A Jagged Contention: The Necessity of Sanctification and Good Works

Scripture teaches that sanctification and good works are not necessary for salvation. It teaches that faith obtains not only the remission of sins, but also salvation without the works of the Law, entirely irrespective of sanctification and good works. The Formula of Concord, quoting Rom. 4:6 and Eph. 2:8 declares: “We believe, teach, and confess also that good wokrs should be entirely excluded, just as well in the question concerning salvation as in the article of justification before God, as the apostle testifies with clear words, when he writes as follows: ‘Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin,’ Rom. 4:6ff. And again: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast,’ Eph. 2:8-9.” Luther: “Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.”

– Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, vol. III: The Necessity of Sanctification and Good Works, pg. 21


What are the dangers that arise when one makes sanctification and good works necessary for salvation? Why are we always tempted to emphasize sanctification over justification? How can one preach sanctification without undermining the main article of justification?

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