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Sermons & Study Guides

Confessionalism and the Need for Creeds Pt 6 - (Creeds and the Matter to be Confessed 3 — Matters of Life Necessary to Salvation)

James Dodson

Confessionalism and the Need for Creeds

(Creeds and the Matter to be Confessed 3—Matters of Life Necessary to Salvation)

And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all strangers, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the LORD their God one fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God. (Neh. 9:2, 3)

Question.—Are there some things which must be practiced (good works) in order to be saved? Answer.—Though sanctification, from which all good works proceed, is a gift of God to those who are redeemed, 1 Cor. 1:30; yet, the good works procured by sanctification  form  a  part  of  the  great  end  of  our  final salvation,  even  a preparation for heavenly glory, Heb. 12:14.  Thus, sanctification, by which should be  understood  those  good  works  which  proceed  from  a renewed  heart,  is commanded to all who believe, 1 Thess. 4:3, 4. They may be accounted necessary from the following considerations: 1.) By the divine command, Rom. 6:11, 12.  So far from granting unbounded license to believers, Paul condemns and abhors such, Rom. 6:15.  In fact, he declares all believers debtors bound over to a new obedience, Rom. 8:12.  2.) From the nature of faith and the covenant of grace which, for believers, actually leads to good works, Tit. 2:14.  As sons of the Father, we must adore and worship him, Eph. 5:1; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16.  As members of Christ, we must seek to glorify him, 1 Cor. 6:15, 20.  As temples of the Holy Ghost, we must take care that we do not pollute the temple, 1 Cor. 6:19.  3.) From the gospel, which is not merely theoretical (θεωρία) doctrine, but a practical (πρᾶξις) truth which sanctifies, John 7:17.  4.) From  the  state  of  grace  which  joins  us  to  a  stricter  obedience  founded  in gratitude,  Rom.  6:18;  Gal.  5:13.    5.)  From  the  relation  of  good  works  to  the blessings of God and heavenly happiness, Eph. 2:10; Rev. 21:27.  6.) They are necessary in order to glorify God, and evidence our grace, as well as exercising the grace in the heart, Matt. 5:16; Gal. 5:6. Finally,  believers  are  not  impelled  to  these  good  works  by  a  necessity  of compulsion  but  spontaneously  and  willingly  by  the  working  of  the  Spirit  of Christ in them, Ps. 110:3; Phil. 4:13.  For these are the very signs which give evidence of the life of genuine saving faith, Jas. 2:26. Question.—What  are  some  of  the  things  to  be  practiced  which  are  necessary  to salvation?  Answer.—Although all works necessary to salvation can only be wrought aright by those who are in Christ, John 15:4, 5; and are acceptable as good works only by faith, Rom. 14:23; yet, sanctification makes us righteous habitually toward the law of God, Ezek. 36:26, 27.  The things to be practiced, which are necessary to salvation, are two-fold: 
First, there are those things which are necessary because they are naturally moral,  Rom.  1:26-32.    These  things  include  all  those  actions  required  by  the keeping of the Ten Commandments, Deut. 10:4; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 John 2:3, 4, 7, 8.  Nor were they in any way abrogated by the coming of Christ, Matt. 5:17-19. Violations of these commands, because they are known by all men by nature, Rom. 2:13-15; necessarily exclude from heaven when they proceed from a habit of  sin,  1  Cor.  6:9,  10.    Paul  marks  a  difference  between those  who  act  such according to their remaining in their sins, 1 Cor. 6:11; and believers who act such against  their  “new  man”  renewed  in  knowledge,  righteousness  and  holiness, Rom. 7:15.  Such were Aaron’s idolatry, Ex. 32:2, 3; David’s adultery and murder, 1 Kings 15:5; and Peter’s Judaizing, Matt. 16:17. Nonetheless, the keeping of these commands are necessary because they are of  such  a  character  as  to  exclude  from  the  kingdom  of  God,  Rev.  21:8.    For believers, the keeping of these natural commands are all matters of faith working by love, or charity, 1 John 4:20, 21. Second,  there  are  other  things  which  are  necessary  by  way  of positive command, and are made moral simply by the will of the Redeemer, John 14:6.  They are not part of the natural revelation and, therefore, have no immediate resonance in the nature of man, Col. 2:23.  They are necessary for the church to practice from one mind forged by united submission to that revealed will, Matt. 4:9, 10; Deut. 12:32.  These things are necessary to both the peace and blessing of the church, 1 Pet. 3:8, 9; and to the united actions of the church, Acts 1:14; 2:46; 4:24.  Failure to keep these commands by reason of prevailing ignorance may present  no  impediment  to  salvation,  Hos.  6:6;  but  wilful  violations  of  these commands erases from the action all that is necessary to be effectual, Matt. 15:9. Question.—How do these things relate to the confession of the church?Answer.—These things, whether they be naturally moral or made moral by the divine command, are part of those things to be confessed by the church in all her practice, Eph. 4:1; and are, therefore, to be made binding upon those who would walk in obedience, 2 Thess. 3:14, 15. Churches  are  judged  according  as  they  conform  or  not  to  all  of  these commands, Rev. 2:4, 5, 13, 14, 20-23, 26; 3:1, 2, 8.  Thus, the apostle calls upon the Corinthians to judge righteous judgment in the case of the incestuous man, 1 Cor. 5:1.  Paul warns that those who do, or practice (πράσσοντες), such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God, Gal. 5:19-21. Each one, therefore, is to study these matters of life as part of that confession which becometh the gospel, Phil. 1:27.  The promise of assurance of sense is tied to the care we exercise with regard to these matters, Ps. 50:23.