Monday, October 26, 2009

0 Faith and Love Forever Joined

Paul Bayne's excellent exposition of Ephesians continues to bless with its concise formulations of truth - in treating the Apostle's transition from praise to thanksgiving in Ephesians 1:15, Bayne writes this:
"The use of this doctrine [that 'faith and love are never disjoined, but go each in hand one with the other.'] is, to shew how unjustly they slander us as teaching a faith alone without other graces, when we hold, according to the Scripture, that there can be no true faith without love, nor love without true faith; for the first is but a dead carcase, this latter is but blind devotion, neither is pleasing to God. Indeed, we teach that faith justifieth us alone without other graces, not in regard of their presence, but in regard of their co-working with faith to this effect of our justification. It is one thing to say the eye is in the head without other senses, and another thing to say the eye doth see alone, no other sense seeing with it." [p. 88, Paul Bayne, Commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, Tentmaker Publications]
The Scriptures are plain that faith alone is the instrument by which Christ's righteousness is apprehended - by which we are justified. The presence of other grace-gifts of God is not denied when one argues that we are justified by faith alone. What IS denied is that any other grace has anything to do with the standing of a person before God as righteous or unrighteous. Our works contribute nothing. Our holy attitudes contribute nothing. Our obedience in thought word and deed, in other words, contribute nothing to our standing before God as righteous - for our works are as filthy rags. We are justified in that our trust is in God's promises in Christ and we relinquish all self claims whatsoever - and believe ON Him for salvation. This faith, too, is a gift -we deny that anyone ever conjures up faith to believe on his own, by his own abilities.

Scripture is equally plain that God blesses those He blesses with faith, with other graces as well - perseverance and sanctification, to name two - each of which are found in the justified believer, but NEITHER of which play any role whatsoever in that believer's status as justified. It is slanderous to argue, as some have, that we teach a justification by a faith that has no accompanying graces - that a bare assent is sufficient unto justification.

Interestingly enough, it seems that Paul Bayne in 1618 (when the comments on the first chapter of Ephesians were published) was facing similar opposition to new legalists who wish to join faith and works on the part of the believer in procuring justification.



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