Friday, July 31, 2015

The Answer To Our Longings...

"Through the gospel, [God] has become our Father, and he has declared that an inheritance awaits us, bought not by ourselves or any other mortal creature, but by Jesus Christ. He, though very God, became man, that we might find in him that which we could never have found in the world."
John Calvin. Sermon on Discerning Who Belongs To The True Church

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Assurance Rests on Christ Alone...

"Thus, Paul concludes here that if we wish to be grounded upon the gospel and enjoy assurance of salvation, we must never entertain thoughts of our own merit, nor believe that we can contribute anything of ourselves, for it is simply a matter of accepting that which has been offered to us. Jesus Christ is not half a saviour, he is the Saviour!"

John Calvin. Sermon - On Discerning Who Belongs to the True Church

The Ground of Justification

"The ground of our justification, therefore, is that God reconciles us to himself, from regard not to our works, but to Christ alone, and, by gratuitous adoption, makes us, instead of children of wrath, to be his own children. So long as God looks to our works, he perceives no reason why he ought to love us. Wherefore, it is necessary to bury our sins, and impute to us the obedience of Christ (because [his is] the only obedience which can stand his scrutiny), and adopt us as righteous through his merits. This is the clear and uniform doctrine of scripture, "witnessed," as Paul says, "by the law and the prophets" (Rom. 3:21); and so explained by the gospel, that a clearer law cannot be desired. Paul contrasts the righteousness of the law with the righteousness of the gospel, placing the former in works, and the latter in the grace of Christ (Rom. 10:5, etc.). He does not divide it into two halves, giving works the one, and Christ the other; but he ascribes it to Christ entirely, that we are judged righteous in the sight of God."
John Calvin. The Necessity of Reforming the Church

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

That which makes a man righteous, that which the law demands...

"The Apostle in express terms says that God imputes righteousness to the sinner. (Rom. iv. 6, 24.) By righteousness every one admits is meant that which makes a man righteous, that which the law demands. It does not consist in the sinner's own obedience, or moral excellence, for it is said to be "without works;" and it is declared that no man can be justified on the ground of his own character or conduct. Neither does this righteousness consist in faith; for it is "of faith," "through faith," "by faith." We are never said to be justified on account of faith. Neither is it a righteousness, or form of moral excellence springing from faith, or of which faith is the source or proximate cause; because it is declared to be the righteousness of God; a righteousness which is revealed; which is offered; which must be accepted as a gift. (Rom. v. 17.) It is declared to be the righteousness of Christ; his obedience. (Rom. v. 19.) It is, therefore, the righteousness of Christ, his perfect obedience in doing and suffering the will of God, which is imputed to the believer, and on the ground of which the believer, although in himself ungodly, is pronounced righteous, and therefore free from the curse of the law and entitled to eternal life." [emphasis added]
Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology

Friday, July 10, 2015

Christ Sent to Meet the Law's Demand for Both Satisfaction and Merit

... that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. - Romans 8:4
And so the Apostle's meaning is this; God sent his Son into the World not only to be a Sacrifice for sin, and thereby to condemn sin (by his bearing the Law's penalty due to it); but also, by his active obedience and conformity to the Law's commands, to bring things to this that the righteousness of the Law should be fulfilled in believers. Christ's being a Sacrifice for sin was not sufficient to answer all the ends and demands of the Law; there must be the doing of what it commanded as well as the suffering of what it threatened; therefore Christ was sent for both, and both were accomplished by him. Man in his lapsed state stood in need of two things, * Satisfaction and Merit; Satisfaction, with respect to God's punitive Justice, the expiation of sin by the undergoing of the punishment incurred by it, &c. Merit, with respect to eternal life and the possession of the heavenly blessedness; the measure and foundation of which Merit was the fulfilling of the Law in active obedience: Now both of these are here distinctly spoken unto; Christ for sin condemned sin in the flesh, there's Satisfaction; and he also fulfilled the righteousness of the Law in the stead (at leastwise for the good) of Believers, there's Merit. So that in the words we have a further account of that full benefit and complete Salvation which sinners have by the Lord Jesus: and so much for their main Scope and the general explication of the matter contained in them. [emphasis in the original]
Eighteen Sermons on Romans 8:1-4, p. 567 ( 1672). Thomas Jacomb 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Acceptable To God By Virtue of Christ's Obedience...

"Let us recognize, then, the difference between the Head and the members. Let us learn that though by nature we are entirely given to evil, and although God may have regenerated us in part, still our flesh does not cease to chafe against God. However, by virtue of the obedience which we see in our Lord Jesus Christ, we do not cease to be acceptable to our God. If we do not yet do the good that we will, but the evil oftentimes pushes us, and there may be many failures, or perhaps we may be too slow to do good, let us look at what the Son of God suffered in order to make reparation for all our faults. Let us notice how He fought in such a way that there was no contradiction in Him when our crimes and sins were imputed to Him, as was explained more at length this morning. Let us see, then, how our Lord Jesus has made satisfaction in everything and for everything, but we today, although having taken the trouble to obey God, are not able to succeed, but we always droop our wings, must constantly repeat this: that we know that we shall not cease to be acceptable to God and that our imperfections will always be abolished by the obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that they will not come into account before God. Besides, may each one according to the measure of his faith and of the grace which he has received exert himself to fight until we come to the heavenly rest. Seeing our weaknesses are still so great, being convinced that we shall not even know how to have a single good thought, and that having stumbled we shall not be able to raise ourselves, unless God extended to us His hand and strengthened us each minute, may we be advised to pray that He may augment in us the graces of His Holy Spirit; as He has promised it to us, and offers to us Jesus Christ for our Head and Captain, in order that after we are able to arrive at the victory which He acquired for us, of which we already experience the fruit, we shall experience it in perfection."
Now we shall bow in humble reverence before the majesty of our God.
John Calvin, Second Sermon on the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ - Matthew 26:40-50

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Imputation Precedes Faith

Lord's Day 23:

At first view it seems absurd that we should be justified by any thing without us, or by something that belongs to another. It is necessary, therefore, that we should explain more fully how the satisfaction, or obedience of Christ becomes ours; for unless it be made ours, or be applied unto us, we cannot be justified by it, just as little as a wall can be white, if whiteness be not applied, or fixed upon it. We remark, then, that there are two ways in which the satisfaction of Christ is made over unto us: 
1. God himself applies it unto us, that is, he makes the righteousness of Christ over unto us, and accepts of us as righteous on account of it, as if it were ours. 
2. We apply it also unto ourselves when we receive the righteousness of Christ through faith, that is, we rest assured that God will grant it unto us, that he will regard us as righteous on account of it, and that he will free us from all guilt. 
There is, therefore, a double application; one in respect to God, and another in respect to us. The former is the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, when God accepts of that righteousness which Christ wrought out, that it might avail in our behalf, and accounts us as righteous in view of it, as much so as if we had never sinned, or had at least fully satisfied for our sins. The other side of this application which has respect to us, is the act itself of believing, in which we are fully persuaded that it is imputed and given unto us. Both sides of this application must necessarily concur in our justification; for God applies the righteousness of Christ unto us upon the condition, that we also apply the same unto ourselves by faith. For although any one were to offer another a benefit, yet if he to whom it is offered does not accept of it, it is not applied unto him, and so does not become his. Hence without this last application the former is of no account. And yet our application of the righteousness of Christ is from God; for he first imputes it unto us, and then works faith in us, by which we apply unto ourselves that which is imputed; from which it appears that the application of God precedes that which we make, (which is of faith) and is the cause of it, although it is not without ours, as Christ says, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” (John 15:16)
Heidelberg Commentary, pp. 590-591 - Ursinus

Friday, July 3, 2015

Justification To Life, No Part of Works...

"Although eternal life was, in the covenant of works, promised to Adam and his posterity on condition of his perfect obedience, and that only, yet a man is to be counted a legalist or self-righteous if, while he does not pretend that his obedience is perfect, he yet relies on it for a title to life. Self-righteous men have, in all ages, set aside as impossible to be fulfilled by them that condition of the covenant of works which God had imposed on Adam, and have framed for themselves various models of that covenant which, though they are far from being institutions of God, and stand upon terms lower than perfect obedience, yet are of the nature of the covenant of works. The unbelieving Jews who sought righteousness by the works of the law were not so very ignorant or presumptuous as to pretend to perfect obedience. Neither did those professed Christians in Galatia who desired to be under the law, and to be justified by the law, of whom the apostle therefore testified that they had "fallen from grace' (Galatians 5:4), presume to plead that they could yield perfect obedience. On the contrary, their public profession of Christianity showed that they had some sense of their need of Christ's righteousness. But their great error was that they did not believe that the righteousness of Jesus Christ alone was sufficient to entitle them to the justification of life; and therefore they depended for justification partly on their own obedience to the moral and ceremonial law. It was this, and not their pretensions to perfect obedience, that the apostle had in view when he blamed them for cleaving to the law of works, and for expecting justification partly on their own works of obedience to the moral and ceremonial laws, they and the apostle informed them, were fallen from grace; Christ had become of no effect to them. And they were "debtors to do the whole law" (Galatians 5:3-4). By depending for justification partly on their imperfect obedience to the law, they framed the law into a covenant of works, and such a covenant of works as would allow for imperfect instead of perfect works; and by relying partly on the righteousness of Christ, they mingled the law with the gospel and works with faith in the affair of justification. Thus they perverted both the law and the gospel, and formed them for themselves into a motley covenant of works."
John Colquhoun, A Treatise on the Law and Gospel pp. 18-19.