6 comments on “Owen on Faith, Obedience and the Covenants of Works & Grace

  1. 1. “The promises of the covenant of grace are better than those of any other covenant, as for many other reasons, so especially because the grace of them prevents any condition or qualification on our part.”

    2. ““For although faith be required in order of nature antecedently to our actual receiving of the pardon of sin”

    That is contradictory.


  2. I can see how it might seem so. But Owen is saying that

    1. The promise of gracious salvation is not based on our meeting of any requirement (with eternal life as a reward for something we have done).


    2. One must have faith in order to receive the pardon of sin. While the sins of the elect are pardoned from eternity (due to Christ who was slain before the foundation of the earth), we cannot be said to receive the pardon until we have faith.

    Gill explains the concept in terms of how believers “put on” the righteousness of Christ. A garment must be completely made before we put it on. In the same way, our justification is from eternity, but we “put it on” and “receive it” through faith.


  3. “2. One must have faith in order to receive the pardon of sin”
    So is this active or passive? In Chap 11 of WCF it says,

    “Section I.—Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.”

    God does not impute the action of faith to us. We have to do that in our conversion.


  4. That is not what the confession is saying. It is saying that God doesn’t count our faith as our righteousness, but rather he counts Christ’s righteousness as our own.

    …God… justifieth… not by imputing faith itself… as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them.

    From Robert Shaw’s An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith:

    Arminians maintain that faith itself, or the act of believing, is accepted as our justifying righteousness. In opposition to this our Confession teaches, that God does not justify us “by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, as our righteousness.” And in confirmation of this, we observe, that faith, as an act performed by us, is as much a work of obedience to the law as any other; and, therefore, to be justified by the act of faith, would be to be justified by a work. But this is contrary to the express declarations of Scripture, which exclude all sorts of works from the affair of justification.—Gal. ii. 16. Besides, faith is plainly distinguished from that righteousness by which we are justified. We read of “the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ;” and of “the righteousness which is of God by faith.” – Rom. iii. 22; Phil. iii. 9. No language could more clearly show that righteousness and faith are two different things. “Nothing,” says Mr Haldane, “can be a greater corruption of the truth than to represent faith itself as accepted instead of righteousness, or to be the righteousness that saves the sinner. Faith is not righteousness. Righteousness is the fulfilling of the law.”


  5. The point still stands pat. Whether God doesn’t impart it or impute it my point is that God doesn’t do the believing for us. We have to believe.


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