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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Two Dimensions of the Christian Life

Martin Luther by Ron AdairMartin Luther:

You have often heard me say that the Christian life has two dimensions: the first is faith, and the second is good works. A believer should live a devout life and always do what is right. But the first dimension of the Christian life—faith—is more essential. The second dimension—good works—is never as valuable as faith. People of the world, however, adore good works. They regard them to be far higher than faith.

Good works have always been valued more highly than faith. Of course, it’s true that we should do good works and respect the importance of them. But we should be careful that we don’t elevate good works to such an extent that faith and Christ become secondary. If we esteem them too highly, good works can become the greatest idolatry. This has occurred both inside and outside of Christianity. Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. They preach about and praise their own works instead of God’s works.

Faith should be first. After faith is preached, then we should teach good works. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone.

The Bible is to be Understood

Daniel WebsterDaniel Webster:

“I believe that the Bible is to be understood and received in the plain and obvious meaning of its passages; for I cannot persuade myself that a book intended for the instruction and conversion of the whole world should cover its true meaning in any such mystery and doubt that none but critics and philosophers can discover it.”

“Education is useless without the Bible.”

Salvation and the Covenant

Charles HodgeSalvation is offered to all men on the condition of faith in Christ. Therefore, in this sense, the covenant of grace is made with all men. The supreme sin of those who hear the gospel is that they refuse to accept this covenant, and therefore place themselves outside it. Charles Hodge writes:

In virtue of what the Son of God covenanted to perform and what in the fullness of time He actually accomplished, agreeably to the stipulations of the compact with the Father, two things follow. First, salvation is offered to all men on the condition of faith in Christ. Our Lord commanded his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. The gospel, however, is the offer of salvation upon the conditions of the covenant of grace. In this sense, the covenant of grace is formed with all mankind. And, therefore, the Westminster Confession says, ‘Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant [namely, by the covenant of works], the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace: wherein He freely offereth unto sinners [and all sinners] life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in Him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto life, his Holy Spirit, to make them able and willing to believe.’ If this, therefore, were all that is meant by those who make the parties to the covenant of grace, God and mankind in general and all mankind equally, there would be no objection to the doctrine. For it is undoubtedly true that God offers to all and every man eternal life on condition of faith in Jesus Christ. But as it is no less true that the whole scheme of redemption has special reference to those given by the Father to the Son, and of whom our Lord says, ‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out’ (John 6.37), … To them God has promised to give his Spirit in order that they may believe; and to them alone all the promises made to believers belong. (“The Covenant”)

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