Friday, January 15, 2010

Brian Schwertley: Faith alone but not a faith that is alone

The Reformed position is that saving faith is always accompanied by all the other saving graces. The faith which justifies the sinner is never alone. It is not a bare “intellectual assent.” Some of the reasons why believers must be holy are: (a) God is holy and thus commands us to be holy (Lev. 11:44-45; 1 Pet. 1:15-16). (b) Christians believe in and rest upon the whole Christ who is both Savior and Lord (Rom. 14:7-6; Ac. 16:31; 2 Cor. 4:5; Rom. 10:9). (c) The Bible contains many imperatives that require obedience in God’s people (Ex. 24:7; Gen. 17:1: Lev. 11:44; Rom. 15:18; 2 Cor. 2:9; 1 Cor. 7:19; 1Tim. 4:8; Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 1:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:19, 21; Heb. 12:14, etc). (d) The Bible clearly requires repentance (Lk. 3:7-9; Lk. 24:47; 13:5; Mt. 4:17; Mk. 1:14, 15; Ac. 17:30). Repentance is a change of mind, a turning away from sin unto God that leads to a change of behavior. (e) The Bible teaches that believers were bought with a price—the precious blood of Jesus. Therefore, they belong to Him. They are slaves of Christ whose lives are totally dedicated to serving and exalting Him (Rom. 6:16; 14:8; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 2:15-16). (e) The Scriptures teach that professing believers who habitually engage in wicked behavior are not Christians (1 Cor. 5:11; 6:9-11; 1 Jn. 2:3-4; 3:4,6,9; Ja. 2:20; Mt. 7:21). (g) The Bible teaches that everyone who is justified is also regenerated and sanctified (Rom. 6:1-18). Jesus saves from both the guilt and power of sin. Union with the Savior in his death and resurrection is not only the foundation of justification but also of sanctification as well. (h) The necessity and reality of sanctification is clearly exhibited in the covenant of grace (Jer. 31:33). The salvation achieved by Jesus Christ is comprehensive. While Reformed authors have taught the necessity of holiness, they also (unlike the Auburn Avenue theologians) have very carefully distinguished between justification by faith alone and all the other aspects of salvation in the broad sense that accompany justification. If this distinction is not carefully made, then we are no better than Romanists or Judaizers. (Brian Schwertley, A Refutation of the Auburn Avenue Theology’s Rejection of Justification by Faith Alone)

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