Berkouwer’s theology of the relationship between grace and faith

The more I thought of my own work on Berkouwer, the more I came to feel that the key Biblical text is Ephesians 2:8 – “By grace you have been saved through faith”.
The emphasis is on the absolute necessity of both grace and faith.
It is not ‘by grace you have been saved without faith’. It is not ‘by faith you have been saved apart from grace’. It is ‘by grace you have been saved through faith’.
The full emphasis on both grace and faith is most important for our understanding of the relationship between the divine and the human aspects of our salvation.
In his book, “Faith and Sanctification”, Berkouwer leads us on from the words, ‘by grace … through faith’ to the words which follow, ‘for good works’, emphasizing that, in the life of sanctification, we remain firmly within this context – ‘by grace … through faith’.
You will see from my Berkouwer blog that the concern with overcoming polarization in our understanding of the divine and the human lies at the heart of my work on Berkouwer. Quite a number of my posts touch on this theme in one way or another.
Berkouwer approaches social concern from a Biblical and Reformed perspective. In Ephesians 2:8-10, the emphases ‘by grace’ and ‘through faith’ lead directly on to the emphasis ‘for good works’. Berkouwer underscores this connection between ‘Sola Fide and Sanctification’ (Chapter II, pp. 17-44). He emphasizes that the true nature of good works cannot be understood apart from Christ who is our ‘sanctification’ (1 Corinthians 1:30). Sanctification is not ‘the humanly operated successor to the divinely worked justification. ‘Genuine sanctification’ has a ‘continued orientation toward justification.’ Berkouwer emphasizes the ‘by grace .. through faith’ context in which the ‘for good works’ character of sanctification expresses itself. He draws attention to the nature of the Spirit’s work in sanctification: ‘The Spirit alone could perform the miracle of making man walk on the road of sanctity without a sense of his own worth.’ The life of sanctification has a gracious character which Berkouwer observes in the parable of the unprofitable servants and a social context which he sees in the parable of the good Samaritan (A Half Century of Theology, p. 191). A Reformed theology, grounded in the ‘Scripture alone’ principle, seeks to emphasize the purpose of Scripture – ‘to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus … that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15, 17). Berkouwer, in his discussion entitled ‘The Imitation of Christ’ (Chapter VII, pp. 135-160), emphasizes both the gracious character and the social context of the Biblical teaching concerning sanctification.

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