Witsius On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

XXXI. The sentence of absolution will be entirely gracious according to the Gospel strictly so called. “The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of p 289 the Lord in that day.” This is manifest,

1st, From the consideration of the works,—which, though stained by numerous blemishes, will receive so high a commendation from the Judge, that the saints themselves will not hear it without being astonished, that God should put so great a value on services which to themselves appeared so very inconsiderable.

2dly, From the consideration of the reward,—which is not founded on any worthiness either of the works or the persons, but on election, the love of the Father, and adoption, which are all gratuitous.

3dly, From the consideration of the connexion betwixt the good works of believers and the reward. Their good works will be mentioned,

  1. As proofs of the faith of believers, their union to Christ, their adoption, their friendship with God, and of that holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.
  2. As evidences of that activity and earnestness with which, undervaluing the advantages of this world, and despising the pleasures of the flesh, they have sought the kingdom of God and his righteousness. A pursuit so worthy of God, it is not worthy of God to disappoint
  3. As effects of Divine grace, with which, according to a proportion most wisely adjusted, the communication of Divine glory will correspond, when he shall come to crown his own gifts.

—Herman Witsius (1636–1708), Sacred Dissertations on What Is Commonly Called the Apostles’ Creed, trans. Donald Fraser 2 vol. (London: Khull, Blackie & Co., 1823), 2.288–89.

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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. “The Bride eyes not her garment,
    But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
    I will not gaze at glory,
    But on my King of grace:
    Not at the crown He giveth,
    But on His pierced hand;
    The Lamb is all the glory,
    And my eternal stand!”
    – O Christ, He is the Fountain

    I doubt that on that wonderful Judgment Day any who are Christ’s will be thinking about, looking upon, or dare to offer up even their best works of sanctification. We will be robed both within and without in only the Righteousness of the Lamb; and yet even our blood-washed garments will not draw our attention as all eyes will be fixed on him who died for us.

    Scott, thanks for these witnesses you’ve posted this morning.

  2. Rick Phillips—“Consider the symbolism of the book of Revelation, in which the redeemed are frequently shown dressed in radiant white. Standard Reformed preaching would require that we see this as emphasizing imputed righteousness. The actual data of Revelation suggests otherwise, instead using this imagery primarily to depict the purity of lives that the believers lived. In his letter to Sardis, Jesus praised the few “who have not soiled their garments,” clearly referring to their abstention from sinful practices. As a result, “they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments” (Rev. 3:4-5). This passage sternly resists all attempts to prioritize the doctrine of justification, despite the imagery normally associated with imputed righteousness. If we study the imagery of the white robes in Revelation we will find that it combines the washing of sin through the blood of Christ with a lifestyle of moral purity in a way that the two are inseparable. Revelation 7:14 describes the martyrs as those who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” while in Revelation 19:7-8 the bride of Christ appears dressed in “fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
    Clearly the New Testament use of both the term “righteousness” and its symbolism involves both imputed and imparted righteousness. Therefore the Christian life must involve them both, and the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ declares his provision for this comprehensive righteousness through the totality of his victory over sin.”


    • Scary. Predictably, the article on ref21 ends right where the agony begins: is MY robe white enough? How do I know? The sensitive heart must call to mind every jot and tittle, every act of omission and commission, and answer NO! And right there, where the article-were it a ‘gospel centered’ work-should point us back to the Perfectly Righteous One, it ends instead. Ouch.
      Then again, perhaps he merely intended to point out that some robes will be whiter than others on that last day. Someone should leave a comment over there, letting him know his words might be misconstrued. Oh wait…..

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