This material accompanied the sermon THE NEVER (YET SOMETIMES) MISSING INGREDIENT (ROM. 12:9-21) from the sermon series: Be the Body – Seeing the Church as the Body in the Bible and Making the Body a Priority in the Present by Pastor Howard Lawler on 10/22/17.

“The gift of justification is not separated from regeneration, though the two things are distinct. But as it is too well known by experience, that the remains of sin always exist in the righteous, it is necessary that justification should be something very different from reformation to newness of life. This latter God begins in his elect, and carries on during the whole course of life, gradually and sometimes slowly, so that if placed at his judgment-seat they would always deserve sentence of death. He justifies not partially, but freely, so that they can appear in the heavens as if clothed with the purity of Christ. No portion of righteousness could pacify the conscience. It must be decided that we are pleasing to God, as being without exception righteous in his sight. Hence it follows that the doctrine of justification is perverted and completely overthrown whenever doubt is instilled into the mind, confidence in salvation is shaken, and free and intrepid prayer is retarded; yea, whenever rest and tranquility with spiritual joy are not established.” John Calvin

“Why say that we have forgiveness of sins and are justified only through faith? Surely many virtues must accompany faith, repentance and sorrow for sins, belief, good resolution, and hope, Answer: It shuts out all our merit; it teaches that we receive forgiveness of sins and are justified for the sake of Christ alone, that is, we are pleasing to God, and the heart must receive this with faith. …Where true faith is, there at the same time are many virtues. However, they are not meritorious; they are not causae justificationis [causes of justification]: they are not reasons why God accepts us. They result from faith; we receive grace and gift. As the sun has both light and power to warm, and the two cannot be separated, so wherever there is true faith, a recognition of God’s mercy, there also is love, invocation of God, and hope, and a will which willingly subjects itself to God, and is obedient.” Philip Melancthon

“We believe that this true faith, produced in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes him a ‘new man,’ causing him to live the ‘new life’ and freeing him from the slavery of sin. Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned. So then, it is impossible for this holy faith to be unfruitful in a human being, seeing that we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls ‘faith working through love,’ which leads a man to do by himself the works that God has commanded in his Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable to God, since they are all sanctified by his grace. Yet they do not count toward our justification– for by faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do good works. Otherwise they could not be good, any more than the fruit of a tree could be good if the tree is not good in the first place. So then, we do good works, but nor for merit– for what would we merit? Rather, we are indebted to God for the good works we do, and not he to us, since it is he who ‘works in us both to will and do according to his good pleasure’ — thus keeping in mind what is written: ‘When you have done all that is commanded you, then you shall say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have done what it was our duty to do.’ Yet we do not wish to deny that God rewards good works– but it is by his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, although we do good works we do not base our salvation on them; for we cannot do any work that is not defiled by our flesh and also worthy of punishment. And even if we could point to one, memory of a single sin is enough for God to reject that work. So we would always be in doubt, tossed back and forth without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be tormented constantly if they did not rest on the merit of the suffering and death of our Savior.” Belgic Confession

“Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ? A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification of his Spirit infuses grace, and enables to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection. Q. 78. Whence arises the imperfection of sanctification in believers? A. The imperfection of sanctification in believers arises from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.” Westminster Larger Catechism

“Protestant theology warns us against confusing justification and sanctification. Certainly God’s free justification is a significant motivation for ethical obedience, for it means that we do not need to earn God’s love in Christ. But the biblical writers never tell their readers simply to count on their justification as a way of evading the spiritual warfare. I think part of the confusion is this: God has certainly accepted believers once and for all in Christ. They belong to him as his sons and daughters and can never be cast out. But there is another level of divine approval, arising from his fatherly discipline…We do not need to fear God’s final judgment, but we should fear his fatherly displeasure. Hebrews and other books of the NT speak against our complacency and passivity, urging us to spiritual exertions.” John Frame

“Although God is fully pleased with the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, still the NT calls us to ‘please God’ (Rom. 8:8; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 11:6). Since we have been saved by God’s grace alone, we cannot be indifferent to his pleasure. Certainly it is a good spiritual exercise to remind ourselves of our justification, or of the cross; certainly it is good to ‘preach the gospel to ourselves’ and to repent of our idolatries (to mention some other approaches). But none of these exercises replaces the act of obedience itself. In the end, God expects us to obey his commands.” John Frame

“Pleasing God by obedience is complementary, not contradictory, to justification by faith alone. I suspect that the main reason for the neglect of this doctrine in evangelical circles today is that pastors and teachers and writers are afraid of compromising the great doctrine of justification by faith alone. If we can please God by works, doesn’t that sound like justification by works? No, it does not, or else the New Testament authors would not put so much emphasis on telling Christians to please God by their obedience! The key to understanding this is to distinguish clearly between justification (on the one hand) and sanctification and our daily relationship to God as Christians (on the other hand).” Wayne Grudem

“Sometimes Christians assume that they can do absolutely nothing in this life that will please God. They think that God counts even their faithful obedience as totally worthless, totally unworthy of his approval. But that assumption is surely wrong, both because the New Testament so frequently speaks about ‘pleasing’ God and because such an assumption tends to deny the genuine goodness of the work that Christ has done in redeeming us and making us acceptable before him. Such a view would maximize our sinfulness to the extent that it is even greater than Christ’s redemptive work, ‘who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works’ (Titus 2:14). I suspect that just as Satan accuses Christians and wants them to feel false guilt and false accusation, so he also seeks to keep them from the great joy of knowing the favor of God on their daily activities, of knowing that God is pleased with their obedience. In this way he seeks to hinder our personal relationship with God, for the ability to take pleasure in another person is an essential component of any genuine personal relationship.” Wayne Grudem

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