Heidelminicast Q&A: What About The Judgment According To Works?

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  1. Amen to this! My question from the Murray quotation which used 1 Cor 9:21, Dr. Clark is, what then is “the law of Christ” in 1 Cor 9:21, since we are not “under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14-15)? Murray left it dangling in his quote, not explaining. I agree that the law of Christ is not a re-instatement of being “under law” for our salvation, but it would be helpful to know more fully what it is.

    • 21. Though not without law to God. He wished by this parenthesis to soften the harshness of the expression, for it might have seemed harsh at first view to have it said, that he had come to be without law. Hence in order that this might not be taken in a wrong sense, he had added, by way of correction, that he had always kept in view one law—that of subjection to Christ. By this too he hints that odium was excited against him groundlessly and unreasonably, as if he called men to an unbridled licentiousness, while he taught exemption from the bondage of the Mosaic law. Now he calls it expressly the law of Christ, in order to wipe away the groundless reproach, with which the false apostles branded the gospel, for he means, that in the doctrine of Christ nothing is omitted, that might serve to give us a perfect rule of upright living.

      John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians, trans. William Pringle, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 305.

  2. Hello Dr. Clark. I commented on the twitter post: According to works not with basis in works. Because I heard John Piper say that before. I thought that language interesting, though I’m not fully aware if these two statements are different, or if it’s correct to say that. You mentioned John Piper book, but I haven’t read it, what I know is that he recommends John Murray’s comment on Romans. Is that book that you mentioned, right? Anyway, besides some emails I sent to the Heidelblog I still have some questions. I know that Calvin comment on this verse (I think in book III?). What I think or see in your explanation is that some try to avoid the confessions and the same language as the reformers, is that right? They like to say by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, amem to that. But how they mix the covenant of works? Like the baptists that mix Abraham with Moses, as you argue in other subjects? Or in some specific passages as the ones mentioned? You are really against the flow 😂

    I mean, I guess I didn’t follow your train of thought on this one. Why didn’t you mention Calvin’s commentary on the passage? I’m trying to understand the law/gospel distinction and the convenants as the reformers did. But this is a difficult task. So the law is a convenant of grace administration but under law we are under works? The first, second and third use of the law could help with this task? What I know is that John Piper seems to be especialized in the subject, but sometimes it gets messy to understand his way of trying to explain this distinction. I’m trying, here in Brazil he is highly recommend even among strong reformed circles. That’s why I’m trying to make a reasonable question. I’m not trying to be “a pain in the ***”, sorry for the language. Because I know that you go against the flow in many subjects, even against to some famous guys 😂. I think I get you, we should stand for what we believe to be the very true, and even more with respect to the word of God.

    God bless all the staff

    • João,

      I understand, as I indicated in the episode, that people talk this way but it’s not very helpful. Again, John Piper is not a reliable guide to the Reformed doctrine of salvation. The doctrine he learned from Daniel Fuller was a rejection of the Reformation. He has modified that rejection somewhat by adding a doctrine of imputation (only relatively recently) but he continues to teach, as he has since Final Grace, that we are only initially justified sola gratia, sola fide and finally saved through good works. This is not the gospel. It is not Reformed theology as I have shown.

      We are not out on probation awaiting a final adjudication before God. “Having therefore been justified” (Rom 5:1) and “there is now, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1), these are gospel words. “Final salvation” or “final justification through good works” is not good news for sinners.

      You’ve heard the episode, so you know that Mr Murray created a problem by not recognizing Rom 2 as Paul’s proclamation of the law/covenant of works. Mr Murray takes Rom 2:13 as a promise to Christians and then has to turn to a “justification according to works” in order to explain it. If we recognize that Rom 2 is law, and not gospel, and that we will be vindicated at the last day but not judged, then we avoid the, if I may use the word, morass in which he, Chalmers et al find themselves.

      I have not been able to find Calvin using the expression “judgment according to works.”

      The Reformation background is that Luther developed a doctrine of “double justification” in 1518 and 1519. By it he only meant that we are justified before God on the basis of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and we are justified before men (as in James 2), or our claim to be believers, is justified before men by our works.

      This is just the twofold benefit (or double grace, to use Calvin’s language) of justification and sanctification but this is not “justification according to works.”

      The covenant of grace is a covenant of grace. It has consequent obligations but those never become a covenant of works. This is just guilt, grace, gratitude. As you seem to say, we seek to obey the law in its second and third uses, the covenant of grace, because we’re in a state of grace, in union with Christ, out of gratitude.

      No Christian is under the law in its first use.

      Honestly, I’m begging you to stop listening to/reading Piper. He is hopelessly confused and confusing for the reasons I’ve explained. He refuses to distinguish between law and gospel and he is deeply influenced by Jonathan Edwards, who himself was confused and confusing on justification.

      See the resource page on final justification.

      • Although we might have disagreements here, both Pipes and Edwards have done great work for the kingdom of God, both as preachers and theologians. Pipers issue is that he is somewhat confused himself, but he is still Orthodox and seeking to preach the word faithfully. I would encourage everyone to read them widely, always comparing them back to scripture and confessions of course. they both have great contributions.

        It’s the same way that I might read your works Dr. Clark, praise you for the good you do, while still disagree where I find it going against the common confessional stance etc… Piper is certainly no heretic, and whenever he’s been asked to clarify he has been very careful to distance himself from Jersey such as federal vision etc…

        God bless and beat wishes as you continue in your ministry.

        • Stephen,

          How does one reply to the claim that x has done “great work for the Kingdom of God”? That’s up to God. Our business is to pay attention to what people have said and done. The outcome does not belong to us.

          Is Piper orthodox on justification and salvation? We have to move beyond tribal loyalties. Piper rejects the Reformation doctrine of salvation. Again, “final salvation through good works” is not the good news. If the Apostle Paul could rebuke the Apostle Peter—notice that Paul didn’t excuse Peter’s error on the grounds of his great work for the Kingdom of God—then the orthodox can critique Piper on his doctrine of final salvation.

          Piper has helped to mainstream other serious errors. He tells the world that the Federal Vision is fine, that it’s what comes of baptizing babies. That approach is not only high-handed but it is ignorant and has led people astray. Here’s the video:

          See It For Yourself: Piper On Wilson, Baptism, And The FV

          Here are resources on the FV.

          There are several reasons to be cautious about Edwards, his confusion over the article of the standing or falling of the church (Luther, Alsted et al.), the axis of the Christian faith (says Calvin) is just one of them. Here is a brief survey of reasons to be cautious about Edwards, including pantheism: Why Caution About Jonathan Edwards Is In Order

          I’m not claiming infallibility but unlike Piper, I’m accountable to my board, my elders, my classis, and a synod. No one has accused me of Pantheism nor has anyone accused me of corrupting the gospel, nor have I promoted the Federal Vision.

          I reject your attempt to create a moral equivalence.

          It’s not that difficult to get the gospel right.

          • You are totally right Dr. Clark. He does teach final justification. And he is highly influenced by Edwards. As I may have mentioned in the commentary it was through some guys like him, Dr Sproul, Kevin DeYoung and others that I started new a little about reformed theology. I’m attending to a presbyterian church and trying to understand/read the confessions and catechisms. It’s difficult, because it seems simple as you mentioned, but at the same time, people are not talking about it. I started to read the Heidelblog because of your comments on the FV. Wilson was prohibited to preach in a Brazilian conference, so I was searching about it and got to your blog. BTW is being extremely helpful. I’m praying thatthe Lord may open my eyes and forgive me for believe and once may have say things that add to the holy scripture or that are not true. Our final savation stands only with the work of Christ. It’s all God’s work.

            Your last comment it’s what I’m highly concerned about after I read some of your articles. It’s to be consistent with the confessions and the holy scripture. Because there a lot of false teachers, and their works may seem good in the first attempt. But they can also be a real threat to our spiritual health. I mean, Jonathan Edwards is also very promoted in Brazil. Anyway. Thank you for your time. I’m taking your advices seriously.

            God bless all the staff.

          • Dr. Clark, I am not promoting tribal loyalties at all. Piper is accountable to his elders as well. Nowhere did I say Piper does not have errors as well. I pointed out that I believe piper has made errors, same as Edwards, you, any theologian! I am also not trying to make a moral equivalence sir. I agree wholeheartedly as well the outcome is not up to us. I just want to point out that what Piper has done is faithfully pointed people to Christ for decades, and as far as we know is a faithful Godly man as well. (Although not without error)

            I agree wholeheartedly that we should critique these men and their teaching. I have critiqued piper many times to others, including dead friends.

            What I am simply saying is that I do not believe we should be “begging people earnestly” to not read or listen to Piper etc.. at all. I think such an attitude is not healthy. I know you have said the same about other men with theological issues, either real or perceived such as Martin Lloyd Jones, etc…

            For instance. I know a few brothers and pastors who believe any independent church is a false church, and that John Owen by promoting such a position was inherently detrimental to the church. Yet, although many might disagree with John Owen on this point, they still appreciate the depth and width of his work in other areas. Piper is no Owen, but I believe we can and should do the same with him, rather than avoiding and discouraging others from looking at his work discerningly.

            Just my thoughts on the matter.

            All the best

  3. Fully agree, Dr. Clark! I have ‘tried’ to ‘stomach’ some of Piper’s writings/teachings, yet I come away w/him being one of my very least teaching men claiming to be Reformed. Can’t understand why so many other brothers and sisters cannot see this?! Thank you for your steadfast and honest comments c/o him!
    In stark contrast, I’m also ‘fully’ amazed in Calvin’s Institutes (Beveridge translation). I’m approaching the 500 pages and cannot put this Masterpiece down! It gets even better as I read it! Folks, if you have not yet, PLEASE read this utter Masterpiece!✝️📖🛐👍😊 Lord Bless, Dr Clark!👍😊

  4. Dr. Clark, thank you for this minicast!

    Most Calvinistic believers I speak with aren’t so much worried about a final judgment according to their own works concerning justification (thankfully), but are adamant that our works (wicked or Spirit-wought) will be judged by God on the last day for the purpose of doling out different degrees of eternal rewards and levels of greater or lesser honor to be enjoyed by and bestowed upon the elect in the NH and NE for all eternity—-Basically the parallel to the idea that just as Christ taught that there will various levels of eternal punishment for the damned based on their deeds (see Matt 11:24), so also there will be varying levels of rewards for the good done by believers in this life (even with God getting the credit for the good works we walk in (Eph 2:10; Philip 2:13; Gal 2:20).

    Some of the passages used to support different levels of rewards for believers I’ve heard are 1 Cor 3:12-15; 2 Cor 5:10; Matt 6:20; 12:36-37; 16:27; 20:22-23; Luke 22:28-30; and Rom 14:12.

    I’m not sure if you’ve addressed this issue before, and if you have already, my apologies for the redundancy, but I’d love to hear where you fall on this and what the majority view among the Reformed was concerning the believer’s works undergoing a judgment on the last day for eternal rewards only (as supposed to a final justification according to works taught by Piper and others).

  5. Any good works I do, as a Christian, are due solely to my Lord’s work in my heart, turning that stone to flesh. So to HIM goes all the glory.

    What a reward! Glorifying God for whatever good he wrought in our lives once we were gathered into him. How marvelous!

    What? Didja think you were gonna get the extra-big mansion on the widest street of gold if you were the ‘goodest’ Christian ever? That’s your flesh talking.

    Forget your flesh and its desire for reward. Reward comes to those (of Christ’s) who least look for IT, but rather look to HIM. One gets one’s heart’s desire, as a true child of God.


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