Free Justification and Holiness (Buchanan)

The Doctrine of Justification: An Outline of Its History in the Church and of Its Exposition from Scripture James Buchanan (a 19th century Scottish theologian) wrote a helpful book on justification through faith alone by grace alone: The Doctrine of Justification. In it, he well explained the truth that those whom God justifies he will also sanctify.  I’ve edited the formatting of the quote to make it easier to read:

The charge against those who maintain the doctrine of a free justification by grace through faith only, that they deny either the reality of good works, or their necessity to salvation, is a mere calumny;

1) For while the Reformers rejected many works which were considered ‘good’ in the Romish Church — such as works of supererogation, works done in fulfillment of counsels of perfection or monastic vows, works of penance and self-mortification for the pardon of sin;

2) And while, moreover, they denied the merit of all works, whether performed in obedience to the commandments of men, or even to the Law of God itself —

[Yet] the Reformers never denied the intrinsic excellence either of those inherent graces which are ‘the fruits of the Spirit,’ or of those external actions which flowed from them in conformity with the requirements of God’s Law;

And so far from teaching that they were not necessary to salvation — in the case of all who are capable, and have opportunity, of manifesting their faith by its proper fruits — they represented the sanctification of the believer as an indispensable, a constituent, element of his salvation — since Christ came to deliver His people, not only from the punishment, but also from the power, of sin — and to ‘present them to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that they should be holy, and without blemish.’

It may be safely affirmed that those who have most strenuously defended the doctrine of a free justification by grace through faith only, have also been the most earnest, and the most successful, teachers of the doctrine which affirms that ‘except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven;’ and that ‘without holiness no man shall see the Lord.’

James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1867), 362.

shane lems
hammond, wi

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