Perkins On “The Exclusive Particle”

Throughout his works Perkins objected to the idea that one was justified by a mixed faith. On the contrary, faith was to be regarded as an instrument “to apprehend and apply that which justifies, namely, Christ and His obedience.” Perkins saw justifying faith as a “hand of the soul” which receives Christ, as communicated in passages such as Romans 3:21, 4:5, and 10:5.[5] In others words, we are justified because of Christ and we receive him through faith. “[F]aith does not cause, effect, or procure our justification and salvation, but, as the beggar’s hand, it receives them, being wholly wrought and given of God.”

Perkins’s Roman Catholic opponents turned to Galatians 5:6 as their locus classicus. This text was also discussed at the Regensburg Colloquy of 1541. The outcome of the Colloquy threatened to undermine the Protestant doctrine of justification, since the attempted compromise formulated two grounds of justification: Christ’s imputed righteousness and the righteousness wrought in the believer. Regensburg Article 5 states, “Therefore the faith that truly justifies is that faith which is effectual through love [Gal. 5:6].” Perkins was aware of Article 5 and debated Rome’s interpretation of Galatians 5:6 in much the same way as Calvin and Luther had done before him. For Luther, Calvin, and Perkins Galatians 5:6 teaches how the justified should live as Christians, not how they are justified before God.[9] In other words, Galatians 5:6 was not teaching the cause of justification, but rather how the already justified-sinner is to live in godliness. And this living in godliness in no way contributes or adds to one’s justification. Perkins concluded, “[L]ove is not made an impulsive cause to move God to pardon our sins, but only a sign to show and manifest that God had already pardoned them (Luke 7:47, 1 John 3:14).” Read more»

Inwoo Lee | “William Perkins On Justifying Faith” | Feb 9, 2022


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