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Home arrow Griffin's History arrow Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 13
Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 13 PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

It is objected that Christ was under law for himself, and bound on his own part to live a holy life for himself, and hence he had not time to live a righteousness for others. It is granted that he might be bound to suffer for others, in the way of atonement, but it is denied that he could live a positive righteousness for others. I answer, Christ was originally, before time, equal with God, and hence under no obligation to come under law for himself or others, and he voluntarily "took on him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of man." He voluntarily assumed our nature and the relation to us that bound him to live a clean, beautiful and holy life for us, as well as to die a shameful and ignominious death for us, and also to arise from the dead for us, and to intercede for us at God’s right hand, and upon his covenant engagement to do this men were saved from the days of Abel to the time of his death. They were then saved, in view of his engagement to die for them, and "in due time Christ died for the ungodly," not a day before it was due nor a day after it was due. And so now men are saved in view of what Christ did for us. There is no change in the method of God in the salvation of men from Abel till now. Christ and his righteousness is and has been the foundation for it in all ages.


I wish now to call up a few texts of scripture that have been supposed to prove that justification is secured in some degree or manner by our own works or faithfulness, or on some kind of conditions to be performed by us. I will first cite Matt. vi. 14, "For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." This language has been understood to suspend our eternal destiny on our own obedience, but let it be considered first, this language was not addressed to the multitude, but to his disciples. They were his children, which is evident from the form of prayer he told them to offer, "Our Father." Also chapter vii. 11, "Much more shall your Father which is in heaven." They were the people of God, and hence were not "under the law, but under grace." Rom. vi. 14. They were already justified. The people of God are said to be justified, and hence this text does not teach that justification is secured by obedience. We who are born again are still under law to Christ, we are under the parental government of God, and subject to his discipline, but we are already washed, "but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." I Cor. vi. 11. Second, We being under the discipline of our Father, under his paternal government, must suffer the rod of his chastisement if we violate his commands to us as children. A father will lay on the rod for the correction and improvement of his son when he has no design of disinheriting or destroying him. These things being considered, it will appear plainly that this text in no sense opposes what I have set forth.

The promises of God are often made to the signs and evidences of eternal life, as for instance, John iii. 36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." This language can mean no more than that believing is a sign of eternal life, and so Mark xvi. 16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." Believing is not here put as a condition of eternal life, but an evidence of it. So also I John v. 1, "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." There are a great many places where this principle is adhered to. Rom. iii. 26, ix. 33 and many other places. Good works are connected with salvation as its result, or as consequent upon it, as fruit to a tree. "Ye are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." Here are good works, but they are the result of a previous creation in Christ, yet they are good works, works that have such qualities as make them good. They come from the right motive, love to God, and are directed to the right end, the glory of God. Peter says, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit." Here were good works with its good results, yet not good works performed by men before they were "created in Christ Jesus unto good works," but they were performed "through the Spirit," and by men who had been previously born again. Verse 23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of an incorruptible seed." The whole truth here is, these persons had been born again and had obeyed the truth, and had thereby grown in grace and the knowledge of the truth. Rom. vi. 22, "But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life." Here are HOLY fruits and works that God esteems as good, that are pleasing to him, but they are subsequent to being made free from sin, and are in no sense the cause of our being made free from sin. The apostle says, "fruit unto holiness," showing that the devotion of saints is pleasing to God. Verse 17, "But ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you." Here is obedience to God that is good, and Paul mentions it here to the honor of the brethren, yet it was from the heart. Now the "heart of the sinner," as Flavel says, "is the worst part of him, and the heart of the saint is the best part of him." These persons had obeyed from the heart---not from a hard and stony heart, but from a heart of flesh---a "new heart," a "clean heart." This was good works indeed, but not designed to make the heart good; but this was good works flowing from a good heart to the honor and glory of God. Good works tend to the improvement of God’s people. "Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine delivered unto you." ("Whereunto ye were delivered"), it reads in the margin. Ye were first delivered into this form and then obeyed from the heart---from the HEART OF FLESH. Your obedience flowed from a tender, feeling, loving heart, and when we have gone into the service of God with hearts of love and tenderness, our service will be "well pleasing in his sight" and profitable to us. Our happiest moments have ever been when we felt our hearts dissolved in love to God and his people. Then it was easy to engage in his worship; but without this, our efforts all failed.

The people of God, in this world, are under the discipline of God, and he will visit their transgressions with the rod, in their disobedience. He knows how to chastise his children. He will and does bless us with peace in obedience, so that "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love."

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.