Thursday, March 3, 2011

John Owen on the imperfections of our "good" works


I'm reading John Owen's great book on the doctrine of justification by faith through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.

In an effort to show us how imperfect even our best good works are, note what Owen says-

“It hath been often and well observed, that if a man, the best of men, were left to choose the best of his works that ever he performed, and theron to enter into judgment with God, if only under this notion, that he hath answered and fulfilled the condition required of him, as unto his acceptation with God, it would be his wisest course, to renounce it, and betake himself unto grace and mercy alone.”

3 comments:

Zach said...

That is beautifully put and reminds me of what the late Richard John Neuhaus wrote not long before his death:

When I come before the judgment throne, I will plead the promise of God in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. I will not plead any work that I have done, although I will thank God that he has enabled me to do some good. I will plead no merits other than the merits of Christ, knowing that the merits of Mary and the saints are all from him; and for their company, their example, and their prayers throughout my earthly life I will give everlasting thanks. I will not plead that I had faith, for sometimes I was unsure of my faith, and in any event that would be to turn faith into a meritorious work of my own. I will not plead that I held the correct understanding of "justification by faith alone," although I will thank God that he led me to know ever more fully the great truth that much misunderstood formulation was intended to protect. Whatever little growth in holiness I have experienced, whatever strength I have received from the company of the saints, whatever understanding I have attained of God and his ways-these and all other gifts I have received I will bring gratefully to the throne. But in seeking entry to that heavenly kingdom, I will, with Dysmas, look to Christ and Christ alone.

Reepicheep said...

I am strangely appreciative of this quote from Neuhaus, who I met once in St. Louis a few years back.

It must be the Luther-esque lingo that so attracts me!
:)

Woody Woodward said...

Thanks Zach! Most humble and compelling thoughts that made me ponder those beautiful and joy-filled words of Christ that I know, only by His grace, you will someday hear! "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21