Making salvation by grace and works or by grace and faithfulness necessarily turns our eyes back upon our own performance and the quality of our faith and the quality of our sanctification. That is a spiritual dead-end. Suspending our future salvation upon our present performance has never and can never be good news for sinners. None of us meets the test. None of our good works are inherently perfect; they are are all, in themselves, corrupted with sin. This reality has pushed some advocates of similar systems (for example, the self-described Federal Vision theology) to resurrect the medieval doctrine of congruent merit, that is, that God imputes perfection to our best efforts unto final justification and salvation. Others are turning to the Romanist two-stage justification and calling it Reformed. Perhaps worst of all, this view tends to reduce Jesus to a facilitator, who enables us to do our part — as if there is a part, as if there is a condition left unfulfilled. This scheme, of course, necessarily turns the covenant of grace into a covenant of works.
We must obey. We must struggle manfully against sin. We must seek to put the old man to death and to be made alive in the new, but we do so only by virtue of our union and communion with Christ, sola gratia, sola fide. Justification sola fide is stunning indeed, but it is not stunning enough if we, after justification, are sentenced to salvation through faith and works. No, we sinners need a truly and thoroughly stunning gospel of justification and salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Read the full article by R. Scott Clark.