John Calvin on Works Righteousness

In his tract responding to the Adultero-Germin Interim, Calvin lays clear the relationship between the righteousness that come from faith and the righteousness that comes from works. I found meditating on this to be helpful in finding the balance between the two. One simply flows from the other.

Moreover, we deny not that the righteous are called the children of God, in respect of holiness of life, as well as in respect of a pure conscience: but as no work, if weighed in the Divine balance, will be found otherwise than maimed, and even defiled by impurities, we conclude, that this name of righteousness, when given to works, is founded on free pardon. Believers, therefore, are righteous by works, just because they are righteous without any merit of, or without any respect to works, seeing that the righteousness of works depends on the righteousness of faith.

John Calvin and Hendry Beveridge, Tracts Relating to the Reformation, Volume 3 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 248.

I particularly like Calvin’s imagery of the righteousness from works being “weighed in the Divine balance” and how it is always found wanting.

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