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The Doctrine Defined, Explained and Proved

September 26, 2014 1 comment

What is election as the term is used in the Bible? Election means a choice—to select from among-to single out-to take one and leave another. If there are a dozen apples in a basket and I take all of them there has been no choice; but if I take seven and leave five there has been a choice. Election, as taught in the Bible, means that God has made a choice from among the children of men. In the beginning God set His choice upon certain individuals, whom He gave to His Son, and for whom Christ died as their substitute, who in time hear the Gospel and believe in Christ to life everlasting. Let us amplify by raising three very pertinent questions.

1. WHO DOES THE ELECTING? Who chooses the persons to be saved? If men are chosen to salvation, as the Scriptures affirm, who does the choosing? There must be a selection or universalism. The language of Scripture seems peculiarly definite in reply to this question. #Mr 13:20 speaks of the ELECT, whom He ELECTED, rendered in our version, “The elect’s sake whom He hath chosen”. The word election is associated with God not with man. God is the CHOOSER, His people are the CHOSEN, and grace is the source. The theology, that God votes for us, the Devil votes against us, and that we cast the deciding ballot is entirely outside the pale of Scripture teaching, and is almost too ridiculous to notice. #Joh 15:16 2Th 2:13 Eph 1:4

2. WHEN WAS THE ELECTING DONE? For the answer we are shut up to the Scriptures. But the BIBLE answers with sunlight clearness. In #Eph 1:4 we read that “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”. The expression, “before the foundation of the world is found in #Joh 17:24, where it speaks of the Father’s eternal love for the Son, and in #1Pe 1:20, where it refers to the eternal determination of the Divine mind concerning the death of Christ. There are many similar expressions. ELECTION IS ETERNAL! #Re 13:8 2Th 2:13 2Ti 1:9

3. WHY WAS THE ELECTING DONE? Was it on the ground of something good in the sinner? Then nobody would have been elected for there is none good. Holiness is not the cause but the effect of election. We are chosen that we should be holy not because we are holy (#Eph 1:4). Nor, as we have already seen, is election in view of foreseen repentance and faith. Election is the cause of repentance and faith and not the effect of these graces. To say that God chose men to salvation because He foresaw that they would repent and believe and be saved is to attribute foolishness to the infinitely wise God. It is as if the president should issue a decree that the sun must rise tomorrow because he foresees that it will rise; or as if a sculptor should choose a certain piece of marble because he foresaw that it would make itself into the image he wanted. We challenge any Arminian to raise these questions and get his answers from the Scriptures.

Dr. C. D. Cole-The Bible Doctrine of Election-Part I-Bible Doctrine of Election

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Is Your ‘Hermeneutical House’ a Safe Place to Live?

September 25, 2014 1 comment

Here is a good article that discusses hermeneutical methodology and why it is important to use a proper, sound, hermeneutical method when interpreting scripture.

 

 

by Dr. Paul M. Elliott

The principles and methodology of hermeneutics are like the unseen supports of a house – the foundation under the basement, the wood inside the walls. If we employ sound principles carefully and consistently, our system of doctrine will be sound. Spiritually speaking, our doctrine will be a house that is a safe one in which to live.

Imagine for a moment that you own a house, and have been living in it happily for many years. But something strange has happened to the house. From time to time through the years, cracks have appeared in the basement floor and walls. Perhaps you’ve had to patch them because water came in through the cracks when it rained. You’ve also noticed cracks from time to time in your living room walls. Perhaps you’ve had to plaster them and re-paint the room to keep those fissures from becoming unsightly. Or, perhaps you’ve gotten tired of patching and painting and decided to cover the whole problem with wallpaper instead.

 

 

Read the entire article here or download the PDF.

C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers-Prayer 6

September 25, 2014 1 comment

THE WONDERS CALVARY.

 

GREAT God, there was a time when we dreaded the thought of coming near to Thee, for we were guilty and Thou wast angry with us, but now we will praise Thee because Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortest us. Ay, and the very throne which once was a place of dread has now become the place of shelter. I flee unto Thee to hide me.

We long now to get right away from the world, even from the remembrance of it, and have fellowship with the world to come by speaking with Him that was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty. Lord, we have been worried and wearied oftentimes with care, but with Thee care comes to an end, all things are with Thee, and when we live in Thee we live in wealth, in sure repose, in constant joy.

We have to battle with the sons of men against a thousand errors and unrighteousnesses, but when we flee to Thee, there all is truth and purity and holiness, and our heart finds peace. Above all, we have to battle with ourselves, and we are very much ashamed of ourselves. After many years of great mercy, after tasting of the powers of the world to come, we still are so weak, so foolish; but, oh! when we get away from self to God there all is truth and purity and holiness, and our heart finds peace, wisdom, completeness, delight, joy, victory.

Oh! bring us, then, we pray Thee, now near to Thyself. Let us bathe ourselves in communion with our God. Blessed be the love which chose us before the world began. We can never sufficiently adore Thee for Thy sovereignty, the sovereignty of love which saw us in the ruins of the Fall, yet loved us notwithstanding all.

We praise the God of the Eternal Council Chamber and of the Everlasting Covenant, but where shall we find sufficiently fit words with which to praise Him who gave us grace in Christ His Son, before He spread the starry sky.

We also bless Thee, O God, as the God of our redemption, for Thou hast so loved us as to give even Thy dear Son for us. He gave Himself, His very life for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and separate us unto Himself to be His peculiar people, zealous for good works.

Never can we sufficiently adore free grace and dying love. The wonders of Calvary never cease to be wonders, they are growingly marvelous in our esteem as we think of Him who washed us from our sins in His own blood. Nor can we cease to praise the God of our regeneration who found us dead and made us live, found us at enmity and reconciled us, found us loving the things of this world and lifted us out of the slough and mire of selfishness and worldliness into the love of divine everlasting things.

O Spirit of God, we love Thee this day, especially for dwelling in us. How canst Thou abide in so rude a habitation. How canst Thou make these bodies to be Thy temples, and yet Thou dost so, for which let Thy name be had in reverence so long as we live.

O Lord, we would delight ourselves in Thee this day. Give us faith and love and hope that with these three graces we may draw very near to the Triune God. Thou wilt keep us, Thou wilt preserve us, Thou wilt feed us, Thou wilt lead us, and Thou writ bring us to the mind of God, and there wilt Thou show us Thy love, and in the glory everlasting had boundless, there wilt Thou make us know and taste and feel the joys that cannot be expressed.

But a little longer waiting and we shall come to the golden shore; but a little longer fighting and we shall receive the crown of life that fadeth not away.

Lord, get us up above the world. Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove, and mount and bear us on Thy wings, far from these inferior sorrows and inferior joys, up where eternal ages roll. May we ascend in joyful contemplation, and may our spirit come back again, strong for all its service, armed for all its battles, armored for all its dangers, and made ready to live heaven on earth, until by-and-by we shall live heaven in heaven. Great Father, be with Thy waiting people, any in great trouble do Thou greatly help; any that are despondent do Thou sweetly comfort and cheer; any that have erred, and are smarting under their own sin, do Thou bring them back and heal their wounds; any that this day are panting after holiness do Thou give them the desire of their hearts; any that are longing for usefulness do Thou lead them into ways of usefulness.

Lord, we want to live while we live. We do pray that we may not merely groan out an existence here below, nor live as earthworms crawling back into our holes and dragging now and then a sere leaf with us; but oh! Give us to live as we ought to live, with a new life that Thou hast put into us, with the divine quickening which has lifted us as much above common men as men are lifted above the beasts that perish.

Do not let us always be hampered like poor half-hatched birds within the egg; may we chip the shell to day and get out into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Grant us this, we pray Thee.

Lord, visit our church. We have heard Thy message to the churches at Ephesus; it is a message to us also. Oh! do not let any of us lose our first love. Let not our church grow cold and dead. We are not, we fear, what once we were. Lord, revive us! All our help must come from Thee. Give back to the church its love, its confidence, its holy daring, its consecration, its liberality, its holiness. Give back all it ever had and give it much more. Take every member and wash his feet, Sweet Lord, most tenderly, and set us with clean feet in a clean road, with a clean heart to guide them, and do Thou bless us as Thou art wont to do after a divine fashion.

Bless us, our Father, and let all the churches of Jesus Christ partake of like cause and tenderness. Walking among the golden candlesticks trim every lamp and make every light, even though it burneth but feebly now, to shine out gloriously through Thy care.

Now bless the sinners. Lord, convert them. O God, save men, save this great city, this wicked city, this slumbering dead city. Lord, arouse it, arouse it by any means, that it may turn unto its God. Lord, save sinners all the world over, and let Thy precious Word be fulfilled. “Behold He cometh with clouds.” Why dost Thou tarry? Make no tarrying, O, our Lord. And now unto Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers

Chapter 39-Death and the Soul’s Immortality

September 24, 2014 2 comments

Death and the Soul’s Immortality

WE proceed next to the consideration of the death of man, and other topics which are intimately connected with it. In the present chapter will be discussed death; the immortality of the soul; and the condition of the latter between the hour of death, and that of reunion with the body.

I. DEATH.

The term death is most commonly applied to that separation of soul and body which is the most manifest form in which the penalty of sin is seen among men. That there is a death of the soul also, and that it is something far more terrible than the death of the body, has been shown in the chapter on the “Effects of Adam’s sin,” pp. 239-247. But, this death of the soul is spiritual in its nature, and does not forbid the continued existence of the soul; and its dread realities will be more plainly evinced in the unseen hereafter. Consequently the separation of body and soul makes a more profound impression among living men, and to it the term death is almost exclusively appropriated.

It is sometimes called “natural,” or “physical” death, to distinguish it from that which is “spiritual;” the death “of the body,” as opposed to that “of the soul;” and “temporal” death, in contrast with that which is everlasting.

This separation of body and soul is the almost universal destiny of men. The Scriptures, however, teach that Enoch did not die but “God took him,” Gen. 5:24, and that he “was translated that he should not see death,” Heb. 11:5; also that Elijah “went up by a whirlwind into heaven,” 2 Kings 2:11. Some have supposed that, in like manner Moses escaped death, but it is expressly stated that he died, and was buried in the land of Moab. Deut. 34:5, 6. But Paul declared that at the second coming of the Lord, “we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thess. 4:17. Even more explicitly he said “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Cor. 15:51, 52. This is the fashioning anew of “the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory” foretold in Phil. 3:21.

But, while death comes thus almost universally to all, there is a marked difference between its connection with the righteous, and with the wicked.

The death of the wicked is easily accounted for. It constitutes a part of the penalty of sin, to which, the Scriptures teach, all men are liable (Rom. 5:12, 14; 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 53-56), but from which, as such, the people of God are exempted because Christ has redeemed then from the curse of the law. The “death of the saint” instead of being accursed, is “precious in the sight of the Lord,” (Ps. 116:15), and this because he has redeemed them. Ps. 72:14. His death is a death “unto the Lord.” Rom. 14:8. Death is his. 1 Cor. 3:22. Its sting has been removed. 1 Cor. 15:56. But no one of these things is true of the wicked. He has neglected, or rejected the offer of salvation through Christ Jesus. There is no other method of escape from the penalty; and it rests upon him in all it fulness.

It is not so easy to account for the death of the righteous. As he is no longer liable to the penalty of sin, there is no legal ground upon which he must endure death, and, because of which, he cannot be released. This is confirmed by the fact that some righteous have not died, and others will only be changed. But, while death may not thus be legally necessary, it may subserve many purposes in the gracious providence of God, and is, ordinarily, the best way for the Christian to attain the “change” for which he is destined. This should be believed even if it could in no respect be explained.

It ought not to be forgotten that this is not the only dealing of God with his people, which evidently arises from some wise purpose which he has not fully revealed. They might have been taken out of the world as soon as they were justified. Yet, that this is graciously and wisely prevented, is evident from Christ’s declining to pray for it. John 17:15. They might have been preserved from affliction, and persecution, and similar inflictions from God or man. That these are blessed to them, is no proof that they would not have been more blessed without them, for they are taught to look forward to greater bliss in their exemption from them in heaven. Our Lord prayed that they might be kept from the Evil One, and they are doubtless protected from his power in answer to this prayer, but they are still left subject to his influences, and temptations, and are very far from escaping the presence and pollution of sin. In all of these things, we see some reasons for the action of God, though our knowledge is imperfect and incomplete. It ought not to be thought strange if, in like manner, we can only account partially for the death of true believers.

1. Some have thought that, for the attainment of perfect sanctification, it is necessary that the soul and body be separated, and the body reduced to its original elements. That this is not necessary is manifest from the examples of exemption from death already stated. But it may be admitted to be the ordinary method which God has ordained for such sanctification. For the desired perfection, there must be removal of the passions and appetites of the flesh by which man is tempted not only from himself, but through himself. The “change” at the last day accomplishes this in an extraordinary manner. The more ordinary method of God seems to be through death, in which, by its separation from the sinful body, the soul is freed from these temptations, and enabled to live perfectly the life of holiness for which it longs.

2. Another opinion which has been expressed, is, that death is natural to man, and that it, from its nature, becomes the means of his passing from a lower to a higher condition; in which through a more advanced organism the soul may live a more exalted life.

This opinion may be held either about the original, or the fallen condition of man. If about the original condition, it involves the position that the body of man was created mortal, and that its death, as a penalty, was not something superadded when man sinned; but is simply the natural condition of man’s life used by God as penalty, and so made known to man.

If held, however, only as to man’s present natural condition, it would not necessarily involve an original mortality.

As to this opinion, in either form, as well as to the former, it is necessary that it recognize death simply as the ordinary method of man’s passing into another life; for in respect to each of them the exemption of some shows that the end may be by other means accomplished. It derives some support from the analogy of the necessity of death in the seed for its change to a higher form presented in 1 Cor. 15:36-38.

3. Death is supposed by some to be necessary for a life of faith, rather than of sight, in the Christian. It is thought, that, on this account, it would be injurious to make so marked a distinction between the righteous, and the wicked, as would exist in the death of the latter and the change of the former in some other way. But the reason for this opinion is not apparent. It might be true, were the Christian personally changed in body as soon as he believes. But it would not be, if the change should occur only at the time when, otherwise, his death would take place. Doubtless the translation of Enoch was one fitted to produce a profound impression on his contemporaries. It certainly had had no evil influence on his own life. So, if the Christian should have no other certainty of exemption from death, than he now has of salvation, he could derive no motives from that exemption which would militate against his life of faith. It is much more probably because God does not choose to continue the miraculous testimony to the truth of Christianity throughout all time. But had he done this, the lives of Christians in the later ages would have been no less lives of faith than were those of Apostolic times.

4. It has been more generally stated that death is a means of chastisement. It has been shown that, while suffering is common to both, it is inflicted in punishment, by an angry God, in the way of penalty and in chastisement, but by a loving Father, only for correction and discipline; and thus, that the same event, death, may be a curse to the wicked, and a blessing to the righteous. It has been argued that this is the reason why even a Christian man must die. This is true so far as the death of a Christian is a cause of suffering and pain, either in death itself, or in his contemplation of it. It is undoubtedly often a cause of this kind. Even to the Christian it assumes not always an aspect altogether pleasant. He naturally shrinks from its loathsome embrace. It is an enemy, even if it is “the last enemy,” and one over which he is “more than conqueror.” But death is not always regarded with dread. The Christian’s thoughts sometimes leap forward to it with exultant joy. Especially is it true, that seldom, if ever, in the hour of death is the true Christian filled with apprehension and gloom. His own death becomes no chastisement in the event itself. God in that hour gives such sustaining grace that each of his servants is hopeful, peaceful, joyful, even sometimes triumphant.

5. Whether able or not definitely to state on what grounds the Christian is subjected to death, we know that it is a blessing to him. The inquiry into its cause and the various reasons suggested proceed apparently on the supposition that it is an evil which it would be desirable had he been spared. But the Scriptures speak of death as among the “all things” which belong to the Christian. 1 Cor. 3:22. This does not deny its possibly painful character, but asserts that, however painful, it is made his possession, and therefore is used for his benefit. This is in accordance with the universal law of blessing to him which the apostle announces in Rom. 8:28: “We know that to them that love God all things work together for good, to them that are called according to his purpose.” The principle of this law, however, admits either blessing or suffering. The suffering in connection with death was pointed out under the previous division. It will suffice briefly to indicate here some of the blessings also associated with it.

(1.) Death is a blessing to the Christian because, through its contemplation, his sanctification and purification in this life is carried forward. This contemplation of it includes all aspects in which it presents itself, whether painful or otherwise.

(2.) It is a blessing because in it he looks forward to the attainment of final freedom from sin and to perfect sanctification.

(3.) It is a blessing because he recognizes it as the portal to the possession of eternal life.

(4.) Death is a blessing because it gives him an opportunity of giving strong testimony in favor of Christ and his religion.

(5.) It is felt to be a blessing because it opens the doors to immediate conscious personal presence with his Saviour.

These points are obvious and need not be elaborated.

 

II. IMMORTALITY.

When the immortality of the soul is spoken of, its unending future life is usually meant. This is the immortality which is common to the righteous, and the wicked. The righteous, however, possess, also, that true immortality which the Scriptures teach to be that of the true life of the soul.

1. The unending life of the soul has been argued upon various grounds.

(1.) Reason alone has been supposed by many to furnish adequate arguments in proof of its truth.

(a.) The longing of the soul for immortal existence has been deemed to be an instinct implanted within, which gives assurance of its gratification. But, while, with a few, there may have been aspirations after a nobler and better life than that of earth, it may be questioned whether, in the vast multitude of men, there is more than a shrinking from the loss of such life as is possessed in the present stage of existence. The instinct seems, therefore, to be rather that dread of death which is not unknown to the mere animal, and which is given for the protection of the life that now is, and not as a basis of hope of that which may be hereafter.

(b.) The inequality, which is so manifest in the apportionment of good and evil to the characters and conduct of men on earth, has, almost universally, led to the belief of a future life, in which these will be duly adjusted. But, by these facts, is taught merely a future life, and not one necessarily of an unending duration; but only of sufficient length for such adjustment. It is the Word of God alone that teaches that the bliss or woe, which is the portion of man at death, will continue forever. It must be acknowledged, however, that, as universal as has been the belief in a state of future rewards and punishments, equally so has been the opinion that it shall never end.

(c.) This general belief in an unending life, has also been accounted for on the supposition that it is an intuitive perception of the mind. But it does not appear that such knowledge as reason can give of what the soul is, and of what endless existence means, awakens at once the conviction that the soul must exist forever. The most thoughtful men, who have been guided by nature only, have been afflicted with doubts, and alternate hopes, and fears, without attaining more than earnest, or, at most, confident expectations, much less such knowledge of a continuous future, as would result from the existence of an intuitive conception.

(d.) The capacity of indefinite progress in the mental and moral powers of men, has seemed, to many, to indicate a stage of being in which it may be developed. But no one will assert that there is here more than an indication, which is opposed by the evidence of the great waste in the productions of nature, and which, therefore, needs confirmation from some more decisive source to become other than a mere expectation.

(e.) Some metaphysicians have argued the indestructible nature of the soul from its pure simplicity. They have believed it to be uncompounded, and, therefore, incapable of dissolution, and consequent destruction. This is based upon the belief that it is purely spiritual, and that simplicity is a necessary attribute of spirit. But these facts are difficult to prove. They are by no means undisputed among those who rely on reason alone. It is from the Scriptures that we learn the different origin of body and soul, and that the latter came not from matter. Philosophy has not always regarded that soul as a unit. The terms “soul”, “mind”, and “spirit,” indicate a tendency to recognize, at least, some threefold aspects in the human spirit, in accordance with which, even while asserting the absolute unity of the soul, Mental Philosophy has recognized the threefold division of the will, the understanding, and the affections. It is well known that the most of the Grecian philosophers, following Plato, held to a distinction between [phi][upsilon][nu][kappa] (psuche, the animal life or soul), and [nu][omicron][upsilon][varsigma] (nous) and [pi][nu][epsilon][upsilon]ua (pneuma, the rational spirit). Even some Christian writers of our own day have maintained the same views. In this state of uncertainty, therefore, reason cannot speak convincingly of an ever continuing life of man, on the ground of the simplicity, and consequent indestructibility, of his spiritual nature.

It appears, therefore, that, from reason alone, all that can be attained, even as to a merely future state, is expectation; or at most belief upon uncertain grounds. It is true that, if it could be established, that the soul dies with the body, certain hopes, and fears would remain unaccounted for, and certain problems of divine government would be unexplained; but these could, at most, only produce conviction of some future state; and would prove nothing as to its unending or even indefinite duration.

(2.) The Scriptures, however, teach plainly the continued existence of all men after death.

(a.) It is everywhere assumed as a fact, neither to be doubted, nor proved; but that will be at once received without question.

(b.) The cases of Enoch and Elijah gave signal proof of another world than this into which even men might enter. But they furnished no evidence that any other than these two would go thither. They simply showed that the possible existence of men, otherwise than on this earth, has been actually realized in these servants of God. But, so far from thus furnishing conclusive proof of the future life of other men, the fact that these were not removed through death, but by extraordinary means, naturally suggested the possibility that exemption from death is necessary to that life, and that all those who go down to the grave perish together. It was only to those otherwise taught of the continued existence of the soul, that their removal gave confirmatory proof of such immortality. In like manner, we are taught the same truths by the presence of Moses, and Elijah, at the scene of the Transfiguration. The appearance at various times of angels to men furnishes additional proof of another world. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ confirm most conclusively the doctrine of a future life.

(c.) The Scriptures teach, in the account of the creation of man, that his soul did not originate from the dust; but was a direct spiritual creation of God. Gen. 2:7. They make further statements about the difference between soul, and body, confirmatory of the distinction made in their creation. Gen. 25:8; 35:29; Ecc. 12:7; Matt. 10:28; Acts 7:59.

(d.) They make express reference to the existence of the soul after death. 2 Sam. 12:23; Job 19:25-27. [Conant translates this passage. “But I, I know my Redeemer lives, and in aftertime will stand upon the earth; and after this my skin is destroyed, and without my flesh, I shall see God. Whom I, for myself, shall see, and my eyes behold, and not another, when my reins are consumed within me”]. Matt. 22:32; 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; John 11:25; 2 Cor. 5:1-4.

(e.) They make known that this future life is the lot of the wicked, as well as of the righteous; teaching that it is one of happiness to the latter, and of condemnation and misery to the former. Matt. 25:46; John 6:47; 12:25; 1 Cor. 15:17-20.

(f.) They declare the continuance of this, at least until the day of the Resurrection and Final Judgement. Job 21:30; Ecc. 3:17; Luke 14:14; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15; Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Thess. 4:13-17.

(g.) They represent the decisions of the judgement day as fixing the destinies of men, for an unending existence. The evidence of this teaching will be given in the discussion of “The Judgement Day.”

The Scriptures are thus seen to teach conclusively the doctrine of an unending future life of all men. This, as has been stated, is what is commonly referred to as the immortality of the soul.

Before passing from this part of the discussion, special attention is called to the following statements of what is included in this kind of immortality.

1. Unending existence essentially belongs to spiritual natures. When, therefore, the Scriptures have taught that the soul is a spirit, the way is prepared for the metaphysical argument based upon the simplicity of the soul, and its consequent indestructibility. It is common, therefore, to speak of the natural immortality of the soul. By this is meant, that, because of its nature, it has an unending life. It has no elements of dissolution in it. Life belongs to it, because it is spirit. Just as God has made extension, and divisibility, properties of matter, so, has he made unending life a natural property of the spirit.

2. But this essential property of spirit must ever be recognized as one conferred upon it. It is because God has so made spirit, that it has unending life. It is not a property that belongs to it from any necessity in God, or out of God. It is the result of his purpose, or will, and of his power. He has made spirit to be thus, Because he has so willed. Doubtless, had he otherwise chosen, the result would have been different. To believe otherwise is to put an unjustifiable limit upon his power, and upon his absolute freedom of will, as to all outward matters. It thus appears that they speak falsely, even blasphemously, who say that God could not destroy, or annihilate spirit, if he should choose. That which prevents annihilation, is that he has not so chosen, and will not so choose.

The impossibility is not in the lack of power, but in the unchangeableness of his will. This is no imperfection of inability, but the highest perfection of immutability

The immortality, which has been thus far discussed, is that which is common to both the righteous and the wicked. In the beginning of this part of this chapter, it was stated that the righteous possess also that immortality which is the true life of the soul. The death of the soul, and its life, are set forth in the Word of God as something distinct, not only from that of the body, but even from the unending natural life of the soul. The spiritual death of the soul has been described in the chapter on the Effects of Adam’s Sin, pp. 239-247, as something different from natural death, and as constituting the most fearful of the penalties inflicted because of sin. It was there shown that the Scriptures describe it in the various aspects of alienation from God, loss of God’s favour, and corruption of the moral nature. The true immortality of the Christian consists in the removal of all these evils, and the bestowment upon him of their corresponding blessings. That this is done, and that this is the condition into which he is thus brought will abundantly appear from the following passages of Scripture. Matt. 10 :39; 16:25 (cf. Mark 8:35); 18:9; (parallel passages, Mark 9:45; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25); 19:17; John 3:36; 5:24, 40; 6:33, 35, 50-58, 63; 20:31; Rom. 6:4; 8:6, 13; 2 Cor. 3:6; Eph. 4:18; 1 John 3:14; 5:12.

The contrast in immortality, between the righteous and the wicked, is very marked. “The wicked is thrust down in his evil doing: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” Prov. 14:32. “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish.” Prov. 11:7. But “blessed are the dead which die in the Lord;” . . . . “for their works follow with them.” Rev. 14:13.

The happiness of this immortality of the Christian is the greater because it is a state in which he is confirmed forever. The law of this condition, both of the righteous, and the wicked, is laid down in Rev. 22:11. “He that is unrighteous, let him do unrighteousness still:and he that is filthy, let him be made filthy still:and he that is righteous, let him do righteousness still:and he that is holy, let him be made holy still.” As the wicked shall not change his state, so shall not the righteous, his. The day of his trial and probation is over, and he stands secure of the bliss of heaven, confirmed by the unfailing promises of God. The scenes, through which he has passed on earth, fill him with no apprehensions that his weakness and insufficiency, will disable him from performing the perfect service of heaven. The recollection of Adam’s trial will suggest to him no possibility that he will be subjected to a test which will dissolve forever the bonds which unite him to God. Even the sin of the angels will not alarm him. For he is now assured of that “eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal.” Tit. 1:2. This is immortality indeed. This, and not mere continued life, is the life and immortality which he confers, “who abolished death, and brought life and incorruption to light through the gospel.” 2 Tim. 1:10.

 

III. THE INTERMEDIATE STATE.

The Scriptures teach that the soul and body that have been separated in death, will be reunited at the Judgement Day. Meantime, the body crumbles into dust, and appears to be totally destroyed. The spirit has returned unto God who gave it. Ecc. 12:7. Hence, at his martyrdom, we hear the first dying Christian “calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Acts 7:59.

It is not in accordance with the methods of God in his revelations to man to answer the many inquiries which curiosity might suggest as to this intermediate state of the soul. But much more is taught about it than would at first be imagined. Such facts as are given are valuable to confirm and strengthen faith, and to give consolation. Those may first be mentioned which are common to the righteous and the wicked, and these may be followed by separate statements of the things wherein they differ.

1. As to those respects in which the condition of the righteous and the wicked is the same.

(1.) The soul exists without a body. Unquestionably it has not the body which it had on earth. But some have thought that it has some kind of a body, some spiritual body, which merely corresponds to, and is only thus identified with that of this life. But Paul’s discussion of the resurrection shows, that the “spiritual” body is one that is to be raised out of the grave in which the natural body was buried, and that it is “at the last trump” that “the dead shall be raised,” 1 Cor. 15:44, 52-54.

Some have argued, that body of some kind is necessary to give location to these spirits. But a spirit may have location without occupying space as a body does. Here may be recalled the quotation made by Hodge from Turretine as to the different relations that bodies, created spirits, and God, sustain to space; given on pages 72-73 of this volume.

(2.) The condition is consequently one of an imperfect life. It is the life of the spirit only, and not that of the man. Human nature is composed of both body and spirit; and his body is as truly a part of a man as is his soul. The condition, therefore, in which disembodied spirits exist, is not that of perfect men, but only of human spirits. This, which is an inference which may be drawn from the two-fold nature of man, is supported by the manner in which the Scriptures refer to the persons in this intermediate state. They are not spoken of as “men,” but as “souls,” and “spirits.” Heb. 12:23; Rev. 6:9; 20:4.

Another proof of this want of perfection of this condition is seen in the fact that the saints attain full entrance into their joy, and the wicked full infliction of their woe, only after the resurrection. Matt. 13:40-43, 49, 50; 25:34, 41, 46; 1 Cor. 15:44-54.

(3.) Both righteous and wicked have conscious life. This might have been inferred from the nature of spirit, which must always be in a state of conscious existence. But it is a plain teaching of the Bible. Luke 16:22-31. The word “Hades;” here means the place of departed spirits, and, as the scene occurs after the death of Lazarus, and before the final judgement, so must it be assigned to the intermediate state. In this the rich man is represented as in conscious torment.

The conscious condition of the righteous is taught in 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:21-24; and also in the passages connected with Paradise. Luke 23:42,43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7; 22:2.

(4.) Neither the righteous nor the wicked are under probation in this intermediate state. Luke 16:22-31; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:11. Even if the language in 1 Pet. 3:19, 20 and 4:6 teaches, as some have taught, that our Lord went to the place of departed spirits, and preached to them; so that to those who had died up to the time of his death was given a probation in the gospel preached to them by him; that would be but a single instance of a favour shown to those who had died before his crucifixion; and, so far from proving a probation beyond the grave, would, from its exceptional character, imply the contrary.

2. The aspects of the intermediate state peculiar to the righteous.

(1.) It is a condition of happiness. Paul declared that “to die is gain,” and to depart this life far better than to remain in it. Phil. 1:21-24. He wrote to Timothy, looking forward exultingly to the hour of his death. 2 Tim. 4:6-8. He also referred to his longing for this future, as possessed by him in common with his brethren. 2 Cor. 5:1-8. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the happiness of the latter is described by his being in Abraham’s bosom. Luke 16:23.

(2.) It is a condition in which the believer is present with Christ. This is also taught in all the passages referred to in the previous paragraph, except the last; and constitutes in each of them the ground of the happiness which they declare.

(3.) The believer is also said to be in Paradise. Whatever this may mean, whether only a condition or a place, it is unquestionably true that it is intended to convey the idea of the enjoyment of very great happiness. The passages in which Paradise is mentioned are, Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7. That these teach that it is a place can only be denied on the ground that very highly figurative language is used. Only the first of these, however, refers to the presence of Christ with any one, and this contains only his promise to the thief on the cross, “To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” But the location of Paradise, as made known by the Apostle Paul, 2 Cor. 12:1-4, taken in connection with this first passage, makes it more than probable that it is the place where the saints are with Christ. The Scriptures teach that “Christ was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.” Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:11; Acts 2:33, 34; Acts 7:55, 56; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22. We are also taught that he must there remain “until the times of restoration of all things.” Acts 3:21. Now, in the account Paul gives of his ecstatic vision in 2 Cor. 12:1-4, he tells us that he was “Caught up even to the third heaven,” and “caught up into Paradise,” which locates Paradise either in or above the third heaven, or makes the two identical. So also Rev. 2:7, taken in connection with Rev. 22:2 and 21:10-27, states that the tree of life, “which is in the Paradise of God,” is “in the midst of the street” of “that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God,” in which was no temple, “for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof,” and is “on either side of the river,” which is described as “a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb.” The place of the abode of the saints is with Christ, who is in the heavens with God. It is to that place that most probably the name Paradise is given in the Scriptures.

(4.) In that abode the saints are not probably inactive. Some have thought this because their condition is spoken of as one of “rest” and “sleep.” But evidently the former of these terms is used simply to declare the end of the toils and labours of this life, and the enjoyment of exemption from their present spiritual as well as temporal trials. This does not imply that there are not intellectual and spiritual duties and meditations suitable to that abode, such as may give due scope to that activity, which seems essential to personal conscious spirits. The “sleep” more probably refers to the appearance of the body in death, and is beautifully expressive of the calm repose with which the Christian sinks into final dissolution.

(5.) Neither is the intermediate state a place of cleansing from sin. That it is so is held by the Church of Rome. That church teaches that at death all unbaptized adults, and all who have fallen into and continued in mortal sin after Baptism, go immediately to hell. All who have been baptized, and remain in union with that Church, and have attained a life of Christian perfection, go immediately to heaven. Unbaptized infants occupy what is called “the Limbus infantum,” a place in the higher part of hell, which the flames do not reach, and suffer only a “paenam damni” (penalty of loss), and have no share in the “paenam sensus” (penalty of actual suffering), which afflicts adult sinners. But “the great mass of partially sanctified Christians, dying in fellowship with the church, yet still encumbered with imperfections, go to purgatory, where they suffer, more or less intensely, for a longer or shorter period, until their sins are both atoned for and purged out, when they are translated to heaven, during which intermediate period they may be efficiently assisted by the prayers and labours of their friends on earth.”

“They confess that this doctrine is not taught distinctly in Scripture, but maintain, 1st, that it follows necessarily from their general doctrine of the satisfaction for sins; 2d, that Christ and the Apostles taught it incidentally. . . . They refer to Matt. 12:32; 1 Cor. 3:15.” Hodge’s Outlines of Theology, pp. 556, 557.

But the first of these passages is manifestly but a strong way of declaring that the sin referred to shall never be pardoned, without authorizing the inference that there are other sins which will be pardoned in the world to come. The second passage, by the various things which are built upon the true foundation, which, if false or insufficient, shall be burned, refers not to personal character, but to teachings.

This doctrine of purgatory is based upon the very unscriptural theory of salvation through personal works and sufferings, which the Church of Rome holds, in connection with sacramental grace, to be supplementary to the meritorious work of Christ. While it has no support from Scripture, it is opposed to all that the Scriptures teach about the intermediate state of the righteous.

3. The aspects of the intermediate state peculiar to the wicked.

The Scripture teaching here is much more meagre. The four statements already mentioned, in which their condition and that of the righteous are similar, comprise almost all that is said. As peculiar to them, however, may be added.

(1.) That Christ, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, speaks of their condition as (a) one of torment Luke 16:23-25, 28, (b) from which there is no escape to the condition of bliss of the righteous, verse 26, and (c) as endured in a place of torment, vs. 23, 28.

(2.) Those who interpret 1 Pet. 3:19, 20 as referring to a personal preaching by Christ to the dead in Hades, necessarily hold that the wicked are “in prison.” But, otherwise, we have no other proof than seems to be conveyed in the “impassable gulf” mentioned in Luke 16:26.

(3.) It is a place in which they are reserved for punishment in the day of judgement. 2 Pet. 2:9.

(4.) The only place spoken of in connection with the wicked during the intermediate state is Hades, or the place of departed spirits, which is always translated Hell in the King James version, but is transferred in the Canterbury Revision. The passages in which Hades is used are Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; Rev. 1:18; 6:8; 20:13, 14.

 

Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887

The Wednesday Word: The Believing Believer

September 24, 2014 1 comment

It is the Holy Spirit alone who draws us to the cross and fastens us to the Saviour. He is the revealer of Christ. Just as the Son brings us to the Father so the Spirit brings us to the Son. In the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have the gift of Christ Himself (John 14:18). What a splendid gift!

To become believers, we need the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost. If we think that anyone can come alive to God without the power and action of the Spirit, we have yet to learn the extent of human sinfulness and helplessness. We were dead in trespasses and sin and, therefore, needed divine intervention to bring us to life (Ephesians 2:1). That’s why we read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “By grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

The Holy Spirit generates faith and it is this faith that links the sinner to the Sin-bearer. Faith, however, does not qualify us to receive God’s acquittal, for salvation is by grace alone. Faith, on the other hand, receives and understands the sufficiency of His great sacrifice for our sin. Faith makes the gospel personal. Faith sees that the Faithful Shepherd has laid down His life, not merely for the sheep (John 10:11), but for us in particular. Faith causes us to see that the Lord Jesus came to this earth for the express purpose of ransoming, not in general (Matthew 20:28), but in particular (Galatians 2:20b). Faith sees that Christ came not simply to say something about our sin, but to do something about our sin. Indeed, faith sees that Christ came, not primarily to preach the gospel but that we would have a gospel to preach. Faith recognizes that salvation is something that God has already accomplished outside of us, in the person of Jesus (Acts 13:32-33, 38-39). Faith lifts us up to heaven where our righteousness resides in a person, the Lord Jesus, and receives His righteousness as our own.

 

“The best obedience of my hands

Dares not appear before thy throne;

But faith can answer thy demands,

By pleading what the Lord has done.”

 

Faith is not something that buys us salvation; the believing believer knows this and takes God at his word. The believer gives God credit for speaking the honest truth when he declared that, “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Faith recognizes that because of Christ’s death for sinners, no further payment is necessary!

But what if my faith is weak?

All of us, at times, suffer from weak faith, nevertheless our rest comes from two words–‘in Christ’ (1 Corinthians 1:30a; 1 Corinthians 15:22). We are in union with Christ, we are in Him. His destiny is our destiny. The strength of our faith, therefore, is not our security. Faith is not the purchaser of our salvation. Faith has no blood with which to pay for anything. Christ alone has bought us! Christ alone has redeemed us. A weak faith may indeed sometimes interfere with our enjoyment of salvation, but our security is in Christ alone. He is our covenant head. All that He has is ours! We may feel like the lowest and the least; we may feel that we are too weak to even grasp the promises—but no matter, the promises have grasped us. Our Saviour has already taken a hold of us and He will never lose us (Hebrews 13:5).

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles McKee, Minister of the Gospel

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The ancient Church, though differing somewhat in the explanation of these terms, agree in substance

September 24, 2014 Leave a comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Answer continued,

3. The ancient Church, though differing somewhat in the explanation of these terms, agree in substance. Proofs from Hilary, Jerome, Augustine, in their use of the words Essence, Substance, Hypostasis.

4. Provided the orthodox meaning is retained, there should be no dispute about mere terms. But those who object to the terms usually favor the Arian and Sabellian heresy.

5. Where names have not been invented rashly, we must beware lest we become chargeable with arrogance and rashness in rejecting them. I wish, indeed, that such names were buried, provided all would concur in the belief that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are one God, and yet that the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but that each has his peculiar subsistence. I am not so minutely precise as to fight furiously for mere words. For I observe, that the writers of the ancient Church, while they uniformly spoke with great reverence on these matters, neither agreed with each other, nor were always consistent with themselves. How strange the formula used by Councils, and defended by Hilary! How extravagant the view which Augustine sometimes takes! How unlike the Greeks are to the Latins! But let one example of variance suffice. The Latins, in translating “homo-ousios” used “consubstantialis” (consubstantial,) intimating that there was one substance of the Father and the Son, and thus using the word Substance for Essence. Hence Jerome, in his Letter to Damasus, says it is profane to affirm that there are three substances in God. But in Hilary you will find it said more than a hundred times that there are three substances in God. Then how greatly is Jerome perplexed with the word Hypostasis! He suspects some lurking poison, when it is said that there are three Hypostases in God. And he does not disguise his belief that the expression, though used in a pious sense, is improper; if, indeed, he was sincere in saying this, and did not rather designedly endeavor, by an unfounded calumny, to throw odium on the Eastern bishops whom he hated. He certainly shows little candor in asserting, that in all heathen schools “ousia” is equivalent to Hypostasis — an assertion completely refuted by trite and common use.

More courtesy and moderation is shown by Augustine, (De Trinity. Lib. 5 c. 8 and 9,) who, although he says that Hypostasis in this sense is new to Latin ears, is still so far from objecting to the ordinary use of the term by the Greeks, that he is even tolerant of the Latins, who had imitated the Greek phraseology. The purport of what Socrates says of the term, in the Sixth Book of the Tripartite History, is, that it had been improperly applied to this purpose by the unskillful. Hilary (De Trinitat. Lib. 2) charges it upon the heretics as a great crime, that their misconduct had rendered it necessary to subject to the peril of human utterance things which ought to have been reverently confined within the mind, not disguising his opinion that those who do so, do what is unlawful, speak what is ineffable, and pry into what is forbidden. Shortly after, he apologizes at great length for presuming to introduce new terms. For, after putting down the natural names of Father, Son, and Spirit, he adds, that all further inquiry transcends the significance of words, the discernment of sense, and the apprehension of intellect. And in another place, (De Conciliis,) he congratulates the Bishops of France in not having framed any other confession, but received, without alteration, the ancient and most simple confession received by all Churches from the days of the Apostles. Not unlike this is the apology of Augustine, that the term had been wrung from him by necessity from the poverty of human language in so high a matter: not that the reality could be thereby expressed, but that he might not pass on in silence without attempting to show how the Father, Son, and Spirit, are three.

The modesty of these holy men should be an admonition to us not instantly to dip our pen in gall, and sternly denounce those who may be unwilling to swear to the terms which we have devised, provided they do not in this betray pride, or petulance, or unbecoming heat, but are willing to ponder the necessity which compels us so to speak, and may thus become gradually accustomed to a useful form of expression. Let men also studiously beware, that in opposing the Asians on the one hand, and the Sabellians on the other, and eagerly endeavoring to deprive both of any handle for cavil, they do not bring themselves under some suspicion of being the disciples of either Arius or Sabellius. Arius says that Christ is God, and then mutters that he was made and had a beginning. He says, that he is one with the Father; but secretly whispers in the ears of his party, made one, like other believers, though with special privilege. Say, he is consubstantial, and you immediately pluck the mask from this chameleon, though you add nothing to Scripture. Sabellius says that the Father, Son, and Spirit, indicate some distinction in God. Say, they are three, and he will bawl out that you are making three Gods. Say, that there is a Trinity of Persons in one Divine essence, you will only express in one word what the Scriptures say, and stop his empty prattle. Should any be so superstitiously precise as not to tolerate these terms, still do their worst, they will not be able to deny that when one is spoken of, a unity of substance must be understood, and when three in one essence, the persons in this Trinity are denoted. When this is confessed without equivocations we dwell not on words. But I was long ago made aware, and, indeed, on more than one occasion, that those who contend pertinaciously about words are tainted with some hidden poison; and, therefore, that it is more expedient to provoke them purposely, than to court their favor by speaking obscurely.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 13-Henry Beveridge Translation

Biblical Theology and the Sexuality Crisis

September 23, 2014 1 comment

By Albert Mohler

Western society is currently experiencing what can only be described as a moral revolution. Our society’s moral code and collective ethical evaluation on a particular issue has undergone not small adjustments but a complete reversal. That which was once condemned is now celebrated, and the refusal to celebrate is now condemned.

What makes the current moral and sexual revolution so different from previous moral revolutions is that it is taking place at an utterly unprecedented velocity. Previous generations experienced moral revolutions over decades, even centuries. This current revolution is happening at warp speed.

 
Read the entire article here.