A Catechism and Confession of Faith/Chapter 6
Concerning Faith, Justification and Works.
Question. What is Faith?
A. Faith is the Substance of things hoped for and the Evidence of things not seen [Heb. 11:1].
Q. Is Faith of absolute Necessity?
A. Without Faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him [Heb. 11:6].
Q. Are we justified by Faith?
A. Wherefore the Law was our School-master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by Faith [Gal. 3:24].
Q. What is the Nature of this Faith that availeth to Justification?
A. For in Jesus Christ neither Circumcision availeth any thing, nor Uncircumcision; but Faith which worketh by Love [Gal. 5:6].
Q. Are Works then necessary to Justification as well as Faith?
A. But wilt thou know, O Vain Man, that Faith without Works is Dead? Was not Abraham our Father justified by Works when he had offered Isaac his Son upon the Altar? Seest thou how Faith wrought with his Works, and by Works was Faith made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled; which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for Righteousness: He was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by Works a man is justified, and not by Faith only [James 2:20-24].
Q. If then both be equally required in Justification, what are these Works, which the Apostle excludes so much?
A. By the Deeds of the Law there shall no Flesh be justified in his Sight [Rom. 3:20].
Q. But though we be not justified by the Deeds of the Law, is not this to exclude Boasting, that the Grace of God may be exalted?
A. For by Grace are ye saved, through Faith, and that not of your selves, it is the Gift of God; not of Works, lest any Man should boast, for we are his Workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good Works [Eph. 2:8-10].
Q. Are even the Works which are performed by Grace excluded? Are we never said to be saved or justified by them?
A. 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 would be made Heirs, according to the hope of Eternal Life [Tit. 3:5-7].
Q. I perceive then that to be Justified by Grace is to be justified or saved by Regeneration, which cannot exclude the Works wrought by Grace, and by the Spirit; How doth the Apostle add in the next Verse for the maintaining this against these that Cavil about the Law?
A. This is a Faithful Saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which believe in God might be careful to maintain good Works; these things are good and profitable unto Men: But avoid foolish Questions, and Genealogies, and Contentions, and Strivings about the Law, for they are unprofitable and vain [Tit. 3:8-9].
Q. Doth the Apostle Paul, that is so much against Justification by the Works of the Law, speak any where else of being justified by the Spirit?
A. But ye are Washed, but ye are Sanctified, but ye are Justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God [1 Cor. 6:11].
Q. But since the Law gives not Power nor Ability to obey, and so falls short of Justification; Is there no Power under the Gospel by which the Righteousness of the Law comes to be fulfilled inwardly?
A. For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the Flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful Flesh, and for Sin condemned Sin in the Flesh; That the Righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the Flesh, but after the Spirit [Rom. 8:3-4].
Q. Seeing then there is Power in the Spirit, is not Works through it a Condition upon which Life is proposed under the New Covenant?
A. For if ye live after the Flesh, ye shall Dye; but if ye through the Spirit, do mortifie the Deeds of the Body, ye shall Live [Rom. 8:13].
Q. Do not the Apostles then frequently propose Life to People upon Condition of Repentance and other Works?
A. Repent ye therefore and be Converted, that your Sins may be blotted out [Acts 3:19].
And if Children then Heirs of God, and joynt Heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we also may be glorified together [Rom. 8:17].
It is a faithful Saying; For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we Suffer, we shall also Reign with him. If a Man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a Vessel unto Honour, sanctified and meet for the Master's Use, and prepared unto every good Work [2 Tim. 2:11-12,21].
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and Repent, and do the first Works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy Candlestick out of his place, except thou Repent [Rev. 2:5].
Q. It appeares clearly by these Passages, that the Apostle excludes only our Righteousness, which he elsewhere explains as being the Righteousness of the Law from being necessary to Justification, and not such Works as the Law of the Spirit of Life leads to, and are not so much ours as Christ in us; are not such good Works rewarded, though they require no absolute Merit, as being the Fruits of free Grace, yet doth not God judge according to them, and may they not be said to have a Reward?
A. But if a Man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not eaten upon the Mountains, neither hath lift up his Eyes to the Idols of the House of Israel, neither has defiled his Neighbour's Wife, neither hath come near to a Menstruous Woman, and hath not oppressed any; but hath restored to the Debtor his Pledge, hath spoiled none by Violence, hath given his Bread to the Hungry, and hath covered the Naked with a Garment; he that hath not given forth upon Usury, neither hath taken any Increase, that hath withdrawn his Hand from Iniquity, hath executed true Judgment between Man and Man, hath walked in my Statutes, and hath kept my Judgments to deal Truly, he is Just, he shall surely Live, saith the Lord God. [Ezek. 18:5-9]
For the Son of Man shall come in the Glory of his Father with his Angels, and then he shall reward every Man according to his Works [Matt. 16:27].
Then Peter opened his Mouth, and said, Of a Truth I perceive that God is no Respecter of Persons; but in every Nation he that feareth him and worketh Righteousness, is accepted with him. [Acts 10:34-35]
The Righteous Judgment of God, who will render to every Man according to his Deeds; To them who by Patient Continuance in well-doing seek for Glory and Honour, and Immortality, Eternal Life; But Glory, Honour and Peace to every Man that worketh Good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile [Rom. 2:6-7,10].
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].
Which is a manifest Token of the Righteous Judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer [2 Thess. 1:5].
But who so looketh into the Perfect Law of Liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful Hearer, but a Doer of the Work, this Man shall be blessed in his Deed [James 1:25].
Cast not away therefore your Confidence, which hath great Recompence of Reward. [Heb. 10:35]
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of Persons judgeth according to every Mans Work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear [1 Pet. 1:17].
And behold I come quickly, and behold my Reward is with me, to give every man according as his Work shall be. Blessed are they that do his Commandments, that they may have a Right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the Gates into the City [Rev. 22:12,14].
Q. It should seem that the Purpose of God, in sending his Son the Lord Jesus Christ, was not simply to save Man by an imputative Righteousness altogether without them; but also by the washing of Regeneration, or an inward Righteousness: What saith the Scripture further of this?
A. And thou shalt call his Name Jesus, for he shall save his People from their Sins [Matt. 1:21].
Looking for that blessed Hope, and the Glorious Appearing of the Great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all Iniquity, and purifie unto himself a peculiar People, zealous of Good Works [Tit. 2:13-14].