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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.