him that worketh not, and him that is ungodly, are meant the same thing, and that therefore not only works of the ceremonial law are excluded in this business of justification, but works of morality and godliness.

It is evident in the words, that by the faith here spoken of, by which we are justified, is not meant the same thing as a course of obedience or righteousness, since the expression by which this faith is here denoted, is believing on him that justifies the ungodly. — They that oppose the Solifidians, as they call them, greatly insist on it, that we should take the words of Scripture concerning this doctrine in their most natural and obvious meaning, and how do they cry out, of our clouding this doctrine with obscure metaphors, and unintelligible figures of speech? But is this to interpret Scripture according to its most obvious meaning, when the Scripture speaks of our believing on him that justifies the ungodly, or the breakers of his law, to say that the meaning of it is performing a course of obedience to his law, and avoiding the breaches of it? Believing on God as a justifier, certainly is a different thing from submitting to God as a lawgiver, especially believing on him as a justifier of the ungodly, or rebels against the lawgiver. 

4. It is evident that the subject of justification is looked upon as destitute of any righteousness in himself, by that expression, it is counted, or imputed to him for righteousness. — The phrase, as the apostle uses it here and in the context, manifestly imports that God of his sovereign grace is pleased in his dealings with the sinner, so to regard one that has no righteousness, that the consequence shall be the same as if he had. This however may be from the respect it bears to something that is indeed righteous. It is plain that this is the force of the expression in the preceding verses. In the last verse but one, it is manifest, the apostle lays the stress of his argument for the free grace of God — from that text of the Old Testament about Abraham — on the word counted or imputed. This is the thing that he supposed God to show his grace in, viz. in his counting something for righteousness, in his consequential dealings with Abraham, that was no righteousness in itself. And in the next verse, which immediately precedes the text, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt,” the word there translated reckoned, is the same that in the other verses is rendered imputed and counted, and it is as much as if the apostle had said, “As to him that works, there is no need of any gracious reckoning or counting it for righteousness, and causing the reward to follow as if it were a righteousness. For if he has works, he has that which is a righteousness in itself, to which the reward properly belongs.” This is further evident by the words that follow, Rom. 4:6, “Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” What can here be meant by imputing righteousness without works, but imputing righteousness to him that has none of his own? Verse 7, 8, “Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” How are these words of David to the apostle’s purpose? Or how do they prove any such thing, as that righteousness is imputed without works, unless it be because the word imputed is used, and the subject of the imputation is mentioned as a sinner, and consequently destitute of a moral righteousness? For David says no such thing, as that he is forgiven without the works of the ceremonial law. There is no hint of the ceremonial law, or reference to it, in the words. I will therefore venture to infer this doctrine from the words, for the subject of my present discourse, viz.

That we are justified only by faith in Christ, and not by any manner of virtue or goodness of our own.

Such an assertion as this, I am sensible, many would be ready to call absurd, as betraying a great deal of ignorance, and containing much inconsistency, but I desire everyone’s patience till I have done.

In handling this doctrine, I would: 

I. Explain the meaning of it, and show how I would be understood by such an assertion.

II. Proceed to the consideration of the evidence of the truth of it.

III. Show how evangelical obedience is concerned in this affair.

IV. Answer objections.

V. Consider the importance of the doctrine. 

I. I would explain the meaning of the doctrine, or show in what sense I assert it, and would endeavor to evince the truth of it, which may be done in answer to these two inquiries, viz.

1.What is meant by being justified? 

2. What is meant when it is said, that this is “by faith alone, without any manner of virtue or goodness of our own?”

First, I would show what justification is, or what I suppose is meant in Scripture by being justified.

A person is to be justified, when he is approved of God as free from the guilt of sin and its deserved punishment, and as having that righteousness belonging to him that entitles to the reward of life. That we should take the word in such a sense, and understand it as the judge’s accepting a person as having both a negative and positive righteousness belonging to him, and looking on him therefore as not only free from any obligation to punishment, but also as just and righteous and so entitled to a positive reward, is not only most agreeable to the etymology and natural import of the word, which signifies to pass one for righteous in judgment, but also manifestly agreeable to the force of the word as used in Scripture.

Some suppose that nothing more is intended in Scripture by justification, than barely the remission of sins. If so, it is very strange, if we consider the nature of the case. For it is most evident, and none will deny, that it is with respect to the rule or law of God we are under, that we are said in Scripture to be either justified or condemned. Now what is it to justify a person as the subject of a law or rule, but to judge him as standing right with respect to that rule? To justify a person in a particular case, is to approve of him as standing right, as subject to the law in that case, and to justify in general is to pass him in judgment, as standing right in a state correspondent to the law or rule in general. But certainly, in order to a person’s being looked on as standing right with respect to the rule in general, or in a state corresponding with the law of God, more is needful than not having the guilt of sin. For whatever that law is, whether a new or an old one, doubtless something positive is needed in order to its being answered. We are no more justified by the voice of the law, or of him that judges according to it, by a mere pardon of sin, than Adam, our first surety, was justified by the law, at the first point of his existence, before he had fulfilled the obedience of the law, or had so much as any trial whether he would fulfill it or no. If Adam had finished his course of perfect obedience, he would have been justified, and certainly his justification would have implied something more than what is merely negative. He would have been approved of, as having fulfilled the righteousness of the law, and accordingly would have been adjudged to the reward of it. So Christ, our second surety (in whose justification all whose surety he is, are virtually justified), was not justified till he had done the work the Father had appointed him, and kept the Father’s commandments through all trials, and then in his resurrection he was justified. When he had been put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit, 1 Pet. 3:18, then he that was manifest in the flesh was justified in the Spirit, 1 Tim. 3:16. But God, when he justified him in raising him from the dead, did not only release him from his humiliation for sin, and acquit him from any further suffering or abasement for it, but admitted him to that eternal and immortal life, and to the beginning of that exaltation that was the reward of what he had done. And indeed the justification of a believer is no other than his being admitted to communion in the justification of this head and surety of all believers: for as Christ suffered the punishment of sin, not as a private person, but as our surety. So when after this suffering he was raised from the dead, he was therein justified, not as a private person, but as the surety and representative of all that should believe in him. So that he was raised again not only for his own, but also for our justification, according to the apostle, Rom. 4:25, “Who was delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification.” And therefore it is that the apostle says, as he does in Rom. 8:34, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again.”

But that a believer’s justification implies not only remission of sins, or acquittal from the wrath due to it, but also an admittance to a title to that glory which is the reward of righteousness, is more directly taught in the Scriptures, particularly in Rom. 5:1, 2, where the apostle mentions both these as joint benefits implied in justification: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” So remission of sin, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, are mentioned together as what are jointly obtained by faith in Christ, Acts 26:18, “That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified through faith that is in me.” Both these are without doubt implied in that passing from death to life, which Christ speaks of as the fruit of faith, and which he opposes to condemnation, John 5:24, “Verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

I proceed now, 

Secondly, to show what is meant when it is said, that this justification is by faith only, and not by any virtue or goodness of our own. 

This inquiry may be subdivided into two, viz. 

1. How it is by faith.

2. How it is by faith alone, without any manner of goodness of ours. 

1. How justification is by faith. — Here the great difficulty has been about the import and force of the particle by, or what is that influence that faith has in the affair of justification that is expressed in Scripture by being justified by faith.

Here, if I may humbly express what seems evident to me, though faith be indeed the condition of justification so as nothing else is, yet this matter is not clearly and sufficiently explained by saying that faith is the condition of justification, and that because the word seems ambiguous, both in common use, and also as used in divinity. In one sense, Christ alone performs the condition of our justification and salvation. In another sense, faith is the condition of justification, and in another sense, other qualifications and acts are conditions of salvation and justification too. There seems to be a great deal of ambiguity in such expressions as are commonly used (which yet we are forced to use), such as condition of salvation, what is required in order to salvation or justification, the terms of the covenant, and the like, and I believe they are understood in very different senses by different persons. And besides, as the word condition is very often understood in the common use of language, faith is not the only thing in us that is the condition of justification. For by the word condition, as it is very often (and perhaps most commonly) used, we mean anything that may have the place of a condition in a conditional proposition, and as such is truly connected with the consequent, especially if the proposition holds both in the affirmative and negative, as the condition is either affirmed or denied. If it be that with which, or which being supposed, a thing shall be, and without which, or it being denied, a thing shall not be, we in such a case call it a condition of that thing. But in this sense faith is not the only condition of salvation and justification. For there are many things that accompany and flow from faith, with which justification shall be, and without which, it will not be, and therefore are found to be put in Scripture in conditional propositions with justification and salvation, in multitudes of places. Such are love to God, and love to our brethren, forgiving men their trespasses, and many other good qualifications and acts. And there are many other things besides faith, which are directly proposed to us, to be pursued or performed by us, in order to eternal life, which if they are done, or obtained, we shall have eternal life, and if not done, or not obtained, we shall surely perish. And if faith was the only condition of justification in this sense, I do not apprehend that to say faith was the condition of justification, would express the sense of that phrase of Scripture, of being justified by faith. There is a difference between being justified by a thing, and that thing universally, necessarily, and inseparably attending justification: for so do a great many things that we are not said to be justified by. It is not the inseparable connection with justification that the Holy Ghost would signify (or that is naturally signified) by such a phrase, but some particular influence that faith has in the affair, or some certain dependence that effect has on its influence.

Some, aware of this, have supposed that the influence or dependence might well be expressed by faith’s being the instrument of our justification, which has been misunderstood, and injuriously represented, and ridiculed by those that have denied the doctrine of justification by faith alone, as though they had supposed faith was used as an instrument in the hand of God, whereby he performed and brought to pass that act of his, viz. approving and justifying the believer. Whereas it was not intended that faith was the instrument wherewith God justifies, but the instrument wherewith we receive justification: not the instrument wherewith the justifier acts in justifying, but wherewith the receiver of justification acts in accepting justification. But yet, it must be owned, this is an obscure way of speaking, and there must certainly be some impropriety in calling it an instrument wherewith we receive or accept justification. For the very persons who thus explain the matter, speak of faith as being the reception or acceptance itself, and if so, how can it be the instrument of reception or acceptance? Certainly there is a difference between the act and the instrument. Besides, by their own descriptions of faith, Christ, the mediator, by whom and his righteousness by which we are justified, is more directly the object of this acceptance and justification, which is the benefit arising therefrom more indirectly. Therefore, if faith be an instrument, it is more properly the instrument by which we receive Christ, than the instrument by which we receive justification.

But I humbly conceive we have been ready to look too far to find out what that influence of faith in our justification is, or what is that dependence of this effect on faith, signified by the expression of being justified by faith, overlooking that which is most obviously pointed forth in the expression, viz. that (there being a mediator that has purchased justification) faith in this mediator is that which renders it a meet and suitable thing, in the sight of God, that the believer, rather than others, should have this purchased benefit assigned to him. There is this benefit purchased, which God sees it to be a more meet and suitable thing that it should be assigned to some rather than others, because he sees them differently qualified: that qualification wherein the meetness to this benefit, as the case stands, consists, is that in us by which we are justified. If Christ had not come into the world and died, etc. to purchase justification, no qualification whatever in us could render it a meet or fit thing that we should be justified. But the case being as it now stands, viz. that Christ has actually purchased justification by his own blood for infinitely unworthy creatures, there may be certain qualifications found in some persons, which, either from the relation it bears to the mediator and his merits, or on some other account, is the thing that in the sight of God renders it a meet and condecent thing, that they should have an interest in this purchased benefit, and of which if any are destitute, it renders it an unfit and unsuitable thing that they should have it. The wisdom of God in his constitutions doubtless appears much in the fitness and beauty of them, so that those things are established to be done that are fit to be done, and that these things are connected in his constitution that are agreeable one to another. — So God justifies a believer according to his revealed constitution, without doubt, because he sees something in this qualification that, as the case stands, renders it a fit thing that such should be justified: whether it be because faith is the instrument, or as it were the hand, by which he that has purchased justification is apprehended and accepted, or because it is the acceptance itself, or whatever else. To be justified, is to be approved of God as a proper subject of pardon, with a right to eternal life. Therefore, when it is said that we are justified by faith, what else can be understood by it, than that faith is that by which we are rendered approvable, fitly so, and indeed, as the case stands, proper subjects of this benefit? 

This is something different from faith being the condition of justification, though inseparably connected with justification. So are many other things besides faith, and yet nothing in us but faith renders it meet that we should have justification assigned to us: as I shall presently show in answer to the next inquiry, viz.

2. How this is said to be by faith alone, without any manner of virtue or goodness of our own. This may seem to some to be attended with two difficulties, viz. how this can be said to be by faith alone, without any virtue or goodness of ours, when faith itself is a virtue, and one part of our goodness, and is not only some manner of goodness of ours, but is a very excellent qualification, and one chief part of the inherent holiness of a Christian? And if it be a part of our inherent goodness or excellency (whether it be this part or any other) that renders it a condecent or congruous thing that we should have this benefit of Christ assigned to us, what is this less than what they mean who talk of a merit of congruity? And moreover, if this part of our Christian holiness qualifies us, in the sight of God, for this benefit of Christ, and renders it a fit or meet thing, in his sight, that we should have it, why not other parts of holiness, and conformity to God, which are also very excellent, and have as much of the image of Christ in them, and are no less lovely in God’s eyes, qualify us as much, and have as much influence to render us meet, in God’s sight, for such a benefit as this? Therefore I answer,

When it is said, that we are not justified by any righteousness or goodness of our own, what is meant is that it is not out of respect to the excellency or goodness of any qualifications or acts in us whatsoever, that God judges it meet that this benefit of Christ should be ours. It is not, in any wise, on account of any excellency or value that there is in faith, that it appears in the sight of God a meet thing, that he who believes should have this benefit of Christ assigned to him, but purely from the relation faith has to the person in whom this benefit is to be had, or as it unites to that mediator, in and by whom we are justified. Here, for the greater clearness, I would particularly explain myself under several propositions,

(1.) It is certain that there is some union or relation that the people of Christ stand in to him, that is expressed in Scripture, from time to time, by being in Christ, and is represented frequently by those metaphors of being members of Christ, or being united to him as members to the head, and branches to the stock, and is compared to a marriage union between husband and wife. I do not now pretend to determine of what sort this union is. Nor is it necessary to my present purpose to enter into any manner of disputes about it. If any are disgusted at the word union, as obscure and unintelligible, the word relation equally serves my purpose. I do not now desire to determine any more about it, than all, of all sorts, will readily allow, viz. that there is a peculiar relation between true Christians and Christ, which there is not between him and others, and which is signified by those metaphorical expressions in Scripture, of being in Christ, being members of Christ, etc.

(2.) This relation or union to Christ, whereby Christians are said to be in Christ (whatever it be), is the ground of their right to his benefits. This needs no proof: the reason of the thing, at first blush, demonstrates it. It is exceeding evident also by Scripture, 1 John 5:12, “He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son, hath not life.” 1 Cor. 1:30, “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us — righteousness.” First we must be in him, and then he will be made righteousness or justification to us. Eph. 1:6, “Who hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Our being in him is the ground of our being accepted. So it is in those unions to which the Holy Ghost has thought fit to compare this. The union of the members of the body with the head, is the ground of their partaking of the life of the head. It is the union of the branches to the stock, which is the ground of their partaking of the sap and life of the stock. It is the relation of the wife to the husband, that is the ground of her joint interest in his estate: they are looked upon, in several respects, as one in law. So there is a legal union between Christ and true Christians, so that (as all except Socinians allow) one, in some respects, is accepted for the other by the supreme Judge.

(3.) And thus it is that faith is the qualification in any person that renders it meet in the sight of God that he should be looked upon as having Christ’s satisfaction and righteousness belonging to him, viz. because it is that in him which, on his part, makes up this union between him and Christ. By what has been just now observed, it is a person’s being, according to scripture phrase, in Christ, that is the ground of having his satisfaction and merits belonging to him, and a right to the benefits procured thereby. The reason of it is plain: it is easy to see how our having Christ’s merits and benefits belonging to us, follows from our having (if I may so speak) Christ himself belonging to us, or our being united to him. And if so, it must also be easy to see how, or in what manner, that in a person, which on his part makes up the union between his soul and Christ, should be the things on the account of which God looks on it as meet that he should have Christ’s merits belonging to him. It is a very different thing for God to assign to a particular person a right to Christ’s merits and benefits from regard to a qualification in him in this respect, from his doing it for him out of respect to the value or loveliness of that qualification, or as a reward of its excellency.

As there is nobody but what will allow that there is a peculiar relation between Christ and his true disciples, by which they are in some sense in Scripture said to be one. So I suppose there is nobody but what will allow, that there may be something that the true Christian does on his part, whereby he is active in coming into this relation or union: some uniting act, or that which is done towards this union or relation (or whatever any please to call it) on the Christian’s part. Now faith I suppose to be this act.

I do not now pretend to define justifying faith, or to determine precisely how much is contained in it, but only to determine thus much concerning it, viz. That it is that by which the soul, which before was separate and alienated from Christ, unites itself to him, or ceases to be any longer in that state of alienation, and comes into that forementioned union or relation to him, or, to use the scripture phrase, it is that by which the soul comes to Christ, and receives him. This is evident by the Scriptures using these very expressions to signify faith. John 6:35-39, “He that cometh to me, shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me, shall never thirst. But I said unto you, that ye also have seen me and believe not. All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Verse 40, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up the last day.” — John 5:38-40, “Whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the Scriptures, for — they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” Verse 43, 44, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another?” — John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” If it be said that these are obscure figures of speech, which however they might be well understood of old among those who commonly used such metaphors, are with difficulty understood now. I allow, that the expressions of receiving Christ and coming to Christ, are metaphorical expressions. If I should allow them to be obscure metaphors, yet this much at least is certainly plain in them, viz. that faith is that by which those who before were separated, and at a distance from Christ (that is to say, were not so related and united to him as his people are), cease to be any longer at such a distance, and come into that relation and nearness, unless they are so unintelligible, that nothing at all can be understood by them.

God does not give those that believe a union with or an interest in the Savior as a reward for faith, but only because faith is the soul’s active uniting with Christ, or is itself the very act of unition, on their part. God sees it fit, that in order to a union being established between two intelligent active beings or persons, so as that they should be looked upon as one, there should be the mutual act of both, that each should receive the other, as actively joining themselves one to another. God, in requiring this in order to an union with Christ as one of his people, treats men as reasonable creatures, capable of act and choice, and hence sees it fit that they only who are one with Christ by their own act, should be looked upon as one in law. What is real in the union between Christ and his people, is the foundation of what is legal: that is, it is something really in them, and between them, uniting them, that is the ground of the suitableness of their being accounted as one by the judge. And if there be any act or qualification in believers of that uniting nature, that it is meet on that account the judge should look upon them and accept them as one, no wonder that upon the account of the same act or qualification, he should accept the satisfaction and merits of the one for the other, as if these were their own satisfaction and merits. This necessarily follows, or rather is implied.

And thus it is that faith justifies, or gives an interest in Christ’s satisfaction and merits, and a right to the benefits procured thereby, viz. as it thus makes Christ and the believer one in the acceptance of the supreme Judge. It is by faith that we have a title to eternal life, because it is by faith that we have the Son of God, by whom life is. The apostle John in these words, 1 John 5:12, “He that hath the Son hath life,” seems evidently to have respect to those words of Christ, of which he gives an account in his gospel, chap. 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life.” And where the Scripture speaks of faith as the soul’s receiving or coming to Christ, it also speaks of this receiving, coming to, or joining with Christ, as the ground of an interest in his benefits. To as many as received him, “to them gave he power” to become the sons of God. Ye will not come unto me, “that ye might have life.” And there is a wide difference between its being suitable that Christ’s satisfaction and merits should be theirs who believe, because an interest in that satisfaction and merit is a fit reward of faith — or a suitable testimony of God’s respect to the amiableness and excellency of that grace — and its being suitable that Christ’s satisfaction and merits should be theirs, because Christ and they are so united, that in the eyes of the Judge they may be looked upon and taken as one. 

Although, on account of faith in the believer, it is in the sight of God fit and congruous, both that he who believes should be looked upon as in Christ, and also as having an interest in his merits, in the way that has been now explained. Yet it appears that this is very wide from a merit of congruity, or indeed any moral congruity at all to either. There is a twofold fitness to a state. I know not how to give them distinguishing names, otherwise than by calling the one a moral, and the other a natural fitness. A person has a moral fitness for a state, when his moral excellency commends him to it, or when his being put into such a good state is but a suitable testimony of regard to the moral excellency, or value, or amiableness of any of his qualifications or acts. A person has a natural fitness for a state, when it appears meet and condecent that he should be in such a state or circumstances, only from the natural concord or agreeableness there is between such qualifications and such circumstances: not because the qualifications are lovely or unlovely, but only because the qualifications and the circumstances are like one another, or do in their nature suit and agree or unite one to another. And it is on this latter account only that God looks on it fit by a natural fitness, that he whose heart sincerely unites itself to Christ as his Savior, should be looked upon as united to that Savior, and so having an interest in him, and not from any moral fitness there is between the excellency of such a qualification as faith, and such a glorious blessedness as the having an interest in Christ. God’s bestowing Christ and his benefits on a soul in consequence of faith, out of regard only to the natural concord there is between such a qualification of a soul, and such a union with Christ, and interest in him, makes the case very widely different from what it would be, if he bestowed this from regard to any moral suitableness. For, in the former case, it is only from God’s love of order that he bestows these things on the account of faith: in the latter, God does it out of love to the grace of faith itself. — God will neither look on Christ’s merits as ours, nor adjudge his benefits to us, till we be in Christ. Nor will he look upon us as being in him, without an active unition of our hearts and souls to him, because he is a wise being, and delights in order and not in confusion, and that things should be together or asunder according to their nature. His making such a constitution is a testimony of his love of order. Whereas if it were out of regard to any moral fitness or suitableness between faith and such blessedness, it would be a testimony of his love to the act or qualification itself. The one supposes this divine constitution to be a manifestation of God’s regard to the beauty of the act of faith. The other only supposes it to be a manifestation of his regard to the beauty of that order that there is in uniting those things that have a natural agreement and congruity, and unition of the one with the other. Indeed a moral suitableness or fitness to a state includes a natural. For, if there be a moral suitableness that a person should be in such a state, there is also a natural suitableness, but such a natural suitableness, as I have described, by no means necessarily includes a moral.

This is plainly what our divines intend when they say, that faith does not justify as a work, or a righteousness, viz. that it does not justify as a part of our moral goodness or excellency, or that it does not justify as man was to have been justified by the covenant of works, which was, to have a title to eternal life given him of God, in testimony of his pleasedness with his works, or his regard to the inherent excellency and beauty of his obedience. And this is certainly what the apostle Paul means, when he so much insists upon it, that we are not justified by works, viz. that we are not justified by them as good works, or by any goodness, value, or excellency of our works. For the proof of this I shall at present mention but one thing, and that is, the apostle from time to time speaking of our not being justified by works, as the thing that excludes all boasting, Eph. 2:9, Rom. 3:27, and chap. 4:2. Now which way do works give occasion for boasting, but as good? What do men use to boast of, but of something they suppose good or excellent? And on what account do they boast of anything, but for the supposed excellency that is in it? 

From these things we may learn in what manner faith is the only condition of justification and salvation. For though it be not the only condition, so as alone truly to have the place of a condition in a hypothetical proposition, in which justification and salvation are the consequent. Yet it is the condition of justification in a manner peculiar to it, and so that nothing else has a parallel influence with it, because faith includes the whole act of unition to Christ as a Savior. The entire active uniting of the soul, or the whole of what is called coming to Christ, and receiving of him, is called faith in Scripture. However other things may be no less excellent than faith, yet it is not the nature of any other graces or virtues directly to close with Christ as a mediator, any further than they enter into the constitution of justifying faith, and do belong to its nature. 

Thus I have explained my meaning, in asserting it as a doctrine of the gospel, that we are justified by faith only, without any manner of goodness of our own. 

I now proceed, 

II. To the proof of it, which I shall endeavor to produce in the following arguments.

First, such is our case, and the state of things, that neither faith, nor any other qualifications, or act or course of acts, does or can render it suitable that a person should have an interest in the Savior, and so a title to his benefits, on account of an excellency therein, or any other way, than as something in him may unite him to the Savior. It is not suitable that God should give fallen man an interest in Christ and his merits, as a testimony of his respect to anything whatsoever as a loveliness in him, and that because it is not meet, till a sinner is actually justified, than anything in him should be accepted of God, as any excellency or amiableness of his person. Or that God, by any act, should in any manner or degree testify any pleasedness with him, or favor towards him, on the account of anything inherent in him, and that for two reasons:

1. The nature of things will not admit of it. And this appears from the infinite guilt that the sinner till justified is under, which arises from the infinite evil or heinousness of sin. But because this is what some deny, I would therefore first establish that point, and show that sin is a thing that is indeed properly of infinite heinousness, and then show the consequence that it cannot be suitable, till the sinner is actually justified, that God should by any act testify pleasedness with or acceptance of any excellency or amiableness of his person. 

That the evil and demerit of sin is infinitely great, is most demonstrably evident, because what the evil or iniquity of sin consists in, is the violating of an obligation, or doing what we should not do. Therefore by how much the greater the obligation is that is violated, by so much the greater is the iniquity of the violation. But certainly our obligation to love or honor any being is great in proportion to the greatness or excellency of that being, or his worthiness to be loved and honored. We are under greater obligations to love a more lovely being than a less lovely. If a being be infinitely excellent and lovely, our obligations to love him are therein infinitely great. The matter is so plain, it seems needless to say much about it.

Some have argued exceeding strangely against the infinite evil of sin, from its being committed against an infinite object, that then it may as well be argued, that there is also an infinite value or worthiness in holiness and love to God, because that also has an infinite object. Whereas the argument, from parity of reason, will carry it in the reverse. The sin of the creature against God is ill-deserving in proportion to the distance there is between God and the creature. The greatness of the object, and the meanness of the subject, aggravates it. But it is the reverse with regard to the worthiness of the respect of the creature of God. It is worthless (and not worthy) in proportion to the meanness of the subject. So much the greater the distance between God and the creature, so much the less is the creature’s respect worthy of God’s notice or regard. The unworthiness of sin or opposition to God rises and is great in proportion to the dignity of the object and inferiority of the subject. But on the contrary, the value of respect rises in proportion to the value of the subject, and that for this plain reason, viz. that the evil of disrespect is in proportion to the obligation that lies upon the subject to the object, which obligation is most evidently increased by the excellency and superiority of the object. But on the contrary, the worthiness of respect to a being is in proportion to the obligation that lies on him who is the object (or rather the reason he has), to regard the subject, which certainly is in proportion to the subject’s value or excellency. Sin or disrespect is evil or heinous in proportion to the degree of what it denies in the object, and as it were takes from it, viz. its excellency and worthiness of respect. On the contrary, respect is valuable in proportion to the value of what is given to the object in that respect, which undoubtedly (other things being equal) is great in proportion to the subject’s value, or worthiness of regard, because the subject in giving his respect, can give no more than himself. So far as he gives his respect, he gives himself to the object, and therefore his gift is of greater or lesser value in proportion to the value of himself.

Hence (by the way) the love, honor, and obedience of Christ towards God, has infinite value, from the excellency and dignity of the person in whom these qualifications were inherent. The reason why we needed a person of infinite dignity to obey for us, was because of our infinite comparative meanness, who had disobeyed, whereby our disobedience was infinitely aggravated. We needed one, the worthiness of whose obedience might be answerable to the unworthiness of our disobedience, and therefore needed one who was as great and worthy as we were unworthy.

Another objection (that perhaps may be thought hardly worth mentioning) is, that to suppose sin to be infinitely heinous, is to make all sins equally heinous: for how can any sin be more than infinitely heinous? But all that can be argued hence is, that no sin can be greater with respect to that aggravation, the worthiness of the object against whom it is committed. One sin cannot be more aggravated than another in that respect, because the aggravation of every sin is infinite, but that does not hinder that some sins may be more heinous than others in other respects: as if we should suppose a cylinder infinitely long, cannot be greater in that respect, viz. with respect to the length of it. But yet it may be doubled and trebled, and make a thousand-fold more, by the increase of other dimensions. Of sins that are all infinitely heinous, some may be more heinous than others, as well as of divers punishments that are all infinitely dreadful calamities, or all of them infinitely exceeding all finite calamities, so that there is no finite calamity, however great, but what is infinitely less dreadful, or more eligible than any of them. Yet some of them may be a thousand times more dreadful than others. A punishment may be infinitely dreadful by reason of the infinite duration of it, and therefore cannot be greater with respect to that aggravation of it, viz. its length of continuance, but yet may be vastly more terrible on other accounts.

Having thus, as I imagine, made it clear that all sin is infinitely heinous, and consequently that the sinner, before he is justified, is under infinite guilt in God’s sight, it now remains that I show the consequence, or how it follows from hence, that it is not suitable that God should give the sinner an interest in Christ’s merits, and so a title to his benefits, from regard to any qualification, or act, or course of acts in him, on the account of any excellency or goodness whatsoever therein, but only as uniting to Christ; or (which fully implies it) that it is not suitable that God, by any act, should, in any manner or degree, testify any acceptance of, or pleasedness with anything, as any virtue, or excellency, or any part of loveliness, or valuableness in his person, until he is actually already interested in Christ’s merits. From the premises it follows, that before the sinner is already interested in Christ, and justified, it is impossible God should have any acceptance of, or pleasedness with the person of the sinner, as in any degree lovely in his sight, or indeed less the object of his displeasure and wrath. For, by the supposition, the sinner still remains infinitely guilty in the sight of God, for guilt is not removed but by pardon. But to suppose the sinner already pardoned, is to suppose him already justified, which is contrary to the supposition. But if the sinner still remains infinitely guilty in God’s sight, that is the same thing as still to be beheld of God as infinitely the object of his displeasure and wrath, or infinitely hateful in his eyes. If so, where is any room for anything in him, to be accepted as some valuableness or acceptability of him in God’s sight, or for any act of favor of any kind towards him, or any gift whatsoever to him, in testimony of God’s respect to and acceptance of something of him lovely and pleasing? If we should suppose that a sinner could have faith, or some other grace in his heart, and yet remain separate from Christ, and that he is not looked upon as being in Christ, or having any relation to him, it would not be meet that such true grace should be accepted of God as any loveliness of his person in the sight of God. If it should be accepted as the loveliness of the person, that would be to accept the person as in some degree lovely to God. But this cannot be consistent with his still remaining under infinite guilt, or infinite unworthiness in God’s sight, which that goodness has no worthiness to balance. — While God beholds the man as separate from Christ, he must behold him as he is in himself, and so his goodness cannot be beheld by God, but as taken with his guilt and hatefulness, and as put in the scales with it. So his goodness is nothing, because there is a finite on the balance against an infinite whose proportion to it is nothing. In such a case, if the man be looked on as he is in himself, the excess of the weight in one scale above another, must be looked upon as the quality of the man. These contraries being beheld together, one takes from another, as one number is subtracted from another, and the man must be looked upon in God’s sight according to the remainder. For here, by the supposition, all acts of grace or favor, in not imputing the guilt as it is, are excluded, because that supposes a degree of pardon, and that supposes justification, which is contrary to what is supposed, viz. that the sinner is not already justified. Therefore things must be taken strictly as they are, and so the man is still infinitely unworthy and hateful in God’s sight, as he was before, without diminution, because his goodness bears no proportion to his unworthiness, and therefore when taken together is nothing.

Hence may be more clearly seen the force of that expression in the text, of believing on him that justifieth the ungodly. For though there is indeed something in man that is really and spiritually good, prior to justification, yet there is nothing that is accepted as any godliness or excellency of the person, till after justification. Goodness or loveliness of the person in the acceptance of God, in any degree, is not to be considered as prior but posterior in the order and method of God’s proceeding in this affair. Though a respect to the natural suitableness between such a qualification, and such a state, does go before justification, yet the acceptance even of faith as any goodness or loveliness of the believer, follows justification. The goodness is on the forementioned account justly looked upon as nothing, until the man is justified: And therefore the man is respected in justification, as in himself altogether hateful. Thus the nature of things will not admit of a man having an interest given him in the merits or benefits of a Savior, on the account of anything as a righteousness, or a virtue, or excellency in him.

2. A divine constitution antecedent to that which establishes justification by a Savior (and indeed to any need of a Savior), stands in the way of it, viz. that original constitution or law which man was put under, by which constitution or law the sinner is condemned, because he is a violator of that law, and stands condemned, till he has actually an interest in the Savior, through whom he is set at liberty from that condemnation. But to suppose that God gives a man an interest in Christ in reward for his righteousness or virtue, is inconsistent with his still remaining under condemnation till he has an interest in Christ, because it supposes, that the sinner’s virtue is accepted, and he accepted for it, before he has an interest in Christ, inasmuch as an interest in Christ is given as a reward of his virtue. But the virtue must first be accepted, before it is rewarded, and the man must first be accepted for his virtue before he is rewarded for it with so great and glorious a reward. For the very notion of a reward, is some good bestowed in testimony of respect to and acceptance of virtue in the person rewarded. It does not consist with the honor of the majesty of the King of heaven and earth, to accept of anything from a condemned malefactor, condemned by the justice of his own holy law, till that condemnation be removed. And then, such acceptance is inconsistent with, and contradictory to such remaining condemnation, for the law condemns him that violates it, to be totally rejected and cast off by God. But how can a man continue under this condemnation, i. e. continue utterly rejected and cast off by God, and yet his righteousness or virtue be accepted, and he himself accepted on the account of it, so as to have so glorious a reward as an interest in Christ bestowed as a testimony of that acceptance? 

I know that the answer will be that we now are not subject to that constitution which mankind were at first put under, but that God, in mercy to mankind, has abolished that rigorous constitution, and put us under a new law, and introduced a more mild constitution, and that the constitution or law itself not remaining, there is no need of supposing that the condemnation of it remains, to stand in the way of the acceptance of our virtue. And indeed there is no other way of avoiding this difficulty. The condemnation of the law must stand in force against a man, till he is actually interested in the Savior who has satisfied and answered the law, so as effectually to prevent any acceptance of his virtue, either before, or in order to such an interest, unless the law or constitution itself be abolished. But the scheme of those modern divines by whom this is maintained, seems to contain a great deal of absurdity and self-contradiction. They hold that the old law given to Adam, which requires perfect obedience, is entirely repealed, and that instead of it we are put under a new law, which requires no more than imperfect sincere obedience, in compliance with our poor, infirm, impotent circumstances since the fall, whereby we are unable to perform that perfect obedience that was required by the first law. For they strenuously maintain, that it would be unjust in God to require anything of us that is beyond our present power and ability to perform, and yet they hold, that Christ died to satisfy for the imperfections of our obedience, that so our imperfect obedience might be accepted instead of perfect. Now, how can these things hang together? I would ask what law these imperfections of our obedience are a breach of? If they are a breach of no law, then they are not sins, and if they be not sins, what need of Christ’s dying to satisfy for them? But if they are sins, and so the breach of some law, what law is it? They cannot be a breach of their new law, for that requires no other than imperfect obedience, or obedience with imperfections. They cannot be a breach of the old law, for that they say is entirely abolished, and we never were under it, and we cannot break a law that we never were under. They say it would not be just in God to exact of us perfect obedience, because it would not be just in God to require more of us than we can perform in our present state, and to punish us for failing of it. Therefore by their own scheme, the imperfections of our obedience do not deserve to be punished. What need therefore of Christ’s dying to satisfy for them? What need of Christ’s suffering to satisfy for that which is no fault, and in its own nature deserves no suffering? What need of Christ’s dying to purchase that our imperfect obedience should be accepted, when according to their scheme it would be unjust in itself that any other obedience than imperfect should be required? What need of Christ’s dying to make way for God’s accepting such an obedience, as it would in itself be unjust in him not to accept? Is there any need of Christ’s dying to persuade God not to do unjustly? If it be said that Christ died to satisfy that law for us, that so we might not be under that law, but might be delivered from it, that so there might be room for us to be under a more mild law, still I would inquire, What need of Christ’s dying that we might not be under a law that (according to their scheme) it would in itself be unjust that we should be under, because in our present state we are not able to keep it? What need of Christ’s dying that we might not be under a law that it would be unjust that we should be under, whether Christ died or no?

Thus far I have argued principally from reason, and the nature of things: — I proceed now to the

Second argument, which is that this is a doctrine which the Holy Scriptures, the revelation that God has given us of his mind and will — by which alone we can never come to know how those who have offended God can come to be accepted of him, and justified in his sight — is exceeding full. The apostle Paul is abundant in teaching, that “we are justified by faith alone, without the works of the law.” (Rom. 3:28; 4:5; 5:1; Gal. 2:16; 3:8; 3:11; 3:24) There is no one doctrine that he insists so much upon, and that he handles with so much distinctness, explaining, giving reasons and answering objections.

Here it is not denied by any, that the apostle does assert that we are justified by faith, without the works of the law, because the words are express. But only it is said that we take his words wrong, and understand that by them that never entered into his heart, in that when he excludes the works of the law, we understand him of the whole law of God, or the rule which he has given to mankind to walk by: whereas all that he intends is the ceremonial law.

Some that oppose this doctrine indeed say that the apostle sometimes means that it is by faith, i.e. a hearty embracing the gospel in its first act only, or without any preceding holy life, that persons are admitted into a justified state. But say they, it is by a persevering obedience that they are continued in a justified state, and it is by this that they are finally justified. But this is the same thing as to say, that a man on his first embracing the gospel is conditionally justified and pardoned. To pardon sin is to free the sinner from the punishment of it, or from that eternal misery that is due it. Therefore if a person is pardoned, or freed from this misery, on his first embracing the gospel, and yet not finally freed, but his actual freedom still depends on some condition yet to be performed, it is inconceivable how he can be pardoned otherwise than conditionally: that is, he is not properly actually pardoned, and freed from punishment, but only he has God’s promise that he shall be pardoned on future conditions. God promises him, that now, if he perseveres in obedience, he shall be finally pardoned or actually freed from hell, which is to make just nothing at all of the apostle’s great doctrine of justification by faith alone. Such a conditional pardon is no pardon or justification at all any more than all mankind have, whether they embrace the gospel or no. For they all have a promise of final justification on conditions of future sincere obedience, as much as he that embraces the gospel. But not to dispute about this, we will suppose that there may be something or other at the sinner’s first embracing the gospel, that may properly be called justification or pardon, and yet that final justification, or real freedom from the punishment of sin, is still suspended on conditions hitherto unfulfilled. Yet they who hold that sinners are thus justified on embracing the gospel, suppose that they are justified by this, no otherwise than as it is a leading act of obedience, or at least as virtue and moral goodness in them, and therefore would be excluded by the apostle as much as any other virtue or obedience, if it be allowed that he means the moral law, when he excludes works of the law. And therefore, if that point be yielded, that the apostle means the moral, and not only the ceremonial, law, their whole scheme falls to the ground.

And because the issue of the whole argument from those texts in St. Paul’s epistles depends on the determination of this point, I would be particular in the discussion of it.

Some of our opponents in this doctrine of justification, when they deny that by the law the apostle means the moral law or the whole rule of life which God has given to mankind, seem to choose to express themselves thus: that the apostle only intends the Mosaic dispensation. But this comes to just the same thing as if they said that the apostle only means to exclude the works of the ceremonial law. For when they say that it is intended only that we are not justified by the works of the Mosaic dispensation, if they mean anything by it, it must be, that we are not justified by attending and observing what is Mosaic in that dispensation, or by what was peculiar to it, and wherein it differed from the Christian dispensation, which is the same as that which is ceremonial and positive, and not moral, in that administration. So that this is what I have to disprove, viz. that the apostle, when he speaks of works of the law in this affair, means only works of the ceremonial law, or those observances that were peculiar to the Mosaic administration.

And here it must be noted, that nobody controverts it with them, whether the works of the ceremonial law be not included, or whether the apostle does not particularly argue against justification by circumcision, and other ceremonial observances. But all in question is whether when he denies justification by works of the law, he is to be understood only of the ceremonial law, or whether the moral law be not also implied and intended. And therefore those arguments which are brought to prove that the apostle meant the ceremonial law, are nothing to the purpose, unless they prove that the apostle meant those only.

What is much insisted on is that it was the judaizing Christians being so fond of circumcision and other ceremonies of the law, and depending so much on them, which was the very occasion of the apostle’s writing as he does against justification by the works of the law. But supposing it were so, that their trusting in works of the ceremonial law were the sole occasion of the apostle’s writing (which yet there is no reason to allow, as may appear afterwards), if their trusting in a particular work, as a work of righteousness, was all that gave occasion to the apostle to write, how does it follow, that therefore the apostle did not upon that occasion write against trusting in all works of righteousness whatsoever? Where is the absurdity of supposing that the apostle might take occasion, from his observing some to trust in a certain work as trusting in any works of righteousness at all, and that it was a very proper occasion too? Yea, it would have been unavoidable for the apostle to have argued against trusting in a particular work, in the quality of a work of righteousness, which quality was general, but he must therein argue against trusting in works of righteousness in general. Supposing it had been some other particular sort of works that was the occasion of the apostle’s writing, as for instance, works of charity, and the apostle should hence take occasion to write to them not to trust in their works, could the apostle by that be understood of no other works besides works of charity? Would it have been absurd to understand him as writing against trusting in any work at all, because it was their trusting to a particular work that gave occasion to his writing?

Another thing alleged, as an evidence that the apostle means the ceremonial law — when he says, we cannot be justified by the works of the law — is that he uses this argument to prove it, viz. that the law he speaks of was given so long after the covenant with Abraham, in Gal. 3:17, “And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul.” But, say they, it was only the Mosaic administration, and not the covenant of works, that was given so long after. But the apostle’s argument seems manifestly to be mistaken by them. The apostle does not speak of a law that began to exist four hundred and thirty years after. If he did, there would be some force in their objection, but he has respect to a certain solemn transaction, well known among the Jews by the phrase “the giving of the law,” which was at Mount Sinai (Exo. 19, 20) consisting especially in God’s giving the ten commandments (which is the moral law) with a terrible voice, which law he afterwards gave in tables of stone. This transaction the Jews in the apostle’s time misinterpreted. They looked upon it as God’s establishing that law as a rule of justification. Against this conceit of theirs the apostle brings this invincible argument, viz. that God would never go about to disannul his covenant with Abraham, which was plainly a covenant of grace, by a transaction with his posterity, that was so long after it, and was plainly built upon it. He would not overthrow a covenant of grace that he had long before established with Abraham, for him and his seed (which is often mentioned as the ground of God’s making them his people), by now establishing a covenant of works with them at Mount Sinai, as the Jews and judaizing Christians supposed.

But that the apostle does not mean only works of the ceremonial law, when he excludes works of the law in justification, but also of the moral law, and all works of obedience, virtue, and righteousness whatsoever, may appear by the following things.

  1. The apostle does not only say that we are not justified by the works of the law, but that we are not justified by works, using a general term, as in our text, “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth,” etc.; and in the 6th verse, “God imputeth righteousness without works;” and Rom. 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace: but if it be of works, then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.” So, Eph. 2:8, 9, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, — not of works;” by which, there is no reason in the world to understand the apostle of any other than works in general, as correlates of a reward, or good works, or works of virtue and righteousness. When the apostle says, we are justified or saved not by works, without any such term annexed, as the law, or any other addition to limit the expression, what warrant have any to confine it to works of a particular law or institution, excluding others? Are not observances of other divine laws works, as well as of that? It seems to be allowed by the divines in the Arminian scheme, in their interpretation of several of those texts where the apostle only mentions works, without any addition, that he means our own good works in general. But then, they say, he only means to exclude any proper merit in those works. But to say the apostle means one thing when he says, we are not justified by works, and another when he says, we are not justified by the works of the law, when we find the expressions mixed and used in the same discourse, and when the apostle is evidently upon the same argument, is very unreasonable. It is to dodge and fly from Scripture, rather than open and yield ourselves to its teachings.

2. In the third chapter of Romans, our having been guilty of breaches of the moral law, is an argument that the apostle uses, why we cannot be justified by the works of the Old Testament, that all are under sin: “There is none righteous, no not one: their throat is as an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit: their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; and their feet swift to shed blood.” And so he goes on, mentioning only those things that are breaches of the moral law. And then when he has done, his conclusion is, in the 19th and 20th verses, “Now we know that whatsoever things 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. Therefore, by the deeds of the law, shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” This is most evidently his argument, because all had sinned (as it was said in the 9th verse), and been guilty of those breaches of the moral law that he had mentioned (and it is repeated over again, verse 23), “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” therefore none at all can be justified by the deeds of the law. Now if the apostle meant only, that we are not justified by the deeds of the ceremonial law, what kind of arguing would that be, “Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood?” therefore they cannot be justified by the deeds of the Mosaic administration. They are guilty of the breaches of the moral law, and therefore they cannot be justified by the deeds of the ceremonial law! Doubtless, the apostle’s argument is that the very same law they have broken, can never justify them as observers of it, because every law necessarily condemns it violators. And therefore our breaches of the moral law argue no more, than that we cannot be justified by that law we have broken.

And it may be noted, that the apostle’s argument here is the same that I have already used, viz. that as we are in ourselves, and out of Christ, we are under the condemnation of that original law or constitution that God established with mankind. And therefore it is no way fit that anything we do, any virtue or obedience of ours, should be accepted, or we accepted on the account of it. 

3. The apostle, in all the preceding part of this epistle, wherever he has the phrase, the law, evidently intends the moral law principally. As in the 12th verse of the foregoing chapter: “For as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law.” It is evidently the written moral law the apostle means, by the next verse but one, “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law;” that is, the moral law that the Gentiles have by nature. And so the next verse, “Which show the work of the law written in their hearts.” It is the moral law, and not the ceremonial, that is written in the hearts of those who are destitute of divine revelation. And so in the 18th verse, “Thou approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law.” It is the moral law that shows us the nature of things, and teaches us what is excellent, 20th verse, “Thou hast a form of knowledge and truth in the law.” It is the moral law, as is evident by what follows, verse 22, 23, “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law, dishonourest thou God?” Adultery, idolatry, and sacrilege, surely are the breaking of the moral, and not the ceremonial law. So in the 27th verse, “And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?” i.e. the Gentiles, that you despise because uncircumcised, if they live moral and holy lives, in obedience to the moral law, shall condemn you though circumcised. And so there is not one place in all the preceding part of the epistle, where the apostle speaks of the law, but that he most apparently intends principally the moral law. And yet when the apostle, in continuance of the same discourse, comes to tell us, that we cannot be justified by the works of the law, then they will needs have it, that he means only the ceremonial law. Yea, though all this discourse about the moral law, showing how the Jews as well as Gentiles have violated it, is evidently preparatory and introductory to that doctrine, Rom. 3:20, “That no flesh,” that is, none of mankind, neither Jews nor Gentiles, “can be justified by the works of the law.”

4. It is evident that when the apostle says, we cannot be justified by the works of the law, he means the moral as well as ceremonial law, by his giving this reason for it, that “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” as Rom. 3:20, “By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Now that law by which we come to the knowledge of sin, is the moral law chiefly and primarily. If this argument of the apostle be good, “that we cannot be justified by the deeds of the law, because it is by the law that we come to the knowledge of sin;” then it proves that we cannot be justified by the deeds of the moral law, nor by the precepts of Christianity; for by them is the knowledge of sin. If the reason be good, then where the reason holds, the truth holds. It is a miserable shift, and a violent force put upon the words, to say that the meaning is, that by the law of circumcision is the knowledge of sin, because circumcision signifying the taking away of sin, puts men in mind of sin. The plain meaning of the apostle is that as the law most strictly forbids sin, it tends to convince us of sin, and bring our own consciences to condemn us, instead of justifying of us: that the use of it is to declare to us our own guilt and unworthiness, which is the reverse of justifying and approving of us as virtuous or worthy. This is the apostle’s meaning, if we will allow him to be his own expositor. For he himself, in this very epistle, explains to us how it is that by the law we have the knowledge of sin, and that it is by the law’s forbidding sin, Rom. 7:7, “I had not known sin, but by the law; for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” There the apostle determines two things: first, that the way in which “by the law is the knowledge of sin,” is by the law’s forbidding sin, and secondly, which is more directly still to the purpose, he determines that it is the moral law by which we come to the knowledge of sin. “For,” says he, “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Now it is the moral, and not the ceremonial law, that says, “Thou shalt not covet.” Therefore, when the apostle argues that by the deeds of the law no flesh living shall be justified, because by the law is the knowledge of sin, his argument proves (unless he was mistaken as to the force of his argument), that we cannot be justified by the deeds of the moral law.

5. It is evident that the apostle does not mean only the ceremonial law, because he gives this reason why we have righteousness, and a title to the privilege of God’s children, not by the law, but by faith, “that the law worketh wrath.” Rom. 4:13-16, “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed through the law, but through righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” Now the way in which the law works wrath, by the apostle’s own account, in the reason he himself annexes, is by forbidding sin, and aggravating the guilt of the transgression. “For,” says he, “where no law is, there is no transgression:” And so, Rom. 7:13, “That sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” If, therefore, this reason of the apostle be good, it is much stronger against justification by the moral law than the ceremonial law. For it is by transgressions of the moral law chiefly that there comes wrath: for they are most strictly forbidden, and most terribly threatened.

6. It is evident that when the apostle says, we are not justified by the works of the law, that he excludes all our own virtue, goodness, or excellency, by that reason he gives for it, viz. “That boasting might be excluded.” Rom. 3:26, 27, 28, “To declare, I say, at this time 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.” Eph. 2:8, 9, “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” Now what are men wont to boast of, but what they esteem their own goodness or excellency? If we are not justified by works of the ceremonial law, yet how does that exclude boasting, as long as we are justified by our own excellency, or virtue and goodness of our own, or works of righteousness which we have done?

But it is said, that boasting is excluded, as circumcision was excluded, which was what the Jews especially used to glory in, and value themselves upon, above other nations.

To this I answer, that the Jews were not only used to boast of circumcision, but were notorious for boasting of their moral righteousness. The Jews of those days were generally admirers and followers of the Pharisees, who were full of their boasts of their moral righteousness; as we may see by the example of the Pharisee mentioned in the 18th of Luke, which Christ mentions as describing the general temper of that sect: “Lord,” says he, “I thank thee, that I am not as other men, an extortioner, nor unjust, nor an adulterer.” The works that he boasts of were chiefly moral works: he depended on the works of the law for justification. And therefore Christ tells us, that the publican, that renounced all his own righteousness, “went down to his house justified rather than he.” And elsewhere, we read of the Pharisees praying in the corners of the streets, and sounding a trumpet before them when they did alms. But those works which they so vainly boasted of were moral works. And not only so, but what the apostle in this very epistle condemns the Jews for, is their boasting of the moral law. Rom. 2:22, 23, “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, do thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law, dishonourest thou God?” The law here mentioned that they made their boast of, was that of which adultery, idolatry, and sacrilege, were the breaches, which is the moral law. So that this is the boasting which the apostle condemns them for. And therefore, if they were justified by the works of this law, then how comes he to say that their boasting is excluded? And besides, when they boasted of the rites of the ceremonial law, it was under a notion of its being a part of their own goodness or excellency, or what made them holier and more lovely in the sight of God than other people. If they were not justified by this part of their own supposed goodness or holiness, yet if they were by another, how did that exclude boasting? How was their boasting excluded, unless all goodness or excellency of their own was excluded?

7. The reason given by the apostle why we can be justified only by faith, and not by the works of the law, in the 3d chapter of Galations viz. “That they that are under the law, are under the curse,” makes it evident that he does not mean only the ceremonial law. In that chapter the apostle had particularly insisted upon it, that Abraham was justified by faith, and that it is by faith only, and not by the works of the law, that we can be justified, and become the children of Abraham, and be made partakers of the blessing of Abraham: and he gives this reason for it in the 10th verse: “For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” It is manifest that these words, cited from Deuteronomy, are spoken not only with regard to the ceremonial law, but the whole law of God to mankind and chiefly the moral law, and that all mankind are therefore as they are in themselves under the curse, not only while the ceremonial law lasted, but now since that has ceased. And therefore all who are justified, are redeemed from that curse, by Christ’s bearing it for them; as in verse 13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” Now therefore, either its being said that he is cursed who continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them, is a good reason why we cannot be justified by the works of that law of which it is so said, or it is not: if it be, then it is a good reason why we cannot be justified by the works of the moral law, and of the whole rule which God has given to mankind to walk by. For the words are spoken of the moral as well as the ceremonial law, and reach every command or precept which God has given to mankind, and chiefly the moral precepts, which are most strictly enjoined, and the violations of which in both the New Testament and the Old, and in the books of Moses themselves, are threatened with the most dreadful curse.

8. The apostle in like manner argues against our being justified by our own righteousness, as he does against being justified by the works of the law; and evidently uses the expressions, of our own righteousness, and works of the law, promiscuously, and as signifying the same thing. It is particularly evident by Rom. 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” Here it is plain that the same thing is asserted as in the two last verses but one of the foregoing chapter, “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? because they sought it, not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” And it is very unreasonable, upon several accounts, to suppose that the apostle, by their own righteousness, intends only their ceremonial righteousness. For when the apostle warns us against trusting in our own righteousness of justification, doubtless it is fair to interpret the expression in an agreement with other scriptures. Here we are warned, not to think that it is for the sake of our own righteousness that we obtain God’s favor and blessing: as particularly in Deu. 9:4-6, “Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which he sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it, for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiff-necked people.” None will pretend that here the expression thy righteousness, signifies only a ceremonial righteousness, but all virtue or goodness of their own — yea, and the inward goodness of the heart, as well as the outward goodness of life; which appears by the beginning of the 5th verse, “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart;” and also by the antithesis in the 6th verse, “Not for thy righteousness, for thou art a stiff-necked people.” Their stiff-neckedness was their moral wickedness, obstinacy, and perverseness of heart. By righteousness, therefore, on the contrary, is meant their moral virtue, and rectitude of heart and life. This is what I would argue from hence, that the expression of our own righteousness, when used in Scripture with relation to the favor of God — and when we are warned against looking upon it as that by which that favor, or the fruits of it, are obtained — does not signify only a ceremonial righteousness, but all manner of goodness of our own.

The Jews also, in the New Testament, are condemned for trusting in their own righteousness in this sense, Luke 18:9, etc. “And he spake this parable unto certain that trusted in themselves that they were righteous.” This intends chiefly a moral righteousness, as appears by the parable itself, in which we have an account of the prayer of the Pharisee, wherein the things that he mentions as what he trusts in, are chiefly moral qualifications and performances, viz. that he was not an extortioner, unjust, nor an adulterer, etc.

But we need not go to the writings of other penmen of the Scripture. If we will allow the apostle Paul to be his own interpreter, he — when he speaks of our own righteousness as that by which we are not justified or saved — does not mean only a ceremonial righteousness, nor does he only intend a way of religion and serving God, of our own choosing, without divine warrant or prescription. But by our own righteousness he means the same as a righteousness of our own doing, whether it be a service or righteousness of God’s prescribing, or our own unwarranted performing. Let it be an obedience to the ceremonial law, or a gospel obedience, or what it will: if it be a righteousness of our own doing, it is excluded by the apostle in this affair, as is evident by Tit. 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” — But I would more particularly insist on this text; and therefore this may be the

9th argument: that the apostle, when he denies justification by works, works of the law, and our own righteousness, does not mean works of the ceremonial law only. Tit. 3:3-7, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward men appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Works of righteousness that we have done are here excluded, as what we are neither saved nor justified by. The apostle expressly says, we are not saved by them, and it is evident that when he says this, he has respect to the affair of justification. And that he means, we are not saved by them in not being justified by them, as by the next verse but one, which is part of the same sentence, “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

It is several ways manifest, that the apostle in this text, by “works of righteousness which we have done,” does not mean only works of the ceremonial law. It appears by the 3d verse, “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” These are breaches of the moral law, that the apostle observes they lived in before they were justified: and it is most plain that it is this which gives occasion to the apostle to observe, as he does in the 5th verse, that is was not by works of righteousness which they had done, that they were saved or justified.

But we need not go to the context, it is most apparent from the words themselves, that the apostle does not mean only works of the ceremonial law. If he had only said, it is not by our own works of righteousness. What could we understand by works of righteousness, but only righteous works, or, which is the same thing, good works? And not say, that it is by our own righteous works that we are justified, though not by one particular kind of righteous works, would certainly be a contradiction to such an assertion. But, the works are rendered yet more strong, plain, and determined in their sense, by those additional words, which we have done, which shows that the apostle intends to exclude all our own righteous or virtuous works universally. If it should be asserted concerning any commodity, treasure, or precious jewel, that it could not be procured by money, and not only so, but to make the assertion the more strong, it should be asserted with additional words, that it could not be procured by money that men possess, how unreasonable would it be, after all, to say that all that was meant was, that it could not be procured with brass money.

And what renders the interpreting of this text, as intending works of the ceremonial law, yet more unreasonable, is that these works were indeed no works of righteousness at all, but were only falsely supposed to be so by the Jews. And this our opponents in this doctrine also suppose is the very reason why we are not justified by them, because they are not works of righteousness, or because (the ceremonial law being now abrogated) there is no obedience in them. But how absurd is it to say, that the apostle, when he says we are not justified by works of righteousness that we have done, meant only works of the ceremonial law, and that for that very reason, because they are not works of righteousness? To illustrate this by the forementioned comparison: If it should be asserted, that such a thing could not be procured by money that men possess, how ridiculous would it be to say, that the meaning only was, that it could not be procured by counterfeit money, and that for that reason, because it was not money. What Scripture will stand before men, if they will take liberty to manage Scripture thus? Or what one text is there in the Bible that may not at this rate be explained all away, and perverted to any sense men please?

But further, if we should allow that the apostle intends only to oppose justification by works of the ceremonial law in this text, yet it is evident by the expression he uses, that he means to oppose it under that notion, or in that quality, of their being works of righteousness of our own doing. But if the apostle argues against our being justified by works of the ceremonial law, under the notion of their being of that nature and kind, viz. works of our own doing, then it will follow that the apostle’s argument is strong against, not only those, but all of that nature and kind, even all that are of our own doing.

If there were not other text in the Bible about justification but this, this would clearly and invincibly prove that we are not justified by any of our own goodness, virtue, or righteousness, or for the excellency or righteousness of anything that we have done in religion, because it is here so fully and strongly asserted. But this text abundantly confirms other texts of the apostle, where he denies justification by works of the law. No doubt can be rationally made, but that the apostle, when he shows, that God does not save us by “works of righteousness that we have done,” verse 5, and that so we are “justified by grace,” verse 7, herein opposing salvation by works, and salvation by grace — means the same works as he does in other places, where he in like manner opposes works and grace, as in Rom. 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” And the same works as in Rom. 4:4, “Now to him that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” And the same works that are spoken of in the context of the 24th verse of the foregoing chapter, which the apostle there calls “works of the law, being justified freely by his grace.” And of the 4th chapter, 16th verse, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” Where in the context the righteousness of faith is opposed to the righteousness of the law: for here God’s saving us according to his mercy, and justifying us by grace, is opposed to saving us by works of righteousness that we have done. In the same manner as in those places, justifying us by his grace, is opposed to justifying us by works of the law.

10. The apostle could not mean only works of the ceremonial law, when he says, we are not justified by the works of the law, because it is asserted of the saints under the Old Testament as well as New. If men are justified by their sincere obedience, it will then follow that formerly, before the ceremonial law was abrogated, men were justified by the works of the ceremonial law, as well as the moral. For if we are justified by our sincere obedience, then it alters not the case, whether the commands be moral or positive, provided they be God’s commands, and our obedience be obedience to God. And so the case must be just the same under the Old Testament, with the works of the moral law and ceremonial, according to the measure of the virtue of obedience there was in either. It is true, their obedience to the ceremonial law would have nothing to do in the affair of justification, unless it was sincere, and so neither would the works of the moral law. If obedience was the thing, then obedience to the ceremonial law, while that stood in force, and obedience to the moral law, had just the same sort of concern, according to the proportion of obedience that consists in each. As now under the New Testament, if obedience is what we are justified by, that obedience must doubtless comprehend obedience to all God’s commands now in force, to the positive precepts of attendance on baptism and the Lord’s supper, as well as moral precepts. If obedience be the thing, it is not because it is obedience to such a kind of commands, but because it is obedience. So that by this supposition, the saints under the Old Testament were justified, at least in part, by their obedience to the ceremonial law.

But it is evident that the saints under the Old Testament were not justified, in any measure, by the works of the ceremonial law. This may be proved, proceeding on the foot of our adversaries’ own interpretation of the apostle’s phrase, “the works of the law,” and supposing them to mean by it only the works of the ceremonial law. To instance in David, it is evident that he was not justified in any wise by the works of the ceremonial law, by Rom. 4:6-8, “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. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” It is plain that the apostle is here speaking of justification, from the preceding verse, and all the context; and the thing spoken of, viz. forgiving iniquities and covering sins, is what our adversaries themselves suppose to be justification, and even the whole of justification. This David, speaking of himself, says (by the apostle’s interpretation) that he had without works. For it is manifest that David, in the words here cited, from the beginning of the 32d Psalm, has a special respect to himself: he speaks of his own sins being forgiven and not imputed to him: as appears by the words that immediately follow, “When I kept silence, my bones waxed old; through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid; I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Let us therefore understand the apostle which way we will respecting works, when he says, “David describes the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord imputes righteousness without works,” whether of all manner of works, or only works of the ceremonial law, yet it is evident at least, that David was not justified by works of the ceremonial law. Therefore here is the argument: if our own obedience be that by which men are justified, then under the Old Testament, men were justified partly by obedience to the ceremonial law (as has been proved). But the saints under the Old Testament were not justified partly by the works of the ceremonial law. Therefore men’s own obedience is not that by which they are justified.

11. Another argument that the apostle, when he speaks of the two opposite ways of justification, one by the works of the law, and the other by faith, does not mean only the works of the ceremonial law, may be taken from Rom. 10:5, 6. “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doth those things, shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith, speaketh on this wise,” etc.

— Here two things are evident.

(1) That the apostle here speaks of the same two opposite ways of justification, one by the righteousness which is of the law, the other by faith, that he had treated of in the former part of the epistle. And therefore it must be the same law that is here spoken of. The same law is here meant as in the last verses of the foregoing chapter, where he says, the Jews had “not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it, not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law;” as is plain, because the apostle is still speaking of the same thing. The words are a continuation of the same discourse, as may be seen at first glance, by anyone that looks on the context.

(2.) It is manifest that Moses, when he describes the righteousness which is of the law, or the way of justification by the law, in the words here cited, “He that doth those things, shall live in them,” does not speak only, nor chiefly, of the works of the ceremonial law; for none will pretend that God ever made such a covenant with man, that he who kept the ceremonial law should live in it, or that there ever was a time, that it was chiefly by the works of the ceremonial law that men lived and were justified. Yea, it is manifest by the forementioned instance of David, mentioned in the 4th of Romans, that there never was a time wherein men were justified in any measure by the works of the ceremonial law, as has been just now shown. Moses therefore, in those words which, the apostle says, are a description of the righteousness which is of the law, cannot mean only the ceremonial law. And therefor it follows, that when the apostle speaks of justification by the works of the law, as opposite to justification by faith, he does not mean only the ceremonial law, but also the works of the moral law, which are the things spoken of by Moses, when he says, “He that doth those things, shall live in them.” And these are the things which the apostle in this very place is arguing that we cannot be justified by, as is evident by the last verses of the preceding chapter; “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it, not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law,” etc. And in the 3d verse of this chapter, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

And further, how can the apostle’s description that he here gives from Moses, of this exploded way of justification by the works of the law, consist with the Arminian scheme, of a way of justification by the virtue of a sincere obedience, that still remains as the true and only way of justification under the gospel? It is most apparent that it is the design of the apostle to give a description of both the legal rejected and the evangelical valid ways of justification, in that wherein they are distinguished the one from the other. But how is it, that “he who doth those things, shall live in them,” that wherein the way of justification by the works of the law is distinguished from that in which Christians under the gospel are justified, according to their scheme. For still, according to them, it may be said, in the same manner, of the precepts of the gospel, he that does these things, shall live in them. The difference lies only in the things to be done, but not at all in that the doing of them is not the condition of living in them, just in the one case, as in the other. The words, “He that does them, shall live in them,” will serve just as well for a description of the latter as the former. By the apostle’s saying, the righteousness of the law is described thus, he that doth these things, shall live in them. But the righteousness of faith saith thus, plainly intimates that the righteousness of faith saith otherwise, and in an opposite manner. Besides, if these words cited from Moses are actually said by him of the moral law as well as ceremonial, as it is most evident they are, it renders it still more absurd to suppose them mentioned by the apostle, as the very note of distinction between justification by a ceremonial obedience, and a moral sincere obedience, as the Arminians must suppose.

Thus I have spoken to a second argument, to prove that we are not justified by any manner of virtue or goodness of our own, viz. that to suppose otherwise, is contrary to the doctrine directly urged, and abundantly insisted on, by the apostle Paul in his epistles.

I now proceed to a

Third argument, viz. that to suppose that we are justified by our own sincere obedience, or any of our own virtue or goodness, derogates from gospel grace.

That scheme of justification that manifestly takes from, or diminishes the grace of God, is undoubtedly to be rejected; for it is the declared design of God in the gospel to exalt the freedom and riches of his grace, in that method of justification of sinners, and way of admitting them to his favor, and the blessed fruits of it, which it declares. The Scripture teaches, that the way of justification appointed in the gospel covenant is appointed for that end, that free grace might be expressed, and glorified, Rom. 4:16, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” The exercising and magnifying of free grace in the gospel contrivance for the justification and salvation of sinners, is evidently the chief design of it. And this freedom and riches of grace in the gospel is everywhere spoken of in Scripture as the chief glory of it. Therefore that doctrine which derogates from the free grace of God in justifying sinners, as it is most opposite to God’s design, so it must be exceedingly offensive to him.

Those who maintain, that we are justified by our own sincere obedience, pretend that their scheme does not diminish the grace of the gospel; for they say, that the grace of God is wonderfully manifested in appointing such a way and method of salvation by sincere obedience, in assisting us to perform such an obedience, and in accepting our imperfect obedience, instead of perfect.

Let us therefore examine that matter, whether their scheme of a man’s being justified by his own virtue and sincere obedience, does derogate from the grace of God or no, or whether free grace is not more exalted in supposing, as we do, that we are justified without any manner of goodness of our own. In order to this, I will lay down the self-evident.

Proposition, that whatsoever that be by which the abundant benevolence of the giver is expressed, and gratitude in the receiver is obliged, that magnifies free grace. This I suppose none will ever controvert or dispute. And it is not much less evident, that it does both show a more abundant benevolence in the giver when he shows kindness without goodness or excellency in the object, to move him to it, and that it enhances the obligation to gratitude in the receiver.

1. It shows a more abundant goodness in the giver, when he shows kindness without any excellency in our persons or actions that should move the giver to love and beneficence. For it certainly shows the more abundant and overflowing goodness, or disposition to communicate good, by how much the less loveliness or excellency there is to entice beneficence. The less there is in the receiver to draw goodwill and kindness, it argues the more of the principle of goodwill and kindness in the giver. One that has but a little of a principle of love and benevolence, may be drawn to do good, and to show kindness, when there is a great deal to draw him, or when there is much excellency and loveliness in the object to move goodwill. When he whose goodness and benevolence is more abundant, [he] will show kindness where there is less to draw it forth. For he does not so much need to have it drawn from without, he has enough of the principle within to move him of itself. Where there is most of the principle, there it is most sufficient for itself, and stands in least need of something without to excite it. For certainly a more abundant goodness more easily flows forth with less to impel or draw it, than where there is less, or, which is the same thing, the more anyone is disposed of himself, the less he needs from without himself, to put him upon it, or stir him up to it. And therefore his kindness and goodness appears the more exceeding great, when it is bestowed without any excellency or loveliness at all in the receiver, or when the receiver is respected in the gift, as wholly without excellency. And much more still when the benevolence of the giver not only finds nothing in the receiver to draw it, but a great deal of hatefulness to repel it. The abundance of goodness is then manifested, not only in flowing forth without anything extrinsic to put it forward, but in overcoming great repulsion in the object. And then does kindness and love appear most triumphant, and wonderfully great, when the receiver is not only wholly without all excellency or beauty to attract it, but altogether, yea, infinitely vile and hateful.

2. It is apparent also that it enhances the obligation to gratitude in the receiver. This is agreeable to the common sense of mankind, that the less worthy or excellent the object of benevolence, or the receiver of kindness is, the more he is obliged, and the greater gratitude is due. He therefore is most of all obliged, that receives kindness without any goodness or excellency in himself, but with a total and universal hatefulness. And as it is agreeable to the common sense of mankind, so it is agreeable to the Word of God. How often does God in the Scripture insist on this argument with men, to move them to love him, and to acknowledge his kindness? How much does he insist on this as an obligation to gratitude, that they are so sinful, and undeserving, and ill-deserving?

Therefore it certainly follows, that the doctrine which teaches that God, when he justifies a man, and shows him such great kindness as to give him a right to eternal life, does not do it for any obedience, or any manner of goodness of his, but that justification respects a man as ungodly, and wholly without any manner of virtue, beauty, or excellency. I say, this doctrine does certainly more exalt the free grace of God in justification, and man’s obligation to gratitude for such a favor, than the contrary doctrine, viz. that God, in showing this kindness to man, respects him as sincerely obedient and virtuous, and as having something in him that is truly excellent and lovely, and acceptable in his sight, and that this goodness or excellency of man is the very fundamental condition of the bestowment of that kindness on him, or of distinguishing him from others by that benefit.

But I hasten to a

Fourth argument for the truth of the doctrine: that to suppose a man is justified by his own virtue or obedience, derogates from the honor of the Mediator, and ascribes that to man’s virtue which belongs only to the righteousness of Christ: It puts man in Christ’s stead, and makes him his own savior, in a respect in which Christ only is his Savior. And so it is a doctrine contrary to the nature and design of the gospel, which is to abase man, and to ascribe all the glory of our salvation to Christ the Redeemer. It is inconsistent with the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, which is a gospel doctrine.

Here I would explain what we mean by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Prove the thing intended by it to be true. Show that this doctrine is utterly inconsistent with the doctrine of our being justified by our own virtue or sincere obedience.

1. I would explain what we mean by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Sometimes the expression is taken by our divines in a larger sense, for the imputation of all that Christ did and suffered for our redemption, whereby we are free from guilt, and stand righteous in the sight of God, and so implies the imputation both of Christ’s satisfaction and obedience. But here I intend it in a stricter sense, for the imputation of that righteousness or moral goodness that consists in the obedience of Christ. — And by that righteousness being imputed to us, is meant no other than this, that the righteousness of Christ is accepted for us, and admitted instead of that perfect inherent righteousness which ought to be in ourselves. Christ’s perfect obedience shall be reckoned to our account, so that we shall have the benefit of it, as though we had performed it ourselves. And so we suppose that a title to eternal life is given us as the reward of this righteousness. The Scripture uses the word impute in this sense, viz. for reckoning anything belonging to any person, to another person’s account: As Phm. 18, “If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account.”

The opposers of this doctrine suppose that there is an absurdity in supposing that God imputes Christ’s obedience to us. It is to suppose that God is mistaken, and thinks that we performed that obedience which Christ performed. But why cannot that righteousness be reckoned to our account, and be accepted for us, without any such absurdity? Why is there any more absurdity in it, than in a merchant’s transferring debt or credit from one man’s account to another, when one man pays a price for another, so that it shall be accepted as if that other had paid it? Why is there any more absurdity in supposing that Christ’s obedience is imputed to us, than that his satisfaction is imputed? If Christ has suffered the penalty of the law in our stead, then it will follow, that his suffering that penalty is imputed to us, that is, accepted for us, and in our stead, and is reckoned to our account, as though we had suffered it. But why may not his obeying the law of God be as rationally reckoned to our account, as his suffering the penalty of the law? Why may not a price to bring into debt, be as rationally transferred from one person’s account to another, as a price to pay a debt? Having thus explained what we mean by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, I proceed,

2. To prove that the righteousness of Christ is thus imputed.

(1.) There is the very same need of Christ’s obeying the law in our stead, in order to the reward, as of his suffering the penalty of the law in our stead, in order to our escaping the penalty, and the same reason why one should be accepted on our account, as the other. There is the same need of one as the other, that the law of God might be answered: one was as requisite to answer the law as the other. It is certain, that was the reason why there was need that Christ should suffer the penalty for us, even that the law might be answered. For this the Scripture plainly teaches. This is given as the reason why Christ was made a curse for us, that the law threatened a curse to us, Gal. 3:10, 13. But the same law that fixes the curse of God as the consequence of not continuing in all things written in the law to do them (verse 10) has as much fixed doing those things as an antecedent of living in them (as verse 12). There is as much connection established in one case as in the other. There is therefore exactly the same need, from the law, of perfect obedience being fulfilled in order to our obtaining the reward, as there is of death being suffered in order to our escaping the punishment, or the same necessity by the law, of perfect obedience preceding life, as there is of disobedience being succeeded by death. The law is, without doubt, as much of an established rule in one case as in the other.

Christ by suffering the penalty, and so making atonement for us, only removes the guilt of our sins, and so sets us in the same state that Adam was in the first moment of his creation, and it is no more fit that we should obtain eternal life only on that account, than that Adam should have the reward of eternal life, or of a confirmed and unalterable state of happiness, the first moments of his existence, without any obedience at all. Adam was not to have the reward merely on account of his being innocent. If [that were] so, he would have had it fixed upon him at once, as soon as ever he was created, for he was as innocent then as he could be. But he was to have the reward on account of his active obedience: not on account merely of his not having done ill, but on account of his doing well.

So on the same account we have not eternal life merely as void of guilt, which we have by the atonement of Christ, but on the account of Christ’s active obedience, and doing well. — Christ is our second federal head, and is called the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:22), because he acted that part for us, which the first Adam should have done. When he had undertaken to stand in our stead, he was looked upon and treated as though he were guilty with our guilt. By his bearing the penalty, he did as it were free himself from this guilt. But by this the second Adam did only bring himself into the state in which the first Adam was on the first moment of his existence, viz. a state of mere freedom from guilt, and hereby indeed was free from any obligation to suffer punishment. But this being supposed, there was need of something further, even a positive obedience, in order to his obtaining, as our second Adam, the reward of eternal life.

God saw meet to place man first in a state of trial, and not to give him a title to eternal life as soon as he had made him, because it was his will that he should first give honor to his authority, by fully submitting to it, in will and act, and perfectly obeying his law. God insisted upon it, that his holy majesty and law should have their due acknowledgment and honor from man, such as became the relation he stood in to that Being who created him, before he would bestow the reward of confirmed and everlasting happiness upon him. Therefore God gave him a law that he might have opportunity, by giving due honor to his authority in obeying it, to obtain this happiness. It therefore became Christ — seeing that, in assuming man to himself, he sought a title to this eternal happiness for him after he had broken the law — that he himself should become subject to God’s authority, and be in the form of a servant, that he might do that honor to God’s authority for him, by his obedience, which God at first required of man as the condition of his having a title to that reward. Christ came into the world to render the honor of God’s authority and law consistent with the salvation and eternal life of sinners. He came to save them, and yet withal to assert and vindicate the honor of the lawgiver, and his holy law. Now, if the sinner, after his sin was satisfied for, had eternal life bestowed upon him without active righteousness, the honor of his law would not be sufficiently vindicated. Supposing this were possible, that the sinner could himself, by suffering, pay the debt, and afterwards be in the same state that he was in before his probation, that is to say, negatively righteous, or merely without guilt. If he now at last should have eternal life bestowed upon him, without performing that condition of obedience, then God would recede from his law, and would give the promised reward, and his law never have respect and honor shown to it, in that way of being obeyed. But now Christ, by subjecting himself to the law, and obeying it, has done great honor to the law, and to the authority of God who gave it. That so glorious a person should become subject to the law, and fulfill it, has done much more to honor it, than if mere man had obeyed it. It was a thing infinitely honorable to God, that a person of infinite dignity was not ashamed to call him his God, and to adore and obey him as such. This was more to God’s honor than if any mere creature, of any possible degree of excellence and dignity, had so done.

It is absolutely necessary, that in order to a sinner’s being justified, the righteousness of some other should be reckoned to his account. For it is declared that the person justified is looked upon as (in himself) ungodly, but God neither will nor can justify a person without a righteousness. For justification is manifestly a forensic term, as the word is used in Scripture, and a judicial thing, or the act of a judge. So that if a person should be justified without a righteousness, the judgment would not be according to truth. The sentence of justification would be a false sentence, unless there be a righteousness performed, that is, by the judge, properly looked upon as his. To say that God does not justify the sinner without sincere, though an imperfect obedience, does not help the case, for an imperfect righteousness before a judge is no righteousness. To accept of something that falls short of the rule, instead of something else that answers the rule, is no judicial act, or act of a judge, but a pure act of sovereignty. An imperfect righteousness is no righteousness before a judge: For “righteousness (as one observes) is a relative thing, and has always relation to a law. The formal nature of righteousness, properly understood, lies in a conformity of actions to that which is the rule and measure of them.” Therefore that only is righteousness in the sight of a judge that answers the law. The law is the judge’s rule. If he pardons and hides what really is, and so does not pass sentence according to what things are in themselves, he either does not act the part of a judge, or else judges falsely. The very notion of judging is to determine what is, and what is not in anyone’s case. The judge’s work is twofold: it is to determine first what is fact, and then whether what is in fact be according to rule, or according to the law. If a judge has no rule or law established beforehand, by which he should proceed in judging, he has no foundation to go upon in judging, he has no opportunity to be a judge, nor is it possible that he should do the part of a judge. To judge without a law, or rule by which to judge, is impossible. For the very notion of judging is to determine whether the object of judgment be according to rule. Therefore God has declared that when he acts as a judge, he will not justify the wicked, and cannot clear the guilty, and, by parity of reason, cannot justify without righteousness.

And the scheme of the old law’s being abrogated, and a new law introduced, will not help at all in this difficulty. For an imperfect righteousness cannot answer the law of God we are under, whether that be an old or a new one, for every law requires perfect obedience to itself. Every rule whatsoever requires perfect conformity to itself, [and] it is a contradiction to suppose otherwise. For to say, that there is a law that does not require perfect obedience to itself, is to say that there is a law that does not require all that it requires. That law that now forbids sin, is certainly the law that we are now under (let that be an old or a new one), or else it is not sin. That which is not forbidden, and is the breach of no law, is no sin. But if we are now forbidden to commit sin, then it is by a law that we are now under. For surely we are neither under the forbiddings nor commanding of a law that we are not under. Therefore, if all sin is now forbidden, then we are now under a law that requires perfect obedience, and therefore nothing can be accepted as a righteousness in the sight of our Judge, but perfect righteousness. So that our Judge cannot justify us, unless he sees a perfect righteousness in some way belonging to us, either performed by ourselves, or by another, and justly and duly reckoned to our account.

God does, in the sentence of justification, pronounce a man perfectly righteous, or else he would need a further justification after he is justified. His sins being removed by Christ’s atonement, is not sufficient for his justification. For justifying a man, as has been already shown, is not merely pronouncing him innocent, or without guilt, but standing right with regard to the rule that he is under, and righteous unto life. But this, according to the established rule of nature, reason, and divine appointment, is a positive, perfect righteousness.

As there is the same need that Christ’s obedience should be reckoned to our account, as that his atonement should, so there is the same reason why it should. As if Adam had persevered, and finished his course of obedience, we should have received the benefit of his obedience, as much as now we have the mischief of his disobedience. So in like manner, there is reason that we should receive the benefit of the second Adam’s obedience, as of his atonement of our disobedience. Believers are represented in Scripture as being so in Christ, as that they are legally one, or accepted as one, by the Supreme Judge. Christ has assumed our nature, and has so assumed all, in that nature that belongs to him, into such an union with himself, that he is become their Head, and has taken them to be his members. And therefore, what Christ has done in our nature, whereby he did honor to the law and authority of God by his acts, as well as the reparation to the honor of the law by his sufferings, is reckoned to the believer’s account: so as that the believer should be made happy, because it was so well and worthily done by his Head, as well as freed from being miserable, because he has suffered for our ill and unworthy doing.

When Christ had once undertaken with God to stand for us, and put himself under our law, by that law he was obliged to suffer, and by the same law he was obliged to obey. By the same law, after he had taken man’s guilt upon him, he himself being our surety, could not be acquitted till he had suffered, nor rewarded till he had obeyed. But he was not acquitted as a private person, but as our Head, and believers are acquitted in his acquittal. Nor was he accepted to a reward for his obedience, as a private person, but as our Head, and we are accepted to a reward in his acceptance. The Scripture teaches us, that when Christ was raised from the dead, he was justified, which justification, as I have already shown, implies both his acquittal from our guilt, and his acceptance to the exaltation and glory that was the reward of his obedience. But believers, as soon as they believe, are admitted to partake with Christ in this his justification. Hence we are told, that he was “raised again for our justification,” (Rom. 4:25) which is true, not only of that part of his justification that consists in his acquittal, but also his acceptance to his reward. The Scripture teaches us, that he is exalted, and gone to heaven to take possession of glory in our name, as our forerunner, Heb. 6:20. We are as it were, both raised up together with Christ, and also made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places, and in him, Eph. 2:6.

If it be objected here, that there is this reason, why what Christ suffered should be accepted on our account, rather than the obedience he performed, that he was obliged to obedience for himself, but was not obliged to suffer but only on our account. To this I answer that Christ was not obliged, on his own account, to undertake to obey. Christ in his original circumstances, was in no subjection to the Father, being altogether equal with him. He was under no obligation to put himself in man’s stead, and under man’s law, or to put himself into any state of subjection to God whatsoever. There was a transaction between the Father and the Son, that was antecedent to Christ’s becoming man, and being made under the law, wherein he undertook to put himself under the law, and both to obey and to suffer. In [this] transaction these things were already virtually done in the sight of God, as is evident by this: that God acted on the ground of that transaction, justifying and saving sinners, as if the things undertaken had been actually performed long before they were performed indeed. And therefore, without doubt, in order to estimate the value and validity of what Christ did and suffered, we must look back to that transaction, wherein these things were first undertaken, and virtually done in the sight of God, and see what capacity and circumstances Christ acted in them. We shall find that Christ was under no manner of obligation, either to obey the law, or to suffer its penalty. After this he was equally under obligation to both, for henceforward he stood as our surety or representative. And therefore this consequent obligation may be as much of an objection against the validity of his suffering the penalty, as against his obedience. But if we look to that original transaction between the Father and the Son, wherein both these were undertaken and accepted as virtually done in the sight of the Father, we shall find Christ acting with regard to both as one perfectly in his own right, and under no manner of previous obligation to hinder the validity of either.

(2.) To suppose that all Christ does is only to make atonement for us by suffering, is to make him our Savior but in part. It is to rob him of half his glory as a Savior. For if so, all that he does is to deliver us from hell: he does not purchase heaven for us. The adverse scheme supposes that he purchases heaven for us, in that he satisfies for the imperfections of our obedience and so purchases that our sincere imperfect obedience might be accepted as the condition of eternal life, and so purchases an opportunity for us to obtain heaven by our own obedience. But to purchase heaven for us only in this sense, is to purchase it in no sense at all. For all of it comes to no more than a satisfaction for our sins, or removing the penalty by suffering in our stead. For all the purchasing they speak of, that our imperfect obedience should be accepted, is only his satisfying for the sinful imperfection of our obedience, or (which is the same thing) making atonement for the sin that our obedience is attended with. But that is not purchasing heaven, merely to set us at liberty again, that we may go and get heaven by what we do ourselves. All that Christ does is only to pay a debt for us. There is no positive purchase of any good. We are taught in Scripture that heaven is purchased for us. It is called the purchased possession, Eph. 1:14. The gospel proposes the eternal inheritance, not to be acquired, as the first covenant did, but as already acquired and purchased. But he that pays a man’s debt for him, and so delivers him from slavery, cannot be said to purchase an estate for him, merely because he sets him at liberty, so that henceforward he has an opportunity to get an estate by his own hand labor. So that according to this scheme, the saints in heaven have no reason to thank Christ for purchasing heaven for them, or redeeming them to God, and making them kings and priests, as we have an account that they do, in Rev. 5:9, 10.

(3.) Justification by the righteousness and obedience of Christ, is a doctrine that the Scripture teaches in very full terms, Rom. 5:18, 19, “By the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so, by the obedience of one, shall all be made righteous.” Here in one verse we are told that we have justification by Christ’s righteousness, and that there might be no room to understand the righteousness spoken of, merely of Christ’s atonement by his suffering the penalty. In the next verse it is put in other terms, and asserted that it is by Christ’s obedience we are made righteous. It is scarcely possible anything should be more full and determined. The terms, taken singly, are such as fix their own meaning, and taken together, they fix the meaning of each other. The words show that we are justified by that righteousness of Christ which consists in his obedience, and that we are made righteous or justified by that obedience of his, that is, his righteousness, or moral goodness before God.

Here possibly it may be objected, that this text means only, that we are justified by Christ’s passive obedience.

To this I answer, whether we call it active or passive, it alters not the case as to the present argument, as long as it is evident by the words that it is not merely under the notion of an atonement for disobedience, or a satisfaction for unrighteousness, but under the notion of a positive obedience, and a righteousness, or moral goodness, that it justifies us, or makes us righteous. Because both the words righteousness and obedience are used, and used too as the opposites to sin and disobedience, and an offense. “Therefore as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so, by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners; so, by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteousness.” Now, what can be meant by righteousness, when spoken of as the opposite to sin, or moral evil, but moral goodness? What is the righteousness that is the opposite of an offense, but the behavior that is well pleasing? And what can be meant by obedience, when spoken of as the opposite of disobedience, or going contrary to a command, but a positive obeying and an actual complying with the command? So that there is no room for any invented distinction of active and passive, to hurt the argument from this scripture. For it is evident by it, as anything can be, that believers are justified by the righteousness and obedience of Christ, under the notion of his moral goodness; — his positive obeying, and actual complying with the commands of God, and that behavior which, because of its conformity to his commands, was well-pleasing in his sight. This is all that ever any need to desire to have granted in this dispute.

By this it appears, that if Christ’s dying be here included in the words righteousness and obedience, it is not merely as a propitiation, or bearing a penalty of a broken law in our stead, but as his voluntary submitting and yielding himself to those sufferings, was an act of obedience to the Father’s commands, and so was a part of his positive righteousness, or moral goodness. 

Indeed all obedience considered under the notion of righteousness, is something active, something done in voluntary compliance with a command; whether it may be done without suffering, or whether it be hard and difficult. Yet as it is obedience, righteousness, or moral goodness, it must be considered as something voluntary and active. If anyone is commanded to go through difficulties and sufferings, and he, in compliance with this command, voluntarily does it, he properly obeys in so doing; and as he voluntarily does it in compliance with a command, his obedience is as active as any whatsoever. It is the same sort of obedience, a thing of the very same nature, as when a man, in compliance with a command, does a piece of hard service, or goes through hard labor; and there is no room to distinguish between such obedience of it, as if it were a thing of quite a different nature, by such opposite terms as active and passive: all the disobeying an easy command and a difficult one. But is there from hence any foundation to make two species of obedience, one active and the other passive? There is no appearance of any such distinction ever entering into the hearts of any of the penmen of Scripture.

It is true, that of late, when a man refuses to obey the precept of a human law, but patiently yields himself up to suffer the penalty of the law, it is called passive obedience. But this I suppose is only a modern use of the word obedience. Surely it is a sense of the word that the Scripture is a perfect stranger to. It is improperly called obedience, unless there be such a precept in the law, that he shall yield himself patiently to suffer, to which his so doing shall be an active voluntary conformity. There may in some sense be said to be a conformity of the law in a person’s suffering the penalty of the law. But no other conformity to the law is properly called obedience to it, but an active voluntary conformity to the precepts of it. The word obey is often found in Scripture with respect to the law of God to man, but never in any other sense.

It is true that Christ’s willingly undergoing those sufferings which he endured, is a great part of that obedience or righteousness by which we are justified. The sufferings of Christ are respected in Scripture under a twofold consideration, either merely as his being substituted for us, or put into our stead, in suffering the penalty of the law. And so his sufferings are considered as a satisfaction and propitiation for sin, or as he, in obedience to a law or a command of the Father, voluntarily submitted himself to those sufferings, and actively yielded himself up to hear them. So they are considered as his righteousness, and a part of his active obedience. Christ underwent death in obedience to the command of the Father, Psa. 40:6-8, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine ears hast thou opened: burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” John 10:17-18, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself: I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” John 18:11, “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” And this is part, and indeed the principal part, of that active obedience by which we are justified.

It can be no just objection against this, that the command of the Father to Christ that he should lay down his life was no part of the law that we had broken, and therefore, that his obeying this command could be no part of that obedience that he performed for us, because we needed that he should obey no other law for us, but only that which we had broken or failed of obeying. For although it must be the same legislative authority, whose honor is repaired by Christ’s obedience, that we have injured by our disobedience, yet there is no need that the law which Christ obeys should be precisely the same that Adam was to have obeyed, in that sense, that there should be no positive precepts wanting, nor any added. There was wanting the precept about the forbidden fruit, and there was added the ceremonial law. The thing required was perfect obedience. It is no matter whether the positive precepts that Christ was to obey, were much more than equivalent to what was wanting, because infinitely more difficult, particularly the command that he had received to lay down his life, which was his principal act of obedience, and which, above all other, is concerned in our justification. As that act of disobedience by which we fell, was disobedience to a positive precept that Christ never was under, viz. That of abstaining from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so that act of obedience by which principally we are redeemed is obedience to a positive precept, that should try both Adam’s and Christ’s obedience. Such precepts are the greatest and most proper trial of obedience, because in them, the mere authority and will of the legislator is the sole ground of the obligation (and nothing in the nature of the things themselves), and therefore they are the greatest trial of any persons’ respect to that authority and will.

The law that Christ was subject to, and obeyed, was in some sense the same that was given to Adam. There are innumerable particular duties required by the law only conditionally, and in such circumstances, are comprehended in some great and general rule of that law. Thus, for instance, there are innumerable acts of respect and obedience to men, which are required by the law of nature (which was a law given to Adam), which yet are not required absolutely, but upon many prerequisite conditions: as that there be men standing in such relations to us, and that they give forth such commands, and the like. So many acts of respect and obedience to God are included, in like manner, in the moral law conditionally, or such and such things being supposed: as Abraham’s going about to sacrifice his son, the Jews’ circumcising their children when eight days old, and Adam’s not eating the forbidden fruit. They are virtually comprehended in the great general rule of the moral law, that we should obey God, and be subject to him in whatsoever he pleases to command us. Certainly the moral law does as much require us to obey God’s positive commands, as it requires us to obey the positive commands of our parents. And thus all that Adam, and all that Christ was commanded, even his observing the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish worship, and his laying down his life, was virtually included in this same great law. *1* 

It is no objection against the last-mentioned thing, even in Christ’s laying down his life, it being included in the moral law given to Adam, because that law itself allowed of no occasion for any such thing. For the moral law virtually includes all right acts, on all possible occasions, even occasions that the law itself allows not. Thus we are obliged by the moral law to mortify our lusts, and repent of our sins, though that law allows of no lust to mortify, or sin to repent of.

There is indeed but one great law of God, and that is the same law that says, “if thou sinnest, thou shalt die;” and “curses is every one that continues not in all things contained in this law to do them.” All duties of positive institution are virtually comprehended in this law: and therefore, if the Jews broke the ceremonial law, it exposed them to the penalty of the law, or covenant of works, which threatened, “thou shalt surely die.” The law is the eternal and unalterable rule of righteousness between God and man, and therefore is the rule of judgment, but which all that a man does shall be either justified or condemned; and no sin exposes to damnation, but by the law. So now he that refuses to obey the precepts that require an attendance on the sacraments of the New Testament, is exposed to damnation, by virtue of the law or covenant of works. It may moreover be argued that all sins whatsoever are breaches of the law or covenant of works, because all sins, even breaches of the positive precepts, as well as others, have atonement by the death of Christ. But what Christ died for, was to satisfy the law, or to bear the curse of the law; as appears by Gal. 3:10-13 and Rom. 7:3, 4.

So that Christ’s laying down his life might be part of that obedience by which we are justified, though it was a positive precept not given to Adam. It was doubtless Christ’s main act of obedience, because it was obedience to a command that was attended with immensely the greatest difficulty, and so to a command that was the greatest trial of his obedience. His respect shown to God in it, and his honor to God’s authority, was proportionably great. It is spoken of in Scripture as Christ’s principal act of obedience. Phil. 2:7, 8, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” And it therefore follows from what has been already said, that it is mainly by this act of obedience that believers in Christ also have the reward of glory, or come to partake with Christ in his glory. We are as much saved by the death of Christ, as his yielding himself to die was an act of obedience, as we are as it was a propitiation for our sins. For as it was not only the only act of obedience that merited, he having performed meritorious acts of obedience through the whole course of his life, so neither was it the only suffering that was propitiatory; all his sufferings through the whole course of his life being propitiatory, as well as every act of obedience meritorious. Indeed this was his principal suffering, and it was as much his principal act of obedience. 

Hence we may see how that the death of Christ did not only make atonement, but also merited eternal life, and hence we may see how by the blood of Christ, we are not only redeemed from sin, but redeemed unto God. Therefore the Scripture seems everywhere to attribute the whole of salvation to the blood of Christ. This precious blood is as much the main price by which heaven is purchased, as it is the main price by which we are redeemed from hell. The positive righteousness of Christ, or that price by which he merited, was of equal value with that by which he satisfied, for indeed it was the same price. He spilled his blood to satisfy, and by reason of the infinite dignity of his person, his sufferings were looked upon as of infinite value, and equivalent to the eternal sufferings of a finite creature. And he spilled his blood out of respect to the honor of God’s majesty, and in submission to his authority, who had commanded him so to do. His obedience therein was of infinite value, both because of the dignity of the person that performed it, and because he put himself to infinite expense to perform it, whereby the infinite degree of his regard to God’s authority appeared. 

One would wonder what Arminians mean by Christ’s merits. They talk of Christ’s merits as much as anybody, and yet deny the imputation of Christ’s positive righteousness. What should there be than anyone should merit or deserve anything by, besides righteousness or goodness? If anything that Christ did or suffered, merited or deserved anything, it was by virtue of the goodness, or righteousness, or holiness of it. If Christ’s sufferings and death merited heaven, it must be because there was an excellent righteousness and transcendent moral goodness in that act of laying down his life. And if by that excellent righteousness he merited heaven for us, then surely that righteousness is reckoned to our account, that we have the benefit of it, or, which is the same thing, it is imputed to us. 

Thus, I hope, I have made it evident, that the righteousness of Christ is indeed imputed to us.

3. I proceed now to the third and last thing under this argument: That this doctrine, of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, is utterly inconsistent with the doctrine of our being justified by our own virtue or sincere obedience. If acceptance to God’s favor, and a title to life, be given to believers as the reward of Christ’s obedience, then it is not given as the reward of our own obedience. In what respect soever Christ is our Savior, that doubtless excludes our being our own saviors in that same respect. If we can be our own saviors in the same respect that Christ is, it will thence follow, that the salvation of Christ is needless in that respect, according to the apostle’s reasoning, Gal. 5:4, “Christ is rendered of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law.” Doubtless, it is Christ’s prerogative to be our Savior in that sense wherein he is our Savior. And therefore, if it be by his obedience that we are justified, then it is not by our own obedience.

Here perhaps it may be said, that a title to salvation is not directly given as the reward of our obedience. For that is not by anything of ours, but only by Christ’s satisfaction and righteousness, but yet an interest in that satisfaction and righteousness is given as a reward of our obedience.

But this does not at all help the case. For this is to ascribe as much to our obedience as if we ascribed salvation to it directly, without the intervention of Christ’s righteousness. For it would be as great a thing for God to give us Christ, and his satisfaction and righteousness, in reward for our obedience, as to give us heaven immediately. It would be as great a reward, and as great a testimony of respect to our obedience. And if God gives as great a thing as salvation for our obedience, why could he not as well give salvation itself directly? Then there would have been no need of Christ’s righteousness. And indeed if God gives us Christ, or an interest in him, properly in reward for our obedience, he does really give us salvation in reward for our obedience: for the former implies the latter. Yea, it implies it, as the greater implies the less. So that indeed it exalts our virtue and obedience more, to suppose that God gives us Christ in reward of that virtue and obedience, than if he should give salvation without Christ.

The thing that the Scripture guards and militates against, is our imagining that it is our own goodness, virtue, or excellency, that instates us in God’s acceptance and favor. But to suppose that God gives us an interest in Christ in reward for our virtue, is as great an argument that it instates us in God’s favor, as if he bestowed a title to eternal life as its direct reward. If God gives us an interest in Christ as a reward of our obedience, it will then follow, that we are instated in God’s acceptance and favor by our own obedience, antecedent to our having an interest in Christ. For a rewarding anyone’s excellency, evermore supposes favor and acceptance on the account of that excellency. It is the very notion of a reward, that it is a good thing, bestowed in testimony of respect and favor for the virtue or excellency rewarded. So that it is not by virtue of our interest in Christ and his merits, that we first come into favor with God, according to this scheme. For we are in God’s favor before we have any interest in those merits, in that we have an interest in those merits given as a fruit of God’s favor for our own virtue. If our interest in Christ be the fruit of God’s favor, then it cannot be the ground of it. If God did not accept us, and had no favor for us for our own excellency, he never would bestow so great a reward upon us, as a right in Christ’s satisfaction, and righteousness. So that such a scheme destroys itself. For it supposes that Christ’s satisfaction and righteousness are necessary for us to recommend us to the favor of God, and yet supposes that we have God’s favor and acceptance before we have Christ’s satisfaction and righteousness, and have these given as a fruit of God’s favor.

Indeed, neither salvation itself, nor Christ the Savior, are given as a reward of anything in man: They are not given as a reward of faith, nor anything else of ours: We are not united to Christ as a reward of our faith, but have union with him by faith, only as faith is the very act of uniting or closing on our part. As when a man offers himself to a woman in marriage, he does not give himself to her as a reward of her receiving him in marriage. Her receiving him is not considered as a worthy deed in her, for which he rewards her by giving himself to her. But it is by her receiving him that the union is made, by which she has him for her husband. It is on her part the unition itself. By these things it appears how contrary to the gospel of Christ their scheme is, who say that faith justifies as a principle of obedience, or as a leading act of obedience, or (as others) the sum and comprehension of all evangelical obedience. For by this, the obedience or virtue that is in faith gives it its justifying influence, and that is the same thing as to say, that we are justified by our own obedience, virtue, or goodness.

Having thus considered the evidence of the truth of the doctrine, I proceed now to the

III. Thing proposed, viz. “To show in what sense the acts of a Christian life, or of evangelical obedience, may be looked upon to be concerned in this affair.”

From what has been said already, it is manifest that they cannot have any concern in this affair as good works, or by virtue of any moral goodness in them: not as works of the law, or as that moral excellency, or any part of it, which is the fulfillment of that great, universal, and everlasting law or covenant of works which the great lawgiver has established, as the highest and unalterable rule of judgment, which Christ alone answers, or does anything towards it.

It having been shown out of the Scripture, that it is only by faith, or the soul’s receiving and uniting to the Savior who has wrought our righteousness, that we are justified. It therefore remains, that the acts of a Christian life cannot be concerned in this affair any otherwise than as they imply, and are the expressions of faith, and may be looked upon as so many acts of reception of Christ the Savior. But the determining what concerns acts of Christian obedience can have in justification in this respect, will depend on the resolving of another point, viz. whether any other act of faith besides the first act, has any concern in our justification, or how far perseverance in faith, or the continued and renewed acts of faith, have influence in this affair. And it seems manifest that justification is by the first act of faith, in some respects, in a peculiar manner, because a sinner is actually and finally justified as soon as he has performed one act of faith, and faith in its first act does, virtually at least, depend on God for perseverance, and entities to this among other benefits. But yet the perseverance of faith is not excluded in this affair. It is not only certainly connected with justification, but it is not to be excluded from that on which the justification of a sinner has a dependence, or that by which he is justified.

I have shown that the way in which justification has a dependence on faith is, that it is the qualification on which the congruity of an interest in the righteousness of Christ depends, or wherein such a fitness consists. But the consideration of the perseverance of faith cannot be excluded out of this congruity or fitness. For it is congruous that he that believes in Christ should have an interest in Christ’s righteousness, and so in the eternal benefits purchased by it, because faith is that by which the soul has union or oneness with Christ. There is a natural congruity in it, that they who are one with Christ should have a joint interest with him in his eternal benefits. But yet this congruity depends on its being an abiding union. As it is needful that the branch should abide in the vine, in order to its receiving the lasting benefits of the root, so it is necessary that the soul should abide in Christ, in order to its receiving those lasting benefits of God’s final acceptance and favor. John 15:6, 7, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth, as a branch. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:9, 10, “Continue ye in my love. If ye keep (or abide in) my commandments, ye shall abide in my love: even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” There is the same reason why it is necessary that the union with Christ should remain, as why it should be begun: why it should continue to be, as why it should once be. If it should be begun without remaining, the beginning would be in vain. In order to the soul’s being now in a justified state, and now free from condemnation, it is necessary that it should now be in Christ, and not merely that it should once have been in him. Rom. 8:1, “There is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” The soul is saved in Christ, as being now in him, when the salvation is bestowed, and not merely as remembering that it once was in him. Phil. 3:9, “That I may 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.” 1 John 2:28, “And now, little children, abide in him; that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” In order for people to be blessed after death, it is necessary not only that they should once be in him, but that they should die in him. Rev. 14:13, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.” And there is the same reason why faith, the uniting qualification, should remain in order to the union’s remaining, as why it should once be, in order to the union’s once being.

So that although the sinner is actually and finally justified on the first act of faith, yet the perseverance of faith, even then, comes into consideration, as one thing on which the fitness of acceptance to life depends. God in the act of justification, which is passed on a sinner’s first believing, has respect to perseverance, as being virtually contained in that first act of faith, and it is looked upon, and taken by him that justifies, as being as it were a property in that faith. God has respect to the believer’s continuance in faith, and he is justified by that, as though it already were, because by divine establishment it shall follow, and it being by divine constitution connected with that first faith, as much as if it were a property in it, it is then considered as such, and so justification is not suspended. But were it not for this, it would be needful that it should be suspended, till the sinner had actually persevered in faith.

And that it is so, that God in the act of final justification which he passes at the sinner’s conversion, has respect to perseverance in faith, and future acts of faith, as being virtually implied in the first act, is further manifest by this, viz. That in a sinner’s justification, at his conversion there is virtually contained a forgiveness as to eternal and deserved punishment, not only of all past sins, but also of all future infirmities and acts of sin that they shall be guilty of, because that first justification is decisive and final. And yet pardon, in the order of nature, properly follows the crime, and also follows those acts of repentance and faith that respect the crime pardoned, as is manifest both from reason and Scripture. David, in the beginning of Psalm 32 speaks of the forgiveness of sins which were doubtless committed long after he was first godly, as being consequent on those sins, and on his repentance and faith with respect to them, and yet this forgiveness is spoken of by the apostle in the 4th of Romans, as an instance of justification by faith. Probably the sin David there speaks of is the same that he committed in the matter of Uriah, and so the pardon the same with that release from death or eternal punishment, which the prophet Nathan speaks of, 2 Sam. 12:13, “The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” Not only does the manifestation of this pardon follow the sin in the order of time, but the pardon itself, in the order of nature, follows David’s repentance and faith with respect to this sin. For it is spoken of in Psalm 32 as depending on it.

But inasmuch as a sinner, in his first justification, is forever justified and freed from all obligation to eternal punishment, it hence of necessity follows, that future faith and repentance are beheld, in that justification, as virtually contained in that first faith and repentance. Because repentance of those future sins, and faith in a Redeemer, with respect to them, or at least, the continuance of that habit and principle in the heart that has such an actual repentance and faith in its nature and tendency, is now made sure by God’s promise. — If remission of sins committed after conversion, in the order of nature, follows that faith and repentance that is after them, then it follows that future sins are respected in the first justification, no otherwise than as future faith and repentance are respected in it. And future repentance and faith are looked upon by him that justifies, as virtually implied in the first repentance and faith, in the same manner as justification from future sins is virtually implied in the first justification, which is the thing that was to be proved.

And besides, if no other act of faith could be concerned in justification but the first act, it will then follow that Christians ought never to seek justification by any other act of faith. For if justification is not to be obtained by after acts of faith, then surely it is not a duty to seek it by such acts. And so it can never be a duty for persons after they are once converted, by faith to seek God, or believingly to look to him for the remission of sin, or deliverance from the guilt of it, because deliverance from the guilt of sin, is part of what belongs to justification. And if it be not proper for converts by faith to look to God through Christ for it, then it will follow that it is not proper for them to pray for it. For Christian prayer to God for a blessing, is but an expression of faith in God for that blessing: prayer is only the voice of faith. But if these things are so, it will follow that the petition in the Lord’s prayer, forgive us our debts, is not proper to be put up by the disciples of Christ, or to be used in Christian assemblies, and that Christ improperly directed his disciples to use that petition, when they were all of them, except Judas, converted before. The debt that Christ directs his disciples to pray for the forgiveness of, can mean nothing else but the punishment that sin deserves, or the debt that we owe to divine justice, the ten thousand talents we owe our Lord. To pray that God would forgive our debts, is undoubtedly the same thing as to pray that God would release us from obligation to due punishment. But releasing from obligation to the punishment due to sin, and forgiving the debt that we owe to divine justice, is what appertains to justification.

Then to suppose that no after acts of faith are concerned in the business of justification, and so that it is not proper for any ever to seek justification by such acts, would be forever to cut off those Christians that are doubtful concerning their first act of faith, from the joy and peace of believing. As the business of a justifying faith is to obtain pardon and peace with God by looking to God, and trusting in him for these blessings, so the joy and peace of that faith is in the apprehension of pardon and peace obtained by such a trust. This a Christian that is doubtful of his first act of faith cannot have from that act, because, by the supposition, he is doubtful whether it be an act of faith, and so whether be did obtain pardon and peace by that act. The proper remedy, in such a case, is now by faith to look to God in Christ for these blessings, but he is cut off from this remedy, because he is uncertain whether he his warrant so to do. For he does not know but that he has believed already, and if so, then he has no warrant to look to God by faith for these blessings now, because, by the supposition, no new act of faith is a proper means of obtaining these blessings. So he can never properly obtain the joy of faith, for there are acts of true faith that are very weak, and the first act may be so as well as others. It may be like the first motion of the infant in the womb: it may be so weak an act, that the Christian, by examining it, may never be able to determine whether it was a true act of faith or no. It is evident from fact, and abundant experience, that many Christians are forever at a loss to determine which was their first act of faith. And those saints who have had a good degree of satisfaction concerning their faith, may be subject to great declensions and falls, in which case they are liable to great fears of eternal punishment. The proper way of deliverance, is to forsake their sin by repentance, and by faith now to come to Christ for deliverance from the deserved eternal punishment. But this it would not be, if deliverance from that punishment was not this way to be obtained.

But what is a still more plain and direct evidence of what I am now arguing for, is that the act of faith which Abraham exercised in the great promise of the covenant of grace that God made to him, of which it is expressly said, Gal. 3:6, “It was accounted to him for righteousness” — the grand instance and proof that the apostle so much insists upon throughout Romans 4, and Galatians 3, to confirm his doctrine of justification by faith alone — was not Abraham’s first act of faith, but was exerted long after he had by faith forsaken his own country, Heb. 11:8, and had been treated as an eminent friend of God.

Moreover, the apostle Paul, in Philippians 3, tells us how earnestly he sought justification by faith, or to win Christ and obtain that righteousness which was by the faith of him, in what he did after his conversion. Phil. 3:8, 9, “For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 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.” And in the two next verses he expresses the same thing in other words, and tells us how he went through sufferings, and became conformable to Christ’s death, that he might be a partaker with Christ in the benefit of his resurrection, which the same apostle elsewhere teaches us, is especially justification. Christ’s resurrection was his justification. In this, he that was put to death in the flesh, was justified by the Spirit, and he that was delivered for our offenses, rose again for our justification. And the apostle tells us in the verses that follow in that third chapter of Philippians, that he thus sought to attain the righteousness which is through the faith of Christ, and so to partake of the benefit of his resurrection, still as though he had not already attained, but that he continued to follow after it.

On the whole, it appears that the perseverance of faith is necessary, even to the congruity of justification, and that not the less, because a sinner is justified, and perseverance promised, on the first act of faith. But God, in that justification, has respect, not only to the past act of faith, but to his own promise of future acts, and to the fitness of a qualification beheld as yet only in his own promise. And that perseverance in faith is thus necessary to salvation, not merely as a sine qua non, or as a universal concomitant of it, but by reason of such an influence and dependence, seems manifest by many Scriptures, I would mention two or three — Heb. 3:6, “Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Verse 14, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” Heb. 6:12, “Be ye followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Rom. 11:20, “Well, because of unbelief they were broken off; but thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear.”

And, as the congruity to a final justification depends on perseverance in faith, as well as the first act, so oftentimes the manifestation of justification in the conscience, arises a great deal more from after acts, than the first act. All the difference whereby the first act of faith has a concern in this affair that is peculiar, seems to be, as it were, only an accidental difference, arising from the circumstance of time, or its being first in order of time, and not from any peculiar respect that God has to it, or any influence it has of a peculiar nature, in the affair of our salvation.

And thus it is that a truly Christian walk, and the acts of an evangelical, child-like, believing obedience, are concerned in the affair of our justification, and seem to be sometimes so spoken of in Scripture, viz. as an expression of a persevering faith in the Son of God, the only Savior. Faith unites to Christ, and so gives a congruity to justification, not merely as remaining a dormant principle in the heart, but as being and appearing in its active expressions. The obedience of a Christian, so far as it is truly evangelical, and performed with the Spirit of the Son sent forth into the heart, has all relation to Christ the Mediator, and is but an expression of the soul’s believing unition to Christ. All evangelical works are works of that faith that worketh by love, and every such act of obedience, wherein it is inward, and the act of the soul, is only a new effective act of reception of Christ, and adherence to the glorious Savior. Hence that of the apostle, Gal. 2:20, “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life that I now live in the flesh, is by the faith of the Son of God.” And hence we are directed, in whatever we do, whether in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Col. 3:17.

And that God in justification has respect, not only to the first act of faith, but also to future persevering acts, as expressed in life, seems manifest by Rom. 1:17, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” And Heb. 10:38, 39, “Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe, to the saving of the soul.”

So that, as was before said of faith, so may it be said of a child-like believing obedience: it has no concern in justification by any virtue or excellency in it, but only as there is a reception of Christ in it. And this is no more contrary to the apostle’s frequent assertion of our being justified without the works of the law, than to say that we are justified by faith. For faith is as much a work, or act of Christian obedience, as the expressions of faith, in spiritual life and walk. And therefore, as we say that faith does not justify as a work, so we say of all these effective expressions of faith.

This is the reverse of the scheme of our modem divines, who hold that faith justifies only as an act or expression of obedience. Whereas, in truth, obedience has no concern in justification, any otherwise than as an expression of faith.

I now proceed to the

IV. Thing proposed, viz. To answer objections.

Object. 1. We frequently find promises of eternal life and salvation, and sometimes of justification itself, made to our own virtue and obedience. Eternal life is promised to obedience, in Rom. 2:7, “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory, honor, and immortality, eternal life:” And the like in innumerable other places. And justification itself is promised to that virtue of a forgiving spirit or temper in us, Mat. 6:14, “For, if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” All allow that justification in great part consists in the forgiveness of sins.

To this I answer,

1. These things being promised to our virtue and obedience, argues no more, than that there is a connection between them and evangelical obedience, which, I have already observed, is not the thing in dispute. All that can be proved by obedience and salvation being connected in the promise, is that obedience and salvation are connected in fact, which nobody denies, and whether it be owned or denied, is, as has been shown, nothing to the purpose. There is no need that an admission to a title to salvation should be given on the account of our obedience, in order to the promises being true. If we find such a promise, that he that obeys shall be saved, or he that is holy shall be justified, all that is needful, in order to such promises being true, is that it be really so: that he that obeys shall be saved, and that holiness and justification shall indeed go together. That proposition may be a truth, that he that obeys shall be saved, because obedience and salvation are connected together in fact, and yet an acceptance to a title to salvation not be granted upon the account of any of our own virtue or obedience. What is a promise, but only a declaration of future truth, for the comfort and encouragement of the person to whom it is declared? Promises are conditional propositions, and, as has been already observed, it is not the thing in dispute, whether other things besides faith may not have the place of the condition in such propositions wherein pardon and salvation are the consequent.

2. Promises may rationally be made to signs and evidences of faith, and yet the thing promised not be upon the account of the sign, but the thing signified. Thus, for instance, human government may rationally make promises of such and such privileges to those that can show such evidences of their being free of such a city, or members of such a corporation, or descended of such a family, when it is not at all for the sake of that which is the evidence or sign, in itself considered, that they are admitted to such a privilege, but only and purely for the sake of that which it is an evidence of. And though God does not stand in need of signs to know whether we have true faith or not, yet our own consciences do, so that it is much for our comfort that promises are made to signs of faith. Finding in ourselves a forgiving temper and disposition, may be a most proper and natural evidence to our consciences, that our hearts have, in a sense of our own utter unworthiness, truly closed and fallen in with the way of free and infinitely gracious forgiveness of our sins by Jesus Christ, whence we may be enabled, with the greater comfort, to apply to ourselves the promises of forgiveness by Christ.

3. It has been just now shown, how that acts of evangelical obedience are indeed concerned in our justification itself, and are not excluded from that condition that justification depends upon, without the least prejudice to that doctrine of justification by faith, without any goodness of our own, that has been maintained. Therefore it can be no objection against this doctrine, that we have sometimes in Scripture promises of pardon and acceptance made to such acts of obedience.

4. Promises of particular benefits implied in justification and salvation, may especially be fitly made to such expressions and evidences of faith as they have a peculiar natural likeness and suitableness to. As forgiveness is promised to a forgiving spirit in us, obtaining mercy is fitly promised to mercifulness in us, and the like, and that upon several accounts, they are the most natural evidences of our heart’s closing with those benefits by faith. For they do especially show the sweet accord and consent that there is between the heart and these benefits, and by reason of the natural likeness that there is between the virtue and the benefit, the one has the greater tendency to bring the other to mind. The practice of the virtue tends the more to renew the sense, and refresh the hope of the blessing promised, and also to convince the conscience of the justice of being denied the benefit, if the duty be neglected. Besides the sense and manifestation of divine forgiveness in our own consciences — yea, and many exercises of God’s forgiving mercy (as it respects God’s fatherly displeasure), granted after justification, through the course of a Christian’s life — may be given as the proper rewards of a forgiving spirit, and yet this not be at all to the prejudice of the doctrine we have maintained, as will more fully appear, when we come to answer another objection hereafter to be mentioned.

Object. 2. Our own obedience, and inherent holiness, is necessary to prepare men for heaven, and therefore is doubtless what recommends persons to God’s acceptance, as the heirs of heaven.

To this I answer,

1. Our own obedience being necessary, in order to a preparation for an actual bestowment of glory, is no argument that it is the thing upon the account of which we are accepted to a right to it. God may, and does do many things to prepare the saints for glory, after he has accepted them as the heirs of glory. A parent may do much to prepare a child for an inheritance in its education, after the child is an heir. Yea, there are many things necessary to fit a child for the actual possession of the inheritance, yet not necessary in order to its having a right to the inheritance.

2. If everything that is necessary to prepare men for glory must be the proper condition of justification, then perfect holiness is the condition of justification. Men must be made perfectly holy, before they are admitted to the enjoyment of the blessedness of heaven, for there must in no wise enter in there any spiritual defilement. And therefore, when a saint dies, he leaves all his sin and corruption when he leaves the body.

Object. 3. Our obedience is not only indissolubly connected with salvation, and preparatory to it, but the Scripture expressly speaks of bestowing eternal blessings as rewards for the good deeds of the saints. Mat. 10:42, “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” 1 Cor 3:8, “Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor.” And in many other places. This seems to militate against the doctrine that has been maintained, two ways:

(1.) The bestowing a reward, carries in it a respect to a moral fitness in the thing rewarded to the reward. The very notion of a reward being a benefit bestowed in testimony of acceptance of, and respect to, the goodness or amiableness of some qualification or work in the person rewarded. Besides, the Scripture seems to explain itself in this matter, in Rev. 3:4, “Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.” This is here given as the reason why they should have such a reward, “because they were worthy;” which, though we suppose it to imply no proper merit, yet it at least implies a moral fitness, or that the excellency of their virtue in God’s sight recommends them to such a reward, which seems directly repugnant to what has been supposed, viz. that we are accepted, and approved of God, as the heirs of salvation, not out of regard to the excellency of our own virtue or goodness, or any moral fitness therein to such a reward, but only on account of the dignity and moral fitness of Christ’s righteousness.

(2.) Our being eternally rewarded for our own holiness and good works, necessarily supposes that our future happiness will be greater or smaller, in some proportion as our own holiness and obedience is more or less, and that there are different degrees of glory, according to different degrees of virtue and good works, is a doctrine very expressly and frequently taught us in Scripture. But this seems quite inconsistent with the saints all having their future blessedness as a reward of Christ’s righteousness. For if Christ’s righteousness be imputed to all, and this be what entitles each one to glory, then it is the same righteousness that entitles one to glory which entitles another. But if all have glory as the reward of the same righteousness, why have not all the same glory? Does not the same righteousness merit as much glory when imputed to one as when imputed to another?

In answer to the first part of this objection, I would observe, that it does not argue that we are justified by our good deeds, that we shall have eternal blessings in reward for them. For it is in consequence of our justification, that our good deeds become rewardable with spiritual and eternal rewards. The acceptableness, and so the rewardableness, of our virtue, is not antecedent to justification, but follows it, and is built entirely upon it, which is the reverse of what those in the adverse scheme of justification suppose, viz. that justification is built on the acceptableness and rewardableness of our virtue. They suppose that a saving interest in Christ is given as a reward of our virtue, or (which is the same thing), as a testimony of God’s acceptance of our excellency in our virtue. But the contrary is true: that God’s respect to our virtue as our amiableness in his sight, and his acceptance of it as rewardable, is entirely built on our interest in Christ already established. So that the relation to Christ, whereby believers in scripture language are said to be in Christ, is the very foundation of our virtues and good deeds being accepted of God, and so their being rewarded. For a reward is a testimony of acceptance. For we, and all that we do, are accepted only in the beloved, Eph. 1:6. Our sacrifices are acceptable, only through our interest in him, and through his worthiness and preciousness being, as it were, made ours. 1 Pet. 2:4, 5, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Here being actually built on this stone, precious to God, is mentioned as all the ground of the acceptableness of our good works to God, and their becoming also precious in his eyes. So, Heb. 13:21, “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.” And hence we are directed, whatever we offer to God, to offer it in Christ’s name, as expecting to have it accepted no other way, than from the value that God has to that name. Col. 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” To act in Christ’s name, is to act under him as our head, and as having him to stand for us, and represent us to God-ward.

The reason of this may be seen from what has been already said, to show it is not meet that anything in us should be accepted of God as any excellency of our persons, until we are actually in Christ, and justified through him. The loveliness of the virtue of fallen creatures is nothing in the sight of God, till he beholds them in Christ, and clothed with his righteousness. 1. Because till then we stand condemned before God, by his own holy law, to his utter rejection and abhorrence. And, 2. Because we are infinitely guilty before him, and the loveliness of our virtue bears no proportion to our guilt, and must therefore pass for nothing before a strict judge. And, 3. Because our good deeds and virtuous acts themselves are in a sense corrupt, and the hatefulness of the corruption of them, if we are beheld as we are in ourselves, or separate from Christ, infinitely outweighs the loveliness of the good that is in them. So that if no other sin was considered but only that which attends the act of virtue itself, the loveliness vanishes into nothing in comparison of it, and therefore the virtue must pass for nothing, out of Christ. Not only are our best duties defiled, in being attended with the exercises of sin and corruption which precede, follow, and are intermingled with them, but even the holy acts themselves, and the gracious exercises of the godly, are defective. Though the act most simply considered is good, yet take the acts in their measure and dimensions, and the manner in which they are exerted, and they are sinfully defective: there is that defect in them that may well be called the corruption of them. That defect is properly sin, an expression of a vile sinfulness of heart and what tends to provoke the just anger of God, not because the exercises of love and other grace is not equal to God’s loveliness. For it is impossible the love of creatures (men or angels) should be so, but because the act is so very disproportionate to the occasion given for love or other grace, considering God’s loveliness, the manifestation that is made of it, the exercises of kindness, the capacity of human nature, and our advantages (and the like) together. — A negative expression of corruption may be as truly sin, and as just cause of provocation, as a positive. Thus if a worthy and excellent person should, from mere generosity and goodness, exceedingly lay out himself, and with great expense and suffering save another’s life, or redeem him from some extreme calamity, and if that other person should never thank him for it, or express the least gratitude any way, this would be a negative expression of his ingratitude and baseness. But [it] is equivalent to an act of ingratitude, or positive exercise of a base unworthy spirit, and is truly an expression of it, and brings as much blame as if he by some positive act had much injured another person. And so it would be (only in a lesser degree) if the gratitude was but very small, bearing no proportion to the benefit obligation. As if, for so great and extraordinary a kindness, he should express no more gratitude than would have been becoming towards a person who had only given him a cup of water when thirsty, or shown him the way in a journey when at a loss, or had done him some such small kindness. If he should come to his benefactor to express his gratitude, and should do after this manner, he might truly be said to act unworthily and odiously, he would show a most ungrateful spirit. His doing after such a manner might justly be abhorred by all, and yet the gratitude, that little there is of it, most simply considered, and so far as it goes, is good. And so it is with respect to our exercise of love, and gratitude, and other graces, towards God. They are defectively corrupt and sinful, and take them as they are, in their manner and measure, might justly be odious and provoking to God, and would necessarily be so, were we beheld out of Christ. For in that this defect is sin, it is infinitely hateful, and so the hatefulness of the very act infinitely outweighs the loveliness of it, because all sin has infinite hatefulness and heinousness. But our holiness has but little value and loveliness, as has been elsewhere demonstrated.

Hence, though it be true that the saints are rewarded for their good works, yet it is for Christ’s sake only, and not for the excellency of their works in themselves considered, or beheld separately from Christ. For so they have no excellency in God’s sight, or acceptableness to him, as has now been shown. It is acknowledged that God, in rewarding the holiness and good works of believers, does in some respect give them happiness as a testimony of his respect to the loveliness of their holiness and good works in his sight. For that is the very notion of a reward. But it is in a very different sense from what would have been if man had not fallen, which would have been to bestow eternal life on man, as a testimony of God’s respect to the loveliness of what man did, considered as in itself, and as in man separately by himself, and not beheld as a member of Christ. In which sense also, the scheme of justification we are opposing necessarily supposes the excellency of our virtue to be respected and rewarded. For it supposes a saving interest in Christ itself to be given as a reward of it.

Two things come to pass, relating to the saints’ reward for their inherent righteousness, by virtue of their relation to Christ.

1. The guilt of their persons is all done away, and the pollution and hatefulness that attends and is in their good works, is hid.

2. Their relation to Christ adds a positive value and dignity to their good works in God’s sight. That little holiness, and those faint and feeble acts of love, and other grace, receive and exceeding value in the sight of God, by virtue of God’s beholding them as in Christ, and as it were members of one so infinitely worthy in his eyes, and that because God looks upon the persons as of greater dignity on this account. Isa. 43:4, “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou has been honorable.” God, for Christ’s sake, and because they are members of his own righteous and dear Son, sets an exceeding value upon their persons. Hence it follows, that he also sets a great value upon their good acts and offerings. The same love and obedience in a person of greater dignity and value in God’s sight, is more valuable in his eyes than in one of less dignity. Love is valuable in proportion to the dignity of the person whose love it is, because so far as anyone gives his love to another, he gives himself, in that he gives his heart. But this is a more excellent offering, in proportion as the person whose self is offered is more worthy. Believers are become immensely more honorable in God’s esteem by virtue of their relation to Christ, than man would have been considered as by himself, though he had been free from sin: as a mean person becomes more honorable when married to a king. Hence God will probably reward the little weak love, and poor and exceeding imperfect obedience of believers in Christ, with more glorious reward than he would have done Adam’s perfect obedience. According to the tenor of the first covenant, the person was to be accepted and rewarded, only for the work’s sake. But by the covenant of grace, the work is accepted and rewarded, only for the person’s sake: the person being beheld antecedently as a member of Christ, and clothed with his righteousness. So that though the saints’ inherent holiness is rewarded, yet this very reward is indeed not the less founded on the worthiness and righteousness of Christ. None of the value that their works have in his sight, nor any of the acceptance they have with him, is out of Christ, and out of his righteousness. But his worthiness as mediator is the prime and only foundation on which all is built, and the universal source whence all arises. God indeed does great things out of regard to the saints’ loveliness, but it is only as a secondary and derivative loveliness. When I speak of a derivative loveliness, I do not mean only, that the qualifications themselves accepted as lovely, are derived from Christ, from his power and purchase, but that the acceptance of them as a loveliness, and all the value that is set upon them, and all their connection with the reward, is founded in, and derived from, Christ’s righteousness and worthiness.

If we suppose that not only higher degrees of glory in heaven, but heaven itself, is in some respect given in reward for the holiness and good works of the saints, in this secondary and derivative sense, it will not prejudice the doctrine we have maintained. It is no way impossible that God may bestow heavens’ glory wholly out of respect to Christ’s righteousness, and yet in reward for man’s inherent holiness, in different respects, and different ways. It may be only Christ’s righteousness that God has respect to, for its own sake, the independent acceptableness and dignity of it being sufficient of itself to recommend all that believe in Christ to a title to this glory. So it may be only by this that persons enter into a title to heaven, or have their prime right to it. Yet God may also have respect to the saints’ own holiness, for Christ’s sake, and as deriving a value from Christ’s merit, which he may testify in bestowing heaven upon them. The saints being beheld as members of Christ, their obedience is looked upon by God as something of Christ’s: it being the obedience of the members of Christ, as the sufferings of the members of Christ are looked upon, in some respect, as the sufferings of Christ. Hence the apostle, speaking of his sufferings, says, Col. 1:24, “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh.” To the same purpose is Mat. 25:35, etc. I was hungry, naked, sick, and in prison, etc. And so that in Rev. 11:8 “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

By the merit and righteousness of Christ, such favor of God towards the believer may be obtained, as that God may hereby be already, as it were, disposed to make them perfectly and eternally happy. But yet this does not hinder, but that God in his wisdom may choose to bestow this perfect and eternal happiness in this way, viz. in some respect as a reward of their holiness and obedience. It is not impossible but that the blessedness may be bestowed as a reward for that which is done after that an interest is already obtained in that favor, which (to speak of God after the manner of men) disposes God to bestow the blessedness. Our heavenly Father may already have that favor for a child, whereby he may be thoroughly ready to give the child an inheritance, because he is his child, which he is by the purchase of Christ’s righteousness, and yet that the Father may choose to bestow the inheritance on the child in a way of reward for his dutifulness, and behaving in a manner becoming a child. And so great a reward may not be judged more than a meet reward for his dutifulness, but that so great a reward is judged meet, does not arise from the excellency of the obedience absolutely considered, but from his standing in so near and honorable a relation to God, as that of a child, which is obtained only by the righteousness of Christ. And thus the reward, and the greatness of it, arises properly from the righteousness of Christ, though it be indeed in some sort the reward of their obedience. As a father might justly esteem the inheritance no more than a meet reward for the obedience of his child, and yet esteem it more than a meet reward for the obedience of a servant. The favor whence a believer’s heavenly Father bestows the eternal inheritance, and his title as an heir, is founded in that relation he stands in to him as a child, purchased by Christ’s righteousness: though he in wisdom chooses to bestow it in such a way, and therein to testify his acceptance of the amiableness of his obedience in Christ.

Believers having a title to heaven by faith antecedent to their obedience, or its being absolutely promised to them before, does not hinder but that the actual bestowment of heaven may also be a testimony of God’s regard to their obedience, though performed afterwards. Thus it was with Abraham, the father and pattern of all believers. God bestowed upon him that blessing of multiplying his seed as the stars of heaven, and causing that in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed, in reward for his obedience in offering up his son Isaac, Gen. 22:16, 17, 18, “And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and they seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” And yet the very same blessings had been from time to time promised to Abraham, in the most positive terms, and the promise, with great solemnity, confirmed and sealed to him, as Gen. 12:2, 3; chap. 13:16; chap. 15:1, 4-7, etc. Gen. 17 throughout; chap. 18:10, 18.

From what has been said we may easily solve the difficulty arising from that text in Rev. 3:4, “They shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy;” which is parallel with that text in Luke 20:35, “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead.” I allow (as in the objection) that this worthiness does doubtless denote a moral fitness to the reward, or that God looks on these glorious benefits as a meet testimony of his regard to the value which their persons and performances have in his sight.

1. God looks on these glorious benefits as a meet testimony of his regard to the value which their persons have in his sight. But he sets this value upon their persons purely for Christ’s sake. They are such jewels, and have such preciousness in his eyes, only because they are beheld in Christ, and by reason of the worthiness of the head they are the members of, and the stock they are grafted into. And the value that God sets upon them on this account is so great, that God thinks meet, from regard to it, to admit them to such exceeding glory. The saints, on account of their relation to Christ, are such precious jewels in God’s sight, that they are thought worthy of a place in his own crown. Mal. 3:17; Zec. 9:16. So far as the saints are said to be valuable in God’s sight, on whatever account, so far may they properly be said to be worthy, or meet for that honor which is answerable to the value or price which God sets upon them. A child or wife of a prince is worthy to be treated with great honor. Therefore if a mean person should be adopted to be a child of a prince, or should be espoused to a prince, it would be proper to say, that she was worthy of such and such honor and respect. There would be no force upon the words in saying that she ought to have such respect paid her, for she is worthy, though it be only on account of her relation to the prince that she is so.

2. From the value God sets upon their persons, for the sake of Christ’s worthiness, he also sets a high value on their virtue and performances. Their meek and quiet spirit is of great price in his sight. Their fruits are pleasant fruits, their offerings are an odor of sweet smell to him, and that because of the value he sets on their persons, as has been already observed and explained. This preciousness or high valuableness of believers is a moral fitness to a reward. Yet this valuableness is all in the righteousness of Christ, that is the foundation of it. The thing respected is not excellency in them separately by themselves, or in their virtue by itself, but the value in God’s account arises from other considerations, which is the natural import of Luke 20:35, “They which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world,” etc. and Luke 21:36, “That ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” 2 Thes. 1:5, “That ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.”

There is a vast difference between this scheme, and what is supposed in the scheme of those that oppose the doctrine of justification by faith alone. This lays the foundation of first acceptance with God, and all actual salvation consequent upon it, wholly in Christ and his righteousness. On the contrary, in their scheme, a regard to man’s own excellency or virtue is supposed to be first, and to have the place of the first foundation in actual salvation, though not in that ineffectual redemption, which they suppose common to all. They lay the foundation of all discriminating salvation in man’s own virtue and moral excellency. This is the very bottom stone in this affair, for they suppose that it is from regard to our virtue, that even a special interest in Christ itself is given. The foundation being thus contrary, the whole scheme becomes exceeding diverse and contrary. The one is an evangelical scheme, the other a legal one. The one is utterly inconsistent with our being justified by Christ’s righteousness, the other not at all.

From what has been said, we may understand, not only how the forgiveness of sin granted in justification is indissolubly connected with a forgiving spirit in us, but how there may be many exercises of forgiving mercy granted in reward for our forgiving those who trespass against us. For none will deny but that there are many acts of divine forgiveness towards the saints, that do not presuppose an unjustified state immediately preceding that forgiveness. None will deny, that saints who never fell from a justified state, yet commit many sins which God forgives afterwards, by laying aside his fatherly displeasure. This forgiveness may be in reward for our forgiveness, without any prejudice to the doctrine that has been maintained, as well as other mercies and blessings consequent on justification.

With respect to the second part of the objection, that relates to the different degrees of glory, and the seeming inconsistency there is in it, that the degrees of glory in different saints should be greater or lesser according to their inherent holiness and good works, and yet, that everyone’s glory should be purchased with the price of the very same imputed righteousness, — I answer that Christ, by his righteousness, purchased for everyone complete and perfect happiness, according to his capacity. But this does not hinder but that the saints, being of various capacities, may have various degrees of happiness, and yet all their happiness be the fruit of Christ’s purchase. Indeed it cannot be properly said, that Christ purchased any particular degree of happiness, so that the value of Christ’s righteousness in the sight of God, is sufficient to raise a believer so high in happiness, and no higher, and so that if the believer were made happier, it would exceed the value of Christ’s righteousness. But in general, Christ purchased eternal life, or perfect happiness for all, according to their several capacities. The saints are as so many vessels of different sizes, cast into a sea of happiness, where every vessel is full: this Christ purchased for all. But after all, it is left to God’s sovereign pleasure to determine the largeness of the vessel. Christ’s righteousness meddles not with this matter. Eph 4:4, 5, 6, 7, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” etc. — “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” God may dispense in this matter according to what rule he pleases, not the less for what Christ has done: he may dispense either without condition, or upon what condition he pleases to fix. It is evident that Christ’s righteousness meddles not with this matter, for what Christ did was to fulfill the covenant of works, but the covenant of works did not meddle at all with this. If Adam had persevered in perfect obedience, he and his posterity would have had perfect and full happiness. Everyone’s happiness would have so answered his capacity, that he would have been completely blessed. But God would have been at liberty to have made some of one capacity, and other of another, as he pleased. — The angels have obtained eternal life, or a state of confirmed glory, by a covenant of works, whose condition was perfect obedience. But yet some are higher in glory than others, according to the several capacities that God, according to his sovereign pleasure, has given them. So that it being still left with God, notwithstanding the perfect obedience of the second Adam, to fix the degree of each one’s capacity by what rule he pleases, he has been pleased to fix the degree of capacity, and so of glory, by the proportion of the saints’ grace and fruitfulness here. He gives higher degrees of glory, in reward for higher degrees of holiness and good works, because it pleases him, and yet all the happiness of each saint is indeed the fruit of the purchase of Christ’s obedience. If it had been but one man that Christ had obeyed and died for, and it had pleased God to make him a very large capacity, Christ’s perfect obedience would have purchased that his capacity should be filled, and then all his happiness might properly be said to be the fruit of Christ’s perfect obedience. Though, if he had been of a less capacity, he would not have had so much happiness by the same obedience, and yet would have had as much as Christ merited for him. Christ’s righteousness meddles not with the degree of happiness, any otherwise than as he merits that it should be full and perfect, according to the capacity. So it may be said to be concerned in the degree of happiness, as perfect is a degree with respect to imperfect, but it meddles not with degrees of perfect happiness.

This matter may be yet better understood, if we consider that Christ and the whole church of saints are, as it were, one body, of which he is the Head, and they members, of different place and capacity. Now the whole body, head, and members, have communion in Christ’s righteousness: they are all partakers of the benefit of it. Christ himself the Head is rewarded for it, and every member is partaker of the benefit and reward. But it does by no means follow, that every part should equally partake of the benefit, but every part in proportion to its place and capacity. The Head partakes of far more than other parts, and the more noble members partake of more than the inferior. As it is in a natural body that enjoys perfect health, the head, and the heart, and lungs, have a greater share of this health. They have it more seated in them, than the hands and feet, because they are parts of greater capacity, though the hands and feet are as much in perfect health as those nobler parts of the body. So it is in the mystical body of Christ: all the members are partakers of the benefit of the Head, but it is according to the different capacity and place they have in the body. God determines that place and capacity as he pleases. He makes whom he pleases the foot, and whom he pleases the hand, and whom he pleases the lungs, etc. 1 Cor 12:18, “God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” God efficaciously determines the place and capacity of every member, by the different degrees of grace and assistance in the improvement of it in this world. Those that he intends for the highest place in the body, he gives them most of his Spirit, the greatest share of the divine nature, the Spirit and nature of Christ Jesus the Head, and that assistance whereby they perform the most excellent works, and do most abound in them.

Object. 4. It may be objected against what has been supposed (viz. that rewards are given to our good works, only in consequence of an interest in Christ, or in testimony of God’s respect to the excellency or value of them in his sight, as built on an interest in Christ’s righteousness already obtained). That the Scripture speaks of an interest in Christ itself, as being given out of respect to our moral fitness. Mat. 10:37, 38, 39, “He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me: he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me: he that findeth his life, shall lose it,” etc. Worthiness here at least signifies a moral fitness, or an excellency that recommends. And this place seems to intimate as though it were from respect to a moral fitness that men are admitted even to an union with Christ, and interest in him. Therefore this worthiness cannot be consequent on being in Christ, and by the imputation of his worthiness, or from any value that is in us, or in our actions in God’s sight, as beheld in Christ.

To this I answer, that though persons when they are accepted, are not accepted as worthy, yet when they are rejected, they are rejected as unworthy. He that does not love Christ above other things, but treats him with such indignity, as to set him below earthly things, shall be treated as unworthy of Christ. His unworthiness of Christ, especially in that particular, shall be marked against him, and imputed to him. And though he be a professing Christian, and live in the enjoyment of the gospel, and has been visibly ingrafted into Christ, and admitted as one of his disciples, as Judas was, yet he shall be thrust out in wrath, as a punishment of his vile treatment of Christ. The forementioned words do not imply that if a man does love Christ above father and mother, etc. that he would be worthy. The most they imply is that such a visible Christian shall be treated and thrust out as unworthy. He that believes is not received for the worthiness or moral fitness of faith, but yet the visible Christian is cast out by God, for the unworthiness and moral unfitness of unbelief. A being accepted as one of Christ’s, is not the reward of believing, but being thrust out from being one of Christ’s disciples, after a visible admission as such, is properly a punishment of unbelief. John 3:18,19, “He that believeth on him, is not condemned; but he that believeth not, is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Salvation is promised to faith as a free gift, but damnation is threatened to unbelief as a debt, or punishment due to unbelief. They who believed while in the wilderness, did not enter into Canaan, because of the worthiness of their faith. But God swore in his wrath, that they that believed not should not enter in, because of the unworthiness of their unbelief. Admitting a soul to an union with Christ is an act of free and sovereign grace, but excluding at death, and at the day of judgment, those professors of Christianity who have had the offers of a Savior, and enjoyed great privileges as God’s people, is a judicial proceeding, and a just punishment of their unworthy treatment of Christ. The design of this saying of Christ is to make them sensible of the unworthiness of their treatment of Christ, who professed him to be their Lord and Savior, and set him below father and mother, etc. and not to show the worthiness of loving him above father and mother. If a beggar should be offered any great and precious gift, but as soon as offered, should trample it under his feet, it might be taken from him, as unworthy to have it. Or if a malefactor should have his pardon offered him, that he might be freed from execution, and should only scoff at it, his pardon might be refused him, as unworthy of it. Though if he had received it, he would not have had it for his worthiness, or as being recommended to it by his virtue. For his being a malefactor supposes him unworthy, and its being offered him to have it only on accepting, supposes that the king looks for no worthiness, nothing in him for which he should bestow pardon as a reward. This may teach us how to understand Acts 13:46, “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken unto you; but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.”

Object. 5. It is objected against the doctrine of justification by faith alone, that repentance is evidently spoken of in Scripture as that which is in a special manner the condition of remission of sins: but remission of sins is by all allowed to be that wherein justification does (at least) in great part consist.

But it must certainly arise from a misunderstanding of what the Scripture says about repentance, to suppose that faith and repentance are two distinct things, that in like manner are the conditions of justification. For it is most plain from the Scripture, that the condition of justification, or that in us by which we are justified, is but one, and that is faith. Faith and repentance are not two distinct conditions of justification, nor are they two distinct things that together make one condition of justification. But faith comprehends the whole of that by which we are justified, or by which we come to have an interest in Christ, and there is nothing else that has a parallel concern with it in the affair of our salvation. And this the divines on the other side themselves are sensible of, and therefore they suppose that the faith the apostle Paul speaks of, which he says we are justified by alone, comprehends in it repentance.

And therefore, in answer to the objection, I would say that when repentance is spoken of in Scripture as the condition of pardon, thereby is not intended any particular grace, or act, properly distinct from faith, that has a parallel influence with it in the affair of our pardon or justification. But by repentance is intended nothing distinct from active conversion (or conversion actively considered), as it respects the term from which. Active conversion is a motion or exercise of the mind that respects two terms, viz. sin and God, and by repentance is meant this conversion, or active change of the mind, so far as it is conversant about the term from which or about sin. This is what the word repentance properly signifies: a change of the mind, or, which is the same thing, the turning or the conversion of the mind. Repentance is this turning, as it respects what is turned from. Acts 26:19. — “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I showed unto them of Damascus and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, and turn to God.” Both these are the same turning, but only with respect to opposite terms. In the former is expressed the exercise of mind about sin in this turning: in the other, the exercise of mind towards God.

If we look over the Scriptures that speak of evangelical repentance, we shall presently see that repentance is to be understood in this sense, as Mat. 9:13, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 13:3, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” And chap. 15:7, 10,

“There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth,” i. e. over one sinner that is converted. Acts 11:18, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” This is said by the Christians of the circumcision at Jerusalem, upon Peter’s giving an account of the conversion of Cornelius and his family, and their embracing the gospel, though Peter had said nothing expressly about their sorrow for sin. And again, Acts 17:30, “But now commandeth all men every where to repent.” And Luke 16:30, “Nay, father Abraham, but if one went to them from the dead, they would repent.” 2 Pet. 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It is plain that in these and other places, by repentance is meant conversion.

Now it is true, that conversion is the condition of pardon and justification. But if it be so, how absurd is it to say, that conversion is one condition of justification, and faith another, as though they were two distributively distinct and parallel conditions? Conversion is the condition of justification, because it is that great change by which we are brought from sin to Christ, and by which we become believers in him: agreeable to Mat. 21:32, “And ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” When we are directed to repent, that our sins may be blotted out, it is as much as to say, let your minds and hearts be changed, that your sins may be blotted out. But if it be said, let your hearts be changed, that you may be justified, and believe, that you may be justified, does it therefore follow, that the heart being changed is one condition of justification, and believing another? But our minds must be changed, that we may believe, and so may be justified.

And besides, evangelical repentance, being active conversion, is not to be treated of as a particular grace, properly and entirely distinct from faith, as by some it seems to have been. What is conversion, but the sinful, alienated soul’s closing with Christ, or the sinner’s being brought to believe in Christ? That exercise of soul in conversion that respects sin, cannot be excluded out of the nature of faith in Christ: there is something in faith, or closing with Christ, that respects sin, and that is evangelical repentance. That repentance which in Scripture is called, repentance for the remission of sins, is that very principle or operation of the mind itself that is called faith, so far as it is conversant about sin. Justifying faith in a Mediator is conversant about two things. It is conversant about sin or evil to be rejected and to be delivered from, and about positive good to be accepted and obtained by the Mediator. As conversant about the former of these, it is evangelical repentance, or repentance for remission of sins. Surely they must be very ignorant, or at least very inconsiderate, of the whole tenor of the gospel, who think that the repentance by which remission of sins is obtained, can be completed as to all that is essential to it, without any respect to Christ, or application of the mind to the Mediator, who alone has made atonement for sin. — Surely so great a part of salvation as remission of sins, is not to be obtained without looking or coming to the great and only Savior. It is true, repentance, in its more general abstracted nature, is only a sorrow for sin, and forsaking of it, which is a duty of natural religion. But evangelical repentance,
or repentance for remission of sins, has more than this essential to it: a dependence of soul on the Mediator for deliverance from sin, is of the essence of it.

That justifying repentance has the nature of faith, seems evident by Acts 19:4, “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” The latter words, “saying unto the people, that they should believe on him,” etc. are evidently exegetical of the former, and explain how he preached repentance for the remission of sins. When it is said, that he preached repentance for the remission of sin, saying that they should believe on Christ, it cannot be supposed but that his saying, that they should believe on Christ, was intended as directing them what to do that they might obtain the remission of sins. So 2 Tim. 2:25, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” That acknowledging of the truth which there is in believing, is here spoken of as what is retained in repentance. And on the other hand, that faith includes repentance in its nature, is evident by the apostle’s speaking of sin as destroyed in faith, Gal. 2:18. — In the preceding verses the apostle mentions an objection against the doctrine of justification by faith alone, viz. that it tends to encourage men in sin, and so to make Christ the minister of sin. This objection he rejects and refutes with this, “If I build again the things that I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.” If sin be destroyed by faith, it must be by repentance of sin included in it. For we know that it is our repentance of sin, or the ìåôáíïéá, or turning of the mind from sin, that is our destroying our sin.

That in justifying faith which directly respects sin, or the evil to be delivered from by the Mediator, is as follows: a sense of our own sinfulness, and the hatefulness of it, and a hearty acknowledgment of its desert of the threatened punishment, looking to the free mercy of God in a Redeemer, for deliverance from it and its punishment.

Concerning this, here described, three things may be noted: 1. That it is the very same with that evangelical repentance to which remission of sins is promised in Scripture. 2. That it is of the essence of justifying faith, and is the same with that faith, so far as it is conversant about evil to be delivered from by the Mediator.

3. That this is indeed the proper and peculiar condition of remission of sins.

  1. All of it is essential to evangelical repentance, and is indeed the very thing meant by that repentance, to which remission of sins is promised in the gospel. As to the former part of the description, viz. a sense of our own sinfulness, and the hatefulness of it, and a hearty acknowledgment of its desert of wrath, none will deny it to be included in repentance. But this does not comprehend the whole essence of evangelical repentance. But what follows does also properly and essentially belong to its nature, looking to the free mercy of God in a Redeemer, for deliverance from it, and the punishment of it. That repentance to which remission is promised, not only always has this with it, but it is contained in it, as what is of the proper nature and essence of it: and respect is ever had to this in the nature of repentance, whenever remission is promised to it. And it is especially from respect to this in the nature of repentance, that it has that promise made to it. If this latter part be missing, it fails of the nature of that evangelical repentance to which remission of sins is promised. If repentance remains in sorrow for sin, and does not reach to a looking to the free mercy of God in Christ for pardon, it is not that which is the condition of pardon, neither shall pardon be obtained by it. Evangelical repentance is an humiliation for sin before God. But the sinner never comes and humbles himself before God in any other repentance, but that which includes hoping in his mercy for remission. If sorrow be not accompanied with that, there will be no coming to God in it, but a flying further from him. There is some worship of God in justifying repentance, but that is not in any other repentance which has not a sense of and faith in the divine mercy to forgive sin, Psa. 130:4, “There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”
  2. The promise of mercy to a true penitent, in Pro. 28:13 is expressed in these terms, “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall have mercy.” But there is faith in God’s mercy in that confessing. The psalmist (Psalm 32) speaking of the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven — and whose sin is covered, to whom the Lord imputes not sin — says that while he kept silence his bones waxed old, but he acknowledged his sin unto God: his iniquity he did not hide. He said he would confess his transgression to the Lord, and then God forgave the iniquity of his sin. The manner of expression plainly holds forth, that then he began to encourage himself in the mercy of God, but his bones waxed old while he kept silence. And therefore the apostle Paul, in the 4th of Romans, brings this instance, to confirm the doctrine of justification by faith alone, that he had been insisting on. When sin is aright confessed to God, there is always faith in that act. That confessing of sin which is joined with despair, as in Judas, is not the confession to which the promise is made. In Acts 2:38, the direction given to those who were pricked in their heart with a sense of the guilt of sin, was to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins. Being baptized in the name of Christ for the remission of sins, implied faith in Christ for the remission of sins. Repentance for the remission of sins was typified of old by the priest’s confessing the sins of the people over the scapegoat, laying his hands on him, Lev. 16:21, denoting it is that repentance and confession of sin only that obtains remission, which is made over Christ the great sacrifice, and with dependence on him. Many other things might be produced from the Scripture, that in like manner confirm this point, but these may be sufficient.

2. All the forementioned description is of the essence of justifying faith, and not different from it, so far as it is conversant about sin, or the evil to be delivered from by the Mediator. For it is doubtless of the essence of justifying faith, to embrace Christ as a Savior from sin and its punishment, and all that is contained in that act is contained in the nature of faith itself. But in the act of embracing Christ as a Savior from our sin and its punishment, is implied a sense of our sinfulness, and a hatred for our sins, or a rejecting them with abhorrence, and a sense of our desert of punishment. Embracing Christ as a Savior from sin, implies the contrary act, viz. rejecting sin. If we fly to the light to be delivered from darkness, the same act is contrary to darkness, viz. a rejecting of it. In proportion to the earnestness with which we embrace Christ as a Savior from sin, in the same proportion is the abhorrence with which we reject sin, in the same act. Yea, suppose there be in the nature of faith, as conversant about sin, no more than the hearty embracing of Christ as a Savior from the punishment of sin, this act will imply in it the whole of the above-mentioned description. It implies a sense of our own sinfulness. Certainly in the hearty embracing of a Savior from the punishment of our sinfulness, there is the exercise of a sense that we are sinful. We cannot heartily embrace Christ as a Savior from the punishment of that which we are not sensible we are guilty of. There is also in the same act, a sense of our desert of the threatened punishment. We cannot heartily embrace Christ as a Savior from that which we are not sensible that we have deserved. For if we are not sensible that we have deserved the punishment, we shall not be sensible that we have any need of a Savior from it, or, at least, shall not be convinced but that God who offers the Savior, unjustly makes him needful, and we cannot heartily embrace such an offer. And further, there is implied in a hearty embracing Christ as a Savior from punishment, not only a conviction of conscience, that we have deserved the punishment, such as the devils and damned have, but there is a hearty acknowledgment of it, with the submission of the soul, so as with the accord of the heart, to own that God might be just in the punishment. If the heart rises against the act or judgment of God, in holding us obliged to the punishment, when he offers us his Son as a Savior from the punishment, we cannot with the consent of the heart receive him in that character. But if persons thus submit to the righteousness of so dreadful a punishment of sin, this carries in it a hatred of sin.

That such a sense of our sinfulness, and utter unworthiness, and desert of punishment, belongs to the nature of saving faith, is what the Scripture from time to time holds forth, as particularly in Mat. 15:26-28. “But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table. Then Jesus answered, and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith.” — And Luke 7:6-9. “The centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself, for I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof. Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee; but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed: for I also am a man set under authority,” etc. — “When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” And also verse 37, 38. “And behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster-box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.” Together with verse 50. “He said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

These things do not necessarily suppose that repentance and faith are words of just the same signification. For it is only so much in justifying faith as respects the evil to be delivered from by the Savior, that is called repentance. Besides, both repentance and faith take them only in their general nature, [and] are entirely distinct. Repentance is a sorrow for sin, and forsaking of it, and faith is a trusting in God’s sufficiency and truth. But faith and repentance, as evangelical duties, or justifying faith, and repentance for remission of sins, contain more in them, and imply a respect to a mediator, and involve each other’s nature: though they still bear the name of faith and repentance, from those general moral virtues — that repentance, which is a duty of natural religion, and that faith, which was a duty required under the first covenant — that are contained in this evangelical act, which severally appear, when this act is considered with respect to its different terms and objects.

It may be objected here that the Scripture sometimes mentions faith and repentance together, as if they were entirely distinct things, as in Mark 1:15, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” But there is not need of understanding these as two distinct conditions of salvation, but the words are exegetical one of another. It is to teach us after what manner we must repent, viz. as believing the gospel, and after what manner we must believe the gospel, viz. as repenting. These words no more prove faith and repentance to be entirely distinct, than those fore-mentioned, Mat. 21:32. “And ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards, that ye might believe him.” Or those, 2 Tim. 2:25. “If peradventure God will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” The apostle, in Acts 19:4 seems to have reference to these words of John the Baptist, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe,” etc. where the latter words, as we have already observed, are to explain how he preached repentance.

Another Scripture where faith and repentance are mentioned together, is Acts 20:21. “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ.” It may be objected, that in this place, faith and repentance are not only spoken of as distinct things, but having distinct objects.

To this I answer, that faith and repentance, in their general nature, are distinct things, and repentance for the remission of sins, or that in justifying faith that respects the evil to be delivered from, so far as it regards that term, which is what especially denominates it repentance, has respect to God as the object, because he is the Being offended by sin, and to be reconciled, but that in this justifying act, whence it is denominated faith, does more especially respect Christ. But let us interpret it how we will, the objection of faith being here so distinguished from repentance, is as much of an objection against the scheme of those that oppose justification by faith alone, as against this scheme. For they hold that the justifying faith the apostle Paul speaks of, includes repentance, as has been already observed.

3. This repentance that has been described, is indeed the special condition of remission of sins. This seems very evident by the Scripture, as particularly, Mark 1:4. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance, for the remission of sins.” So, Luke 3:3, “And be came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance, for the remission of sins.” Luke 24:47, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.” Acts 5:31, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 2:38. Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” And, chap. 3:19. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” The like is evident by Lev. 26:40-42; Job. 33:27, 28; Psa. 32:5; Pro. 28:13; Jer. 3:13. And 1 John 1:9 and other places.

And the reason may be plain from what has been said. We need not wonder that what in faith especially respects sin, should be especially the condition of remission of sins, or that this motion or exercise of the soul, as it rejects and flies from evil and embraces Christ as a Savior from it, should especially be the condition of being free from that evil: in like manner, as the same principle or motion, as it seeks good, and cleaves to Christ as the procurer of that good, should be the condition of obtaining that good. Faith with respect to good is accepting and with respect to evil it is rejecting. Yea this rejecting evil is itself an act of acceptance. It is accepting freedom or separation from that evil, and this freedom or separation is the benefit bestowed in remission. No wonder that what in faith immediately respects this benefit, and is our acceptance of it, should be the special condition of our having it. It is so with respect to all the benefits that Christ has purchased. Trusting in God through Christ for such a particular benefit that we need, is the special condition of obtaining that benefit. When we need protection from enemies, the exercise of faith with respect to such a benefit, or trusting in Christ for protection from enemies, is especially the way to obtain that particular benefit, rather than trusting in Christ for something else, and so of any other benefit that might be mentioned. So prayer (which is the expression of faith) for a particular mercy needed, is especially the way to obtain that mercy. — So that no argument can be drawn from hence against the doctrine of justification by faith alone. And there is that in the nature of repentance, which peculiarly tends to establish the contrary of justification by works. For nothing so much renounces our own worthiness and excellency, as repentance. The very nature of it is to acknowledge our own utter sinfulness and unworthiness, and to renounce our own goodness and all confidence in self; and so to trust in the propitiation of the Mediator, and ascribe all the glory of forgiveness to him.

Object. 6. The last objection I shall mention, is that paragraph in the 3d chapter of James, where persons are said expressly to be justified by works: Jam. 2:21. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works?” Verse 24. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” Verse 25. “Was not Rahab the harlot justified by works?”

In answer to this objection, I would,

1. Take notice of the great unfairness of the divines that oppose us, in the improvement they make of this passage against us. All will allow, that in that proposition of St. James, “By works a man is justified, and not by faith only,” one of the terms, either the word faith, or else the word justify, is not to be understood precisely in the same sense as the same terms when used by St. Paul, because they suppose, as well as we, that it was not the intent of the apostle James to contradict St. Paul in that doctrine of justification by faith alone, in which he had instructed the churches. But if we understand both the terms, as used by each apostle, in precisely the same sense, then what one asserts is a precise, direct, and full contradiction of the other: the one affirming and the other denying the very same thing. So that all the controversy from this text comes to this, viz. which of these two terms shall be understood in a diversity from St. Paul. They say that it is the word faith, for they suppose that when the apostle Paul uses the word, and makes faith that by which alone we are justified, that then by it is understood a compliance with and practice of Christianity in general, so as to include all saving Christian virtue and obedience. But as the apostle James uses the word faith in this place, they suppose thereby is to be understood only an assent of the understanding to the truth of gospel doctrines, as distinguished from good works, and that may exist separate from them, and from all saving grace. We, on the other hand, suppose that the word justify is to be understood in a different sense from the apostle Paul. So that they are forced to go as far in their scheme, in altering the sense of terms from Paul’s use of them, as we. But yet at the same time that they freely vary the sense of the former of them, viz. faith, yet when we understand the latter, viz. justify, in a different sense from St. Paul, they exclaim against us. What necessity of framing this distinction, but only to serve an opinion? At this rate a man may maintain anything, though never so contrary to Scripture, and elude the clearest text in the Bible! Though they do not show us why we have not as good warrant to understand the word justify in a diversity from St. Paul, as they the word faith. If the sense of one of the words must be varied on either scheme, to make the apostle James’s doctrine consistent with the apostle Paul’s, and if varying the sense of one term or the other be all that stands in the way of their agreeing with either scheme, and if varying the sense of the latter be in itself as fair as of the former, then the text lies as fair for one scheme as the other, and can no more fairly be an objection against our scheme than theirs. And if so, what becomes of all this great objection from this passage in James?

2. If there be no more difficulty in varying the sense of one of these terms than another, from anything in the text itself, so as to make the words suit with either scheme, then certainly that is to be chosen that is most agreeable to the current of Scripture, and other places where the same matter is more particularly and fully treated of, and therefore that we should understand the word justify in this passage of James, in a sense in some respects diverse from that in which St. Paul uses it. For by what has been already said, it may appear, that there is no one doctrine in the whole Bible more fully asserted, explained, and urged, than the doctrine of justification by faith alone, without any of our own righteousness.

3. There is a very fair interpretation of this passage of St. James, no way inconsistent with this doctrine of justification, which I have shown that other scriptures abundantly teach, which the words themselves will as well allow of, as that which the objectors put upon them, and much better agrees with the context: and that is, that works are here spoken of as justifying as evidences. A man may be said to be justified by that which clears him, or vindicates him, or makes the goodness of his cause manifest. When a person has a cause tried in a civil court, and is justified or cleared, he may be said in different senses to be justified or cleared, by the goodness of his cause, and by the goodness of the evidences of it. He may be said to be cleared by what evidences his cause to be good, but not in the same sense as he is by that which makes his cause to be good. That which renders his cause good, is the proper ground of his justification. It is by that that he is himself a proper subject of it, but evidences justify, only as they manifest that his cause is good in fact, whether they are of such a nature as to have any influence to render it so or no. It is by works that our cause appears to be good, but by faith our cause not only appears to be good, but becomes good, because thereby we are united to Christ. That the word justify should be sometimes understood to signify the former of these, as well as the latter, is agreeable to the use of the word in common speech: as we say such an one stood up to justify another, i.e. he endeavored to show or manifest his cause to be good. — And it is certain that the word is sometimes used in this sense in Scripture, when speaking of our being justified before God: as where it is said, we shall be justified by our words, Mat. 12:37. “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” It cannot be meant that men are accepted before God on the account of their words. For God has told us nothing more plainly, than that it is the heart that he looks at, and that when he acts as judge towards men, in order to justifying or condemning, he tries the heart, Jer. 11:20. “But, O Lord of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them; for unto thee have I revealed my cause.” Psa. 7:8, 9, “The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me. O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just; for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.” Verse 11, “God judgeth the righteous.” And many other places to the like purpose. And therefore men can be justified by their words, no otherwise than as evidences or manifestations of what is in the heart. And it is thus that Christ speaks of the words in this very place, as is evident by the context, Mat. 12:34, 35. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart,” etc. The words, or sounds themselves, are neither parts of godliness nor evidences of godliness, but as signs of what is inward.

God himself, when he acts towards men as judge, in order to a declarative judgment, makes use of evidences, and so judges men by their works. And therefore, at the day of judgment, God will judge men according to their works. For though God will stand in no need of evidence to inform him what is right, yet it is to be considered that he will then sit in judgment, not as earthly judges do, to find out what is right in a cause, but to declare and manifest what is right. And therefore that day is called by the apostle, “the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” Rom. 2:5.

To be justified, is to be approved of and accepted, but a man may be said to be approved and accepted in two respects: the one is to be approved really, and the other to be approved and accepted declaratively. Justification is twofold: it is either the acceptance and approbation of the judge itself, or the manifestation of that approbation by a sentence or judgment declared by the judge, either to our own consciences or to the world. If justification be understood in the former sense, for the approbation itself, that is only that by which we become fit to be approved. But if it be understood in the latter sense, for the manifestation of this approbation, it is by whatever is a proper evidence of that fitness. In the former, only faith is concerned, because it is by that only in us that we become fit to be accepted and approved. In the latter, whatever is an evidence of our fitness, is alike concerned. And therefore, take justification in this sense, and then faith, and all other graces and good works, have a common and equal concern in it. For any other grace, or holy act, is equally an evidence of a qualification for acceptance or approbation, as faith.

To justify has always, in common speech, signified indifferently, either simply approbation, or testifying that approbation: sometimes one, and sometimes the other; because they are both the same, only as one is outwardly what the other is inwardly. So we, and it may be all nations, are wont to give the same name to two things, when one is only declarative of the other. Thus sometimes judging, intends only judging in our thoughts; at other times, testifying and declaring judgment. So such words as justify, condemn, accept, reject, prize, slight, approve, renounce, are sometimes put for mental acts, at other times, for an outward treatment. So in the sense in which the apostle James seems to use the word justify for manifestative justification, a man is justified not only by faith, but also by works: as a tree is manifested to be good, not only by immediately examining the tree, but also by the fruit, Pro. 20:11, “Even a child is known by his doing, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”

The drift of the apostle does not require that he should be understood in any other sense; for all that he aims at, as appears by a view of the context, is to prove that good works are necessary. The error of those that he opposed was this: that good works were not necessary to salvation, that if they did but believe that there was but one God, and that Christ was the Son of God and the like, and were baptized, they were safe, let them live how they would, which doctrine greatly tended to licentiousness. The evincing the contrary of this is evidently the apostle’s scope.

And that we should understand the apostle, of works justifying as an evidence, and in a declarative judgment, is what a due consideration of the context will naturally lead us to. — For it is plain, that the apostle is here insisting on works, in the quality of a necessary manifestation and evidence of faith, or as what the truth of faith is made to appear by: as Jam. 2:18, “Show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” And when he says, verse 26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” It is much more rational and natural to understand him as speaking of works, as the proper signs and evidences of the reality, life, and goodness of faith. Not that the very works or actions done are properly the life of faith, as the spirit in the body, but it is the active, working nature of faith, of which the actions or works done are the signs, that is itself the life and spirit of faith. The sign of a thing is often in scripture language said to be that thing; as it is in that comparison by which the apostle illustrates it. Not the actions themselves of a body, are properly the life or spirit of the body, but the active nature, of which those actions or motions are the signs, is the life of the body. That which makes men pronounce anything to be alive is that they observe it has an active operative nature, which they observe no otherwise than by the actions or motions which are the signs of it. It is plainly the apostle’s aim to prove, that if faith has not works, it is a sign that it is not a good sort of faith, which would not have been to his purpose if it was his design to show that it is not by faith alone, though of a right sort, that we have acceptance with God, but that we are accepted on the account of obedience as well as faith. It is evident, by the apostle’s reasoning, that the necessity of works, is not from their having a parallel concern in our salvation with faith. But he speaks of works only as related to faith, and expressive of it, which, after all, leaves faith the alone fundamental condition, without anything else having a parallel concern with it in this affair; and other things conditions, only as several expressions and evidences of it.

That the apostle speaks of works justifying only as a sign, or evidence, and in God’s declarative judgment, is further confirmed by Jam. 2:21, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered up Isaac his son upon the altar?” Here the apostle seems plainly to refer to that declarative judgment of God concerning Abraham’s sincerity, manifested to him, for the peace and assurance of his own conscience, after his offering up Isaac his son on the altar, Gen. 22:12, “Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” But here it is plain, and expressed in the very words of justification or approbation, that this work of Abraham offering up his son on the altar, justified him as an evidence. When the apostle James says, we are justified by works, he may and ought to be understood in a sense agreeable to the instance he brings for the proof of it: but justification in that instance appears by the works of justification themselves, to be by works as an evidence. And where this instance of Abraham’s obedience is elsewhere mentioned, in the New Testament, it is mentioned as a fruit and evidence of his faith. Heb. 11:17, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises, offered up his only-begotten son.”

And in the other instance which the apostle mentions, Jam. 2:25. “Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?” The apostle refers to a declarative judgment, in that particular testimony which was given of God’s approbation of her as a believer, in directing Joshua to save her when the rest of Jericho was destroyed, Jos. 6:25, “And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father’s household, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day: because she hid the messengers which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.” This was accepted as an evidence and expression of her faith. Heb. 11:31, “By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.” The apostle in saying, “Was not Rahab the harlot justified by works?” by the manner of his speaking has reference to something in her history. But we have no account in her history of any other justification of her but this.

4. If, notwithstanding, any choose to take justification in St. James’s precisely as we do in Paul’s epistles, for God’s acceptance or approbation itself, and not any expression of that approbation, what has been already said concerning the manner in which acts of evangelical obedience are concerned in the affair of our justification, affords a very easy, clear, and full answer. For if we take works as acts or expressions of faith, they are not excluded. So a man is not justified by faith only, but also by works; i.e. he is not justified only by faith as a principle in the heart, or in its first and more immanent acts, but also by the effective acts of it in life, which are the expressions of the life of faith, as the operations and actions of the body are of the life of that; agreeable to Jam. 2:26.

What has been said in answer to these objections, may also, I hope, abundantly serve for an answer to another objection, often made against this doctrine, viz. that it encourages licentiousness in life. For, from what has been said, we may see that the Scripture doctrine of justification by faith alone, without any manner of goodness or excellency of ours, does in no wise diminish either the necessity or benefit of a sincere evangelical universal obedience. Man’s salvation is not only indissolubly connected with obedience, and damnation with the want of it, in those who have opportunity for it, but depends upon it in many respects. It is the way to salvation, and the necessary preparation for it. Eternal blessings are bestowed in reward for it, and our justification in our own consciences and at the day of judgment depends on it, as the proper evidence of our acceptable state; and that even in accepting of us as entitled to life in our justification, God has respect to this, as that on which the fitness of such an act of justification depends: so that our salvation does as truly depend upon it, as if we were justified for the moral excellency of it. And besides all this, the degree of our happiness to all eternity is suspended on, and determined by, the degree of this. So that this gospel-scheme of justification is as far from encouraging licentiousness, and contains as much to encourage and excite to strict and universal obedience, and the utmost possible eminency of holiness, as any scheme that can be devised, and indeed unspeakably more.

I come now to the

V. And last thing proposed, which is, to consider the “importance of this doctrine.”

I know there are many that make as though this controversy was of no great importance: that it is chiefly a matter of nice speculation, depending on certain subtle distinctions, which many that make use of them do not understand themselves: that the difference is not of such consequence as to be worth being zealous about: and that more hurt is done by raising disputes about it than good.

Indeed I am far from thinking that it is of absolute necessity that persons should understand, and be agreed upon, all the distinctions needful particularly to explain and defend this doctrine against all cavils and objections. Yet all Christians should strive after an increase of knowledge, and none should content themselves without some clear and distinct understanding in this point. But we should believe in the general, according to the clear and abundant revelations of God’s word, that it is none of our own excellency, virtue, or righteousness, that is the ground of our being received from a state of condemnation into a state of acceptance in God’s sight, but only Jesus Christ, and his righteousness and worthiness, received by faith. This I think to be of great importance, at least in application to ourselves, and that for the following reasons.

First, the Scripture treats of this doctrine, as a doctrine of very great importance. That there is a certain doctrine of justification by faith, in opposition to justification by the works of the law, which the Apostle Paul insists upon as of the greatest importance, none will deny, because there is nothing in the Bible more apparent. The apostle, under the infallible conduct of the Spirit of God, thought it worth his most strenuous and zealous disputing about and defending. He speaks of the contrary doctrine as fatal and ruinous to the souls of men, in the latter end of the ninth chapter of Romans, and beginning of the tenth. He speaks of it as subversive of the gospel of Christ, and calls it another gospel, and says concerning it: if anyone, “though an angel from heaven, preach it, let him be accursed;” Gal. 1:6-9 compared with the following part of the epistle. Certainly we must allow the apostles to be good judges of the importance and tendency of doctrines, at least the Holy Ghost in them. And doubtless we are safe, and in no danger of harshness and censoriousness, if we only follow him, and keep close to his express teachings, in what we believe and say of the hurtful and pernicious tendency of any error. Why are we to blame for saying what the Bible has taught us to say, or for believing what the Holy Ghost has taught us to that end that we might believe it?

Second, the adverse scheme lays another foundation of man’s salvation than God has laid. I do not now speak of that ineffectual redemption that they suppose to be universal, and what all mankind are equally the subjects of. But I say, it lays entirely another foundation of man’s actual, discriminating salvation, or that salvation, wherein true Christians differ from wicked men. We suppose the foundation of this to be Christ’s worthiness and righteousness. On the contrary, that scheme supposes it to be man’s own virtue, even so, that this is the ground of a saving interest in Christ itself. It takes away Christ out of the place of the bottom stone, and puts in men’s own virtue in the room of him, so that Christ himself in the affair of distinguishing, actual salvation, is laid upon this foundation. And the foundation being so different, I leave it to everyone to judge whether the difference between the two schemes consists only in punctilios of small consequence. The foundations being contrary, makes the whole scheme exceeding diverse and opposite: the one is a gospel scheme, the other a legal one.

Third, it is in this doctrine that the most essential difference lies between the covenant of grace and the first covenant. The adverse scheme of justification supposes that we are justified by our works, in the very same sense wherein man was to have been justified by his works under the first covenant. By that covenant our first parents were not to have had eternal life given them for any proper merit in their obedience, because their perfect obedience was a debt that they owed God. Nor was it to be bestowed for any proportion between the dignity of their obedience, and the value of the reward, but only it was to be bestowed from a regard to a moral fitness in the virtue of their obedience, to the reward of God’s favor. A title to eternal life was to be given them, as a testimony of God’s pleasedness with their works, or his regard to the inherent beauty of their virtue. And so it is the very same way that those in the adverse scheme suppose that we are received into God’s special favor now, and to those saving benefits that are the testimonies of it. I am sensible the divines of that side entirely disclaim the popish doctrine of merit, and are free to speak of our utter unworthiness, and the great imperfection of all our services. But after all, it is our virtue, imperfect as it is, that recommends men to God, by which good men come to have a saving interest in Christ, and God’s favor, rather than others. These things are bestowed in testimony of God’s respect to their goodness. So that whether they will allow the term merit or no, yet they hold, that we are accepted by our own merit, in the same sense, though not in the same degree, as under the first covenant.

But the great and most distinguishing difference between that covenant and the covenant of grace is, that by the covenant of grace we are not thus justified by our own works, but only by faith in Jesus Christ. It is on this account chiefly that the new covenant deserves the name of a covenant of grace, as is evident by Rom. 4:16: “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” And chap. 3:20, 24, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight… Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.” And Rom. 11:6, “And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace: but if it be of works; then it is no more grace; otherwise work is no more work.” Gal. 5:4, “Whosoever of you are justified by the law, ye are fallen from grace.” And therefore the apostle, when in the same epistle to the Galatians, speaking of the doctrine of justification by works as another gospel, adds, “which is not another,” Gal. 1:6, 7. It is no gospel at all: it is law. It is no covenant of grace, but of works. It is not an evangelical, but a legal doctrine. Certainly that doctrine wherein consists the greatest and most essential difference between the covenant of grace and the first covenant, must be a doctrine of great importance. That doctrine of the gospel by which above all others it is worthy of the name gospel, is doubtless a very important doctrine of the gospel.

Fourth, this is the main thing for which fallen men stood in need of divine revelation, to teach us how we who have sinned may come to be again accepted of God, or, which is the same thing, how the sinner may be justified. Something beyond the light of nature is necessary to salvation chiefly on this account. Mere natural reason afforded no means by which we could come to the knowledge of this: it depending on the sovereign pleasure of the Being that we had offended by sin. This seems to be the great drift of that revelation which God has given, and of all those mysteries it reveals, all those great doctrines that are peculiarly doctrines of revelation, and above the light of nature. It seems to have been very much on this account, that it was requisite that the doctrine of the Trinity itself should be revealed to us. That by a discovery of the concern of the several divine persons in the great affair of our salvation, we might the better understand and see how all our dependence in this affair is on God, and our sufficiency all in him, and not in ourselves: that he is all in all in this business, agreeable to 1 Cor. 1:29-31, “That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” What is the gospel, but only the glad tidings of a new way of acceptance with God unto life, a way wherein sinners may come to be free from the guilt of sin, and obtain a title to eternal life? And if, when this way is revealed, it is rejected, and another of man’s devising be put in the room of it, without doubt, it must be an error of great importance, and the apostle might well say it was another gospel.

Fifth, the contrary scheme of justification derogates much from the honor of God and the Mediator. I have already shown how it diminishes the glory of the Mediator, in ascribing that to man’s virtue and goodness, which belongs alone to his worthiness and righteousness. By the apostle’s sense of the matter it renders Christ needless, Gal. 5:4, “Christ is become of no effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law.” If that scheme of justification be followed in its consequences, it utterly overthrows the glory of all the great things that have been contrived, and done, and suffered in the work of redemption. Gal. 2:21, “If righteousness come by the law, Christ is dead in vain.” It has also been already shown how it diminishes the glory of divine grace (which is the attribute God has especially set himself to glorify in the work of redemption), and so that it greatly diminishes the obligation to gratitude in the sinner that is saved. Yea, in the sense of the apostle, it makes void the distinguishing grace of the gospel, Gal. 5:4, “Whosoever of you are justified by the law, are fallen from grace.” It diminishes the glory of the grace of God and the Redeemer, and proportionably magnifies man. It makes the goodness and excellency of fallen man to be something, which I have shown are nothing. I have also already shown, that it is contrary to the truth of God in the threatening of his holy law, to justify the sinner for his virtue. And whether it were contrary to God’s truth or no, it is a scheme of things very unworthy of God. It supposes that God, when about to lift up a poor, forlorn malefactor, condemned to eternal misery for sinning against his Majesty, and to make him unspeakably and eternally happy, by bestowing his Son and himself upon him, as it were, sets all this to sale, for the price of his virtue and excellency. I know that those we oppose acknowledge, that the price is very disproportionate to the benefit bestowed, and say, that God’s grace is wonderfully manifested in accepting so little virtue, and bestowing so glorious a reward for such imperfect righteousness. But seeing we are such infinitely sinful and abominable creatures in God’s sight, and by our infinite guilt have brought ourselves into such wretched and deplorable circumstances — and all our righteousnesses are nothing, and ten thousand times worse than nothing (if God looks upon them as they be in themselves — is it not immensely more worthy of the infinite majesty and glory of God, to deliver and make happy such wretched vagabonds and captives, without any money or price of theirs, or any manner of expectation of any excellency or virtue in them, in any wise to recommend them? Will it not betray a foolish, exalting opinion of ourselves, and a mean one of God, to have thought of offering anything of ours, to recommend us to the favor of being brought from wallowing, like filthy swine, in the mire of our sins, and from the enmity and misery of devils in the lowest hell, to the state of God’s dear children, in the everlasting arms of his love in heavenly glory, or to imagine that that is the constitution of God, that we should bring our filthy rags, and offer them to him as the price of this?

Sixth, the opposite scheme does most directly tend to lead men to trust in their own righteousness for justification, which is a thing fatal to the soul. This is what men are of themselves exceedingly prone to do (and that though they are never so much taught the contrary), through the partial and high thoughts they have of themselves, and their exceeding dullness of apprehending any such mystery as our being accepted for the righteousness of another. But this scheme does directly teach men to trust in their own righteousness for justification, in that it teaches them that this is indeed what they must be justified by, being the way of justification that God himself has appointed. So that if a man had naturally no disposition to trust in his own righteousness, yet if he embraced this scheme, and acted consistent with it, it would lead him to it. But that trusting in our own righteousness, is a thing fatal to the soul, is what the Scripture plainly teaches us. It tells us that it will cause that Christ shall profit us nothing, and be of no effect to us, Gal. 5:2-4. For though the apostle speaks there particularly of circumcision, yet it is not merely being circumcised, but trusting in circumcision as a righteousness, that the apostle has respect to. He could not mean that merely being circumcised would render Christ of no profit or effect to a person, for we read that he himself, for certain reasons, took Timothy and circumcised him, Acts 16:3. And the same is evident by the context, and by the rest of the epistle. And the apostle speaks of trusting in their own righteousness as fatal to the Jews, Rom 9:31, 32, “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” Together with Rom. 10:3, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” And this spoken of as fatal to the Pharisees, in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican, which Christ spoke to them in order to reprove them for trusting in themselves that they were righteous. The design of the parable is to show them, that the very publicans shall be justified, rather than they, as appears by the reflection Christ makes upon it, Luke 18:14, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other;” that is, this and not the other. The fatal tendency of it might also be proved from its inconsistency with the nature of justifying faith, and with the nature of that humiliation that the Scripture often speaks of as absolutely necessary to salvation. But these Scriptures are so express, that it is needless to bring any further arguments.

How far a wonderful and mysterious agency of God’s Spirit may so influence some men’s hearts, that their practice in this regard may be contrary to their own principles, so that they shall not trust in their own righteousness, though they profess that men are justified by their own righteousness — or how far they may believe the doctrine of justification by men’s own righteousness in general, and yet not believe it in a particular application of it to themselves — or how far that error which they may have been led into by education, or cunning sophistry of others, may yet be indeed contrary to the prevailing disposition of their hearts, and contrary to their practice — or how far some may seem to maintain a doctrine contrary to this gospel doctrine of justification, that really do not, but only express themselves differently from others, or seem to oppose it through their misunderstanding of our expressions, or we of theirs, when indeed our real sentiments are the same in the main — or may seem to differ more than they do, by using terms that are without a precisely fixed and determinate meaning — or to be wide in their sentiments from this doctrine, for want of a distinct understanding of it: whose hearts, at the same time, entirely agree with it, and if once it was clearly explained to their understandings, would immediately close with it, and embrace it. How far these things may be, I will not determine, but am fully persuaded that great allowances are to be made on these and such like accounts, in innumerable instances. Though it is manifest from what has been said, that the teaching and propagating contrary doctrines and schemes, is of a pernicious and fatal tendency.    

Attitude is Everything


Attitude is Everything

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… [an organization]… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Charles Swindoll 

Are Tongues for Today?


Almost immediately after we had completed our article “Are Tongues in the New Testament unknown languages” we located an other excellent article on this issue.  This article answers the question from a little different perspective.  Guess what?  We located another booklet on the same subject by Theodore Epp of Back to the Bible Broadcast entitled The Use and Abuse of Tongues.    We may also place this third item on our website.  See the second article below.  It is very informative.

Spirituality For the Common Good

by Glenn Peoples

1 Corinthians 14:1-25 Notes

This was presented as a two-part seminar at the Bible College of new Zealand in 2001. The first part was an exegetical presentation on 1 Corinthians 15:1-25, and the second part was a presentation of a “cessationist” view of the gifts of tongues and prophecy.


1 Corinthians 14:1-25 has got the Corinthians into all sorts of trouble over the last 2000 years (more specifically in the last 100). It has become the basis of accusing them of “swinging from the chandeliers” and of being raving Charismatics (in the 20th century sense of the word). With the somewhat controversial issues that lie ahead, textual tradition has been kind to the interpreter in that there are no significant textual variants at all from verses 1 to 25.

Context: Thematic and Cultural

The Apostle Paul is evidently dealing with a situation where certain persons or groups in Corinth are causing disunity through (un)spiritual indulgence. Elsewhere in the book, we see reference to the “weak Christian who are being offended by the behaviour of the “strong” – probably labels that were contrived by the so-called “strong,” exercising their bold liberty regardless of how it affected others (in the case of eating meat offered to idols in particular). In chapter 12 Paul has been stressing that (contrary to some in Corinth), it is not the case that only an elite group of Christians are “spiritual.” Rather, he emphasised that all members of the body of Christ have unity because they have all been baptised “in one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). That is what makes them members of the one body, and therefore everybody in the body is equally endowed with the Spirit. Paul particularly seems to have been arguing that being endowed with spiritual gifts doesn’t require that all have the same gifts, and also that no person who believes they have a particular gifting should snub a fellow believer who they do not think has the same gifting, because all such giftings come through one and the same Spirit (12:4-11, 18-21).

The main issue of discussion from verse 1 to 25 is tongues, although some comments are made about prophecy as well. The thrust of the passage is the superiority of prophecy to tongues.

An Unavoidable Issue: The nature of these “languages”

Explicit reference to the phenomenon of “tongues” in the New Testament is restricted to Mark 16:17 (generally regarded as a later addition); Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6 and 1 Corinthians 12-14. [1] There are a couple of crucial questions related to this phenomenon. They will hopefully be answered at least in part as this passage is covered, but for now, let’s just outline what some of the questions might be.

 - Are the glossai “real languages?

Glossa means “tongue,” and as in English, is used metaphorically for “language.” Greek has two main words for language, glossa and dialektos. The difference between the two is effectively illustrated by Hudson F. McKenzie in Natural Tongues:[2]

For examples of the way these two are used, cf. Rev 14:6 and Acts 22:2. Or even better, on the day of Pentecost the disciples spoke in foreign tongues (glossai), but the recipients of their preaching heard the message in their own language (dialektos).

Glossa has the connotation of foreign tongue and dialektos has the connotation of local or common tongue. E.g. I’m presenting this seminar, as far as New Zealanders are concerned, in the English dialektos. For Koreans, I’m using the English glossa. Wherever this phenomenon (speaking in languages in connection with the work of the Spirit) occurs, the word glossa is used.

 - If so, are they human languages?

Fee says, with reference to the “head covering” passage in 1 Corinthians 11,

We can only guess what they were doing (probably doffing a customary head covering) and why (probably because they considered themselves already as the angels, where sexual distinctions no longer mattered – and especially so in Christian worship where all spoke in tongues,[3] the language of angels, as evidence of their having attained to this degree of heavenly existence).[4]

For Fee, then, his understanding of what glossai means contributes to (and is contributed to by) his wider understanding of what was going on in Corinth, namely an over-realised eschatology. This framework is then used to explain difficult passages such as the one regarding women and head coverings.

Fee’s suggestion is something of a novelty (even if he is correct). At no time in this passage does Paul clearly attempt to put on the eschatological “brakes” as it were, and remind the Corinthians in response to their excess that the end has not yet come, so they are misguided for supposing that it has. Indeed, Paul doesn’t for a moment challenge the belief that we ought to be partaking in the life of the Spirit to our utmost here and now, his concern is how this is to be done. His concern is not so much that the Corinthians were trying to be too spiritual too soon, it is that their behaviour was not truly spiritual at all, but misguided.

A note on glossolalia before we begin

The word glossolalia has become a popular piece of theological jargon to refer to this phenomenon. It is a combination of glossa (language) and laleo (to speak). If we translate glossa in an archaic way as tongue, then glossolalia = “tongues speaking.”

However, it needs to be said that while the word is a common one in contemporary charismatic theology, it is never used in the New Testament. This might not seem like a hugely significant fact at first. After all, while glossolalia as a noun isn’t used, the noun glossa is used in connection with the word laleo often enough. In other words, while “tongues speech” isn’t referred to, people are still said to “speak” in “tongues.” But the reason the point is a significant one is that glossolalia is used as a technical term, which expresses a strong doctrinal bias. For example, if a foreigner came to us and spoke in Chinese, the Pentecostal theologian will tell us that while he has spoken (laleo) in another language (glossa), he hasn’t performed glossolalia. Obviously what is being implied is that glossolalia is something more than just speaking in a glossa. It is used to talk about a particular interpretation of what “tongues” means in Acts and 1 Corinthians. This is seen clearly expressed by J. Morris Ashcraft:

The word glossa is used in the New Testament in three different senses: (1) the tongue as the physical organ of speech; (2) tongues as a definite human language and (3) tongues as glossolalia or ecstatic speech.[5]

Using the coined term glossolalia then can be very misleading, for when the interpreter believes that the person speaking in tongues (languages) is speaking a known human tongue – when the word glossa is used, she will call it speaking in other languages. When, however, the same interpreter believes that “tongues speech” in the ecstatic sense is being implied because of the appearance of glossa, she will call it glossolalia, and even though this word literally means nothing more than speaking in languages (as in the first example), it now somehow has the appearance of something more – something mysterious.

The same is true to a degree about the use of the word “tongues” at all. When the KJV was translated, there was no problem using the term, since it was the ordinary everyday word to refer to languages. It is unfortunate that modern Bible versions have held on to the archaic term (“tongues” rather than “languages”), since it effectively creates a term with an unclear meaning, and whenever this is done, it can be said to have any number of curious meanings.[6]

For these reasons, the word glossa will be read here in the light of its ordinary meaning with regard to speech – namely, a language generally. If the text itself demonstrates that the language in any given context is something other than a normal human language, the possibility will be considered. If no such demonstration presents itself, then non-human languages will not be read into the passage. In taking this approach, we are not ruling out that the text may teach that the glossai are non-human languages, and we are not assuming it from the outset (which would obviously skew our exegesis).

1-5 The great goal – love, and the general superiority of understandable prophecy over other languages (glossai), in achieving this goal

How is the church to “follow after the way of love” with respect to spirituality (pneumatikav pneumatika – “spiritual”)? What follows is an elaboration on how this task can be accomplished (in part), namely (as we will see), by striving to edify the whole congregation. Why is this exhortation necessary for this congregation? Obviously the principle remains true for all churches, but Paul explains why in particular it needs to be stressed here. It is necessary “because those who speak in another language do not speak to others, but to God, for nobody understands them, since they are speaking mysteries in the Spirit (v.2).

Verse 2 is often construed as a helpful description, to enable us to understand the purpose of the charismatic gift of “tongues,” a God given tool for self edification. Fee claims that this verse outlines the “basic purpose” of the gift, self-edification, unlike prophecy, which is for congregational edification. [7] According to Marion Soards,

According to Paul’s teaching, there is a clear point and a clear audience for tongues, but other humans are not the intended recipients of the message and so they do not comprehend the substance of the speech in tongues or benefit from it.

… By contrast to the tongues speakers, those who prophesy speak to humans for the edification, encouragement, and consolation of the hearers.[8]

The context of verse 2 in chapters 13-14 and the appearance of glossai speech elsewhere in the NT however present it quite a different light.

· Throughout chapter 14, Paul is telling the Corinthians how to use speech in other languages, and it entails building up the congregation. If Paul were really trying to tell them that this was a “private” gift intended for self-edification, it would seem that he is contradicting himself.

· If speech in other languages was intended primarily as a private “prayer” language to build oneself up spiritually, the gift of “interpretation” would be a non-necessity.

· If speech in other languages was intended as a private tool for self-edification, then it was not “a sign to unbelievers” – however, it was a sign to unbelievers (more on this later at 14:21-22).

· V. 2 is evidently a rebuke. Paul’s emphasis throughout is that we should use our gifts to build others up, but if one speaks in another language (i.e. one that others don’t understand) she can’t possibly build others up, because they don’t understand her – that’s why it is a “mystery.” Therefore, he goes on to say that she must not speak in other languages without interpretation.

What follows in the passage shows that, contrary to Soards, humans were intended to understand tongues, and they would only fail to benefit from such speech when it was misused.

A note should be made of Anthony Thiselton’s observation about the NRSV translation of verse 5. This version reads, “One who prophecies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” Thiselton calls this translation “disastrously misleading.”[9] As he goes on to point out, “The Greek does not mention any other agent than the one who speaks in tongues, who remains the subject of the verb” [emphasis original].[10] In other words, it is quite acceptable (although not necessary on every occasion, see 14:27-28) to see the one who speaks in another tongue to have the gift of interpreting it. The obvious question then is: If the one who speaks in another tongue can also interpret it, why speak in the other tongue in the first place? Why not simply give the message in an understandable tongue to begin with? There might be a number of possible answers to this and we could consume time coming up with as many answers as possible, but the one we would suggest here is that tongues functioned as a sign (as we will discuss when we come to 21-22). If the tongues themselves were bypassed, this sign value would be entirely lost.

Tongues as prophecy

It should be noted that other languages in this context, when interpreted, function in the same way as prophecy.[11] As Paul goes on to show, the only reason “prophecy” is to be preferred is that it is that the church can understood it. Apart from that, there is no difference. We’ll come to this again when we get to 14:21-22, and in our last section.

6-12 Elaboration on why prophecy is superior

The point is that these gifts fail in their purpose unless they actually communicate something to other people for their benefit, and to neglect this purpose actually results in disunity – even alienation within the church.

Paul uses the analogy of lifeless things – the flute, the harp, and the trumpet which calls people for battle. Unless they are played clearly, nobody will know the tune. “So it is with you” (v.9). Unless the sound you make has meaning, nobody gains anything.

There are all kinds of languages (literally sounds) in the world, all having meaning. Unless the language you use brings an intelligible message, you may as well be talking to the air – you are like an alien, a foreigner. Fee wants to include this reference to languages in the world in the analogy that came before (“lifeless things”). What this would achieve is to separate “tongues” from languages in the world, and it would make “tongues” only comparable to real human languages by analogy. He does this quite admittedly on the grounds that he believes “tongues” are not languages in this sense (i.e. sounds of this world). It is a “special language” not like worldly languages. [12] But the inclusion of these verses about worldly languages with the preceding analogy concerning lifeless things is quite artificial. Having laid down the analogy (“even in the case of lifeless things”), Paul goes on to its application, explaining the practical implications (“so it is with you, unless you speak intelligible words…”). All sounds in this world have meaning. But when it comes to what is happening in Corinth (“so it is with you”), people are making utterances that do not have meaning, as all languages in the world do. If the hearer doesn’t understand the meaning, the speaker is like a foreigner, alienating and creating division rather than edifying and creating unity. After referring to languages of this world Paul doesn’t go on to explain how this supposed “analogy” applies in the church when he says “so it is with you,” he just flatly says “so it is with you,” not in an analogical way, but in a straight-forward way.

Verse 12 is another summary statement – since you’re so keen to be spiritual, strive to edify the whole congregation – that is the spiritual thing to do.

13-17 What happens when sensible principles governing the use of other languages are not observed

If you do speak in another language, pray that it might be interpreted – by you, or presumably by anyone at all for that matter (as in vv. 27,28). If you do not, then while you are praying to God all right, your mind is not bearing fruit. i.e. What you’re doing is fruitless – a waste of time. Ernest Best seems to take it as self-evident that this means that what a person prays in a tongue “is spoken apart from mental processes.”[13] But simply observing the words used here does not oblige us to accept this meaning – that just isn’t their intrinsic meaning. We are told that when a person speaks in another tongue and the speech is not interpreted for the congregation, the mind of the speaker is [un]fruitful. We are told this in a context of exhortation to edify the congregation, to always consider how our actions may help our brethren. It hardly needs to be spelled out that “unfruitful” is not a synonym for “inactive” or “bypassed.” For example, a person who lives an “unfruitful” life doesn’t live no life at all, he lives a life that does not bear good fruit. “Fruit” in this context in 1 Cor 14 then is quite easy to read as meaning the benefit that the others in the congregation can receive from your prayer (not, as some might suppose, fruit in the sense of one’s own understanding). This is suggested by the text itself in vv. 16-17. Sure, you are in fact offering a meaningful prayer of thanks or praise (or whatever kind of prayer you might be offering), but nobody who doesn’t understand you knows that. How then can they say Amen? “You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other is not edified.” The fact that Paul can say, “you may be giving thanks well enough” appears to presuppose that the speaker knows (or at least should know) what she is saying.

Philo of Alexandria outlines four different kinds of religious ecstasy, some of which appear to be manifesting in Corinth.[14]

1.) Madness (“people will say you are mad!”)

2.) Extreme amazement

3.) Passivity of mind (seen in Paul’s corrective: “but I will pray with my mind also”)

4.) Divine possession

Verse 15 gives us a strong clue as to something that was going on in the Corinthian church. Earlier in 1 Corinthians (7:1-2), Paul wrote, regarding marriage: “It is good for a man not to touch a woman. But, since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.” It is widely recognised that Paul is using a Corinthian slogan, and immediately replying to it with a corrective slogan of his own. In Corinth, it seems, there was such an emphasis on religious ecstasy as evidence of being spiritual that states of ecstasy were equated with spirituality. To pray in this unintelligible, mindless way is being equated with “praying in the Spirit,” as a kind of boast to deeper spirituality. Perhaps it served as a kind of status badge in church gatherings, where those who “spoke in tongues” in this unintelligible way looked down on those “unspiritual” ones. Perhaps those who didn’t do likewise were even seen as stifling the Holy Spirit in the service. Paul’s response to the boast of “I will pray with the spirit” is the further qualification, “but I will pray with the mind also” i.e. not with the spirit alone as though the mind is excluded from spiritual prayer.  Pagan and Corinthian Practice          Paul’s correction.

Not intelligible

“Spiritual,” without the interference of the mind, ecstatic.  An expression of one’s own spirituality, nobody else is benefited.

      An intelligible message, although in need of interpretation if everyone is to benefit (14:7-13)

Not with the spirit at the expense of the mind, but rather with the mind also (14:15) I.e. not ecstatic (in the sense of not employing the mind) but rational A sign for unbelievers, and intended to edify the church (14:12, 22).

Observing the correctives given by Paul, and after examining the historical data concerning Hellenistic religion, H. Wayne House concludes:

Corinth was experience-oriented and self-oriented. Mystery religions and other pagan cults were in great abundance, from which cults many of the members at the Corinthian church received their initial religious instruction. After being converted they had failed to free themselves from pagan attitudes and they confused the true work of the Spirit of God with the former pneumatic and ecstatic experiences of the pagan religions…[15]

18-19 Paul, who is most able in other languages, as an example to the church in Corinth, does not flaunt this ability, but strives to serve the congregation.

Cf. Phil 3:1-7 where Paul claims all that he can with regard to a Jewish heritage, not to boast, but to show that they aren’t the all important factors in Christ. Paul claims this ability of tongues-speaking for himself not to boast, but to show that it really isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of spirituality as they seem to think.

Note the reference to “ten thousand words in a [foreign] language” in verse 19. The Greek term murious is perhaps better not translated “ten thousand.” As Fee notes, while it may literally mean (as a derivative of murioi) “ten thousand,” it is the largest word for numbers in the Greek language. [16] It carries a similar meaning to the English word derived from it, myriad, meaning a huge number. In fact, lexicographers Arndt and Gingrich don’t even give “ten thousand” as a definition, they simply give “innumerable, countless.” [17] The point then, is: “no matter how much one says in another tongue, if others can’t understand it, he has achieved less than someone who only says five words in a language that can be understood – because the one who speaks in a tongue where nobody else knows what has said has achieved absolutely nothing.”

20-22 Scriptural explanation of the use of other languages, and its relation to Israel.

The quotation from Isaiah may seem a little obscure at first. But its usage is instructive as to the nature and purpose of the phenomenon being observed. In its context in Scripture, Isaiah 28:11 foretells the judgment upon Judah at the hands of the Babylonians, a judgment from God. Because God’s people would not listen to Him, He was going to speak to them in judgment, through the lips of foreigners, those who speak words that Judah will not understand. The prophet goes on in verse 13:

Therefore, the word of the LORD will be to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line.   Here a little, there a little;”

In order that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

Different translations differ as to how they translate “precept upon precept…” etc. The NRSV has the usual and terribly unhelpful footnote, “Meaning of Heb. of this verse uncertain.” The NIV footnote says, “possibly meaningless sounds, perhaps a mimicking of the prophet’s words.” This is probably correct, given the sound of the Hebrew here, and the context. The Hebrew is:

Tsav latsav, tsav latsav, kav lakav, kav lakav, ze’er sham, ze’er sham

The NIV comment is right, it sounds like gibberish (even for Hebrew, which sounds bad enough to some people), and is probably meant to imitate the way God is going to speak to His people through these foreigners. That is, it illustrates that Judah won’t be able to understand their speech (even though it was genuine speech in real human languages). Isaiah is actually not saying anything new. This punishment for disobedience and unbelief had already been warned of in the “covenant curses” of Deuteronomy 28:49

The LORD will bring a nation from far away, from the end of the earth, to swoop down on you like an eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand…

The same kind of warning came for Israel, before the Assyrians attacked, in Jeremiah 5:15.

“I am going to bring upon you a nation from far away, O house of Israel, says the LORD. It is an enduring nation, it is an ancient nation, a nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say.”

Prophecies of this nature (including the one Paul uses) speak of the punishment of Israel and/or Judah for disobedience and unbelief. The unfolding of the events described – the actual invasion of these foreigners, the men of strange tongues that Israel didn’t understand, was a sign of judgment, a sign to them of their unbelief.

Instead of communicating to them clearly in their own native tongue, God “will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue” (vs. 11). He shall bring to pass the curse of the covenant spoken by Moses. A nation whose language is not their own shall swoop down upon them to execute God’s wrath and curse. His favorable relationship to them shall be terminated by a people whose language they cannot understand. God will speak in unfamiliar accents, “that they may go and stumble backward, be broken, snared, and taken captive” (vs. 13). [18]

Why then does Paul see it as appropriate to quote this judgment passage here in the New Testament era? It is particularly pertinent to note that the prophecies in Scripture forewarned of destruction upon Israel by invading armies. Consider the events of the first century – what was about to happen to Israel? (Hint – AD 70)

After talking about Israel’s being caused to stumble, Isaiah goes on to talk about a time when God will lay in Zion a cornerstone (or “foundation stone”). This passage is now immediately recognisable to us. Paul referred to it in Romans 9-10 to refer to Jesus – the cornerstone, who has become a stumbling block to Israel. The “cornerstone” image is used by Jesus Himself in Matthew 21. Immediately after the parable of the wicked tenants – who signified Israel rejecting the son of the vineyard owner, Jesus says in vs 42-44:

“Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes?’ Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.”

The phenomenon of Gentile tongues among the people of God is a sign of Israel’s unbelief and impending judgment. The passage Paul uses to show this points to a future event of God laying a foundation stone – Christ. This stone is rejected by Israel, and once again they stumble through unbelief. Having rejected Christ and His message, the message goes out to all the nations, and their tongues are heard amongst God’s people. Judgment is coming – and it came.

Paul had experienced Jewish unbelief firsthand in Corinth – Acts 18:5-6

But if tongues are a sign of “covenant curse,” it can also be seen as a sign of blessing. “As God turns from Israel, He turns toward all nations” [italics mine].[19]

[On the day of Pentecost,] God’s New Testament Prophets suddenly burst out spontaneously in declaring the wonderful works of God in all the languages of mankind. The sign is unmistakable. The transition has occurred. God no longer speaks singularly to a single people. He speaks in the many tongues of the many peoples of the earth. The sign of tongues is a sign of transition. A new day has dawned for the people of God. [20]

This has at least one fairly obvious implication with regard to the nature of the languages: Real human languages.

David Hill makes the observation about prophecy being a sign for believers in this verse:

Prophecy edifies… because it serves as ‘a sign for believers’ (14:22). The polemical thrust of this verse suggests that the Corinthians maintained that glossolalia serves as a sign for believers, i.e. as a proof of high pneumatic status and authority. [21]

In light of what we have seen about the purpose of tongues as having been a sign to unbelievers, in particular to unbelieving Israel, Fee is probably right when he says that 22b means that prophecy is a sign for believers, an indication of “God’s favour resting upon them.” [22] Dunn elucidates:

Prophecy is a sign, as glossolalia is a sign, in that both reveal God’s attitude – the one God’s attitude towards willful unbelief (hence a sign of judgment), the other God’s attitude towards faith. Prophecy by its inspiration and content reveals that God is present in the midst of the assembly – even the unbeliever confesses this (vv. 24 f.). [23]

While tongues are a sign that God has turned His unique favour away from one nation in particular, the presence of prophecy in a Gentile context, too, has implications with regard to God’s covenant relationship with people. As Fee notes in a footnote, [24] the older Scriptures present the absence of prophecy in Israel as a sign of the absence of God’s favour (e.g. Isaiah 29:10; Micah 3:6; Lam 2:9). If God no longer speaks to the nation of Israel through prophets, but has brought His revelation through prophets of the nations of the earth, a significant change has occurred. Coupled with the presence of tongues as a sign of Israel’s unbelief and judgment, a conclusion can be drawn:

God no longer speaks specially to Israel, but as a sign of judgment upon them for their unbelief, he speaks through all the nations of the earth. This is sign to these unbelievers of God’s having removed his covenant relationship from them. However, in speaking in revelation to all the nations of the earth (i.e. prophecy), he is showing them (i.e. a sign) that he has counted them as His people, His favour rests with them. [25] This is another reason why it was absolutely inappropriate for the Corinthians to treat tongues as a tool for personal edification, and why it is absurd to think that they ever carried the significance of a “private prayer language.” They, like prophecy, are revelation for the people of God (although unlike other prophecy, they need to be interpreted). They, like prophecy in the church, are a sign of a particular stage (i.e. transition) of God’s unfolding salvation history in the world.

23-25 The effect upon outsiders of proper and improper uses of languages and prophecy

Having seen the salvation-historical significance of tongues and prophecy, we can now make sense of an apparent contradiction. Having just stated that Prophecy is a sign for believers, Paul goes on to imagine a hypothetical scenario – an outsider comes into the church and hears people speaking in all kinds of different languages (presumably with no attempts at interpretation). He isn’t able to make any sense of what is going on, and will think you’re all crazy. However, if he comes in and hears you prophesying, and the secrets of his heart are made known, he will be convinced that God really is at work.

At first it does look like Paul has just contradicted himself. He said only a couple of verses earlier that tongues were a sign to unbelievers – yet this unbeliever who enters will say you’re mad! Paul also said that prophecy was a sign for believers – yet this unbeliever is the one who benefits from it!

But such a reading doesn’t do justice to the “covenant background” Paul has appealed to in vv. 21-22. Prophecy is a sign to believers, not because they are the only ones who benefit from it, but rather it is a sign of God’s covenant relationship with all the nations rather than just Israel. Likewise, tongues are a sign to unbelievers, not because unbelievers will understand it and be edified by it, but rather as a sign to unbelieving Israel that God is not communicating uniquely with her anymore. What Paul is doing here in vv 22-25 is not explaining the purpose and place of tongues and prophecy again, but simply illustrating that common sense dictates that tongues must be interpreted and made clear or you’ll look silly! Even an unbeliever will see how ridiculous such behaviour is, while you, drunk with your sense of spiritual “otherness,” will be blind to the fact. If, however, the revealed word of God is proclaimed, even an unbeliever can see how much more beneficial it is.

In Retrospect: Evaluating Fee’s eschatological explanation.

Fee is probably wrong. Paul’s discussion of tongues in Corinth shows that the problem is not primarily an eschatological one. It is not the case that Paul approves of what the Corinthians were doing, but that he thinks they are doing it too much out of a wrong belief that the end had come. Rather, he does not approve of it at all. His rebuke is not “wait for the end to really come – then let loose with these tongues.” Rather, it is “use tongues in the church correctly. Interpret. Edify the body. See tongues as a sign against unbelief.”

PART 2: The question of continuance

Introductory comments

Pentecostal writer Gordon Fee, while he is often critical of the Pentecostal movement, makes the following observations on the gifts of 1 Corinthians chapter 12:

Apart from the traditional Pentecostal movement, the church at large showed very little interest in this paragraph until the outbreak of some of these phenomena both in Roman Catholic and in traditional Protestant circles in the late 1950s. The result has been a considerable body of literature, both scholarly and popular, on the gifts enumerated in vv. 8-10. Most of this literature assumes that such gifts are available to Christians in all ages of the church. Although some have taken a dim view of the phenomena, most have been moderately cautious, suggesting openness to what the Spirit might do, but usually offering correctives or guidelines as well. However, there has also been a spate of literature whose singular urgency has been to justify the limiting of these gifts to the first-century church. It is fair to say of this literature that its authors have found what they were looking for and have thereby continued to reject such manifestations in the church. In can also be said that such rejection is not exegetically based, but results in every case from a prior hermeneutical and theological commitment.

Perhaps the greater tragedy for the church is that it should have lost such touch with the Spirit of God in its ongoing life that it should settle for what is only ordinary and thus feel the urgency to justify itself in this way. [26]

If we were expecting observations of scholarly integrity and Christian charity, Fee has let us down. What he has offered instead is a gratuitous and untrue string of insults that are surely beneath him. It is also a bit rich for Fee, a committed Pentecostal, to accuse those who differ with him in this regard of looking in the text for what they want to find. In fact, Fee himself has had to admit elsewhere:

Pentecostals, in spite of some of their excesses, are frequently praised for recapturing for the church her joyful radiance, missionary enthusiasm, and life in the Spirit. But they are at the same time noted for bad hermeneutics… First, their attitude toward Scripture regularly has included a general disregard for scientific exegesis and carefully thought out hermeneutics…. Secondly, it is probably fair – and important – to note that in general the Pentecostals’ experience has preceded their hermeneutics. In a sense, the Pentecostal tends to exegete his experience [emphasis added]. [27]

Having acknowledged this, it is absolutely improper for Fee to insist that those who do not share his view that all the gifts are for today “in every case” are working from a prior theological commitment, and not an earnest exegesis of Scripture. He has essentially admitted that the views of the movement that he is associated with are generally reached by a subjective experience rather than by exegesis. The sheer number of believers who have departed from Charismatic movements into more conservative circles should be sufficient to expose Fee’s unkind claim that everyone who doesn’t believe all the gifts are for today is simply working from a prior theological commitment.

To set the record (in part) straight, let us hear from a cessationist:

The point to be emphasized, here is that the cessation of certain of the charismata does not mean … that the Spirit of God is any less powerful in the church today than He was in New Testament times. The cessation of the miraculous charismata … was part of God’s programme for the church and should be viewed in terms of progress rather than loss or deprivation. [28]

An article from Banner of Truth recalls a seminar given by cessationist professor/pastor Edward Donelly on “spiritual gifts and the Bible”:

Professor Donnelly… confessed, “I really dislike this word, ‘cessationist.’ It is such a wimpish, inadequate, pathetic word! It seems to say, ‘Poor people. Nothing more for them.’ ” He told of a time when the small boys in his church were collecting footballer stickers, pestering their mothers in supermarkets to purchase a packet, not knowing what pictures would be inside, then swapping them, trying to fill completely a big album. After a long time one wee boy had collected the lot: what a relief for him. Ted did not notice the other boys looked in pity at this lad who had ceased all that frenzy of searching for an elusive sticker and saying, “He’s a cessationist.” Rather they viewed him with admiration because he was the fulfilled one. He had everything, while they were still going on and on in their long frustrating search. Ted thought that instead of “cessationist” he would prefer to be called “completist” or a “satisfiedist” or a “have-it-allist.” [29]

In order to evaluate the claims about the continuance or cessation of the spiritual gifts, we must keep ourselves back from the kind of mudslinging that Fee and those like him might wish to engage in. What is required is a spirit of openness to what we might find if we are serious about looking for answers.

As Richard Gaffin reminds us:

Scripture as a whole teaches that in His own sovereignty the Spirit has seen fit to circumscribe his activity and to structure it according to the patterns revealed there. Those patterns, not what the Spirit may choose to do beyond them, ought to be the focus and shape the expectations of the church today.[30]

The Witness of History

Tongues and prophecy ceased. Rather than a theological principle, this is said here as an historical

observation. If Fee were right about what Paul believed, “Of course they [the gifts] will continue [i.e. from Paul's day onwards] as long as we await the final consummation,”[31] then Paul was wrong. Discussing the occurrence of “tongues” in the church, church historian E. Glenn Hinson puts it like this: “The first sixteen centuries…were lean ones indeed… [I]f the first five centuries were lean the next were starvation years for the practice in Western Christendom and doubtful ones in Eastern Christendom.”[32] It is observed by many scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds (Pentecostal and otherwise), that tongues and prophecy did cease. On very few isolated occasions in the early centuries, some persons or groups made the claim to have miraculous ability of giftings in this area, but their testimony is highly dubious. [33] In any case, as Donald Dayton notes, many advocates of the charismatic gifts today are willing to grant that certain of the gifts stopped, and that what we are seeing today is an eschatological outpouring, an event of the last days. [34] Certainly if the pouring out and manifesting of God’s Spirit is an “end time” phenomenon, and if Jesus is about to return, then such a premillennial view of the re-appearance of the spiritual gifts has something going for it. [35] But it does need to be stressed that this is not comparable to saying that the gifts “continued” in the church, and it basically results in conceding the point that the gifts ceased with the Apostolic church. The dialogue with Pentecostals of this variety then would move on to being an eschatological one: Didn’t the last days begin in the New Testament? Wasn’t that the eschatological outpouring of the Spirit?

We move now to the arguments concerning continuation of the gifts from the NT time onward (or their cessation).

Revelatory Gifts

We are focusing here on what we will call revelatory gifts: Apostleship, prophecy and tongues. The reasons for this are twofold: Firstly, they carry the most theological significance (with respect to authority), and secondly, they (with the exception of Apostleship) are among the most controversial. Additionally, we don’t have unlimited time and space, so we have deliberately limited our scope in this way.


It is generally accepted (with very few exceptions) that the gift of Apostleship does not operate in the church today. There is obvious reason for this:

· In Acts 2:42, the converts to Christ “devoted themselves to the Apostles’ doctrine,” suggesting that the teaching of the Apostles carried the same kind of authority as Scripture (those Protestants among us – myself included – go further than this, noting that the Apostles’ teaching became Scripture).

· In 2 Peter 3:2, the teaching of the Apostles is equated with the teaching of the “Lord and Saviour” Himself.

· In selecting a replacement for Judas, the Apostles deliberately chose a man who had been personally involved in the earthly ministry of Jesus, and who had to be able to be a witness to His resurrection (Acts 1:21-22).

· Paul is obviously aware of this kind of strict criteria when he defends his own Apostleship, and insists, “haven’t I seen the risen Lord?” (1 Cor 9:1-2)


Wayne Grudem, a defender of the continuation of prophecy in the church today, tells his readers that there is a biblical distinction between authoritative prophecy and non-authoritative prophecy. Thus, he reasons, prophecy (non-authoritative) continues today and it is not on par with Scripture, so there is no theological problem with it functioning today.

Grudem’s conclusions are based on Paul’s discussion of prophecy in 1 Cor 14. Not wanting to detract from the next speaker’s seminar on this passage, comments here will be brief. Grudem’s first piece of evidence is 1 Cor 14:29. The NRSV reads, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” Thus, reasons Grudem,

Paul’s statement, “Let the others evaluate” (oiJ ajvlloi diakrinevtwsan), indicates that Paul had in mind the kind of evaluation whereby each person would “weigh what is said” (RSV) in his own mind, accepting some of the prophecy as good and helpful, and rejecting some of it as erroneous and misleading. [36]

While Grudem places great weight on them, it cannot go unsaid that the last three words (“what is said”) are not translations from the Greek text, but rather an interpretation of what is meant. Grudem himself knows this, as he freely concedes that the Greek simply says “let the others evaluate.” It is not, then, self-evident that what is being described as an evaluation of what a prophet says, sifting out the good from the bad. O. Palmer Robertson responds to Grudem’s claim by pointing out how the term for “evaluate” (diakrino) can be used. [37] The basic meaning is to discriminate, and it is used to point out that God has made no discrimination among Jews and Gentiles, pouring out His Spirit on both (Acts 15:9). When rebuking believers in Corinth for taking each other to court, Paul says, “Isn’t there anyone among you who is wise enough to judge a dispute between brothers?” (1 Cor 6:8). James complains that Christians have “discriminated among themselves” by showing preference to the rich over the poor (James 2:3-4). Robertson suggests that “[m]ost frequently it is used to make a distinction among people, rather than ideas or words.” [38] Whether we would follow this idea further and insist that it should always be read this way is doubtful, but also irrelevant. The point is, it certainly isn’t self-evident or even clear that 1 Corinthians 14:29 teaches that people must discern between the true and the false prophecies of a genuine prophet. Of the possible meanings of the verse, most are better suited to a view of prophecy which doesn’t require it to be non-authoritative.

· Perhaps it means the “discriminators” (those with the charisma of discernment) would identitfy those who are genuine prophets and those who are not.

· Perhaps the “others” refers to the other prophets, and they are to discriminate in terms of who will speak and in what order (10 prophets with a lot to say, for example, might take up too much time).

Setting Grudem’s thesis aside and taking into account the way New Testament Scripture talks about prophets (as in Ephesians 2 and 3 below), there doesn’t seem to be any basis for suggesting that prophecy might be non-authoritative on any occasion. Revelations from God are just that – revelations (presumably true ones). If we claim that God is revealing something through us, but we then proclaim something that does not have the authority of God, we have been mistaken (or misleading, but we’re giving the benefit of the doubt here), and in fact God has not revealed something through us.

Ephesians 2:20

Apostles and prophets, like Jesus Christ, are part of the foundation of the church. The word of the prophet carries the same kind of authority as the word of an Apostle. Like the Apostles also, the prophetic office is one that was formative and temporary, serving as a foundation that does not need to be laid again and again (just like the work of Christ, for that matter).

In case anyone thinks that “prophets” is a reference to the Old Testament, Ephesians 3:5 affirms that the “apostles and prophets” refer to a New Testament group of people who are now proclaiming what God has done in Christ.


Gordon Fee surprises us when, although he explicitly condemns cessationism as being biased and uninterested in sincere exegesis, says:

The question as to whether the “speaking in tongues” in contemporary Pentecostal and charismatic communities is the same in kind as that in the Pauline churches is moot – and probably somewhat irrelevant. There is simply no way to know. As an experienced phenomenon, it is analogous to theirs, meaning that it is understood to be a supernatural activity of the Spirit, which function in many of the same ways, and for many of its practitioners has similar value to that described by Paul. [39]

This admission, although Fee doesn’t seem to notice it, immediately robs Fee (and any “continuationists” who share his line of reasoning) of the ability to paint Paul as saying: “Of course [the gifts] will continue as long as we await the final consummation” (although this is exactly what Fee claims Paul says). [40] In making the above claim, Fee is now saying that the same phenomenon of Paul’s day (tongues) may or may not have continued, and that what we have is something analogous to it!

The exegesis of 1 Corinthians 14:1-25 offered earlier gives good grounds to believe that tongues have ceased. The phenomenon of tongues was a prophetic sign – God has included peoples from all nations in His people, and Israel was being judged for her unbelief. This judgment culminated in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. After this point, tongues are redundant. No New Testament scholar that we are aware of, whether charismatic/Pentecostal or otherwise, has ever responded to this line of argument in print.

This argument also gives good grounds to include tongues within the category of prophecy, as does the fact that they both serve the same function in 1 Cor 14 when tongues-speech is interpreted. That being the case, any reason to think that prophecy has ceased is also applicable to tongues.

1 Corinthians 13:8-11

Non-cessationist scholars have, it would seem, made it appear that the cessationist position stands or fall on this passage, perhaps because by itself this verse doesn’t make the strongest possible case for cessationism (and is therefore easier for non-cessationists to “rebut”). [41] This passage is treated last here for good reason. Cessationist writers are in fact not all in agreement that it does teach the cessation of tongues and prophecy (while obviously no cessationist thinks it teaches continuity). [42] However, it is frequently appealed to in this connection.

Here, Paul singles out prophecy, tongues and knowledge (what we would call gifts of revelation) as being temporary in some way. The basic disagreement over this passage is on what is being referred to by “the perfect” (to teleion) of verse 10. A few smaller points will be touched on when we’ll come to this term.

The “continuationist” interpretation of this verse is that offered by Fee, who says (as seen earlier) that Paul’s view of these gifts is that “Of course they will continue as long as we await the final consummation.” “When the perfect comes is taken as being equivalent to “when Christ finally returns.” But immediately some inconsistencies present themselves. Fee, like many non-cessationists, are quite willing to see tongues as an angelic heavenly language. In fact, we saw Fee earlier saying that the Corinthians were making such a great deal of these tongues because they mistakenly believed that the end had come already, so they had begun to emulate angelic behaviour. Why then, does Fee now do a turnabout and interpret this passage to say that Paul teaches that tongues will cease at the return of Christ? A respectful suggestion might be that he does so to avoid the dreaded “other” interpretation – the cessationist one.

A cessationist view of this verse is typically represented by non-cessationists by means of a straw man, a weak representation of it. A fairly typical example of such a rebuttal is used by Richard Hayes:

In dispensationalist Christian groups, it is sometimes claimed that “the complete” [to teleion] in v. 10 refers to the completion and closure of the New Testament canon, so that the charismatic gifts were only for the apostolic age and have now ceased to function in the church. This interpretation is simply nonsense. There is nothing in the passage about “the New Testament” or about a future revocation of revelatory gifts in the church. [43]

First Hayes sets up cessationists as being “dispensationalists,” which is patently false. The most scholarly representations of cessationism come not from dispensationalists but from Reformed scholars, who, being Reformed after all, are thoroughly anti-dispensational. The often cited (although Apocryphal) link between dispensationalism and cessationism is almost amusing when we consider the fact that “Classical Pentecostalism is thoroughly dispensational.” [44] Insisting on the connection between the two might serve to dodge the bullet of the more respectable proponents cessationism (i.e. the Reformed writers), and to “shelve” cessationists by categorising them unfavourably, but it is misleading. Secondly, this is clearly a circular argument. Let’s say that the cessationist says that “the perfect” refers to the closing of the New Testament canon (which they generally don’t say), and that this passage therefore teaches these gifts will be revoked at this point. How is it a rebuttal of this claim for Hays to say “but this passage says nothing about the New Testament canon or the revocation of these gifts!” Obviously this is what he would need to show, since the cessationist would be saying that this is precisely what this text refers to. He can’t use this belief as proof that the belief is true.

Craig Blomberg claims that “[a]lthough later interpreters [i.e. cessationists] may have thought otherwise, nothing in Paul supports any consciousness of his writing near the end of an apostolic age or the close of a biblical canon” [emphasis added].[45] But this is demonstrably and widely admitted to be false. While it seems clear enough that Paul did not have in mind the canon of the Nicean Council (and he certainly could not have expected the believers in Corinth to take his words this way), there is considerable evidence in Paul and elsewhere that the role of the Apostles in the early church was formative and temporary.

· Paul defends his apostleship as though it was something unique, something that others did not and could not have, because he had “seen the risen Lord.”

· Paul says that along with Jesus Himself, the New Testament apostles and prophets make up the foundation of the church (Eph 2:20) – obviously not an ongoing work.

· While we have acknowledged that Paul didn’t have a formal New Testament canon in mind, it was the apostolic and prophetic tradition that gave rise to the canon as the testimony of the apostolic witness (books not considered “apostolic” were not included).

So if Blomberg is resisting the cessationist view simply because he can’t see any evidence in Paul that the apostolic era was a temporary one, his case is flimsy. Such evidence is there to be seen. But Blomberg may appear more convincing when he notes Paul’s saying that we will see “face to face.” As he puts it, “[a]fter the Bible was written, Christians did not see God “face to face.” [46] Additionally, we do not now have absolute, “perfect knowledge of all things.” Consequently, he reasons, “the perfect” must have referred to the return of the Lord, and not to the closing of the canon or anything like that. This is probably the strongest point in the argument in favour of continuation of the gifts (concerning this passage at least).

This point has not gone unanswered. One significant point to note is that it isn’t clear that Paul means that we will see God face to face in this verse (even if he believed that we will see God at the consummation). The comparison is between seeing oneself dimly in a mirror, and seeing face to face, because when we look into a mirror we do not see God – we see our own face. This comparison would make little sense if it meant “Now we see ourselves dimly as in a mirror, but then we will see God face to face.” [47] The use of this comparison suggests that what is being referred to is an improved vision of ourselves, in a better, clearer mirror than that which we now possess, to use Paul’s analogy. Cessationist Myron Houghton comments on this saying of Paul’s: “‘Face to face’ describes the clear and direct revelation of oneself which believers today possess when they look into the mirror of the Scriptures, God’s completed revelation.” [48] Since “then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” comes immediately after the mirror analogy, and since it doesn’t say “then I shall know God as well as He knows me” (most would admit this is impossible, even in heaven), this is also quite capable of being seen as a reference to improved knowledge of oneself in the light of the revelation given through the apostolic tradition. [49] Cessationist treatment of these questions may not be any more convincing than alternative treatments, but it can at least be noted that there is a case to be made that has perhaps not been given its due credit.

Whether any of these minor arguments have merit may very well stand or fall on the use of the term “the perfect” (v.10). The Greek term is to teleion. It is used only three times in 1 Corinthians altogether, in 2:6 and 14:20.


“We do, however, speak a message wisdom among the mature…


“Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”

Elsewhere in this same epistle then, the word doesn’t carry a meaning of absolute or final perfection, but rather of maturity over and against infancy or immaturity. This is stressed further in 1 Corinthians 13 when Paul says “when I was a child… when I became a man” (v. 11). [50] The implication is that tongues, prophecy, and words of revelation (“knowledge”) are the marks of an immature or formative stage. [51] After this stage has passed, faith, hope and love will remain, but these revelatory gifts will not. [52] This is only confirmed elsewhere where we read that apostles and prophets are part of the foundation of the church, along with Christ Himself, suggesting a formative “apostolic era” in which the revealed teaching for the church is laid down, by Christ and His apostles and prophets.

This is not the same as saying that this maturity = the New Testament canon. Rather, it refers to the laying down of a body of Apostolic teaching, which was later recognised and canonised.


Arndt, W. F. and Gringich, F. W., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1958, 2nd ed.).

Andrews, E.H., The Spirit Has Come (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 1982). First published under the title The Promise of the Spirit. Published under this title in 1991.

Ashcraft, J. Morris, “Glossolalia in the First Epistle to the Corinthians,” in Dyer, Luther B. (ed.), Toungues (Jefferson: Le Roi, 1971), 60-84.

Best, Ernest, “The Interpretation of Tongues,” Scottish Journal of Theology 28:1 (1975), 45-62.

Dayton, Donald, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987)

Dunn, James D. G., Jesus and the Spirit: A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Jesus and the First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament, New Testament Library (London: SCM, 1975).

Edgar, Thomas R., “The Cessation of the Sign Gifts,” Bibliotheca Sacra 145:580 (1988), 371-386.

Fee, Gordon, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).

__________, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987).

Gaffin, Richard B., “A Cessationist View,” in Grudem, Wayne (ed.), Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: Four Views (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1996), 25-64.

Grudem, Wayne A., The Gift of Prophecy in 1 Corinthians (Lanham: University Press of America, 1982).

Hill, David, New Testament Prophecy, Marshall’s Theological Library (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1979).

Hinson, E. Glenn, Oates, Wayne E., and Stagg, Frank, Glossolalia (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1967)

Houghton, Myron J., “A Reexamination of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” Bibliotheca Sacra 153:611 (1996), 344-356.

House, H. Wayne, “Tongues and the Mystery Religions of Corinth,” Bibliotheca Sacra 140:558 (1983), 134-150.

Pearson, Birger Albert, The Pneumatikos-Pshychokos Terminoilogy: A Study in the Theology of the Corinthian Opponents of Paul and its Relation to Gnosticism, SBL Dissertation Series 12 (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1973)

Robertson, O. Palmer, “Tongues: Sign of Covenantal Curse and Blessing,” Westminster Theological Journal 38:1 (1975), 43-53.

__________, The Final Word: A Biblical Response to the Case for Tongues and Prophecy Today (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1993).

Ruthven, Jon, On the Cessation of the Charismata (Sheffield: Academic Press, 1993).

Sawyer, M. James, “Dispensationalism,” in Alister E. McGrath (ed.), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 106-112.

Smith, B.L., “Tongues in the New Testament,” Interchange 13 (1973).

Soards, Marion L., 1 Corinthians, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999).

Thiselton, Anthony C., The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000)

Thomas, Geoffrey, “Spiritual Gifts and the Bible,” Banner Articles, 19th May 2001.

[1] B.L. Smith, “Tongues in the New Testament,” Interchange 13 (1973), 19-23.

[2] Hudson F. McKenzie, natural Tongues: Exploring Acts and Corinthians (Hamilton: Walker, 1973), 36-37.

[3] One can’t help but think that a Pentecostal bias has reared its head when Fee, one of the elite in contemporary Pauline scholarship, is able to bring himself to say “all spoke in tongues.” He knows full well that this is not so, for only two chapters earlier (12:30) the apostle has pointed out that it is not the case that “all speak in tongues” any more than it is true that “all have gifts of healing.”

[4] Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 145

[5] J. Morris Ashcraft, “Glossolalia in the First Epistle to the Corinthians,” in Dyer, Luther B. (ed.), Toungues (Jefferson: Le Roi, 1971), 60.

[6] It is perhaps noteworthy that the modern rise of the charismatic practice of tongues coincides with the word “tongue” falling out of such common usage where it has a clear meaning, and into obscurity, where it can be said to have an outlandish meaning and many will be none the wiser.

[7] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 655-656.

[8] Marion L. Soards, 1 Corinthians, New International Biblical Commentary (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1999), 281.

[9] Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 1098.

[10] Ibid. Having made this undeniably true point of grammar showing who is referred to in this verse, Thiselton then goes on to express his own belief that this, in practice, would have entailed the speaker uttering unintelligible sounds and then giving articulate speech to interpret what was being expressed in tongues (perhaps rather like “interpreting” a piece of modern art?). It has been suggested in this work that the evidence of 1 Corinthians 14 militates against such a view of tongues and interpretation.

[11] Note Acts 2, where Peter quotes Joel’s prophecy that sons and daughters would prophesy, and says that it was fulfilled on that day – on the occasion of speaking in other tongues.

[12] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 660, 664-665.

[13] Ernest Best, “The Interpretation of Tongues,” Scottish Journal of Theology 28:1 (1975), 47.

[14] Birger Albert Pearson, The Pneumatikos-Pshychokos Terminoilogy: A Study in the Theology of the Corinthian Opponents of Paul and its Relation to Gnosticism, SBL Dissertation Series 12 (Missoula: Scholars Press, 1973), 45.

[15] H. Wayne House, “Tongues and the Mystery Religions of Corinth,” Bibliotheca Sacra 140:558 (1983), 147.

[16] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 675, fn. 57.

[17] W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gringich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1958, 2nd ed.), 529.

[18] O. Palmer Robertson, “Tongues: Sign of Covenantal Curse and Blessing,” Westminster Theological Journal 38:1 (1975), 44.

[19] Ibid., 48.

[20] Ibid.

[21] David Hill, New Testament Prophecy, Marshall’s Theological Library (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1979), 125.

[22] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 683.

[23] James D. G. Dunn, Jesus and the Spirit: A Study of the Religious and Charismatic Experience of Jesus and the First Christians as Reflected in the New Testament, New Testament Library (London: SCM, 1975), 231.

[24] Ibid.

[25] While notions like this could be misconstrued as being anti-Semitic, they need not be. All that is being affirmed is that God treats all nations as equal with respect to covenant relations with Himself. Israel is not disadvantaged, it merely no longer has the advantages it once enjoyed.

[26] Fee, 1 Corinthians, 600. It is equally disappointing to see John Roxborogh begin with a historical accuracy, then fall into the same kind of invective comments as Fee:

Until this century it was the common belief of most in the church that gifts of tongues and other spiritual gifts referred to in Acts and First Corinthians were only for the early church…

The belief that the gifts died out because God intended them to be restricted to the dispensation of the Apostolic Church now [i.e. since the rise of Pentecostalism] appears to be a rationalisation. A more probable explanation is that the early church found it easier to institutionalise spiritual authority so that it was confined to the official leadership. It was simply too untidy and difficult to cope with wandering prophets and people whose spiritual gifts sometimes disturbed the tranquility of congregations.

John Roxborogh, The Charismatic Movement and the Churches (Auckland: Impetus, 1996), 13.

This is a classic case of chronological snobbery, or “as-we-now-know-ism,” where it is assumed that the currently popular views are obviously correct and ancient views are archaic and outdated. It also subtly misrepresents cessationism, by portraying it as a view that says only church leadership retained the revelatory gifts after the Apostolic age. In fact, it claims that nobody did.

[27] Fee, “Hermeneutics and Historical Precedent: A Major Problem in Pentecostal Hermeneutics,” in Spittler, Russell (ed.), Perspectives on the New Pentecostalism (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976), 119-122.

[28] E.H. Andrews, The Spirit Has Come (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 1982). Go Back

[29] Geoffrey Thomas, “Spiritual Gifts and the Bible,” Banner Articles,

[30] Richard B. Gaffin, “A Cessationist View,” in Grudem, Wayne (ed.), Are Miraculous Gifts for Today: Four Views (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1996), 25.

[31] Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 893.

[32] E. Glenn Hinson, Wayne E. Oates and Frank Stagg, Glossolalia (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1967), 45-46. Cited in Thomas R. Edgar, “The Cessation of the Sign Gifts,” Bibliotheca Sacra 145:580 (1988), 373.

[33] For example, the Montanist sect of the late second century practised religious ecstasy including prophetic utterances through the lips of the prophetesses Priscilla and Maximilla. But this group has always been regarded as schismatic and deviant, in part due to the fact that their prophecies consisted largely of false predictions about the return of Christ and the location of the New Jerusalem, along with their extraordinary (perhaps Gnostic) asceticism and a zealous desire for martyrdom.

By way of an aside, it is interesting to see neo-pentecostal writers revising history to exalt Montanism as a “Reform movement” restoring to the church a spirituality which it has immediately lost after the Apostolic era. The reason for this revision, it appears, is to provide historical validity to a position (Pentecostalism) that so clearly lacks it without such revisions. E.g. Charles E. Hummel, Fire in the Fireplace: Contemporary Charismatic Renewal (London: Mowbrays, 1978), 149, or Eric Nestler, “Was Montanism a Heresy?” Pneuma 6:1 (1984), 67-78.

[34] Donald Dayton, Theological Roots of Pentecostalism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 26-28.

[35] There isn’t space to develop this line of discussion here, but it should be noted that Pentecostalism has, since its appearance in the 20th century, been almost universally associated with premillennialism and a highly futuristic view of eschatological prophecy, seeing the “last days” as a period of time just prior to Christ’s return and the rapture, a time where the Spirit would be poured out in fulfilment of the prophecies of Joel.

[36] Wayne A. Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in 1 Corinthians (Lanham: University Press of America, 1982), 62.

[37] O. Palmer Robertson, The Final Word: A Biblical Response to the Case for Tongues and Prophecy Today (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1993), 99.

[38] Ibid., 17.

[39] Fee, God’s Empowering Presence, 890, fn. 17.

[40] Ibid., 893.

[41] See for example Jon Ruthven, who makes the claim: “1 Cor. 13:8-10 is perhaps the locus classicus in the discussion on the continuation of spiritual gifts”, On the Cessation of the Charismata (Sheffield: Academic Press, 1993), 31.

[42] Richard Gaffin for example, while holding to a cessationist theology, does not consider cessationism to be taught in 1 Cor 13:8ff. See R. Fowler White, “Richard Gaffin and Wayne Grudem on 1 Cor. 13:10,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35:2 (1992), 173-181. Go Back

[43] Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation: A Biblical Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997).

[44] M. James Sawyer, “Dispensationalism,” in Alister E. McGrath (ed.), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 110.

[45] Craig L. Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 260.

[46] Ibid.

[47] While some translators have shown preference for “glass” (i.e. window) e.g. J.N Darby, the word is used elsewhere for mirror in the NT (James 1:23-24), and it makes very little sense to say that we see something “in a window!”

[48] Myron J. Houghton, “A Reexamination of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13,” Bibliotheca Sacra 153:611 (1996), 353

[49] Houghton acknowledges that this may seem fairly presumptuous. Do believers who have access to the revelation of the New Testament really know themselves as well as God Himself knows them? He replies:

However, the problem does not go away if these words are interpreted eschatologically. In eternity, will believers really know fully just as they have been fully known? The answer to this question seems to be, “Yes, but only in some limited qualified sense.” If that answer is acceptable for the eschatological interpretation, then it ought to be acceptable for this writer’s “completed canon view as well.

(Ibid., 354)

[50] Fee concedes in part when he notes that “the use of the substantive, “the perfect/complete,” which sometimes can mean “mature,” plus the ambiguity of the first analogy (childhood and adulthood) has led some to think that the contrast is between “immaturity” and “maturity” (Gospel God’s Empowering Presence, 207-208). But Fee has not conceded enough. As the author of one of the most thoroughgoing commentaries on 1 Corinthians in English, he knows full well that the word has the consistent meaning of “mature” in this epistle. Fee adds, as a reaction to this view, “But that is unlikely, since Paul’s contrasts here have to do with the partial nature of this gifts, not with the immaturity of the believers themselves” (Ibid). But this comeback is as irrelevant as it is unhelpful for Fee, since nobody claimed that Paul was referring to the immaturity of the believers here. May not the cessationist urge that the gifts are “partial” in comparison to the fuller apostolic body of teaching embodied in the New Testament?

[51] Fee’s “response” to these arguments is illustrative of his approach to the subject:

It his perhaps an indictment of Western Christianity that we should consider “mature” our rather totally cerebral and domesticated – but bland – brand of faith, with the concomitant absence of the Spirit in terms of his supernatural gifts!

(1 Corinthians, 645, fn. 23)

Note the clearly circular nature of this argument. Fee implies that it is obviously wrong to think that maturity might involve the removal of these gifts, even though the text he is commenting on expressly says that when this maturity comes these gifts will cease. In other words, in response to an exegetical case for the view that when maturity comes, certain gifts will cease, Fee has said “but that must be false because it would imply that maturity would be present without these gifts.” Yes, that is what such an exegesis would imply, pointing that out is not a rebuttal! The rest of Fee’s statement consists of emotive condemnation (e.g. “cerebral, domesticated, bland”), and contributes nothing to his position but an ugly hostility towards those with whom he differs.

[52] Houghton makes the point that there is an important sense in which faith and hope, being an assurance of the future, of things not yet seen, will not remain after the consummation. Faith is associated with being absent from the Lord, but believing that we will be with Him (2 Cor 5:6-10). As Paul himself says elsewhere, “who hopes for what he already has?” (Rom 8:23-34).

Tongues in the New Testament


A study of the Tongues in the New Testament. 

Dear friends if you are Pentecostal or charismatic and believe that the gift of tongues still exist, please do not be offended by the below article.  This is not the intent.   We are pleased with the Pentecostal evangelistic zeal and soundness in most doctrinal matters.   Pentecostals clearly teach the plan of salvation.  Also, there is a variation among Pentecostals.  They are not all the same on all issues. But we believe we are correct in saying that all Pentacostals believe in the contiuation of the Apostolic gifts.

This article is just the conclusion of a biblical study of the Greek words used for tongues.  There are two Greek words that are used for tongues in the New Testament: 1) dialektos and 2) Glossa.   The word dialektos clearly refers to specific local languages spoken in various parts of the world.   The greek word “glossa” is a word that indicates the physical organ and by *metonomy human speech.

Are Tongues in the New Testament unknown languages? 

Tongues in Acts

The first mention of the word tongue in Acts is in 1:19 where it clearly indicates a spoken language (dialektos).

 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper (idios – own) tongue  (dialektos), Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.  Acts 1:19 (KJV) Acts 1:19

Tongues in Acts chapter 2

In the above verse in Acts 1:19  tongue is a translation of the Greek word “dialektos” which indicates it was a known spoken language and dialect.  And verse 6 of chapter 2 uses the word “dialektos” to indicate that the tongues spoken at the Feast of Pentacost were known languages.  Also this indicates that the Greek word “glossa” also mentioned known spoken languages.  The word “glossa” and “dialektos” are used into changeably in these verses.  The crowd noted that almost all the Apostles and people were Galilaeans who would not normally know all these languages (dialektos).

1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues (glōssa) like fire, and it sat upon each of them.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other (heteros – other of a different kind) tongues (glōssa), as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own (idios-own particular) language (dialektos).

7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8 And how hear we every man in our own (idios – own particular) tongue (dialektos), wherein we were born?

9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

10  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues (glōssa) the wonderful works of God.

12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13  Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.  Acts 2:1-13 (KJV)

Notice Acts 2:6 “ … because that every man heard them speak in his own  (idios- own particular) language (dialektos) interprets for us the correct meaning of the word tongues (glōssa).  The tongues are actually dialects.  The Greek word dialektos refers to sub-languages of those that were there on the day of Pentacost.

Note Acts 2:11 which says “…we do hear them speak in our tongues (glossa) the wonderful works of God.”  Again I ask, if these were unknown tongues how did the people understand that the tongues (glossa) were proclaiming the “the wonderful works of God”.  These tongues must have been known intelligible languages.

Notice all the sub-language groups that Peter mentions.  Peter mentions approximately 15 sub-language groups or geographical areas as examples of the many tongues (dialects) that were spoken on the day of Pentacost.  More than likely he did not name them all.

7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues (glōssa) the wonderful works of God.

All that were present on the Day of Pentacost were Jews or Jewish proselytes.  Pentacost was one of the three Jewish feast that every male Jew was required to attend.  They had come from all over the Roman Empire “…Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.”

Gospel introduced to a New People Group – Cornelius, a Gentile God fearer

44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues (glossa), and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?   Acts 10:44-47 (KJV)

It is obvious from this passage that the tongues that were spoken were understood languages because the people witnessing the event recognized that they  “magnify God” and mentioned that the Holy Spirit was poured out just as He was on the Day of Pentacost.

In Acts 11:15 Peter says, “…the Holy Ghost fell on them , as on us at the beginning

God gave them the like gift as he did unto us….”  Acts 11:17 (KJV)

The speaking in tongues was no different than that which was on the Day of Pentacost which were intelligible languages.

Gospel preached to Disciples of John the Baptist – a new people group!

1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues (glossa), and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve.  Acts 19:1-7 (KJV)

In the Acts 19:1-7 passage above the people had only received the message of John the Baptist and had not received and believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When Paul laid his  hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them; and they spake with tongues (glossa), and prophesied.    John the Baptist’s ministry was still in the Old Covenant period.  Jesus had not yet died and risen and fully paid for all sin.

The Holy Spirit was poured out at this juncture because this was the introduction of the Gospel to a new people group and these people had not yet fully received the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Again Paul speaks in “the Hebrew tongue (dialektos)” to the Jewish people in his defense outside the Temple.  This was clearly a known language.

Acts 21:40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue (dialektos), saying,

Acts 22:1 Men, brethren, and fathers, hear ye my defence which I make now unto you.  Acts 22:2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue  (dialektos) to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) Acts 21:40- 22:1-2 (KJV

Paul gives his testimony before King Agrippa about his miraculous conversion and commission to preach to the Gentiles

Agrippa was a convert to Judaism but was a descendant of Esau.

14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue (dialektos), Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.  Acts 26:14 (KJV)

The last mention of the word “tongue”(dialektos) in the book of Acts occurs in the above verse.

You might want to read the Wikepedia article on “dialect”

Definition of DIALECT

1 a : a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language <the Doric dialect of ancient Greek>

b : one of two or more cognate languages <French and Italian are Romance dialects>

c : a variety of a language used by the members of a group <such dialects as politics and advertising — Philip Howard>

d : a variety of language whose identity is fixed by a factor other than geography (as social class) <spoke a rough peasant dialect>

e : register 4c

f : a version of a computer programming language

Origin of DIALECT

Middle French dialecte, from Latin dialectus, from Greek dialektos conversation, dialect, from dialegesthai to converse — more at dialogue

Dialect   noun (Concise Encyclopedia)

Variety of a language spoken by a group of people and having features of vocabulary, grammar, and/or pronunciation that distinguish it from other varieties of the same language. Dialects usually develop as a result of geographic, social, political, or economic barriers between groups of people who speak the same language. When dialects diverge to the point that they are mutually incomprehensible, they become languages in their own right. This was the case with Latin, various dialects of which evolved into the different Romance languages. See also koine.

The Greek word “glossa” is also used in 1 Corinthians 14.  The word “unknown” is in italics which indicates there is no word found in the original Greek for this translation, but this word was added by the translators.  This addition of the word unknown was the honest and legitimate idea which the translators thought would convey the full meaning of the word “glossa”.

Were these “tongues” actually unknown” languages?  In Acts 2 they were actual known dialects (dialektos).

Almost all the remainder of the usages of the Greek words in the New Testament are “glossa”.  My judgment is that the word “glossa” refers to the physical organ which is used by *metonymy for speech.   The word “dialektos” refers to the actual speech or language of the person.  In some Scripture passages the Greek word “glossa” is used for the actual tongue.  Note Rev. 16:10 below!

10 And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues (glōssa) for pain,  Rev 16:10 (KJV)

The Greek word dialektos is never used for the physical organ of the body.  It is only used for the actual speech and words that are spoken.

*Metonymy (pron.: /mɨˈtɒnɨmi/ mi-TONN-ə-mee)[1] is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept. Metonyms can be either real or fictional concepts representing other concepts real or fictional, but they must serve as an effective and widely understood second name for what they represent.

Chapter 14 all of the words for tongue or tongues in chapter 14 of Corinthians is the Greek word “glossa”.

1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue(glossa) edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5  I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues (glossa) , except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

6  Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues (glossa), what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. 10  There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. 12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. 13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue(glossa) pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue(glossa), my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues(glossa) more than ye all: 19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue (glossa). 20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues(glossa) and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22 Wherefore tongues(glossa) are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue(glossa), let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29  Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.  1 Cor 14:1-40 (KJV)  

What is my conclusion?

My conclusion from looking at all the Greek words (glossa) and (dialektos) is that they were all known spoken languages.  And the KJV’s insertion of the word “unknown” is a serious mistake.  Even though the KJV translators put it in italics, many Christians do not know and understand what the italics mean.  Most Christians do not have any practical understand even of other languages.

As I have mentioned in the article each of the new times when the Holy Spirit was again poured out, it was poured out when the Good News – Gospel was introduced to a New People Group other than Jews.  Remember that all the people present on the Day of Pentacost were Jewish.  All Jewish male were required to attend three of the Seven official Jewish feasts each year.  Pentacost was one of these three.

Lord willing (D.V. – divine volution) we plan to do a study on the history of the attempts by various Christian groups to revive the Apostolic gifts.  We already know of at least three.

May God bless your today and forever!

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

Where did Cain get his wife?


Where did Cain get his wife?

Brings Fruit of the ground!

Brings Fruit of the ground!

E-mail typical message we received: “Hello, I’m a hardcore Evolution believer. I’m always telling my friends who are religious, that perhaps the Bible is just another story like King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table… Even though I make some good points, in my opinion, against creationism, they still do not agree with me. That’s OK, but there is always one question that always seems to stump them… ‘If Adam and Eve were the first people on this planet, then how did the population become what it is without incest? Doesn’t the Bible state that incest is bad…?” Sincerely, Yoendry.

We don’t even know her name, yet she was discussed at the Scopes trial, mentioned in the play and movie Inherit the Wind[1] and the book and movie Contact,[2] and has been talked about in countries all over the world. Is she the most-talked-about wife in history?

Skeptics have used Cain‘s wife time and again to try to discredit the Book of Genesis as a true historical record. Sadly, most Christians have not been able to give an adequate answer to this question. As a result, the world thinks Christians cannot defend the authority of Scripture and, thus, the Christian faith.

For instance, at the historic Scopes trial in Tennessee in 1925, William Jennings Bryan, the prosecutor who stood for the Christian faith, failed to answer the question about Cain’s wife posed by the outspokenly anti-Christian ACLU[3] lawyer Clarence Darrow.[4] The world’s press was focused on this trial, and what they heard has affected Christianity to this day — Christians are seen as unable to defend the biblical record. And skeptics then make the logically fallacious jump of concluding that the biblical record is indefensible!

The agnostic Carl Sagan used this same question in his book Contact[5] (which was on The New York Times best-seller list), and the movie Contact, which was based on Sagan’s book, also used it.

In the book, the fictional character Ellie could not get answers about Cain’s wife, and other questions, from a minister’s wife, who was the leader of a church discussion group.[6]

Sagan cleverly used common questions — such as “Who was Cain’s wife?” — questions that are often directed at Christians in an attempt to prove the Bible cannot be defended.

Sadly, most Christians probably could not answer these questions! And yet, there are answers. But, since most churches are lacking in the teaching of apologetics,[7] particularly in regard to the Book of Genesis, most believers in the church are not “ready always to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Why Is It Important?

Many skeptics have claimed that, for Cain to find a wife, there must have been other “races” of people on the earth who were not descendants of Adam and Eve. To many people, this question is a stumbling block to accepting the creation account in Genesis and its record of only one man and woman at the beginning of history — a record on which many Old and New Testament doctrines depend.

Defenders of the gospel must be able to show that all human beings are descendants of one man and one woman (Adam and Eve) — as only those people who are descendants of Adam and Eve can be saved. Thus, believers need to be able to account for Cain’s wife and show clearly that she was a descendant of Adam and Eve. (The relevant Bible passage is Genesis 4:1-5:5.)

Before we answer this question, we will first show how important it is to the meaning of the gospel.

Adam is alone!

Adam is alone!

The First Man

Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed on all men inasmuch as all sinned (Romans 5:12).

We read in 1 Corinthians 15:45 that Adam was “the first man.” God did not start by making a whole group of men.

The Bible makes it clear that only the descendants of Adam can be saved. Romans 5 teaches that we sin because Adam sinned. The death penalty, which Adam received as judgment for his sin of rebellion, also passed on to all his descendants.

Since Adam was the head of the human race when he “fell,” we who were in the loins of Adam “fell” also. Thus, we are all separated from God. The final consequence of sin would be separation from God in our sinful state forever. However, the good news is that there is a way for us to return to God!

Because a man brought sin and death into the world, all the descendants of Adam need a sinless Man to pay the penalty for sin and the resulting judgment of death. However, the Bible teaches that “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23). What is the solution?

Jesus Christ is the second Adam.

The Last Adam

God provided the solution — a way to deliver man from his wretched state. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15 that God provided another Adam! The Son of God took on a human nature in addition to His full divinity, becoming a perfect God-man — Jesus Christ. In His humanity He was a descendant of Adam (through Noah, Abraham and David) — He thus became our relation! He is called “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45), because he took the place of the first Adam. He became the new head and, because he was sinless, He was able to pay the penalty for sin:

  For since by a man came death, by a man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).[8]  

Christ suffered death (the penalty for sin) on the cross, shedding his blood (“without shedding of blood is no remission” Hebrews 9:22) so that those who repent of their sin of rebellion and put their trust in His work on the cross can be reconciled to God.Since the Bible describes all human beings as sinners, except the God-Man Jesus, and we are all related (“And He has made all nations of men of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth” Acts 17:26), the gospel makes sense only on the basis that all humans alive and all who have ever lived are descendants of the first man Adam.[9] If this were not so, then the gospel could not be explained or defended.

The Book of Hebrews amplifies how Jesus took upon himself the nature of a man to save mankind (Hebrews 2:11-18).Thus, only descendants of the first man Adam can be saved.

All Related

Thus, there was only one man at the beginning — made from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). This also means that Cain’s wife was a descendant of Adam. She could not have come from another “race” of people and must be one of Adam’s descendants.

Eve, Mother of all living!

Eve, Mother of all living!

Eve, Mother of all living!

The First Woman In Genesis 3:20 we read, “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.”[10] In other words, all people are descendants of Adam and Eve — she was the first woman.

Eve was made from Adam’s rib (or side) (Genesis 2:21-24) — this was a unique event. Jesus (Matthew 19:4-6) and Paul (Ephesians 5:31) use this historical and one-time event as the doctrinal foundation for the marriage of one man to one woman. Also, in Genesis 2:20, we are told that when Adam looked at the animals, he could not find a mate — there was no one of his kind.

All this makes it obvious that there was only one woman, Adam’s wife, at the beginning. There were never any other women around who were not Eve’s descendants.

If Christians cannot defend that all humans (including Cain’s wife) can trace their ancestry ultimately to Adam and Eve, then how can they understand and explain the gospel? How can they justify sending missionaries to every tribe and nation?

Therefore, one needs to be able to answer the question about Cain’s wife, to illustrate that Christians can defend the gospel and all that it teaches.

Cain’s Brothers and Sisters

Cain was the first child of Adam and Eve recorded in Scripture (Genesis 4:1). His brothers, Abel (Genesis 4:2) and Seth (Genesis 4:25), were part of the first generation of children ever born on this earth.

Even though only these three males are mentioned by name, Adam and Eve had other children. In Genesis 5:4 a statement sums up the life of Adam and Eve — “And the days of Adam after he had fathered Seth were eight hundred years. And he fathered sons and daughters.” This does not say when they were born. Many could have been born in the 130 years (Genesis 5:3) before Seth was born.

During their lives, Adam and Eve had a number of male and female children. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that, “The number of Adam’s children, as says the old tradition, was thirty-three sons and twenty-three daughters.”[11]

The Bible does not tell us how many children were born to Adam and Eve. However, considering their long life spans (Adam lived for 930 years — Genesis 5:5), it would seem reasonable to suggest there were many! Remember, They were commanded to “Be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).

The Wife

If we now work totally from Scripture, without any personal prejudices or other extra-biblical ideas, then back at the beginning, when there was only the first generation, brothers would have had to have married sisters or there would be no more generations!

We are not told when Cain married or any of the details of other marriages and children, but we can say for certain that some brothers had to marry their sisters at the beginning of human history.

But what about God’s Laws?

Many people immediately reject the conclusion that Adam and Eve’s sons and daughters married each other by appealing to the law against brother-sister intermarriage. Some say that you cannot marry your relation. Actually, if you don’t marry your relation, you don’t marry a human! A wife is related to her husband even before they marry because all people are descendants of Adam and Eve — all are of “one blood.” The law forbidding marriage between close relatives was not given until the time of Moses (Leviticus 18-20). Provided marriage was one man to one woman for life (based on Genesis 1 and 2), there was no disobedience to God’s law originally when close relatives (even brothers and sisters) married each other.

Remember that Abraham married his half-sister (Genesis 20:12). God blessed this union to produce the Hebrew people through Isaac and Jacob. It was not until some 400 years later that God gave Moses laws that forbade such marriages.

Biological Deformities

Today, brothers and sisters (and half-brothers and half-sisters, etc.) are not permitted by law to marry because their children have an unacceptably high risk of being deformed. The more closely the parents are related, the more likely it is that any offspring will be deformed.

There is a very sound genetic reason for such laws that is easy to understand. Every person has two sets of genes, there being some 130,000 pairs that specify how a person is put together and functions. Each person inherits one gene of each pair from each parent. Unfortunately, genes today contain many mistakes (because of sin and the Curse), and these mistakes show up in a variety of ways. For instance, some people let their hair grow over their ears to hide the fact that one ear is lower than the other — or perhaps someone’s nose is not quite in the middle of his or her face, or someone’s jaw is a little out of shape — and so on. Let’s face it, the main reason we call each other normal is because of our common agreement to do so!

The more distantly related parents are, the more likely it is that they will have different mistakes in their genes. Children, inheriting one set of genes from each parent, are likely to end up with pairs of genes containing a maximum of one bad gene in each pair. The good gene tends to override the bad so that a deformity (a serious one, anyway) does not occur. Instead of having totally deformed ears, for instance, a person may only have crooked ones! (Overall, though, the human race is slowly degenerating as mistakes accumulate, generation after generation.)

However, the more closely related two people are, the more likely it is that they will have similar mistakes in their genes, since these have been inherited from the same parents. Therefore, a brother and a sister are more likely to have similar mistakes in their genes. A child of a union between such siblings could inherit the same bad gene on the same gene pair from both, resulting in two bad copies of the gene and serious defects.

Adam and Eve did not have accumulated genetic mistakes. When the first two people were created, they were physically perfect. Everything God made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), so their genes were perfect — no mistakes! But, when sin entered the world (because of Adam — Genesis 3:6, Romans 5:12), God cursed the world so that the perfect creation then began to degenerate, that is, suffer death and decay (Romans 8:22). Over thousands of years, this degeneration has produced all sorts of genetic mistakes in living things.

Cain was in the first generation of children ever born. He (as well as his brothers and sisters) would have have received virtually no imperfect genes from Adam or Eve, since the effects of sin and the Curse would have been minimal to start with (it takes time for these copying errors to accumulate). In that situation, brother and sister could have married with God’s approval, without any potential to produce deformed offspring.

By the time of Moses (a few thousand years later), degenerative mistakes would have built up in the human race to such an extent that it was necessary for God to forbid brother-sister (and close relative) marriage (Leviticus 18-20).[12] (Also, there were plenty of people on the earth by then, and there was no reason for close relations to marry.)

Cain and the Land of Nod

Some claim that the passage in Genesis 4:16-17 means that Cain went to the land of Nod and found a wife. Thus, they can conclude there must have been another race of people on the earth, who were not descendants of Adam, who produced Cain’s wife.

And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bore Enoch: and he built a city, and he called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.

From what has been stated previously, it is clear that all humans, Cain’s wife included, are descendants of Adam. However, this passage does not say that Cain went to the land of Nod and found a wife. John Calvin, commenting on these verses, states:

From the context we may gather that Cain, before he slew his brother, had married a wife; otherwise Moses would now have related something respecting his marriage.[13]

Cain was married before he went to the land of Nod. He didn’t find a wife there, but “knew” (had sexual relations with) his wife.[14]

Others have argued that because Cain built a “city” in the land of Nod, there must have been a lot of people there. However, the Hebrew word translated as “city” need not mean what we might imagine from the connotations of “city” today. The word meant a “walled town” or a protected encampment.[15] Even a hundred people would be plenty for such a “city.” Nevertheless, there could have been many descendants of Adam on the earth by the time of Abel’s death (see below).

Cain becomes the first murder!

Cain becomes the first murder!

Who Was Cain Fearful Of? (Genesis 4:14)

Some claim that there had to be lots of people on earth other than Adam and Eve’s descendants, otherwise Cain would not have been fearful of people wanting to slay him for killing Abel.

First of all, in the days before civil government was instituted to punish murderers (Genesis 9:6), someone would want to harm Cain for killing Abel only if they were closely related to Abel! Strangers could hardly have cared. So the people Cain was afraid of could not have been another race of people.

Second, Cain and Abel were born quite some time before Abel’s death. Genesis 4:3 states:

And in the course of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord.

Note the phrase “in the course of time.” We know that Seth was born when Adam was 130 years old (Genesis 5:3), and Eve saw him as a “replacement” for Abel (Genesis 4:25). Therefore, the period from Cain’s birth to Abel’s death may have been 100 years or more — allowing plenty of time for other children of Adam and Eve to marry and have children and grandchildren. By the time Abel was killed, there could well have been a considerable number of descendants of Adam and Eve, involving several generations.

Where Did the Technology Come From?

Some claim that for Cain to go to the land of Nod and build a city he would have required a lot of technology that must have already been in that land, presumably developed by other “races.”

However, Adam and Eve’s descendants were very intelligent people. Jubal made musical instruments such as the harp and organ (Genesis 4:21), and Tubal-Cain worked with brass and iron (Genesis 4:22).

Because of intense evolutionary indoctrination, many people today think that our generation is the most intelligent that has ever lived on this planet. But just because we have jet airplanes and computers, it does not mean that we are the most intelligent. Modern technology results from the accumulation of knowledge. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.

Our brains have suffered from 6,000 years of the Curse (since Adam). We are greatly degenerated compared with people many generations ago. We may now be nowhere near as intelligent or inventive as Adam and Eve’s children. Scripture gives us a glimpse of what appears to be great inventiveness from the beginning.[16]


Many Christians cannot answer the question about Cain’s wife because they focus on today’s world (and the problems associated with close relations marrying), and do not understand the clear historical record God has given to us. They try to interpret Genesis from our present situation, rather than understand the true biblical history of the world and the changes that have occurred because of sin. Because they are not building their world view on Scripture, but taking a secular way of thinking to the Bible, they are blinded to the simple answers.

Genesis is the record of the God who was there as history happened. It is the word of One who knows everything, and who is a reliable witness from the past. Thus, when we use Genesis as a basis for understanding history, we can make sense of questions that would otherwise be a mystery.

[ Read more about Cain in our Bible Encyclopedia. ] Learn more What was Adam, the first man, really like? This popular answer is in our children’s section, but it’s written on a level that adults will enjoy.


    1. A “Hollywood” version of the famous Scopes Trial. The play claimed not to be based on the real Scopes, but it was clearly intended to be seen as a representation of the Scopes Trial. See footnote 3.
      Ken Ham, “The Wrong Way Round!” Creation, 1996, 18(3):38-41.
      D. Menton, “Inherit the Wind: An Historical Analysis,” Creation, 1997, 19(1):35-8. Menton documents the gross distortion and anti-Christian bigotry of the play.
    2. Contact, released July 11, 1997, a Robert Zemeckis Film, Warner Bros., based upon Contact by Carl Sagan (New York: Pocket Books, 1985).
    3. American Civil Liberties Union — an organization at the forefront of attempts to remove all vestiges of Christianity from public life in the United States.
    4. The World’s Most Famous Court Trial, The Tennessee Evolution Case (a word-for-word report), Bryan College, 1990 (reprinted original edition), p. 302.
    5. Sagan, Contact.
    6. Ibid, pp. 19-20.
    7. Apologetics — from the Greek word apologia, meaning to give a defense. Christian apologetics provides a defence of our faith in Jesus Christ and our hope in him for our salvation (1 Peter 3:15). This requires a thorough knowledge of Scripture, including the doctrines of creation, original sin, curse, flood, virginal conception, life, and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, the Cross, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, the Second Coming, and the New Heaven and New Earth. It involves explaining these doctrines logically, so as to justify one’s faith and hope in Jesus Christ. Finally, one needs to be able to defend these doctrines, and the Bible in general, from attacks by unbelievers.
    8. In this passage, the Greek word for “man” is in the singular (“a man”).
    9. Eve, in a sense, was a “descendant” of Adam in that she was made from his flesh and thus had a biological connection to him (Genesis 2:21-23).
    10. The Hebrew literally means “she was to be the mother of all living.”
    11. William Whiston, translator, The Complete Works of Josephus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1981), p. 27.
    12. Some have claimed this means God changed His mind by changing the laws. But God did not change His mind — because of the changes that sin brought, and because God never changes, He introduced new laws for our sake. Also, there is in the Bible a progressive revealing of the Messianic program which was in the mind of God from eternity. See R. Grigg, “Unfolding the Plan,” Creation, 1998, 20(3):22-24.
    13. John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker House, 1979), Vol. 1, p. 215.
    14. Even if Calvin’s suggestion concerning this matter is not correct, there was still plenty of time for numerous descendants of Adam and Eve to move out and settle areas such as the land of Nod.
    15. Strong’s Concordance: “city, town, a place guarded by waking or a watch in the widest sense (even of a mere encampment or post).”
  • See D. Chittick, The Puzzle of Ancient Man (Newberg, OR: Creation Compass, 1997).

“Collective concentrated genetic pools”

There is also another comment which I would like to make.   It is obvious that Eve received her DNA from Adam.  So would Adam have been having incest with himself when he had sexual  relations with his wife Eve.  All DNA in the world has its ultimate source in Adam.  The author of the above  article does an excellent job of presenting the non-incest moral idea that Cain married his sister.  At the time of the Mosaic Code no one understood DNA and genetics.  However, our ever wise glorious God understands all things.  So God provided the Law of Consanguinity in the Mosaic code to protect mankind from enormous genetic defects and deformities’ in our offspring.  Even the 10 Commandments are for our good.   One person said it this way: God was just saying to us by the 10 commandments “Son, don’t do yourself any harm!”  In the State of Illinois it is against the law to marry closer than a second cousin, except if she is over 50 years old.  Why 50 years old?  Probably at the time this law was written it was assumed that no woman over 50 years old would be fertile and could conceive a child.

Please also read the articles under

01 People Groups!

02 What is Race?

03 Idea of Race

04 Race, Ethnicity, and Human Variation

05 Thomas Sowell on Race

Thomas Sowell is a great black economists along with many other black persons that prove that black people are not innately inferior.

The terminology of “race” is both antequated and scientifically incorrect.  The term should be “People groups”.  Our recent scientific understanding of DNA and genetics clearly indicates this.  The terminology of “race” arose as a result of macro-evolutionary thinking.

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14


Who is the Restrainer?


Who is the Restrainer?

Who is the Restrainer in 2 thess. 2:6-7?  Well, Robert Van Kampen seems to have come up with a clear understanding and interpretation of this difficult passage.  I will not list all the other interpretations.  He likewise coordinates it with the other Scripture that relates to this subject.   He has contributed an important piece to the end-time puzzle.  

Van Kampen clearly states that the Restrainer is Michael the Archangel.  He does a somewhat exhaustive explanation of how he arrived at this conclusion.   Without being unclear I will attempt to present his excellent argument.   According to Van Kampen, the Restrainer is Michael the Archangel.

6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.  

2 Thess 2:6-7 (NKJV)

The Thessalonian believers had already been taught this matter.  There will be three things that occur about the same time:  1) the Great Apostacy,  2) the removal of Michael as Israel’s protector, and 3) the revealing of Anti-Christ.

There are three passages of Scripture that Van Kampen uses to explain the role of Michael:  1) Daniel 12:1, 2) 2 Thess. 2:6,7 and  3) Rev. 12.

Key to this interpretation is in the statement  “…Michael stand up”  Dan 12:1 (KJV)

Below the author of this article has inserted Robert Van Kampen’s large Technical Note.  This information comes from his excellent bookThe Sign – of Christ’s Coming And the End of The Age.  If you are truly interested in the timing of the Rapture read Van Kampen’s book and Marven Rosenthal’s book The Prewrath Rapture of the Church.  Both of these authors added the missing pieces to the End-time puzzle of the approximate timing of the Rapture.  Even with this information we will not know the exact timing of the Rapture but only the approximate time.  If you cannot afford either of these books, you might to read information on two excellent Prewrath Websites:  1)  2) .  By now there may be many other Prewrath websites.  The Prewrath interpretation answers questions that none of the other three Rapture interpretations answer.

Antichrist Revealed – chapter 11

pp.  231-233


1. See Strong’s, #5975 which, along with the KJV, gives the definition of ‘amad as “stand up.” On the other hand, Rashi, one of Israel’s greatest scholars, understood “stand up” to lit­erally mean “stand still” (Judah J. Slotki, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah [London: Soncino, 1978], p. 101). For this reason, the Midrash, commenting on this verse, says, “The holy one, Blessed be He, said to Michael, ‘You are silent? You do not defend my children’” (Ruth Rabbah I). See other NASB texts where the same Hebrew word is used: 1 Sam. 9:27 (“remain standing”); 2 Sam. 2:28 (“halted”); 2 Kings 4:6 (“stopped”); Judg. 7:21 (“stood in his place”). See also Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ‘amad (#1637), “stand, remain, endure”; and Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 764a.2a. Cf. “stand still, stop, cease mov­ing” (Josh. 10:13; Hab. 3:11; 1 Sam. 9:27; 2 Sam. 2:28; Nah. 2:9); “stop flowing” (2 Kings 4:6), p. 764a, 2d “stop, cease doing” (Gen. 26:35; 30:9; 2 Kings 13:18; Jonah 1:15), p. 764c, 6a.


The verb ‘amad in Daniel 12:1 is ordinarily rendered as “will arise,” “will stand up,” or the like. But such a rendering makes little sense in the context of what immediately follows in that verse: “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”

In the grammatical order of the Hebrew text, as reflected in most English versions, “the time of distress” (Dan. 12:lb) occurs between Michael’s “arising”(v. la) and the rescue of the people from this great time of distress (v. 2a). In other words, first Michael arises or stands still, next comes an unparalleled time of distress for God’s people (in this case, Israel, be­cause of its Old Testament setting), and then His people are rescued. But why, one wonders, would the “great prince who stands guard over” Israel arise before his people are about to be persecuted, not raising a hand to help them until much later?

The angel who speaks to Daniel in this vision has already told the prophet, “There is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces [the demonic "prince" who empowered Persia] except Michael your prince” (Dan. 10:21; cf. v. 13). In the New Testament we are told that “there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon” (Rev. 12:7). These passages describe the ministry of Michael as a ministry, in part, of restraint. The Hebrew phrase translated “stands firmly . . . against” has the basic meaning of being strong, holding fast, and restraining. In other words, it is Michael who restrains the demonic forces in their unrelenting attacks against Israel. What, then, would be the point of calling attention to Michael’s arising if all he did was to look down on God’s people being tormented?

As demonstrated at the beginning of this note, what most translators translate “will arise” for this particular passage can equally be translated “stand still.” In Joshua 10:13 that same root term is twice translated “stopped” in both the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version—”So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day” (NASB, emphasis added).  

In complete agreement with the noted Jewish rabbi Rashi, this writer takes the positionthat “stand still” is the correct translation instead of “stand up,” as it seems to be the most appropriate translation for Daniel 12:1. In other words, Michael will not stand up, or arise, in order to defend Israel during the terrible time of persecution that follows immediately, but rather he will “stand still” or “stop” doing what he normally does, which is to stop his activ­ity of restraining the demonic forces of Satan, thereby allowing Antichrist to reveal his true identity to the world and to vent his full fury on God’s people. As soon as Michael stops his work of restraint, the “time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation” will begin. This is why this precise period of time is called the wrath of Satan (Rev. 12:12).

In light of that translation and interpretation of Daniel 12:1, Paul’s meaning in a remark­ably similar passage in 2 Thessalonians becomes much clearer: “And you know what re­strains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is al­ready at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (2:6, 7). From the context, we know that the “him” referred to in verse 6 refers back to Antichrist, “the man of lawlessness . .. the son of destruction” (v. 3). Thus, the restrainer in 2 Thessalo­nians 2:7 (“he who restrains”) must certainly be Michael, the same restrainer Daniel refers to in 10:21 and 12:1.

Daniel’s reference to a “time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time” is almost identical to Jesus’ description of the “great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matt. 24:21), plac­ing the timing of both of these passages at the midpoint of the seventieth week. The Old Tes­tament passage is written for “the woman,” faithful Israel, the New Testament passage, the church, the “rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and to the testimony of Jesus.”


Thus, the restrainer will be removed just prior to the revealing of Antichrist, when he “ex­alts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God . . .” (2 Thess. 2:4), something he could never do on his own unless the re-strainer is first removed.

2. The Egyptian ruler would be either the pharaoh whom Scripture identifies only as a “new king [who] arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph,” who began the enslavement and persecution of the children of Israel who had come to dwell there under Joseph (Exod. 1:8-12), or the pharaoh who opposed Moses and tried to make the Israelites return to Egypt after the Exodus had already begun (Exod. 4:21). In the first instance, secular history would suggest that pharaoh to be Amenhotep I (ca. 1546-1525) or Thutmoses I (ca. 1525-1508). In the second, he would most probably be Amenhotep II (ca. 1450-1425). In either case, the ancestry of the Egyptian Pharaohs was Hamitic, through Mizraim.

The ruler of Assyria would be Tiglath-pileser III, or his son and successor Shalmaneser V, ‘who reigned from 727 to 722 and is mentioned by name in 2 Kings 17:3-6. His ancestry was Semitic, through Asshur.

The Babylonian Empire ruler is specifically identified as Nebuchadnezzar, the statue’s head of gold (Dan. 2:28, 37, 38). His ancestry was either Semitic, through Arpachshad (see Gen. 10:22), or Hamitic, through Gush and Nimrod.

Neither Scripture nor secular history nor archaeology reveals, for sure, who the Medo-Persian beast empire king may have been (who, in particular, tried to destroy the nation of Is­rael), but the Book of Esther would seem to allow for that leader to have been Haman. Al­though he was never crowned, the actual king, Ahasuerus, temporarily delegated virtual kingly authority to Haman by giving him the royal signet ring and authorizing Hainan’s request to ex­terminate the Jews, whom he had falsely accused of treason (Esth. 3:8-11). Haman is called a descendant of Hammedatha, the Agagite (Esth. 3:1). Agag was king of the Amalekites, who were descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:12), making Haman a Semite. On the other hand, King Ahasuerus (ca. 486-465 , (the name being a Hebrew transliteration of the Persian Khshayar-sha; Xerxes in Greek) was Persian and therefore of Japhetic lineage through Tiras.


The Greek beast empire ruler was either Alexander the Great, as suggested by Daniel 8:5-8 and 11:13, or Antiochus Epiphanes (ca. 175-163 ), as suggested by Daniel 8:9-14 and 11:21-35. Antiochus seems by far to be the more likely candidate because he is so clearly a type of Antichrist. Like Haman, he was not the most powerful leader in Greece, but he was, also like Haman, the greatest enemy of God’s people Israel. His ancestry was Japhetic, through Javan, and the land that he eventually ruled, Syria, had a huge population of Greeks residing there. He was definitely not of Roman lineage.

3. See Allan Massie, The Caesars (New York: Franklin Watts, 1984), p. 171; The Encyclo­pedia Britannica, “Rome, Ancient, Emperors.”

4. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960), p. 5. -

May God bless your today and forever.

 Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

Academic Arrogance


Academic Arrogance (tract distribution)

How in the World do some truly educated Christians hold the views that they do?   But academic arrogance is the special province of college and university professors.  This arrogance is not confined to only unbelievers.  This is also, an issue with Christian college and Seminary professors.  Unfortunately, any Christian can suffer from arrogance.

Paul mentions this problem as being a sign of spiritual and moral decline.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…. “ Romans 1:21-22 (KJV)

Even though Paul wrote these words primarily with reference to unbelieving Gentiles, they are applicable to all mankind, even religious believers.

Arrogance stultifies the mind and negatively impacts on both the moral and spiritual condition of anyone.

It is indeed interesting that in the Greek language of Romans 1:22 the word “wise” is sophos” from which we get our word sophisticated or sophistication which generally means “worldly wise”.   But the second Greek word for fools, mōrainō—is from the root word mōrosfrom which we get our word moron.

When our church had a new interim Pastor he zoomed into the office where I was stamping church tracts.  He asked me what I was doing.   Then he asked me to see the tract rack.   Almost immediately he said, “I do not think that tracts are very effective.” I totally disagreed with him.  He said, “I believe in relationship evangelism.”  I stated that I  also believed in relationship evangelism, but I believe there are many ways to get the Good News of salvation and Eternal life to people.   Then I quoted what the Apostle Paul had wrote “…I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” 1 Cor 9:22 (KJV)

He had been the President of a well-known Seminary.  Unfortunately he was wrong about tracts and other forms of Christian literature.  Anyone who has studied the history of tract distribution would know better than to say such an uninformed thing.  About two or more months ago, Chick Publication had an article in it about Christian colleges and Seminaries depreciating the value of Christian tract distribution. Tracts have been one of the great evangelistic forces and tools in Christian history.   Only an armchair theologian would make such a derogatory statement.  This type statement shows deterioration in Christian understanding.   This man’s evaluation was worldly in that he didn’t understand that tracts are given out in faith.   A tract distributor knows that many if not most of the tracts he distributes will not be immediately read or acted upon.  The message of the tract may not bear fruit until many years later.  Thus anyone that distributes tracts must have faith that God will work through them even if at a later date.  The below testimonies demonstrates this fact.

Paul wrote “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”  1 Cor 3:6 (KJV)

We are God’s instruments and the Holy Spirit’s tools.

Campus Crusade states it like something like this: “Witnessing is simply share Christ and the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”   God gives the increase.

Why do I talk about arrogance when talking about tract distribution.

Pride is one of the reasons that Christians do not distribute tracts.  They fear embarrassment.  

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”  James 4:10 (KJV)

“God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:”  1 Peter 5:5-6 (KJV)

“Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” Romans 12:16 (KJV)

Also, Christians fear they will not be successful.  Also, Christians do not want to appear odd.   Many Christians falsely believe that only those that have the gift of evangelism can distribute tracts and witness.   Some people may be better in this area but everyone can distribute tracts.  One primary reason why Christians do not distribute tracts and witness is because they have no leadership model in their church.   Many times their pastor does not do personal witnessing or tract distribution.  All the churches that I know that do tract distribution or witnessing has a pastor that does it.

Tract distribution and witnessing needs to be learned through training and experience.  You will generally only learn tract distribution and witnessing by going with someone that already does it.  Witnessing and tract distribution cannot be learned in a class room. 

You must begin slowly and as you do you will develop different ways of getting the Good News of eternal life to the unsaved. 

Every reason (excuse) you have for not witnessing or distributing tracts is a deception of Satan.

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. “ Prov 29:25 (KJV)

God has commanded us to get the Gospel to all people!

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations (ethnos =Gentiles), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”   Matt 28:18-20 (KJV)

“Go ye into all the world, and preach (kēryssō = proclaim ) the gospel to every creature.”  Mark 16:15 (KJV)

Only Two Words

“This is what I think of your tracts!” growled a passenger standing by the rail of an ocean liner. A Christian had offered him gospel literature which he accepted with a malicious scowl. Then with a flourish he tore the tract into tiny pieces, cradled them for a moment in his hand, and finally tossed them over the rail.

The Christian went away with a heavy heart, while the unbeliever headed for the ship’s bar. As he lifted the intemperate glass to his lips, however, he noticed a small piece of paper hanging from his shirt. He pulled it off, inspected it, and discovered it was one piece of the discarded tract. Only one word appeared—”God.” The man turned the paper over and was startled to read, “eternity.” Those words pierced his soul. For hours he seemed to see them in letters of light—”God, eternity.” Liquor would not chase them from his memory. He tried gambling and dancing and conversation, but whatever he did, and wherever he went, the solemn words, “God” and “eternity” haunted him. In desperation for relief he looked for the tract distributor who joyously led him into a redemptive relationship with God by which the sinner was brought into eternal life.

Saved Through a Fish Wrapper

Don’t be discouraged to see Gospel Tracts discarded after you pass them out. God has used countless “recycled” tracts to bring salvation to souls. Following is one such story received from a third-world country about the Gospel periodical, Moments For You.

Dear Friends,

I gave my life to Jesus Christ through the work of your magazine, Moments For You. I was living in sin and a miserable life, though I am a churchgoer. I attended service every Sunday, yet I didn’t know Christ. I didn’t know what it meant to be saved, though I was a communicant.

One day a page of Moments For You was used to wrap a fish for me. After I was finished eating the fish, I used it to wipe my hands. Later I opened it and read where I could see clearly the words, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8, 9).

After reading it again and again, I fell on my knees and confessed my sins to God and found forgiveness.

Trust God to use the tracts you distribute, and don’t ever forget to pray.

Soul-winning Sole

A shoemaker received a tract from a customer one day, and did not care to read it so he used it as part of the lining of a shoe he was making. The shoe with the hidden message was purchased, and used for a long time until it was well-worn and in need of repair.

It was taken to another shoemaker, who removed the worn-out sole and discovered the hidden messenger. He was immediately struck by the title, and read the whole message. It was the Word of God delivered to him in a most unusual way, and it awakened him to a sense of his sin and need of salvation. He turned his eyes in faith to Christ, and found salvation for his soul.

So go on with your work, tract distributor—”in the morning sow thy Seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (Ecclesiastes 11:6).

—Inglis Fleming

What a Tract Can Do

Early in 1819, while waiting to see a patient, a young physician in New York took up and read a tract on missions, which lay in the room where he sat.

On reaching home he spoke to his wife of the question that had arisen in his mind. As a result, they set out as foreign missionaries for Ceylon, and later, India. For thirty years the wife, and for thirty-six years the husband labored among the people there, and then went to receive their reward.

Apart from what they did directly as missionaries, they left behind them seven sons and two daughters. Each of these sons married, and with their wives and both sisters, gave themselves to the same mission work. Before long, several grandchildren of the first missionary become missionaries in India. And thus it was soon that thirty of that family had given 529 years to the Lord in India, and Glory will only reveal the fruit of that one tract.

Tried and True

“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (Ecclesiastes 11:6).

The circulation of tracts as a means of preaching the Gospel is actually older than the art of printing. Wycliffe, the reformer, was a great writer and distributor of tracts, employing his pupils and friends to multiply copies by hand. Martin Luther was a worker through tracts as well, but with the help, however, of the printing press, which came to his aid. Two hundred years later, Count Zinzendorf, another devoted reformer, made extensive use of the printing press in the spreading of Gospel tracts.

All these years our God has been watching over these silent messengers, and, no one but the Lord Himself can tell into how many hands they have fallen, and how many hearts have been moved to receive the truth as to God’s salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Richard Gibbs wrote a tract entitled, “The Bruised Reed.” A tin peddler gave it to a man named Richard Baxter: through reading it he was brought to Christ. He then wrote, “A Call to the Unconverted.” Among the thousands saved through it was Phillip Doddridge, who wrote “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul.” It fell into the hands of William Wilberforce, the emancipator of the slaves in the British Colonies, and led him to Christ. Wilberforce wrote, “A Practical View of Christianity,” which fired the heart of Leigh Richmond. He wrote “The Dairyman’s Daughter,” of which as many as four million copies were circulated, as it testified for Christ in over fifty different languages.

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).

Hope or Fear?

A man went to visit a prisoner in jail and was puzzled by the prisoner’s happy face until he told him the following story:

“Three years ago I was condemned to death for murder. You can imagine that my cell became a little hell. The thought of approaching death tortured me day and night. Only a few more weeks and I should be in eternity. I could neither eat nor sleep, so I decided to make a rope from my torn bed sheets with which to hang myself. Only the fear of eternity held me back as suicide would hasten my arrival there. One day I found a gospel tract which had been sent to me. I scanned through the contents which I considered to be nonsense and threw it into the corner. Later, however, I picked it up again and read it through. Thinking over it I paced up and down in my cell. A strange, and hitherto unknown feeling seemed to possess me—a longing to be delivered from the awful fear. In the leaflet stood the words, “The Son of God is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Lost! Yes, surely, I was lost. But how could I be saved? How could I get rid of the heavy burden? I managed to get hold of a Bible and began to read it, still filled with this strange feeling swaying between hope and fear. Then I found the words, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Was that really possible? I fell on my knees and pleaded with God for mercy and I found forgiveness and peace. Later my death penalty was changed to life imprisonment, but I knew that I had been given eternal life through Jesus Christ.”

Saved by Tracts

Compton, CA (AP)— The first time a gunman tried to fire at theologian Ralph Owens, the bullet didn’t discharge. Then, on the second attempt, a bullet ripped into gospel tracts in Owens’ pocked and dropped harmlessly to the ground.

A police officer nearby arrived as the gunmen aimed again at Owens, a missionary of the California Laymen’s Crusade. Two youths, 18 and 20, were booked on suspicion of robbery and attempted murder. Police said $1.30 had been taken from Owens.

“It was a miracle,” Owens said of his escape.

None in Hell

“Tracts everywhere!” said a young man with a sneer as a Christian handed him a gospel tract one afternoon. “No,” said the tract distributor quietly, “there will be none in hell,” and passed on. God fastened that single sentence in that young man’s mind as a nail in a sure place and he could not get rid of it. “None in hell!” seemed to echo in his ears every time he saw a tract, and ultimately he was converted.

Years Lost

A Christian man was passing out Gospel tracts. Among those who received one was a gentleman who remarked as he received it that he feared such efforts did little permanent good. “I am not opposed to such work,” he said. “In my younger days I did a good deal of it myself, but I cannot say that I ever saw any fruit from it.”

The tract distributor was somewhat discouraged by that remark, especially coming from one who evidently was a Christian of many years’ standing. But he instantly remembered that his own conversion was brought about by means of a tract which he received when he was a lad, as he walked along the street one wintry night.

As he passed the door of a mission hall a young man, standing evidently for the purpose of getting passers-by to go in, handed him a tract and asked him to go inside and hear the Gospel. He did go in, and heard words there that awakened him to think of eternity and his state before God, and he went home in deep soul trouble. In his anxiety he turned to the tract he had received, read it, and was saved.

The tract distributor told this story to the gentleman, who listened with evident interest, and when it was finished, he said, “May I ask where this most interesting event took place?” The man named the city, the street, the hall, and the very night on which he got the tract and was invited inside. The gentleman’s eyes filled with tears; he grasped the distributor’s hand, and said with great emotion: “It was my work for many a night, when I was a young man, newly converted, to stand at that door giving tracts and inviting passers-by. But I lost heart soon after that and gave it up, thinking that such work was almost useless. Now after twenty years, God has let me know it was not in vain, and if He spares me to return to the city, I shall by His grace return to the service He gave me long ago, confessing my faithlessness in leaving it.”

But the twenty intervening years were lost. How many more golden sheaves might have appeared to that Christian worker’s account in the day of Christ had he continued in the service that the Lord gave him to do!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).

The Oat Sack

There was a certain brother in Christ a century ago whose business took him through the villages and towns of Minnesota, giving him many opportunities to sow the seed of the Gospel. One Saturday evening, having entered a town and making preparations for staying over the Lord’s Day, he was asked by a friend to come to his barn and look at his horse.

Upon entering the barn, an open oat sack met his eye, and he quietly dropped a tract into it. This tract was put into the sack in the hope that this friend, whom he knew to be a stranger to God’s love, would find and read it. But “God moves in a mysterious way,” and as this oat sack belonged to a local preacher who kept his horse in the same barn, the minister found the tract and took it home to read.

Knowing that the town was an ungodly one, his curiosity was excited, and he wondered much by whom the tract had been dropped. The next day, as he was having a vacation, he attended services held by another preacher. Looking over the congregation, he saw a man turning to his Bible, and perceiving him to be a stranger, he thought, “There is the man who put the tract in the oat sack.” At the close of the message he spoke to him, and finding him to be a follower of the Master, invited him to his house. The acquaintance then begun resulted in the blessings spoken of in the following letter.

“My Dear Brother,

It has been some time since I wrote you, and some strange things have transpired since then; one of them is that a preacher should be brought out into the light as shed forth by Jesus in His Word. A small beginning ofttimes, under God’s care and guidance, has a very great and worthy ending. For instance, a tract dropped in the mouth of an oat sack is a small thing—a small beginning, but the conversion of forty or fifty sinners, and perhaps more, and the blessing and up building of a number of God’s weak children—among them a preacher—and the gathering together of a company of God’s children as the result thus far, is a great ending—and the end is not yet. Who can tell whereunto this work, begun so simply, will grow. Go on, my brother, with your distribution of Gospel Tracts. Try another oat sack; it seems to be very fruitful ground. The great result of your work in that respect only eternity will reveal.”

May God reward you for doing His will.  Tract distribution and witnessing are clearly the will of God for every true believer.  If you are not some how involved in getting the Good News of the free gift of Eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord, you are disobedient to God.

Remember:   The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. Prov 11:30 (KJV)

 “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” Dan 12:3 (KJV)

Rev. Thomas L. Clark  – Phil. 3:14

Look to the persecuted



Look to the persecuted

 During a rather heated conversation on Facebook over the last few days, an idea developed in my mind. It is nothing new but it still sort of struck me. Here is the crux of it: when we look at the history of the church we should look to the persecuted, not the persecutor.

 That seems kind of self-evident on the surface but in practice it is anything but. Look back at standard church history text and they revolve around the famous personalities: Luther, Calvin, Augustine, popes, theologians. As the old saying goes, the winners write the history books and our church culture is a reflection of that. Most of what we know as “the church” is aligned with a faction that at some point in history was persecuting others and moreover we often look at those times when they were doing the persecution as some sort of “Golden Age”

 This is not a perfect rule by any means but throughout history it is the persecuted we should be studying rather than the persecutors. The idea that the church, which from infancy was outcast and persecuted by the religious powers of the day, suddenly turned 180 degrees and became the religious power of the day and persecuted those who dared stray is patently and demonstrably contrary to everything we read in the New Testament. The church became a reverse Paul in that Paul was the persecutor of followers of the Way but was born again and became persecuted and in a complete reversal the church was persecuted for three hundred years until Constantine when the church decided to use the sword to persecute others? How does that make any sense?! That brings me to the sword, a more dominate symbol in traditional church history than the cross.

 One of the most important lessons from church history regarding the sword is that not only is the use of the sword condemned by Christ it is also invariably linked with corruption. Paul taught that when he was his weakest he found his true strength. Taking up the sword means that you are no longer weak, at least in the worldly sense. So when the church takes up the sword it is abandoning our source of strength and relying instead on our own perception of strength. I would say with little hesitation that invariably where the church embraced the sword, the Gospel witness suffered and the church became in varying degrees corrupted. It happened in 313 when Constantine allegedly saw a vision and decided to wage war under the sign of the cross, a perversion of the very meaning of the cross. It happened throughout the Western world for the next 1200 years when Rome used the sword to crush dissent and gather power and wealth. It happened in the years after the Reformation when Catholics and Protestants in turn killed one another and jointly used the sword to persecute and murder the Anabaptists. Throughout the intervening years in Europe wars were waged with the blessing of clergy on one side and the other, asking for God to bless their cause and smite their enemies, enemies who were often fellow Christians. Roman Catholics and Protestants killed one another for centuries, even as recently as my lifetime in Northern Ireland. America has perfected this strength through the sword mentality with a blending of vaguely Christian theology and American patriotism, sending clerics to war to bless and minister to those we dispatch to kill in our name. We seem more comfortable in finding common ground with unbelievers who share our culture and our flag than we do with the believer who seems foreign and strange to us, and church history only encourages this attitude.

 We desperately need to completely revamp our view of church history for three main reasons. As it stands today, “church history”…

 - Is focused on the wrong things

 - Serves mainly to reinforce the status quo

 - Teaches us very little that will be of practical use to us in the post-Christendom world.

 As we study the church throughout the ages, there is so much more to learn from those who have been persecuted for the faith, especially when they have been persecuted by others claiming to be “the church”. Everything in the New Testament tells us this. The church is found among the persecuted, the poor, the outcast, the weak, the unwanted, the unlovely. It is a grave error to seek the church in places of wealth and power and comfort. The church is stained with blood rather than gilded with gold.

 What we require, what the times demand, is a radical rethinking of leadership both present and past. I am less and less interested in learning at the  feet of “great men” of the past and more interested in seeing the example of those history has largely ignored, forgotten or perhaps even vilified. Looking at the faith traditions that have the best books but often persecuted the followers of the Way is a great way to perpetuate the problem and leave us woefully unprepared for the future.

 We can and should look to the past to speak to the future. Let’s just make sure that we are looking in the right places.

 Posted by Arthur Sido  at 3:39 PM

Tips on Tract Terminology


Tips on Tract Terminology

I Steven G. commented on 02 Ways To Use Gospel Tracts…

“when handing out gospel tracts, I have learned never to ask a question like, “May I share something with you?” That just doesn’t seem interesting or compelling. Here is a much better one-liner to use when handing out a tract: “I have a little gift for you!” Simple and to the point. Rarely will anyone refuse a gift if it’s handed out to them with a smile.

Also one that has proven to be 95% successful to a master tract-giver is this one: “Did you get one of these?” and hand it to them with only the edge showing, and not the face of the tract. Why? This question raises curiosity, and they can’t see what it is unless they take it. Secondly, it hints at the fact that they might be missing out on something, so they take it. Clever. Cute. Effective.”


Steven G.  made some excellent comments on tract distribution.  When we distribution Gospel literature, we want it to be received.  People receive or reject tracts for various reasons which we may not know.  They may be busy, distracted in thought, overloaded with other issues, or plainly not responsive to spiritual matters.  Remember in most cases they are not rejecting you!  You should almost never feel like you are being rejected when someone doesn’t receive a tract.  They may be rejecting God but in most cases they are not rejecting you or what you are doing.

Many Christians are fearful of being rejected and/or looking weird.    However, there are somethings that make tracts more attractive and receivable.

Thank you Steven G. for provoking me to write on this subject.   I have a saying which I believe to not only be true but important.   Perception is everything.   A person’s perception may not be correct, but it is his reality.   Obviously, we have many incorrect perceptions.  We are sinners so we continually make inappropriate evaluations.  The primary way to correct our perception is to get a good grasp of Holy Scripture.

Why was the Apostle John called the Apostle whom Jesus loved.   That was the perception of the Apostle John.   All of the disciples were loved by Jesus but apparently the Apostle John truly had the perception that Jesus loved  him.  If we do not believe that God and Jesus Christ love us, we simply have an incorrect perception of God’s love.

Also, we may have an incorrect definition of love.  The Greek language has four different words for love.  Only two of these are used in the New Testament: 1) philos, and 2) agape.

The Greek word “philos” refers to a warm brotherly type love, affection.   This is the type love that brothers and sisters should have.  This word is included in the city of Philadelpha which literally means “city of brotherly love”.  This word clearly implies emotional affection.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.  Matt 5:44-48 (KJV)

However, the word “agape” does not necessarily imply emotional affection.  We in the Western culture tend to consider love to be primarily emotional affection.  But the word “agape” is more of an intellectual will type love.   We can will to love someone in the “agape” sense, but not in the “philos” sense.   When Jesus commands us to love our enemies he surly doesn’t expect us to feel warm and fuzzy about them.  No, He expects us to make the determination to do the best thing by and for that person.  How can we love a person that is our enemy.   We can “agape” that person by treating then in a way that will be beneficial to them.  Many times enemies are turned into friends when they truly understand that we are interest in their best welfare.  But we do not do this just because we want to change them, we do it because of God’s love (agape) for us and them.   Many times our good will will be misunderstood.  But we should be like God who “… maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”.

When people say spiteful things we should simply ignore then or we should ask ourselves if there is any truth in what they say.  They may be correct in their assessment of us.  They may not have spoken it in a polite way but it still may be the truth.  God can even use this spiteful thing to make us better if we take it as possibly from God.

One of the primary obstacles to tract distribution and witnessing is the fear of man.

25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.

Another obstacle is Apathy.  Many Christians never endeavor to win the lost either through tract distribution or personal witnessing.  Tract distribution is a good way to start.  Sometimes tracts are good conversation starters.  If you are wise you will determine to go witnessing or distributing tracts with someone who already does it.

A third obstacle is fear of not being successful in tract distribution and witnessing.

Most of these obstacles can be cleared up by a proper understanding of what we are to do.

Like any other task,  progress comes by learning and on the job training.  You never learn only in the classroom.   The best way is to go with someone that has been doing witnessing and tract distribution.

We must always be tactful when we distribute tracts or have conversations with unbelievers or for that matter with fellow Christians.  We need to be tactful as well as making contact.

If you are a Christian and someone offers you a tract, do not refuse it.  Even though your motive may be to save that tract for some other needy person, when others see you reject a tract, the five or ten people behind them will follow your lead and reject the tract.

Another hint which should be obvious is to be clean and neatly dressed.  Usually common normal clothing is acceptable, but let the occasion dictate the manner of dress.  In tract distribution of witnessing it is important to go two by two:  two men together or two women together.  There are a number of reasons for this.  First this was the method Jesus chose for his disciples.  Also, it is a safety measure for prevent false accusations or physical harm. The Bible states that everything should be established in the mouth of two or more witnesses.  This is a wise principle even in secular world.     At my work when I encountered what I believed to be a difficult person that might lie about what I said, I either called a fellow worker or the security guard to be a witness of the contents of the conversation.  Also in some crucial matters of business I like to take a second person with me as a witness.

The words and terminology that you use may be crucial.   Also, I would like to note that colorful and attractive tracts are 11 times more likely to be read than common ordinary looking tracts. These tracts may be more costly, but if tracts are not read they are not useful.  The content of the tract must also be good.   A tract that does not clearly present the gospel of salvation is not a tract to be handed out.  I rarely hand out Christian growth type tracts because many unsaved people might falsely believe that salvation is by being good enough.

My observation is that there is a great lack and dearth of tract distribution today.  There are many who ignorantly discount the value of tract distribution.   Unfortunately, they many times are arm chair theologians and Seminary professors that have never won a person to Jesus Christ.

Also, do not expect a response from every person you witness to or who you give a tract.  Both witnessing and tract distribution is a work of faith.  The person to whom you gave tract may not be saved at that point but many years in the future.  Paul stated that  some plant, others water, but God gives the increase.  There must be planting and sowing before there can be increase.  Are you willing to trust God to do His work.  If so you must do your work of planting and watering.

6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.  1 Cor 3:6-8 (KJV)

God has commanded us as Christians to evangelize the world.   What does evangelize mean?  It simply means to declare the Gospel.  Let people know that eternal life is the free gift of God to all who believe.  Your obligation is not to actually convert or save them, but simply make sure that they know and understand the Good News.

God has not commanded us to do something that is not in our ability.

Jesus said, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 (KJV)

The word preach is the Greek word  “kēryssō” which simply means to proclaim or publish the Gospel (good news – euangelion).    So we are simply commanded to let all people know about the good news that Jesus has paid for their sins and that they can receive eternal life simply by believing in this truth.

If you any questions regarding witnessing or tract distribution contact me.  or 773-934-0592 .  Leave a message.

Thanks again Steven G. for your excellent comments!

May God bless your today and forever.

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

The Election?


 The Election and the Will of God? 

The Election is now finished. My comments regarding this Election will be centered on what God’s will may be. God has allowed us in this country to elect those who rule over us. Just as God allowed Israel to select a King to rule over them. Samuel, the Prophet was very disappointed with the people demanding a King to rule over them. However, God’s response to Samuel was “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from ruling over them.” I have often said that God many times punishes us by our own choices. We often times get the rulers that we deserve. At the time the Apostle Paul wrote Romans 13:1 and 1 Tim 2:1-4 Nero was Emperor of the Roman Empire. Did Paul actually expect Christians to be obedient to such an evil ruler. Yes, he did.

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Romans 13:1-6 (KJV)

Also, we should be reminded of Rev. 13 in which two extremely wicked men will come to rule the world. Romans 13 is not saying that all government is intrinsically good, but as a basic principle God has ordained civil government for the benefit of mankind.

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim 2:1-4 (KJV)

There are numerous other Scriptures that teach the same principle. However, he did not expect Christians to disobey God’s principles and commandments in the process. When we are asked to do something truly and clearly contrary to the will of God we must refuse and resist but at the same time be willing to suffer whatever consequences may come. This may come to Christians in the United States in the future since we are seeing a progressively anti-Christian, anti-biblical agenda. In terms of Civil Disobedience, I believe that the Mennonites have the a correct view. In our Church we did an article on this issue. I asked a Mennonite group at the Home Schooling convention about their pacific resistance to war and killing. They told me that they believe in non-violence not pacifism. Example: If someone broke into their home and attack their wife or family they would not use lethal force like a gun or other weapon which would kill the intruder. However, they are allowed to use whatever physical force they could to restrain and subdue the intruder without lethal deadly damage to the intruder. In terms of War, they would serve as medics and doctors or other positions that did not require them to kill others. Is this biblical? I am not sure. I do not know if a nation could be defended on this basis if all were of a Mennonite conviction.  Mennotites interpret the Sermon on the Mount and other like principles in terms of Christian Social ethics.  I believe that the Sermon on the Mount is personal Christian ethics.  Carl F. H Henry in his book Christian Personal Ethics deals well with this issue.

The Jewish nation indeed defended its nation militarily and currently does the same which I believe to be totally justified by Scripture.

The Roman Catholic Church has a teaching as to what is a “Just War”. I have not fully read this issue. But if confront with civil violence, I would probably not kill a person. Do I believe God would protect me? Not necessarily! But as I say, “God has already protected me. He has given me eternal life and nothing can ultimately harm me. Things my hurt me, but because of eternal life nothing can harm me.” Remember we will all die, it is just a matter of time.

The question at present is should we actively defend our Constitution?  At present, it is one of the major “Powers the be” if not the primary “Power that is”.  Are we to physically fight for the rights of our Constitution?  Personally, God’s will may be that we defend our Constitution much as we did when we separated from England.  We must use every legal means to defend and protect our Country’s Constitution rights.  In fact, the Framers of our Constitution included the Second Amendment just for times that the use of arms would be needed to defend and protect our Constitutional Rights.  The Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

This Second Amendment clearly meant that all persons had the right to keep and bear Arms.    If you read the statements of the Framers of the Constitution you will clearly see that this Amendment clearly granted all persons the right to “keep and bear Arms”.

The Second Amendment is needed to protect the First Amendment.  There have been many that have perverted the meaning of both the First Amendment and the Second Amendment.

Since our Country is still under the law and rule of the United States Constitution, God’s will is that we obey and protect it.  We are not currently obliges to obey the dictates of a tyrant and subverter of our Constitution.

One of the major things that every tyrannical leader or government does prior to subverting a sovereign nation is to pass a law of Gun Control to takes away the right of the citizen to protect themselves from a tyranical government.

Notice that Romans 13 says the ruler that God ordains is for our good.

 “For he is the minister of God to thee for good.”

Notice that the concept of the ruler being a minister of God occurs 3 times in Romans 13 with the statement ” For rulers are not a terror to good works”.   

Obviously, Paul was speaking about good rulers who reward the good and punish the bad. We may not like leaders but that is not the issue.  Leaders may not be liked but still reward good and punish evil.

But if you will read the book of Daniel you will see that God rules in the Kingdoms of men. I have taught the book of Daniel several times, but this is one of the major themes in Daniel. God is providentially in charge of all things, but he does not necessarily protect us from all things. The four young Hebrews truly had the proper understanding and attitude when King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that they worship the Image which he had set up. In fact, their very words are an inspiration to me.

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Dan 3:16-18 (KJV)

These were indeed godly Jewish young people. I am not certain how old they were at this time but they were not yet old. Daniel was not present, but I am sure he would have responded exactly the same way. Many people have not personally studied the Bible regarding the Pre-Tribulational Rapture theory, but only cling to this teaching because they do not want to think of suffering for Jesus Christ. From my in depth study of this theory, I find that there is no biblical support or historical support for this teaching.

Personally, I believe we are in what is called the End-Times. Daniel’s Seventieth week is not far away. There was a time when I would not purchase any book that was not pre-trib, premillennial. My conviction regarding premillennialism remains solid and firm. This was taught clearly by many of the early church fathers, but no concept of rapture was taught. What I call Classic Premillennialism is both biblical and a part of church history. My convictions on these matters may turn some people off, but I am convinced that it is the Will of God that I do not withhold or agree with teaching that I consider incorrect and ultimately destructive. Through the years I had imbibed all of the teachings of Dispensational Pre-Tribulational Premillennialism. I personally suspended judgment on the rapture question because I did not have time and enough information to make a clear and informed judgment on the rapture issue. In approximately 2004 I came to a full conviction that Pre-Tribulational Rapture was a false teaching which had taken root in most fundamental evangelical churches. I still believe there is essential truth in Dispensationalism and I am a firm Premillennialist.  There is a clear divide between the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant is no longer in force and Gentiles are in no way under the Mosaic Covenant which was basically for the Jewish people. Messianic Jews are not under the Mosaic Covenant either except I would respect their right to celebrate some of the great feasts and principles of biblical Judaism.  Read Acts 15 where this issue was discussed and settled at what is called the Council of Jerusalem.  The Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant which God made with the Jewish nation.  Hebrews 8:8-13 & 10:9 states that the Mosaic covenant is being replaced by the New Covenant.

8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13 In that he saith,

A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Heb 8:8-13 (KJV)

He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. Heb 10:9 (KJV)

It appears that the Apostle Paul in the book of Acts celebrated many of the official Jewish feasts. But this was not for salvation, but like a memorial observance. We should not be surprised. The Roman Catholic Church has continued to add non-Scriptural teaching for years. Are the Protestants exempt from adding unscriptural teachings? There are a number of Golden Calves that Protestants worship. At present I will not name these Golden Calves but will possibly write about some of them later.

I cringe when I hear pastors and famous teachers say, “We do not have to worry about the Tribulation because we absolutely are not going to be here!”   They speak so dogmatically as though that Pre-Tribulational Rapture was an unequivocal established fact without any questions.  The best of Fundamental Evangelical Preachers do this.   They essentially leave no room for question.  But if asked closely to provide one unequivocal verse or passage of Scripture from the Bible they cannot produce such and verse or passage.

God’s will is for us to continue to do His work of evangelism, discipleship, and carrying out of the Great Commission:

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power  is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen Matt 28:18-20 (KJV)

Rev. Thomas Clark – Phil. 3:14

The Carrot and the Stick!



There are two methods by which God, the Father, assists his children to be motivated to loyal and faithful service.  I call them the “carrot” and the “stick”.  In psychology this would be called positive and negative reinforcement.  Personally, I believe that positive reinforcement in most cases is much more effective than negative reinforcement.  

The Carrot and the Stick!

1) The Reward – The Carrot!

My example is from the life of my son.  My son may not be characteristic of all children, but he is a good example of positive reinforcement.   During the rearing of my son, I never had to use physical discipline.  I am not against physical discipline when it is appropriate and administered properly.  There was only one time I spanked my son and after I did it I found out that I was wrong.  My son had received a spanking at school and I had told him that if he ever got a spanking in school he would also get one at home.   When he told me that he had received a spanking in school, I hastily took off my belt and told him to bend over my knee.   He did but was trying to explain which I ignored.   After I had spanked him, he explained why he was spanked at school.   I do not now remember his explanation, but I believed his explanation.   He was not at fault so I felt very bad and I apologized to him.  He said, “O that is alright Dad, I have needed a spanking anyway for a long time.”   I was one of his baseball coaches for about 5 years.   We went to almost every baseball card show in the Chicago area.  He collected baseball cards.  I was indeed very close to him.  I am still close to him.   He became a Christian at the age of seven and has served the Lord since that time.  He is now married to an excellent Christian wife and they have five wonderful children.



God likewise wants to use positive reinforcement with us.   He holds out wonderful rewards both in this life and the life to come to his children who are faithful and obedient to Him.


One day I had two Jehovah Witnesses come to my door.   I engaged them regarding eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.  The leader was a gracious black man.   Since I understood almost all Jehovah Witness teaching, I engaged him on the areas which are weakness for Jehovah Witnesses.   I asked him if he knew he had “eternal life”.  If I remember correctly he respond that no one could know that.   Then I took him to 1 John 5:13 and explained to him that the Apostle John had written 1 John in order that believers could know that they had eternal life.  I pointed out to him that “know” was in the present tense and meant “know now”.  He started a typical response, “If I knew that I had eternal life now and could not loss it, I would be able to go out and sin as much as I wanted.”


Then I asked him, if he had children.   He stated that he had two children.   To which I asked him if he allowed his children to run up and down the block and cause all types of trouble of his block.   He responded “No way!”  To this I asked him a question, “Do you think that you are a better father than God the Father?”  To this he responded that he was indeed not a better father than God.  I then explained to him God, the Father’s, two methods of assisting His children in being faithful and obedient children of God – the carrot and the stick.  He was surprised and went away with something to think about.  My mistake was not to take his name and phone number.   I was indeed a serious person about the matter of salvation and I should have tried to follow up.


Most Christians do not understand the teaching of God’s Word about God as Father and the assistance he gives us in living the faithful and special life.  The reward and chastening concept is taught in both the O.T. and the N.T.  A true Christian cannot lose his salvation, but he can indeed lose his reward.  Many of the passages in the New Testament which believers think teach loss of salvation are actually teaching about loss of reward.  After years of studying Holy Scripture God has guided me to specific persons who have unlocked these difficult passages of Scripture for me.   The five problem passages of the book of Hebrews have been the most difficult of all the passages of Scripture.  That is why I recommend the article in the Hebrews Challenge to readers.  This is a unique set of biblical interpretations of the book of Hebrews.


What are these rewards?  In the next life the rewards will be varied.   One reward is that we will be give authority to serve with Jesus Christ.  I first learned about this concept of “rewards” through the ministry of Dr. M.R. Dehaan founder of RBC Ministries.  There is a bibliography of those who hold to this view of “No loss of salvation, but loss of rewards”.  I believe that this is the best contribution of our website. You should read every article of this subject on our website


Any Christian that believers he can loss his eternal salvation will generally be weak in evangelism because if he is not sure about his own salvation why would he want to offer it to others.   Also, he will present salvation as a faith plus works type salvation which is synergistic and seriously non-biblical.


39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. 40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.


Matt 10:39-42 (KJV)


41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.   Mark 9:41 (KJV)


11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.


1 Cor 3:11-15 (KJV)


8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.  2 John 1:8 (KJV)


One of my friends asked me what are good works.  I responded the Bible gives a long list of them.   Good works can only be perform by a true Christian.  Also, God will evaluate our motives for our good works.  However, I do not set around worrying about whether I have good motives, I just go ahead and do them and presume that God can best discern my motive even when I cannot.


I hope I have adequately explained the biblical concept of “rewards”.


2) The Stick – God’s Child Training


The next biblical concept of God, the Father’s, assistance for Christians to lead faithful and godly lives is “The Stick”.  This the matter of God’s chastening.  Actually the word “chastening” means “child training”.  The biblical concept of child training is clearly taught in Hebrews 12:5-11. The word “corrected” in verse 9 also comes from the same root word as all the words for chastening.


 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.  Heb 12:5-11 (KJV)


In 1 Corinthians 11:30-32 it states that Christians who seriously sin are chastened of  the Lord.  Some Christians suffer weakness, sickness, and death because of their disobedience to the Lord.


If a Christian cannot be reclaimed by the Lord unto an obedient life God may actual take him to Heaven with premature death.  This is called the “sin unto death”.   There appear to be several of these incidences in Scripture.


30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  1 Cor 11:30-32 (KJV)


God, the Father, if you are a Christian will allow you to live just anyway.   He is your Father and He will correct you for your own good.


My hope and pray is that as a Christian you will chose to live an obedient and faithful Christian life.


Rev. Thomas Clark – Phil. 3:14



Great Mideast Crisis


Great Mideast Crisis

According to Holy Scripture the Arab Nations around Israel will attack Israel and God will ultimately come to Israel’s defense.  This prophecy is stated in Zechariah 12.  There has never been a fulfillment of this portion of Scripture and the events in the Middle East appear to be setting the stage for this great event.  Below are first five verses of Zechariah 12 but you should read Zechariah chapters 12-14.

1 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

4 In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. 5 And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God.   Zech 12:1-5 (KJV)

Yes, God will come to the aid of National Israel.  This apparently will be related to the end-time prophecies of the Seven years of Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:27).

 This event may be the match that ignites the final fire of the World.  According to God’s Word Israel is the center of the World. Israel while still in a state of unbelief regarding her Messiah, Jesus, will be delivered by the true God of Israel.

For your benefit read all of Zechariah 12, 13, and 14.   All these chapters have a prophetic message.  Part refer to the first coming of Jesus Christ, but most refer to his second coming and his rescue of national Israel.

Notice carefully Zechariah 14.

2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.  Zechariah 14:2-4 (KJV)

Notice verse 4 which clearly refers to Jesus’ return to Mount Olives from which he initially ascended to Heaven.  Acts 1:11 clearly states that he will return to the same place.

9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.  Acts 1:9-11 (KJV)

Our World is in rebellion against God.  And God’s chosen people, Israel is their target of anger against God.  Why does Satan attack mankind?  Satan hates God and since he cannot attack God directly he attack man who is made in the Image of God.

We are not sure when the campaign of Armageddon will begin but this attack by the Arab nations may be the event that sets off all other World events of destruction.

12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.  Rev 16:12-16 (KJV)

The kings of the east are thought by most biblical scholars to be China and possibly Japan.   As you will note from the context, this gathering against Israel will be demonic inspired and directed by Satan.

The Campaign of Armageddon is the final act of Satan in his war against God.  Satan will gather all his forces to the Mideast for a final battle.  The reason I use the word “campaign” is because I was informed that this event would be a series of battles, not just one.

What can we do in regard to this issue.   The Apostle John states what we can do, live holy and dedicated lives.  15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Will God protect us?  The answer is “yes” and “no”.   God has already protected us in that He has given us eternal life forever.  Will He keep us from death?  Maybe!  But under most circumstances we are all going to ultimately die a physical death.  Will we be raptured?   This is a question that has been vigorous debate in the Christian community.  The concept of a pre-tribulational rapture has only been taught in Christendom since approximately 1830.  The Early Church Fathers knew nothing of a Pre-Tribulation rapture.  All of the Rapture viewpoints hold that God will not send His children through His wrath.   However, the real question is, “When will the wrath of God begin?”  For years I failed to understand that God had given the basic timing of this event.   For years I had overlooked the passage without recognizing its importance.  I had studied the book of Revelation for years and yet my eyes were not open.

It is my judgment that Revelation 6:16,17 clearly states when God’s wrath begins: 

16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?  Rev 6:16-17 (KJV)

This event is recorded at end the Sixth Seal.  Therefore, I believe that the wrath of God is contained in the Seventh Seal.  The Seventh Seal contain the Seven Trumpets of God’s wrath, and the Seven Bowls (vials) come out of the Seventh Trumpet.  So all of God’s wrath is in the Seventh Seal.  As I have previously speculated  If the seven seals are somewhat parallel with the seven years of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, then the Seventh Seal with be somewhere near the end of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.

Thus I believe that God’s wrath will be poured out during the last part of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.   All of the wrath and destruction prior to this time is the wrath of man, the Anti-Christ, and Satan.  The children of God will probably be raptured immediately prior to the opening of the Seventh Seal of God’s wrath.  The rapture of believers if probably like two sides of one coin:  1) side one will be the rapture of believers, and 2) side two will be the wrath of God of the Seventh Seal.

But remember things may hurt us, but nothing can harm us because God is in us, with us, and for us.

5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”  Heb 13:5-6 (NKJV)

 So you are killed or die, that will just take you into the immediate presence of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Phil 1:21 (KJV)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.    2 Cor 5:8 (KJV)

May God bless your today and forever!

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

Spiritual Exercise


Dear Friends,

Thank you for visiting our website .  We pray that you are strengthened in your Christian Faith through the information that we have posted on the site.

As we have mentioned previously there are many great Christian resources in our day.   As you know knowledge and information is important but not enough.   The principles and teachings of the Bible were to be put into practice.  Our characters must be changed by our practice of the Word of God.

I learned an important lesson early in my Christian life.   A Christian must exercise his faith in order to grow and become mature.  My experience taught me that the best way to increase my hunger for the Word of God was to witness on a regular basis.

Most Christians never witness to others concerning the Christian Faith.  I am thankful for all the soul winners that have encouraged me in my life.  

Winning the lost is one of the things of great importance to God and yet many local churches almost completely neglect this command of Jesus Christ.  This command is an essential aspect of any truly biblical local church. 

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.  Mark 16:15 (KJV)

Soul winning is not a gift but is something that can be learned by every Christian.  There is great misunderstanding about the methods and ways of evangelizing the lost.  There is only one message, but there any many methods.   The message never changes, but the methods do. In our day there are many methods to getting this one message to the lost.

Every Christian must at the beginning learn one method of soul winning.  After that he may learn other methods and ways.

A church that is not a soul winning church is not truly a New Testament church. Many churches believe or act as though winning the lost is a matter of the lost coming to visit our church.

Much of the alleged church growth is by transfer of membership.   This does not increase the Kingdom of God.  According to Donald McGavern there are three methods of church growth:

1)       Biological growth – Christians having children and raising the in the faith.

2)     Transfer of membership -  Christians moving from one church to another.   Many new church members are just moving from an inner city church to a suburban church.

3)    Conversion growth – People actually becoming new believers and added to the church.

This last method is greatly neglect by the local church.   Churches think they are growing but are actually not increasing the Kingdom of God.    Many new church members are just moving from an inner city church to a suburban church.

We have information on this website that will assist you in becoming a true soul winner.  But the best way to be a soul winner is to connect yourself to someone who is a soul winner.  You will almost never become a true soul winner without being a disciple of someone who is a soul winner.  I have seen many churches teach evangelism classes and never create even one soul winner.  Soul winning is more caught than taught.

I have never seen a soul winning that was not hunger to study and know the Word of God.    This is confirmed in Holy Scripture.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.    Heb 5:12-14 (KJV)

Just as bodily exercise creates physical hunger so spiritual exercise creates spiritual hunger! 

Many Christians are what are called SSS Christians.  They are Super Saturated Saints, they have sat, soaked, and soured!

Our local churches are filled with these Christians.  They are like the Death Sea.   Why are they like the Dead Sea?   The Dead Sea only receives water from other sources but never distributes this water.  The Dead Sea is literally filled with billions of dollars worth of valuable minerals which only become beneficial when they are removed to be used.

The Word of God is not just for us to store up but also to distribute.  Jesus said, “freely ye have received, freely give.”  Matt 10:8 (KJV)  We owe a great debt to those who have gone before us.

There is great reward for those who learn to be soul winners.  I use the term soul winners which is an older word because it emphasizes the fervent evangelizers of the past!  To evangelize is “to proclaim the Good News of free eternal life through Jesus Christ!”  Soul winning effectively conveys the concept of truly bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ.  Every Christian must be an evangelizer!  If they become an evangelizer, they will usually grow into a dedicated soul winner.  To evangelize is to get the message of the Good News out people.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.  Prov 11:30 (KJV) 

3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. Dan 12:3 (KJV)

May God bless your today and forever!

Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14

Which Greek Text?


Which Greek Text Will You Choose?

The choice is only between two different Greek manuscript families.  Even though there are many varying names for the Textus Receptus I will use that term in order not to confuse you.

Until 1881 the  Greek Textus Receptus was basically the only Greek text from which Bible translations were made.  It is the Greek text which had been used for thousands of years and considered to be the reliable Greek text that had carried and transmitted the Word of God from the beginning.  By the way, there are currently over 5,000 manuscript copies of the Textus Receptus or Byzantine family.  That is why scholars sometime use the term “Majority text”.  There were basically only two manuscripts used for the Westcott-Hort Greek text revision.

Then in the era of theological liberalism and the enlightenment, there were men who wanted to allegedly update the King James Version which had been translated primarily from the Textus Receptus.   The 19th century was the hotbed of liberalism.  Charles Dawin’s book On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was hailed by many as a great advancement in knowledge of science.   However, Darwin was not totally convinced of his own theory but through it out to the public to see what would happen.   Also note that the book taught racism.  During this time many were hunger to throw off the yoke of theological and conservative bondage as they thought it to be.  So many jumped on this bandwagon.  Many theologians being convinced that the theory of evolution to be true science, felt that they must reconcile the biblical teaching with this new discovery of “science”.  Many compromised their biblical doctrine and teachings regarding Divine Creation in favor of being accepted by the World of alleged scientists.  There were many and various attempts to reconcile the biblical account with the theory of evolution.  Many theological seminaries and biblical institution were theologically liberal during this time.

This was the milieu (environment) in which the Greek Text, the Textus Receptus, behind the KJV Bible was rabidly attacked by so-called theologians.  The revision of the KJV Bible was to be only a minor revision, but it turned out to be a total radical change in the text both of the Greek and English.

The two major powers in this revision were Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort both of which have questionable theological views regarding the reliability of the Holy Scriptures.  From reading about their lives it is doubtful if they were truly regenerate believers.  Basically, they used only two Greek manuscripts to form their Greek text both of which were suspect because of major corruptions and omissions in these Greek texts. These Greek manuscripts are  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus.

Because of the “King James Only controversy” I have been researching many items it the area of manuscript transmission and translations for several years.  The conclusion is rather simple.  There are basically two Greek New Testament texts, the Textus Receptus and the Westcott-Hort critical text.  About the only critical item that Westcott-Hort seemed to use in their selection of Greek texts was the principle “older is better”.

Almost without exception all modern versions are translations from the Westcott-Hort Greek critical text.

I was absolutedly amazed when I viewed an article that showed how much of the Greek Textus Receptus text and ultimately modern translations was removed from the Westcott-Hort Greek text.  If you study the background and history of  Vaticanus and Sinaiticus you will probably come to the same conclusion that I have.  How possibly could this much Scripture be omitted from the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus by honest reliable Bible believing persons?  If these manuscripts were so great and valuable why did God not allow them to be found earlier?   Both were found in Roman Catholic institutions which devalue the Holy Scriptures by their placing their tradition on an equal level.  Vaticanus was discovered in the Vatican Library and stored there and Sinaiticus was discovered at St. Catherine’s Greek Orthodox Monastery of Mount Sinai.

Until Vatican II Roman Catholics were discouraged from reading the Holy Scriptures.  The Roman Catholic Church was responsible for executing many Christians just because they translated the Holy Scriptures into the common language of the people.  The Roman Catholic Church hated John Wycliff so much that they dug up his bones 50 years after his death and burned them.   John Wycliff was the first or primary person who translated the Latin Bible into English.  The Roman Catholic Church believed and taught the Latin-Vulgate only view of Scripture.

The Roman Catholic Church burned Jan Hus at the stake for teaching salvation by grace alone by faith alone.  They would have done the same to Martin Luther if they could have caught him under the right circumstances.  William Tyndale was likewise burnt at the stake for translating the first English Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew.  I will not name any more since you can look them up if you are interested.

Am I anti-Roman Catholic?  Only in the sense that I am convinced that many of the teachings that they have added through the years have no biblical support and are truly anti-christian.  Do I love the people, yes!  I find many Roman Catholic people that truly believe in Jesus Christ payment of sin on the cross personally for them.  Jesus statement regarding the religious leaders of his day is truly applicable to the Roman Catholic Church.

8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  Matt 15:8-9 (KJV)

What is the value of using the translation which is from the Textus Receptus?

  1. It has established and of historic authoritative value.
  2. It is not that difficult to read.  For instance, I am and have been a very poor and slow reader.  But once I put my mind and determination to reading and studying I found the KJV relatively easy to read and understandable.  According to studies the King James Version reads at a 12th grade level.  The NIV reads at a 7.9 grade level and the New King James Version reads at a 8.0 grade level.  The NKJV is almost exactly on the same reading level as the NIV and yet it is a literal translation of the Greek and Hebrew text.  The NIV is called a dynamic equivalence which is just one step above a paraphrase.  Do I condemn people who use the NIV?  No!
  3. Personally I have been using the NKJV as well as the KJV.  One value of the KJV is that it is not copyrighted.   All other modern versions are copyrighted which increases the cost of printing them and ultimately this cost is passed on to the customer.  So far I have found the NKJV to be true to most of the KJV version except the removal of the “thee and thou” and other older language.  However, remember that the thee and thou do serve a purpose in that they distinguish whether the word in the Greek is plural or singular etc.  This may not be considered valuable to some Bible readers, but to those who do not know or use Greek it might be helpful.  I have taken courses in Greek so if there is a question, I generally look up the text in the Greek N.T.
  4. It is my decided opinion and judgment that the authority and respect for the Bible is reduced by this multiplicity of these allegedly new and better translations.   In most cases it does not actually increase the true study of the Bible.  Many Christians are just lazy and want instant Christianity which they will never find even if they have another translation.
  5. Also, I would suspect that because of this reduced respect for the Holy Scriptures there is also a corresponding lack of Bible memory work being done today.  This multiplicity probably only creates additional confusion and conflict among Christians.  Seemingly, every local church uses a different version of the Bible.  If you have to move to another church you may have to start using another version of the Bible.  The fox is out of the cage and this will never be cured.  However, I do believe it is wise for a congregation to choose one excellent primary literal translation for use by the church.  This reduces confusion at least in that assembly.
  6. The controversy over translations is not helpful to spiritual growth and maturing of Christians.   With this multiplicity of translations many people are given the impression that the Bible can mean almost anything a person wants.  While we know that this is not true the impression remains that Scripture is somewhat of a “wax nose” that can be turned in whatever way we decide.
  7. We currently have the “King James Only” controversy which seemingly causes division and harm to the body of Christ.   There is no doubt in my mind that the King James Version was do for a revision, but the 1881 was not it.   Even the New King James Version is not good enough for the KJV only people.  I finally found out what the major criticism of the NKJV is.   When Thomas Nelson went to have the NKJV copyrighted they were not allowed a copyright because it was too much like the KJV.  As a result Thomas Nelson the publisher that totally funded the project would have lost millions of dollars.   So the translators had to go back and make some revisions in the NKJV so that it could be copyrighted.   I have attempted to discover what these alleged changes were, but currently I have not been able to find out.  My current unfounded opinion is that these changes were of no theological and biblical consequence.   Having known about the editors, Arthur L. Farstad and Zane Hodges, I seriously doubt that they would have made any serious unadvisable changes.  Both of these men had ambitions for years to create a new translation primarily from the Textus Receptus along with other modern textual discoveries.
  8. Arthur L. Farstad created a translation of the Gospel of John entitled Logos 21 which is basically NKJV.   He did this in order to avoid copyright costs of printing the Gospel of John.   There is an organization called  Living Water  that provides these beautiful blue Gospels of John for free.  Obviously, his motivation was not monetary reward.

    Beautiful Blue cover reminds us of Heavenly gift of Eternal Life!

  1. The famous Bible memory organization Scripture Memory Fellowship uses the KJV and the NKJV as their primary translations for Bible memory booklets.  I recommend you contact them.   Erwin Lutzer stated that his greatest asset was his Scripture memory work.   Dr. David Jeremiah stated on his radio program that great debt that he owe to Scripture Memory Fellowship.  I can likewise state that my life was extremely enriched by this memory organization of which I became a part in the past.   I was on their Midwest Regional Council.
  2. My final point is that a person can be saved and become a mature Christian through almost any reasonable version of the Bible.  Read Richard Dehaan’s article on this matter.    01 Translations!

9. All my Bible memory work was completed in the KJV which was major.   I find it difficult now to attempt to memorize from any other version.  My advice is to pick the best possible literal translation that will be around for a long time because of the difficulty of attempting to memorize from two different translations.  This is also the reason that a local church should wisely select it’s pew Bible.

I was happy to hear from my friend Don Gunderson when he said that Midwest Bible Church had chosen to use the NKJV as their pew Bibles.  At one point RBC (Radio Bible Class) ministries was using the NKJV as their primary version.    Not sure about now!  A pastor friend of mine took my advice and ordered NKJV pew Bibles for his church.  My hope was that many churches would take this step.   The young people in our churches may or may not value the KJV as we have, but I personally believe it is best for us to give them a good literal translation which is basically from the Greek Textus Receptus which the NKJV is.

It reads at an 8.0 grade level.  It still retains that stylistic phrasing of the KJV and I have seen people read it not knowing that they were not reading the KJV.  From reading this article you may think that I am a KJV only person.  Not truly, but after much research I do believe that the Textus Receptus or the Byzantine manuscript family is the most reliable and full Greek text of the Holy Scriptures.  Have you read the article on the Apograph concept.   Basically the idea is that a copy of an original is just as authoritative as the original.  Personally, I basically believe that we basically have an apographa in the Greek Biblical text that we possess today.

The minor differences in manuscripts do not make a truly significant impact on correct and orthodox theology and thus do not affect faith (doctrine) and practice (deed).  As Richard Dehaan stated in his excellent article God has preserved his biblical doctrines by the very nature of the Holy Scriptures by being repetitious.

When an early Christian I wondered why the Scripture tended to repeat some of the very same doctrines over and over.   Now I know partially.

My Christian brethren and sisters, Read God’s Word in whatever translation you possess.  It matters little what translation you use if you do not read it.  Many godly Bible translators gave their live in order that you could have the English Bible in your own language.  It is not my intention to disturb anyone’s faith by my discussions about translations.   We do indeed have the Word of God presently in our hands.

Rev.  Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14


Right Now Counts Forever!


The below article came from Graceline.  I felt that it was a good message for all serious Christians.   What he states is true “Right now counts forever”.   This is the purpose of this website.

Right Now Counts Forever!

Motivating Christians toward spiritual maturity is the purpose of Grace Line Ministry. Living for Christ in today’s culture is very challenging. There is so much to distract Christians from godly living and so little to encourage us to live godly lives. We need a personal theology that is biblically accurate and culturally relevant if we are to live well for Him during the time of our stay on earth.

“Right now counts forever” is the standard by which Grace Line operates. Living lives that are pleasing to God now, will have great benefit in eternity. We desire to teach the good news that eternal life is the free gift of God to those who believe. As the Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” But, equally true is the fact of verse 10.We are saved “that we might engage in good works”, not to gain salvation but to express our gratitude to the Lord for our salvation and be rewarded for our faithful service to Him.

Our prayer is that the resources provided by this ministry will challenge and encourage you to make your life on earth today count forever, for His glory. For,

“Things that matter least must never come about at the expense of things that matter most.”

Serving Him with you until He comes for us,

Fred Chay, Ph.D.
President, Grace Line      

The Metaxoi Memorandum

This is a special message from Dr. Fred Chay to those who are Partners with the Lord Jesus Christ (the Metaxoi) who will rule with Him in the world to come.

Metaxoi Memorandum -Volume 1

Metaxoi Memorandum -Volume 2

Metaxoi Memorandum -Volume 3

Metaxoi Memorandum -Volume 4

Metaxoi Memorandum -Volume 5       

Peace With God by Billy Graham


Table of Contents 

Part One: Assessing the Situation

1.  The Great Quest
2.  The Indestructible Bible
3.  What Is God Like?
4.  The Terrible Fact of Sin
5.  Dealing With the Devil
6.  The Despair of Loneliness
7.  After Death What?

Part Two: Advancing the Solution

8.  Why Jesus Came
9.  How and Where to Begin
10.  What Is Repentance?
11.  What Is Faith?
12.  The Old and the New
13.  How to Be Sure

Part Three: Applying The Antidote

14.  Enemies of the Christian
15.  Guidelines for Christian Living
16.  The Christian and the Church
17.  Am I My Brother’s Keeper?
18.  Hope for the Future
19.  Peace at Last
20.  The Day After


IN THE three decades since Peace with God was originally written, an embattled world seems to have permanently lost its fragile grasp on serenity. For the first time in history, an entire generation of young people lives in fear that time, in the form of a nuclear holocaust, will run out before they can grow up, which may explain in part why tragic numbers of them at the peak of youthful promise find various ways to drop out of life. We have become a generation of escape artists. As I write these words, armed conflicts are raging in many places around the globe and the streets of more than one great city ring with gunfire. An American President was assassinated since the book was written, as were an Attorney General, a civil rights leader, an Egyptian President and a famous rock star. Another President was the victim of an attempted assassination. Hostages have been held in many places and a Korean passenger jet shot down.  Many wars have been fought. Nor can we turn to the security of our homes to find inner peace, for many of our homes simply aren’t there anymore as nearly half of all new marriages now end in divorce. This strife that runs rampant in the world at large is but a reflection of the conflict storming individual hearts.

     Millions have read this book in its original version. It has been tr