Jim said to Chip:
> Here's a simple question for you: Do you subscribe the
> WCF view that we are bound to obey the law (WCF XIX,5)?
Christians are to obey the law out of love and gratitude for the God who has already entitled us to all of salvation, including final glory, based on the imputed righteousness of Christ. We are not to obey the law thinking that it makes us more fit for heaven or recommends us to God in any way. The damnable heresy of the Judaizers was the belief that works somehow contribute to a sinner's salvation or being kept saved or recommending us to God.
> Notice that Jesus does not condemn the Pharisees
> because they advocated law-keeping, but because
> they did not keep the law:
Paul said that before he was saved, he was "as touching the law, a Pharisee .. touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:5-6). Yet he counted it as loss and as dung (vv. 7-8). He did his best to avoid every known sin and obey every known commandment. Yet this law-keeping was dung. Why? Because he, like the Pharisees, was doing it in order to recommend himself to God. He and the other Pharisees believed that law-keeping was something that formed at least part of the ground of their salvation. Even though they thanked God for what he enabled them to do (Luke 18:11), they were going about to establish their own righteousness, not believing that their salvation had absolutely nothing to do with their own righteousness.
> Your righteousness must EXCEED the righteousness of the
> scribes and the Pharisees, or "you will by no means enter
> the kingdom of heaven" (Matt 5:20). Jesus is not talking
> about imputed righteousness there either. It is nowhere
> in the context, so don't you dare read it in.
This is an astounding statement coming from someone who claims to be Reformed. But I shouldn't be surprised, since you also believe that Arminians, who are going about to establish a righteousness of their own, are regenerate. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you seem to be saying that in order for one to enter the kingdom of heaven, one must be more righteous in his character and conduct than the Pharisees. If this is the case, then this is salvation based on works, plain and simple. A Christian's entering the kingdom of heaven is not based IN ANY WAY on that Christian's personal righteousness. It is based SOLELY on the imputed righteousness of Christ. God demands PERFECT RIGHTEOUSNESS in order for anyone to have communion with Him and in order to entitle anyone to heaven. If someone decides that he wants to work out a righteousness of his own, he is a debtor to do the whole law (Galatians 5:3), and if he fails in just one point of keeping the law, he will justly be damned. "Exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" means that one can only enter the kingdom of heaven with perfect righteousness. God will not accept anything less, or else he is not holy and righteous himself. If God demands perfect righteousness in order for one to enter the kingdom of heaven, how else can one obtain perfect righteousness other than by imputation? If you think you have a personal righteousness that exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees and you think this gains you an entrance to the kingdom of heaven, then you are a self-righteous fool.
> Consider, then, if you will 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?
God's people must not continue in sin. God's people are moral, law-abiding people. And God's people also realize that none of their morality or dedication can do ANYTHING to recommend them to God. They realize that they are clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ.
> The Apostle Paul write that we are saved in order to perform good works.
Good works are an inevitable result of salvation, but they form no part of the ground of salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Marc D. Carpenter
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