Monday, January 25, 2016

Law and Gospel in Scripture - William Tyndale

The law (says the gospel of John in the first chapter) was given by Moses. But grace and truth were given by Jesus Christ.
The law, whose minister is Moses, was given to bring us into the knowledge of ourselves—that we might thereby feel and perceive who we really are by nature. The law condemns us and all our deeds, and is called by Paul (in 2 Corinthians 3) the ‘ministration of death’. For it kills our consciences and drives us to desperation, inasmuch as it requires of us that which is impossible for our natures to do. It requires of us the deeds of a whole man. It requires perfect love, from the very bottom and ground of the heart, as much in everything we suffer as well as in the things we do. But, says John in the same place, grace and truth is given to us in Christ so that when the law has passed upon us and condemned us to death (which is its nature to do), then in Christ we have grace—that is to say, favor and promises of life, mercy and pardon, freely by the merits of Christ. And in Christ we have verity and truth in that God, for his sake, fulfills all his promises to those who believe. Therefore the Gospel is the ministration of life. Paul calls it, in the afore-mentioned place in 2 Corinthians, the ‘ministration of the Spirit and of righteousness’. 
In the gospel, when we believe the promises we receive the spirit of life and are justified, in the blood of Christ, from all things in which the law condemned us. And we receive love for the law, and power to fulfill it, and grow therein daily. Of Christ it is written, in the afore-mentioned John 1, This is he of whose abundance, or fullness, we have all received grace for grace or favor for favor—that is to say, for the favor that God has to his Son Christ, he gives to us his favor and goodwill, and all gifts of his grace, like a father to his sons. Paul affirms this, saying, He loved us in his beloved [that is, in Christ] before the creation of the world. Thus Christ brings the love of God to us, and not our own holy works. 
Christ is made Lord over all and is called in scripture God's mercy-stool [or, mercy seat]: therefore whoever flees to Christ can neither hear nor receive from God anything other than mercy. 
In the Old Testament are many promises, which are nothing other than the Evangelion, or gospel, to save those who believed them from the vengeance of the law. And in the New Testament there is frequent mention of the law to condemn those who do not believe the promises. Moreover, the law and the gospel may never be considered as if they are separate the one from the other, because the gospel and promises serve only for troubled consciences brought to desperation by the law—which consciences feel the pains of hell and death under the law and are in captivity and bondage to the law. In all my doings I must have the law before me to condemn my imperfectness. For all I do (be I ever so perfect) is yet damnable sin when compared to the law, which requires the ground and bottom of my heart. I must therefore always have the law in my sight so I may be meek in the spirit and give God all the laud and praise, ascribing to him all righteousness and to myself all unrighteousness and sin. I must also have the promises before my eyes so I do not despair—in which promises I see the mercy, favor and good-will of God upon me in the blood of his Son, Christ, who has made satisfaction for my imperfectness and has fulfilled for me that which I could not do myself.
A Pathway Into the Holy Scripture
By William Tyndale (c. 1494 – 1536) 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sanctification (3), "a native consequence of union with the second Adam, of justification, reconciliation, and adoption"

John Colquhoun discusses sanctification in relation to union with Christ and justification:
7th, It is a native consequence of union with the second Adam, of justification, reconciliation, and adoption. — It is a fruit of vital union with Christ. By vital union with him, we become members of his mystical body, of that body to which he is united, as the glorious Head of sanctifying influences; but as the head is holy, the members must be holy also. Besides, they who are united to Christ are in him; but all who are in Christ are sanctified. "To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus," 1 Cor. i. 2. In virtue of this union, the believer lives in Christ, and Christ in him: he partakes of the same Spirit that dwells in Christ. 
It is a necessary fruit of justification, and inseparably connected with it. It is connected with it in the decree and promise of God, in the offices of Christ, and the design of his obedience unto death. When the blood of Christ is sprinkled on our conscience for justification, it has a special efficacy for sanctification. It purges the conscience from dead works, and then the believing sinner is enabled to serve the living God. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." The sprinkling, or application of the blood of Jesus, has a sanctifying efficacy; for it removes the curse of the law which is the strength of sin, and which hinders the acceptance, both of the sinner's person and performances. When this is done, the dominion of sin is taken away: its power and pollution begin to be gradually removed. Hence are these reviving expressions; "Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, — that we might receive the adoption of sons, and that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 
It is also a fruit of reconciliation. No sooner does the sinner begin to have peace with God in Christ, as one reconciled to him, than a way of free communication is opened between Christ the head of influences, and his soul. Besides, the sanctifying efficacy of the blood of Christ arises from its atoning or pacifying virtue, Heb. ix. 14. 
It necessarily follows adoption. "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the first-born among many brethren," Rom. viii. 29.
John Colquhoun. Sermons, chiefly on doctrinal subjects, 171-72

In other words...
Union with Christ has the double-benefit of justification and sanctification. But the hallmark of an early modern Reformed doctrine of union with Christ is according theological priority to justification over sanctification, or priority of the forensic over the renovative. Another way to say this is that justification is the legal basis of a believer's redemption. Or still yet, a person can say, "I am sanctified because I am justified." But he cannot say, "I am justified because I am sanctified." - John Fesko. Beyond Calvin: Union with Christ and Justification in Early Modern Reformed Theology (1517-1700), pp 29-30

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sanctification (2), the Work of the Triune God - John Colquhoun

Continuing with excerpts on sanctification from John Colquhoun's sermon:
3d, As to the subjects of sanctification, they who are sanctified are elect sinners. This inestimable blessing belongs to them and to none else. "God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth," 2 Thess. ii. 13. And in another place, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy," etc...
Thus the whole man is the subject of sanctification. As in union with the first Adam, the old man possessed every faculty and member, so, when united to the second Adam, the new man in his turn possesses the whole. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Thess. v. 23. Though, however, every part be sanctified, yet no part is perfectly sanctified in this world. There is no spiritual grace implanted without having corruption in the same faculty struggling against it, Gal. v. 17...
4th, Sanctification is both a privilege and a duty. — It is a privilege, as graciously promised in the Gospel. " I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them," Ezek. xxxvi. 27. it is a duty, as required in the law. "Make you a new heart, and a new spirit: purify your hearts, ye double-minded." It is a privilege, for it is purchased for us, given to us, and wrought in us by the sanctifying Spirit. As a duty, we study it, and attain to higher degrees of it. We daily receive it out of the fullness of Christ, by faith in his death, resurrection, and promise...
5th, The causes of sanctification are various. — The impulsive cause of it is the sovereign grace, or good pleasure of God, Phil. ii. 13. ; Tit. iii. 5. The blessing of sanctification is of more value than all the treasures and kingdoms of the world, and yet it is freely bestowed. God sanctifies none because of any previous good qualities in them, for before it they have none; but merely from his sovereign grace. Nay, he often overlooks persons of the sweetest natural tempers, and bestows sanctifying grace on the most rugged and stubborn. O the freeness of his sovereign grace!... 
The meritorious cause of it is the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God. "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate," Heb. xiii. 12. This infinitely precious blood, as it has an atoning, so it has a sanctifying efficacy. It purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. — It has also a regulating cause, namely, the holy law. It is denominated holiness, because it has a resemblance to the holy nature of God, and righteousness, because it corresponds to his law as a rule of duty. The instrumental cause of it is saving faith, Acts xv. 9.

6th, It is initial and progressive.Initial sanctification is the same as regeneration, or the renewing in effectual calling. It is the sowing of the spiritual seed of grace, in the heart of the dead sinner. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him," 1 John iii. 9. In initial sanctification, the Spirit of Christ enters the heart with all his train of spiritual graces, and implants them there. He introduces spiritual life, impresses the soul with the image of God, creates new inclinations and motions, or, in other words, forms the new creature. This he does in an instant. How inexpressibly happy is the soul that is favoured with it! In this initial sanctification, the sinner is entirely passive.Progressive sanctification is the Holy Spirit's carrying on the work already begun, till he brings it to perfection. Initial sanctification introduces a perfection of the parts of the new creature; progressive, is the gradual advancing of each of those parts to perfection, till this new creature grows to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. In progressive sanctification, the body of sin is more and more mortified; the image of Satan is more and more defaced; the graces of the Holy Spirit are gradually strengthened; and the image of the second Adam is more distinctly expressed...
 John Colquhoun, Sermons, chiefly on doctrinal subjects. pp 167-171

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sanctification (1), the Work of the Triune God - John Colquhoun

" By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ -once for all." — Heb. x. 10.
It was the will of God, of God essentially considered, in the Person of the Father, that his eternal Son should stand in the place of elect sinners, and give complete satisfaction for their sins. On this great object the heart of the whole glorious Trinity was set from all eternity. Accordingly, Christ not only revealed but fulfilled this will, in his obedience unto death. Now, in our text we are told, that it is by this will, as fulfilled by Jesus Christ, that believing sinners are sanctified.  By the which will we are sanctified;" as if the apostle had said, it is in consequence of this will and appointment of God, as fulfilled by Christ, that we who believe are sanctified; that we are sanctified not ceremonially, as the Israelites were by the typical sacrifices under the law, which could only sanctify to the purifying of the flesh; but effectually and substantially, in our actual deliverance from the power and pollution of sin, and our separation to the service and enjoyment of the blessed God. The apostle adds, "we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." As the sacrifice of Christ's human nature, of which his body was the visible part, was once offered, so it is on account of it, and by virtue derived from it, that any sinners of mankind are sanctified...
I. First, then, I am to speak in general of the sanctification of believers. 
And here, in the 1st place, to sanctify has in Scripture various significations. It signifies to acknowledge that to be holy which was holy before. Thus, to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, is to acknowledge him to be infinitely holy, and to celebrate with all our heart the praises of his holiness. It is to pray as Christ taught his disciples, that his name may be hallowed. It also signifies, to separate any person or thing to a holy use, Exod. xiii. 2. and John x. 36...
It signifies to dedicate to God and his service. Thus the altar, temple, priests, and sacred utensils, were sanctified; that is, were dedicated to God and his worship. In a similar manner, the elect are sanctified; they are dedicated to God; they are a peculiar treasure to God, above all people...
2d, The Author of sanctification is God alone. "That they may know that I am the Lord that sanctifieth them," Ezek. xx. 12. Nothing can be the source of created holiness but that which is uncreated. The sinner himself cannot be the author of it: he can indeed pollute, but he cannot purify himself. The law commands us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and to make to ourselves a new or a clean heart; but the law is the rule of our duty, and not the measure of our ability. To sanctify a sinner is the work of God, and is a greater work than to create a world. It is the work of a whole Trinity of Divine Persons. As all the Persons of the glorious Trinity were jointly engaged in making man a living creature, so they jointly concur in making him a new creature. This is effected by God the Father, Jude 1., by God the Son, Eph. v. 26., and by God the Holy Spirit. Hence we read of the sanctification of the Spirit, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Although, in the economy of grace, sanctification is more immediately ascribed to the Holy Spirit, yet this is not to be so understood as if, the Spirit were more immediately concerned in it than the Father and the Son. The powerful influence by which believing sinners are sanctified is common to all the Persons in the Godhead, and is exerted by each of them equally. The one does not accomplish this work by the other, as an instrument. As the Spirit follows the Son in their order of subsistence, so he follows him in the order of operation. As sanctification, therefore, follows upon the righteousness and blood of the Son, so it is, by special appropriation, attributed to the operation of the Spirit, as the Spirit of the Son.
John Colquhoun, Sermons, chiefly on doctrinal subjects. pp. 165-167 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Thoughts on the Law-Gospel Antithesis...

A few things to keep in mind going into the new year... The law, as Paul says, is spiritual (Rom. 7:14). Yet nonetheless, that spiritual law can only direct and tell us our duty while also condemning us for our failures. It provides us no power to obey, thus no way to avoid condemnation. We lack the power or true goodness in ourselves for the required perfect obedience because by nature we are sinners. This is true before regeneration as well as after (WCF 16.5). Lacking the righteousness of the law, we are in need of another righteousness, one not conditioned on our law-keeping.

Looking at John 1:17, the apostle writes, "The law came through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17) It is the gospel which supplies to sinners what the law demands and cannot itself give. Salvation offered to the OT saints was obtained in the promise of righteousness through faith given to Abraham by God, not through their obedience to the law given under Moses. God, when forgiving the Israelites again and again, did so for the sake of his promise to Abraham not the law given to Moses. The law under Moses served to remind the Jews of their duty and sin, their condemnation under the law, and the need for forgiveness and righteousness.

The law-gospel antithesis operated and existed in the OT. Under the covenant given through Moses one of the purposes of the law was to bring a despair to the Jews because of their sin and so drive them to look to the promised mercy of God in Christ. Under Moses that covenant of grace mercy was not given through law-commands (though they attended it), but,
it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation... (WCF 7.5)
All these types and promises lacked in themselves the actual grace to be communicated, but rather pointed to Christ, the substance of the gospel promise. The moral law as found in the Ten Commandments as well as the ceremonial laws were not given in order to remove sin and impart righteousness.

The same law-gospel antithesis exists in the NT. 
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe... (Romans 3:21-22)

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
 Dr. Michael Horton writes in The Christian Faith"The law’s imperatives tell us what must be done; the gospel’s indicatives tell us what God has done..." And,
"The promises of the law depend upon the condition of works,” Calvin notes, “while the gospel promises are free and dependent solely upon God’s mercy.” 

[*condition of works - do this and live **God's mercy - believe and live]

John Calvin expands on the doctrine,
For this reason, the promises offered in the law would all be null and ineffectual, did not God in his goodness send the gospel to our aid, since the condition on which they depend, and under which only they are to be performed--viz. the fulfillment of the law, will never be accomplished [i.e. by us]. Still, however the aid which the Lord gives consists not in leaving part of justification to be obtained by works, and in supplying part out of his indulgence, but in giving us Christ as in himself alone the fulfillment of righteousness. For the Apostle, after premising that he and the other Jews, aware that "a man is not justified by the works of the law," had "believed in Jesus Christ," adds as the reason, not that they might be assisted to make up the sum of righteousness by faith in Christ, but that they "might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law," (Gal. 2:16). If believers withdraw from the law to faith, that in the latter they may find the justification which they see is not in the former, they certainly disclaim justification by the law. Therefore, whoso will, let him amplify the rewards which are said to await the observer of the law, provided he at the same time understand, that owing to our depravity, we derive no benefit from them until we have obtained another righteousness by faith. Thus David after making mention of the reward which the Lord has prepared for his servants (Ps. 25 almost throughout), immediately descends to an acknowledgment of sins, by which the reward is made void. In Psalm 19, also, he loudly extols the benefits of the law; but immediately exclaims, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults," (Ps. 19:12). This passage perfectly accords with the former, when, after saying, "the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies," he adds, "For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity: for it is great," (Ps. 25:10, 11). Thus, too, we ought to acknowledge that the favor of God is offered to us in the law, provided by our works we can deserve it; but that it never actually reaches us through any such desert. Institutes 3.17.2  [emphasis and bracketed comment added]
"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)