The Constant Tenor Of The Scriptures

The grace of God, the promise of mercy, the free pardon of sin, the blood of Christ, his obedience, and the righteousness of God in him, rested in and received by faith, are everywhere asserted as the causes and means of our justification, in opposition unto any thing in ourselves, so expressed as it uses to express the best of our obedience, and the utmost of our personal righteousness. Wherever mention is made of the duties, obedience, and personal righteousness of the best of men, with respect unto their justification, they are all renounced by them, and they betake themselves unto sovereign grace and mercy alone. Some places to this purpose may be recounted.

The foundation of the whole is laid in the first promise; wherein the destruction of the work of the devil by the suffering of the seed of the woman is proposed as the only relief for sinners, and only means of the recovery of the favour of God. “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” Gen. iii. 15. “Abraham believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness,” Gen. xv. 6. “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat; and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited,” Lev. xvi. 21, 22. “I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only,” Ps. lxxi. 16. “If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared,” Ps. cxxx. 3, 4. “Enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified,” Ps. cxliii. 2. “Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly: how much less in them that 28dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust?” Job iv. 18, 19. “Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me,” Isa. xxvii. 4, 5. “Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength: in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory,” chap. xlv. 24, 25. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,” chap. liii. 6, 11. “This is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness,” Jer. xxiii. 6. “But ye are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” Isa. lxiv. 6. “He shall finish the transgression, and make an end of sins, and make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness,” Dan. ix. 24. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” John i. 12. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” chap. iii. 14, 15. “Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,” Acts xiii. 38, 39. “That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me,” chap. xxvi. 18. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay; but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Rom. iii. 24–28. “For if Abraham were justified by works, he has whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scriptures Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord 29will not impute sin,” chap. iv. 2–8. “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” chap. v. 15–19. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,” chap. viii. 1–4. “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” chap. x. 4. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work,” chap. xi. 6. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” 1 Cor. i. 30. “For he has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor. v. 21. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh he justified,” Gal. ii. 16. “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us,” chap. iii. 11–13. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them,” Eph. ii. 8–10. “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, 30not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith,” Phil. iii. 8, 9. “Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,” 2 Tim. i. 9. “That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” Tit. iii. 7. “Once in the end of the world has he appeared, to put away sin,” Heb. ix. 26, 28. “Having by himself purged our sins,” chap. i. 3. “For by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified,” chap. x. 14. “The blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanseth us from all sin,” 1 John i. 7. Wherefore, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen,” Rev. i. 5, 6.

(Works Of John Owen, vol. 5: Faith And Its Evidences, 27)