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Posts Tagged ‘Apostles’

Whatever happened to the Law and the Gospel?

By Fred Malone

When one looks at the New Testament teachings of Jesus and the writings of the Apostles, one would think that a confession of faith ought to have some explanation of the law of God as well as the gospel of Christ. You cannot read the Sermon on the Mount, Romans, Galatians, James, or 1 John without seeing many references to the law of God or the commandments of God. Yet in the progression of Baptist confessions from England into America we see a decided and obvious reduction of any serious reference to the law of God or the commandments of God.

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Are there still apostles in the church today?

August 10, 2015 3 comments

At the outset, we should note that by “apostles” we do not simply mean “sent ones” in the general sense. Rather, we are speaking of those select individuals directly appointed and authorized by Jesus Christ to be His immediate representatives on earth. In this sense, we are speaking of “capital A” apostles – such as the Twelve and the apostle Paul.

It is these type of “apostles” that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11 and in 1 Corinthians 12:29–30. This is important because, especially in Ephesians 4 and in 1 Corinthians 12–14, Paul references apostleship within the context of the charismatic gifts. If “apostleship” has ceased, it gives us grounds to consider the possibility that other offices/gifts have ceased as well. If the apostles were unique, and the period in which they ministered was unique, then it follows that the gifts that characterized the apostolic age were also unique.

The question then is an important one, underscoring the basic principle of the cessationist paradigm – namely, the uniqueness of the apostolic age and the subsequent cessation of certain aspects of that age.

 

 

 

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There is no conflict between the testimony of Christ and the Apostles

February 24, 2015 2 comments

Arthur PinkMost certainly there was no conflict between the testimony of the apostles and that of their Master, for He had expressly enjoined them to teach their converts “to observe all things whatsoever I have [not shall!] commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Nor did the doctrinal system of Paul differ in any wise from that enunciated in the Old Testament. At the very beginning of the first epistle bearing his name he is particular to inform us that the Gospel unto which God had separated him was none other than the one

“He had promised afore by His prophets in the holy scriptures” (Romans 1:1, 2);

and when he stated that the righteousness of God was now revealed apart from the Law, he was careful to add, “being witnessed by the law and the prophets” (3:21). When he vindicated his teaching on justification by faith without the deeds of the Law, he did so by appealing to the case of Abraham and the testimony of David (Romans 4). When he admonished the Corinthians against being lulled into a false sense of security because of the spiritual gifts which had been bestowed upon them, he reminded them of the Israelites who had been highly favored of God, yet that did not keep them from His displeasure when they sinned, even though they “did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did drink the same spiritual drink” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). And when illustrating important practical truth, he cites the history of Abraham’s two sons (Galatians 4:22-31).

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine-20-The Sabbath

The Sabbath

 

1. What is the Sabbath?

It is one day of the week, which God requires to be kept as a day of rest, and holy to Him.

2. What day of the week did the Jews observe?

The seventh, which we commonly call Saturday.

3. What day do Christians keep?

The first day of the week or Sunday.

4. Why do Christians keep Sunday as the Sabbath?

Because it was on that day of the week that Christ rose from the dead.

5. What name is given to it on this account?

The Lord’s Day.

6. Did the Apostles and the Christians of their day observe the first day of the week?

They did, and that is our authority for observing the first instead of the seventh day.

7. What truth was the Sabbath appointed to commemorate?

The completion of God’s work of Creation.

8. What additional truth does the Christian Sabbath teach?

The triumphant completion of the still more glorious work of Redemption.

 

James P. Boyce-A Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine

The Spirit of Christ seals the doctrine of the written Word on the minds of the godly

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The temper and error of the Libertines, who take to themselves the name of spiritual, briefly described. Their refutation.

1. The Apostles and all true Christians have embraced the written Word.

This confirmed by a passage in Isaiah; also by the example and words of Paul.

2. The Spirit of Christ seals the doctrine of the written Word on the minds of the godly.

1. Those who, rejecting Scripture, imagine that they have some peculiar way of penetrating to God, are to be deemed not so much under the influence of error as madness. For certain giddy me have lately appeared, who, while they make a great display of the superiority of the Spirit, reject all reading of the Scriptures themselves, and deride the simplicity of those who only delight in what they call the dead and deadly letter. But I wish they would tell me what spirit it is whose inspiration raises them to such a sublime height that they dare despise the doctrine of Scripture as mean and childish. If they answer that it is the Spirit of Christ, their confidence is exceedingly ridiculous; since they will, I presume, admit that the apostles and other believers in the primitive Church were not illuminated by any other Spirit. None of these thereby learned to despise the word of God, but every one was imbued with greater reverence for it, as their writings most clearly testify. And, indeed, it had been so foretold by the mouth of Isaiah. For when he says, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever,” he does not tie down the ancient Church to external doctrine, as he were a mere teacher of elements; he rather shows that, under the reign of Christ, the true and full felicity of the new Church will consist in their being ruled not less by the Word than by the Spirit of God. Hence we infer that these miscreants are guilty of fearful sacrilege in tearing asunder what the prophet joins in indissoluble union. Add to this, that Paul, though carried up even to the third heaven, ceased not to profit by the doctrine of the law and the prophets, while, in like manner, he exhorts Timothy, a teacher of singular excellence, to give attention to reading, (1 Timothy 4:13.) And the eulogium which he pronounces on Scripture well deserves to be remembered, viz., that “it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect,” (2 Timothy 3:16.) What an infatuation of the devil, therefore, to fancy that Scripture, which conducts the sons of God to the final goal, is of transient and temporary use? Again, I should like those people to tell me whether they have imbibed any other Spirit than that which Christ promised to his disciples. Though their madness is extreme, it will scarcely carry them the length of making this their boast. But what kind of Spirit did our Savior promise to send? One who should not speak of himself, (John 16:13,) but suggest and instill the truths which he himself had delivered through the word. Hence the office of the Spirit promised to us, is not to form new and unheard-of revelations, or to coin a new form of doctrine, by which we may be led away from the received doctrine of the gospel, but to seal on our minds the very doctrine which the gospel recommends.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 9-Henry Beveridge Translation

The Church’s preservation of the truth and the gospels power to spread during adversity, confirms that scripture is divine revelation

February 19, 2014 3 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Proofs from Church history.

I. Perpetual consent of the Church in receiving and preserving the truth.

II. The invincible power of the truth itself.

III. Agreement among the godly, not withstanding of their many differences in other respects.

12. Add, moreover, that, for the best of reasons, the consent of the Church is not without its weight. For it is not to be accounted of no consequence, that, from the first publication of Scripture, so many ages have uniformly concurred in yielding obedience to it, and that, notwithstanding of the many extraordinary attempts which Satan and the whole world have made to oppress and overthrow it, or completely efface it from the memory of men, it has flourished like the palm tree and continued invincible. Though in old times there was scarcely a sophist or orator of any note who did not exert his powers against it, their efforts proved unavailing. The powers of the earth armed themselves for its destruction, but all their attempts vanished into smoke. When thus powerfully assailed on every side, how could it have resisted if it had trusted only to human aid? Nay, its divine origin is more completely established by the fact, that when all human wishes were against it, it advanced by its own energy. Add that it was not a single city or a single nation that concurred in receiving and embracing it. Its authority was recognized as far and as wide as the world extends — various nations who had nothing else in common entering for this purpose into a holy league. Moreover, while we ought to attach the greatest weight to the agreement of minds so diversified, and in all other things so much at variance with each other — an agreement which a Divine Providence alone could have produced — it adds no small weight to the whole when we attend to the piety of those who thus agree; not of all of them indeed, but of those in whom as lights God was pleased that his Church should shine.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 8-Henry Beveridge Translation

The harmony of the Gospels and the calling of Paul confirm that scripture is divine revelation

February 12, 2014 5 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Special proofs from the New Testament.

I. The harmony of the Evangelists, and the sublime simplicity of their writings.

II. The majesty of John, Paul, and Peter.

III. The calling of the Apostles.

IV. The conversion of Paul.

11. When we proceed to the New Testament, how solid are the pillars by which its truth is supported! Three evangelists give a narrative in a mean and humble style. The proud often eye this simplicity with disdain, because they attend not to the principal heads of doctrine; for from these they might easily infer that these evangelists treat of heavenly mysteries beyond the capacity of man. Those who have the least particle of candor must be ashamed of their fastidiousness when they read the first chapter of Luke. Even our Savior’s discourses, of which a summary is given by these three evangelists, ought to prevent every one from treating their writings with contempt. John, again, fulminating in majesty, strikes down more powerfully than any thunderbolt the petulance of those who refuse to submit to the obedience of faith. Let all those acute censors, whose highest pleasure it is to banish a reverential regard of Scripture from their own and other men’s hearts, come forward; let them read the Gospel of John, and, willing or unwilling, they will find a thousand sentences which will at least arouse them from their sloth; nay, which will burn into their consciences as with a hot iron, and check their derision. The same thing may be said of Peter and Paul, whose writings, though the greater part read them blindfold, exhibit a heavenly majesty, which in a manner binds and rivets every reader. But one circumstance, sufficient of itself to exalt their doctrine above the world, is, that Matthew, who was formerly fixed down to his money-table, Peter and John, who were employed with their little boats, being all rude and illiterate, had never learned in any human school that which they delivered to others. Paul, moreover, who had not only been an avowed but a cruel and bloody foe, being changed into a new man, shows, by the sudden and unhoped-for change, that a heavenly power had compelled him to preach the doctrine which once he destroyed. Let those dogs deny that the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, or, if not, let them refuse credit to the history, still the very circumstances proclaim that the Holy Spirit must have been the teacher of those who, formerly contemptible among the people, all of a sudden began to discourse so magnificently of heavenly mysteries.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 8-Henry Beveridge Translation

The Church does not declare scripture authoritative, but instead recognizes its authority

November 6, 2013 4 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015Another reply to the objection drawn from the words of the Apostle Paul. Solution of the difficulties started by opponents. A second objection refuted.

2. These ravings are admirably refuted by a single expression of an apostle. Paul testifies that the Church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” (Ephesians 2:20.) If the doctrine of the apostles and prophets is the foundation of the Church, the former must have had its certainty before the latter began to exist. Nor is there any room for the cavil, that though the Church derives her first beginning from thence, it still remains doubtful what writings are to be attributed to the apostles and prophets, until her judgment is interposed. For if the Christian Church was founded at first on the writings of the prophets, and the preaching of the apostles, that doctrine, wheresoever it may be found, was certainly ascertained and sanctioned antecedently to the Church, since, but for this, the Church herself never could have existed. Nothings therefore can be more absurd than the fiction, that the power of judging Scripture is in the Church, and that on her nod its certainty depends. When the Church receives it, and gives it the stamp of her authority, she does not make that authentic which was otherwise doubtful or controverted but, acknowledging it as the truth of God, she, as in duty bounds shows her reverence by an unhesitating assent. As to the question, How shall we be persuaded that it came from God without recurring to a decree of the Church? it is just the same as if it were asked, How shall we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Scripture bears upon the face of it as clear evidence of its truth, as white and black do of their color, sweet and bitter of their taste.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 7-Henry Beveridge Translation

The scriptures provide knowledge of God that will distinguish him from all false deities

October 9, 2013 1 comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015First, By oracles and visions, and the ministry of the Patriarchs. Secondly, By the promulgation of the Law, and the preaching of the Prophets. Why the doctrines of religion are committed to writing.

2. Whether God revealed himself to the fathers by oracles and visions, or, by the instrumentality and ministry of men, suggested what they were to hand down to posterity, there cannot be a doubt that the certainty of what he taught them was firmly engraven on their hearts, so that they felt assured and knew that the things which they learnt came forth from God, who invariably accompanied his word with a sure testimony, infinitely superior to mere opinion. At length, in order that, while doctrine was continually enlarged, its truth might subsist in the world during all ages, it was his pleasure that the same oracles which he had deposited with the fathers should be consigned, as it were, to public records. With this view the law was promulgated, and prophets were afterwards added to be its interpreters. For though the uses of the law were manifold, (Book 2 c. 7 and 8,) and the special office assigned to Moses and all the prophets was to teach the method of reconciliation between God and man, (whence Paul calls Christ “the end of the law,” Romans 10:4;) still I repeat that, in addition to the proper doctrine of faith and repentance in which Christ is set forth as a Mediator, the Scriptures employ certain marks and tokens to distinguish the only wise and true God, considered as the Creator and Governor of the world, and thereby guard against his being confounded with the herd of false deities. Therefore, while it becomes man seriously to employ his eyes in considering the works of God, since a place has been assigned him in this most glorious theater that he may be a spectator of them, his special duty is to give ear to the Word, that he may the better profit. Hence it is not strange that those who are born in darkness become more and more hardened in their stupidity; because the vast majority instead of confining themselves within due bounds by listening with docility to the Word, exult in their own vanity. If true religion is to beam upon us, our principle must be, that it is necessary to begin with heavenly teaching, and that it is impossible for any man to obtain even the minutest portion of right and sound doctrine without being a disciple of Scripture. Hence, the first step in true knowledge is taken, when we reverently embrace the testimony which God has been pleased therein to give of himself. For not only does faith, full and perfect faith, but all correct knowledge of God, originate in obedience. And surely in this respect God has with singular Providence provided for mankind in all ages.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 6-Henry Beveridge Translation 

The Reformers Doctrines were confirmed by the miracles of Christ and the Apostles

January 30, 2013 1 comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-00153. In demanding miracles from us, they act dishonestly; for we have not coined some new gospel, but retain the very one the truth of which is confirmed by all the miracles which Christ and the apostles ever wrought. But they have a peculiarity which we have not — they can confirm their faith by constant miracles down to the present day! Nay rather, they allege miracles which might produce wavering in minds otherwise well disposed; they are so frivolous and ridiculous, so vain and false. But were they even exceedingly wonderful, they could have no effect against the truth of God, whose name ought to be hallowed always, and everywhere, whether by miracles, or by the natural course of events. The deception would perhaps be more specious if Scripture did not admonish us of the legitimate end and use of miracles. Mark tells us (Mark 16:20) that the signs which followed the preaching of the apostles are wrought in confirmation of it; so Luke also relates that the Lord “gave testimony to the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done” by the hands of the apostles, Acts 14:3.) Very much to the same effect are those words of the apostle, that salvation by a preached gospel was confirmed, “the Lord bearing witness with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles,” (Hebrews 2:4.) Those things which we are told are seals of the gospel, shall we pervert to the subversion of the gospel? what was destined only to confirm the truths shall we misapply to the confirmation of lies? The proper course, therefore, is, in the first instance, to ascertain and examine the doctrine which is said by the Evangelist to precede; then after it has been proved, but not till then, it may receive confirmation from miracles. But the mark of sound doctrine given by our Savior himself is its tendency to promote the glory not of men, but of God, (John 7:18; 8:50.) Our Savior having declared this to be the test of doctrine, we are in error if we regard as miraculous, works which are used for any other purpose than to magnify the name of God. 13 And it becomes us to remember that Satan has his miracles, which, although they are tricks rather than true wonders, are still such as to delude the ignorant and unwary. Magicians and enchanters have always been famous for miracles, and miracles of an astonishing description have given support to idolatry: these, however, do not make us converts to the superstitions either of magicians or idolaters. In old times, too, the Donatists used their power of working miracles as a battering-ram, with which they shook the simplicity of the common people. We now give to our opponents the answer which Augustine then gave to the Donatists, (in Joan. Tract. 23,) “The Lord put us on our guard against those wonder-workers when he foretold that false prophets would arise, who, by lying signs and divers wonders would, if it were possible deceive the very elect,” (Matthew 24:24.) Paul, too, gave warning that the reign of antichrist would be “with all power, and signs, and lying wonders,” (2 Thessalonians 2:9.)

But our opponents tell us that their miracles are wrought not by idols, not by sorcerers, not by false prophets, but by saints: as if we did not know it to be one of Satan’s wiles to transform himself “into an angel of light,” (2 Corinthians 11:14.) The Egyptians, in whose neighborhood Jeremiah was buried, anciently sacrificed and paid other divine honors to him, (Hieron. In Praef. Jeremy.) Did they not make an idolatrous abuse of the holy prophet of God? and yet, in recompense for so venerating his tomb, they thought that they were cured of the bite of serpents. What, then, shall we say but that it has been, and always will be, a most just punishment of God, to send on those who do not receive the truth in the love of it, “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie”? (2 Thessalonians 2:11.) We, then, have no lack of miracles, sure miracles, that cannot be gainsaid but those to which our opponents lay claim are mere delusions of Satan, in as much as they draw off the people from the true worship of God to vanity.

John Calvin-Prefatory Address to Francis King of the French-Institutes of the Christian Religion