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


Question:

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?

Share your thoughts in the comments

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3 comments

  1. How can one preach sanctification? Preach the Gospel. Sanctification is a gift wrought by the Holy.Spirit. Gifts are given to faith in the Gospel. Preachers either believe that the power is in the Gospel, or they don’t.

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  2. This life in Christ is a gift to us and to the world. We bless the world and fulfill God’s purpose in leading sanctified lives, in striving against sin, in calling upon Him for help and strength to do so. This life we can now lead only because we are justified and saved assures us of salvation. Through us, in our vocation, the Holy Spirit calls to the lost. On the other hand, not casting off the habits of sin to show contentment with a faith that receives is hypocrisy and can only serve to undermine our faith and subvert the faith of weaker brethren.

    Eph 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

    Matt 5:14 – You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

    James 1:22-25 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

    Matt 15:10,11 – And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

    Eph 4:22 – to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires…

    Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

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