PREFACE TO "ENTRANCE INTO THE KINGDOM."
ROBERT GOVETT, M. A.
Faith, connecting the sinner with the perfect work of Christ, brings present acceptance before God, and eternal life as its blessed issue. The works of man, whether converted or unconverted, avail not to obtain the pardon of sins, or everlasting bliss. God is a Sovereign, as is shown in his electing whom he will, sustaining their faith through a world of dangers, and glorifying them at last.
These truths were established at the Reformation, on the sure foundation of Scripture. Good works, it was seen, are the proofs of a living faith, and they are the true fruits of it. But this leaves untouched the further inquiry - WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF GOOD OR EVIL WORKS ON THE FUTURE POSITION OF ONE ALREADY JUSTIFIED? The ensuing pages open the enquiry to some extent; and they do so, in the only safe manner, by a consideration of some portions of Holy Writ which speak of these things.
1. The Scriptures affirm that all believers shall give account at the judgment seat of Christ: Rom. 14: 10-12; 2Cor. 5: 9,10; Heb. 10: 30.
2. They declare that the principle of judgment shall be according to works, and to their degree of good or evil: Matt. 16: 24-27; Rev. 2: 23; 22: 12.
Does not, then, the New Testament suppose that believers are agents producing both good and evil works? Does it not anticipate that some would be guilty of sloth, or be found wanting in good works? What then shall be the issue of such investigation?
Can any inquiry be more important to the saint?
The merits of Christ are the answer to the demands of the law of God upon us, as responsible moral creatures who have broken his law. They free Christians from eternal death; they open to them eternal life. But the point to be considered is: Whether the Saviour and his apostles do not speak of an account to be rendered to Christ by his believing servants; when both their offences against professed servitude, and their actions in obedience to his claims will come before him?
The faith of Christians in general, as it appears to the author, embraces and enjoys present rest in God, through the work of Christ. But it has overlooked the doctrine of the future rest of the kingdom as a reward for present exertion. Now faith in the [millennial] kingdom will alone produce works meet for the kingdom.
The history of David's mighty men, arranged in his kingdom according to their acts of bravery during the time of his rejection, is given as the principle to be applied to us. Twice is the record given; so important did the Holy Spirit consider it: 2 Sam. 23; 1 Chron. 11.
It is not expected that these truths will ever be popular. They boast no great names; they flatter not. They rest only on the proofs of God's word. They have to contend with the remains of evil adhering even to the saint. It is a novelty too; though old on the page of Scripture. The Christianity of the present age is much relaxing: the influences of the world are creeping on it and benumbing it. Do not Christians love to hear of God's mercy, and of their privileges? But we must speak of the demands of the God of equity upon those gifted with privileges.
The doctrine here propounded stands on the passages adduced: though these are not all in which it is affirmed. The Second Epistle of Peter, though not here touched on, is very full to the point. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established," is the declaration of God. Here are more than twice three; and the reader may soon find others for himself. Should any desire to impugn these views; they must show that the passages adduced do not contain the doctrines supposed. If reward according to the believer's works be taught in these and other Scriptures, objections drawn from other doctrines, or from the difficulty of reconciling the present text with seemingly conflicting testimonies of Holy Writ, will not be accounted sufficient. Does the Holy Ghost any where teach that loss will be inflicted on the believer for his evil works? Does He affirm, that reward in the kingdom is to be given to the believer in proportion to his Works? If so, that is enough. The doctrine is established, all objections to the contrary notwithstanding.
In order that no mistake may arise, let it be clearly observed, that THE DOCTRINE OF REWARD FOR GOOD WORKS APPLIES ONLY TO THOSE JUSTIFIED ALREADY. Then the truth is amply guarded against being misapplied by the ungodly as the way to justification. The doctrine of reward according to works does indeed affect the wicked also. Each act of trespass on their part is increasing their damnation. But that is not treated of here.
June 21st, 1853.
A second series of comments in corroboration of the truth established by the first, is now permitted to make its appearance. Perhaps some who may have hesitated in the face of the former evidence, will be convicted of this. But if any still doubt, let them search the New Testament for themselves. About a hundred and sixty passages affirm the doctrine, more or less directly.
The writer, by whom this great principle has been
introduced to the notice of the
This doctrine so potently contends against the selfishness and laxity of the believers in this latter day, that no one who considers the matter can expect that its career will be otherwise than stormy. It is as susceptible of being maligned as all other doctrines of God are. How then should this escape its day of battle? How should those who maintain it come off unscarred?
But, resting as it does on the assertions of the word of God alone, it must triumph in every candid mind. And it cannot but affect materially the life of those who receive it.
It may appear perhaps to some who read the preface to the former series, as if the doctrine arose in the mind of its present advocate, in consequence of speculation upon the abstract question, - How far the consequences of the works of believers will extend? This, however, is a misapprehension. The truth presented itself first on a study of Scripture, and not as a consequence of any theoretic enquiry.
Is the doctrine of God? If it be, it cannot be overthrown. ... But those who have the single eye, will perceive its amplitude of evidence and embrace it, in spite of the solemn awe of God which it produces, and the depth of our own responsibility which it discloses. To the blessing of the Great Head of the church this little volume is humbly commended. To him be glory for ever! Amen.
To the remarkable contrasts between the Epistles to the Romans and to the Hebrews, the author desires to add one which was overlooked.
Both Epistles treat of FAITH. Romans exhibits it as the source of justification without works. But Hebrews presents it as the fruitful parent of all holy deeds.
- Robert Govett, M.A.
The two books entitled, "Entrance Into the Kingdom by Robert Govett, M. A. are now combined into one volume. The Table of Contents has been amalgamated, so that Chapter 9 of the single volume appears as Chapter 1 in Govett's first printing of part 2.
Many of the writings of Govett have been republished by:-
Schoettle Publishing Co,INC,