Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Louis Berkhof: Faith is instrumental, not meritorious, in justification

Louis Berkhof explains the nature of true faith that takes hold on Christ and His righteousness alone in our justification:

... faith is the instrument by which we appropriate Christ and His righteousness. ... Scripture never says that we are justified ... on account of faith. This means that faith is never represented as the ground of our justification. If this were the case, faith would have to be regarded as a meritorious work of man. … And this would be the introduction of the doctrine of justification by works, which the apostle opposes consistently ... The apostle does not leave it doubtful that, strictly speaking, only the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, is the ground of our justification. But faith is so thoroughly receptive in the appropriation of the merits of Christ, that it can be put figuratively for the merits of Christ which it receives. ‘Faith’ then is equivalent to the contents of faith, that is, to the merits or the righteousness of Christ. (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, Banner of Truth ed., pp. 520-521)

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