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Duty of Repentance: Man’s Present State: Helplessness- Book Fourth- Chapter 3- Section 4

December 28, 2016 Leave a comment

Book Fourth

CHAPTER III.

SECTION IV.–HELPLESSNESS

MEN ARE UNABLE TO SAVE THEMSELVES.[47]

The inability of men to save themselves, respects both their condemnation and their depravity.

1. Men are unable to free themselves from condemnation.

The justice by which we are all condemned is immutable. It is an attribute in the nature of God, who is not only the first cause of all things, but the very standard of all perfection. When we inquire whether God’s ways are right, we have only to ask whether they correspond with his own perfections, for there is not higher standard by which they may be tried. As the perfections of God are immutable, the standard of right is immutable. A change in the law by which we are condemned is therefore impossible. God has sometimes, from regard to the peculiar circumstances of some men, given special commands to them, which have not been obligatory on all; but the obligation to obey him, whatever his commands may be, is universal and perpetual, and no act of disobedience can ever by justified under his righteous government.

The sentence of condemnation has been duly pronounced. It was not a rash decision, needing to be revised. The Omniscient Judge knew well all the facts in the case, all the circumstances which may be pleaded in extenuation, all the effects of his decision on us, and all the bearings of it on his own character and government. His determination to create the world was not made with greater deliberation, or on surer ground; and we may as soon expect him to annihilate all the creatures that he has made, as to reverse the sentence by which we are condemned.

The Scriptures affirm, that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified.[48] The law requires perfect and perpetual obedience, and can be satisfied with nothing less. Law is converted into mere advice, when its requirements are not obligatory. To claim the privilege of violating the law, or coming short of its requirements, is to claim, so far, exemption from its authority, and therefore from the moral government of God. Such exemption divine justice will not allow. Its language is, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.[49] “What things the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.”[50] The view which is here presented of man’s condition, relates not merely to his transgressions, but to his natural state. Hence it is said, “And were by nature the children of wrath.”[51] So much has God the maintenance of his law at heart, that he who was in the bosom of the father, and well understood all his counsels, has with solemnity assured us; “Verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.”[52]

There is a method of rescue from condemnation; but it is not one of man’s devising or executing. To effect it requires a display of wisdom, power and love, infinitely beyond the highest efforts of man. It is God’s work, challenging the admiration of angels, and demanding gratitude, praise, and joyful acceptance from every human being.

2. Men are unable to free themselves from depravity.

The first element of this inability is seen in the fact that men lack the necessary disposition. By nature we love darkness rather than light, sin rather than holiness. To be free from depravity is to be holy, and no man can desire holiness or perfect conformity to the law of God, who does not delight in that law. But experience and Scripture unite in teaching us that the carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.[53] The cause of this exists in the fact, that the carnal mind is enmity against God. Men love the ways of transgression, and desire not the knowledge of God’s ways; and therefore, they lack the disposition necessary to free themselves from depravity, and render themselves strictly conformed to the law of God.

Another element which renders the inability complete, is, that if men had the disposition, they have not the power. Men have the power to perform such external acts as the law of God requires of them. If they were wholly disposed to perform such acts, and failed through mere physical inability, that inability would be a valid excuse. God accepteth according to what a man hath.[54] We are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together; but the man who is fastened to his bed by palsy is not required to meet in the house of God. Depravity does not consist in external acts, but belongs to the heart; and the affections of the heart are not subject to volition, as the motions of the limbs are. Hence the Apostle says, “Ye cannot do the things that ye would.”[55] Every converted man knows the meaning of this language. The current of depraved affections in our hearts, which has been flowing in the wrong direction from the beginning of our being, and gathering strength by the power of habit, does not stop at our bidding. A volition cannot stop it with as much ease as when it moves a finger. If any man thinks he has the power to be holy at will, let him try it, and he will find his mistake.

The inability last described, which is usually called moral, must be distinguished carefully from that physical inability which excuses outward acts. Physical inability would prevent the action, even if the whole heart were bent on performing it. It excuses the failure to act; but it will not excuse a corrupt or a divided heart. The paralytic may be excused for not attending at the house of God; but he is not excused for preferring to be absent, or for possessing no longing for the courts of the Lord. The moral inability of men consists in having either a divided heart, or a heart fully set in them to do evil. The former every converted man laments, and blames himself for; and the latter is descriptive of unconverted or natural men. This includes the lack, both of disposition and power, and renders the inability complete. This inability is not an excuse for the depravity, but is the depravity itself, in its full influence over all the powers of the soul.

The Scripture representations of men’s inability are exceedingly strong. They are said to be without strength,[56] captives,[57] in bondage,[58] asleep,[59] dead,[60] &c. The act by which they are delivered from the natural state, is called regeneration, quickening or giving life, renewing, resurrection, translation, creation; and it is directly ascribed to the power of God, the power that called light out of darkness, and raised up Christ from the dead.

Our views concerning our character and condition by nature are wholly incorrect, if we imagine that a little work, which we can effect at pleasure, will set all right. Thousands postpone the concerns of the soul from this vain imagination. A true sense of our inability would drive us to him who is able to save.

[47] Jer. xiii. 23; John iii. 3; vi. 44; Rom. iii. 19, 20; viii. 7,8; Gal. iii. 10; Heb. x. 4; xii. 14.

[48] Rom. iii. 20.

[49] Gal. iii. 10.

[50] Rom. iii. 19.

[51] Eph. ii. 3.

[52] Matt. v. 18.

[53] Rom. viii. 7.

[54] 2 Cor. viii. 12.

[55] Gal. v. 17.

[56] Rom. v. 6.

[57] 2 Tim. ii. 26.

[58] 2 Pet. ii. 19; Rom vi. 16, 17.

[59] 1 Thes. v. 6.

[60] Eph. v. 14; Col. ii. 13.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Repentance: Man’s Present State: Actual Sin- Book Fourth- Chapter 3- Section 1

Book Fourth

CHAPTER III.

MAN’S PRESENT STATE.

The evils consequent on the disobedience of our first parents were not confined to them personally, but have fallen on their descendants also. Adam had been created in the image of God; but when that image had been lost by transgression, he begat a son in his own likeness.[1] So all his descendants since have borne the image of the earthly, fallen progenitor, and have been like him, not only in character, but in condition. The subject will be examined further in the following sections.

SECTION I.–ACTUAL SIN.

MEN OF ALL AGES AND NATIONS, HAVE, IN THEIR ACTIONS, VIOLATED THE LAW OF GOD.[2]

The sacred volume, in describing the state of the world before the flood, says that “the earth was filled with violence.”[3] The history of the period before the flood is very brief; yet we find, in the beginning of it, the murder of Abel by this brother;[4] in the progress of it, the bigamy of Lamech,[5] and the murder which he confessed to his wives; and, in the close of it, this account of the complete corruption of the earth, and the general prevalence of violence. The flood was sent in wrath for the transgressions of men; but its waters did not cleanse the earth from sin. Iniquities prevailed after the flood, as they had done before; and the condition of mankind, in all nations, was such as Paul has described in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. The children of Abraham were separated from the rest of mankind, and made a peculiar people to God; but, notwithstanding the religious advantages which they enjoyed, their history is little else than a record of rebellions against God; and judgments inflicted on them for their provocations. So common is wickedness in the earth, that it is called “the course of this world,”[6] and it is said, “the whole world lieth in wickedness.”[7]

From this universal corruption no man is exempt. “There is no man which sinneth not.”[8] All whom the Spirit of God brings to a knowledge of themselves confess, “In many things we offend all;”[9] and they pray, “Forgive us our sins.”[10] If others make no confessions of sin, and no petitions for pardon, it is because of the blindness and hardness of their hearts.

He who looks into the state of society around him, finds proof of man’s wickedness. Crimes abound everywhere; and the earth is filled with violence, as it was of old. Laws restrain the crimes and violence of men; but the very necessity of laws demonstrates the wickedness of mankind. War and oppression make up, in great measure, the history of our race; and innumerable deeds of wickedness, which never find a place in the historic record, are written in God’s book of remembrance, and will be brought to light in that day, when men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body.

The actual transgressions of men consist in doing what God has forbidden, and in leaving undone what he has commanded. The latter are called sins of omission; the former, sins of commission. With both these kinds of transgression all men are more or less chargeable. They who abstain from grosser crimes have, nevertheless, committed many sins, and omitted many duties. But sin, in the overt act, constitutes only a very small part of man’s sinfulness, as will appear in the next section.

[1] Gen. v. 3.

[2] Rom. iii. 9–19; 1 John v. 19; Eph. ii. 2, 3.

[3] Gen. vi. 11.

[4] Gen. iv. 8.

[5] Gen. iv. 19–23.

[6] Eph. ii.2.

[7] 1 John v. 19.

[8] 2 Ch. vi. 36.

[9] James iii. 2.

[10] Luke xi. 4.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Duty of Repentance: The Fall- Book Fourth- Chapter 2

November 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Book Fourth

CHAPTER II.

THE FALL.

THE FIRST MAN, HAVING BEEN PLACED UNDER A COVENANT OF WORKS, VIOLATED IT, AND BROUGHT ITS PENALTY ON HIMSELF AND HIS DECENDANTS.[1]

The narrative of the Fall, as given in the book of Genesis, is to be considered, not as a mythical representation, but as proper history. It is always so referred to in subsequent parts of the sacred volume; and its connection with other historical events is such as excludes the supposition, that is was anything else than simple fact.

The revelation of God’s will to Adam, as recorded in the book of Genesis, is not there called a covenant; and some have doubted the propriety of using this term to denote it. If the word, in the Scripture use of it, signified, as it does in human transactions, a bargain made between equals, who are independent of each other, we might well reject the application of it to this subject. But in the sacred Scripture, it is used in a more extended signification. It denotes, 1. An immutable ordinance.[2] Under this sense may be included an irrevocable will or testament.[3] 2. A sure and stable promise.[4] 3. A precept.[5] 4. A mutual agreement.[6] With this latitude of meaning, the word must be considered applicable in the present case; yet there would be no necessity to insist on its use, were it not that the Scriptures have used it in this application. See Hosea vi. 7, which may be more properly rendered than in the common version, “They, like Adam, have transgressed the covenant.” So the same Hebrew phrase may be understood in Job xxxi. 33; Ps. lxxxii. 6,7.

As the term covenant is sometimes applied to a free promise, in which no condition is stipulated; it is proper to characterize that which was made with Adam as a covenant of works. It was a law, with a penalty affixed. “Of every tree of the garden, thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”[7] No promise was given, that Adam would continue to enjoy the divine favor if he continued obedient; but this may be understood to be clearly implied. Whether higher favor than he then enjoyed, would have been granted on condition of his persevering in obedience through a prescribed term of probation, we are not informed. We have reason to conclude, that a continuance in well-doing, would have received stronger marks of divine approbation according to its progress; and, from what we know of the power of habit, as tending to establish man in virtue or vice, (a tendency which it has, because God has so willed it) the conjecture is not improbable, that, had Adam persevered in his obedience, he would, after a time, have been confirmed in holiness. But, where the Scriptures are silent, we should not frame conjectures and make them articles of faith.

It is vain and sinful, to arraign God at the tribunal of our reason, for having prescribed such a test of obedience, as the eating of an apple. We may so far forget the reverence due to God, as to call in question the wisdom and goodness, of making so much ado about so little a matter; but in this we betray great impiety. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? It is enough that God has done it. God’s acts are not little, when he creates the minutest atom; and God’s requirements are not to be contemned, when he gives one of the least of his commandments. The very simplicity of the thing, though human folly may scoff at it, may best agree with the wisdom of God. Had Adam made an attempt to dethrone his Maker, human reason would admit the magnitude of the crime; but no greater evil would have been inflicted on omnipotence by his puny effort, than when he ate the forbidden fruit. What difference, then, is there, in the magnitude of the crimes? None, in their effect; and none in their principle. To disobey, is, as far as the creature can go, to dethrone. Shall men mock God by permitting him to occupy the seat of universal authority, while they refuse obedience to that authority? Be not deceived; God is not mocked. He that disobeys God, rejects his reign; and so God views it. The test of obedience prescribed to Adam was easy; and this very fact makes the transgression the more inexcusable. It showed the greatness of Abraham’s faith, that it stood so severe a test when he was required to offer up his son Isaac; and it proves the greatness of Adam’s sin, that it was committed, when he might so easily have avoided it.

What kinds of fruit the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, bore, we have no means of knowing; and the knowledge, if we could attain to it, would do us no good. Some have asked, whether one fruit had a natural efficacy to produce immortality, and the other to produce death; but this also is an unprofitable question. Nature has no other efficacy than the will of God, and his appointment of these trees, for the use which it was his pleasure they should serve, was as efficacious as any law of nature.

The sacred narrative informs us that the garden of Eden, in which the innocent and happy pair were placed, abounded with trees, yielding all sorts of pleasant fruits. In the midst of the garden, were two trees distinguished from all the rest, and designed for special use. What that use was, may be inferred from their names. The tree of life, of which they were permitted to eat, secured to them immortality, or exemption from the penalty of the covenant. The tree of knowledge of good and evil, was designed for a different purpose; and its fruit was prohibited. Not to know good and evil, is a distinction ascribed to children.[8] Good and evil, when spoken of in contrast, may refer to the moral quality of actions; but they are not restricted to this signification. When Job said, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” he did not refer to the moral distinction between actions, but to enjoyment and suffering. When Bazillai declined to accompany David to Jerusalem, and live with him there, and assigned as a reason his inability to distinguish between good and evil; his reference was to enjoyment, not to moral quality.[9] Eve decided to eat of the forbidden fruit, because “she saw that it was good,” not in a moral sense, but “for food.” Children, who have not the knowledge of good and evil, are instructed by their parents, both what to do, and what to enjoy; and it is their duty and interest to follow the instructions received. The first human pair stood in the relation of children to their Creator; and, while they abstained from the forbidden fruit, they acknowledged their inability to know good and evil, and their dependence on the guidance of infinite wisdom. In abstaining, they acknowledged the prerogative of God, to decided for them what was good, and what was evil. The two trees were very significantly placed near to each other, and in the midst of the garden. The tree of life was the symbol of the divine favor; and the other tree, the symbol of the divine prerogative. The trees of the garden, generally, yielded fruit that was pleasant and life-sustaining; but the fruit of the tree of life was distinguished from the rest, as a special pledge of divine favor. Yet the proximity of this tree to that which bore forbidden fruit, perpetually reminded the subjects of this probation, that the favor of God could be enjoyed only by respecting his prerogative. This token of the divine authority was in the midst of the garden; to remind them, that they held the privilege of eating all the pleasant fruits, by the grant of the Supreme Lord; and that their desire and enjoyment of natural good, was to be regulated by the decision of him, whose prerogative it was to know good and evil.

The departure of Eve from the straight line of duty is distinctly marked in the sacred narrative. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food,”[10] &c. When she saw. She judged for herself what was good. God’s account of the transgression is: “Behold, the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil;”[11] he has usurped our prerogative. This was the first transgression. The desire of natural good was made the rule of action. “When she saw,” &c. The desire of natural good prevailed over reverence for the authority of God; and, in the transgression may be seen not only a desire of the pleasant fruit, but also a desire to be exempt from the necessity of referring to God’s decision as the rule of conduct–“a tree to be desired to make one wise;”[12] to make one independent of God’s wisdom. Such was the first transgression. It cast off the authority of God, usurped his prerogative, and gave the mind up to the dominion of natural desire.

Because of his violation of the covenant, man was excluded from the symbol of the divine favor. A cherub, with a flaming sword, was placed to guard the approach to the tree of life, lest he should eat thereof and live for ever. He had incurred the threatened penalty, and it began at once to be inflicted on him.

What was the precise import of death, as the penalty threatened to Adam, is a question of some difficulty. If it imported the death of the body, the threat was not executed at the time designated: “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” He did not literally die on the day of his transgression. Some have accounted for this by supposing that the mediation of Christ interposed, and prevented the execution of the threat. That God’s purpose of mercy, through Christ, was kept in view in his dealings with Adam, we have no reason to doubt; but the Scriptures nowhere explain that it rescued man from the threatened penalty. If immediate literal death was the proper import of the threatened penalty, and if Adam was rescued from it by the mediation of Christ, he was delivered from a less evil to endure far greater. He was spared to live a life of depravity, and to die, if he died impenitent, under the wrath of God, and be doomed to eternal misery. If it be said that eternal misery would have followed his death had it taken place immediately, how can it be accounted for that this dreadful consequence of transgression was not intimated in the threatening? If it be said that the term death included this also, then the literal interpretation of it is abandoned, and its chief import is made to relate to another matter, of far greater magnitude than the dissolution of the body. The Holy Spirit is the best expositor on this subject; and, after stating that death was introduced into the world by the sin of Adam,[13] sets this death in contrast with the eternal life procured by Christ: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”[14] As eternal life does not consist in exemption from literal death, so its opposite does not consist in the mere loss of life to the body.

We may understand that the threatened penalty was executed on Adam, in its proper import, when he was denied approach to the tree of life. This has been to him the symbol of the divine favor. What notion he had of death, as pertaining to the body, we know not; and he may never have been taught anything on this subject until he heard the sentence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”[15] But Adam, besides having a body made of dust, had received from God “a living soul,” which could not suffer dissolution. Some idea of this living principle, which distinguished him from the brutes around him, must have formed a part of that “knowledge” with which he was endowed, and in which the image of God in part consisted. What was death to his living soul? He knew, by happy experience, what it was to have the communion and favor of the living God; and to be cut off from these was the most dreadful death, and the only death of which the immortal spirit was capable. This penalty was inflicted in its awful import. The separation of the body from the soul, to which the name death is given, bears some likeness to the separation of the soul from God; and the dissolution of the body, whether by worms, or the funeral fire, leads the mind to the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched, which are consequences of the second death. Of this full and most momentous import was the death of the soul. If Adam became a believer in Christ, he was delivered from under the penalty, and not merely prevented from falling under it. The dissolution of the body, which is the extension of the penalty to the material part of his constitution, he was not prevented from enduring; but from this, too, he will be redeemed at the resurrection.

The fallen pair were not only excluded from the tokens of God’s favor, but they began to suffer positive inflictions of his displeasure. They were banished from Eden, the home of their innocence and joy. Its pleasant shades, its beautiful flowers, its fragrant odors, its delicious fruits, they are compelled to leave forever. The delightful employment of dressing and keeping the garden, which yielded sustenance without painful toil, was to be exchanged for hard labor in cultivating a cursed soil, yielding briers and thorns; and bread, hardly earned by the sweat of the face, was to be their food. On the woman, first in the transgression, a woe was denounced; “In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.”[16] The first pain, thus intimated, became the model pain of exquisite suffering. These denunciations foretold a sad future. Stung with remorse, harassed with fears, God offended, and their souls undone, they bade farewell to their late blissful abode, and became wanderers on the earth, until their bodies, sinking under the weight of the ills inflicted, should crumble into dust. What other evils were included in that dreadful penalty, death; what the full import of the word, they and their posterity were to learn by woeful experience.

[1] Gen. ii. 17; iii. 6, 16, 17, 18, 19; Rom. v. 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.

[2] Jer. xxxiii. 20.

[3] Heb. ix. 15–17.

[4] Acts iii, 25; xxxiv. 10; Isaiah lix. 21.

[5] Ex. xxxiv. 28.

[6] Gen. xxxi. 44; xxvi. 28, 29; 1 Sam. xviii. 3.

[7] Gen. ii. 16, 17.

[8] Duet. i. 39; Heb. v. 14.

[9] 2 Sam. xix. 35.

[10] Gen. iii. 6.

[11] Gen. iii. 22.

[12] Gen. iii. 6.

[13] Rom. v. 12.

[14] Rom. vi. 23.

[15] Gen. iii. 19.

[16] Gen. iii. 16.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Spiritual Helps

Eternal Father, it is amazing love, that Thou hast sent Thy Son to suffer in my stead, that Thou hast added the Spirit to teach, comfort, guide, that Thou hast allowed the ministry of angels to wall me round; all heaven subserves the welfare of a poor worm. Permit Thy unseen servants to be ever active on my behalf, and to rejoice when grace expands in me. Suffer them never to rest until my conflict is over, and I stand victorious on salvation’s shore.

Grant that my proneness to evil, deadness to good, resistance to Thy Spirit’s motions, may never provoke Thee to abandon me. May my hard heart awake Thy pity, not Thy wrath, And if the enemy gets an advantage through my corruption, let it be seen that heaven is mightier than hell, that those for me are greater than those against me. Arise to my help in richness of covenant blessings, keep me feeding in the pastures of Thy strengthening Word, searching Scripture to find Thee there.

If my waywardness is visited with a scourge, enable me to receive correction meekly, to bless the reproving hand, to discern the motive of rebuke, to respond promptly, and do the first work. Let all Thy fatherly dealings make me a partaker of Thy holiness. Grant that in every fall I may sink lower on my knees, and that when I rise it may be to loftier heights of devotion. May my every cross be sanctified, every loss be gain, every denial a spiritual advantage, every dark day a light of the Holy Spirit, every night of trial a song.

Taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett. Reformatted by Eternal Life Ministries.

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 6-The Punishment of Sin-Number 1

CHAPTER 6-THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN-NUMBER 1

We are about to write upon a very solemn theme. The flesh will not be entertained, but the spirit may be profited. Much grace is always needed for a profitable hearing of God’s word; the flesh which profiteth nothing will hinder. Our treatment of this theme will be admittedly heavy reading and it will require interest and effort on the part of the reader to get the truth. Many people have ruined their taste for good reading by feeding their minds upon trashy literature. What many people read is a revelation of their mental laziness and moral depravity. They demand that which will gratify their fleshly lusts. We are sometimes accused of speaking over people’s heads, dealing with subjects they cannot understand. Well, the only way we could keep from speaking over the heads of some people would be for us to quote nursery rhymes and talk about rag dolls and stick horses.

No criminal will enjoy a lecture on the time, place and nature of the punishment to be meted out to him, and no lost man will enjoy a sermon on the punishment he will receive for his violation of the law of God. When “Pastor” Russell was speaking to a large crowd, in denial of the truth on this theme, a thoroughly worldly man promised him a liberal donation because he said it made him so comfortable to feel that there is no hell. And when Robert Ingersoll was once inveighing against the doctrine of eternal punishment, a drunkard stood up and said, “Make it mighty strong, Bob, for a lot of us fellows are depending on you.” And every lost man vainly hopes that there is no such a thing and place as hell.

There is widespread denial of the truth about eternal punishment. I expect there is more literature being circulated today against this truth than against any other truth of the Bible. My good friend and brother, Dr. T.O. Reese, says: “The subject of eternal punishment is confessedly the most horrible and offensive doctrine held by evangelical Christians. It has been stigmatized as unreasonable, cruel, and God dishonouring, and those who teach and preach it have been called narrow bigots, Pharasaic dogmatists, and heartless theologians.”

You can hardly name a modern sect that does not either deny or eviscerate this Bible doctrine. Besides such groups as Christian Science, Russellites, Seventh Dayists, and Christadelphians, there are many individuals in the evangelical denominations who boldly and brazenly deny this truth. We allow that no truth should be rejected merely because heretics may hold it, but when such an imposing array of them is on one side of a question, there is certainly need for serious reflection, and a challenge to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”

We are to preach upon this subject, first of all, because it is a part of the once delivered faith. Whatever God has revealed is to be our study and proclamation. Then, a discussion of this truth will increase the gratitude of the saints for their glorious salvation. They will see that they have been saved from something as well as to something. Moreover, a sermon on this solemn subject may, under God, put fear into the hearts of sinners, and cause them to flee the wrath to come. “Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee” (#Job 36:18). “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (#Heb 9:27). “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” (#Lu 13:3).

THE NATURE OF MAN

Man is a compound being of three elements: body, soul, and spirit: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (#1Th 5:23). We can also think of man as a dual being when we wish to differentiate between that which is material and that which is immaterial. Our Lord divided man into two constituent parts when he admonished us not to fear Him that can only kill the body, but to “fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (gehenna).” (#Mt 10:28).

The soul being the principal part of man is often employed for the man himself. In “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (#Ge 2:7), we read that God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Heb. lives) and he became a living soul, that is, a living person, or a living man. In “And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already” (#Ex 1:5), we are told that seventy souls came out of the loins of Jacob, meaning seventy persons. In “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (#1Pe 3:20), we learn that eight souls, that is, eight persons were saved by water. The word soul is even applied to a dead person. #Nu 6:6: “…he shall come at no dead body.” The word here for body is nephesh (soul), and the clause, if literally rendered, would be, “And he shall not approach a dead soul,” that is, a dead person. The word nephesh (soul) is translated body eight times in our English Bible. But this must not be taken to mean that soul and body are the same, for our Lord clearly distinguished between soul and body.

In the New Testament the immaterial part of man is spoken of as the real person in distinction from the body as the house in which he lives. #2Co 5:1: “…we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, … for in this we groan, …” The pronoun “We” so often occurring in this passage stands for the immaterial and invisible part of man, which dwells for a while in the mortal body, and then moves out to go to be with Christ. This certainly teaches conscious existence with the Lord after death.

The Scriptures also teach the conscious existence of the lost after death. The rich man was in conscious suffering after the death of the body, and Lazarus was in conscious comfort. The rich man’s body was buried and the soul or spirit of Lazarus was taken into Abraham’s bosom by angels. Their experiences after death could not have been bodily experiences, therefore, they were possessed of another element which had conscious existence after death.

NOT A PARABLE

I do not call the story of Lazarus and the rich man a parable. Our Lord did not say, “Hear another parable” neither does the Holy Spirit say that He was speaking in parables. The following extract from a well-known writer is worthy of consideration:

“The rich man and Lazarus I am not free to regard as a parable, while having no controversy with those who so regard it. Not only is it not called a parable, but names are introduced, a thing without precedent in our Lord’s parables. I prefer to look at the rich man and Lazarus as actual characters, whose history in this world and beyond is solemnly traced by the Lord for the moral profit of men everywhere.”

What is said of the two men in this life is quite in keeping with actual occurrence, therefore, what is said of them in death and afterwards must also be true to facts. We grant that the physical torment is symbolical, but it is a symbolism of soul torment. Is the symbolism terrible? Then the truth intended to be taught is also terrible.

THE MARTYRED STEPHEN

When Stephen was martyred his body fell in death under a hail of stones, but he said to Christ, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body. James says that “the body without the spirit is dead” (#Jas 2:26).

PAUL’S EXPERIENCE

Paul had some wonderful experiences on account of which he was given a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. Once he was caught up into paradise, where he heard “unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (#2Co 12:4). He says that he did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body; only God knew. This certainly teaches that a disembodied spirit can consciously exist and be intelligently active. Paul, as some today do, did not think a disembodied spirit is a self contradiction.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 1-The Nature Of Sin

PART 1-THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF SIN

CHAPTER 1-THE NATURE OF SIN

Sin is a patent fact—its reality does not need to be argued. Sin is a fact of experience, of observation, and of revelation. Sin is something I feel in my own heart; it is something I see in others, even in my best friends and loved ones; and it is something revealed in the Bible. The policeman pursues it, the physician prescribes for it, the law discovers it, conscience condemns it, God controls and punishes it, and yet nobody likes to own it. But as a matter of fact, sin is all that anyone owns; he is a steward of everything else he may possess. Obvious as sin is, there is a proneness to treat it like some folks treat their trashy relatives; it is ignored and even denied.

Sin may be defined but it cannot be explained. To explain sin is to explain it away. How sin got started in the universe is a profound mystery. It had no place in the original creation, which God pronounced good. Sin is a parasite, an interloper, an outlaw cell in the moral system, and a terrible monstrosity. Sin made its appearance on earth in a garden of delights, after it had defiled the heavens, and turned this fair earth into a wilderness of woe. In the original creation we read only of heaven and earth, but later we are told of everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Sin is a cheat, a deceiver, and a destroyer. It promises pleasure and pays off in pain. It promises life and pays off in death. It promises profit and pays off in poverty—the loss of all good. Every sin is committed for profit. Nobody would sin if he did not think it would profit in some form or other. There is profit in sin, but it is short-lived. Moses took a long look and made the wise choice. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. He chose in view of the day of judgment.

Sin is dangerous beyond expression and description. Sin is violation of the moral law of God, and violated law cries out for just retribution. Sin is against God, the Judge of all the earth, and must be accounted for before God. Crime is against human society. Human society may and does punish crime, but only God can punish sin. Human society may fail to punish the criminal, but God will not fail to punish the sinner who is without a Saviour. All crime against men is also sin against God, but all sin against God is not crime against men. Human society punishes men for what they do; God punishes men for what they are and in proportion to what they do. Every sinner will either be punished in his own person or in the person of a Surety and Substitute, even the Lord Jesus Christ, the Surety of the better covenant. The only possible way for any sinner to be brought into the favor of God as the Lawgiver was for Christ the Just to suffer for the unjust. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” (#1Pe 3:18).

FALSE DEFINITION OF SIN

1. Modernism: “Sin is good in the making.” John Fiske (1842-1901), says that original sin is neither more nor less than the brute inheritance which every man carries with him, and the process of evolution is an advance towards true salvation. According to this view, the human race is on the way to salvation; there is no hope for the individual; the race will be saved when the process of evolution has made it perfect. It is like the process of improving the razor-back hog by breeding. According to this view there is no individual responsibility and therefore no individual salvation. Poor hope for the individual who cries out, “What must I do to be saved?” Cold war everywhere, and shooting wars in various places, with terrible consequences to human happiness and safety, give the lie to the evolutionary process of salvation.

2. Christian Science: “Sin is a figment of a perverted imagination—-an imaginary creation of abnormal minds.” In other words sin does not actually exist; it is not a reality. Some people just imagine they sin, and this imagination is a disease of the mind. The man who is convicted of sin is unbalanced, and the man who mourns over sin and seeks forgiveness from God is terribly insane. Such nonsense is refuted by science, and Scripture, and common sense. When the prodigal came to himself, he said, “I have sinned.” The insane man is the one who denies the fact of sin. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us” (#1Jo 1:10).

3. The Popular View: regards sin as only crime against society. Sinners are young men sowing wild oats, prostitute women, murderers, and gangsters. Some seventy or more years ago the Japanese resented the preaching of Paul Kanamoro. They complained that he talked to them as if he were an official talking to convicts. They confounded sin with vice. They could not distinguish between sin and crime. Every person is a sinner, but all are not vicious or criminals. There are many virtuous women, but no sinless women. There are many law-abiding men but no sinless men. There are many beautiful babies, but no baby without a sinful nature. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (#Ps 51:5); “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (#Ps 58:3); “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (#Eph 2:1-3).

SOME TRUE DEFINITIONS OF SIN

1. Westminster Confession: “Sin is any lack of conformity to, or transgression of the law of God.” This is a good definition and includes both sins of commission and of omission. The moral law of God—-the eternal standard of right and wrong is summed up in supreme love to God and to our neighbor as ourselves.

2. A.H. Strong: “Sin is any lack of conformity to the law of God, whether in act, disposition, or state.” This is a better definition, since it recognizes sin as a condition of human nature. Sin resides in the heart; it is quality of being.

3. The Apostle John: “Sin is the transgression of the law” (#1Jo 3:4). Or more literally: “Sin is lawlessness.” There can be no sin where there is no law. If there is no Lawgiver to Whom we must give account, then there can be no sin, for sin is lawlessness.

MISSING THE MARK

There is a Bible word which means “to miss the mark,” and it is translated sin some 200 times in our Bible. Man has missed the mark— he has missed the purpose of his being. Man was created to reflect the glory of his creator, but he has missed this aim and has come short of the glory of God.

Man is like a clock that fails to tell the time of day; he is like a car that will not run; he is like coal that will not burn. Man is a failure in the greatest and grandest enterprise—he has failed to glorify God.

MAN IS OFF CENTER

There is another word used to describe sin which means “to turn aside from the straight path.” This conception of sin is expressed in “But turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow” (#Ps 78:57), where God complains that Israel has turned aside like a deceitful bow. And again in Isaiah where we are told that all like sheep have gone astray, and turned everyone to his own way. Man is off-center. Instead of revolving around God, and making God’ s will his chief delight, man has become a wandering star in the moral firmament.

COMPETITION WITH GOD

Sin may be defined as competition with God for sovereignty- competition in the realm of authority. This view of sin is seen in the story of the first sin as recorded in Genesis three. The word sin does not occur in the account, but the fact of sin does, and the nature of sin is also clearly revealed. Satan told Eve that if they would eat of the forbidden fruit, their eyes would be opened, and they would become as God, knowing good and evil. And when the deed was done, God said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (#Ge 3:22)

Now, in what sense did man become like God by sinning? Obviously, it was not in respect to character, for in sinning he lost the good character with which he was created. Nor can it mean that man acquired the Divine attributes such as power, holiness, and wisdom. In sinning man lost the power to live and die; he lost his original holiness and became filthy or depraved; and he lost the wisdom of his original creation and became a fool, sin brought death, depravity, and delusion. Sin is consummate folly.

The only possible sense in which man became like God was in spirit and aim—not in reality. Adam and Eve asserted their independence of God. They would make their own laws and do as they pleased. They rebelled against His will for their lives. They rejected His expressed will as to what they could have. They would determine (know for themselves) what is good and evil—what is right and wrong. They would no longer be tied to God’s Word about what they could do. They would be a law unto themselves and do as they pleased. They would do that which was right in their own eyes. Thus, they entered into competition with God for sovereignty. In spirit and aim they made themselves God. They would make their own will supreme.

Every sin is competition with God in the realm of authority. If I have the right to determine what is right and wrong, then I am God-I am supreme in the matter of authority. Sin is, therefore, a decoration of independence before God, and this means war, for God has said “I am God, and there is none else” (#Isa 46:9). And again, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (#Ex 20:3). Great Britain could do little about it when the American Colonies declared their independence—she lost the war. But there is much God can do with His rebellious creatures. The sinner is waging a hopeless war against his Creator. God is a jealous God and will tolerate no rivals or competitors. God is the one and only person in all the universe who has the right and the ability to do as He pleases. He is the only one who has the right to act for his own glory. All that God does, whether in mercy or in justice, is to the praise of His glory. Salvation is primarily to the praise of His glory. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (#Eph 1:1-14).

THE REALITY OF SIN

Is sin real? Ask Adam and hear him bemoan his loss of Eden. Is sin real? Ask Abel. He cannot speak, but his blood cries to God for vengeance against his murderer. Is sin real? Ask David and hear him say, “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” Is sin real? Ask the rich man in hell and listen as he says, “I am tormented in this flame.” Is sin real? Ask Pharoah and hear him say, “I have sinned,” when he discovered a dead boy in every home and a dead animal in every stable throughout all the land of Egypt, Goshen excepted because of blood of the passover lamb. Is sin real? Ask Peter and hear his confession: “Depart from me for I am a sinful man.” Is sin real? Ask Christian parents and hear them as they pray for their godless children. Is sin real? Ask the Son of God and hear Him as He cries out under its terrible load, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me.” Is sin real? Ask the martyrs and let them tell you the price they paid for resisting sin unto blood.

The holier a man is the more he realizes what sin is. The fewer acts of sin are on the part of those who grieve over the state of sin. A J. Gordon, the great Baptist preacher of Boston, was a godly man, and yet just before he died, he asked to be left alone. He was overheard confessing his sins so extravagantly that it was thought he was in delirium. Luther was wont to cry out, “Oh, my sins, my sins” Jonathan Edwards was said to be the holiest man of his day, and yet his diary contains such abhorrence of himself as would make one think he was the most wicked of all.

THE POTENTIALITY OF SIN

Sin as an act of transgression is only a small part of sin. Nine tenths of the mass of an iceberg is below the surface, so that only a small part of the total is seen. And there is far more sin in every man than ever appears on the surface in actual transgression. The potential evil is about the same in every man. The Bible says there is no difference for all have sinned. If we have not sinned outwardly as much as others it is due to the restraining grace of God and not to anything good in our nature. When our Lord said that out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adultries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies. He was not describing any particular heart but the heart of every man. When Paul said that the carnal mind is enmity against God, he was speaking of the mind of humanity.

SALVATION THROUGH A CO-OPERANT

The sinner is God’s competitor; the Saviour is God’s co-operant. The first Adam competed with God for sovereignty and ruined all of us; the last Adam, Jesus Christ, cooperated with God for our salvation. The first Adam said, “I will;” the last Adam said, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” The first Adam despised the will of God; the last Adam said, “I delight to do Thy will, O God.” And God’s will led Him along the rough road of suffering through gloomy Gethsemane to bloody Calvary, where He cried, “It is finished.” All men are victims of the terrible tragedy of Eden; all believers are victors through the tragedy of Calvary. And may writer and reader bow in adoring wonder.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1

God’s decree concerning creating man and allowing him to fall

December 6, 2013 1 comment

Chapter II

WHEREIN THE DOCTRINE OF PREDESTINATION IS EXPLAINED AS IT RELATES IN GENERAL TO ALL MEN.

Thus much being premised with relation to the Scripture terms commonly made use of in this controversy, we shall now proceed to take a nearer view of this high and mysterious article, and-

II.-We assert that God did from eternity decree to make man in His own image, and also decreed to suffer him to fall from that image in which he should be created, and thereby to forfeit the happiness with which he was invested, which decree and the consequences of it were not limited to Adam only, but included and extended to all his natural posterity.

Something of this was hinted already in the preceding chapter, and we shall now proceed to the proof of it.

(1) That God did make man in His own image is evident from Scripture (Gen 1:27)

(2) That He decreed from eternity so to make man is as evident, since for God to do anything without having decreed it, or fixed a previous plan in His own mind, would be a manifest imputation on His wisdom, and if He decreed that now, or at any time, which He did not always decree, He could not be unchangeable.

(3) That man actually did fall from the Divine image and his original happiness is the undoubted voice of Scripture (Gen 3:), and

(4) That he fell in consequence of the Divine decree* we prove thus: God was either willing that Adam should fall, or unwilling, or indifferent about it. If God was unwilling that Adam should transgress, ho  came it to pass that he did? Is man stronger and is Satan wiser than He that made them? Surely no. Again, could not God, had it so pleased Him, have hindered the tempter’s access to paradise? or have created man, as He did the elect angels, with a will invariably determined to good only and incapable of being biassed to evil? or, at least, have made the grace and strength, with which He endued Adam, actually effectual to the resisting of all solicitations to sin? None but atheists would answer these questions in the negative. Surely, if God had not willed the fall, He could, and no doubt would, have prevented it; but He did not prevent it: ergo He willed it. And if He willed it, He certainly decreed it, for the decree of God is nothing else but the seal and ratification of His Will. He does nothing but what He decreed, and He decreed nothing which He did not will, and both will and decree are absolutely eternal, though the execution of both be in time. The only way to evade the force of this reasoning is to say that “God was indifferent and unconcerned whether man stood or fell.” But in what a shameful, unworthy light does this represent the Deity! Is it possible for us to imagine that God could be an idle, careless spectator of one of the most important events that ever came to pass? Are not “the very hairs of our head all numbered”? or does “a sparrow fall to the ground without our heavenly Father”? If, then, things the most trivial and worthless are subject to the appointment of His decree and the control of His providence, how much more is man, the masterpiece of this lower creation? and above all that man Adam, who when recent from his Maker’s hands was the living image of God Himself, and very little inferior to angels! and on whose perseverance was suspended the welfare not of himself only, but likewise that of the whole world. But, so far was God from being indifferent in this matter, that there is nothing whatever about which He is so, for He worketh all things, without exception,” after the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:11), consequently, if He positively wills whatever is done, He cannot be indifferent with regard to anything. On the whole, if God was not unwilling that Adam should fall, He must have been willing that he should, since between God’s willing and nilling there is no medium. And is it not highly rational as well as Scriptural, nay, is it not absolutely necessary to suppose that the fall was not contrary to the will and determination of God? since, if it was, His will (which the apostle represents as being irresistible, Rom 9:19) was apparently frustrated and His determination rendered of worse than none effect. And how dishonourable to, how inconsistent with, and how notoriously subversive of the dignity of God such a blasphemous supposition would be, and how irreconcilable with every one of His allowed attributes is very easy to observe.

* See this article judiciously stated and nervously asserted by Witsius in his Oecon. 1.1, cap. 8, s.1O-25.

(5) That man by his fall forfeited the happiness with which he was invested is evident as well from Scripture as from experience (Gen 3:7-24; Rom 5:12; Gal 3:10). He first sinned (and the essence of sin lies in disobedience to the command of God) and then immediately became miserable, misery being through the Divine appointment, the natural and inseparable concomitant of sin.

(6) That the fall and its sad consequences did not terminate solely in Adam, but affected his whole posterity, is the doctrine of the sacred oracles (Psalm li. 5; Rom 5:12-19; 1Co 15:22; Eph 2:3). Besides, not only spiritual and eternal, but likewise temporal death is the wages of sin (Rom 6:23; James 1:15), and yet we see that millions of infants, who never in their own persons either did or could commit sin, die continually. It follows that either God must be unjust in punishing the innocent, or that these infants are some way or the other guilty creatures; if they are not so in themselves (I mean actually so by their own commission of sin), they must be so in some other person, and who that person is let Scripture say (Rom 5:12,18; 1Co 15:22). And, I ask, how can these be with equity sharers in Adam’s punishment unless they are chargeable with his sin? and how can they be fairly chargeable with his sin unless he was their federal head and representative, and acted in their name, and sustained their persons, when he fell?

Jerome Zanchius-The Doctrine of Absolute Predestination Stated and Asserted-Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady