Monday, July 31, 2006

The Everlasting Righteousness

Recently a dear friend came over to our house and as we were talking he reminded me that I had recommended to him Horatious Bonar's The Everlasting Righteousness. And he wanted to let me know what a wonderful recommendation it was. It was also a reminder to me of the jewel that Bonar's work is and I would benefit from a revisit with this dear friend. In fact, all of evangelicalism could use a visit from Bonar. Here is just one of multiple reasons.

Most Christians with whom you speak will tell you that they are saved by their faith. In other words, they believe that their exercising of faith saved them. Obviously this is understood to mean their faith is Christ, and is well taken. However, our faith in and of itself has no power to save or to keep. The glory of the gospel is that it is outside of us, that Christ is our salvation and security. It is not our faith that saves us, but rather it is Jesus Christ who saves. Here is how Bonar states it:

Faith is not our physician; it only brings us to the Physician. It is not even our medicine; it only administers the medicine, divinely prepared by him who "heals all our diseases."

Faith is not our savior. It was not faith that was born at Bethlehem and died on Golgotha for us.

Faith is not perfection. Yet only by perfection - either our own or another's - can we be saved.

Faith is not satisfaction to God. In no sense and in no aspect can faith be said to satisfy God or to satisfy the law. Yet, if it is to be our righteousness, it must satisfy.

Faith is not Christ, nor the cross of Christ. Faith is not the blood, nor the sacrifice. It is not the altar, nor the laver, nor the mercy-seat, nor the incense. It does not work, but accepts a work done ages ago; it does not wash, but leads us to the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. It does not create; it merely links us to the new thing which was created with the "everlasting righteousness" was brought in (Dan. 9:24).

This work is full of wonderful, biblical, theological insights into this doctrine which Calvin called the "principal hinge of religion" and which Luther described as the "doctrine by which the church stands or falls." Bonar's classic work is one of the best works on Justification by Faith Alone, even while it is also one of the first. With all the discussion around the New Perspective on Paul and new fangled ideas about justification by faith, Bonar is a vivid reminder that what's true is usually not new. The old truths that have stood the test of time are always the best.

Can these truths be stated in modern language so as to make them more accessible to our time? Yes. Can they be positioned and deposited in mediums that are more relevant to the our cultural conditioning? Yes. Yet, while the container may change the content is still the same. Thus, though Bonar wrote his classic work over 130 years ago, the contents are so full of biblical theology that one would be remiss not to take it up and read. And then do more than read, even promote and teach this wonderful truth of the glory of Christ in our salvation. It is guaranteed to encourage you unto your everlasting rest because of the imputation of His Everlasting Righteousness.


FellowElder said...

Bro. Tony,
Thanks for the recommendation. I've not read Bonar, but your introduction here encourages me to correct that mistake soon! Thanks for reminding us of Who saves and how.

Grace and peace,

John said...

Sounds good. Also, the faith itself is a gift which is given. A gift which is given cannot earn us anything. "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that (faith) not of yourselves; it (faith) is the gift of God." Eph 2:8

Scotty J. Williams said...

I really like this post, and I like how you look back to Bonar's writings and insight. So many in the church (especially the African American church) today seem to make faith the Saviour and remedy for all situations. my mother is Word of Faith, and she is always telling me to just "have faith". The sad part is that she almost always never says who I should have faith in and that is Christ. Thank you for pointing out what faith is for, and how it is to be used, and that is to bring us to God. Keep on writing brother and know that your works with spreading the doctrines of the Reformed faith led me to see the truth and I am forever in your debt. You are welcome to look at my blog anytime and give your insight which will be much appreciated.

Peace be with you

ajcarter said...

Thanks Scotty,
It is of utmost encouragement to read your words. Sometimes we wonder if our lives and labors are having an impact on others or if we are fancying ourselves more than we should. Thank God for subtle reminders that His is glory, the honor, and the power. I went to your blog and was greatly encouraged. I will be adding it to my blogroll. Remember 1Cor. 15:58.