We Have Been Saved by Faith, and We Shall Be Saved by the Good Works

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Puritan Board Freshman
We Have Been Saved by Faith, and We Shall Be Saved by the Good Works (Which Are a Product of That Faith)

I found this website "http://www.christian-history.org/sola-fide.html#leap" dealing with christian history. This guys deals with a lot of things concerning Roman Catholicism, yet I find his definition of sola fide concerning.

How Can Faith Only and Not Faith Only Both Be True?

Ah, finally. To the point.

Paul divides salvation into two stages.

One, we are delivered from the world and from our bondage to sin. We are born again, and made into new creatures in Christ. That happens by faith, apart from works.
Two, we live our lives as Christians. The grace of God enables us to overcome sin (Rom. 6:14). The Spirit of God enables us to put our flesh to death (Rom. 8:13). Then we die, and we are judged …
… by works apart from faith.

Does Paul really distinguish like that?


But let's look at the place where he most clearly distinguishes between our salvation from the world and our entrance into eternal life:

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom. 5:9-10)
Faith and works are not specifically mentioned here. We'll look at those in a moment.

But look at how much is mentioned:

past tense: In the past tense, Paul says we were reconciled and justified. He also says that this was done by Jesus' death and by his blood.
future tense: In the future tense, Paul says that we will be saved from wrath. This will happen by his life, rather than by his death.
Jesus' death and blood are tied to our justification in the past. Similar words are used to refer to our experience in the past. We die to our old life, and in baptism we are buried with Christ. Our salvation, in the sense of our entrance into Christ, happens purely by faith, apart from works. We can never work ourselves into being born again or into becoming new creatures.

Once that happens, however, we are told not to grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9). We are told that we must live by the Spirit and put to death the deeds of body (Rom. 8:13). This happens by Christ's life rather than by his death. While the power belongs to Christ, the choice belongs to us. If we live according to the flesh, we will die, we are told, but if we put to death the deeds of the body, then we will live.

We can only put the deeds of the body to death by the Spirit. We do not have the power otherwise. But the choice to live by the Spirit is ours, and we are commanded repeatedly (especially in Rom. 8 and Gal. 5) to do so.

As Paul says, if by the Spirit we put to death the deeds of the body, then (and only then) we will live. In Galatians 6:8-9, Paul ties this to good works ("doing good"). If we don't grow weary in doing good, then we will reap. The context makes it clear he is talking about reaping eternal life at the judgment.

Is it a good definition?


Puritan Board Junior
I say all the following without any exaggeration..

Stay far, FAR away from this website's teaching on justification! Four years ago I swallowed the teaching from this very website on faith alone and God saw the need to take some extreme measures to weed self-righteousness out of me. And not for a thousand worlds would I want to repeat those lessons. Avoid it as though believing it might cut you off from Christ!
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Puritan Board Professor
This appears to conflate justification with sanctification. The faith that justifies also is the same faith that sanctifies but justification and sanctification are two separate things. Justification is how we are adopted into the family of God and sanctification is how we are conformed into His likeness and both "things" have the common bond of faith.


Puritan Board Senior
Although this wasn't the point of this thread, the website linked to is very dangerous, so here are a few of my thoughts on the excerpt posted in case someone from the internet happens across this thread.

Firstly, it is contrary to the notion of "eternal" in "eternal life" if the life can be lost once one enters into it. Secondly, the passage is meant as an encouragement: since we have been saved by Christ's death, how much more will be saved by Christ's life! That is, since we are now God's friends, Christ will surely save us from the wrath to come by His life, by His being alive at the right hand of God.

Calvin gives a more sound exposition and application of this passage:

"8. But God confirms, etc. The verb, συνίστησι, has various meanings; that which is most suitable to this place is that of confirming; for it was not the Apostle’s object to excite our gratitude, but to strengthen the trust and confidence of our souls. He then confirms, that is, exhibits his love to us as most certain and complete, inasmuch as for the sake of the ungodly he spared not Christ his own Son. In this, indeed, his love appears, that being not moved by love on our part, he of his own good will first loved us, as John tells us. (1 John 3:16.) — Those are here called sinners, (as in many other places,) who are wholly vicious and given up to sin, according to what is said in John 9:31, “God hears not sinners,” that is, men abandoned and altogether wicked. The woman called “a sinner,” was one of a shameful character. (Luke 7:37.) And this meaning appears more evident from the contrast which immediately follows, — for being now justified through his blood: for since he sets the two in opposition, the one to the other, and calls those justified who are delivered from the guilt of sin, it necessarily follows that those are sinners who, for their evil deeds, are condemned.

The import of the whole is, — since Christ has attained righteousness for sinners by his death, much more shall he protect them, being now justified, from destruction. And in the last clause he applies to his own doctrine the comparison between the less and the greater: for it would not have been enough for salvation to have been once procured for us, were not Christ to render it safe and secure to the end. And this is what the Apostle now maintains; so that we ought not to fear, that Christ will cut off the current of his favor while we are in the middle of our course: for inasmuch as he has reconciled us to the Father, our condition is such, that he purposes more efficaciously to put forth and daily to increase his favor towards us.

10 This is an explanation of the former verse, amplified by introducing a comparison between life and death. We were enemies, he says, when Christ interposed for the purpose of propitiating the Father: through this reconciliation we are now friends; since this was effected by his death; much more influential and efficacious will be his life."

Thirdly, Romans 8 shows there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature." We are creatures to whom our will belongs. Ergo, Christ not only can but will preserve us even from the danger of our wills that can stem from a stubborn, sinful heart. Indeed, it seems to me that Romans 8 is a much better correlate to the meaning and tenor of this passage than the warning passages of Scripture.

Fourthly, the excerpt says,

"While the power belongs to Christ, the choice belongs to us."

Christ's people will be willing in the day of His power. Psalm 110:3. Christ has the power to rule over our hearts and wills, and in this day of His power, He will so rule our wills that they will sweetly comply in obedience to Him. While it is true the "choice belongs to us" in the sense that our wills freely choose to obey Christ, our wills are not so sovereign that Christ does not govern them to preserve us from ultimately and finally falling away.

A better definition of sola fide comes from the Westminster Standards.

"I. Those whom God effectually calleth he also freely justifieth;a not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous: not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them,b they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.c

a. Rom 3:24; 8:30. • b. Jer 23:6; Rom 3:22, 24-25, 27-28; 4:5-8; 5:17-19; 1 Cor 1:30-31; 2 Cor 5:19, 21; Eph 1:7; Titus 3:5, 7. • c. Acts 10:44; 13:38-39; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:7-8; Phil 3:9.

II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification;a yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.b

a. John 1:12; Rom 3:28; 5:1. • b. Gal 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26.

III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf.a Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them,b and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead,c and both freely, not for anything in them, their justification is only of free grace;d that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.e

a. Isa 53:4-6, 10-12; Dan 9:24, 26; Rom 5:8-10, 19; 1 Tim 2:5-6; Heb 10:10, 14. • b. Rom 8:32. • c. Mat 3:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Eph 5:2. • d. Rom 3:24; Eph 1:7. • e. Rom 3:26; Eph 2:7.

IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify all the elect,a and Christ did, in the fulness of time, die for their sins, and rise again for their justification:b nevertheless, they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.c

a. Rom 8:30; Gal 3:8; 1 Pet 1:2, 19-20. • b. Rom 4:25; Gal 4:4; 1 Tim 2:6. • c. Gal 2:16; Col 1:21-22; Titus 3:4-7.

V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified;a and although they can never fall from the state of justification,b yet they may by their sins fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.c

a. Mat 6:12; 1 John 1:7, 9; 2:1-2. • b. Luke 22:32; John 10:28; Heb 10:14. • c. Psa 32:5; 51:7-12; 89:31-33; Mat 26:75; Luke 1:20; 1 Cor 11:30, 32.

VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament."
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