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The Goodness of God’s Nearness

With God as his refuge, the psalmist lets the storms do their profitable work upon him. The troubles work his glory. With God as his refuge, the psalmist will not again stumble and nearly fall, regardless of the severity of the storm in his own life and regardless of the seeming tranquillity of the ungodly. God is the “rock of my heart” (v. 26).

The Reformed Harmony of Paul and James

James’ doctrine is that the faith that justifies by itself alone also always works, for justifying faith is not a “dead faith,” which is no faith at all, but a living faith. True, living, justifying faith is union with Christ, and union with Christ does and must bear fruit in good works of obedience to the law of God. Doing justice to James’ terminology, James teaches that, regarding its clear and powerful demonstration, justification is by works. Paul, in contrast, teaches that, regarding the means by which the sinner is declared righteous by God the judge, justification is by faith, and by faith only.

Passive Faith?

We do not, of course, bring our works into our justification, but the faith by which we are justified is not passive. It is not a dead faith, but a living, active faith. It is not a working faith, for faith does not work, least of all for justification, but it is (to risk stating a redundancy) a believing faith, a faith that receives, embraces, appropriates, etc. That living, active faith is the God-worked, graciously-given instrument by which we embrace Jesus Christ and all his benefits, and the means by which God graciously imputes to us the perfect righteousness of Christ. It does not belong to our righteousness before God, and, therefore, it is not the ground/basis of our justification, but it is the instrument by which we lay hold of the righteousness of our Savior. It is not a passive instrument, for how could faith, “the hand and mouth of our soul” (Belgic Confession, Article 35) be passive, inert, inactive?
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