I was blessed to be at home today, renewed in my mind in the peace I have in Christ and I listened to a sermon online by Herman Hoeksema’s entitled “Justification in Relation to Good Works” which addressed questions in the Heidelberg and the Scriptures:
Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”
Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace”
Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
The doctrine of Justification by Faith as the sole source of our righteousness before God in Christ (justified freely by His grace) is objected to by many professing Christians when they accuse those who believe it and confess it in its totality as being a doctrine that will cause men to become antinomian or profane and careless, count on that accusation Hoeksema says. Most who object also object to the doctrine of election and reprobation either fully or in some sense and in doing so they deny many things; 2 of which are:
They deny the Sovereign providence of God!
They deny that Sovereign justification is by grace alone!
And this is the underlying principal of the portion of the Heidelberg catechism which follows; the underlying principal of God’s Sovereignty!
#62 But why cannot our good works be the whole or part of our righteousness before God?
Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment seat of God, must be perfect throughout and wholly conformable to the divine law, but even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.
Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
#64 But does not this doctrine make men careless and profane?
No, for it is IMPOSSIBLE that those who are implanted into Christ by true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.
Matthew 7:18 “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit”
It stands to reason that if you deny that our justification (our complete righteousness before God) is by the providence of God in His election and by His Grace alone you make good works somehow a credit to your account and your sin a demerit to your account, in your justification. This is, of course, not true! Justification has nothing to do with our works, absolutely nothing, it is all of Grace. Once this doctrine is understood and believed and embraced, sin truly no longer has dominion over us.
The catechism tells us that ALL of our works are defiled with sin so the believer must confess that truth of himself and then remember that if our works are defiled with sin God cannot look upon them and declare us righteous because of them, not wholly or in part or we are condemned in them. A true and living faith WILL bring forth fruits of righteousness, because the transforming power is HIS righteousness, the righteousness of God in Christ.
It is so imperative that believer’s KNOW this doctrine first, that we know that Christ has merited it all for us. He has merited our salvation, our forgiveness of sins, our justification, our eternal life, He has merited our place in heaven, our gifts to serve and He has merited the very number of works that we may do. He has redeemed us forever UNTO good works and we MAY do them freely as sons and daughters of God.
What a blessed truth! Thank you H. Hoeksema!