J. G. Vos On Good Works And Salvation In Westminster Larger Catechism 32

6. What condition is attached to the covenant of grace?

The condition attached to the covenant of grace is faith in Jesus Christ.

13. Why Should a Christian want to obey the law of God as an evidence of the truth of his faith and thankfulness to God.

A Christian should want to obey the law of God as an evidence of the truth of his faith and thankfulness to God.

14. What other reason is there why a Christian should want to obey the law of God?

A Christian should want to obey because that is “the way which God hath appointed to salvation.” This does not mean that obeying God’s law is any part of the ground of our salvation, but that being saved from sin unto righteousness, obedience to the law is the way that God has appointed for a saved person to walk in, and the person who is saved will want to forsake sin and follow righteousness more and more.

J. G. Vos, Commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism, Larger Catechism 32. (HT: Joshua Waulk )

6 comments

  1. ‘The condition attached to the covenant of grace, is faith in Jesus Christ.’ – Vos
    We risk leading people into their favorite bondage, when we say ‘conditions’. Isn’t there a better word?

  2. Allen, you might find it very helpful to read Luther’s book, The Bondage of the Will. In it he argues that in scripture, conditional statements are often meant to show us our inability to do what is required of us. Our will is corrupt and sold under sin making it impossible to do what God requires. Faith is a condition of salvation, but we cannot believe unless we have been born again from above and we are enabled by the Holy Spirit. Even the good works which Christians are to do are the fruit of the Spirit. “For it is by grace that 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. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:8-10

  3. Allan, you might find it very helpful to read Luther’s book, The Bondage of the Will. In it he argues that in Scripture conditional statements are often used to show us our inability. Faith is a condition of salvation but that does not mean that we are able to believe by our own free will or natural ability. You must be born again and enabled to believe by the Holy Spirit. Even the good works that are required of Christians are the fruit of the Spirit. “For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:8-10

  4. Dr. Clark,

    I’m having trouble understanding 2 Thessalonians 2:13 where it says “because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”

    This was a verse used by someone to defend the view of justification and sanctification that doesn’t seem orthodox.

    Is it that “through sanctification” is “co-incidental” as you described Calvin’s formulation? Your illustration was the water and ark with Noah and his family. The water was co-incident with the ark.

  5. My guess is that the work of the Holy Spirit is the instrument of our sanctification and belief in the truth. Our subjective experience, such as feelings and emotions, and the particular works of obedience we perform are coincidental to sanctification and believing the truth. Just a thought.

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