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Thread: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

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    Default The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    How often do we read the straw man arguments when we affirm scripture that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," and thus we must be saved by grace through faith (a fact reiterated time after time in scripture). Then the straw man arguments come, well what if this sin is done or that; if that were so, they men who believed it would grossly sin all the time, all nonsense.

    Yet you may run into a libertine who does claim that he can freely sin because nothing anyone ever does anyway is anything but a filthy rag, and salvation is free by grace, and the only righteousness a Christian ever can claim is the imputed righteousness of Christ. This too is heresy. The Christian's good works are not filthy rags, though they are the product of the grace of God & the faith of the believer who trusts His Savior. The libertine attitude is a sign of not being saved, as a man who is saved by grace logically has the greatest appreciation for the crosswork of Christ and loves the Lord because the Lord first loved him.

    Actually the statement about all our righteousnesses being filthy rags is not a statement about Christians at all. It applies historically to the nation of Israel and was declared by the prophet Isaiah. Good works done by the power of the Spirit of God while a Christian abides in Christ are certainly not good works. The wedding garment of the Bride in Revelation is the righteousnesses of the saint.

    One guy I argue with likes to drop names of theologians without quoting them, as if merely naming them bolstered his case and removed any necessity of proving a doctrine from scripture. So he likes to name Jonathan Edwards who spoke of the filthy rags. But Edwards did teach that Christians do good works and apparently lived a very disciplined and strict life. I don't prove anything from any man like Edwards, but for the sake of argument, I will present sayings of Edwards on good works separately.

    Last edited by Atwood; October 8th, 2014 at 05:01 PM.
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    Default Re: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Atwood View Post
    One guy I argue with likes to drop names of theologians without quoting them, as if merely naming them bolstered his case and removed any necessity of proving a doctrine from scripture. So he likes to name Jonathan Edwards who spoke of the filthy rags. But Edwards did teach that Christians do good works and apparently lived a very disciplined and strict life. I don't prove anything from any man like Edwards, but for the sake of argument, I will present sayings of Edwards on good works separately.
    (black font below is Edwards)

    Is any man eminent in holiness, and abundant in good works, let him take nothing of the glory of it to himself, but ascribe it unto him whose “ workmanship we are, created in Christ Jesus unto good works .”

    .--Men are dependent on the power of God for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on that work in the heart, for subduing sin and corruption, increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth fruit in good works.

    There may indeed be a great zeal, and a great deal of what is called religion; but it is not a truly Christian zeal: it is not being zealous of good works. Their religion is not the service of God; it is not seeking and serving God; but indeed seeking and serving themselves.—
    ----------------

    HYPOCRITES DEFICIENT IN THE DUTY OF PRAYER.

    It hath a great tendency to keep the soul in a wakeful frame, and to lead us to a strict walk with God, and to a life that shall be fruitful in such good works, as tend to adorn the doctrine of Christ, and to cause our light so to shine before others, that they seeing our good works shall glorify our Father who is in heaven. And if the duty be constantly and diligently attended, it will be a very pleasant duty. Slack and slothful attendance upon it, and unsteadiness in it, are the causes which make it so great a burden as it is to some persons.

    Edwards on Mat 25:

    a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. Then we have an account how both will be judged according to their works; how the good works of the one and the evil works of the other will be rehearsed, and how the sentence shall be pronounced accordingly.

    The gospel-state is every where spoken of as a renewed state of things, wherein old things are passed away, and all things become new: we are said to be created unto Christ Jesus unto good works:

    —Beside, if strict discipline be maintained among you, it will not only tend to prevent the spread of wickedness, but to make you more fruitful in holiness. If you know that the eyes of your brethren observe all your conduct, it will not only make you more guarded against sin, but more careful “to maintain good works, 114 ” and to abound in “the fruits of the Spirit.

    The works of both righteous and wicked will be rehearsed. The book of God’s remembrance will be first opened. The various works of the children of men are, as it were, written by God in a book of remembrance, Mal. iii. 16. “A book of remembrance was written before him.” However ready ungodly men may be to make light of their own sins, and to forget them; yet God never forgetteth any of them: neither doth God forget any of the good works of the saints. If they give but a cup of cold water with a spirit of charity, God remembers it.

    The good works of the saints will also be brought forth as evidences of their sincerity, and of their interest in the righteousness of Christ.

    The account that will be found in God’s book will not be of debt, but of credit.

    Though the righteous are justified by faith, and not by their works; yet they shall be judged according to their works: then works shall be brought forth as the evidence of their faith. Their faith on that great day shall be tried by its fruits. If the works of any man shall have been bad, if his life shall appear to have been unchristian, that will condemn him, without any further inquiry. But if his works, when they shall be examined, prove good and of the right sort, he shall surely be justified.

    The good works of the saints also, which were done in secret, shall then be made public, and even the pious and benevolent affections and designs of their hearts; so that the real and secret characters of both saints and sinners shall then be most clearly and publicly displayed.

    So it is apparent,. Matt. xxv. that none will be found at the right hand, but they that have done such good works, as can be done only in this world;

    Good works are in some sort implied in the very nature of faith, as is implied in 1 Tim. v. 8. where the apostle, speaking of them that do not provide for their parents, says, ” If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith.”

    On Heaven:

    "It is undoubted that they never will have forgot what passed in their life upon earth, the sins they have been saved from, their regeneration, the circumstances which did heighten their mercies, their good works which follow them, their death, &c."

    On Rev 2 & the Lampstand/Candlestick:
    "The fruit that succeeds the uppermost flower, is the burning and shining lamp, representing several things:
    1. That the fruit of a true saint, or his good works and holy life, is as it were a light by which he shines before men, Matt. v. 13, 14, 15.
    2. That in a way of holy practice, and by progress in holiness, the saints obtain the light of spiritual comfort.
    3. That in the way of going from strength to strength, and making progress in holiness, they come at last to the light of glory."

    The inhabitants of the temple had the benefit of the light of the candlestick, as the saints of God have especially the benefit of the good works of the saints.

    -----------------------

    Deliverance is obtained for the Jews by Esther’s humble prayer; so it will be by the earnest prayer of the church, that God’s people shall be delivered from antichrist, and God will extend the golden sceptre of his grace, as the king to Esther. At that time the good works of God’s people and ministers shall come into remembrance to be recorded, as Mordecai’s were;

    So wine was made use of in the tabernacle and temple service to represent both the comforts the church has in Christ, and also the gracious exercises and good works of the saints offered to God.

    On Isaiah:

    "What the spouse entertains her lover with is called fruits, chap. iv. 16. vii. 13. viii. 2. as the good works of the saints abundantly are represented elsewhere as fruit which the church brings and offers to God."

    ---------------------

    As the blessed Virgin nourished her babe with nourishment from her breast, so Christ in the heart is refreshed with the exercises of graces in the saints, and their good works, which are often represented in Scripture as food to Christ in the heart, or the principle of grace there, which is as a new-born child, and causes it to grow; and the exercises and fruits of grace that come from the hearts of the saints, do as it were nourish Christ’s interest in the world, and cause Christ’s mystical body, which is small as in infancy, to be strengthened and increased.

    “Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” The same charge is given to Titus, “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works. 608 ” And this is part of the charge the apostle Peter gives to the elders and teachers of the Christian church,



    With Reference to 1 Thes 4, etc.

    Then we, which are alive and remain, shall he caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 6. Then shall the good works, which the saints have done, be declared to their peace and glory. We are often told that every man shall be judged according to his works, and Christ keeps a book of remembrance of the good works of the saints as well as of the sins of the ungodly. And however mean and polluted that which the saints do is in itself, yet all the pollution that attends it is hid, and every thing they do for God that has the least sincerity in it is precious in God’s eyes. Through his infinite grace it shall in no case lose its reward, neither shall it in any wise lose its honour. At the day of judgment they shall receive praise and glory in reward for it. Christ will declare all the good they have done to their honour; what they did secretly and the world knew it not, and when they did not let their left hand know what their right hand did. Then shall they receive praise and honour for all their labour, for all their self-denial, and all their suffering in the cause of Christ; and those good works of theirs that were despised, and for which they were condemned, and suffered reproach, shall now be set in a true light; and however they were reproached and slandered by men, they shall receive praise of God in the sight of angels and men.

    Thus, in the description of the day of judgment in the 25th chapter of Matthew., Christ rehearses the good works of the saints.



    The glory of the saints above will be in some proportion to their eminency in holiness and good works here. Christ will reward all according to their works. He that gained ten pounds was made ruler over ten cities, and he that gained five pounds over five cities. Luke xix. 17. 2 Cor. ix. 6. “He that soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” And the apostle Paul tells us that, as one star differs from another star in glory, so also it shall be in the resurrection of the dead. 1 Cor. xv. 41. Christ tells us that he who gives a cup of cold water unto a disciple in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward. But this could not be true, if a person should have no greater reward for doing many good works than if he did but few.


    let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father who is in heaven. Seeing God has given you so much, God and men may well expect of you, that you should be greatly distinguished in your life from other men.



    God takes delight in the graces of a godly man’s heart, and he delights in the good works and religion of the Christian.



    And how does Christ direct them to give light to others? “Let your light,” says he, “so shine before men, that others, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven.” And he tells the same disciples again, John xv. 8. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” And how should they bring forth fruit? Christ tells them, verse 10. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,” and verse 14. “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

    So he directs Titus, in his teaching, to recommend sobriety, gravity, temperance, patience, and other virtues, in the beginning of the 2d chapter of Titus. But then adds in the 7th verse,. “In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works.”

    [I made certain words above bold.]

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    Default Re: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Atwood View Post
    How often do we read the straw man arguments when we affirm scripture that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags," and thus we must be saved by grace through faith (a fact reiterated time after time in scripture). Then the straw man arguments come, well what if this sin is done or that; if that were so, they men who believed it would grossly sin all the time, all nonsense.

    Yet you may run into a libertine who does claim that he can freely sin because nothing anyone ever does anyway is anything but a filthy rag, and salvation is free by grace, and the only righteousness a Christian ever can claim is the imputed righteousness of Christ. This too is heresy. The Christian's good works are not filthy rags, though they are the product of the grace of God & the faith of the believer who trusts His Savior. The libertine attitude is a sign of not being saved, as a man who is saved by grace logically has the greatest appreciation for the crosswork of Christ and loves the Lord because the Lord first loved him.

    Actually the statement about all our righteousnesses being filthy rags is not a statement about Christians at all. It applies historically to the nation of Israel and was declared by the prophet Isaiah. Good works done by the power of the Spirit of God while a Christian abides in Christ are certainly not good works. The wedding garment of the Bride in Revelation is the righteousnesses of the saint.

    One guy I argue with likes to drop names of theologians without quoting them, as if merely naming them bolstered his case and removed any necessity of proving a doctrine from scripture. So he likes to name Jonathan Edwards who spoke of the filthy rags. But Edwards did teach that Christians do good works and apparently lived a very disciplined and strict life. I don't prove anything from any man like Edwards, but for the sake of argument, I will present sayings of Edwards on good works separately.

    The arguments are many, however, the Scripture is emphatic in saying that salvation from Jesus Christ will produce righteous works through Him. I believe the term would be "sanctification", which comes after "justification". Amen.

    God Bless
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    Default TYPO IN OP: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    I accidentally put not, where not should not be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atwood View Post
    Good works done by the power of the Spirit of God while a Christian abides in Christ are certainly not[sic, yes they are] good works. The wedding garment of the Bride in Revelation is the righteousnesses of the saint.
    Correction:
    Good works done by the power of the Spirit of God while a Christian abides in Christ are certainlygood works.

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    Default Re: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    Just to be clear here, Jonathan Edwards was a Calvinist, believed in eternal security because salvation is totally the work of a Sovereign and holy God!

    So much for the argument that all believers in eternal security are not obeying Jesus commands!
    psychomom and Joidevivre like this.
    "And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Cor. 12:9 NASB

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    Default Re: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    And yet I came across some website where it is claimed that Christians are totally depraved! I regard this as a dangerous heresy, like one teacher I heard years ago in a Sunday School class claiming that everything a Christian did was a sin!

    I can see this leading to being a libertine by claiming that all that counts is Christ's righteousness, then a Christian's behavior is irrelevant to anything. People can theorize from some position in which they have gone to pot & then deny the plain teaching of scripture to the contrary of their theory, as when I recently read this guy claiming that there are no rewards for Christian good works.

    I wonder if anyone is so foolish as to deny that there is a doctrine of chastisement in scripture, but there surely is, as in Hebrews 10 & 1 Cor 6.

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    Default Re: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Atwood View Post
    we affirm scripture that "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,"
    Filthy rags eh?

    Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

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    Default Re: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Sola_Scriptura View Post
    The arguments are many, however, the Scripture is emphatic in saying that salvation from Jesus Christ will produce righteous works through Him. I believe the term would be "sanctification", which comes after "justification". Amen.

    God Bless
    Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

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    Default Re: TYPO IN OP: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Atwood View Post
    I accidentally put not, where not should not be.



    Correction:
    Good works done by the power of the Spirit of God while a Christian abides in Christ are certainlygood works.
    Good deal.

    It was also pointed out in the thread that Eph 2:10 speaks of us doing good works.

    I was happy to see that, especially since most everyone can quote Eph 2:8-9, but many seem clueless about verse 10.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. -Eph 2:8-10



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    Default Re: The Christian Has Good Works; Jonathan Edwards on Works

    Jonathon Edwards was a false teacher.

    He stated...

    III. But had I not better stay till I shall have made myself better, before I presume to come to Christ. I have been, and see myself to be very wicked now; but am in hopes of mending myself, and rendering myself at least not so wicked: then I shall have more courage to come to God for mercy.--In answer to this,

    1. Consider how unreasonably you act. You are striving to set up yourselves for your own saviours; you are striving to get something of your own, on the account of which you may the more readily be accepted. So that by this it appears that you do not seek to be accepted only on Christ's account. And is not this to rob Christ of the glory of being your only Saviour? Yet this is the way in which you are hoping to make Christ willing to save you.
    2. You can never come to Christ at all, unless you first see that he will not accept of you the more readily for any thing that you can do. You must first see, that it is utterly in vain for you to try to make yourselves better on any such account. You must see that you can never make yourselves any more worthy, or less unworthy, by any thing which you can perform.
    3. If ever you truly come to Christ, you must see that there is enough in him for your pardon, though you be no better than you are. If you see not the sufficiency of Christ to pardon you, without any righteousness of your own to recommend you, you never will come so as to be accepted of him. The way to be accepted is to come--not on any such encouragement, that now you have made yourselves better, and more worthy, or not so unworthy, but--on the mere encouragement of Christ's worthiness, and God's mercy.
    4. If ever you truly come to Christ, you must come to him to make you better. You must come as a patient comes to his physician, with his diseases or wounds to be cured. Spread all your wickedness before him, and do not plead your goodness; but plead your badness, and your necessity on that account: and say, as the psalmist in the text, not Pardon mine iniquity, for it is not so great as it was, but, " Pardon mine iniquity, for it is Great."
    Select Sermons - Christian Classics Ethereal Library

    Jonathan Edwards was in error due to his belief in the inability of man to forsake wickedness and turn to God. Thus in the above quote he implicitly denies free will ability and connects such a notion to "meriting salvation" which is a false dichotomy. Cleansing oneself of wickedness BEFORE one approaches God has NOTHING to do with meriting salvation, it has everything to do with turning back to God. An adulterous husband does not seek reconciliation with the wife whilst still engaged in adultery, no, he must turn from it first and THEN seek reconciliation.

    These people have you approaching God in a wicked state and then waiting on God to change you. The Bible teaches we approach God in a repentant state having forsaken our rebellion, whereby we plead for His mercy. A broken and contrite heart is necessary, not a heart full of iniquity confessing "I can't help it."

    The "I can't help it" attitude is an utter denial of personal responsibility in regards to sin. If one refuses to be accountable for their wrong doing and blames their birth, Adam, or someone else then that one simply cannot come clean with God.
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