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Posts Tagged ‘Justification’

Old and New Perspectives on Paul: A Third Way?

January 14, 2016 1 comment

By J. V. Fesko

John Barclay, professor of divinity at Durham University in England, has written a sizable contribution to New Testament studies in Paul and the Gift. His basic thesis is that gift is the proper first-century category for comprehending Paul’s term grace (2). His primary focus is examining the divine gift giving, which for the apostle Paul is God’s gift of Christ (4).

Barclay believes gift is the best way to understand Paul’s concept of grace for three chief reasons.

First, grace is a multifaceted concept that theologians frequently use but seldom define. Some stress the incongruity of grace (giving to an unworthy recipient); others the efficacy of grace. Barclay points out that these different “perfections” of grace (conceptual extensions) aren’t better or worse interpretations of the concept, just different aspects of it (6). He identifies six possible perfections of grace (70–75, 563):

•Superabundance—the size or permanence of a gift

•Singularity—the giver’s sole and exclusive desire to express benevolence and goodness

•Priority—the timing of the gift, namely, that it takes place prior to the initiative of the recipient

•Incongruity—a gift given without regard to the worthiness of the recipient

•Efficacy—the effect of the gift, namely, what the gift is designed to accomplish

•Non-circularity—the gift escapes reciprocity and a system of exchange

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

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Roman Catholic Apologists: an Hour Long Phone Call in Response to Rome’s Claims

By James White

Took a phone call from 18-year-old Luke who has been talking to some Roman Catholic apologists—spent the entire hour with Luke addressing issues like sola scriptura, apostolic succession, the gospel, grace, justification—we about covered it all! Should be helpful to many!

 
Download the audio here.

 

 

Source [Alpha Omega Ministries]

The Wednesday Word: Beginning the New Year with the Blood

What better way to begin this New Year other than preaching to ourselves about the Blood of Christ.

Among other things we could remind ourselves that,

1. We have redemption through the Blood (Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18; Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 5:9).
2. We have remission of sins through the Blood (Hebrews 9:22).
3. We are sanctified through the Blood (Hebrews 13:12).
4. We have a purged conscience by the Blood (Hebrews 9:14).
5. We have forgiveness of sins through the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).
6. We have peace with God through the Blood (Colossians 1:20).
7. We are cleansed by the Blood (1 John 1:7).
8. We have been washed by the Blood (Revelation 1:5).
9. We have been made kings and priests through the Blood (Revelation 1:5-6).
10. We overcome the devil by the Blood (Revelation 12:11).
11. We are justified by the Blood (Romans 5:9).
12. We are reconciled to God by the Blood (Romans 3:24, 25).
13. We enter into the holiest by the Blood (Hebrews 10:19).
14. We are made nigh to God by the Blood (Ephesians 2:13).
15. Christ’s Blood is precious (1 Peter 1:18).

On the first ever Passover, the Lord said, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” He didn‘t say, “When I see how you feel about the blood, I will pass over you” or, “When I see you weeping and mourning because of your sins, I will pass over you.” No, He said; “When I see the blood, I will pass over you (Exodus 12:13).”

It was the blood that saved the Israelites, not their righteousness, not their fear, not their feelings. They were saved by the Father’s estimation of the Blood.

Some people say, “If I were only a better person, I would feel safe before God.” But, here’s the gospel truth, we don‘t need to enquire about the depth of our goodness. Our goodness cannot get us right with God. Indeed, the Lord says that our righteousness, not our sin, is like a filthy rag. The biggest problem God has with us is not our sin, it’s our righteousness (Isaiah 64:6).

The very best man has done is like a filthy rag before God. This is why we by faith look away from ourselves to the blood. Our atonement and reconciliation has been accomplished outside of us, apart from us in history.

We need, therefore, to ask whether or not we are sheltered under the blood? If we are, we are safer than any man or woman who has prayed without ceasing, given their finances and sacrificed for the cause of the gospel for 100 years. It is not their righteousness and good works that are going to save them. Good works, long hours of prayer and devotion, while commendable, have never saved anyone. The Father says, “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” And when we are sheltered beneath the blood of Christ Jesus, we are saved; but if not shielded, we are lost.

The blood of Christ is our only refuge and protection from the wrath to come. Christ’s blood has been shed. His blood is now on the mercy-seat. Faith alone takes a hold of this remarkable truth and makes it our own.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

Was Richard Baxter Orthodox on Justification?

November 19, 2015 2 comments

Baxter-300x284By Tom Hicks

Richard Baxter seems to be largely known today for his works of practical theology, including, The Christian Directory, which has been used in some quarters as a manual of Christian counseling, and The Reformed Pastor, which is often commended as a useful paradigm of pastoral ministry among Reformed men. But Baxter is less known for his doctrinal theology, particularly for his doctrine of justification. Baxter first wrote on the doctrine of justification in Aphorisms of Justification, published in 1649. In that work, he reacted against the antinomian spirit he discovered among the soldiers of Cromwell’s army, while he served as a chaplain. Baxter believed the doctrine of justification by faith alone on the basis of of Christ’s righteousness was the root error among the antinomian soldiers, and he wrote Aphorisms of Justification, partly to correct that error. In response to scathing criticisms from the Reformed orthodox, Baxter wrote Of Justification in 1658, which contained four disputations on justification. Consider the following quotations from Baxter’s second disputation.

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.

No Creed But the Bible?

November 2, 2015 1 comment

John Piper was asked by a podcast listener if he subscribed to the 1689 Confession of Faith? Here are five points that he made against the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith:

 

 
Now here is the deal with the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. I didn’t choose to go that route, even though it is a good, solid, Reformed Baptist version of the Westminster Confession. And there are several reasons why. Here they are:

1) The language is somewhat foreign. Its vocabulary is like reading the King James Version. And I think it is probably a mistake to try to enshrine that today as the one if you expect families to use it without any updated form.

2) While I am able to affirm that Genesis 1 refers to literal 24-hour days, I had a hard time thinking that I should make that a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity, and so I stumbled over that section.

3) The understanding of the Sabbath is, perhaps, more rigorous and narrow than my understanding of the implications of Jesus’s teaching about the Sabbath.

4) There are certain historic categories of theology, like the covenant of works and others, that have proved useful, but you might wonder: Shall I make that the structure of the theology I am going to present?

5) This is going to sound so piddly — and yet you can’t be piddly in a confession — little things like saying that bread and wine are prescribed in the Lord’s Supper. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that wine was used in the Lord’s Supper. That comes as a shock to a lot of people. It doesn’t say that is what was used.

Now I suspect it was. I suspect it was wine, but it always uses the term cup or fruit of the vine and, therefore, if you get into a knock down battle and say we are going to settle this confessionally and you go to the 1689 Confession, it is going to say wine is what you are supposed to use. And I would say: Well, that is just unbiblical, because that is not what the Bible says, even though that is totally legitimate and maybe even preferable, but not at all required.

To read the entire audio transcript, click here.

To download the audio, click here.

 

 

My response to Piper:

1) The language of the1689 Confession is not foreign to the average reader of today. It is fairly simple in its explanation of the doctrines in which it confesses. That is not to say, that the average reader today, doesn’t need to study a little history of the Church because the confession does use certain words that affirm the truth, over and against the errors that tried to creep in during church history. But this is also true of the scriptures contained within Holy Writ. Unless one studies the historical setting of the Bible, then the reader will not grasp certain things in which the Bible states. So if, the average reader of today, struggles with the confession, then it is certain that they haven’t studied any church history and probably hasn’t studied any Biblical history. Of course, there are modern versions of the 1689 Confession, in modern language, and so Piper’s objection right here is absurd and ridiculous.

2) Piper has a hard time thinking that the 24 hours days of Genesis should by a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity. But why does he think that? Is he saying that whatever God states in scripture shouldn’t be a matter of confessional faithfulness to Christianity? To deny what God says in scripture is to deny scripture. Many, for the sake of not trying to look like the Bible is outdated or is ignorant concerning creation, have chosen to try and harmonize the scriptures with the obscure data of fallen man’s so-called science. Paul warned Timothy of this in 1 Timothy 6:20, whereby Paul said, “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called…” So I say, if someone gets Genesis wrong, then they get all of scripture wrong. Genesis lays the foundation for the rest of Biblical revelation. And if you notice several of his remaining objections are points that can be cleared up by studying the book of Genesis.

3) Piper also has a problem with the 1689 on its doctrine concerning the Sabbath. Yet the Sabbath, is part of the Moral law, and is contained within the ten commandments. These ten commandments where given on Mt Sinai, and are the totality of what is contained in the moral law. However, these ten commandments were revealed before Mt Sinai when God wrote these commandments on the heart of man at creation. We see that most of these commandments were broken in Genesis and God judges those who broke them.

4) Piper also seems to have a problem with the covenant of works. Yet, if one does away with the covenant of works, then they do away with Christ’s sacrifice. What law did Christ fulfill? Why did Christ have to die in our place, if no covenant was broken? If you do away with the doctrine of the covenant of works, then you do away with justification.

5) Finally Piper has a problem with the 1689 because it speaks of wine being used in the Lord’s supper. He states that wine is unbiblical and that it was probably only the fruit of the vine which was used at the Lord’s supper. You would think that someone who was a Pastor for as many years as he was, that they would not be so ignorant concerning such a matter as this. The Lord’s supper took place between March and April, seeing that the Passover was a movable feast. The harvesting of grapes took place in late October. Now how does Piper propose that the Jews preserved grape juice for six months? Welch had not yet been born. Once new wine was bottled, it started the fermentation process.

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 12-Which Comes First in Conversion Life or Faith?

CHAPTER 12-WHICH COMES FIRST IN CONVERSION LIFE OR FAITH?

The subject on which I am about to write has long been a matter of controversy. It takes us into the arena where theological gladiators have fought for centuries. The keenest of intellectual swords have been wielded in the long combat. The Armenian declares in triumphant tone that faith precedes life; the Calvinist, with the same spirit of certainty, says that life must precede faith, and is logically the cause of faith.

The writer believes that the controversy over this question is due to lack of distinguishing things that differ. The Scriptures speak of life in two different senses. There is life in the subjective, experimental and biological sense; and there is life in the objective and judicial sense. In other words, there is life in the sense of regeneration or the new birth, and there is life in the sense of justification. The first is life in respect to an inward state; the second is life in respect to an outward standing before the law of God. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (#Ro 5:18), speaks of “Justification of life.”) The first is life biologically; the second is life legally or judicially. The first is life wrought in the sinner by the Holy Spirit; the other is life wrought for the sinner by the redemptive death of Christ. Life in one sense is from the Holy Spirit; in another sense it is from Christ. Life from the Holy Spirit gives spiritual qualities to the heart and mind which control the will; life from Christ takes us out from under the curse of the law. It is the difference between impartation and imputation. Life from the Spirit is life imparted; life from Christ is life imputed.

The above distinction is a necessary corollary of the fact that the sinner is dead in a two—fold sense. He is dead in the sense that he is helpless and unable of himself to see or enter the kingdom of God, or to perform acceptable works in the sight of God. He is also dead in the sense that the sentence of death, culminating in the second death (the lake of fire) has been passed upon him. In one sense death is depravity of nature in which the sinner is blind to the light of the gospel; in another sense death is condemnation in which the sinner is exposed to the wrath of God. It is the difference between defilement of nature and condemnation of the person.

1. JUDICIAL LIFE FOLLOWS FAITH

With the above distinction in view, we are now prepared to state and prove that life from Christ—life in the objective and judicial sense- -follows faith. Every Scripture that predicated life upon faith in Christ refers to judicial life and presents life in contrast with condemnation and punishment. We can only take a few examples. #Joh 3:36: “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.” Life in this passage is based upon faith in Christ, and is in contrast with the wrath or judgment of God. #Joh 5:40: “And ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” Our Lord here says that men must come to him for life, and coming to Christ is the same as having faith in Christ. #Joh 3:16: “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.” Life in this verse is opposed to punishment, and is, therefore, judicial life. #Joh 5:24: “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation.” Note here that life is the opposite of condemnation, and therefore, must be life in the sense of justification. “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (#Joh 3:15); “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (#1Jo 5:12); “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (#Ro 5:1). All these passages are fatal to Hardshellism—the position that preaching the Gospel is not essential to salvation. Everlasting life is based upon faith in Christ, and men cannot believe in Him of Whom they have not heard. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?…So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (#Ro 10:14,17).

2. SPIRITUAL LIFE PRECEDES FAITH

We ask our readers to keep our distinction in mind while we prove from the Scriptures that life from the Holy Spirit—life in the subjective and biological sense—precedes faith, and is logically the cause of faith.

And let it be understood that we are not contending that life precedes faith in point of time. We are not saying that one may be born of the Spirit one day or week and believe on the following day or week. The order we are contending for is that which is seen in the relation between cause and effect. We are saying that faith in Christ is the effect or evidence of the new birth. We do not leave room for the question— “Can there be a regenerate unbeliever?” The effect of a thing may co- exist with the thing itself. To illustrate: I shoot a bullet through a wall; the bullet and the hole were there at the same time, but the bullet caused the hole and not the hole the bullet. The new birth and faith may be simultaneous, but the faith did not cause the new birth, the new birth caused the faith.

That the birth of the Spirit precedes faith as cause precedes effect, we will now prove from analogy of Scriptures. We will compare three verses of Scripture. In #1Jo 2:29 we read “that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” The verb here is in the perfect tense in the Greek and should read, “Has been born of Him.” The question to settle is this: Is doing righteousness the cause or the effect of the new birth? Does practical righteousness logically follow or precede the birth of the spirit? The rankest Armenian among the Baptists will be compelled to say that the new birth precedes and is the cause of practical righteousness. Now, in #1Jo 4:7 we read: “…every one that loveth is born of God.” The same perfect tense is used here and it should read, “has been born of God.” Is spiritual love the cause or the effect of the new birth? Does spiritual love logically follow or precede the new birth? And again the rankest Arminian among us will say that love is the effect or evidence of the birth of the Spirit. Now, take #1Jo 5:1: “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” The same perfect tense of the verb is used here as in the preceding examples, and should read, “Whosoever believeth.. has been born of God.” Now what will the Arminian say? Will he dare to say that faith is the cause of the new birth? If he does then, to be consistent, he must also say that spiritual love and practical righteousness are also causes of the new birth.

The only passage that seems to militate against our distinction and position is #Ga 3:26; “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” But the word translated children should be translated sons. The Greek is “huioi” and not “tekna”. We are sons of God by faith, but we are children of God through the new birth. Sonship is through adoption and adoption is a legal term—it means “placing as a son.” And we have already shown that the legal or judicial aspect of salvation is through faith in Christ. In this connection the words of J. M. Pendleton (Christian Doctrine, page 257) are most interesting:

“As to regeneration and faith, a plausible argument may be made in favor of the priority of either. For example, if we turn to “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (#Joh 1:12,13), it seems natural to suppose that those who believed in Christ were those who had been born of God. So also according to the correct rendering of #1Jo 5:1, “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is (has been) born of God.” Some use this passage as it reads in the Common Version, “is born of God,” to prove that faith is prior to regeneration, because the means of it; but the argument fails in view of the fact that not the present, but the perfect tense is used in the original- -“has been born of God.” But if we turn to #Ga 3:26, “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” the obvious view is that we become God’s children by faith, or, in other words, that faith is instrumental in effecting regeneration. We see, therefore, that there may be a plausible argument on either side of the question.”

We can only express surprise that Dr. Pendleton failed to see that the Greek in #Ga 3:26 reads “sons” rather than “children”. The reader will please note that #Ga 3:26 is the only passage that Dr. Pendleton quotes as seeming to teach that faith is instrumental in effecting regeneration.

VALUE OF THIS DISTINCTION

The theological value of the distinction we have made is far- reaching. It is a two-edged sword, cutting to pieces Arminianism on one side and Hardshellism on the other side. The Calvinist can accept the distinction and position helpfully but for the Arminian or Anti missionary to do so will spell the doom of his theology.

Moreover, what we have written is in full harmony with the New Hampshire Confession of faith. Article eight says that repentance and faith are sacred duties and inseparable graces wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God. This clearly makes regeneration the cause of repentance and faith. Article seven says that “Regeneration consists of giving a holy disposition to the mind; …so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the Gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life.” If the writer is able to understand the meaning of language, then those articles state that faith is the effect or evidence of the new birth. Much of the confusion among Baptist today is the result of many of our prominent ministers subscribing to and recommending the New Hampshire Confession and at the same time repudiating it in their preaching.

The practical value of our position is that it honors the Holy Spirit by making Him the author of that life which is essential to seeing and receiving the Gospel. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost” (#1Co 12:3). Our position is in perfect harmony with other Scriptural truths, such as, the effectual call, total depravity, human responsibility, and the sovereignity of God.

The distinction we have made was first made by our Lord in His conversation with Nicodemus. He first proclaimed life by the Spirit as essential to spiritual sight and activity. He declared that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. This is life in the biological sense. Later in the same message, He preached life through faith in Christ and this life was opposed to perishing. He did not say that sinners were born again by faith as many are saying today. Let us keep regeneration and justification distinct in our thinking and preaching.

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

The Wednesday Word: Now That’s Grace!

Why do believing sinners, who have done nothing sufficient to save themselves receive the reward of righteousness — eternal life? It is because Jesus, who did no sin, received the death penalty on their behalf!

Now that’s grace!

In the same way that our sin was reckoned to Christ, His righteousness was reckoned to us.

Now that’s grace!

My rags for His righteousness!

Now that’s grace!

Christ was treated as being something that He was not ….. a sinner, so that we would be treated as that which we are not…righteous.

Now that’s grace!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;

Now that’s grace!

So let us ask, at the cross did Christ become sinful in Himself? The answer is simple……No! 1000 time no! If he did become sinful in Himself, then it must also follow that we become savingly righteous within ourselves. It would also mean that the salvation which saves us is not reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4), it is within us. This then leads to a confounding of Law and Gospel where the believer’s holiness of life becomes the foundation and ground of His justification. But that is anti-gospel nonsense.

Our acceptance is not grounded on any quality within us, but on the worthiness and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

Now that’s grace!

The gospel concerns the doing, dying and rising again of the Lord Christ. It is not about our doing and dying nor indeed about anything in us or about anything we have done. We have been credited with His righteousness, not because we deserve it but because we need it.

Now that’s grace!

Christ, however, was treated as though He were actually sinful in Himself and because of that, we are now treated as though we are actually righteous. His righteousness, not ours, remains our only qualification for heaven.

Now that’s grace!

But, back to the cross. Someone asks, “Were the sins placed on Jesus real sins, or was this whole drama merely an act?” If it were an act, then the righteousness that is placed on us is also a fiction. However, the good news is that the sins placed on Christ on were real and the righteousness reckoned to us is genuine. It is “even the righteousness of God,” (Romans 3:22-23) and causes us to pass from death to life.

Now that’s grace!

When sin was imputed to Jesus, His relationship with the Father was radically affected for it caused God to withdraw His presence from Him. God cannot dwell with sin. Conversely, when Christ’s righteousness was imputed to us it radically affected our standing with God. It caused the Father to draw us into His presence and welcome us. It brought us into a beautiful place of fellowship with the Father for He loves to have fellowship with the righteous in Christ.

Now that’s grace!

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com