The next move we are likely to make is to offer some concession: “Well, of course God doesn’t expect your holiness to be perfect actually. He’s prepared to accept your best efforts.”
Now we have regressed entirely to the medieval doctrine of congruent merit, from which the Reformation delivered us. The problem, of course, is that all the evidence in Scripture tells us that God does expect perfect holiness. No one who has read the book of Leviticus could come away thinking that God is satisfied with less than perfection.
The solution for this problem is to recognize the difference between “if…then” and “do…because.” The medieval and Romanist schemes set up deadly conditionals: obey in order to gain (or keep) favor. The Protestants set up grace-wrought consequences. We Protestants seek to obey, in the grace of Christ, in union with Christ, because we’ve been redeemed and because we’ve been given new life. RSC
Dr. Clark makes some good observations but he seems to be neglecting the full teaching of the Divines and Chapter 16 of the WCF.
Thomas Manton, with an obvious dig at the antinomians, goes so far as to say, “They err certainly, that tell us the gospel is no law; for if there were no law, there would be no governor . . . no duty, no sin, no judgment, no punishment, nor reward.”146 With this principle in mind, he states in his comments on Psalm 119:34,147 in the same way as Shepard does above, that keeping the law with the whole heart may be understood legally or evangelically. Taken legally, the rigor of the law “requires exact conformity, without the least motion to the contrary, either in thought or desire, a full obedience to the law with all the powers of the whole man.”148 Man is unable to fulfill the terms of the law in this manner, which is why Christ’s perfect law keeping on behalf of his people was necessary. However, in an evangelical sense, “according to the moderation of the second covenant,” God, “out of his love and mercy in Christ Jesus, accepts of such a measure of love and obedience as answers to the measure of sanctification received.”149 Likewise, Ezekiel Hopkins comments: “That God accepts of our obedience, if it be sinceré voto et conamine, ‘in earnest desires and endeavours.’ Although we cannot attain that perfect exactness and spotless purity, which the Law requires: yet we are accepted through Christ, according to what we have, and not according to what we have not.”150 By showing that God accepts imperfect, but sincere, obedience from his saints, Manton and Hopkins highlight the graciousness of the covenant of grace. Instead of explaining away Psalm 119:34 as impossible, Manton proves that because of our union with Christ, and all that that means, Christians can actually pray this prayer in hopeful expectation that God, to quote Augustine (354–430) (and Sibbes above), gives what he demands and demands whatever he pleases (Heb. 13:21). In other words, Christians can answer to the legal demands of the law in their justification in and through Christ and also the gospel demands of the law WCF 16 VI.
Mark Jones, Antinomianism: Reformed Theology’s Unwelcome Guest?
Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
Is there any application we can take away from Chapter 16 of the WCF that Clark has missed? Maybe not. The whole Chapter is most wonderful and it would have been beneficial to include its light on the topic.
Pastor Patrick Ramsey also thinks there is some clarification needed between Horton and Clark as he speaks on the apparent approaches to things they have written concerning this topic. http://patrickspensees.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/clark-and-horton/
As I read through Dr. Clark’s Blog it just seemed to be skewed again not taking into account the full teaching of the Westminister Divines. I could be wrong but his emphasis just doesn’t hit the nail on the head squarely as I consider the whole teaching of the Westminster Confession of Faith.