About W. Robert Godfrey

W. Robert Godfrey (Ph.D., Stanford) is President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Church History at Westminster Seminary California, where he served as president from 1993–17. He began teaching at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1974. He is a minister in the United Reformed Churches in North America, a Ligonier Ministries Teaching Fellow, and has spoken at many conferences including those sponsored by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization, the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology, and Ligonier Ministries. He is currently serving as chairman of the Board of Ligonier Ministries. He is author of, among other titles, Saving the Reformation, Learning to Love the Psalms, and John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor. In 2010, a festschrift was published in Dr. Godfrey’s honor entitled Always Reformed.

Faith Formed By Love Or Faith Alone? The Instrument Of Justification

Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry

In his discussion of works, Calvin anticipates the great error of many contemporary critics of the Reformation doctrine. They think that as long as they say that salvation is by grace alone they have said all they need to say theologically, but many medieval theologians said exactly that. They taught that grace alone worked to transform and sanctify the life and that all the works of the Christian are the fruit of grace. Such an improved life, however, is still an imperfect life and cannot stand in the judgment. Calvin summarizes the situation succinctly: “If righteousness is revealed in the gospel, surely no mutilated or half righteousness but a full and perfect righteousness is contained there. The law therefore has no place in it” (Institutes 3.11.19). What one needs to stand in the judgment, Calvin declares over and over again, is a perfect righteousness. No matter how much progress one makes in grace during this life, so that one’s life becomes holier, holier, and holier, it will never get to the point where it will be able to stand in the judgment. Continue reading →