Following upon on my earlier post, let me continue.
To reject a covenant of works based on perfect obedience is to create real confusion (pastoral and academic) over the nature of justification. Some argue that the law/gospel distinction is Lutheran and not Reformed. This is because they have not read enough of the Reformed tradition and because they have failed to understand the controling nature of the Covenant of Works as synonymous with the law.
This creates a great threat to our doctrine of justification. Now, I realize that law/gospel is not necessarily absolute and that the law serves the gospel even for the regenerate (3rd use of the law). Still, at the point of justification, law and gospel are absolutely antithetical.
Therefore, although the faith that justifies is the same faith that works by love (Gal. 5:6) we are not justified by the working or the love. Rather faith, acting as an instrument, recieves and rests upon Christ’s benefits (faith’s passive office) and goes on to working through love (faith’s active office).
Further, I realize that faith, in its passive office of resting and recieving is a living and active faith that takes hold of Christ. No one is denying this fact. Rather, we are trying to make clear that faith, as an instruement, is not a work that leads to justification. Rather, it is a faith that takes hold of rest.