Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Believer's Obedience Resides Under the Mercy Seat...

Were one to have stood in the Holy of Holies and looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, one would have seen that the Mercy seat sits above, covering the Ark in which sit the Ten Commandments of the Law. This divine design is a type (Lev. 16:14) that points to several New Covenant realities of Christ's finished work. One of which is that the good works of those justified by Christ's blood, though still stained with the remnant of sin as measured by God's holy requirement of the Law, are yet accepted fully and mercifully by God for the alone sake of Jesus Christ's perfect obedience and atonement imputed to them.

Regarding our works of obedience to God and Christ the Mercy Seat, Westminster Confession of Faith 16.6 explains the anti-type...
Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God's sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Calvin: To Admit Sinner into Union with God is to Justify Him...

"Hence the Apostle shows that man is at enmity with God until he is restored to favor by Christ, (Romans 5:8- l 0.) When the Lord, therefore, admits him to union, he is said to justify him, because he can neither receive him into favor, nor unite him to himself, without changing his condition from that of a sinner into that of a righteous man. He adds that this is done by remission of sins. For if those whom the Lord has reconciled to himself are estimated by works, they will still prove to be in reality sinners, while they ought to be pure and free from sin. It is evident therefore, that the only way in which those whom God embraces are made righteous, is by having their pollutions wiped away by the remission of sins, so that this justification may be termed in one word the remission of sins." [emphasis added]
Calvin, John. Institutes: Christian Religion Book 3.9.22

Calvin: Gift of Adoption by which God Admits Us into a Union with Christ...

"though we may be pressed down by adversity, yet we are not excluded from the number of God's children, since we see him going before us who was by nature his only Son; for that we are counted his children is owing only to the gift of adoption by which he admits us into a union with him, who alone lays claim to this honor in his own right." [emphasis added]
Calvin, John. Complete Commentaries, Hebrews 5:7

Calvin: Until Imputation of Righteouseness "Union with God Cannot Be Hoped For"

"We yesterday compared this passage of Habakkuk with the interpretation of Paul, who draws this inference, that we are justified by faith without the works of the law, because the Prophet teaches us that we are to live by faith, for the way of life and of righteousness is the same, inasmuch as life is not to be otherwise sought by us than through the paternal favor of God. This then is our life--to be united to God; but this union with God cannot be hoped for by us while he imputes sins to us; for as he is just and cannot deny himself, iniquity must be ever hated by him. Then as long as he regards us as sinners, he must necessarily hold us as hateful to him. Where the hatred of God is, there is death and ruin. It then follows, that we can have no hope of life until we be reconciled to God, and there is no other way by which God can restore us to favor, but by regarding and counting us as just. It hence follows, that Paul reasons correctly, when he leads us from life to righteousness; for they are two things which are connected and inseparable." [emphasis added]
Calvin, John. Complete Commentaries - Habakkuk.

Calvin: Justified, Believer Becomes One with Christ...

"To sum up the whole, this passage, first, teaches us to behold Christ with the eyes of faith; and, secondly, it informs us, that every one who is regenerated by the Spirit, and gives himself up entirely to God for true justification, is thus admitted to the closest union with Christ, and becomes one with him."
Calvin, John. Complete Commentaries - Matthew 12:48

Monday, July 31, 2017

Two Points Essential to Your Salvation

"The most effectual knowledge for your salvation is to understand these two points: the desperate sinfulness and misery of your own natural condition, and the alone sufficiency of the grace of God in Christ for your salvation, that you may be abased as to the flesh and exalted in Christ alone. And, for the better understanding these two main points, you should learn how the first Adam was the figure of the second (Rom. 5: 14); how sin and death came upon all the natural seed of the first Adam by his disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit, and how righteousness and everlasting life come upon all the spiritual seed of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, by His obedience unto death, even the death of the cross. You also should learn the true difference between the two covenants, the old and the new, or the law and the gospel: that the former shuts us up under the guilt and power of sin, and the wrath of God and His curse, by its rigorous terms: 'Do all the commandments, and live; and, cursed are you if you do not do them, and fail in the least point'; the latter opens the gates of righteousness and life to all believers (i.e. the new covenant) by its gracious terms: 'Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and live,' that is, all your sins shall be forgiven, and holiness and glory shall be given to you freely by His merit and Spirit.

"Furthermore, you should learn the gospel principles that you are to walk by for the attainment of holiness in Christ. And here I shall mind you particularly that you would be a good proficient in Christian learning, if you get a good understanding of the sixth and seventh chapters of the apostle Paul to the Romans, where the powerful principles of sanctification are purposely treated of, and differenced from those weak and ineffectual principles, which we are most naturally prone to walk by.

"I need not particularly commend any other points of religion to your learning, for if you get the knowledge of these principal points, which I have mentioned, and improve it to a right end, which is, to live and walk by faith in Christ, your own renewed mind will cover the knowledge of all other things that appertain to life and godliness, and if in anything you be otherwise minded than is according to saving truth, God shall reveal even this to you (Phil. 3: 15).

"Yet let me caution you lest, instead of gaining Christ by your knowledge, you rather lose Him by putting your knowledge in the place of Christ, and trusting on it for your salvation.
Walter Marshall. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, pp 200-201 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sinai Covenant Added, Driving Israelites to Trust in the Promise/Covenant of Grace

"Hence we may conclude that the end which God aimed at in giving the law to Moses was not that any should ever attain to holiness or salvation by the condition of perfect or sincere obedience to it, though, if there had been any such way of salvation at that time, it must have consisted in the performance of that law, which was then given to the church to be a rule of life, as well as a covenant. There was another covenant made before that time with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, a covenant of grace, promising all blessings freely through Christ, the promised seed, by which only they were to be saved. And the covenant of the law was added that they might see their sinfulness and subjection to death and wrath, and the impossibility of attaining to life or holiness by their works, and be forced to trust on the free promise only for all their salvation, and that sin might be restrained by the spirit of bondage until the coming of that promised seed Jesus Christ, and the more plentiful pouring out of the sanctifying Spirit, by Him. This the apostle Paul shows largely (Gal. 3: 15 -24; Rom. 5: 20, 21; 10: 3, 4). None of the Israelites under the Old Testament were ever saved by the Sinai covenant; neither did any of them ever attain to holiness by the terms of it. Some of them did indeed perform the commandments of it sincerely, though imperfectly, but those were first justified, and made partakers of life and holiness, by virtue of that better covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which was the same in substance with the new covenant or testament established by the blood of Christ. Had it not been for that better covenant, the Sinai covenant would have proved to them an occasion of no happiness, but only of sin, despair and destruction. Of itself it was only a killing letter, the ministration of death and condemnation, and therefore it is now abolished (2 Cor. 3: 6, 8, 9, 11). 
"We have cause to praise God for delivering His church, by the blood of Christ, from this yoke of bondage; and we have cause to abhor the device of those that would lay upon us a more grievous and terrible yoke, by turning our very new covenant into a covenant of sincere works, and leaving us no such better covenant, as the Israelites had under their yoke, to relieve us in our extremity."
Walter Marshall. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, pp 100-101 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Old Covenant, the Decalogue, and the Rule of Life...

"The covenant made with Israel on Mount Sinai is abolished by Christ, the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 8: 8, 9, 13). And the Ten Commandments do not bind us as they were words of that covenant (Exod. 34: 28). I mean, they do not bind us as conditions of that covenant, except we seek to be justified by works. For the law, as a covenant, still stands in force enough to curse those that seek salvation by their own works (Gal. 3: 10) and, if abolished, it is only to those that are in Christ by faith (Gal. 2: 16, 20; Acts 3: 22-25; 15: 10, 11). But the Ten Commandments bind us still, as they were then given to a people that were at that time under the covenant of grace made with Abraham, to show them what duties are holy, just and good, well-pleasing to God, and to be a rule for their conversation. The result of all is that we must still practice moral duties as commanded by Moses, but we must not seek to be justified by our practice. If we use them as a rule of life, not as conditions of justification, they can be no ministration of death, or killing letter to us. Their perfection indeed makes them to be harder terms to procure life by, but a better rule to discover all imperfections, and to guide us to that perfection which we should aim at. And it will be our wisdom not to part with the authority of the decalogue of Moses..."
Walter Marshall. The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, p 85

Friday, July 21, 2017

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places or - Are We Getting Any Better?

“Even though our outward man is wasting away, the inner man is being renewed day by day”

The yoke of the cross

Do we get better as Christians? Well, yes and no. Scripture does speak of being transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2) and of the inner man being renewed day by day. By grace Christians are more and more sanctified in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit set apart unto godly living in thought, word, and deed.  Yet all too often we seem less than victorious in that sanctification.  Real sin still remains in every part of of our being so that as the apostle Paul writes,  For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh. A warfare in which it often doesn't seem to ourselves that we are getting all that much better inasmuch as we are eye-witnesses against ourselves. We see our very real role in our very real failings. 

Could part of the disconnect be that we are still looking for evidence in our own works which can somehow stand the scrutiny of God's holy law apart from the free grace of justification in Christ? - for he who has died is justified from sin (Rom 6:7)! 

So, are we looking for love in all the wrong places?

From Calvin's Institutes, book 3:
This cause, then, appears to be threefold. First, God turning his eye away from the works of his servants which merit reproach more than praise, embraces them in Christ, and by the intervention of faith alone reconciles them to himself without the aid of works. Secondly the works not being estimated by their own worth, he, by his fatherly kindness and indulgence, honors so far as to give them some degree of value. Thirdly, he extends his pardon to them [i.e. our works as Christians], not imputing the imperfection by which they are all polluted, and would deserve to be regarded as vices rather than virtues... 
But, meanwhile, they observed not how far the works which they insisted on regarding as meritorious must be from fulfilling the condition of the promises, were they not preceded by a justification founded on faith alone, and on forgiveness of sins — a forgiveness necessary to cleanse even good works from their stains...
In this way we can admit not only that there is a partial righteousness in works (as our adversaries maintain), but that they are approved by God as if they were absolutely perfect. If we remember on what foundation this is rested, every difficulty will be solved. The first time when a work begins to be acceptable is when it is received with pardon. And whence pardon, but just because God looks upon us and all that belongs to us as in Christ? Therefore, as we ourselves when engrafted into Christ appear righteous before God, because our iniquities are covered with his innocence; so our works are, and are deemed righteous, because every thing otherwise defective in them being buried by the purity of Christ is not imputed... 
Thus we may justly say, that not only ourselves, but our works also, are justified by faith alone.
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Believers: Dead to the Guilt of Sin - Alive unto Righteousness...

 Even so we also should walk in newness of life., Romans 6:4b
It is the purpose of our rising with Christ, that we also, by the glory or power of the Father, 2 Corinthians 13:4, should walk in newness of life. The resurrection of Christ was the effect of the power of God, not in the ordinary way of nature, but of a supernatural exertion of power. In the same manner, believers are raised to walk in newness of life. It is thus that, when Paul, Ephesians 1:20, exalts the supernatural virtue of grace by which we are converted, he compares it to the exceeding greatness of that power by which Christ was raised from the dead. This shows the force of the Apostle’s answer to the objection he is combating. Believers are dead to the guilt of sin, and if so, the ground of their separation from God being removed His almighty power is engaged and asserted to cause them to walk with their risen Lord in that new life which they derive from Him. It was, then, the purpose of Christ’s death that His people should become dead to sin, and alive unto righteousness. ‘Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness,’1 Peter 2:24. On this same ground, when viewing it simply as a motive, Paul reminds believers that since they are dead with Christ, they should set their affections on things above, and not on things on the earth, assuring them that when He who is their life shall appear, then shall they also appear with Him in glory, Colossians 3:4. And again he declares, ‘If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him,’ 2 Timothy 2:11.
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Prayer of John Calvin...

... and a prayer for all Christians...

"Grant, Almighty God, that since we are too secure and torpid in our sins, thy dread majesty may come to our minds, to humble us, and to remove our fear, that we may learn anxiously to seek reconciliation through Christ, and so abhor ourselves for our sins, that thou mayest then be prepared to receive us: and that unbelief may not shut the door against us, enable us to regard thee to be such as thou hast revealed thyself, and to acknowledge that thou art not like us, but the fountain of all mercy, that we may thus be led to entertain a firm hope of salvation, and that, relying on the Mediator, thy only-begotten Son, we may know him as the throne of grace, full of compassion and mercy. O grant, that we may thus come to thee, that through him we may certainly know that thou art our Father, so that the covenant thou hast made with us may never fail through our fault, even this, that we are thy people, because thou hast once adopted us in thy only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

Prayers of John Calvin from his Commentary on Hosea

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Salvation from Sin (4): "O Wretched Man That I Am!" And yet in a little while...


In the last place under this head, Jesus saves his people from the very being of sin.  
Though the true Christian is an heir of complete salvation, yet he is never completely saved from sin while he is in this world. Though he is transformed into the Divine image, by the renewing of his mind, 
there is, notwithstanding, a law in his members which wars against the law of his mind, and often brings him into captivity to the law of sin, so as to make him sometimes exclaim as the holy apostle Paul did, "Oh wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" who shall deliver me from this cruel, this deceitful enemy, which often wounds my soul, disturbs my peace, retards my progress in the spiritual life, darkens my evidences for heaven, and prevents my complete happiness? 
How long shall I go mourning, because of the oppression of this enemy! The Christian shall have reason thus to complain of indwelling sin, while he is in this valley of tears; and the higher the degree of holiness is to which he attains, the more sensibly he will feel it, and the more bitterly will he complain of it. 
The triumphing of this enemy, however, is but short; its destruction is fast approaching. Yet a little while, and Jesus will call the oppressed believer, not only to put off the tabernacle of flesh and blood, but to put off the body of sin and death, so as never to be troubled with it any more forever. 
Then sinning and suffering, sorrowing and sighing, shall cease at once. When spiritual death is entirely swallowed up in victory, "the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces, and the rebuke of his people will he take away." — Thus Jesus saves his people from the guilt, the dominion, the defilement, and the very being of sin: He saves them from the guilt of sin, in justification; from the dominion of sin, in conversion; from the defilement of sin, in sanctification; and from the very being of it, in glorification.
 - John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  ( emphasis added) 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Salvation from Sin (3): Christ saves from the defilement of sin

 Gospel sanctification...
3d, Jesus saves his people, not only from the dominion, but from the defilement or pollution of sin. As sin is infinitely opposite to the spotless holiness of God's nature, it cannot but be very impure and loathsome in his sight. Hence we read, that he is of  "purer eyes than to behold evil, and that he cannot look upon iniquity." As sin is in its own nature filthy, sinners in whose heart it reigns, are represented in Scripture as altogether filthy; and therefore as such, they are utterly unqualified to enjoy communion and intercourse with an infinitely holy God. Now, in order to render his people fit to enjoy fellowship with God, since without this it is impossible that they can be either holy or happy, Christ, as the glorious dispenser of grace in the new covenant, sends his Spirit, in the day of effectual calling, as a Spirit of holiness, to cleanse them from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, according to that promise, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you." He begins thus to purify his people at their regeneration; for we read that they are "saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." He continues to purify them from remaining depravity, by affording them fresh supplies of the sanctifying Spirit, and by enabling them to improve his death and resurrection for that purpose; until at last he presents them to his Father without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. The fountain that is opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness, is kept continually open to them, in the offers of the Gospel; and the streams of it are appointed to follow them while they travel through this valley of tears, that they may always have an opportunity of washing away their spiritual pollution, until they come to the end of their journey.
- John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  
( emphasis added) 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Salvation from Sin (2): Christ saves from the dominion of sin

In this section, Colquhoun shows the connectedness of justification, which Christ has won for his people, with their deliverance from the dominion of sin and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Sin no longer reigns over believers because the curse of the law as a covenant has been removed at the cross in the death of Jesus, our Surety. To paraphrase Romans 6:7, for he who has died in Christ is justified from sin

As Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus ChristAnd therefore, ...sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law [as a covenant] but under grace [as a covenant] (Romans 6:14). The reign of sin exists only where the law as a broken covenant exists. In Christ that law covenant has been satisfied and thus the curse removed and righteousness won for the elect, rendering sin impotent as a ruler in that it no longer carries with it the condemnation of the law and the penalty of death (Romans 8:1-2). Whereas sin reigned over sinners condemned under the law, Christ now reigns over sinners justified under grace. Thanks be to God indeed!
"2d, Jesus saves his people from the dominion or reigning power of sin." He that committeth sin, is the servant of sin." God had told the first Adam, as the federal head of all his natural posterity, that in the day he ate of the forbidden fruit, he should surely die. No sooner did he eat of it than he was punished with the loss of spiritual life; or, in other words, with the loss of the original righteousness of his nature, in which the spiritual life of the soul consists. Now, the corruption of the whole nature, or the dominion of sin in the soul follows as naturally, upon the want of original righteousness, as darkness follows the setting of the sun. Those, therefore, whom God hath appointed to obtain salvation, as they were involved in the guilt of Adam's first transgression as well as others, and consequently born under the condemning power of the law, which, in this sense, is the strength of sin; so they are all born destitute of original righteousness, and subject to the dominion of sin. The condemning power of the law as a covenant, so long as they continue under it, detains them as prisoners, under the reigning power of depravity. No sooner, however, does the Lord Jesus, whose office it is to say to such prisoners, "Go forth!", come and admit them to communion with himself, in his surety-righteousness, than they are delivered from the condemning power of the law, and consequently, from the reigning power of sin. This infinitely glorious righteousness [i.e. imputed righteousness], as it entitles them to the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, so it removes the curse of the law, which formerly stood in the way of those influences, and obstructed their entrance into the soul. Hence are these words of the apostle Paul: "Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace," Rom. vi. 14.
"If believers would make more use of the righteousness of the incarnate Redeemer in their approaches to God than they do, they should find that sin would not prevail against them so much as it does." 
- John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  
(Bracketed comments and emphasis added) 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Salvation from Sin (1): Christ saves from the guilt of sin

This, and the next 3 posts, are excerpted from the sermon, Salvation from Sin by John Colquhoun, in which he explains the nature and extent of the believer's salvation from sin wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. An interesting yet important aside is how Colquhoun's understanding of the logical order of legal and mystical union with Christ as well as the logical order of the imputation of Christ's atonement and the believer's justification are interwoven into his explanation of salvation from the guilt of sin.
And here, in the first place, he saves them from the guilt of sin. — By the guilt of sin, is meant an obligation to suffer eternal punishment on account of sin. They whom Christ undertook to save were, on account of their breach of covenant in the first Adam, and of their other innumerable transgressions of the Divine law, condemned as well as the rest of mankind, to endure such tremendous wrath, both in soul and body, as would have rendered them inexpressibly miserable. While, therefore, they continue under the law as a covenant of works, they are necessarily under this dreadful sentence; and were they to die in that state, it would be executed upon them to the uttermost, through the revolving ages of eternity.
"But since they were not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ, he comes in the day of regenerating power, and having united them to his person [legal/federal], admits them to actual communion [mystical/experiential] with himself, in his infinitely precious atonement [notice the logical order]. No sooner is this atonement actually imputed to them, than they are legally absolved from condemnation [notice the logical oder - imputation then justification], according to this Divine promise, "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more," Jer. xxxi. 34. 
"They are then delivered from the guilt of sin, or from their obligation to endure punishment on account of sin, and have sufficient security afforded them, that though they may often incur the guilt of fatherly displeasure, they shall never enter into condemnation, or fall under the guilt of eternal wrath.
- John Colquhoun. Sermon XIV, Salvation from Sin.  
(Bracketed comments and emphasis added)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sinners Justified By Faith Receive the Righteousness of Christ Imputed by God to the Elect

Imputation
Justified sinners are those called by God's grace who, through faith in Christ alone, receive God's imputation to them of the satisfaction of Jesus's atoning death and righteous obedience, which for Christ's sake are accounted - credited - reckoned to them as righteousness for their unqualified pardon and acceptance before God as if really performed by them; not a righteousness infused or worked inherently into them, but imputed to them.

Heidelberg Catechism 60  Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God's commandments, have never kept any of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, if only I accept this gift with a believing heart. 
Belgic Confession 22 Jesus Christ, imputing to us all his merits and so many holy works which he has done for us, and in our stead, is our Righteousness.
Westminster Confession of Faith 11.1 Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them. 
Westminster Larger Catechism 71 Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepts the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and requiring nothing of them for their justification but faith, which also is his gift, their justification is to them of free grace. 
Westminster Shorter Catechism 33 Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. 
Article XI Of the Justification of Man We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings; Wherefore, that we are justified by Faith only is a most wholesome Doctrine, and very full of comfort, as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Imputation - An Union of Representation...

James Buchanan:
"Take the three cases of Imputation which have been specified, and
compare them with one another. We find, that in two out of the three, a change of moral character is the invariable concomitant or consequent of imputation; for the imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity, was connected with their loss of original righteousness and the corruption of their whole nature; and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to His people is connected, in like manner, with their renewal and sanctification; but we also find that, in the third case, —which is as real and as complete an instance of imputation as either of the other two, —the imputation of our sins to Christ was not connected with any change in His holy character, or with the infusion of any, even the slightest’ taint of moral evil; whence we infer that imputation, so far from consisting in, is not even invariably connected with, the infusion of moral qualities.
 
  • We find again, that in two out of the three cases, representative, and personal, agency are so clearly distinguished as to make it manifest, that the party to whom anything is imputed is not supposed to have had any active participation in the doing of it: for our sins were really, and in the full sense of the term, imputed to Christ as our substitute, yet He had no share in the commission of them; and His righteousness is, in like manner, imputed to us for our Justification, yet we had no share with Him in ‘finishing the work which the Father had given Him to do.’ 
"—Whence we infer that, in the third case, —that of the imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity, —it is so far from being necessary to suppose our personal participation in his act, that such a supposition would go far to destroy the doctrine of Imputation altogether, by setting aside the fundamental distinction between the agency of the representative, and that of those who were represented by him. 
"We find, again, that in all the three cases, imputation, whether of sin or of righteousness, is founded on a federal relation subsisting between one and many, —for Adam was constituted the head and representative of his race, and Christ the substitute and surety of His people; and that this relation may be fitly described as amounting to a union between them, in virtue of which they are regarded and treated as being, in some respects, one; but that this union is not such as to destroy the distinction between their respective personalities, or to confound their several acts: for it is still true, that the representative was personally different from those whom he represented, and that his obedience, or disobedience, was his own act, and not theirs, although it is imputed to them; for ‘a union of representation is not a union of identity. ‘No imputation of this kind,’ says Dr. Owen, speaking of the imputation of anything that was not ours antecedently, but that becomes ours simply by being imputed, —‘is to account them, unto whom anything is imputed. to have done the things themselves which are imputed unto them… . This is contrary unto the nature of imputation, which proceeds on no such judgment, but on the contrary, (implies) that we ourselves have done nothing of what is imputed unto us, nor Christ anything of what is imputed unto Him.’"
James Buchanan. The Doctrine of Justification

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Christ For Us...

Jesus was obedient unto death - even death on a cross - not to obtain a righteousness for
himself but in order to obtain a righteousness for us.

As the second Adam, Jesus's obedience satisfied the Covenant of Works under which God placed Adam - its penalty sanction and obedience probation - not for himself but in our place for us.

Our obedience to God therefore is not to obtain an acceptable righteousness before God because Christ our Surety already has obtained it for us.

Our obedience therefore is not to satisfy any kind of probationary test of obedience before God because Christ has already passed God's probationary test for us.

Our obedience is not unto or for ourselves in order to satisfy God's Law but offered thankfully unto God and offered to others in love for their benefit, even as Jesus's obedience was not unto himself nor for himself but offered to God in love for us in order to satisfy the requirement of God's holy Law for our benefit.

God's Justification by his free grace through faith in Christ alone removes the necessity of any self-directed or self-enhancing motive of obedience to the purpose of obtaining an acceptance before God for the believer, i.e. to obtain a better or more secure standing before God. Christ alone has completely secured a perfect standing of righteousness before God for us who believe in him. For Christ alone accomplished all of our salvation for us.

Jesus's obedience was not for himself but for others...


Ergo - the disciple not being above the Teacher - our obedience is not offered for the benefit of ourselves in any way but for the benefit of others, offered in thankfulness to God for his free gift of grace in Christ Jesus.

Luke 10:26-28
Romans 5:12-21
Romans 15:1-3
Philippians 2:1-11
Matthew 10:24-25a

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Of the scape-goat...

"There was likewise a live goat, which the priest was to take; on the
head of which he was to lay his hands, and there to make a public confession to God of all the people's sins; and when so done, the priest was to lay all the sins of the people on the head of the goat;  then was the goat to be sent away into the wilderness, never to return with them more, Lev. xvi. 7—9, 21, 22. This type, as well as the rest, sets forth the won derful grace of God in Christ to sinners, who hath prepared a scape-goat for them, to carry away their sin on his own head; which is Christ, his only Son. Oh! this is wonderful love, saith the Spirit, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii. 16. Look to Christ, this scape-goat; he bears all the sins of his people; they are confessed over, and translated upon Christ's head, Isa. liii. 6; 1 Pet. ii. 24. And so they are made his sins, not ours, and he hath carried them into the wilderness of forget-fulness, where they shall never come into mind more; "I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more," Jer. xxxi. 34. Christ will leave all the sin and guilt, which he took on him, behind him in the wilderness; and let us assure ourselves that whenever Christ comes again, he will come "without sin unto salvation," Heb. ix. 28."
Thomas Worden, The Types Unveiled - chapter 40 (1640s)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Love covers a multitude of sins...

Romans 13

Owe no man anything, save to love one another: for he that loveth his neighbor hath fulfilled the law. i.e. The path of Sanctification 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Baptism signifies deliverance from guilt of sin... Christ's death - our death (5)

Robert Haldane continues to unpack the gospel as presented by the apostle Paul's as the defense against the false charge that justification by grace will produce the result of more sin in the lives of believers.

Ver. 3. — Know ye not, that so many of was were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? 
In the verse before us, the Apostle proves that Christians are dead to sin, because they died with Christ. The rite of baptism exhibits Christians as dying, as buried, and as risen with Christ. Know ye not. He refers to what he is now declaring as a thing well known to those whom he addresses. Baptized into Jesus Christ. By faith believers are made one with Christ: they become members of His body. This oneness is represented emblematically by baptism. Baptized into His death. In baptism, they are also represented as dying with Christ. This rite, then, proceeds on the fact that they have died with Him who bore their sins. Thus the satisfaction rendered to the justice of God by Him, is a satisfaction from them, as they are constituent parts of His body. The believer is one with Christ as truly as he was one with Adam — he dies with Christ as truly as he died with Adam. Christ’s righteousness is his as truly as Adam’s sin was his. By a Divine constitution, all Adam’s posterity are one with him, and so his first sin is really and truly theirs. By a similar Divine constitution, all Christ’s people are one with Him, and His obedience is as truly theirs as if they had yielded it, and His death as if they had suffered it. When it is said that Christians have died with Christ, there is no more figure than when it is said that they have died in Adam... 
Ver. 4. — Therefore we are buried with him baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The death of Christ was the means by which sin was destroyed, and His burial the proof of the reality of His death. Christians are therefore represented as buried with Him by baptism into His death, in token that they really died with Him; and if buried with Him, it is not that they shall remain in the grave, but that, as Christ arose from the dead, they should also rise. Their baptism, then, is the figure of their complete deliverance from the guilt of sin, signifying that God places to their account the death of Christ as their own death: it is also a figure of their purification and resurrection for the service of God. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

"How can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" (4)

Haldane shows the Apostles reasoning...
"Live any longer therein. To continue in sin, and to live any longer therein, are equivalent expressions, implying that, before their death to sin, the Apostle himself, and all those whom he now addressed, were enslaved by sin, and lived in it. In the same way, in writing to the saints at Ephesus, he says that formerly he and all of them had their conversation among the children of disobedience, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. By denying, then, that believers continue in sin, he does not mean to say that they never commit sin, or fall into it, or, according to Mr. Stuart, have become insensible to its influence, or to Mr. Tholuck, that they ‘obey it in nothing any more;’ for, as has been observed, it is abundantly shown in the seventh chapter, where he gives an account of his own experience (which is also the experience of every Christian), that this is very far from being a fact; but he denies that they continue to live as formerly in sin and ungodliness, which he had shown was impossible. Here it may, however, be remarked, that the full answer which in the following verses is given to the objection brought against the tendency of the doctrine of justification, cannot be understood by the natural man, to whom it must appear foolishness. Hence the same calumny is repeated to the present day against this part of Divine truth."
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary 

"For he who is dead (with Christ) is justified from sin" (3)

Haldane completes his understanding as to what it means for the Christian to be "dead to sin" in Romans 6:2.
"In proof of the correctness of this view of the subject, let it be remembered that the Apostle’s refutation, in the following verses, of the supposed objection, does not rest on the supposition that sin is mortified in himself and those whom he is addressing, or that they are released from any propensity to it, but on the fact of their being one with Jesus Christ. They are united to Him in His death, and consequently in His life, which was communicated to them by Him who is a ‘quickening Spirit;’ and thus their walking with Him in newness of life, as well as their resurrection with Him, are secured. These ideas are exhibited in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th verses. In the 7th verse, the reason of the whole is summed up, — ’For he who is dead (with Christ) is justified from sin;’ and in the 8th verse, that which will afterwards follow our being justified from sin is stated, — ’If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.’ Finally, in the 9th and 10th verses, the Apostle declares the consequence of Christ’s dying to sin to be, that He liveth unto God. The same effect in respect to the members must follow as to the Head with whom believers are one; and therefore he immediately proceeds to assure them, in the 14th verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them. The result, then, of the doctrine of justification by grace is the very reverse of giving not merely license, but even place, to continue in sin. On the contrary, according to that doctrine, the power of God is engaged to secure to those who are dead to sin i.e., justified — a life of holiness, corresponding with that state into which, by their union with His Son, He has brought them.
"The full import and consequence of being dead to sin will be found, ch. 4:7, 8: — ’Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’ They who are dead to sin, are those from whom, in its guilt or condemning power, it is in Christ Jesus entirely removed. Such persons, whose sins are thus covered, are pronounced ‘blessed.’ They enjoy the favor and blessing of God. The necessary effect of this blessing is declared in the new covenant, according to which, when God is merciful to the unrighteousness of His people, and remembers their sins and iniquities no more, He puts His laws into their mind, and writes them in their hearts, and promises that He will be to them a God, and they shall be to Him a people. In one word, they who are dead to Sin are limited to Him who is the Fountain of life and holiness, and are thus delivered from the curse pronounced upon those who, being under the law, continue not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them. The guilt of their sins, which separated between them and God, having now been canceled, they enjoy His favor, and all its blessed effects. It is upon these great truths that the Apostle rests his absolute denial that the doctrine of justification by grace, which he had been unfolding, is compatible with continuing to live in sin."
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary 

"We that are dead to sin" (2) - Refers not to their character or conduct but their state before God


Robert Haldane continues to unpack the apostle Paul's words in Romans 6:2...
"It should also be observed that, when the Apostle characterizes believers as dead to sin, he is not introducing something new, as would be the case were either Dr. Macknight’s, or Mr. Stuart’s, or Mr. Tholuck’s explanation of the term correct. He is indicating the state of those to whom the objection applies, in order to its refutation. That it does not lead them to continue in sin, he had in effect shown already, in verses 3rd and 4th of the foregoing chapter, where he had declared the accompaniments of their justification. But as this objection is constantly insisted on, and is so congenial to human nature, and, besides, might appear plausible from the fact that they are the ungodly who are justified, ch. 4:5, he still considered it proper to meet it fully and directly. Paul therefore proceeds formally to repel such a calumny against his doctrine, by exhibiting in further detail, in the following verses, the grounds of justification to which he had referred, ch. 4:24, 25, — namely, the interest of believers both in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The expression, then, dead to sin, does not in any degree relate to their character or conduct but exclusively to their state before God. Their character or conduct with regard to abstinence from the commission of sin, is referred to in the question that follows, demanding, How those who are dead to sin shall ‘live any longer therein?’ But to explain the expression, ‘dead to sin,’ as meaning dead to the influence and love of sin, is entirely erroneous, and what the Apostle by no means asserts. Death to the influence and love of sin must involve their annihilation in the person of whom this could be affirmed; for death annihilates to its subject all things whatsoever; and in this case it might well be said, with Mr. Stuart, that a man who is dead to sin has ‘become insensible to its exciting power or influence, as a dead person is incapable of sensibility.’ How Mr. Stuart could make such statements, thrice repeated, yet totally unfounded, and flatly contradicted by every man’s experience, is indeed astonishing.
"Utterly erroneous, too, is the explanation of other commentators, who say that the meaning is, dead to ‘the guilt and power’ of sin, — thus joining death to the power to death to the guilt, of sin. This indicates a condition with respect to sin which was never realized in any of the children of Adam while in this world. No believer is dead to the power of sin, as Paul has abundantly short in the seventh chapter of this Epistle. On the contrary, he there affirms that there was a law in his members which warred against the law of his mind; that he did the things he would not; and that when he would do good, evil (and what is this but the power of sin?) was present with him. The same truth is clearly exhibited in all the other Epistles, in which believers are so often reproved for giving way to the power of sin, and earnestly exhorted and warned against doing so. But when the expression is understood as exclusively signifying dead to the GUILT of sin, it may and must be taken in the full sense of what death imparts, being nothing less than absolute, total, and final deliverance from its guilt. To suppose, then, that in these words there is the smallest reference to the character or conduct of believers — to their freedom from the love or power of sin — to conjoin these in any respect or in any degree with their freedom from its guilt, — in other words, with their justified state, — is not merely to misapprehend the meaning of the Apostle, but to represent him as stating that to be a fact which has no existence; while it deprives the passage of the consolation to believers which, when properly understood, it is so eminently calculated to impart."
Robert Haldane, Romans Commentary 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"We that are dead to sin" (1) - In what sense?


Romans 6:2 - God forbid. We that are dead to sin, how shall we any longer live therein?
We that are dead to sin. The meaning of this expression is very generally misunderstood, and extended to include death to the power of sin, to which it has not the smallest reference. It exclusively indicates the justification of believers, and their freedom from the guilt of sin, having no allusion to their sanctification, which, however, as the Apostle immediately proceeds to prove, necessarily follows. It was indispensable, in the view of obviating the objection proposed, distinctly to characterize both the persons, and their state of justification, to whom the answer he was about to give applied.  
Accordingly, by using the term we, he shows that he speaks of the same persons of whose justification he had been treating in the conclusion of the fourth, and in the first part of the foregoing chapter, to whom, in this way, he there refers more than twenty times. Their justification he expresses by the term dead to sin, which, though only a part of justification, implies all that it includes. No other designation could have been so well adapted to introduce the development of their state, and its inseparable consequences, as contained in the following verses. This term, then, is most appropriately employed. 
Formerly, the persons spoken of were dead in sin, but now they were dead to it, as it is said in the 7th verse, they are justified from it. In the seventh chapter, it is affirmed that believers are dead to the law. They are therefore dead to sin, for the strength of sin is the law; and consequently sin has lost its power to condemn them, their connection with it, in respect to its guilt, being for ever broken. In the 10th verse, it is said that Christ died unto sin, and liveth to God; and in the same way believers have died to sin, and are alive to God, to serve Him in newness of life. 
Romans Commentary, Robert Haldane

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Federal-Two-Adams Explanation of the Gospel - Robert Haldane

This section of Robert Haldane's Romans Commentary clearly contrasts the miserable plight of mankind in Adam, one marked by sin and death, with that of righteousness and eternal life for those who by God's grace are in Christ. We pick up his commentary at the last verse of chapter 5.
Unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. — This is that life of which Jesus Christ, who is risen from the dead, is the author, as the death here Spoken of is that which He came to destroy. The source of our natural life is Adam, but he is dead, and in his communion we all die. But a new source of life is provided in the second Adam, that He may deliver from death all that are in His communion. ‘The first Adam was made a living soul,’ that he might communicate natural life to those who had not received it. ‘The last Adam was made a quickening spirit,’ that He might impart spiritual life to those who had lost it. The first communicated an earthly and perishable life, the second a life that is celestial and immortal. Jesus Christ is that eternal life which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us; and the Father hath given Him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to as many as He hath given Him. ‘My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give unto them eternal life.’ The termination, then, of the reign of death over those whom He represents, and the establishment of the reign of grace through the everlasting righteousness which He has brought in, are all by Jesus Christ. He hath abolished death. By Him came grace and truth; He brought life and immortality to light. He ‘is the true God, and eternal life.’ And ‘to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that He might be the Lord both of the dead and the living.’ The similarity of the Apostle’s commencement in unfolding the doctrine of justification, and of his conclusion, is very striking. He begins, ch. 1:17, by declaring that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, because therein is the righteousness of God revealed; and he here ends by affirming that grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 
In this 21st verse the doctrine of the whole preceding context, of the salvation of believers, is summed up in a manner most beautiful and striking. Having exhibited in a strong light the righteousness of God, ch. 3:21, 22, the Apostle returns to it in this chapter; and, having contrasted Christ and Adam, he brings out his conclusion in this verse with a contrast of the reign of sin and grace. Sin had an absolute sway over all the descendants of Adam. There was nothing good among them, or in any of them. Sin existed and predominated in every human soul. Therefore it is said to reign. The absolute and universal influence of sin is figured by the empire of a monarch exercising authority in uncontrolled sovereignty. Grace also reigns. There was nothing in men to merit salvation, or to recommend them in any measure to God. Grace therefore reigns in their salvation, which is wholly and entirely of free favor. Sin is said to reign unto, or in, death. This shows that death was, in every human being, the effect of his sin. The way in which death manifested its universal reign over the human race, was in causing their death. This most fully proves that infants are sinners. If sin ruled in causing death to its subjects, then all who died are the subjects of sin. Death to the human race is in every instance the effect of the dominion of sin. Sin reigns unto death. — But if sin has reigned, grace reigns. If the former has reigned in death, the latter reigns in life; yea, it reigns unto eternal life. How, then, does it reign unto life. 
Is it by a gratuitous pardon? Doubtless it is. But it is not by forgiving the sinner in an arbitrary way, with respect to the punishment due to sin. Forgiveness is indeed entirely gratuitous; but if it cost believers nothing, it has cost much to their Surety. Grace reigns through righteousness. — How beautifully is thus fulfilled the prophetic declaration of Psalm 85:10-13. Grace did not, could not, deliver the lawful captives without paying the ransom. It did not trample on justice, or evade its demands. It reigns by providing a Savior to suffer in the room of the guilty. By the death of Jesus Christ, full compensation was made to the law and justice of God. 
The Apostle, in the end of this chapter, brings his argument to a close. Every individual of the human race is proved to be guilty before God and on the ground of his own righteousness no man can be saved. The state of the Gentile world is exhibited in the most degrading view, while history and experience fully concur in the condemnation. Man is represented as vile, as degraded below the condition of the brutes; and the facts on which the charge is grounded were so notorious that they could not be denied. Nor could the most uncultivated Pagans offer any apology for their conduct. Their sins were against nature, and their ignorance of God was in spite of the revelation of His character in the works of creation. They are condemned by the standard they themselves recognize, and their own mutual recriminations and defenses prove that they were fully aware of sin and responsibility. 
But are not the Jews excepted from this black catalogue of crimes? Are they not righteous through that holy, Just, and good law which they received from the God of Israel? By no means. By the testimony of that revelation which they received, all men are guilty, and this testimony directly implies those to whom the revelation was given. With this experience also coincides. The Apostle charges them as actually doing the same things which they condemned in the heathens. Both, then, are guilty; and, from their superior light, the Jews must be the most guilty. 
Nor was it ever in contemplation of the law of Moses to give the Jews a righteousness by their own obedience. The law was designed rather to manifest their guilt. By the law there was to no individual a righteousness unto life; by the law was the ‘knowledge of sin.’ All men, then, without exception, were shut up unto condemnation. 
But this law veiled the truth which the Apostle now unfolds and exhibits in the strongest light. He proclaims a righteousness so perfect, as to answer all the demands of law, both as to penalty and obedience — a righteousness so free, as to extend to the very chief of sinners. This righteousness is in Jesus Christ. He has borne the curse of the law, and perfectly obeyed all its precepts. All His obedience becomes ours by believing the testimony of the Father concerning His Son, and trusting in Him. The most guilty child of Adam, whether he be Jew or Gentile, becomes perfectly righteous the moment he believes in the work of Christ. This glorious plan of salvation vindicates the law, exalts the character of God, and reconciles mercy with justice. In the Gospel grace appears; in the Gospel grace reigns; but it reigns not on the ruins of law and justice, but in the more glorious establishment of both; it reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. In the salvation of men by the Son of God, the law is not made void. It is magnified and made honorable. In this salvation sin is not represented as harmless. It is here seen in a more awful light than in the future punishment of the wicked. The Gospel is the only manifestation of God in the full glory of His character as the just God, yet the Savior — punishing sin to the utmost extent of its demerit, at the same time that His mercy reaches to the most guilty of the children of men. 
Romans Commentary, Chapter 5 - Robert Haldane. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Romans 6 Intro: Intimate connection between justification and sanctification - eternal life the gift of God

Robert Haldane: Commentary on Romans, Chapter Six.
Introduction
IN the preceding part of the Epistle the universal depravity and guilt of man, and the free salvation through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, had been fully exhibited. Paul now proceeds to prove the intimate connection between the justification of believers and their sanctification. He commences by stating an objection which has in all ages been advanced as an unanswerable argument against salvation by grace. He asks, What is the consequence of the doctrine he has been inculcating? If justification be bestowed through faith, without works, and if, where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded, may we not continue in sin that grace may abound? No objection could be more plausible. It is such as will forcibly strike every natural man, and is as common now as it was in the days of the Apostle. 
Paul repels this charge by declaring the union of believers with Jesus Christ, by whom, as is represented in baptism, His people are dead to sin, and risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Having established these important truths, he urges (ver. 11) on those whom he addresses the duty of being convinced that such is their actual state. In verses 12 and 13, he warns them not to abuse this conviction; and for their encouragement in fighting the good fight of faith, to which they are called, assures them, in the 14th verse, that sin shall not have dominion over them, because they are not under the law but under grace. Thus the Apostle proves that, by the gracious provision of the covenant of God, ratified by the blood of Him with whom they are inseparably united, they who are justified cannot continue to live in sin; but though sin shall not have dominion over them, still, as their sanctification is not yet perfect, he goes on to address them as liable to temptation. What he had said, therefore, concerning their state as being in Christ, did not preclude the duty of watchfulness; nor, since they had formerly been the servants of sin, of now proving that they were the servants of God, by walking in holiness of life. Paul concludes by an animated appeal to their own experience of the past, and to their prospects for the future. He asks, what fruit had they in their former ways, which could only conduct to shame and death? On the other hand, he exhorts them to press onwards in the course of holiness, at the end of which they would receive the crown of everlasting life. But, along with this assurance, he reminds them of the important truth, that while the just recompense of sin is death, eternal life is the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Confession: Loathing Our Sins and Ourselves - the Sinner...

Confession of sins (see HereHere, and Here) entails more than just listing and condemning our sins but also zeroing in on ourselves the sinner whose thoughts, words, and deeds always fall miserably short of the holiness required of us by God and so should always indict us. Indeed, amazingly we have been given the grace and mercy of God so that we can flee to Christ and there find our comfort and our remedy. Yet, our inherent fallen condition with which we daily struggle should always and increasingly humble us.
"We must know that our old state, with its evil principles, continues still in a measure, or else we shall not be fit for the great duties of confessing our sins, loathing ourselves for them, praying earnestly for the pardon of them, a just sorrowing for them with a godly sorrow, accepting the punishment of our sins and giving God the glory of His justice, and offering to Him the sacrifice of a glory and contrite spirit, being poor in spirit, working out our salvation with fear and trembling...
"You must make a good use of the whole matter and all the manner of prayer, as ordinary and extraordinary exigencies may require, to stir up grace in you by wrestling, and to bring your hearts into a holy frame. As in confession, you must condemn yourself according to the flesh, but not as you are in Christ. You must not deny that grace that you have, as if you were only wicked before, and now to begin again - which hinders praise for grace received in those that are already converted. In supplication, you must endeavour to work up your heart to a godly sorrow (Ps. 38: 18), and a holy sense of your own sin and misery, and lay before you the aggravations thereof (Ps. 51:3; 102). Complaint and lamentation are one great part of prayer, as the Lamentations of Jeremiah."  Walter Marshall. The Mystery of Gospel Sanctification 
From Calvin's Hosea commentary: 
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou art pleased to invite us daily to thyself, we may respond to thy call in the spirit of meekness and obedience; and do thou also so seriously impress our minds, that we may not only confess our sins, but also so loathe ourselves on account of them, that we may without delay seek the true remedy, and, relying on thy mercy, may so repent, that thy name may hereafter be glorified in us, until we shall at length become partakers of that glory, which thy Son has obtained for us by his own blood. -- Amen. (John Calvin)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Calvin: The Confession of Sins and The Right Hand that Rescues...

How are we forgiven of our sins? Or put another way, what is entailed in the confession of
our sins that effects our pardon? We have been addressing this topic of confession (Here and Here) by highlighting John Calvin's thoughts on the matter. In the passaged below, Calvin refutes the Roman Catholic teaching of the requirement to confess (list) all of one's sins to a priest in order to be forgiven of those sins. 
As for the fact that they impose a law of listing all sins and they deny that sins can be forgiven unless one has the firm intention of confessing; and they say that the entrance to paradise is closed to those who have scorned the opportunity to confess: those things must not be tolerated at all.
How is this not a sort of "forgiveness through works?" The question isn't whether Christians should or shouldn't confess individual sins. But to focus solely on specific sins is to miss the core corruption which is us, the sinner who sins, the sinner who deceives himself, the sinner who is all too blind to his own weaknesses and trespasses of the moral law. 
For how do they think one can list all sins? Since David who, I believe, had very well thought about the confession of his sins beforehand, nevertheless could not do otherwise than cry: "Who grasps his sins? Lord, purify me of my secret sins!" (Ps. 19:12). In another place he says: "My iniquities have gone over my head, and have overwhelmed my strength like a heavy burden" (Ps. 38:4). Certainly he understood how great was the abyss of our sins and how many kinds of crimes there are in a person, how many heads this monster of sin has, and how long a tail he pulls behind hind him. He did not set himself then to make a full recounting, but from the depth of his sins he cried to God: "I am submerged, buried, suffocated, the doors of hell have closed around me; let your right hand draw me out of this pit in which I am drowning, and from this death into which I have fallen!" Who now will think that he can keep account of his sins, when he sees David could not discover the number of his?... 
... For in occupying themselves completely with listing their sins, they meanwhile forget the secret abyss of vice which they have in the depth of the heart, their inward iniquities and hidden filth. In order to have the knowledge of the latter they have to think chiefly about their wretchedness. On the contrary, this is the right rule of confession: to confess and recognize such an abyss of evil in us as overwhelms our senses. We see that the confession of the publican was composed in that form: "Lord, be favorable to me, a sinner" (Lk. 18:13), as if he said: "All that is in me is only sin, such that my thought and my tongue cannot grasp the greatness of it. So let the abyss of your mercy swallow up the abyss of my sins!" [emphasis added]
- John Calvin. Institutes of the Christian Religion: The First English Version of the 1541 French Edition
"Let your right hand..." One can easily overlook this phrase employed by Calvin. Yet to do so would miss the import of his final sentence, So let the abyss of your mercy swallow up the abyss of my sins! In Scripture and especially the Psalms the right hand of God is a metonym for the mercy and authority of God, i.e. the Messiah (Psalm 17:7; 18:35; 60:5; 63:8; 108:6; 138:7; 139:10). It is by and in the Messiah Jesus Christ that God pardons sinners. It is Christ who offered himself up once for sins who is the abyss of God's mercy, who alone provides complete cleansing of the sinner and all his sins (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12) - known or unknown - which mercy is received freely by all who look to him. As the New Testament writers teach, this Jesus Christ is now at the right hand of God in the heavenly places. He has been given all power and authority (Matthew 28:18) and he is the Savior of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). By faith let us flee to him...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Confess Your Sins to One Another...

Our topic is confession of sins and forgiveness which began with Calvin's encouragement to readily come to Jesus Christ who is our Physician in order to find healing for our infirmities, peace for our troubled consciences from the guilt of our sins. Christ shed his blood for this very purpose. But is private confession made alone to God the only kind of confession of sins? A while back, my wife observed that one never feels more like a Christian than when he or she has confessed their sin to and asked for forgiveness from someone they've offended. Amen. All who have done this know the difficulty with which this is accomplished, one involving the struggle against our stubborn pride and self-justifying rationalizations. Yet when we follow through - as James writes, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed - we find ourselves refreshingly humbled and renewed, having arrived at a simple and godly stance - that of thankful, forgiven sinners at the foot of the cross, resting solely in Jesus's sacrifice for us. Calvin continues...
Moreover, scripture commends to us two other kinds of confession. One is made for our own sake. That is what St. James' saying is directed toward, that we confess our sins to each other (Jas. 5:16). For he means that, making known our weaknesses to each other, we may mutually help each other with counsel and comfort. The other kind of confession is done for the love of our neighbor who has been offended by our sin, to reconcile and find peace with him. Christ speaks about that in St. Matthew, saying: "If you present your offering at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there and go, reconcile yourself with your brother first, and then you will present your offering" (Matt. 5:23-24). For we must reunite love/charity, which has been cooled and weakened by our offense, by recognizing our sin and asking for pardon. 
As for the first kind of confession, although scripture does not assign a person to whom we may unburden ourselves and leaves us free to choose among the faithful whoever seems good to us as the one to hear our confession, nevertheless because pastors ought to be fitting above others for that, it is better for us to go instead to them. Now I say that they are more suitable than others since, on account count of their office they are established by God to instruct us how to overcome come sin, and to certify God's goodness in order to comfort us. That is why, when he feels in such perplexity of conscience that he cannot help himself without the help of another, let each faithful person prudently not neglect the remedy which he is offered by God; that is, in order to relieve and free himself from scruples let him confess individually to his pastor and receive comfort from him, since it is the pastor's office to comfort God's people with the teaching of the gospel individually as well as in public. However, we must always hold to this mean: that consciences must not be bound and brought under some yoke with regard to things which God has left free.John Calvin. The Institutes of Christian Religion, The First English Version of the 1541 French Edition
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

Isaiah 55:6-7