Monday, August 15, 2016

Calvin: Paul says For Believers No other Righteousness but Christ's, Salvation by Grace Alone!

"Hence we infer, according to the reasoning of Paul, that it was not of works. In like manners when the prophet says, "The just shall live by his faith," (Habakkuk 2:4) he is not speaking of the wicked and profane, whom the Lord justifies by converting them to the faith: his discourse is directed to believers, and life is promised to them by faith. Paul also removes every doubt, when in confirmation of this sentiment he quotes the words of David, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," (Psalm 32:1.) It is certain that David is not speaking of the ungodly but of believers such as he himself was, because he was giving utterance to the feelings of his own mind. Therefore we must have this blessedness not once only, but must hold it fast during our whole lives. Moreover, the message of free reconciliation with God is not promulgated for one or two days, but is declared to be perpetual in the Church, (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19.) Hence believers have not even to the end of life any other righteousness than that which is there described. Christ ever remains a Mediator to reconcile the Father to us, and there is a perpetual efficacy in his death, viz., ablution, satisfaction, expiation; in short, perfect obedience, by which all our iniquities are covered. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says not that the beginning of salvation is of grace, but "by grace are ye saved," "not of works, lest any man should boast," (Ephesians 2:8, 9.)
John Calvin. Institutes of Religion. 3.14.11

Monday, August 8, 2016

"He Dwelt Among Us" - Encouragements that flow from the Incarnation of the Son of God...

In part three of his sermon, The Incarnation of Christ, John Colquhoun concludes by unfolding some of the practical comforts, encouragements, and exhortations that flow from the mystery of Christ's incarnation.

"He dwelt among us." The original verb, which is here translated " dwell," properly signifies, He tabernacled, or pitched his tabernacle; that is, he dwelt in human nature among us (p 32).
Now, from what has been said on the whole subject before us, we may see the high honour which is put up on human nature. The greatest and most wonderful work that ever God did was done in our nature. The work of redeeming a lost world was a greater work than the creation of millions of worlds; and yet this most wonderful work was performed in the human nature. If he hath honoured our nature so highly, ought not we to glorify him in our bodies and in our spirits, which are his? Shall we debase our nature, which has been thus highly honoured, by yielding to any motion of sin or temptation of Satan? Should not we employ all the faculties of our souls, and members of our bodies, in performing works of faith, and labours of love, and in maintaining good works?
2. Hence we see, that the law as a covenant of works is magnified and made honourable, in the highest degree possible. It has been honoured with the perfect obedience of a Divine Person in human nature. It is honoured and magnified more with the meritorious obedience of the Son of God, than ever it has been dishonoured by the disobedience of man. Whenever, therefore, the law as a covenant finds its way again into the believer's conscience, and charges him with the guilt of dishonouring it by acts of disobedience, let him present in the hand of faith to it, the consummate obedience and the complete atonement of God his Saviour; let him also, in reliance on promised grace, perform that sincere and evangelical obedience to it as a rule of duty by which he will honour it as the law of Christ. Since the Lord Jesus, believer, honoured the law at a covenant for your salvation, it is surely your duty to honour it as a rule for his glory, and the glory of God in him.
3. Hence learn this sovereign remedy for our having been conceived in sin, and our having brought a depraved nature into the world with us. Our Lord Jesus Christ brought a human nature perfectly holy into the world with him, and, as the Surety for sinners, presented to the law an holy human nature; which holiness of nature is imputed to believers as a fundamental part of their justifying righteousness. He at the same time purchased the saving influences of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of their nature. This is ground of comfort to you, to whom the sin that dwelleth in you is the most oppressive and grievous burden.
4. Did the Lord Jesus tabernacle among men, and thereby show that he was not to remain long an inhabitant of this world ? Then let believers study to be more and more conformed to him by living so as daily to confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Let them declare plainly, that they seek a better country, and that their conversation is in heaven.
5. Hence we may see what ground we have of thankfulness and praise to our gracious God and Father. Our nature is indissolubly united to the Divine nature in the person of his only-begotten Son. And what reason have we to thank and praise his dear Son for remembering us in our low estate, and for condescending to be made flesh and dwell among us; and so to unite our low nature to himself by a personal and indissolvable union, that he might lay a sure foundation for the spiritual union of our persons with his adorable Person! 
We ought to thank God for Moses and the prophets, for evangelists and apostles; but, above all, for Jesus the incarnate Redeemer, the Messenger of the covenant, the Desire of all nations. But some disconsolate believer will say, "I ought indeed to be thankful that ever Christ united the human nature to the Divine in his person; but I find it very difficult to be heartily thankful for it. If I where satisfied that I was vitally united to Him as my Kinsman-Redeemer, I should find it easy to give thanks for that personal union; but my fear that this is not the case renders the sincere performance of such a duty very hard to me.
Indeed, if you be under prevailing doubts as to your union and communion with Christ, you cannot be cordially thankful for any thing connected with him. But is it true that you are not united to Christ? Then whence is it that you see indwelling sin so plainly, and feel it so sensibly, as to loathe it, and long for deliverance from it? This must be from the Spirit of Christ. False professors pretend that they see the corruption of their hearts; but that which they see never either discourages their presumptuous confidence, or makes them loathe themselves in their own sight before the Lord. How comes it that you complain bitterly of your want of love to Jesus Christ, and to God in him? Union of affection is a good evidence of vital union. 
If you were entirely destitute of true love to Christ, you would not bewail your want of love to him. And whence is it that you complain to him of your want of conformity to him in holiness, and of the prevalence of iniquities against yon, by which you dishonour him? Is it not, that you delight in his law after the inward man, and long for perfect conformity to it? Credit the reports of sense [feelings] less, and of faith more. Be thankful for the signs of union with Christ which you have, and especially that, by the offers of the Gospel, you are warranted to come as a sinner in yourself, and to trust in him for all his salvation. Let it fill you with gratitude to the God of all grace, that he hath made this your present duty.
6. In conclusion: Let saints and sinners suffer the word of exhortation. As for you who have not only your nature, but your persons united to Jesus Christ, be persuaded, first, to meditate frequently on the transcendent glory of his person. It is the master-piece of the manifold wisdom of God. Devout meditation on this glorious object is attended with many advantages. It is a means of confirming faith, hope, love, admiration, and conformity to the Lord Jesus; 2 Cor. iii. 18. 
2d, Take encouragement in the midst of all your conflicts with corruption and temptation, from that personal union: for so long as it continues, the union between your persons and the person of Christ shall not be dissolved. There is no condemnation to you, for you are in Christ Jesus; and, in union with him, sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law as a covenant, but under grace.  
3d, Study to make a particular and daily application of Christ to yourselves, in virtue of the union of your nature with him; saying, "Spread the covering of thy spotless righteousness over me, for thou art a near Kinsman." What is the reason that little of love, desire, zeal, courage, joy, and holiness, is in many of the saints at this day? They do not, as they ought, appropriate to themselves the person of Christ, nor place the confidence of their hearts in him for all their salvation.   
4th, Did the only-begotten of the Father obey the law as a covenant, and endure the execution of the curse of it in your nature? You are therefore bound to obey it as a rule of life in your persons. His design in assuming your nature was, that he might yield perfect obedience to the law as a covenant of works for your salvation; and his intention in obeying it under that form was, that he might merit the sanctification of the Spirit, to enable you to yield sincere obedience to it, as the rule of righteousness in his kingdom. He obeyed it as a covenant for your justification of life, that you might obey it as a rule for his glory, and the glory of God in him. Study, then, in reliance on his promised grace, to fall in with the gracious design of his incarnation and obedience unto death, in your nature. From principles of faith and love, advance daily in holy conformity to him. Glorify him in your body and in your spirit, which are his. 
As for you, who are not by faith united to the incarnate Redeemer, and have no communion with him in his righteousness and salvation, be convinced of your sinfulness and misery. If the Son of God had not seen from eternity that you are lost, he would never have stooped so infinitely low as to be made flesh. Do not imagine, that because he assumed your nature, you are secured from perishing in your sins. Except your persons be vitally united to him by a living faith, you cannot inherit eternal life. "He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." Oh be persuaded to embrace and trust in the compassionate Saviour, as he is freely offered to you in the Gospel. "Him that cometh to me, I will in nowise cast out."
John Colquhoun. Sermons chiefly on doctrinal subjects. 1836; pp 32, 35-39

Friday, August 5, 2016

"Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor..."

"1. He had the curse of the broken law to endure. The apostle Paul informs us, " that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us," Gal. iii. 13. As the people in whose room Christ undertook to serve, were all by nature under the curse in consequence of transgression, it was an article in the contract of service between the Father and him, that he should, both in their nature and their stead, bear the curse due to them for sin. No sooner, therefore, did he partake of human nature, than the curse seized upon him. That dreadful curse which would have sunk a whole elect world to the lowest hell, he began at his incarnation to bear, and he bore it all the time of his humiliation, till at last it brought him to the dust of death. Hence we read, that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and that he at last began to be exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. We read also, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor; for as the blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow, so his curse is sufficient to render a man poor. This, then, was an article inexpressibly arduous; it was beyond the power of any of the children of Adam to accomplish it, and yet it was but little in comparison of the other parts of service assigned to Christ.
John Colquhoun. Sermons, chiefly on doctrinal subjects. 1836: "On The Incarnation Of Christ" p 44

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Calvin: Law/Gospel Antithesis...

"To justify therefore, is nothing else than to acquit from the charge of guilt, as if innocence were proved. Hence, when God justifies us through the intercession of Christ, he does not acquit us on a proof of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that though not righteous in ourselves, we are deemed righteous in Christ. Thus it is said, in Paul's discourse in the Acts, "Through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses," (Acts 13:38, 39.) You see that after remission of sins justification is set down by way of explanation; you see plainly that it is used for acquittal; you see how it cannot be obtained by the works of the law; you see that it is entirely through the interposition of Christ; you see that it is obtained by faith; you see, in fine, that satisfaction intervenes, since it is said that we are justified from our sins by Christ. Thus when the publican is said to have gone down to his house "justified," (Luke 18:14) it cannot be held that he obtained this justification by any merit of works. All that is said is, that after obtaining the pardon of sins he was regarded in the sight of God as righteous. He was justified, therefore, not by any approval of works, but by gratuitous acquittal on the part of God. Hence Ambrose elegantly terms confession of sins "legal justification," (Ambrose on Psalm 118 Serm. 10)."
John Calvin. Institutes of Religion. 3.11.3