(BE) - A Brief Exposition of the Teachings for the New Church Meant by the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation

BE 14

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14. Concerning merits, from the Formula Concordiae. (a) That it is false that our works merit remission of sins; false, that men are accounted just by the justice of reason; and false, that reason of its own strength can love God above all things, and do the law of God (p. 64). (b) That faith does not justify because it is in itself so good a work, and so excellent a virtue, but because it lays hold of the merit of Christ in the promise of the gospel (pp. 76, 684). (c) That the promise of remission of sins, and justification for Christ's sake, does not involve any condition of merit, because it is freely offered (p. 67). (d) That a sinner is justified before God, or absolved from his sins, and from the most just sentence of damnation, and adopted into the number of the sons of God, without any merit of his own, and without any works of his own, whether past, present, or future, of mere grace, and only on account of the sole merit of Christ, which is imputed to him for justice (p. 684). (e) That good works follow faith, remission of sins, and regeneration; and whatever of pollution or imperfection is in them, is not accounted sinful or defective, and that for Christ's sake; and thus that the whole man, both as to his person and his works, is rendered and pronounced just and holy, out of mere grace and mercy in Christ, shed abroad, displayed, and magnified towards us; wherefore we cannot glory on account of merit (pp. 74, 92, 93, 336). (f) He who trusts in works, thinking he can merit anything thereby, despises the merit and grace of Christ, and seeks a way to heaven without Christ, by human strength (pp. 16, 17, 18, 19). (g) Whosoever desires to ascribe something to good works in the article of justification, and to merit the grace of God thereby, to such a man works are not only useless, but even pernicious (p. 708). (h) The works of the Decalogue are enumerated, and other necessary works, which God vouchsafes to reward (pp. 176, 198). (i) We teach that good works are meritorious, not indeed of remission of sins, grace, and justification, but of other temporal rewards, and even spiritual rewards in this life, and after this life, because Paul says, "Every one shall receive a reward according to his labor"; and Christ says, "Great will be your reward in the heavens"; and it is often said, that "it shall be rendered unto every one according to his works"; wherefore we acknowledge eternal life to be a reward, because it is our due according to promise, and because God crowns His own gifts, but not on account of our merits (pp. 96, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138). (k) That the good works of believers, when they are performed on account of true causes, and directed to right ends, such as God requires from the regenerate, are signs of eternal salvation; and that God the Father accounts them acceptable and pleasing for Christ's sake, and promises to them excellent rewards of the present life, and of that which is to come (p. 708). (That although good works merit rewards, yet neither from their worthiness nor fitness do they merit the remission of sins, or the glory of eternal life (pp. 96, 135, 139, seq.; Appendix, p. 174). (m) That Christ at the Last Judgment will pass sentence on good and evil works, as the proper effects and evidences of men's faith (p. 134; Appendix, p. 187). (n) That God rewards good works, but that it is of grace that He crowns His own gifts, is asserted in the Confession of the Churches in the Low Countries.


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