Although reasonable creatures owe obedience to God, their Creator, the gap between them is so great that they can never attain the reward of life without the voluntary condescension of God, which He has been pleased to do by a covenant.1
Since mankind brought itself under the curse of the law by the fall, it pleased the Lord to make a covenant of grace2 by which He freely offers life and salvation to sinners by Jesus Christ. He does this by requiring faith in Christ in order that they might be saved.3 He also promises to give His Holy Spirit to all who are ordained to eternal life in order to make them willing and able to believe.4
This covenant was first revealed to Adam in the gospel promise of salvation by the seed of the woman.5 After that it was revealed in progressive stages until the full revelation was completed in the New Testament.6 This covenant is founded on the eternal covenantal transaction between the Father and the Son concerning the redemption of the elect.7 It is only by the grace of this covenant that any of fallen Adam's posterity will ever obtain life and immortality, since mankind can never find acceptance with God on the terms Adam originally stood in his innocency.8
References: 1Luke 17:10; Job 35:7, 8; 2Genesis 2:17; Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20, 21; 3Romans 8:3; Mark 16:15, 16; John 3:16; 4Ezekiel 36:26, 27; John 6:44, 45; Psalm 110:3; 5Genesis 3:15; 6Hebrews 1:1; 72 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; 8Hebrews 11:6, 13; Romans 4:1, 2; Acts 4:12; John 8:56.
God was pleased to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, to be the Mediator between God and man according to His eternal purpose and their mutual covenant.1 In order to be the Mediator, He was made Prophet,2 Priest,3 and King.4 He is also Head and Savior of His church,5 Heir of all things,6 and Judge of the world.7 The Father, from all eternity, gave His Son a people to be His seed, whom, in time, He would redeem, call, justify, sanctify, and glorify.8
The Son of God is the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father's glory. He is of one substance, being equal with Him who made the world and who upholds and governs all things He has made. When the fullness of time was come, the Son took upon Him human nature with all the properties and infirmities common to humankind9 but without sin.10 He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the power of the Most High overshadowing her. In this way He was made of a woman of the tribe of Judah and of the seed of Abraham and David according to the Scriptures.11 In Him the two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person without conversion, composition, or confusion. Jesus is very God and very man∓mp;mdas;one Christ and the only mediator between God and man.12
His human nature being united to the divine nature, the Lord Jesus was sanctified by and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure.13 In Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge14 because it pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell,15 being holy, harmless, undefiled,16 and full of grace and truth,17 and that by these He is properly equipped for the office of mediator and surety.18 He did not take this office upon Himself but was called to it by His Father,19 who placed all authority and judgment into His hands with a charge to do it.20
The Lord Jesus willingly undertook this office21 for which He was "made under the law,"22 perfectly fulfilling it. He also undertook the punishment that we would have suffered,23 being made sin and a curse for us24 and enduring great sorrows in His soul and painful suffering in His body.25 He was crucified and died, His body remaining in physical death but without corruption.26 After three days in the tomb, He arose from the dead27 with the same body in which he suffered.28 Then, after forty days He also ascended into heaven29 to sit on the right hand of His Father to make intercession for us.30 He will return to judge men and angels at the end of the age.31
The Lord Jesus, through the eternal Spirit, was once and for all offered up unto God, by which He fully satisfied the justice of God32 and, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice, procured reconciliation and purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father gave to Him.33
Although the price of redemption was not paid until after Christ's incarnation, the benefits were applied to the elect in every age from the beginning of the world and revealed to them in promises, types, and sacrifices. In these He was signified to be the seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent's head,34 being the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,35 the same yesterday, and today, and forever.36
Christ the Mediator acts according to both natures, each nature acting in what is proper to itself. However, because of the unity of the person, what is properly attributed to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the other nature.37
Christ applies the benefit to and makes intercession for every one for whom He obtained eternal redemption,38 uniting them to Himself by His Spirit. He reveals the mystery of salvation in and by the Word, persuading the elect to believe and obey39 by governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit. By His almighty power and wisdom,40 He overcomes all obstacles41 in ways that are in harmony with His wonderful and unsearchable administration of free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them as the means of procuring salvation.42
The offices of Prophet, Priest, and King are properly held only by Christ, our Mediator, and may not be transferred to any other either in whole or in part.43 Their number and order is also necessary. Because of our ignorance, we stand in need of His prophetic office.44 Because of our alienation from God and because our best service is full of imperfection, we need His priestly office to reconcile and present us as acceptable to God.45 Also, because of our enmity and utter inability to return to God and for our rescue and security from spiritual adversaries, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom.46
References: 1Isaiah 42:1; 1 Peter 1:19, 20; 2Acts 3:22; 3Hebrews 5:5, 6; 4Psalm 2:6; Luke 1:33; 5Ephesians 1:22, 23; 6Hebrews 1:2; 7Acts 17:31; 8Isaiah 53:10; John 17:6; Romans 8:30; 9John 1:14; Galatians 4:4; 10Romans 8:3; Hebrews 2:14, 16, 17; 4:15; 11Matthew 1:22, 23; Luke 1:27, 31, 35; 12Romans 9:5; 1 Timothy 2:5; 13Psalm 45:7; Acts 10:38; John 3:34; 14Colossians 2:3; 15Colossians 1:19; 16Hebrews 7:26; 17John 1:14; 18Hebrews 7:22; 19Hebrews 5:5; 20John 5:22, 27; Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36; 21Psalm 40:7, 8; Hebrews 10:5-10; John 10:18; 22Galatians 4:4; Matthew 3:15; 23Galatians 3:13; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 242 Corinthians 5:21; 25Matthew 26:37, 38; Luke 22:44; Matthew 27:46; 26Acts 13:37; 271 Corinthians 15:3, 4; 28John 20:25, 27; 29Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9-11; 30Romans 8:34; Hebrews 9:24; 31Acts 10:42; Romans 14:9, 10; Acts 1:11; 2 Peter 2:4; 32Hebrews 9:14; 10:14; Romans 3:25, 26; 33John 17:2; Hebrews 9:15; 341 Corinthians 4:10; Hebrews 4:2; 1 Peter 1:10, 11; 35Revelation 13:8; 36Hebrews 13:8; 37John 3:13; Acts 20:28; 38John 6:37; 10:15, 16; 17:9; Romans 5:10; 39John 17:6; Ephesians 1:9; 1 John 5:20; 40Romans 8:9, 14; 41Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25, 26; 42John 3:8; Ephesians 1:8; 431 Timothy 2:5; 44John 1:18; 45Colossians 1:21; Galatians 5:17; 46John 16:8; Psalm 110:3; Luke 1:74, 75.
God endued mankind with natural liberty and ability to act on choice. This ability to choose was not forced or determined to do good or evil.1 In this state of innocence, Adam was free and able to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God,2 but he also had the ability to choose to fall from the state of innocence.3
By his fall into sin, Adam and his posterity totally lost all ability to will any spiritual good that accompanies salvation.4 Therefore, being altogether averse to good, the natural man is dead in sin5 and unable either to prepare or to convert himself by his own strength.6
When God converts a sinner, translating him into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin.7 By His grace alone God enables him freely to will and to do spiritual good.8 However, because of his remaining corruption, he does not perfectly nor only will that which is good but also wills evil.9 Only in the state of glory will believers be made completely and unchangeably free to do good and not to sin.10
References: 1Matthew 17:12; James 1:14; Deuteronomy 30:19; 2Ecclesiastes 7:29; 3Genesis 3:6; 4Romans 5:6; 8:7; 5Ephesians 2:1, 5; 6Titus 3:3-5; John 6:44; 7Colossians 1:13; John 8:36; 8Philippians 2:13; 9Romans 7:15, 18,19, 21, 23; 10Ephesians 4:13.
God is pleased, in His appointed and accepted time, effectually to call1 those whom He has predestinated unto life. He calls them by His Word and Spirit out of the state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.2 This He does, spiritually and savingly, by enlightening their minds to understand the things of God.3 He takes away their hearts of stone, giving them hearts of flesh4 and renewing their wills. By His almighty power He determines them to that which is good, effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ,5 yet in such a way that they come freely, being made willing by His grace.6
Effectual calling is of God's free and special grace alone, not due to any foreseen cause in man. It is not from any power or agency by which the sinner7 cooperates with His special grace. The sinner is wholly passive, being dead in sins and trespasses until quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit.8 Only then is he enabled to answer this call and embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it. Regeneration is by no less power than that which raised Christ from the dead.9
Elect infants who die in infancy are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit,10 who works when, where, and how He pleases.11 This also applies to all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.
All the non-elect, although they may be outwardly called by the ministry of the Word and may have some common operations of the Spirit,12 are never effectually drawn by the Father. They never truly come to Christ and so cannot be saved.13 No one who does not receive the Christian faith can be saved, be he ever so diligent to conform his life to the light of nature and the law of the religion he does profess.14
References: 1Romans 8:30; 11:7; Ephesians 1:10, 11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14; 2Ephesians 2:1-6; 3Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:17, 18; 4Ezekiel 36:26; 5Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:27; Ephesians 1:19; 6Psalm 110:3; Song of Solomon 1:4; 72 Timothy 1:9; Ephesians 2:8; 81 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:5; John 5:25; 9Ephesians 1:19, 20; 10John 3:3,5, 6; 11John 3:8; 12Matthew 22:14; 13:20, 21; Hebrews 6:4, 5; 13John 6:44, 45, 65; 1 John 2:24, 25; 14Acts 4:12; John 4:22; 17:3.
Those whom God effectually calls He also freely justifies,1 not by infusing righteousness into them but by pardoning their sins and accounting them righteous.2 Justification is a judicial act for Christ's sake alone and is neither wrought in the elect.3 Justification is not the result of God's imputing faith as righteousness, mere acts of believing, or any other evangelical obedience done by the elect. They are justified only by God's imputing both Christ's active obedience to the law and passive obedience to death for them.4
Faith, the gift of God,5 is only the instrument of justification.6 By faith the elect receive Christ and rest on Him, however, it is always accompanied by other saving graces in justified persons. There is no dead faith but that which works by love.7
Christ, by His obedience and death, fully discharged the debt of all who are justified. Christ was given by the Father for them, and in their place He endured the penalty of sin, making full satisfaction to God's justice by the blood of His cross.8 Their justification is of free grace only.9 This is in order that both the exact justice and the rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.10
God decreed from all eternity to justify all the elect,11 and Christ died in the fullness of time for their sins and rose again for their justification.12 Nevertheless, the elect are not justified personally until the Holy Spirit in due time actually applies Christ's work to them.13
God continues to forgive the sins of those that are justified.14 In this way they can never fall from the state of justification.15 They may, however, fall under God's fatherly displeasure for their acts of sin.16 In that condition, the light of His countenance is not usually restored to them until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg His pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.17
The justification of believers under the Old Covenant was in all these respects like that of believers under the New Covenant,18 the difference being that Old Covenant believers did not have full assurance because their consciences were not fully cleared.
References: 1Romans 3:24; 8:30; 2Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; 31 Corinthians 1:30, 31; Romans 5:17-19; 4Philippians 3:8, 9; Ephesians 2:8-10; 5John 1:12; Romans 5:17; 6Romans 3:28; 7Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26; 8Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19; Isaiah 53:5,6; 9Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 10Romans 3:26; Ephesians 1:6, 7; 2:7; 11Galatians 3:8; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Timothy 2:6; 12; Romans 4:25; 12Romans 4:25; 13; Colossians 1:21, 22; Titus 3:4-7; 14Matthew 6:12; 1 John 1:7, 9; 15John 10:28; 16Psalm 89:31-33; 17Psalm 32:5; Psalm 51:1-19; Matthew 26:75; 18Galatians 3:9; Romans 4:22-24; Hebrews 9:9, 14; 10:2, 22.
God has condescended to grant to all who are justified, for the sake of His only Son, Jesus Christ, the grace of adoption.1 By this grant they become the children of God, enjoying all the liberties and privileges accorded to them.2 They are given His name.3 They receive the spirit of adoption,4 giving them access to the throne of grace with boldness to cry, "Abba, Father."5 They are pitied,6 protected,7 provided for,8 and chastened by the Father.9 They are never cast off10 but are sealed unto the day of redemption,11 when they will inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.12
References: 1Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:4, 5; 2John 1:12; Romans 8:17; 32 Corinthians 6:18; Revelation 3:12; 4Romans 8:15; 5Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 2:18; 6Psalm 103:13; 7Proverbs 14:26; 81 Peter 5:7; 9Hebrews 12:6; 10Isaiah 54:8, 9; Lamentations 3:31; 11Ephesians 4:30; 12Hebrews 1:14; 6:12.
Those who are united to Christ, effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them by virtue of Christ's death and resurrection, are also sanctified1 by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them.2 The rule of the body of sin is destroyed,3 and its lusts are continually weakened and mortified.4 At the same time the believers are quickened and strengthened in all the saving graces.5 This enables them to practice true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.6
Sanctification acts on the whole person7 who is yet imperfect in this life because of remaining corruption,8 which is the source of continual and irreconcilable war. The flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh.9
Although the remaining corruption for a time may prevail,10 through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate will eventually overcome11 and grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Through sanctification believers press after heavenly life in evangelical obedience to all the commands of Christ as Head and King that His Word prescribes.12
References: 1Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6; 2John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23; 3Romans 6:14; 4Galatians 5:24; 5Colossians 1:11; 62 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14; 71 Thessalonians 5:23; 8Romans 7:18, 23; 9Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11; 10Romans 7:23; 11Romans 6:14; 12Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 7:1.
The grace of faith whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls is the work of the Spirit.1 Saving faith is produced in the sinner in association with the ministry of the Word.2 Faith is increased and strengthened by the administration of baptism and the Lord's Supper, prayer and other means appointed of God.3
By faith a Christian believes whatever is revealed in the Word.4 In so doing, he apprehends the authority of the Word above all other writings.5 As the Word of God reveals the glory of God in His attributes, the excellence of Christ in His nature and offices, and the power and fullness of the Holy Spirit in His operations, the elect is enabled to cast his soul on the truth believed.6 The believer acts in accordance to what each particular passage contains, yielding obedience to the commands,7 trembling at its warnings,8 and embracing the promises of God.9 However, the principal act of saving faith is its immediate relationship to Christ-accepting, receiving, and resting on Him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life. This he does by virtue of the covenant of grace.10
Saving faith, although it varies in degree (weak or strong),11 is, nevertheless, different in nature from the faith and common grace of temporary believers.12 Therefore, though it may suffer many assaults and be temporarily weakened, yet it will be victorious.13 No matter how small it begins, it will grow up to attain full assurance through Christ,14 who is both the Author and Finisher of faith.15
References: 12 Corinthians 4:13; Ephesians 2:8; 2Romans 10:14, 17; 3Luke 17:5; 1 Peter 2:2; Acts 20:32; 4Acts 24:14; 5Psalm 19:7-10; 119:72; 62 Timothy 1:12; 7John 15:14; 8Isaiah 66:2; 9Hebrews 11:13; 10John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:20; Acts 15:11; 11Hebrews 5:13, 14; Matthew 6:30; Romans 4:19, 20; 122 Peter 1:1; 13Ephesians 6:16; 1 John 5:4-5; 14Hebrews 6:11, 12; Colossians 2:2; 15Hebrews 12:2.
God, in the effectual calling, gives to elect persons converted in their mature years repentance unto life1 because they have lived for some time and served various lusts and pleasures.
There is none who does good and sins not;2 thus, because of the power and deceitfulness of indwelling corruption and because of the prevalence of temptation, the best of men may fall into greater sins and provocations. Therefore, God has, in the covenant of grace, mercifully provided repentance unto salvation3 for believers who sin in order that they may be renewed.
This saving repentance is an evangelical grace.4 By faith in Christ, a person, made aware of the manifold evils of his sin by the Holy Spirit, humbles himself with godly sorrow and self-abhorrence.5 He then prays for pardon and strength of grace. The repentant person purposes to walk before God, endeavoring by the Spirit to be well-pleasing in all things.6
As repentance is to be continued through the whole course of life on account of the body of death and the motions of it, so everyone's duty is to repent particularly of his known sins.7
Such is the provision which God has made through Christ in the covenant of grace for the preservation of believers unto salvation. Although there is no sin so small but that it deserves damnation,8 yet there is no sin so great that it brings damnation on those who do repent.9 This makes the constant repentance necessary.
References: 1Titus 3:2-5; 2Eccesiastes 7:20; 3Luke 22:31, 32; 4Zechariah 12:10; Acts 11:18; 5Ezekiel 36:31; 2 Corinthians 7:11; 6Psalm 119:6, 128; 7Luke 19:8; 1 Timothy 1:13, 15; 8Romans 6:23; 9Isaiah 1:16-18; 55:7.
Works that are considered good works by God are those that He has commanded in His Holy Word.1 Works done by men out of mere zeal or with good intentions are not acceptable to God without His warrant.2
Obedience that is the fruit of true and living faith3 is also the evidence of such faith. By it believers display their thankfulness,4 strengthen their assurance,5 edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel,6 stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God.7 The goal of God's workmanship in those created in Christ Jesus is good works.8 Those who do them have their fruit unto holiness, the end of which is eternal life.9
The ability to do good works acceptable to God is wholly from the Spirit of Christ,10 who works in believers to will and to do of His good pleasure.11 This fact, however, is no excuse for one to neglect his obligation to do good works, believing that this neglect is evidence that the Spirit is not working in him. Rather, he ought diligently to seek to stir up the grace of God that is in him.12
Those who in their obedience produce the best works possible in this life will never supererogate (never do more than God requires). They will always fall far short of their obligation.13
Believers' best works neither merit pardon for sin nor earn eternal life due to the great disparity between those works and the perfect glory of God. Finite works could never satisfy the debt of their sins against the infinite God.14 Therefore, believers are unprofitable servants because, when have done all they can, they have only done their duty. Works can be good only as they proceed from the Spirit,15 but they become defiled by human weakness and imperfection and, thus, could never endure the severity of God's judgment.16
Nevertheless, those who are accepted in Christ will also find that their good works are accepted in Him.17 Though they are not unreprovable in God's sight, God is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although weak and imperfect.18
Works done by the unregenerate, although commanded of God and useful,19 do not proceed from a heart purified by faith.20 They are not Spirit-empowered obedience to the Word21 or are they done for the glory of God.22 Thus, they are sinful and cannot please God. Those who do them will never qualify to receive grace from God.23 On the other hand, the neglect of them makes the unregenerate person more sinful and displeasing to God.24
References: 1Micah 6:8; Hebrews 13:21; 2Matthew 15:9; Isaiah 29:13; 3James 2:18, 22; 4Psalm 116:12, 13; 51 John 2:3, 5; 2 Peter 1:5-11; 6Matthew 5:16; 71 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:15; Philippians 1:11; 8Ephesians 2:10; 9Romans 6:22; 10John 15:4, 5; 11; Colossians 3:5; Philippians 2:13; 112 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:13; 12Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Isaiah 64:7; 13Job 9:2, 3; Galatians 5:17; Luke 17:10; 14Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:6; 15Galatians 5:22, 23; 16Isaiah 64:6; Psalm 143:2; 17Ephesians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5; 18Matthew 25:21, 23; Hebrews 6:10; 192 Kings 10:30; 1 Kings 21:27, 29; 20Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4, 6; 211 Corinthians 13:1; 22Matthew 6:2, 5; 23Amos 5:21, 22; Romans 9:16; Titus 3:5; 24Job 21:14, 15; Matthew 25:41-43.
©2002 Cause of God and Truth Publications. Permission granted for non-profit reproduction in original form. Other uses require written permission.