Adding to the Word?

Here’s one more great section from Packer’s Fundamentalism and the Word of God. In the concluding section Packer mentions how salvation from sin is a gift of divine grace alone through faith alone, “and faith is no more than an activity of reception, contributing nothing to that which it receives.”  Since Christ’s work is perfect and completed, there is nothing for the Christian to add.  However, pride creeps in and we often want to find a way to claim credit in salvation by some sort of contribution.  Sometimes we start to think our works play a part in our justification, which should lead us to repent and remember Paul’s sharp words against such unchristian thoughts (see Galatians for example).  Packer notes another way we may want to contribute something to our salvation: by “explicating and qualifying God’s revealed truth.”  What does that mean?  He uses the liberalism of 100 years ago for an example.

“Liberalism, as we saw, sets us the task of sorting out the divine utterances from the total mass of Scripture by the exercise of our own wits, guided in part by extra-biblical principles of judgment.  But in this, again, we are being told to do for ourselves what Christ has done for us already.  Christ located the utterance of God for us once and for all; it is Scripture, as such.  That being so, it is not for us to pick and choose within Scripture, or to bring speculative principles to bear on Scripture, any more than we should go about to establish our own righteousness; instead, we should bow before God’s written revelation without more ado, just as we should submit forthwith to the righteousness of God in the gospel.”

“Our part is simply to receive what God graciously gives – a perfect righteousness in the one case, a perfect revelation in the other.  Liberalism, like all Subjectivism, discounts the perfection and truth of Scripture in order to make room for man to contribute his own merits to his acceptance with God.  But Christ’s merits do not need to be augmented by human works; and God’s revealed truth does not need to be edited, cut, corrected, and improved by the cleverness of man.  To attempt either task is to insult God (by denying the perfection of his gifts) and to flatter ourselves (by supposing that we can improve on them).”

“The only right attitude for us is to confess that our works are vile and our wisdom foolishness, and to receive with thankfulness the flawless righteousness and the perfect Scriptures which God in mercy gives us.  Anything else is a conceited affront to divine grace.  And evangelical theology is bound to oppose the attitude which under-values the gift of Scripture and presumes to correct the inerrant Word of God, just as it will oppose all misguided endeavors to supplement by human merit the perfect righteousness of Christ.”

That is one outstanding observation.  Not only is Christ’s righteousness perfect, complete, and sufficient for salvation, so is his Word – neither needs to be supplemented, added to, or fixed.

Again, I highly recommend this book!

shane lems

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