Tullian Tchividjian, Michael Horton, David Murray / Depraved Christianity / Antinomianism

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A few years ago the terms Depraved and Christian were being used together.  It raised some eyebrows back then so I started to document some of the communication and reviews that were being done by men such as Richard Phillips, David Murray, Tullian Tchividjian, and a few others.  The discussion provoked me into seeing that this topic also had to do with how the Gospel was being defined when I read this quote by Tullian Tchividjian .

 “The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution.” 

That sounded foreign and a bit off kilter from what I had read in the Bible.  Especially after I felt confirmed in my understanding by scripture and what Dr. David Murray said in response to this.

Dr. David Murray writes…
I agree that the Gospel is certainly a message about Christ’s external substitution. But it does not stop there. The Gospel is also a message about internal transformation (a major part of sanctification). Christ saves us from our sins objectively and subjectively, from the penalty of sin and the presence of sin.

I found that a Modern definition of the Gospel had permeated the Church and it seemed very truncated and deficient.  So I wrote a third blog post highlighting the Gospel.  It was in response to what I had learned concerning what Dr. Michael Horton had to say about the Gospel.

 Horton notes…

The term “gospel” is a very precise term, a particular kind of word, or kind of speech in the Bible.  It refers to God’s promise of salvation in Christ.  The gospel is a victory announcement.  It never tells us something to do.  That is the business of the law.  Rather, the gospel tells us something that has been done.

Consequently, those who speak of living the gospel or doing the gospel commit a category mistake.   More importantly, they make the most basic theological mistake a person could make, namely, confuse the law and the gospel.  And if we confuse the law and the gospel, then we will make ourselves partly your own saviors, adding to the work of Christ.

Is Horton Correct?  …. As a Pastor aquaintance has noted….

The most serious problem is that Horton’s indictment is based upon a shaky foundation.  Horton’s critique is predicated upon his narrow and strict definition of the term “gospel.”  But is that the only way the Bible uses or defines the term “gospel”?  The answer is no!  Romans 2:16 connects the future judgment with the gospel and 2 Thess. 1:8 and 1 Pet. 4:17 both speak of obeying the gospel.  The gospel is to be obeyed.  But how do you obey a victory announcement?  How do you obey what God has done?  So either the Bible itself confuses law and gospel or it uses the word “gospel” differently (at times) than Horton.  Since the latter must be true, then Horton shouldn’t make the strict definition of the gospel, the one and only definition of the gospel.  And he most certainly shouldn’t make any charges of legalism towards those who use a broader yet biblical definition of the gospel.

Of course,  I threw some of my thinking into the fray because I had been dealing with these issues on a personal level for many years.  So just for a rehash of some older posts I present the blogs that were done a few years ago.  

Depraved Christianity may be Antinomian Christianity

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/depraved-christianity-may-be-antinomian-christianity/

Depraved Christianity may be Antinomian Christianity Part 2

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/depraved-christianity-may-be-antinomian-christianity-part-2/

(What is the Gospel?) Depraved Christianity might be Antinomian Christianity pt. 3

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/depraved-christianity-might-be-antinomian-christianity-pt-3/

I have been a moderator of a Confessional Theological Discussion Forum for many years now.  Some may wonder if I ever get tired of having to wade through the issues as it always seems that there is some new pressing issue that the Church has to deal with.  The answer is yes.  I have had to pull back quite a few times and refocus on what is important.  I have found myself in need of repentance for attitudes I have developed.  I have grown weary of studying things I didn’t want to.  But I have also been graced to grow in the knowledge and Grace of Our Saviour.  He has been so good to us.  Even though I have learned we all have differences many of those differences actually help us grow.  So I don’t take it lightly that we have disagreements or might rub each other the wrong way.  As Iron Sharpens Iron says the old Proverb.  This one thing I have learned, If we are commanded to love our enemies as ourselves how much more should we love the Church and each other for whom Christ died.  May that be a force no one can overcome.

I still believe Orthodoxy leads to Orthopraxy.  Therefore I strive to know and grow.
May HIs Kingdom Come on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Be Encouraged,

RMS

Old Posts on the Modern Reformed Movement

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/old-posts-on-the-mosaic-covenant-vs-the-new-reformed-paradigm/

The Charge of Lutheranism is not about distinction, it is about dichotomy

law-and-gospel-web

May 19, 2014
When I was a seminary student (1984-87) I only occasionally heard about a “law/gospel” distinction and then it as never explained to me. I learned about the substance of the distinction 10 years later doing my doctoral work. No one ever explained how it related to preaching until 1998. I had been preaching for a decade by the time I had any clear idea how important it was for preaching. I didn’t want to be a moralist in the pulpit but I was. I knew I was doing something wrong in my preaching but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I don’t think I was alone. When I first started writing about the distinction several years later I was roundly attacked as a “Lutheran.” A decade or more later it still happens. I still regularly read that the law/gospel distinction is “Lutheran.”

The law/gospel distinction is, it is argued, Lutheran.
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The author of the above comment either doesn’t fully appreciate what he has been told by some people or he just doesn’t understand the situation still after many have tried to explain it to him.  He keeps addressing this Law / Gospel issue but seems to refuse to deal with certain specifics when they are shown to him.

He is the commander of his ship (blog).  So when he addresses a topic he is in control of the material and terminology he chooses to expose others to.  For some reason, when others have tried to explain to him that it isn’t the distinctions that we are troubled by but the issue of dichotomizing Law and Gospel it seems to fall upon deaf ears.  He seems to keep hearing an incorrect charge.  Some are probably making other charges that he would rather answer. therefore he can deflect away from this one about distinction.  He claims that it is about distinctions but that is too broad of an accusation.  It seems he obfuscates the issue by constantly making reference that others are calling him Lutheran because he makes a Law / Gospel distinction.  Dear Dr. Clark,  It isn’t about the distinctions, it is that you seem to be dichotomizing Law and Gospel as the Lutherans do.  That is what we are having a problem with.  It isn’t about how they are distinct.  We acknowledge that they are distinct subjects.  We don’t believe the Law is set in the Form of a Covenant of Works in many situations where you see it is.  We do not see that Law and Gospel necessarily oppose each other.  The Law and Gospel sweetly comply.

How they are distinct does matter in a narrow sense and in a broader sense.  In the narrow sense the Works of the Law are opposed to the Gospel as all die in Adam.  In the broader sense the distinction of Law is yet different and not necessarily opposed to the Gospel.  This is Reformed Thought as I understand the Confession and hear our heritage speak.  In Lutheranism Law and Gospel are generally opposed because the Law is almost always equated with being in the Form of a Covenant of Works.  And that is where the problem lies.  The Moral Law is usually set in a context of a Covenant of Works in some sense which puts the Law in Opposition to the Gospel in all of those situations.  That is why the charge of Lutheranism is leveled at some men who dichotomize Law and Gospel in both the narrow and broader sense.

We are not necessarily speaking about distinctions when we accuse anyone of Lutheranism.  We are speaking about how men dichotomize Law and Gospel.  It almost seems as if the author of the comment above is hiding some historical facts.  It is as if he hasn’t been shown or confronted with some of the writings of the Divines of the Westminster Assembly.   Here is the great Westminster Divine Anthony Burgess addressing the subject back in the 17th Century.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/lutheran-reformed-differences-back-during-the-time-of-the-westminster-divines/

“We have confuted (proven to be incorrect) the false differences, and now come to lay down the truth, between the law and the Gospel taken in a larger sense.  

And, first, you must know that the difference is not essential, or substantial, but accidental: so that the division of the Testament, or Covenant into the Old, and New, is not a division of the Genus (classification) into its opposite Species; but of the subject, according to its several accidental administrations, both on Gods part, and on mans.It is true, the Lutheran Divines, they do expressly oppose the Calvinists herein, maintaining the Covenant given by Moses, to be a Covenant of Works, and so directly contrary to the Covenant of Grace. Indeed, they acknowledge that the Fathers were justified by Christ, and had the same way of salvation with us; only they make that Covenant of Moses to be a superadded thing to the Promise, holding forth a condition of perfect righteousness unto the Jews, that they might be convinced of their own folly in their self-righteousness.” (Vindication of the Morall Law,  Lecture 26  p.251)

The differences were recognized back then.  Sure there are some added nuances in the way things have been laid out in today’s theological atmosphere but the Lutheran charge is not about distinctions as much as how the Lutheran hermeneutic makes Law and Gospel so opposed to each other in a large part of theological context.

Statements have been made in the past that the Law only commands and the Gospel only says believe.  In a narrow context that is somewhat true.  But when it is applied to the broader context we start having problems.  We also have problems just because we know the Gospel does command and promise is applied to the command.  When statements are made like this, “The Gospel never tells us what to do.” or “The Gospel never Commands, that is what the Law does.” we start to have problems.  This is the dichotomizing I am speaking about.  The hermeneutic that Gospel and Law are opposed to each other in almost all situations is a misnomer and one that is being propagated on a regular basis today by men in the Reformed Camp.  They are equating the Law with the Covenant of Works in all things.  It is troubling and dangerous in my estimation.  When people lay the charge of Lutheranism at the feet of these Seminary Professors and people like them, this is what they are speaking about.  These guys want to equate the Moral Law with the Covenant of Works.  That is a Lutheran Hermeneutic.

Let me expound on why I think that hermeneutic is a bit out of kilter by referring to Robert Shaw in his commentary on the Law of God in Chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

The law, as thus inscribed on the heart of the first man, is often styled the law of creation, because it was the will of the sovereign Creator, revealed to the reasonable creature, by impressing it upon his mind and heart at his creation. It is also called the moral law, because it was a revelation of the will of God, as his moral governor, and was the standard and rule of man’s moral actions. Adam was originally placed under this law in its natural form, as merely directing and obliging him to perfect obedience. He was brought under it in a covenant form, when an express threatening of death, and a gracious promise of life, was annexed to it; and then a positive precept was added, enjoining him not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, as the test of his obedience to the whole law.–Gen. ii. 16, 17.

Adam was created with the Law written upon his heart in its Natural Form before he was placed in the Garden of Eden under it in the form of a Covenant of Works.  He was brought under the Law in Covenant Form when death and life promises were annexed (attached) to it based upon his compliance to the stipulations of that Covenant Form.  He lived in creation and under the law in its natural form first.  After Adam sinned that Law which was given to him also in Covenant Form was anulled according to Robert Shaw because Adam failed in complying with the stipulations of perfect adherence to that Covenant Form.

Upon the fall of man, the law, considered as a covenant of works, was annulled and set aside

Now after the fall the Law that was written upon Adam’s heart in it’s Natural Form still directed and obliged him to obey it perfectly as it first did in its Natural Form.  It was no longer a Covenant of Works that had the promise of life attached to it.  I can only think by the phrase “annulled and set aside” that Shaw was emphasizing that the Covenant of Works was broken and that possibility for fulfillment by Adam’s children was removed.  All died in Adam.  The Law after the Fall was only considered the Moral Law (as in its Natural Form) as Robert Shaw signifies and as our Confession states.

but, considered as moral, it continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness. That fair copy of the law which had been inscribed on the heart of the first man in his creation, was, by the fall, greatly defaced, although not totally obliterated.

Now let me reiterate that the charge of Lutheranism isn’t necessarily about distinctions as much as it is about the dichotomizing of Law and Grace.  Justification and Sanctification are distinct doctrines found in the Gospel.  They are definitely to be considered in our Union with Christ.  They are as Calvin referred to them a two-fold grace.  They are distinct.  But they do not oppose each other nor are they to  be considered issues cut off from one another.  As Calvin stated repeatedly, justification and sanctification are benefits that are to be distinguished but never separated (distinctio sed non separatio) any more than Christ himself can be separated 1 Cor 1:30.  The Law as Christ’s law is never separated from the Gospel.  The Gospel actually restores it in our lives.  The trajectory that the Law is equated with the Covenant of Works and opposes the Gospel in a broad sense is just poor Lutheran Hermeneutics.  In its Natural Form the Law still obliges perfect obedience but it is not annexed to the promises of life and death any longer as a Covenant of Works.  Not even in some sense.  If that were true then we could even make the Lord’s table a Covenant of Works.  It isn’t about distinction.  It is about dichotomy.  So the charge of Lutheranism just might be true.  Aye?

I think Bavinck is a great place to learn from.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/herman-bavinck-on-law-and-gospel/

Other related posts.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/law-and-gospel-in-a-pastoral-context-what-does-that-mean/

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/old-posts-on-the-mosaic-covenant-vs-the-new-reformed-paradigm/

Tullian: Exit Stage Left Dazed and Confused

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Dazed and Confused?  Okay, maybe not dazed, but Confused?

“I had informed The Gospel Coalition of my plan to make this transition in August when the new Liberate site is launched, but was informed on Thursday that certain members of The Gospel Coalition wanted the transition to happen ASAP. I was disappointed and a bit confused. We would’ve loved to have had more time to get things ready on our end and I have always been open to having any conversations with any of the staff at The Gospel Coalition who had any questions whatsoever about the content I was posting. I would’ve been happy to answer any questions they may have had and provide robust clarification if needed. None of the powers that be, however, ever mentioned anything to me (either by email or phone) before Thursday when I was simply told that the transition needed to happen now.” TT
http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2014/05/20/ive-come-to-set-the-captives-free/

 

Dazed and Confused?  Okay, maybe not dazed, but Confused? For the past few years Tullian has been challenged and asked to clarify himself.  He and Rick Phillips started to communicate a bit at one time.  Now I can’t speak to the issue of who communicated (or who should have communicated) with Pastor Tullian Tchividjian at all.  But evidently he understood there were some concerns as he states, “I know I have had some differences with some of the other contributors to this site but my goal has always been to do nothing but preach the Good News with every post, to bring relief to the burdened and broken, and rest to the weary and heavy laden by fixing the readers’ eyes on the finished work of Jesus.”  I am grateful that Pastor Tchividjian desires to focus on the finished work of Jesus.  I am grateful he desires to bring relief to the burdened and broken by fixing their eyes upon Jesus.  But part of the problem is that he is only giving half a message.  Once our eyes are focused on Christ we need to hear what the Spirit says to the Church.  After we see him we need to hear Him.

At the end of his short fairwell address to the readers of his blog at the Gospel Coalition Tullian takes the high road of Luther in declaration form, “Here I Stand.”  The famous quote was delivered by Luther as an act of confessing and doing.  It was an act of desiring to obey God rather than man.  His comment was followed up by another short phrase.  “Here I Stand.  I can do no other.”  Tullian could have done something more.  He was not placed in a situation as Luther was.  He could have given full weight to his brothers who were imploring him to hear all of the scripture speak instead of his truncated view of the Gospel.  Yes, the Work of Christ is Finished.  But there is still a work for us to do.  The Gospel message is more than just a proclamation of our justification (our being declared righteous) before God.  The Gospel of our Salvation also includes our freedom to obey (Sanctification) in light of our future hope of deliverance (Glorification).

I find it ironical that his new ministry is called Liberate.  The part of the message that others are trying to get Pastor Tchividjian to also focus on is found in Jesus words and the Words of St. Paul.  Freedom from bondage to sin and Freedom to Obey.

Joh 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
Joh 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
Joh 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Rom 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Rom 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Rom 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Rom 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Rom 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Rom 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Rom 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
Rom 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
Rom 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now I am pretty sure that Pastor Tchividjian understands this point also.  Unfortunately he has skewed things by turning every text of scripture that he can into a message of Justification by Faith Alone.  And that is a wonderful message and a message that some declare is the article upon which the Church stands or falls.  But there is much more than that in the account when we consider the doctrine of Salvation.  I will just leave you all with this thought.  Salvation is more than justification.  It is about reconciliation.  It is about Eternal Life.  It is about knowing and being known by God.  It is about relationship and freedom found in that relationship.

Hurry up and save the work.  The program has a flaw.  It is shutting down at its present location.  I will pray and have prayed for this system flaw.  May Pastor Tullian be given eyes to see and ears to hear so that Christ may be exalted and glorified.  Blessings upon Him.  I pray I see things more clearly also as I am prone to only see a partial message.

I would encourage everyone to watch the video in this blog post.
https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/the-modern-day-grace-movement-a-hermeneutical-problem/

 

The Modern Day Grace Movement / A Hermeneutical Problem

I was reading through one of the threads on the Puritanboard.com the other day and noticed something that I must have missed last year. I knew there was a Pre-Assembly Theological Conference before the PCA General Assembly last year on Grace but I didn’t realize that the sessions were posted for us to listen to. One of the sessions that peaked my interest was a critique of the Modern Grace Movement. So I downloaded it and listened to it a few times. I have to admit that I was quite taken back by the content and theological expose’ that was given. Now the session critiquing the Modern Grace Movement doesn’t mention any names nor does it openly go after anyone specifically. At the same time I found it quite unavoidable to see certain teachers and teachings being address. It is very relevant to the topics being discussed today. I would wholeheartedly encourage everyone who has any interest in the discussions going on in today’s climate concerning Sanctification to give this Session a solid listening to.

The Gospel Reformation Network

Original page to Conference videos. 2013 Sessions

Sermon Audio page with audio and video links
Critique of the Contemporary Grace Movement | SermonAudio.com

 



Video SermonAudio.com – Media Player

 

Tullian Tchividjian and Mark Jones’ Reformation 21 blog post

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Click here to view Dr. Mark Jones’ Reformation 21 blog post, ‘Tullian’s Trench’


Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has been removed from the list of contributors on the Gospel Coalition’s blog. I believe his older posts will remain. Maybe Dr. Mark Jones’ challenges concerning sanctification (a Christian’s growth in personal holiness) along with other prominent men such as Richard Phillips, David Murra
y, Daniel Hyde, and Kevin DeYoung have had some influence on the situation. I don’t know if the decision to remove Tullian Tchividjian from being a contributor was made by Pastor Tchividjian himself or the Council Members over at The Gospel Coalition. Either way, I have a hope that the Church is finally getting the point that this issue is important and that it is just as important as Dr. Jones declared it is in his recent Reformation 21 blog post

“In aiming to protect the doctrine of justification, Tchividjian does more harm than good to this precious doctrine. We cannot be light-hearted about this doctrine; it is worth dying for. Even so, we can’t read justification into passages that are clearly talking about sanctification, as Tchividjian is prone to do in many places. When this type of theologizing is done by preachers on a consistent basis, their preaching becomes burdensome, and preaching (and God’s commandments) should not be burdensome. Ironically, by doing this (i.e., reading justification into sanctification), Tchividjian has made, to use his words, a “category” mistake.”

I personally appreciated Mark’s challenge here.

“But perhaps TGC will have the theological fortitude to remove Tchividjian’s blog. And will others say something? Oh that Tullian would be rebuked, not defended, by those wishing to recover the Reformed confession.” MJ

Maybe it is time for some cold reality to be splashed on the face of those who claim to be Confessionally Reformed and or Presbyterian. That reality can be stated like this, Just because you attach the name Reformed to something doesn’t necessarily mean it is good Reformed Theology. Good godly men have been lovingly raising awareness over aberrations concerning the teaching of sanctification and good works for the past few years. What some guys are pawning off as Reformed Theology doesn’t appear to be sound Reformed Theology at all. And that appears to include the teaching of sanctification and good works in its various formulations as noted by Mark Jones in his Reformation 21 blog post.

Additional Follow ups…

Follow up blog post 5/20/14 …. https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/tullian-exit-stage-left-dazed-and-confused/

TGC explanation 5/21/14 http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/on-some-recent-changes-at-tgc

We want to give readers help in understanding some of the changes that have gone on at The Gospel Coalition of late. One minister, Tullian Tchividjian, was asked to move his blog off our website. Two other members of the Council, Joshua Harris and C. J. Mahaney, resigned from the Council (Tullian was not a member of the Council). Each move had significantly different reasons behind it.

In Tullian’s case, it was obvious to observers that for some time there has been an increasingly strident debate going on around the issue of sanctification. The differences were doctrinal and probably even more matters of pastoral practice and wisdom. Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity. Earlier in the year our executive director spent two days with Tullian in Florida. Coming out of that meeting, it was decided that Tullian would move his blog. Finally the Council at its meeting last week decided that Tullian should move his blog immediately, and we communicated this conclusion to Tullian.

I honestly believe the Westminster Confession of Faith contains one of the best summaries and sound proclamations concerning sanctification and good works. So I will just leave you with its teaching as my final thoughts here.

CHAPTER XIII.

Of Sanctification.

I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

II. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

III. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

CHAPTER XVI.

Of Good Works.

I. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

II. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

IV. They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

V. We can not, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, because of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God’s judgment.

VI. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and can not please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.

The Law turned into Gospel / Gospel Obedience

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William Perkins ‘Christ fulfilling the law’ in his Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount 5:17

Christ fulfilled the law in men. Men may be of two sorts: elect and reprobates. In His elect, He fulfilled the law two ways: first, by creating faith in their hearts whereby they lay hold on Christ, who for them fulfilled it; secondly, by giving them His own Spirit which maketh them endeavour to fulfil the law; which in Christ is accepted for perfect obedience in this life, and in the life to come is perfect indeed.

Thomas Goodwin (Works, 6:261)

As faith turns the commands of the law into gospel in a regenerate man’s heart, so conscience, in an unregenerate man, turns the gospel into law. As faith writes the law in the heart, and urgeth the duties of it upon evangelical grounds and motives—as the love of Christ, conformity to him, union with him, and the free grace of God—so in a man unregenerate, gospel duties are turned into legal, through the sway and influence of conscience, and that dominion which the covenant of works hath over him.

Samuel Rutherford (The Covenant of Life Opened, 198-199)

The obedience of faith, or Gospel-obedience, in the fourth place, hath less of the nature of obedience than that of Adam, or of the elect angels, or that of Christ’s. It’s true we are called obedient children, and they are called the commandments of Christ, and Christ hath taken the moral law and made use of it in an evangelic way, yet we are more (as it were) patients in obeying gospel-commands. Not that we are mere patients, as Libertines teach; for grace makes us willing, but we have both supernatural habits and influences of grace furnished to us from the grace of Christ, who hath merited both to us; and so in Gospel-obedience we offer more of the Lord’s own and less of our own because he both commands and gives us grace to obey. And so to the elect believer the Law is turned in Gospel, he by his grace fulfilling (as it were) the righteousness of the Law in us by begun new obedience, Rom. 8:4.

Westminster Confession of Faith 19.6

It [the moral law] is likewise of use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to show what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law. The promises of it, in like manner, show them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works. So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and not under grace. 

Westminster Larger Catechism

Q. 32. How is the grace of God manifested in the second covenant?
A. The grace of God is manifested in the second covenant, in that he freely provideth and offereth to sinners a Mediator, and life and salvation by him; and requiring faith as the condition to interest them in him, promiseth and giveth his Holy Spirit to all his elect, to work in them that faith, with all other saving graces; and to enable them unto all holy obedience, as the evidence of the truth of their faith and thankfulness to God, and as the way which he hath appointed them to salvation.

The commentary of Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg catechism pp. 617,18 objection 8

Obj. 8. The law is the letter which killeth, and is the ministration of death and condemnation. (2 Cor. 3 : 6, 7.) But there is no condemnation to Christians. Therefore, the law does not have respect to Christians who are in Christ Jesus.

Ans. There is here a fallacy of accident ; for the law is not in itself the letter which killeth ; since this comes to pass by the fault of men, who, the more clearly they perceive the difference between themselves and the law, the more fully do they give themselves over to despair in reference to their salvation, and are therefore slam by the law. Again, the law alone, without the gospel, is the letter, that is, it is the doctrine which merely teaches, demands obedience, denounces the wrath of God and death to such as are disobedient, without producing the spiritual obedience which it requires. But when it is joined with the gospel, which is the Spirit, it also commences to become the Spirit, which is effectual in the godly, inasmuch as those who are regenerated commence willingly and cheerfully to yield obedience to the law. The law, therefore, is the letter, 1. By itself and without the gospel. 2. In respect to those who are unregenerated. On the other hand, the gospel is the Spirit; that is, it is the ministration and means through which the Holy Ghost, which works spiritual obedience in us, is given; not indeed as though all who hear, would receive the Holy Ghost and be regenerated, but because faith, by which our hearts are quickened, so that they begin to yield obedience to the law, is received by it. It does not follow, therefore, that the law is no longer to be taught in the church; for Christ himself says: “I am not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it.” (Matt. 5: 17.) And Paul also says, that we establish the law through faith. (Rom. 3: 31.) Christ fulfilled the law in two respects: his obedience and suffering. He was just and holy in himself and did not violate the law in a single instance, but partly performed in our behalf those things which he was not bound to do, and partly sustained the punishment of the law. He also fulfills the law in us in two ways, by teaching it and granting unto us his Spirit, that so we may commence obedience to it, as we proved when speaking of the abrogation of the law.  

Portions of Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, 3rd unaltered edition, vol. 4 (Kampen, J. H. Kok, 1918)

Therefore, that law has reached its end in Christ, the seed of promise (Rom.10:4); the believer is free from the law (Gal.4:26f.; 5:1), since he is redeemed through Christ from the curse of the law (Gal.3:13; 4:5), and shares in the Spirit of adoption, the Spirit of freedom (Rom.8:15; 2 Cor.3:16-17; Gal.5:18).
This freedom of faith, however, does not invalidate the law, but establishes it (Rom.3:31), since its legal requirement is fulfilled precisely in those who walk according to the Spirit (Rom.8:4). After all, that Spirit renews believers so that they delight in God’s law according to the inner man and inquire as to what God’s holy will is (Rom.7:22; 12:2; Eph.5:10; Phil.1:10), while they are spurred on through various impulses — the great mercy of God, the example of Christ, the costly price with which they have been purchased, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, etc. — to the doing of God’s will…..
...The Gospel is temporary, but the law is eternal and is restored precisely through the Gospel. Freedom from the law consists, then, not in the fact that the Christian has nothing more to do with the law, but lies in the fact that the law demands nothing more from the Christian as a condition of salvation. The law can no longer judge and condemn him. Instead he delights in the law of God according to the inner man and yearns for it day and night.

 

 

For more great quotes visit  https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/sundry-quotes-from-solid-reformed-men-on-law-and-gospel/

Without Holiness No Man Shall See The Lord

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(Heb 12:14) Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:


As I studied the passage mentioned above through the years I came to the conclusion that holiness is a real important issue in the life of the believer. Our holiness matters. It doesn’t save us but it is a result of knowing Christ. I came to understand the Hebrews passage in light of something Jesus said during His sermon on the Mount.

Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven

The Pharisees and scribes were no slackers in trying to obey the law. But their obedience and performance of it seems to be a bit off kilter as a matter of the heart. In fact the passages following the quote above signify a deeper understanding of the Law. The issue isn’t that I have never committed physical adultery but that Adultery is a matter of the heart just as is the issue of cursing a brother and hating someone being equivalent to murder.

Does our righteousness matter? Of course we can’t measure up but we start to see things differently and obey Christ and do righteous deeds so that he may be Glorified instead of us trying to be holy for our glory alone and justification. Our Holiness Matters. But it is a matter of the heart.

I think Jesus shows us a difference between the righteousness of the Pharisee and that of the just in the following passages.

(Mat 6:5) And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

(Mat 6:6) But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

The difference is a matter of the heart. Holiness matters. Without it we need to be cautious.

 Let me add to that from the Westminster Confession of Faith to see if it can illuminate us any farther.

CHAPTER XVI.

Of Good Works.

I. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

II. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spiritbut they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

IV. They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

V. We can not, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, because of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God’s judgment.

VI. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and can not please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.

Our righteousness is important as it is a fruit of the Spirit. Without holiness of this sort there is much to be worried about if we examine who and what we are. This is one of the reasons we are told by Saint Paul to examine ourselves at the Lord’s Table in 1 Corinthians 11 and in 2 Corinthians 13:5. In fact Jesus basically says the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount which I spoke of before. Here are the two quotes.

2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Mat 5:23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
Mat 5:24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

I would caution at the same time that we must not compare our holiness, or ability to perform against our brothers capabilities. That is dangerous. St. Paul tells us this here.

2Co 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 

We all are babes when we come to Christ and are only able to digest so much. We all are different and mature differently. Each of us have different issues. Some of us have deep sin and deep inclinations toward different kinds of sin. Some are much harder to overcome if we have participated in particular sin. Everyone starts off in the faith with different struggles due to our involvement with different kinds of bondage to sin. Deliverance is of the Lord and we are to work out our salvation. That will look very differently for some than others. But God will do things and he will pity us as his children.

Through the Years Psalm 130 has become important to me.

Psa 130:1 Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.
Psa 130:2 Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
Psa 130:3 If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
Psa 130:4 But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
Psa 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
Psa 130:6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Psa 130:7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
Psa 130:8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

I hope this helps.