Monday, March 30, 2015

Calvin: Assurance Reposes in Grace Through Faith in Christ...

First I ask, whether there be any sin, however light, that is not inconsistent with the observance of the law? For what vicious thought will creep into the mind of man if it be wholly occupied with the love of God? The law is not satisfied unless God is loved with the whole heart. That men do not therefore cease to be righteous I admit. But why so, but just because they are blessed to whom sin is not imputed? If they insist on being righteous by works, on which their consciences can repose in the sight of God, they, in the first place, subvert faith, and do an insufferable wrong to the grace of God; and, in the second place, they bring no support to their impious doctrine as to possible observance of the law...
John Calvin. Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Whence Saving Faith?

Heidelberg Catechism 
Q. 65. Since then we are made partakers of Christ and all his benefits by faith only, whence does this faith proceed? 
A. From the Holy Ghost, who works faith in our hearts by the preaching of the gospel, and confirms it by the use of the sacraments.
"We do not find God; he finds us. Faith comes not by feeling, thinking, seeing, or striving, but by hearing."- Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology For Pilgrims On The Way.

Thoughts On Faith and the Gospel...

Where does saving faith come from? The answer, I suppose is pretty obvious. Scripture teaches that the faith which saves is the faith that God gives, i.e. the faith given to a sinner who looks to Christ for salvation. How then is saving faith given to sinners by God? He gives it them through their hearing the gospel. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). Again, faith in Christ comes to sinners through hearing the gospel. And to state the obvious, Christians are still sinners and as sinners still need to regularly HEAR the gospel, and in order to hear the gospel it needs to be proclaimed. Faith in Christ is renewed and strengthened through the preaching of the gospel.

Faith is a grace of the gospel. And like the gospel it comes to us from outside of us. Saving faith is not something that we conjure up from within, or muster up or build up through self-effort or positive thinking. Rather, saving faith is a gift of God by which we apprehend the good news of Christ crucified "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 29-30). Paul wrote,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Rom. 1:16)
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:23-24)
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:2-5)
Faith that is given through the hearing of the gospel is the very same faith that is renewed in the hearing of the gospel. It is faith born of and nourished by the gospel that trusts in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and the assurance of salvation through him.
Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 86. What is faith in Jesus Christ? A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
That isn't meant to be a one time experience. It's an ongoing means of grace in the Christian life. And it's the gospel of Jesus Christ apprehended through faith that humbles and leads believers into thankful obedience to God. As Westminster Larger Catechism Q/A 97 teaches, the primary function of the moral law for believers is to continue to point them to the gospel causing them to realize how much they...
are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.
Which echoes Paul's words,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
For those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as offered in the gospel, salvation from sin is received by faith as an already judgment before the throne of God. In God's declaration of justification in Christ received through faith, sinners/saints can know that they truly have peace with God (Rom. 5:1; 8:1). And yet in daily experience, the Christian life in many ways is a not yet. We still struggle with sins, many of which easily entangle us. We often struggle to obey. Where is one to find comfort and the assurance of salvation in light of this kind of personal experience? Certainly not from within. Shouldn't we then conclude that in this life we'll always need to hear the good news proclaimed? The word of salvation in Christ is the ongoing means of salvation for the elect and it is still, and always, by grace through faith in Christ alone.

Some additional thoughts...

It is the gospel that God has ordained as the means to bring sinners to Christ. Indeed as Paul wrote in Romans 1:16 "the gospel... is the power of God for salvation unto everyone who believes..." So then where does faith come from? Yes, it is a gift of grace from God himself to the elect. And how does God communicate that gift of grace? Calvin writes:
"God inspires us with faith, but it is by the instrumentality of his gospel, as Paul reminds us, "Faith cometh by hearing" (Romans 10:17). God reserves to himself the power of maintaining it, but it is by the preaching of the gospel, as Paul also declares, that he brings it forth and unfolds it." Institutes 4.1.5
Can we then not say that it is upon hearing the gospel that we receive from God the gracious gift of faith by which we believe the very same gospel that we are hearing? And it's that same gospel proclaimed that continues to nourish and strengthen our faith in Christ. 
Belgic Confession, Article 24The Sanctification of Sinners - We believe that this true faith, produced in man by the hearing of God's Word and by the work of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes him a "new man," causing him to live the "new life" and freeing him from the slavery of sin.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Unequal to the Observance of Law, Flee to the Grace of Christ...

"I go farther, and assert, that what the Scriptures declare never shall be, is impossible; although, if we are to debate about a word, the very thing was expressed by Peter, (Acts 15.) when he spoke of the yoke of the law as that which none of their fathers could bear. It is an error to suppose that this refers only to ceremonies: for what so very arduous was there in ceremonies as to make all human strength fail under the burden of them? He undoubtedly means that all mankind from the beginning were, and still are, unequal to the observance of the law, and that therefore nothing remains but to flee to the grace of Christ, which, loosing us from the yoke of the law, keeps us as it were under free custody. And it is to be observed that he is speaking of the regenerate, lest the Fathers of Trent quibble, and say that he spoke of the weakness of the flesh when the assistance of the Spirit is wanting. For he affirms that prophets and patriarchs, and pious kings, however aided by the Spirit of God, were unable to bear the yoke of the law, and declares, without ambiguity, that the observance of the law was impossible..."
John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Two Covenants: Mount Sinai and Mount Zion...

"The spirit of bondage is the effect of the law, which, manifesting his sinfulness to man, and the fearful wrath of God, makes him tremble under the apprehension of its curse. The Apostle, comparing the two covenants, namely, the law from Mount Sinai, and the gospel from Mount Zion, says, that the one from Mount Sinai gendereth to bondage, which is Hagar, but Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of all believers; because, like Isaac, they are the children of the promise. Now, this promise is the promise of grace. For as man has sinned, the law which demands perfect obedience, and pronounces a curse against him who continues not in all things which it commands, must condemn and reduce him to the condition of a slave, who after he transgresses expects nothing but punishment. On this account, when God promulgated his law amidst thunderings and lightnings, the mountain trembled, and the people feared and stood afar off. This showed that man could only tremble under the law, as he could not be justified by it; but that he must have recourse to another covenant, namely the covenant of grace, in which God manifests his mercy and his love, in which he presents to sinners the remission of their sins, and the righteousness of his well-beloved Son; for in this covenant he justifies the ungodly, Rom. iv., 5, and imputes to them righteousness without works. He adopts as his own children those who were formerly children of wrath, and gives the Spirit of adoption to them who had before a spirit of bondage and servile fear."
[emphasis added]
Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans p. 360. Robert Haldane

Two relevant passages of Scripture:
"And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the heart of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. And Jehovah spoke unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of words, but ye saw no form; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone." Deuteronomy 4:11-13 (ASV)

"Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more."
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ASV)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Covenant of Works Republished at Sinai - Colquhoun

In chapter one of his book, Treatise on the Covenant of Works, John Colquhoun refers to the Sinai covenant as his first proof of the existence of a covenant of works with Adam:
1. This contract between God and the first
Adam, is in sacred writ, expressly styled a covenant.
"These are the two covenants; the one from the
mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which
is Agar." 
Here are two covenants mentioned,
the one of which, genders to bondage, and the
other, to liberty or freedom. The covenant of
grace, or "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ
Jesus," is the one which genders to liberty, or
which makes free from the law of sin and death.
The one, therefore, which genders to bondage,
must be that law or covenant of works, which was
republished to the Israelites, from mount Sinai
which required perfect obedience to the ten commandments,
on pain of death, and contained a promise
of life, to the man who should do, or perform
such obedience. 
This covenant, which "the thunderings,
and lightnings, and thick cloud, and voice
of the trumpet exceeding loud, on the mount," proclaim
to have been a covenant of works, gendereth
to bondage. By the awful manner, in which it
was then displayed; by the strictness of its precepts,
and the dreadful severity of its penalty, it
tends to beget a slavish and servile spirit, in all
who are under the dominion of it, and to subject
them to bondage of the most ignominious kind. 
Now this covenant, is here contrasted with the covenant
of grace, which, for his comfort, was revealed
to Adam immediately after the fall ; and,
therefore, it must have been made with him, before
the fall. And indeed, we cannot suppose that Jehovah,
to whom infinite Goodness, as well as infinite
Justice, is always essential, could have published
such a covenant of works, from Sinai, to
man in his state of sin, in which he is "without
strength to obey, if he had not already entered
into it with him, in his state of innocence. (pp. 5-6) 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Assurance: Works and Grace? Calvin - "Nay!"

"The question under discussion was, whether observance of the law was to be exacted of the Gentiles. He says it ought not, because there is no other salvation in the Christian Church than through the grace of Christ, and there never was any other. (Acts 4:12.) And justly; for, as Paul says, the promise will not be secure unless it depends on the grace of God and on faith. (Romans 4:16.) Will they pretend that he is here, too, speaking of preceding merits? Nay, he declares that the greatest saints can have no assurance of salvation, unless it repose on the grace of Christ. He therefore abolishes faith who does not retain his as the only righteousness, which exists even until death."
John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Assurance and the Law-Gospel Antithesis...

"While no sane man will strike off the yoke of God from the shoulders of believers, as if they behooved not to keep his Commandments, it must still be understood that assurance of salvation by no means depends on the observance of them. For the words of Paul always hold true, that the difference between the Law and the Gospel lies in this, that the latter does not like the former promise life under the condition of works, but from faith. What can be clearer than the antithesis — “The righteousness of the law is in this wise, The man who doeth these things shall live in them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh thus, Whoso believeth,” etc. (Romans 10:5.) To the same effect is this other passage,"
“If the inheritance were of the law, faith would be made void and the promise abolished. Therefore it is of faith that in respect of grace the promise might be sure to every one that believeth.” (Romans 4:14.)
John Calvin, Acts of the Council of Trent with the Antidote 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Christ's Works - Ground of Believer's Title to Life...

"The inability of the law, therefore, to afford eternal life now, arises merely from the sinner's inability, to afford that perfect obedience, which it originally required, and still requires as the ground of a title to life. If sin had not been committed, the law as a covenant of works, could have still conducted men to that everlasting life, which Christ the last Adam, confers upon his children."
John Colquhoun, Treatise of the Covenant of Works. p. 76

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thoughts on the Moral Law and Justification...

In a FaceBook exchange a while back, someone said that the third use of the law was operative in the sanctification of the Christian's life, i.e. in force or in effect. That's a pretty standard Reformed sound bite. But what does that mean? How is the moral law operative in the lives of Christians? Are we to live by keeping the moral law? I think how one answers that question determines whether one falls into a legal view of sanctification or a gospel view. The Westminster Larger Catechism points the way:
WLC Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate? 
A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.
In beginning to answer the question of how Christians are to use the moral law, it's significant that the Divines, first and foremost, remind the believer of his justification. Christians are delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works. They are no longer under the "law" (Rom 6:14b)  and therefore they are no longer under the condemnation of the law (Rom 8:1). They are under grace as a covenant though faith in Christ. Likewise, they are no longer under the law of works as a path or way to keep their justification, or for that matter their salvation (Eph 2:8-9). WSC 33 states: 
Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. 
This is the starting point for the third use of the law. Why remind the believer of what the Confession of Faith, as well as the Larger and Shorter Catechism's have already taught? Because we are by nature legalists, born under the law as a covenant of works. Written on our heart is "Do this and live." Though believers we are still sinners who have a bent towards justifying ourselves. And that's what sinners do. Yet how futile! And because of sin we attempt to do that law-keeping by the corrupt tendency within ourselves to water down the law's standards and elevate the quality of our obedience. If we are going to talk about the moral law in the lives of sinners/saints we need to again and again emphasize the ground of grace upon which they stand.

The first use of the law in believer's lives that the Divines refer to is the "general uses thereof common to them with all men" which is the topic of Question 95:
Q. 95. Of what use is the moral law to all men? 
A. The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God, and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly; to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives: to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.
So the law informs believers of God's holy nature. It teaches that their duty, as those made in the image of God, is to live in a godly way defined by God's moral law as revealed in Scripture (summed up in the Ten Commandments but not limited to those ten words). And that standard of holy living is non-negotiable. As Jesus taught in Matthew 5, "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Created in his image and likeness, God's children are meant to be morally like him. Considering that high requirement, it's crucial that believing sinners having a proper view of their natural state as well as having their feet firmly planted on the ground of God's free grace of justification.
... to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives: to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and of the perfection of his obedience.
As the hymn states, "all other ground is sinking sand." The moral law continues in the lives of believers to convince them of their disability to meet the law's requirements and point them to their salvation in Christ who as their Mediator fulfilled all of the law for them - For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Rom. 10:4). This is true even though we continue to fall short of the moral law in thought, word, and deed. So the law, as described in this function general to all men including believers, continues to discover to God's people the sinful pollutions which remain in their lives.

This brings us back to Answer 97 and the first mention of the laws' use specific to believers.
Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.
Sounds like our justification in Christ is front and center when it comes to thankfully giving care to conform ourselves more and more to the law as a rule of obedience.

In a sense the gospel of grace scares us. Sinners saved by grace, we are completely dependent (like an infant in his mother's arms) solely on God's initiating and continuing love and grace which he has given in Christ. We don't have and will never have control over that by our works. To paraphrase the Tom Petty song, we were 'free falling' to our death except that the grace and love of God was poured out on us in the Beloved who caught us. And it is that same  sovereign grace that now holds us. Getting used to grace is getting used to God loving us, despite the good that we don't bring to the table and despite the bad that we do. God, apart from our doings, chose us in Christ, sent his Son to die on the cross for us, and Jesus, now at the right hand of the Father, secures our salvation by his mediation in heaven for us. How to explain that? With Paul, I think we'll spend the rest of our lives seeking to comprehend "with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge..."

Christians can walk and chew gum at the same time. As a reasonable and thankful response to God's grace in Christ we can take seriously Christ's command to follow him in accord with the rule of righteousness found in the moral law. And as we walk that path of righteousness our eyes of faith are fixed, not on own works - as if to measure or ascertain some kind of progress, but only upon Christ Jesus as our righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Republication - Klinean Concision...

"A variety of purposes can be discovered to explain the insertion of the old covenant order and its typal kingdom into the course of redemptive history. Of central importance was the creation of the proper historical setting for the advent of the Son of God and his earthly mission (cf. Rom 9:5). In accordance with the terms of his covenant of works with the Father he was to come as the second Adam in order to undergo a representative probation and by his obedient and triumphant accomplishment thereof to establish the legal ground for God’s covenanted bestowal of the eternal kingdom of salvation on his people. It was therefore expedient, if not necessary, that Christ appear within a covenant order which, like the covenant with the first Adam, was governed by the works principle (cf. Gal 4:4). The typal kingdom of the old covenant was precisely that. Within the limitations of the fallen world and with modifications peculiar to the redemptive process, the old theocratic kingdom was a reproduction of the original covenantal order. Israel as the theocratic nation was mankind stationed once again in a paradise-sanctuary, under probation in a covenant of works. In the context of that situation, the Incarnation event was legible; apart from it the meaning of the appearing and ministry of the Son of Man would hardly have been perspicuous. Because of the congruence between Jesus’ particular historical identity as the true Israel, born under the law, and his universally relevant role as the second Adam, the significance of his mission as the accomplishing of a probationary assignment in a works covenant in behalf of the elect of all ages was lucidly expressed and readily readable."
Kline, M. G. (2006). Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview (p. 352). Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers.

Accept Christ as the End of the Law for Righteousness to Thee...

It is evident from what hath now been advanced, that it is not enough that we assent, simply to the truth concerning the Covenant of Works, but that we believe and consider it well, with application to ourselves. We cannot consistently, take hold of
God's covenant of grace, or apply to ourselves any of the promises of it, unless we previously believe with particular application, his covenant of works. Be persuaded, reader, that this covenant was made with the first Adam, in thy name, or for thee in particular. Consider it attentively, and with application to the state of thy own soul. Lay to heart, O, lay to heart, without a moment's delay, thy own case in relation to it. If thou be still under the dominion of sin, thou art as really, as completely, under that covenant, as if thou hadst in thy own person, consented to all the articles of it. O, do not any longer doubt of the reality of it. Thou and I, reader, have sufficient evidence even within ourselves, that a covenant of life, was made with our common parent. Nothing is more natural for us than to do, that we may live; than to think, that our performances will entitle us to the favour and enjoyment of God ; and that if we do our part, God will do his. O do not flatter thyself, that, by thy own righteousness or strength, thou wilt be able to discharge, and dissolve the obligations of this covenant. Thy violation of it in Adam, instead of setting thee free from it, lays thee effectually and completely, under the dreadful penalty of it. Thou canst not otherwise be delivered from it, than by a discharge obtained from Jehovah himself, the other contracting Party: and such a discharge cannot be granted, but upon full satisfaction given to all its demands. Thou canst not have thy discharge, from the hand of Divine justice, till the very last farthing, of thy debt of obedience and suffering to the law, be paid.—"Till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." It is impossible for thee, O sinner, ever to satisfy the demands of the law as a covenant, otherwise than by receiving the Lord Jesus Christ, as Jehovah thy righteousness, and counting to the law, all that he did and suffered, as done and suffered for thee. Assure thyself, that if ever thou "become dead to the law" in its covenant-form, it must be "by the body of Christ." Accept Him, then, as the end of the law for righteousness to thee in particular; and having received abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, thou shalt reign in life by one Jesus Christ, the glorious Head of a new, and a better covenant.
John Colquhoun, Treatise on the Covenant of Works. pp. 40-41

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Working Rightousness from Life Received...

Legal principles and tempers, are natural to men; and, therefore, though good works are seldom seen, works performed to entitle the performer to heaven, are very frequent. It is as natural to the sons of Adam, to rely on their own professions and performances, for a title to eternal life, as it is, to breathe. Nothing can destroy this legal spirit, this inclination in them, to lean to the way of the old covenant, for acceptance with God, but the quickening Spirit of the last Adam. Reader, are you convinced by the law, in the hand of the Spirit of Christ, that such a legal temper is in you; and, that it is so deeply rooted in your heart, that no power can enable you to mortify it, but the exceeding greatness of Almighty power? If your conviction of it be saving, you see, nay, you feel, the strength of it to be so great in you, that no strength appears to you, to be fit to deal with it, but the strength of the grace of Christ. It is only the second Adam, who can cast the first Adam out of the heart, and seize upon it for himself; who can make the proud legalist willing, instead of "going about to establish his own righteousness " for life, to go about to work righteousness from life already received.
John Colquhoun, Treatise on the Covenant of Works, p. 25 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Do This and Live...

  • Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, "... if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Luke 18:18-19)
    In essence, Jesus replies "Do this and live." He was telling the rich young ruler that in order to obtain eternal life one needs a perfect obedience before the law of God. Jesus's law formula, if you will, wasn't at odds with his gospel. It was and still is the foundation upon which one obtains eternal life. "What?" you say! Yes, it's the very ground upon which Jesus obtained eternal life for the elect. He 'did' the "Do this and live" of the law for all those who put their trust in him for salvation. His obedience is credited to them as their obedience. His death for the sins of the elect is credited as their death for their sins. Jesus fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law of commandments and thus earned eternal life for those he came to save.

    "Do this and live" (Lev. 18:5) is the promise/works principle embodied in the Edenic covenant of works and later echoed in the Mosaic Covenant at Mt. Sinai as the condition upon which God would temporally bless Israel in the land of Canaan as well as to direct the people to the mercy offered in Christ. It was also the Law of works under which Jesus was born. God was still looking for a Man - the true Israel/the second Adam - to fulfill the covenant of creation which offered lif upon perfect obedience. The first Adam had failed when he disobeyed and ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, hurling all mankind into sin and under condemnation. Though not under a strict covenant of works by which to obtain eternal life, Israel as a nation broke the Sinai covenant which contained a shadow of the original works covenant made with Adam.  Thus the Israelites were exiled by God from the promise land even as Adam was exiled from the Garden of Eden. As the writer in Hosea 6:7 declares,
    But like Adam they [i.e. Israel] have transgressed the covenant;
    There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
    Is it really such a stretch to see that the conditional promise of life based on obedience offered by Jesus to the rich young ruler is the very same condition of obedience for life that Adam transgressed in the original covenant of works in Genesis 3, and the same works principle typologically and pedagogically republished to Israel as a nation in the Mosaic covenant? Can it be that God is trying to get our attention? And can it be that God has writ large in Scripture that for one to "have eternal life," then obedience to all the Law must be performed. And that complete and necessary obedience comes either by one's own personal works or through the One who has performed that obedience for all who receive him by faith.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"We shall be like Him..."

"With Him as only our example we could see in His perfect manhood only what we ought to be, ought but cannot. Hopeless gloom would inevitably settle upon our souls. With Him as our life, who has died for our sins and purchased the sanctifying Spirit for us, we see in His perfect manhood what we are to be. Do we peer into that mysterious future, with doubt if not dismay? We have the precious assurance based upon His perfected work of propitiation and purchase: "Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him." "We shall be like Him." Our hearts take courage, and we rest on this word. We shall be like Him!"
B.B. Warfield, Sermon - The Revelation of Man.