Lifebuoy in the water

Salvation sola gratia, sola fide: on distinguishing ‘is’, ‘with’ and ‘through’

As I noted in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry (2007) and have noted in this space since that time, almost as soon as the Reformation achieved clarity on salvation it came under attack from two sides: the antinomians, who would not tolerate the abiding validity of the moral law as the norm of the Christian life, and the nomists, who would not abide free salvation earned for the elect and freely applied by the Holy Spirit. They wanted to include the fruit and evidence of salvation (justification and sanctification), i.e., good works, into the ground (the basis for God’s declaration of righteousness) or the instrument (faith resting and receiving Christ and his righteousness). Even as the orthodox Lutherans and Reformed were consolidating their shared understanding of these things (on this see, e.g., Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology 3.232ff), the two errant sides (the antinomians and the nomists) were pecking away at the heart and soul of the Reformation. Neither the antinomians nor the nomists accepted the pan-Protestant settlement as summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism: Guilt, Grace and Gratitude (or law, gospel and Spirit-wrought sanctification in union with Christ and communion with the church). Read the full article by R. Scott Clark.