Understanding and behaviour; doctrine and life


One of the prayers in the 1662 prayer book is that ministers should teach by both their life and doctrine. I’m reading The Marrow of True Justification [The Biblical Doctrine of Justification without Works] by Benjamin Keach published in 1692. It is very clear and helpful as Keach demonstrates very clearly the link between our understanding of how we are justified and our resulting behaviour.

On Romans 4:5, Keach writes:

My Brethren, do no mistake; a Man seeing himself wounded doth not heal him, though it may, and does not put him upon seeking out for healing, so a Man seeing himself a Sinner, doth not render him Righteous. Nothing renders a Man righteous to Justification in God’s sight, but the imputation of the perfect Personal Righteousness of Christ, received only by the Father of the operation of God

So much as to the Explanation of the Terms of the Text; in which you have three parts:

1. A Negative Proposition, But to him that worketh not.
2. An Affirmative Proposition, But believeth on him that justifies the ungodly.
3. The Conclusion from hence, His faith is counted (or imputed) for Righteousness.

Keach goes on to describe several misunderstandings of the doctrine of justification, some of which were present in the debate over Steve Chalke’s doctrine of justification.

1. Justification is by inherent Righteousness: good works are meritorious, whereby venial (forgiveable) sins are covered by faith in Christ but obedience to the Law of God is necessary for justification

2. Justification, free pardon, is by the grace and mercy of God apart from Christ. God simply forgives people who ask him. Christ’s death achieved nothing with respect to justification as he was only a man (Socianianism)

3. Justification is by the work of faith, including love of God and showing mercy to others, as an act of the sinner toward God

4. Justification is by sinless perfection, being perfectly holy, by the Spirit, Light, or Christ within; and that no Man can be Justified, unless he be in himself perfect without Sin.

…They say “It is a great abomination to say God should condemn and punish his innocent Son, that have satisfied for our Sins we may be justified by the imputation of his perfect righteousness”

5. Justification is by procurement through prior cleansing before coming to Christ to be washed and justified

6. Justification is by faith and obedience [neonomianism]. There are others of late, as well as formerly, who by too many are looked upon to be true Preachers of the Gospel, and Orthodox Men, who are strangely tainted with that poisonous Notion which brings sincere obedience into the gospel, as joining it with Faith in point of Justification.

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