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A Reformed Baptist Perspective on Public Theology: The Pauline Epistles, Part II – Romans 9-11

September 14, 2016 Leave a comment

theroadofgrace and William F. Leonhart III

You can read earlier posts in this series by clicking on the links below:

An Introduction

Augustine’s Two Cities

Two Kingdoms in Luther

The Reformed Confessions (Part I)

The Reformed Confessions (Part II)

The Reformed Confessions (Part III)

Sphere Sovereignty in Kuyper

Redemption and Creation in Kuyper

John the Baptist

The Prophet Amos

The Incarnate Lord (Part I)

The Incarnate Lord (Part II)

The Incarnate Lord (Part III)

Introduction to the Book of Acts

The Ministry of Peter and John in Acts

The Ministry of Paul in Acts, Part I

The Ministry of Paul in Acts, Part II

The Pauline Epistles, Part I – Romans 1-8

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As we mentioned in our last article, Paul’s desire to preach the gospel to the church at Rome was the impetus for the letter he wrote to the Romans. Scholars have even proposed that Paul’s mention of this desire in Romans 1:15-17 functions as the thesis statement of the letter:

“So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith,’” (Romans 1:15-17; NASB).

In the last article, we considered two themes that arise out of this thesis statement: the gospel preached to the church and the gospel as the power of God unto salvation. These two major themes help us to understand why Paul spends the first eight chapters of Romans explaining the gospel of Jesus Christ. Being that these verses set the framework for all that follows, we are in our present study using them as the lens through which we examine the rest of the book of Romans. In this article, we will focus on principles found in this thesis statement that help us to understand why Paul teaches what he teaches in chapters 9-11.

 

 

 

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Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3- Chapter 32- Feed My Sheep

CHAPTER 32-“FEED MY SHEEP” #Joh 21:16

Introduction:

This conversation between our Lord and Peter is one of the most beautiful and interesting stories of the New Testament. Our Lord excelled in conversation for in all things He has the preeminence. Whenever He conversed with anyone there was a sermon rich in truth. Think of His talk with Nicodemus, the fallen woman at Jacob’s well, the pharisees, His disciples.

These words of our Lord to Peter were designed to administer reproof and also to communicate forgiveness. Peter had behaved badly as a disciple of Christ. Along with the other disciples he had forsaken and fled but he had done worse than that. He had denied with cursing that he even knew the Lord. Christ had died and had been buried, but Peter had been to the grave and found it empty. More than that he had seen the risen Christ and was convinced that He was alive. But even so, Peter did not expect the Lord to have any further use for him and so one day he said to the other disciples, “I go a fishing” (#Joh 21:3). And they were in the same mood and said “We also go with thee.” But after a night of so called fisherman’s luck, the Lord appears to them and turns failure into success. He apparently ignores the others and says to Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these?” (#Joh 21:15). This cutting question thrice spoken hurt and humbled Peter. It was like a dagger in his heart. But the command, “Feed my sheep” (#Joh 21:16) also thrice spoken was the way of forgiveness and restoration. Peter had lost his office only temporarily; the Lord would fulfill His promise to wash Peter’s feet and give him a part with Him. He forgave his conduct and recommissioned him. Peter and Judas both fell from an office, the office of apostleship. But with this difference: Judas, as a lost man, lost his office forever; Peter as a saved man lost his only temporarily. Judas was an apostate; Peter was a backslider. Judas was an unbeliever and a devil; Peter was a sheep and a believer. Judas had remorse of conscience; Peter had godly sorrow. Peter came back to Christ with humility and penitence; Judas went away by the suicide route. Judas died at his own hands; Peter died as a martyr.

From this story I have gathered some thoughts that by the Spirit’s blessing may prove helpful.

1. This charge to Peter reveals the love of Christ for His people.

As the Good Shepherd, Christ had just laid down His life for the sheep. He had taken His life again and was about to leave them in the world. But He still loves them. “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (#Joh 13:1). And in His love He commits them to an under shepherd. This command to feed the sheep causes Peter to think of preachers as under shepherds with Christ as the chief shepherd who will reward them for faithful care of His sheep. “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (#1Pe 5:4). Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (#Ac 20:28).

1. The interest He claims in them: “My sheep,” “My lambs.” They were His

1a) by a gift from the Father. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (#Joh 17:9).

1b) By purchase. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (#Ac 20:28);

1c) By reward for His travail of soul. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (#Isa 53:11).

2. The qualifications required in the pastors, or shepherd. There are several but only one mentioned here: Love to Christ. It was on this question of love that Christ examined and cross examined Peter. He would not trust them to one who did not love Him. It is not love for people but love for Christ that is needed. If we love Him we will love His sheep for His sake. If we love Him we will feed His sheep. If we do not love Him our service will be that of a hireling. “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (#Joh 10:12-13). A hireling would starve them or poison them and forsake them. A hireling will fleece them and flog them. He will fleece them for his own interest, or flog them to get something off his chest. I heard of a preacher who boasted of his “sucker list.”

3. Provision of pasture. The word of God is the pasture of the sheep. As pastors we must lead them into the pasture.

2. Duty of the pastor to His people.

There are two words translated “feed”. The word in our text is different from the word in the 15th and 17th verses. In those two verses the word means “give food to,” but in our text it has a wider meaning and means shepherd or take care of. It includes feeding, but includes all that a shepherd is to do for sheep; feed, protect, govern. Requirements:

1. Unselfishness. “Woe to the idol shepherd who leaveth the flock!” (#Zec 11:17). “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (#Eze 34:2).

2. Knowledge of the word. The sheep’s food is in this book. We are not to feed the flesh but the best principles the graces of faith, hope, love. Our preaching must not give men faith in themselves but in Christ. Hope is the grace that looks to something better in the future. We are feeding this grace when we preach that this earth has nothing for the saint; that the heavenly country is his fatherland. We nourish the grace of love by preaching the sovereign and gracious love of Christ.

3. What you must be to thrive on the Word.

3a) You must be a sheep or you will not know His voice in His word. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (#Joh 10:26).

3b) You must be a sheep or else you will not relish the food of the Word.

3c) You must be a sheep or else you will listen to false teachers who are thieves and robbers. “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them” (#Joh 10:8).

3d) You must be a sheep or else you will not enter by the door into salvation. Christ is the door. “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (#Joh 10:9).

—- End of Book—-

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Six Ways a Church Should Use a Confession of Faith

by Jeff Robinson

Particular Baptist churches planted in the tumultuous soil of 17th century England grew up and bore fruit under a nasty set of doctrinal and methodological accusations, including that they subscribed to libertarian free will, denied original sin, that their pastors baptized women in the nude, and were opponents of church and crown.

Perhaps their most virulent and colorful opponent, Daniel Featley—a separatist persecutor deluxe—derisively dismissed our Baptist forebears, writing in a venom-filled pamphlet, “They pollute our rivers with their filthy washings.” Such was Baptist life under Charles I.

These nefarious charges and numerous others arose from leaders of the state church and led to decades of grinding persecution….

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

A Reformed Baptist Perspective on Public Theology: The Pauline Epistles, Part I – Romans 1-8

theroadofgrace and William F. Leonhart III

You can read earlier posts in this series by clicking on the links below:

An Introduction

Augustine’s Two Cities

Two Kingdoms in Luther

The Reformed Confessions (Part I)

The Reformed Confessions (Part II)

The Reformed Confessions (Part III)

Sphere Sovereignty in Kuyper

Redemption and Creation in Kuyper

John the Baptist

The Prophet Amos

The Incarnate Lord (Part I)

The Incarnate Lord (Part II)

The Incarnate Lord (Part III)

Introduction to the Book of Acts

The Ministry of Peter and John in Acts

The Ministry of Paul in Acts, Part I

The Ministry of Paul in Acts, Part II

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In our most recent posts, we have looked to the narrative portions of the New Testament to discover what they might teach us regarding Public Theology. We must caution ourselves not to read into the descriptive portions of Scripture anything that is not prescriptive. Thus, it has been our aim to stick only to examples in the words and actions of Christ and the apostles that can be proven by a closer examination of the more didactic portions of the New Testament. Today, we have finally arrived at those portions: the epistles.

A Preliminary Caution

We must be careful when discussing the different epistles within the New Testament canon, so that we do not speak in terms of a strictly Pauline theology, a Petrine theology, a Johannine theology, etc. The individual writers of Scripture did have different emphases because of their unique personalities and backgrounds. They also had different emphases because of their unique audiences and the occasions of their writings. However, insofar as the apostles were taught of the same Lord, led by the same Spirit, and inspired of the same God and Father of all to pen His holy word, they only confessed one faith.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3- Chapter 31- The Ministry

CHAPTER 31-THE MINISTRY #1Co 4:1-21

Paul tells how ministers are to be regarded, what account is be taken of them, what attitude people should have toward them. We should not be too hasty in criticizing them or passing judgment upon their work.

1. They are ministers of Christ and stewards of the mystery of God. They belong to Christ. They are stewards of mysteries. A steward was a house manager, a slave under his lord, but a master over the other slaves in the same family. The gospel is here called mysteries. Mystery is something known only to the initiated. “He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (#Mt 13:11). The man who never preaches anything that everybody can’t understand is not preaching mysteries.

2. “It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (#1Co 4:2). Plain honesty is what is required of a steward. This is what is expected of bank clerks and others in positions of trust, like public officials.

3. Human judgment does not count in appraising the work of preachers. The preacher cannot judge his own ministry. Paul was not justified by what he thought of his work. He placed little importance to what the Corinthians’ thought of it. The Lord is the only one who has the right or ability to judge. Failure to be conscious of one’s own sin does not mean that he is innocent. Most prisoners plead “not guilty”.

4. “Judge nothing before the time” (#1Co 4:5). Stop passing judgment, quit criticizing. The censorious habit was ruining the Corinthian church. Wait and let the Lord judge when He comes. He alone can judge the secret things of a man’s ministry. He will turn on the light and reveal it all. Wait and get His praise.

5. These principles are to be applied in their thoughts about Paul and Ananias. Apply these principles and you will not be puffed up for one against another.

6. It is God who makes ministers to differ. He speaks only of true God called ministers.

Preachers are to have no credit for their difference in gifts. But at Corinth they were making their different gifts ground for division. Different gifts are a great blessing. They are sovereignly bestowed. No preacher is the best example on all points. In calling and qualifying preachers, God does not imitate the candle maker who brings a tub full of tallow and pours it into one mold. All candles come out of candle molds just alike. We have diversity of gifts and divisions of labor. Exhortation, exposition, interpretation, tactfulness in visiting the sick and strangers.

Paul contrasts between the Corinthians and the apostles and uses sarcasm and irony. They were satisfied and having an easy time; the apostles were having a hard time.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3-Chapter 29-The Baptism that Saves

CHAPTER 29-THE BAPTISM THAT SAVES #Mt 3:13-15

At a banquet honoring some athletic celebrities, Helen Wills Moody was called on for a speech. She said something like this: “To be seen one has to stand; to be understood one has to speak distinctly; and to be appreciated one has to sit down.”

In this message I want to affirm something and then support that affirmation. I affirm that there is a baptism that saves. In this message we shall discover that baptism. What is baptism?

NEGATIVELY:

1. The baptism that saves is not the baptism of the sinner in water. It is not denied that water baptism saves figuratively and symbolically. Saul was already saved when he was told by Ananias to arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins. He was converted and called into the ministry when he met Jesus on the Damascus road. Water has cleansing properties and is a fit emblem of the blood of Christ that actually cleanses from all sin. It is also an emblem of the Holy Spirit and of the word of God.

ARGUMENT:

1. The contention that water baptism saves is unreasonable as well as unscriptural. If water baptism is essential to salvation, then all who are unbaptized are in their sins and lost, regardless of how much evidence they may give of a birth from above. This theory shuts out all Quakers who do not believe in water baptism at all, but among whom can be found many people of evident spirituality. It also shuts out of heaven all unimmersed Presbyterians and Methodists. This view limits the number of the saved to a small denomination of professing Christians. The implication is narrow, carnal, and cruel.

2. Passages that may seem to teach baptismal remission can be fairly, honestly, and intelligently interpreted in the figurative sense. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (#Joh 3:5). Water is here made by some to mean baptism. But it is a false and dangerous scheme of interpretation to make water and baptism interchangeable terms. Water is often used where there can be no possible allusion to baptism. “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again” (#Joh 4:13); “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (#Joh 7:38); “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (#Joh 13:8); Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (#Joh 15:3). All through the gospel of John water is used in a figurative and spiritual sense to make John 3:5 refer to literal water of baptism is to use the word water in a different sense in which it is used in all the other places. And besides, the word baptism is not in #Joh 3:5 and to introduce baptism here is to violate the meaning of water in the gospel of John.

3. Water baptism cannot save because of the subject to be baptized. Baptism is for believers only and the believer is a saved person. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (#Joh 3:16); “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (#Joh 3:36); “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (#Joh 20:31); “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (#Ac 16:31). The pastor is looking for people to baptize; where will he find them among the saved or lost? The answer is obvious.

4. Water baptism cannot save because baptism is no part of the gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (#1Co 15:3,4). Paul thanked God that he had not baptized many of the Corinthians. “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;” (#1Co 1:14). “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (#1Co 4:15).

5. Water baptism cannot save because of the design of baptism. Baptism is not a saving sacrament but a symbol of what does save; namely the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Baptism speaks of the legal union between Christ and the believer. The believer is dead to the guilt of sin and alive unto God and to this, baptism testifies. Baptism is a burial and a burial testifies to the death of a person. Our old man was crucified with Christ. Old man does not mean our old nature, our old nature is still very much alive. The old man is the man of old the person I once was under law and cursed by it and awaiting the day of execution. As a believer in Christ I can look back at the cross and see the sentence of death against me executed in the death of Christ. Christ had my guilt upon Himself and died under it, then rose again, and as my Surety and substitute, I died and rose again in His death and resurrection. Now the purpose of baptism is to symbolize all this, to put it before our eyes in visible symbol.

This death and resurrection is not something to be felt, but something to be reckoned as so because God says so. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (#Ro 6:11). Reason may argue, but I do not feel dead to sin. But feeling has nothing to do with it. What God says is the important thing. And God says that what Christ did on the cross and in coming out of the tomb is what saves us. The believer is declared to be dead to the guilt of sin and alive unto God on the ground of the death and resurrection of Christ.

2. The baptism that saves is not the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

ARGUMENT:

1. Because of the design of Spiritual baptism. Spiritual baptism was not for salvation but for power. Holy Spirit baptism was associated with the miraculous. The disciples (who were already saved) were told to tarry in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit who would empower them for witnessing. Holy Spirit baptism at Pentecost enabled the disciples to speak in tongues or languages they did not know. “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel” (#Ac 2:16). In Acts 8 the Samaritans who had been converted under Philip’s preaching and had been baptized in water received the Spiritual baptism through the laying on of the hands of Peter and John. “Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (#Ac 8:17). In Acts 10, Cornelius and others heard Peter say that whoever believed in Christ should receive remission of sins. And as Peter spake they believed and the Spirit fell on them and they spake in tongues. “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (#Ac 10:43-46). I do not believe we have Holy Spirit Baptism today; else we would have people speaking in languages unknown to them as well as performing other miracles as they did in the early church. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (#Eph 5:18).

And so the baptism that saves is neither water baptism nor Spiritual baptism. It is not the baptism of the sinner in anything. The baptism that saves is the baptism of the Savior at Calvary. The Bible speaks of baptism in water, in the Holy Spirit, in fire, and in suffering. And the way to be saved is to trust in what Christ suffered on the cross.

John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan River. He was baptizing people who came to him confessing their sins. He refused to baptize anyone else. He turned down the Jews who wanted to be baptized as descendants of Abraham. Jesus walked from Galilee to the Jordan and asked John to baptize Him. John demurred, saying, “I have need to be baptized of thee and comest thou to me?” (#Mt 3:14). John was baptizing self confessed sinners and he could not think of Jesus as a sinner. But Jesus prevailed by saying. “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (#Mt 3:15). John then baptized Him. Jesus was not a sinner but He was in the sinner’s place and to save sinners He must work out a perfect righteousness for them. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (#Php 2:8). And so John’s baptism of Jesus fulfilled all righteousness only typically and figuratively. It pointed to another baptism of Jesus when He would be baptized in suffering and thus provide righteousness for sinners. The baptism of Jesus was a prophecy and pledge of the cross.

And so the baptism that saves was the baptism of Christ at Calvary. We find Christ speaking of another baptism after His water baptism. On His last trip to Jerusalem He told His disciples of His approaching death under the figure of a baptism. “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able” (#Mt 20:20-22); “But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” (#Lu 12:50).

On the cross our dear Savior was immersed in suffering. Hear Him in the prophetic word: “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me” (#Ps 18:4,5).

The cross is the place to look for salvation. The way of the cross leads home. The water baptism of Christ typified His baptism of suffering; and our baptism in water symbolizes what He did in his death and resurrection. His water baptism looked forward to the cross and our water baptism looks back to the cross. The baptismal pool that actually washes away sin was filled at Calvary, filled with the blood of Christ.

“There is a fountain filled with blood,

Drawn from Emanuel’s veins;

And sinners plunged beneath that flood

Lose all their guilty stains.

“The dying thief rejoiced to see

That fountain in his day;

And there may I,

though vile as he,

Wash all my sins away.

“Ere since by faith,

I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die.”

—Cowper.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 3

A Reformed Baptist Perspective on Public Theology: The Ministry of Paul, Part II

theroadofgrace and William F. Leonhart III

You can read earlier posts in this series by clicking on the links below:

An Introduction

Augustine’s Two Cities

Two Kingdoms in Luther

The Reformed Confessions (Part I)

The Reformed Confessions (Part II)

The Reformed Confessions (Part III)

Sphere Sovereignty in Kuyper

Redemption and Creation in Kuyper

John the Baptist

The Prophet Amos

The Incarnate Lord (Part I)

The Incarnate Lord (Part II)

The Incarnate Lord (Part III)

Introduction to the Book of Acts

The Ministry of Peter and John in Acts

The Ministry of Paul in Acts, Part I

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In the previous blog, we began our discussion on the public theology of Paul in Acts by examining the events during Paul’s first and second missionary journeys. We observed how Paul confronted the idolatry present in various Gentile cities from Lystra to Athens. We also observed how Paul’s ministry of preaching not only affected the individual lives of converts, but it also affected social activities within various cities such as Philippi and Ephesus. The last quarter of the book of Acts deals with Paul’s journey from Jerusalem to Rome. Unlike his previous missionary journeys, Paul’s primary audience was not the crowds, but specific rulers themselves. This section gives us particular insight on how Paul interacted with authority and how Paul wisely took advantage of his Roman citizenship.

Paul Before the Roman Tribune and the Council

When Paul arrives in Jerusalem in Acts 21, he is quite aware that he is going to face hostility from the Jewish people. When he enters the temple, he addresses the Jewish crowd in….

 

 

 

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