Francis Turretin on the necessity of good works

In Francis Turretin’s brilliant section on “The Law of God” in his Institutes of Elenctic Theology (11th Topic), he “affirms against the François_Turrettiniantinomians” that the law “in a certain respect…still pertains to Christians.” Here is part of his response (23rd question, paragraphs V-VII):

Finally, the law is necessary in many ways to Christians. (1) With respect to the covenant of grace (under which believers live), which contains not only the promise of grace and salvation on God’s part, but also carries with it the stipulation of obedience on man’s part, so that just as God promises to be our God in love and protection, we in turn are his people by worshiping and obeying him (Jer. 31:33; 2 Cor. 6:16, 17). (2) With respect to God the Father, who receives us into his family and holds towards us the relation (schesin) of Father and Lord, to honor and worship whom we are indispensably bound (Mal. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16). (3) With respect to Christ, who, as he sustains a twofold person towards us (or surety and priest, to satisfy for us by fulfilling the law; and of head and king, to work and fulfill the law in us by his Spirit), so he demands a twofold virtue from believers to be united and conformed to him (faith, which embraces the promise of grace and the  merit of the surety; and love, which imitates the holiness of the head by obeying his commands). Hence his death is not only the price of our redemption (lytron), by which he made a most full satisfaction for us, but also “the model for our imitation” (which is set before us) “that we should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). (4) With respect to the Holy Spirit, who consecrates us for temples to himself in which he may dwell (1 Cor. 3, 4); who has the name and office of Consoler and Sanctifier, that as by the office of Paraclete he consoles us against the curse of the law, so as the Spirit of sanctification, he confirms and sanctions the necessity of the obedience to the law.

VI. (5) With respect to grace (now conferred upon us here), which demands that obedience (Tit. 2:14) as the fruit of that seed; gratitude for benefits received (Pss. 116:12; 130:4; Lk. 1:74) and the mark at which it aims, as is evident in election (Eph. 1:4), in redemption, (Tit. 2:14), in calling (1 Pet. 1:15; 2:9), in justification (Ps. 85:9; Gal. 2:20; Ps. 130:4), in regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 6:14). (6) With respect to the glory which we expect, to which the obedience due to the law stands related as a means to the end, without which we cannot attain unto it (Jn. 3:5; Mt. 5:8; Heb. 12:14); the way to the goal (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 3:14); the seed to the harvest (Gal. 6:7, 8) and the firstfruits of the mass (Rom. 8:23) — Yea, as the principle part of happiness. Hence arises the necessity of good works to glory; not of merit, but of means. No one can be glorified in heaven who has not been sanctified on earth by the pursuit of holiness and obedience to the law.

VII. …. In the first covenant, man was bound to do this [keep the law] in order that he might live (deserve life); but in this he is bound to do the same (not that he may live, but because he lives) to the possession of the life acquired by Christ and the testimony of a grateful mind.

We’ve seen similar arguments in the works of Benedict Pictet, Robert Traill, JC Ryle and others (e.g., Owen and Rutherford).

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