Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Federal-Two-Adams Explanation of the Gospel - Robert Haldane

This section of Robert Haldane's Romans Commentary clearly contrasts the miserable plight of mankind in Adam, one marked by sin and death, with that of righteousness and eternal life for those who by God's grace are in Christ. We pick up his commentary at the last verse of chapter 5.
Unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. — This is that life of which Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead, is the author, as the death here Spoken of is that which He came to destroy. The source of our natural life is Adam, but he is dead, and in his communion we all die. But a new source of life is provided in the second Adam, that He may deliver from death all that are in His communion. ‘The first Adam was made a living soul,’ that he might communicate natural life to those who had not received it. ‘The last Adam was made a quickening spirit,’ that He might impart spiritual life to those who had lost it. The first communicated an earthly and perishable life, the second a life that is celestial and immortal. Jesus Christ is that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; and the Father hath given Him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to as many as He hath given Him. ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life.’ The termination, then, of the reign of death over those whom He represents, and the establishment of the reign of grace through the everlasting righteousness which He has brought in, are all by Jesus Christ. He hath abolished death. By Him came grace and truth; He brought life and immortality to light. He ‘is the true God, and eternal life.’ And ‘to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be the Lord both of the dead and the living.’ The similarity of the Apostle’s commencement in unfolding the doctrine of justification, and of his conclusion, is very striking. He begins, ch. 1:17, by declaring that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, because therein is the righteousness of God revealed; and he here ends by affirming that grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 
In this 21st verse the doctrine of the whole preceding context, of the salvation of believers, is summed up in a manner most beautiful and striking. Having exhibited in a strong light the righteousness of God, ch. 3:21, 22, the Apostle returns to it in this chapter; and, having contrasted Christ and Adam, he brings out his conclusion in this verse with a contrast of the reign of sin and grace. Sin had an absolute sway over all the descendants of Adam. There was nothing good among them, or in any of them. Sin existed and predominated in every human soul. Therefore it is said to reign. The absolute and universal influence of sin is figured by the empire of a monarch exercising authority in uncontrolled sovereignty. Grace also reigns. There was nothing in men to merit salvation, or to recommend them in any measure to God. Grace therefore reigns in their salvation, which is wholly and entirely of free favor. Sin is said to reign unto, or in, death. This shows that death was, in every human being, the effect of his sin. The way in which death manifested its universal reign over the human race, was in causing their death. This most fully proves that infants are sinners. If sin ruled in causing death to its subjects, then all who died are the subjects of sin. Death to the human race is in every instance the effect of the dominion of sin. Sin reigns unto death. — But if sin has reigned, grace reigns. If the former has reigned in death, the latter reigns in life; yea, it reigns unto eternal life. How, then, does it reign unto life. 
Is it by a gratuitous pardon? Doubtless it is. But it is not by forgiving the sinner in an arbitrary way, with respect to the punishment due to sin. Forgiveness is indeed entirely gratuitous; but if it cost believers nothing, it has cost much to their Surety. Grace reigns through righteousness. — How beautifully is thus fulfilled the prophetic declaration of Psalm 85:10-13. Grace did not, could not, deliver the lawful captives without paying the ransom. It did not trample on justice, or evade its demands. It reigns by providing a Savior to suffer in the room of the guilty. By the death of Jesus Christ, full compensation was made to the law and justice of God. 
The Apostle, in the end of this chapter, brings his argument to a close. Every individual of the human race is proved to be guilty before God and on the ground of his own righteousness no man can be saved. The state of the Gentile world is exhibited in the most degrading view, while history and experience fully concur in the condemnation. Man is represented as vile, as degraded below the condition of the brutes; and the facts on which the charge is grounded were so notorious that they could not be denied. Nor could the most uncultivated Pagans offer any apology for their conduct. Their sins were against nature, and their ignorance of God was in spite of the revelation of His character in the works of creation. They are condemned by the standard they themselves recognize, and their own mutual recriminations and defenses prove that they were fully aware of sin and responsibility. 
But are not the Jews excepted from this black catalogue of crimes Are they not righteous through that holy, Just, and good law which they received from the God of Israel? By no means. By the testimony of that revelation which they received, all men are guilty, and this testimony directly implies those to whom the revelation was given. With this experience also coincides. The Apostle charges them as actually doing the same things which they condemned in the heathens. Both, then, are guilty; and, from their superior light, the Jews must be the most guilty. 
Nor was it ever in contemplation of the law of Moses to give the Jews a righteousness by their own obedience. The law was designed rather to manifest their guilt. By the law there was to no individual a righteousness unto life; by the law was the ‘knowledge of sin.’ All men, then, without exception, were shut up unto condemnation. 
But this law veiled the truth which the Apostle now unfolds and exhibits in the strongest light. He proclaims a righteousness so perfect, as to answer all the demands of law, both as to penalty and obedience — a righteousness so free, as to extend to the very chief of sinners. This righteousness is in Jesus Christ. He has borne the curse of the law, and perfectly obeyed all its precepts. All His obedience becomes ours by believing the testimony of the Father concerning His Son, and trusting in Him. The most guilty child of Adam, whether he be Jew or Gentile, becomes perfectly righteous the moment he believes in the work of Christ. This glorious plan of salvation vindicates the law, exalts the character of God, and reconciles mercy with justice. In the Gospel grace appears; in the Gospel grace reigns; but it reigns not on the ruins of law and justice, but in the more glorious establishment of both; it reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. In the salvation of men by the Son of God, the law is not made void. It is magnified and made honorable. In this salvation sin is not represented as harmless. It is here seen in a more awful light than in the future punishment of the wicked. The Gospel is the only manifestation of God in the full glory of His character as the just God, yet the Savior — punishing sin to the utmost extent of its demerit, at the same time that His mercy reaches to the most guilty of the children of men. 
Romans Commentary, Chapter 5 - Robert Haldane. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Romans 6 Intro: Intimate connection between justification and sanctification - eternal life the gift of God

Robert Haldane: Commentary on Romans, Chapter Six.
Introduction
IN the preceding part of the Epistle the universal depravity and guilt of man, and the free salvation through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, had been fully exhibited. Paul now proceeds to prove the intimate connection between the justification of believers and their sanctification. He commences by stating an objection which has in all ages been advanced as an unanswerable argument against salvation by grace. He asks, What is the consequence of the doctrine he has been inculcating? If justification be bestowed through faith, without works, and if, where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded, may we not continue in sin that grace may abound? No objection could be more plausible. It is such as will forcibly strike every natural man, and is as common now as it was in the days of the Apostle. 
Paul repels this charge by declaring the union of believers with Jesus Christ, by whom, as is represented in baptism, His people are dead to sin, and risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Having established these important truths, he urges (ver. 11) on those whom he addresses the duty of being convinced that such is their actual state. In verses 12 and 13, he warns them not to abuse this conviction; and for their encouragement in fighting the good fight of faith, to which they are called, assures them, in the 14th verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them, because they are not under the law but under grace. Thus the Apostle proves that, by the gracious provision of the covenant of God, ratified by the blood of Him with whom they are inseparably united, they who are justified cannot continue to live in sin; but though sin shall not have dominion over them, still, as their sanctification is not yet perfect, he goes on to address them as liable to temptation. What he had said, therefore, concerning their state as being in Christ, did not preclude the duty of watchfulness; nor, since they had formerly been the servants of sin, of now proving that they were the servants of God, by walking in holiness of life. Paul concludes by an animated appeal to their own experience of the past, and to their prospects for the future. He asks, what fruit had they in their former ways, which could only conduct to shame and death? On the other hand, he exhorts them to press onwards in the course of holiness, at the end of which they would receive the crown of everlasting life. But, along with this assurance, he reminds them of the important truth, that while the just recompense of sin is death, eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Confession: Loathing Our Sins and Ourselves - the Sinner...

Confession of sins (see HereHere, and Here) entails more than just listing and condemning our sins but also zeroing in on ourselves the sinner whose thoughts, words, and deeds always fall miserably short of the holiness required of us by God and so should always indict us. Indeed, amazingly we have been given the grace and mercy of God so that we can flee to Christ and there find our comfort and our remedy. Yet, our inherent fallen condition with which we daily struggle should always and increasingly humble us.
"We must know that our old state, with its evil principles, continues still in a measure, or else we shall not be fit for the great duties of confessing our sins, loathing ourselves for them, praying earnestly for the pardon of them, a just sorrowing for them with a godly sorrow, accepting the punishment of our sins and giving God the glory of His justice, and offering to Him the sacrifice of a glory and contrite spirit, being poor in spirit, working out our salvation with fear and trembling...
"You must make a good use of the whole matter and all the manner of prayer, as ordinary and extraordinary exigencies may require, to stir up grace in you by wrestling, and to bring your hearts into a holy frame. As in confession, you must condemn yourself according to the flesh, but not as you are in Christ. You must not deny that grace that you have, as if you were only wicked before, and now to begin again - which hinders praise for grace received in those that are already converted. In supplication, you must endeavour to work up your heart to a godly sorrow (Ps. 38: 18), and a holy sense of your own sin and misery, and lay before you the aggravations thereof (Ps. 51:3; 102). Complaint and lamentation are one great part of prayer, as the Lamentations of Jeremiah."  Walter Marshall. The Mystery of Gospel Sanctification 
From Calvin's Hosea commentary: 
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou art pleased to invite us daily to thyself, we may respond to thy call in the spirit of meekness and obedience; and do thou also so seriously impress our minds, that we may not only confess our sins, but also so loathe ourselves on account of them, that we may without delay seek the true remedy, and, relying on thy mercy, may so repent, that thy name may hereafter be glorified in us, until we shall at length become partakers of that glory, which thy Son has obtained for us by his own blood. -- Amen. (John Calvin)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Calvin: The Confession of Sins and The Right Hand that Rescues...

How are we forgiven of our sins? Or put another way, what is entailed in the confession of
our sins that effects our pardon? We have been addressing this topic of confession (Here and Here) by highlighting John Calvin's thoughts on the matter. In the passaged below, Calvin refutes the Roman Catholic teaching of the requirement to confess (list) all of one's sins to a priest in order to be forgiven of those sins. 
As for the fact that they impose a law of listing all sins and they deny that sins can be forgiven unless one has the firm intention of confessing; and they say that the entrance to paradise is closed to those who have scorned the opportunity to confess: those things must not be tolerated at all.
How is this not a sort of "forgiveness through works?" The question isn't whether Christians should or shouldn't confess individual sins. But to focus solely on specific sins is to miss the core corruption which is us, the sinner who sins, the sinner who deceives himself, the sinner who is all too blind to his own weaknesses and trespasses of the moral law. 
For how do they think one can list all sins? Since David who, I believe, had very well thought about the confession of his sins beforehand, nevertheless could not do otherwise than cry: "Who grasps his sins? Lord, purify me of my secret sins!" (Ps. 19:12). In another place he says: "My iniquities have gone over my head, and have overwhelmed my strength like a heavy burden" (Ps. 38:4). Certainly he understood how great was the abyss of our sins and how many kinds of crimes there are in a person, how many heads this monster of sin has, and how long a tail he pulls behind hind him. He did not set himself then to make a full recounting, but from the depth of his sins he cried to God: "I am submerged, buried, suffocated, the doors of hell have closed around me; let your right hand draw me out of this pit in which I am drowning, and from this death into which I have fallen!" Who now will think that he can keep account of his sins, when he sees David could not discover the number of his?... 
... For in occupying themselves completely with listing their sins, they meanwhile forget the secret abyss of vice which they have in the depth of the heart, their inward iniquities and hidden filth. In order to have the knowledge of the latter they have to think chiefly about their wretchedness. On the contrary, this is the right rule of confession: to confess and recognize such an abyss of evil in us as overwhelms our senses. We see that the confession of the publican was composed in that form: "Lord, be favorable to me, a sinner" (Lk. 18:13), as if he said: "All that is in me is only sin, such that my thought and my tongue cannot grasp the greatness of it. So let the abyss of your mercy swallow up the abyss of my sins!" [emphasis added]
- John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion: The First English Version of the 1541 French Edition
"Let your right hand..." One can easily overlook this phrase employed by Calvin. Yet to do so would miss the import of his final sentence, So let the abyss of your mercy swallow up the abyss of my sins! In Scripture and especially the Psalms the right hand of God is a metonym for the mercy and authority of God, i.e. the Messiah (Psalm 17:7; 18:35; 60:5; 63:8; 108:6; 138:7; 139:10). It is by and in the Messiah Jesus Christ that God pardons sinners. It is Christ who offered himself up once for sins who is the abyss of God's mercy, who alone provides complete cleansing of the sinner and all his sins (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12) - known or unknown - which mercy is received freely by all who look to him. As the New Testament writers teach, this Jesus Christ is now at the right hand of God in the heavenly places. He has been given all power and authority (Matthew 28:18) and he is the Savior of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). By faith let us flee to him...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Confess Your Sins to One Another...

Our topic is confession of sins and forgiveness which began with Calvin's encouragement to readily come to Jesus Christ who is our Physician in order to find healing for our infirmities, peace for our troubled consciences from the guilt of our sins. Christ shed his blood for this very purpose. But is private confession made alone to God the only kind of confession of sins? A while back, my wife observed that one never feels more like a Christian than when he or she has confessed their sin to and asked for forgiveness from someone they've offended. Amen. All who have done this know the difficulty with which this is accomplished, one involving the struggle against our stubborn pride and self-justifying rationalizations. Yet when we follow through - as James writes, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed - we find ourselves refreshingly humbled and renewed, having arrived at a simple and godly stance - that of thankful, forgiven sinners at the foot of the cross, resting solely in Jesus's sacrifice for us. Calvin continues...
Moreover, scripture commends to us two other kinds of confession. One is made for our own sake. That is what St. James' saying is directed toward, that we confess our sins to each other (Jas. 5:16). For he means that, making known our weaknesses to each other, we may mutually help each other with counsel and comfort. The other kind of confession is done for the love of our neighbor who has been offended by our sin, to reconcile and find peace with him. Christ speaks about that in St. Matthew, saying: "If you present your offering at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there and go, reconcile yourself with your brother first, and then you will present your offering" (Matt. 5:23-24). For we must reunite love/charity, which has been cooled and weakened by our offense, by recognizing our sin and asking for pardon. 
As for the first kind of confession, although scripture does not assign a person to whom we may unburden ourselves and leaves us free to choose among the faithful whoever seems good to us as the one to hear our confession, nevertheless because pastors ought to be fitting above others for that, it is better for us to go instead to them. Now I say that they are more suitable than others since, on account count of their office they are established by God to instruct us how to overcome come sin, and to certify God's goodness in order to comfort us. That is why, when he feels in such perplexity of conscience that he cannot help himself without the help of another, let each faithful person prudently not neglect the remedy which he is offered by God; that is, in order to relieve and free himself from scruples let him confess individually to his pastor and receive comfort from him, since it is the pastor's office to comfort God's people with the teaching of the gospel individually as well as in public. However, we must always hold to this mean: that consciences must not be bound and brought under some yoke with regard to things which God has left free.John Calvin. The Institutes of Christian Religion, The First English Version of the 1541 French Edition
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Isaiah 55:6-7

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

'As For The Confession of Sins...' - Calvin

There are so many admonitions in the Bible for Christians to confess their sins. Certainly one of the reasons is that we don't readily do so, no? There is this inherent stubborn resistance we find within to readily humble ourselves and not only confess individual sins by name, but also own and present ourselves before our Lord as rebellious and unfaithful servants. For us he died and yet we all too often callously sin, that is we reject the righteousness that Christ won for us.

Below is John Calvin on the confession of sins: to whom and in what manner we confess. As is always the case, there is much to mine in this short excerpt. But one major take away is Calvin's pastoral call for the redeemed to avail themselves of the blood of Christ shed for them for forgiveness of sins and cleansing of troubled consciences.
"As for the confession of sins, scripture teaches us thus: because it is the Lord who forgives, forgets, and wipes out sins, let us confess to Him to obtain grace and pardon. He is the Physician so let us show Him our wounds and sores. It is He who has been offended and wounded so let us ask of Him mercy and peace. It is He who knows the hearts and sees all the thoughts so let us open our hearts before Him. It is He who calls sinners so let us withdraw to Him. 
"David says: "I have made known to you my sin and I have not hidden my iniquity. I said, `I will confess against myself, I will confess my unrighteousness to the Lord, and you have pardoned the iniquity of my heart"' (Ps. 32:5). Another confession of the same David is similar: "Have pity on me, Lord, according to your great mercy" (Ps. 51:1). Such is likewise the confession of Daniel: "We have sinned, Lord, we have done what is perverse, we have committed impiety and have rebelled against your commandments" (Dan. 9:5). There are enough other similar ones which are seen in scripture. "If we confess our sins;' says St. John, "the Lord is faithful to pardon us" (1 Jn. 1:9).  
"To whom do we confess them? To Him certainly. That is, if with an afflicted and humbled heart we bow ourselves before Him; if in true sincerity, rebuking and condemning ourselves before His face, we ask to be absolved by His goodness and mercy. Whoever makes this confession of heart before God will also no doubt have a tongue ready to confess, when there is need to proclaim God's mercy among the people. And this not only to disclose the secret of his heart to a single person, once, in the ear, but freely to make known his poverty as well as God's glory, more than a few times, publicly and with all the world hearing. In this way, after having been rebuked by Nathan and being pierced with a goad of conscience, David confessed his sin before God and before people. He says: "I have sinned against the Lord" (2 Sam. 12:13), that is, "I do not want to excuse myself anymore, or equivocate so that everyone will not judge me to be a sinner, or so that what I wanted to hide from God might not be clear even to people." This is the way we must take the solemn confession which is made by the whole people at the admonition of Nehemiah and Ezra [Ezra 10:1-17; Neh. 9:1-37]. All churches ought to follow this example when they ask pardon from God, as is certainly the custom among churches which are well ordered." [emphasis added]
John Calvin. The Institutes of Christain Religion, The First English Version of the 1541 French Edition 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Covenant Children Born Condemned?

"To the understanding of this subject, there is no necessity for an anxious discussion, (which in no small degree perplexed the ancient doctors), as to whether the soul of the child comes by transmission from the soul of the parent. It should be enough for us to know that Adam was made the depository of the endowments which God was pleased to bestow on human nature, and that, therefore, when he lost what he had received, he lost not only for himself but for us all. Why feel any anxiety about the transmission of the soul, when we know that the qualities which Adam lost he received for us not less than for himself, that they were not gifts to a single man, but attributes of the whole human race? There is nothing absurd, therefore, in the view, that when he was divested, his nature was left naked and destitute that he having been defiled by sin, the pollution extends to all his seed. Thus, from a corrupt root corrupt branches proceeding, transmit their corruption to the saplings which spring from them. The children being vitiated in their parent, conveyed the taint to the grandchildren; in other words, corruption commencing in Adam, is, by perpetual descent, conveyed from those preceding to those coming after them. The cause of the contagion is neither in the substance of the flesh nor the soul, but God was pleased to ordain that those gifts which he had bestowed on the first man, that man should lose as well for his descendants as for himself. 
"The Pelagian cavil, as to the improbability of children deriving corruption from pious parents, whereas, they ought rather to be sanctified by their purity, is easily refuted. Children come not by spiritual regeneration but carnal descent. Accordingly, as Augustine says, "Both the condemned unbeliever and the acquitted believer beget offspring not acquitted but condemned, because the nature which begets is corrupt." Moreover, though godly parents do in some measure contribute to the holiness of their offspring, this is by the blessing of God; a blessing, however, which does not prevent the primary and universal curse of the whole race from previously taking effect. Guilt is from nature, whereas sanctification is from supernatural grace.""
 John Calvin. Institutes of Christian Religion

God Made Favorable To Us - John Calvin

In his exposition on the Apostles' Creed, John Calvin lays emphasis on a gospel truth not often highlighted - that 'God has been made favorable to us' - rather than the reciprocal
truth of we made favorable to God. Calvin extends this marker by stating that 'Christ earned for us God's good will in which lies the principle guarantee and confidence of our life.' Is this a mere rhetorical flare by Calvin? Or is he underlining that God's acceptance of forgiven sinners is not that of a reluctant Judge, but of a loving Father. Believers, often burdened and discouraged by their less than victorious efforts in fighting sin, all too easily lose sight of God's sure and steadfast love sealed for them in the reconciliation that Christ has won. It is not just that we, by the blood of Christ, have been made minimally acceptable to God, slipping in the door of heaven as it were. But by the finished work of our savior Jesus Christ God himself has been made favorable to us! His is a willing and unhesitant embracing of blood-washed sinners for Christ's sake. And that they, now seeing God as their heavenly Father, would then likewise be so bold as to embrace him as his beloved sons and daughters. God was moved by his great love to offer up his own dear son Jesus Christ for us in order that we would not only be reconciled to him but that he would be reconciled to us! Amazing grace...
That is why, when it is a question of seeking reassurance of salvation, we must come to this redemption by which God has been made favorable to us, the opening which has been made for us in heaven, and the righteousness which has been obtained for us. For scripture does not teach anything more often than this: that by the power of His sacrifice, Christ earned for us God's good will in which lies the principal guarantee and confidence of our life; that the filth and stains of our sins (by which God's will is turned away and alienated from us) have been washed and cleansed by His blood, as the saying of St. John indicates, that His blood purifies us of all sins (1 Jn. 1:7). Here, then, is the summary of our redemption: that, being delivered from the bonds of sin by Christ's satisfaction, we are restored to righteousness and holiness and reconciled to God who does not hate anything in us except our sin.
John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion: The First English Version of the 1541 French Edition 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Helps in Understanding Baptism in Romans Chapter Six

To understand Paul's use of the word baptism involves not only understanding covenantally what is meant by 'union.', but also the significant difference between a sacrament as a sign - that which signifies a truth that itself is not - and the reality that the sign itself represents and points to. In a word, the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper are not the actual body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ but signify them. And the water of baptism is not that which actually cleanses from sin nor is it the agent of spiritual union with Christ but represents those blessings bestowed by Christ himself through the Spirit on his elect in the office of baptizer of his people (Matthew 3:11). Speaking of the sacraments, Augustine wrote, "For they be signs of things, being one thing, and signifying another."

Robert Haldane's Romans Commentary, Chapter 6 -
Ver. 3. Know ye not, that so many of was were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? 
In the verse before us, the Apostle proves that Christians are dead to sin, because they died with Christ. The rite of baptism exhibits Christians as dying, as buried, and as risen with Christ. Know ye not. He refers to what he is now declaring as a thing well known to those whom he addresses. Baptized into Jesus Christ. By faith believers are made one with Christ: they become members of His body. This oneness is represented emblematically by baptism. Baptized into His death. In baptism, they are also represented as dying with Christ. This rite, then, proceeds on the fact that they have died with Him who bore their sins. Thus the satisfaction rendered to the justice of God by Him, is a satisfaction from them, as they are constituent parts of His body. The believer is one with Christ as truly as he was one with Adam — he dies with Christ as truly as he died with Adam. Christ’s righteousness is his as truly as Adam’s sin was his. By a Divine constitution, all Adam’s posterity are one with him, and so his first sin is really and truly theirs. By a similar Divine constitution, all Christ’s people are one with Him, and His obedience is as truly theirs as if they had yielded it, and His death as if they had suffered it. When it is said that Christians have died with Christ, there is no more figure than when it is said that they have died in Adam. 
The figure of baptism was very early mistaken for a reality, and accordingly some of the fathers speak of the baptized person as truly born again in the water. They supposed him to go into the water with all his sins upon him, and to come out of it without them. This indeed is the case with baptism figuratively. But the carnal mind soon turned the figure into a reality. It appears to the impatience of man too tedious and ineffectual a way to wait on God’s method of converting sinners by His Holy Spirit through the truth, and therefore they have effected this much more extensively by the performance of external rites. When, according to many, the rite is observed, it cannot be doubted that the truth denoted by it has been accomplished. The same disposition has been the origin of Transubstantiation. The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are figuratively the body and blood of Christ; but they have been turned into the real body, blood, soul, and divinity of the Lord, and the external rite has become salvation. 
So many of us. This does not imply that any of those to whom the Apostle wrote were not baptized, for there could be no room for such a possibility. It applies to the whole of them, as well as to himself, and not merely to a part. It amounts to the same thing as if it had been said, ‘We who were baptized;’ as in <440324>Acts 3:24, ‘As many as have spoken,’ that is, all who have spoken, for all the Prophets spoke.  
Ver. 4. Therefore we are buried with him baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 
The death of Christ was the means by which sin was destroyed, and His burial the proof of the reality of His death. Christians are therefore represented as buried with Him by baptism into His death, in token that they really died with Him; and if buried with Him, it is not that they shall remain in the grave, but that, as Christ arose from the dead, they should also rise. Their baptism, then, is the figure of their complete deliverance from the guilt of sin, signifying that God places to their account the death of Christ as their own death: it is also a figure of their purification and resurrection for the service of God. 

___________________________

Michael Horton's Systematic Theology, The Christian Fatih.
This means that union with Christ is a soteriological category. However true it may be that all creatures exist in analogical dependence on God’s being, the Spirit communicates Christ’s eschatological righteousness and life, not the divine essence, to believers. Paul explains in Romans 5 that we enter the world united to Adam as our covenant head, with his guilt imputed and corruption imparted. From the womb, we are declared ungodly, and we live out that status in daily unbelief and sinful actions. Baptized into Christ, we are transferred to another covenant head, who is the source of righteousness imputed and holiness imparted. Hence, Calvin encourages us to find our purity in Christ’s virginal conception, our anointing with the Spirit in his baptism, our mortification in his tomb, our life in his resurrection, and the gifts of the Spirit in his sending of the Spirit at Pentecost, which is echoed also in the Great Litany of the Book of Common Prayer. 
Therefore, union with Christ is to be understood in covenantal terms. The Messiah not only saves; he is the corporate head of the people whom he represents and makes to share in the spoils of his victory. As goes the King, so goes the kingdom. As the firstfruits of the whole harvest, Jesus Christ is not merely an example to be imitated by his followers, but the head of a covenantal body to be incorporated into by the Spirit. Whatever is true concerning the King must also be true in principle concerning his people. 46 This is what it means to be baptized into Christ... 
Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 Paul teaches that his readers were baptized into Christ just as their old covenant predecessors were “baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1Co 10: 2). However, the exodus generation enters the true promised land only together with us, their entry having been foreshadowed when they “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.” “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (vv. 3–4)...
The Scriptures locate believers “in Christ,” which means in his church: “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3: 27—28).

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Priority of Justifying Faith - Owen

 "Wherefore we say the faith by which we are justified is such as is not found in any but those who are made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and by him united to Christ - whose nature is renewed, and in whom there is a principle of all grace and purpose of obedience. Only we say that it is not any other grace, nor any obedience that gives life and form unto this faith; but it is this faith that gives life and efficacy to all other graces, and form to all evangelical obedience; all gospel holiness and good works presupposes faith as their root and principle: and without which there are no such things. Yet we do not assign to them the same influence to our justification which faith hath, nor indeed any influence whatever. We are justified by faith alone. For no other grace is capable of the office of faith in justification nor can be joined with it, to receive Christ and the promise of life by him, and to give glory to God on their account."
John Owen: The Doctrine of Justification by Faith Through the Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ - Explained, Confirmed, and Defended,  p. 60
[emphasis added]

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Comfort of Christ and the Christian...

Encouraging Gospel words of sanctification and comfort from John Colquhoun.

If you would, read slowly, consider, and take them in...
True comfort, with regard to its object, is a rejoicing more in the amiableness and excellence of Christ, manifested, than in the manifestation of them; but counterfeit joy, is a rejoicing more in the manifestation itself, than in the excellence of the Divine object, manifested.
The true Christian, rejoices most in the holy, and amiable nature of the things of Christ: the formalist delights most in his own pretended interest in those things. That which delights him, is not so much the beauty of the Lord, as the beauty of his own experience. 
The delight, which the believer taketh in the Lord, and in his word, is his chief delight, his exceeding joy. The dearest delights of nature, are, in his estimation, infinitely below Christ, and God in Him. The presence and enjoyment of Christ will, in his esteem, supply the want of all other comforts. But, the chief delight of the hypocrite, is not in the Lord, but in some other object.
True consolation usually accompanies, or follows, godly sorrow for sin; but the joy of the empty formalist, springs up quickly, and without contrition of heart. If the hypocrite but offers to mourn for sin, it will effectually hinder his rejoicing in God. 
The godly sorrow of the believer, will be a matter of joy to him: he rejoices more, when his heart is melting for sin, than he would do, though he had all the carnal delights in the world.
The consolation of the believer is holy: it hath a holy, a sanctifying influence upon his soul. It disposes him to practice willingly and cheerfully, universal holiness. It strengthens, encourages, and enlivens his heart in holy obedience. It invigorates him for it: it excites him to it. But the joy of the hypocrite is unholy: it leaves his heart, as carnal, and his life, as unholy as ever; nay, it strengthens his lusts and encourages him in sloth, and in the practice of some secret iniquity.  
True comfort humbles the sincere Christian, and lays him in the dust at the footstool of a God of infinite holiness, and sovereign grace; but counterfeit joy, puffs up the empty formalist, with pride and self-conceit.
Pure consolation, is accompanied with a constant fear of displeasing the Lord; but delusive joy, is connected with no fear, except that of suffering from him.
Spiritual comfort cannot be maintained, without a holy tenderness of conscience, and a constant struggle against all manner of sin; but carnal and hypocritical joy is preserved, without, either the one or the other.
True consolation, renders every sin more and more hateful; but counterfeit joy leaves the hypocrite under the reigning love of all iniquity, and especially, of some darling sin.
Holy comfort, disposes the believer to the frequent exercise of impartial self-examination; but delusive joy, inclines and encourages the hypocrite to neglect that exercise. 
In a word, True consolation is permanent. It is by the Holy Spirit so fixed in the heart, that it can never be wholly removed; and it is so strong, that it swallows up almost, all matter of unwarrantable fear and grief. Indeed, when the believer hath lost all sight of his personal interest in the Saviour, he cannot, as formerly, exercise his joy in God, and cannot, in such a case, but lose the sense of that joy, even while the principle and habit of it still remain. But, though the hypocrite's persuasion of his pretended interest in the Divine favor, continues; yet his joy ceases: his sense of that interest becomes insipid to him.  
 John Colquhoun, A Treatise on Spiritual Comfort. (pp 33-36)


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Confessing Christ's Righteousness Imputed to Sinners - Justification Received Through Faith Alone.

The righteousness of Christ is reckoned or imputed to sinners, not infused or worked in them, and is received through faith alone for their justification.  Good works done by the believer play no part in his justification. Rather it is Jesus Christ's obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross that is the sole meritorious ground upon which a sinner is accepted by God.
Heidelberg Catechism 60 Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God's commandments, have never kept any of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, if only I accept this gift with a believing heart.  
Belgic Confession 22 Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.  
Westminster Confession of Faith 11.1 Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them.  
Westminster Larger Catechism 71 Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepts the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace.  
Westminster Shorter Catechism 33 Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
______________________

Romans 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that having died to sins we might live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 

Romans 6:1-7 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. We know that our old man was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be done away, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. For one who has died has been justified from sin. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him; knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death no more hath dominion over him. For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus. [see Robert Haldane's Romans Commentary]

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 

1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 

1 Corinthians 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 

Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 

Romans 3:20-26 For by works of the law no human being[c] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Psalm 32:2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 

Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 

Hebrews 9:28 So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. 

Romans 7:1-4 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 



Saturday, October 15, 2016

Biblical Preaching is Persuasive Preaching (2)...

Some thoughts of mine on the matter of persuasive preaching:
Persuasive preaching seeks to convince not just inform! A battle rages for hearts and souls. 
Persuasive preaching engages Christians, not just the lost, in order that they see their sin and hear afresh the offer of Christ crucified for them in the gospel.  
Persuasive preaching recognizes that the Christian life is a spiritual warfare. 
Persuasive preaching recognizes that Christians by nature do still yield to sin. 
Persuasive preaching recognizes that Christians struggle with their sin and unbelief. 
Persuasive preaching recognizes that Christians struggle with sins in their lives and thus often feel discouraged, even despondent. 
Persuasive preaching presents Christ crucified as the remedy for the sins of not only the unsaved but Christians. 
Persuasive preaching diagnoses sin as a deadly cancer and not merely a flesh wound. 
Persuasive preaching calls for faith and repentance in the hearers. 
Persuasive preaching presents Christ crucified and him alone as the full remedy for the guilt of sin and God's full provision for godly living. 
Persuasive preaching presents Christ's substitutionary-penalty-paying-death on the cross and his resurrection as the power of God that breaks the dominion of sin in believers. 
Persuasive preaching doesn't primarily present Biblical truths for living the Christian life, but rather Christ crucified as the power of God unto justification, sanctification, and salvation. 
Persuasive preaching dares to confront hearers/sinners where Scripture confronts and comforts them where Scripture comforts. 
Persuasive preaching appeals to the hearts of the hearers, believer and unbeliever alike, with the Good News of Christ. 
Persuasive preaching appeals to the hearers, saved and lost, to trust in Christ - "all who labor and are heavy laden." 
Persuasive preaching exposes our lack of trust in Christ, our need of Christ, and presents Christ to us as he is offered in the gospel, the One who is completely trustworthy. 
Persuasive preaching presents the love of God in Christ who died for sinners, believer and unbeliever alike...
________________________________

Friday, October 14, 2016

Biblical Preaching is Persuasive Preaching (1)...

Gleaned and adapted from Tim Keller's book on preaching...
Persuasive preaching seeks to convince hearers to put their trust in Christ alone and renounce all trust and hope in themselves. 
Persuasive preaching not only understands the Biblical text, presenting it with a clear theme, but presents it with a persuasive argument that engages the hearer's heart. 
Persuasive preaching presents Christ as the key to understanding each biblical text and also the key to bringing the Word persuasively home to the heart and life of the listener. 
Neglecting persuasion in preaching neglects the heart of the listener and undermines the purpose of preaching. 
Persuasive preaching is offering Christ as a living reality - the One to be believed in, encountered, and embraced by those who listen. 
Persuasive preaching engages listeners' with the truth of Scripture on a level of where they live. Christ is thus presented as coming to them. 
Persuasive preaching preaches Christ from the whole Word of God and preaches him not only to the mind but to the heart of the listener. 
Persuasive preaching presents to the listener the Bible's unique, divine, living power with the Word's own penetrating power (Heb. 4:12). 
Persuasive preaching seeks to change people by not only logically engaging listeners' minds with Scripture's truth but by moving their hearts with the love of God in Christ. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Mere Mercy of God...

The Mere Mercy of God

This calling of Abram is a signal instance of the gratuitous mercy of God. Had Abram been beforehand with God by any merit of works? Had Abram come to him, or conciliated his favour? Nay, we must ever recall to mind that he was plunged in the filth of idolatry; and God freely stretches forth his hand to bring back the wanderer. He deigns to open his sacred mouth, that he may show to one, deceived by Satan's wiles, the way of salvation. 
But this is done designedly, in order that the manifestation of the grace of God might become the more conspicuous in his person. For he is an example of the vocation of us all; for in him we perceive, that, by the mere mercy of God, those things that are not are raised from nothing, in order that they may begin to be something.
John Calvin, Genesis, (Banner of Truth), p. 343