Thursday, June 27, 2013

Preaching: Potent Law and Gospel...

A few things to kick around regarding the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of preaching: If preaching the Word of God is to declare to sinners (unbeliever and believer alike) the free offer of God's righteousness which comes by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ, how does it happen that sinners would embrace this message as truly life saving, i.e. really Good News? How is it that unbelievers will believe and believers will increase in faith?  Well, by the message of the Gospel and the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. Amen! And how is that to be accomplished except a sinner be convicted of his sinfulness by the Holy Spirit through the Word?  And how is this to occur without the clear presentation of the Law of God through preaching (for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin - Rom. 3:20), effectively diagnosing that corruption and sinfulness so natural to us (for I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbour; HC -QA 5); thus convincing us, again and again, of our desperate need for a powerful remedy - a powerful Gospel?  Warning: to steer clear of potent Law in preaching is to weaken the relevance and potency of the Gospel in the lives of those that hear.

Law-Lite leads to Gospel-Lite leads to a watered-down Faith in the very potent mercy of God in Christ. With that in view, I thought this bit of commentary of John Calvin's on John 16 was relevant:
8.  And when he is come, he will convince the world of sin, and of   righteousness, and of judgment... It ought to be observed, that in this passage Christ does not speak of secret revelations, but of the power of the Spirit, which appears in the outward doctrine of the Gospel, and in the voice of men. For how comes it that the voice proceeding from the mouth of a man penetrates into the hearts, takes root there, and at length yields fruit, changing hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, and renewing men, but because the Spirit of Christ quickens it? Otherwise it would be a dead letter and a useless sound, as Paul says in that beautiful passage, in which he boasts of being a minister of the Spirit, (2 Corinthians 3:6) because God wrought powerfully in his doctrine. The meaning therefore is, that, though the Spirit had been given to the apostles, they would be endued with a heavenly and Divine power, by which they would exercise jurisdiction over the whole world. Now, this is ascribed to the Spirit rather than to themselves, because they will have no power of their own, but will be only ministers and organs, and the Holy Spirit will be their director and governor.
9. Of sin, because they believe not in me... It now remains that we see what it is to convince of sin Christ appears to make unbelief the only cause of sin, and this is tortured by commentators in various ways; but, as I have already said, I do not intend to detail the opinions which have been held and advanced. First, it ought to be observed, that the judgment of the Spirit commences with the demonstration of sin; for the commencement of spiritual instruction is, that men born in sin have nothing in them but what leads to sin.  Again, Christ mentioned unbelief, in order to show what is the nature of men in itself for, since faith is the bond by which he is united to us, until we believe in him, we are out of him and separated from him. The import of these words is as if he had said, "When the Spirit is come, he will produce full conviction that, apart from me, sin reigns in the world;" and, therefore, unbelief is here mentioned, because it separates us from Christ, in consequence of which nothing is left to us but sin. In short, by these words he condemns the corruption and depravity of human nature, that we may not suppose that a single drop of integrity is in us without Christ.
10. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no   more... We must attend to the succession of steps which Christ lays down. He now says that the world must be convinced of righteousness; for men will never hunger and thirst for righteousness, but, on the contrary, will disdainfully reject all that is said concerning it, if they have not been moved by a conviction of sin. As to believers particularly, we ought to understand that they cannot make progress in the Gospel till they have first been humbled; and this cannot take place, till they have acknowledged their sins. It is undoubtedly the peculiar office of the Law to summon consciences to the judgment-seat of God, and to strike them with terror; but the Gospel cannot be preached in a proper manner, till it lead men from sin to righteousness, and from death to life; and, therefore, it is necessary to borrow from the Law that first clause of which Christ spoke.


  1. But here's the question: Is the general call the same thing as the "effectual call"? If not, then the so-called "free offer of the Gospel" to the reprobate represents a contradiction. If the general call is the same thing as the effectual call, then God's choice is contradictory. God does not elect the reprobate or ever desire to save them. He commands them to do what they are unable to do: "Repent and believe." If God desired the salvation of the reprobate then hell would be empty and heaven would include every single person since creation to the end of time. But we know that isn't so. Therefore FOG is FALSE teaching. God calls only those who hear the Gospel and even then the general call does not imply ability. Total inability contradicts the so-called "free offer." There is no such thing. There is a general call but God never at any single point desires to save the reprobate.

    "So he said to him,`Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 "Then the king said to the servants,`Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:12-14 NKJ)

  2. IX. Of Original or Birth Sin.
    ORIGINAL sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God's wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated, whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek phronema sarkos (which some do expound the wisdom, some sensuality, some the affection, some the desire of the flesh), is not subject to the law of God. And although there is no condemnation for them that believe and are baptized, yet the Apostle doth confess that concupiscence and lust hath itself the nature of sin.

    X. Of Free Will.
    THE condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.

    <a href=">Articles 9 and 10, 39 Articles of Religion</a>

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Charlie, we have wrangled here and there. An once again now here. You look for fights by assuming the worst. You quote the Articles to me as if I have opined against them. Read my past posts to put that aspersion to rest.

    As to the "free offer of the gospel," like so many other of your objections you pass judgment upon something by assuming the worst. For a start go here:

    Charlie, at the rate you are going I'm afraid you will end up in a fellowhip of one.

    Both Arminians and hyper-Calvinists ignore crucial passages of Scripture, resolving the mystery in favor of the either-or: either election or the free offer of the Gospel. A.false choice.

  5. Charlie,

    I have warned you before about falsely accussing different men from Westminster. Your last comment is a false accusation. It violates the nineth commandment. I am removing that comment so as to not give currency to a false rumor. If you make such statements again on this blog you will be blocked from leaving comments.