Ridgely On The State Of Believers At The Judgment

The next thing to be considered, is the trial of the righteous, who are said to stand before Christ’s judgment-seat. Here it may be observed that no indictment shall be brought against them, at least, with the Judge’s approbation; for they were acquitted and discharged, when brought into a justified state; and as the consequence of their having been so, ‘none,’ as the apostle says, ‘shall lay any thing to their charge,’ since ‘it is God that justifieth.’ If any thing be alleged against them by the enemies of God, who loaded them with reproach, and laid many things to their charge in this world of which some have been just, and others unjust and malicious, the great and merciful Judge will appear as an advocate on their behalf, and will vindicate them from those charges which are ungrounded, and will farther allege, as a foundation of their discharge from the guilt of all others, that he has made a full atonement for them. Hence, when their sins are sought for, they shall not be found in judgment, or charged upon them to their shame, confusion, or condemnation; but they shall be pronounced righteous, as interested in Christ’s righteousness. The great Judge shall evince that they are so, by producing those graces which were wrought in them, which are inseparably connected with their justification, though not the foundation of it, that so the method of the divine proceedings may be vindicated, and it may appear that, as ‘without holiness no one shall see the Lord,’ so they are holy, and accordingly possess that internal quality which denotes them to be persons whom God designed to save. This I take to be the meaning of our Saviour’s address to the righteous, when he pronounces them ‘blessed,’ and invites them to ‘come and inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink,’ &c. Here the word ‘for’ is taken demonstratively, and not causally; and denotes that they were such as might expect to be admitted to this honour and blessedness, having those marks and characters of his children upon them to which the promise of salvation was annexed; not as though any thing done by them was the cause of their salvation. It hence appears that the graces of God’s people shall be published before angels and men, to the praise of the glory of him who was the author of them.

But there is a difficult question proposed by some, namely, Whether shall the sins of God’s people be published in the great day; though it is certain they shall not be alleged against them to their condemnation? This is one of the secret things which belong to God, which he has not so fully or clearly revealed to us in his word; so that we can say little more about it than what is matter of conjecture.

Thomas Ridgley (1667–1734), A Body of Divinity, vol. 2 (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 277–78.

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Goodwin– God will not put the possession of salvation upon that private act of his own, without having anything else to show for it.”

    Goodwin : “So there is no more danger to say, a man at the latter day shall be justified by his works, as evidences of his state and faith, than to say he shall be judged according thereto.”

  2. Dr. Clark,

    Great quote. Thank you for refusing to give in on this matter. May God strengthen you to stand in the truth.

    Evangelista in the Marrow:

    “Surely the Scripture seems to hold forth that there were three several sorts of people amongst the Jews who endeavoured to keep the law of God, and they did all of them differ in their ends. The first sort of them were true believers who, according to the measure of their faith, did believe the resurrection of their bodies after death and eternal life in glory, and that it was to be obtained, not by the works of the law, but by faith in the Messiah or promised seed. And answerably as they believed this answerably they yielded obedience to the law freely, without fear of punishment or hope of reward. But, alas! the spirit of faith was very weak in most of them, and the spirit of bondage very strong; and, therefore, they stood in need to be induced and constrained to obedience for fear of punishment and hope of reward.

    The second sort of them were the Sadducees and their sect, and these did not believe there was any resurrection, nor any life but the life of this world, and yet they endeavoured to keep the law, that God might bless them here and that it might go well with them in this present life.

    The third sort, and indeed the greatest number of them in the future ages after Moses, were the Scribes and Pharisees and their sects. They held and maintained that there was a resurrection to be looked for and an eternal life after death, and therefore they endeavoured to keep the law, not only to obtain temporal happiness but eternal also. For though it had pleased the Lord to make known unto His people, by the ministry of Moses, that the law was given not to retain men in the confidence of their own works but to drive them out of themselves and to lead them to Christ the promised seed; yet after that time the Priests and the Levites, who were the expounders of the law and to whom the Scribes and Pharisees did succeed, did so conceive of and teach God’s intention in giving the law as though it had been that they, by their obedience to it, should obtain righteousness and eternal life. And this opinion was so confidently maintained and so generally embraced amongst them that in their book Mechilta they say and affirm that there is no other covenant but the law, and so in very deed they conceived that there was no other way to eternal life than the covenant of works.”

    Although there is much here for poor sinners to cherish, the point most directly related is that Mr. Fisher is of the opinion that we obtain (possess) eternal life in glory “not by the works of the law, but by faith in the Messiah or promised seed.”

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