Perkins: Your Good Works Are Of No Value To Your Justification

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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. Another strong affirmation of the theology that Reformers stood by. Justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, rules out final justification for acceptance with God based on our own righteousness or covenant faithfulness. Final salvation based on our covenant faithfulness is not Reformed. It is the same false gospel that was preached by the Roman church, which the Reformers so adamantly denied because it does not save, but rather condemns to hell those who base their acceptance with God, in any way, on their own imperfect obedience rather than the imputed, perfect righteousness of Christ, which is the only obedience that can make us acceptable before God.

  2. I am so thankful for the resources available here. The posts have been so very helpful in better understanding Biblical doctrine and spotting error.

    A post I read yesterday:

    The Law’s weakness in affecting salvation is not in itself, but in the flesh of a fallen humanity. (Rom. 8:3a)

    So what happens when a man comes onto the scene without that fallen nature? The Law is weak no longer! The eternal life it always promised (Lev. 18:5) is now a reality. (Rom. 8:3b-4)

    This reply below, from the same person, seems to speak from both sides…law and gospel; which it can not be both. Am I correct in how I am seeing that?

    My point, in summary form, is that Jesus could only be the perfect sacrifice that He was because He fulfilled the Law. He kept it perfectly. He had to. Without that there is no salvation. Therefore, in a very real and necessary sense, we are saved by the Law. Not our own keeping of it, of course, but that Law had to be kept and fulfilled if salvation was to ever come to man.
    I have found that this is a helpful and necessary emphasis because of our modern rampant anti-nomianism. The law is, as Paul could exclaim, “holy, righteous, and good”.
    As my OP says, the weakness of the Law is fallen flesh. Not the Law itself. So when Jesus comes onto the scene without the weakness of fallen flesh, the Law is strong unto salvation.

    It is the last sentence of the above that concerns me.

    • Linda,

      The law is holy, just, and good. We are saved by the law keeping of Jesus, whose actively suffering righteousness is imputed to all who believe.

      The post quoted above might be taken to imply that Jesus owed obedience for himself. If that is the intent, I dissent, as does everyone who everyone who affirms the imputation of active obedience.

      As to the last sentence, the law is not strong unto salvation. Christ is. He fulfilled the law for us and his fulfillment is imputed to us.

      Our law keeping is merely and only an imperfect response, out of gratitude, in union with Christ, to Christ’s obedience for us. That’s it.

  3. As Heidelberg 1 says, the comfort of the Christian is that he belongs to Jesus Christ. He was chosen before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1, as part of God’s determination to glorify the Son and God will do, through the work of the Holy Spirit, everything that is necessary to bring that plan to completion. First He regenerates us and gives us the gift of faith that we might grasp the Truth of how we are saved, and then He works in us to gradually conform us to the image (character) of Christ so that at the resurrection we will see Him face to face. 1John 3: 2. Sadly many people think that faith is conditional for salvation, as though we must believe first, and then God will respond by saving us! So they make faith the antecedent condition for salvation! That is the mother of heresies. That allows covenant nomists, like the FV to smuggle in works, claiming faith is a living, active faith that is not alone, but includes the works of faith. By making faith an antecedent condition, they make the works of faith necessary for salvation. But the Truth is that our salvation, from beginning to end is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Eph. 2:8-10

  4. Thank you, Dr. Clark, for the clarity; very helpful.

    Thank you Angela for your comments.
    It is interesting that you spoke of FV as this individual follows D. Wilson and honestly believes that DW is “reformed”. This individual also does not see any error in FV.

    I am learning a lot about reformed theology from this site. Thank you!

  5. Thank you Linda, I’m glad you found my comment helpful. One of the resources I found most helpful in understanding the FV is Dr. Clark’s series of lectures on the Heidelcast, on nine points against the FV. You can find them on the FV resource page. Also you might also check out Theology Gals on the FV and their interviews with Dewey Roberts. That is one of the most confusing things about the FV is their claim that they are just Reformed, even though they practically deny the gospel the Reformers recovered.

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