Great Grace and a Swelling Tone of Joy! (Warfield)

Scripture teaches that the way of salvation begins and ends with God’s grace (John 1:16, Rom. 11:6; 1 Cor. 15:10, etc.). We are justified and saved by grace alone. This truth gives the Christian great joy! I like how B. B. Warfield talked about this. Note how he links together grace and joy:

It belongs to the very essence of the type of Christianity propagated by the Reformation that the believer should feel himself continuously unworthy of the grace by which he lives. At the center of this type of Christianity lies the contrast of sin and grace; and about this center everything else revolves.

This is in large part the meaning of the emphasis put in this type of Christianity on justification by faith. It is its conviction that there is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only “when we believe.” It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace.

…The spirit of this Christianity is a spirit of [the] penitent indeed, but [also of] overmastering exultation. The attitude of the “miserable sinner” is not only not one of despair; it is not even one of depression; and not even one of hesitation or doubt; hope is too weak a word to apply to it. It is an attitude of exultant joy. Only this joy has its ground not in ourselves but in our Savior. We are sinners and we know ourselves to be sinners, lost and helpless in ourselves. But we are saved sinners; and it is our salvation which gives the tone to our life, a tone of joy which swells in exact proportion to the sense we have of our ill-desert; for it is he to whom much is forgiven who loves much, and who, loving, rejoices much.

 Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 114.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015