Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hodge on Faith Never Being Alone (WCF 11)

This last Sunday, in the Adult Sunday School Class at Communion Presbyterian Church we covered Chapter 11 (Of Justification). We ran out of time before we could discuss the idea of faith never being alone in the believer (11.2, "Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but works by love.")

Here is the section from A. A. Hodge's Commentary on the Confession that we didn't have time to discuss. Feel free to discuss it in the comments.

While it is faith alone, unassociated with any other grace, which is the sole instrument of justification, yet it is never alone in the justified person, but when genuine is always accompanied with all other Christian graces. To our doctrine of justification the famous passage in James 2:14 is often objected. But Paul and James are speaking of different things. Paul teaches that faith alone justifies. He is arguing against Pharisees and legalists. James teaches that a faith which is alone-that is, a dead faith-will not justify. He is arguing against nominal Christians, who would hold the truth in unrighteousness. Paul uses the word "justify" in the sense of God's justification of the sinner; to which faith, and not works, is prerequisite. James uses the word to "justify" in the sense of prove true, or real; in which sense faith is justified or proved genuine by works. Consequently, orthodox theologians have always acknowledged that while faith alone justifies, a faith which is alone, or unassociated with other graces and fruitless in good works, will not justify. "Works," says Luther, "are not taken into consideration when the question respects justification. But true faith will no more fail to produce them than the sun can cease to give light."

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