The Mystery of the Gentiles being grafted into the Church is not in found in the book of Psalms?


Professor Scott Sanborn argues against exclusive Psalmody by stating that the mystery of Gentile inclusion does not appear within the Psalter. Ephesians 3:4-6 is the text in question.

By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (italics added).

Sanborn states, “[T]he psalms did not reveal this mystery.”(43) More emphatically, “No Old Testament revelation (including the Psalter) revealed this mystery.”(44) Again, “The wisdom of Christ … is God’s mystery, a mystery that was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets, including the Psalmists.”(45) Why this protest? If the Psalms do not reveal this mystery, they are not sufficient for New Testament worship. Then “it follows that the church is required to sing more than the Psalter in public worship.”(46) Not only so, “to restrict the church’s song to Old Testament revelation in the Psalter is at odds with the Regulative Principle of worship.”(47) Earlier in his article, Sanborn says, “By calling us to sing out of this mystery, Paul is surely calling us to sing more than the Psalter.”(48)

Psalm 117, among many others, readily answers this objection. “Praise the Lord, all nations; / Laud Him, all peoples! / For His lovingkindness is great toward us, / And the truth of the Lord is everlasting. / Praise the Lord!” Psalm 117, the shortest in the Psalter, is part of the so-called Egyptian Hallel. It is sung at the Jewish Passover in remembrance of Israel’s salvation and deliverance from Egypt. Of course, Passover points to Christ. “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7).

Rooted in deliverance and pointing to Christ, this Psalm calls “all nations” and “all people” to offer praise and worship to the Lord of glory. Specifically, all Gentile nations and peoples ought to “praise the Lord.” The implication is that all nations, Jew and Gentile, will be gathered in one body to worship and serve Jesus Christ. Calvin comments on this Psalm, “It would therefore serve no purpose for the prophet to address the heathen nations, unless they were to be gathered together in the unity of the faith with the children of Abraham.”(49) Matthew Henry refers to Ephesians 3:6 in his comments on the Psalm. “[T]he gospel of Christ is ordered to be preached to all nations, and by him the partition-wall is taken down, and those that were afar off are made nigh. This was the mystery which was hidden in prophecy for many ages, but was at length revealed in the accomplishment, That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, Eph. iii. 3, 6.”(50)

Yes, Psalm 117, among others, sets forth “the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit (Eph. 3:4-5, italics added). Note the comparison that Paul makes. The mystery was revealed in the Old Testament, but has now been more fully revealed. What is this mystery? “That the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).

Sanborn’s protestations are ill-founded. He appears to miss the comparison Paul makes. Paul does not say that the mystery of gentile inclusion was not revealed in the Old Testament. Rather, he pointedly indicates that this mystery was not fully revealed in the Old Testament. Note Paul’s comparison once again: “You can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit” (Eph. 3:4-5). “As” is a conjunction or particle “denoting comparison.”(51) Again, the mystery is, “That the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”(Eph.3:6).

That this mystery is revealed in the Old Testament is clear. Again, Psalm 117, for example, calls the Gentiles to join in the worship of the Lord of glory. This call is rooted in the promise given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 22:18). The seed is Christ (Gal. 3:16). The promise is the gospel: “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU’” (Gal. 3:8). The Father’s eternal promise to the Son stands behind all of the temporal promises: “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance” (Ps. 2:8). The Psalms are full of the gospel of Christ. They are full of the mystery of Gentile inclusion. Believers can sing the Psalms concerning this mystery. Additional newer songs are not required. The Psalter is sufficient for New Testament Praise.

  1. Scott F. Sanborn, “Inclusive Psalmody: Why ‘Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs’ Refer to More than the Old Testament Psalter,” Kerux 23:3 (December 2008): 20.
  2. Ibid., 34.
  3. Ibid., 36
  4. Ibid., 49, italics added.
  5. Ibid., 49.
  6. Ibid., 18.
  7. John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, trans. James Anderson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 4:375.
  8. Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 3: 679.
  9. F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker, Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 221.

Used by permission from Dr. Dennis Prutow



Prutow, Dennis. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody. Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.





The Regulative Principle is Fulfilled in Christ?


Dr. Vern Poythress, noted Professor of New Testament Interpretation, argues against exclusive psalmody as follows: “The regulative principle of worship finds its final, decisive expression when Christ fulfills the law of Moses and the ordinances of David with superabundant fulfillment and riches.”(34) He further states that the fulfillment of the regulative principle “is of a piece with the fulfillment of the priestly, kingly, and prophetic ministry” of the Old Testament: “all is fulfilled in Christ.”(35)

Professor Poythress mixes apples and oranges. The regulative principle arises from the Second Commandment; it is part of the moral law, which is perpetual. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them …” (Exod. 20:4-5). “What is forbidden in the second commandment?” Answer, “The second commandment forbiddeth the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word” (WSC 51, italics added). Shorter Catechism 51 is a classic statement of the regulative principle of worship. Believers are not to worship in any way God does not command in His word. The Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings were prophetic types pointing forward to Christ and fulfilled in Him. They served under the ceremonial law and the civil law of Israel, which were temporary.

The professor also uses the term fulfilled in different ways. The prophetic types of prophet, priest, and king are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the anti-type. Old Testament ceremonies are fulfilled when Christ sets them aside to establish His own sacrificial work as final (Heb. 10:9). Christ fulfills the moral law in a different way. He obeys it. Since the regulative principle is part of the moral law and therefore perpetual, it remains in force. God calls all people to obey it.

Professor Poythress goes on to rightly say, “In our worship we are to strive for complete conformity to the law, bending all our efforts and finding all our joy in fulfilling it (not going beyond it with inventions).”(36) Amen! However, the professor also says, “Moreover, it is conformity which is internal.”(37) Expressing the need for this internal conformity, he continues, “We must have the mind of Christ …”(38) How true. What happens when there is failure? “We must see that Christ himself is the definitive embodiment of true righteousness.”(39) Christ, therefore, fulfills the regulative principle; “all is fulfilled in Christ.”(40) Note the ambiguity, the equivocation. Christ fulfills the regulative principle as a part of the Second Commandment by His perfect obedience. Since the regulative principle is a perpetual and moral principle and not ceremonial, Christ does not fulfill it like the Old Testament sacrifices, which He does set aside.

Conformity to God’s moral law is not only internal. Believers must outwardly act according to God’s law, including the regulative principle. Yes, believers must have the mind of Christ. There is an internal and subjective aspect to worship as God commands. Calvin, following Athanasius, points in this direction in his Preface to the Psalms, “[T]here is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented …”(41) Athanasius teaches “each one sings the Psalms as though they had been written for his special benefit …” and we sing them “as a pattern and model for the amendment of our lives.”(42) The Psalms are a divine guide for the expression of personal thoughts and emotions in worship.

The regulative principle of worship remains in force. Psalmody helps believers fulfill, follow, and obey it. As Christians sing the Psalms in worship, God works internal conformity to His Law in them by training their thoughts and emotions. Holding to the regulative principle of worship, the church continues to sing the Psalms.

  1. Vern S. Poythress, “Ezra 3, Union with Christ, and Exclusive Psalmody,” Westminster Theological Journal 37:1 (Fall 1974) 82.
  2. Ibid., 82-83.
  3. Ibid., 83.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. John Calvin, “The Author’s Preface,” Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 1:xxxvii.
  9. Athanasius, “Letter to Marcellinus Concerning the Psalms,” Fisheaters.com, accessed November 15, 2011.


Used by permission from Dr. Dennis Prutow


Prutow, Dennis. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody. Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.


Objections to Psalmody pt 3 Psalmody is Typology?


Reality not Typology


I don’t want to sing about types; I want to sing about the realities. Dr. T. David Gordon says of exclusive Psalmody, “We may sing of Christ typologically through canonical psalms, but we may not sing of Christ expressly; even though Israel could sing expressly of deliverance from Babylon, and was not restricted to singing of it typologically through Exodus-psalms.”(23) It has already been shown, under the heading, “I Want to Sing About Jesus,” that believers do expressly sing of and to Christ using the Psalms. The matter of typology will be addressed shortly.

Dr. Coppes adds the following regarding exclusive Psalmody,

God limits us to returning to those types when we sing. We accuse them of this because the 150 Psalms were written to express and facilitate the idea of the Levitical / Mosaic theology and not to express the theology and ideas of fulfillment in Christ. They are part of the Levitical system. They stand in the same relationship to the new covenant as does the rest of that system … When some of those songs became officially the hymnbook of the Old Testament church, then they became the type.(24)

The Psalter itself is not a type. It does not fit the definition of a Biblical type. In his Biblical Hermeneutics, Milton Terry says, “There must be evidence that the type was designed and appointed by God to represent the thing typified.”(25) Scripture nowhere identifies the Psalter as a type. A Biblical type also prefigures prefigures something in the future; a Biblical type is prophetic.(26) What does the Psalter prefigure? In addition, Biblical types involve typical persons, typical institutions, typical offices, and typical events.(27) The Psalter fits none of these categories. The Psalter is not a type.

Granted, King David associated Psalmody with the typical institution of the ceremonial law (1 Chronicles 16). King Hezekiah also formalized Psalmody in temple worship (2 Chronicles 29:30). This association with the ceremonial law does not necessarily indicate that the Psalter is typological. After all, the Psalter, as we know it, did not come into being until post-exilic times, perhaps through the work of Ezra. “The LXX Psalter, dating probably from the early second century BCE, contains the 150 psalms of the Masoretic Text (MT), in the same sequence …”(28) Did the Psalter become a type sometime between the time of Ezra and the early second century B.C.? In his Preface to the Bay Psalm Book, Richard Mather speaks directly to this question:

What type can be imagined in making use of his [David’s] songs to praise the Lord? If they [David’s psalms] were typical because the ceremony of musical instruments were joined with them, then their prayers were also typical, because they had that ceremony of incense mixed with them: but we know that prayer then was a moral duty, notwithstanding the incense, and so singing those psalms [was a moral duty] notwithstanding their musical instruments. Besides, that which was typical (as that they were sung with musical instruments, by the twenty-four orders of Priests and Levites, 1 Chron. 25:9) must have the moral and spiritual accomplishment in the New Testament, in all the churches of the Saints … with hearts and lips, instead of musical instruments, to praise the Lord …(29)

Also recall Matthew Henry’s observation, “Singing of psalms is a gospel-ordinance. Christ’s removing the hymn [Psalms 113-118] from the close of the passover to the close of the Lord’s supper, plainly intimates that he intended that ordinance should continue in his church, that, as it had not its birth with the ceremonial law, so it should not die with it.”(30) Henry acknowledges that Psalmody did not come into existence with the Levitical system. It was added later. To insist that, “the 150 Psalms were written to express and facilitate the idea of the Levitical/Mosaic theology and not to express the theology and ideas of fulfillment in Christ,”(31) ignores the Psalter’s specific Messianic and eschatological character, as already discussed. The Psalter is not a type.

It is true that the Psalms use symbolism and typology to speak about the future. Undoubtedly, the Bible in general speaks to God’s people about their future in terms of their past or their present. Israel’s prophets used imagery from the past or present to discuss the future of God’s people. Prophetic portions of the The New Testament do the same.

Of all the various forms of prophetic thought, few are so common and so helpful in getting a handle on the meaning as a writer’s borrowing past events, persons, or expressions to depict the future. The reason for choosing to us what appears at first so strange is simple: no one has ever been in the future, so how can the writer adequately talk about or the reader understand what neither has ever experienced?(32)

The Biblical writers speak about the future using types and symbols, and they do so in the Psalms. New Testament songs use the same procedure. Revelation 5:9-10 is one such song. “And they sang a new song, saying …”

Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; For You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood Men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; And they will reign upon the earth.

This song is sung to “the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Rev. 5:5). The apostle John is referring back to the messianic prophecies of Genesis 49:9 and Isaiah 11:1, respectively. The object of praise is also described as “a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth” (Rev. 5:6). This picture is thick with symbolism. The song itself speaks of a book or scroll. What is this book or scroll? It is symbolic. The Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, is spoken of as a sacrifice shedding its blood. This description is the characteristic New Testament symbolic representation of Christ. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The sacrificial lamb was a type of Christ. The saints in heaven appear to sing about Christ typologically. The song gives praise to the Lamb for taking “men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” and making them into “a kingdom and priests.” These lines are a clear reference to Exodus 19:6. The Old Testament priests were types. This New Testament song of the consummation speaks of God’s people typologically. Revelation 15:3-4 presents another song. “And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying … ”


A Great and marvelous are Your works,

B O Lord God, the Almighty;

A´ Righteous and true are Your ways,

B´ King of the nations!

C Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?

D For You alone are holy;




The language in this song is straightforward, like many of the Psalms. This song also reads like a psalm. It has eight lines. As outlined, the first four lines are an alternating parallelism. The second four lines are also an alternating parallelism. The song’s very form and language recalls the Psalms and recommends the Psalms. The seventh line of this song is a quotation from Psalm 86:9. The words of the eighth line come from Psalm 98:2. Apparently the Psalms do “express the theology and ideas of fulfillment in Christ.” In addition, this song is both the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, and is one song. “[T]he saints praise the Lamb’s victory as the typological fulfillment of that to which the Red Sea victory pointed …”(33)

Grasping Biblical typology assists in seeing the unity of Scripture, the unity of the gospel, and the unity of the covenant of grace. Far from being a hindrance to gospel singing, an appreciation of Biblical typology assists gospel praise. As just seen, the way the Bible speaks about the future is with the use of symbols and types. From this perspective, the use of types and symbols in Psalmody is natural and expected.

Used by permission from Dr. Dennis Prutow



Prutow, Dennis. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody. Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.





Dr. Coppes declares,

The theological method and conclusions expressed in exclusive psalmody reverse the order of importance of preaching and singing. It does this by its conclusion that God regulates singing more closely than He regulates preaching. Biblically speaking, however, God teaches us that preaching occupies a more central and more important place in Christian worship than does singing.(58)

Professor Poythress understands “teaching-by-singing and teaching-in-the-narrow-sense” as “two forms of teaching.”(59) He then draws this line: “We challenge the exclusive psalmist position to prove from Scripture, rather than assume, that teaching-by-singing and proclamation are ‘two separate elements of worship.’”(60)

Professor Gordon points to Acts 16:25 to display the similarity between prayer and praise. “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God.” Literally, the text reads, “praying they hymned to God” [proseuxomenoi humnoun ton theon].

The importance of this relation between song and prayer for the present discussion is significant, because this consideration causes a general problem with exclusive psalmody to be more acute. Generally, it is already problematic that exclusive psalmody argues that the words of songs of praise must be inspired, and restricted to the canonical psalter, while the words of the other elements of worship are not so restricted … But this is even more acute a difficulty when two elements in scripture that are so similar (prayer and praise) are considered to be regulated differently.(61)

Preaching, prayer, and praise are separate and distinct elements of worship. Paul tells Timothy, “I am writing these things to you … so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:14-15). Paul’s purpose was to guide the conduct of the church. He tells Timothy, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim. 4:2). It seems strange that, in Reformed circles, it is necessary to defend preaching as a distinct element of worship. It will be argued below that the references to singing in both Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 have to do with corporate worship. The Westminster Divines appear to have held this position. Public prayer is also an important part of corporate church life.(62) “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

The Westminster Confession of Faith is clear on these matters. “The reading of Scriptures with godly fear; the sound preaching, and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence; singing of Psalms with grace in the heart … are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God” (WCF 21:5). “Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men” (WCF 21:3). Following Scripture and our Confession, it is maintained that preaching, prayer, and praise are separate and distinct elements of worship.

Colossians 3:16 makes it clear that preaching and singing in the congregation are equally important: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, [1] teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, [2] singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (ESV, italics added). Colossians 1:28 defines admonishing and teaching as preaching. “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom.” In the grammatical construction of Colossians 3:16, the two participles, admonishing and teaching, are parallel to the third participle, singing. This construction indicates that preaching, on one hand, and singing, on the other hand, are equally important. Singing is definitely not more important than preaching. Exclusive Psalmody rejects such a notion.

At the same time, note the translation of the English Standard Version. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, [1] teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, [2] singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (italics added). The Revised Standard Version is similar. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, [1] teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and [2] sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Both of these versions place psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with singing. John Eadie supports this approach.

Our translators, too, so point the verse as to make psalms and hymns the material of instruction, whereas, it seems better, and more appropriate, to keep the clause distinct, thus—“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another: in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto the Lord.”(63)

Paul therefore restricts singing more than preaching. As just indicated, teaching and admonishing is preaching: “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28, italics added). From Paul’s perspective wisdom comes from the Scriptures. He reminds Timothy, “From childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15, italics added). When Colossians 3:16 exhorts, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,” the text exhorts teaching and admonishing rooted in Scripture. In other words, preaching must be Scriptural.

Second, Paul is more specific when it comes to singing. He not only requires the singing of public worship to be Scriptural, he specifies the Scriptures to be use in this singing; he specifies the psalms, hymns, and songs inspired by the Spirit found in the Book of Psalms. Again, the English Standard Version exhorts, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (italics added). What are believers assembled for worship to sing? They are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; these are the songs of the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament. In other words, Paul requires exclusive Psalmody. The Apostle Paul commands the New Testament church to restrict corporate, public singing to the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament by the power of, and under the inspiration of, the Holy Spirit. Restricting singing more than preaching is not arbitrary. It is Scriptural.

It is also granted that believers pray when they sing the Psalms. In his preface to the Geneva Psalter, Calvin acknowledges that, “As for public prayers, there are two kinds: the ones made with word only, the other with song. And this is not a thing invented a short time ago. For from the first origin of the church, this has been so, as appears from the histories.”(64) Believers may pray and earnestly seek God’s face when they sing (Acts 16:15). Prayers expressed in song do not eliminate the status of prayers with word only as a separate element of worship. Prayer with word only must be according to the will of God (1 John 5:14). Such prayer must be Scriptural. As already argued, prayer with song is restricted to certain Scripture, the Psalms. God may and does regulate one element of worship differently than the other.

Paul does not explain why he restricts singing more than preaching or prayer. Part Four of this study will investigate the unique power of music. Calvin was deeply concerned about music’s penetrating power. “For there is scarcely anything in the world which is capable of turning or moving this way or that the morals of men, as Plato prudently considered it. And in fact we experience that it has a secret and almost incredible power to arouse hearts in one way or the other.”(65) The penetrating capacity of music may be a factor in Paul’s command in Colossians 3:16.

Another factor may be the Psalter’s subjective element. Part of Psalmody’s purpose is to guide and train the inner person of believers through singing. Gordon maintains, “The capacity to compose worthy devotional material is due to the wonder of being created in God’s image; not to the wonder of inspiration.”(66) Gordon does not hesitate to indicate “the best work of Donne or Cowper rivals the best work of David …”(67) He neglects the depth of depravity that yet remains with converted composers. Calvin’s view regarding the material worthy of God is more circumspect.

Now what Saint Augustine says is true, that no one is able to sing things worthy of God unless he has received them from Him. Wherefore, when we have looked thoroughly everywhere and searched high and low, we shall find no better songs nor more appropriate to the purpose than the Psalms of David which the Holy Spirit made and spoke through him.(68)

In Colossians 3:16, therefore, Paul teaches that singing the Psalms is part of the way believers let the word of Christ richly dwell within them. Another factor in restricting congregational singing to the Psalms may be their universality and staying power. Michael LeFebevre speaks to the universality of the Psalms, including their curses and imprecations, imprecations, and his experience at a seminar on the Psalms.

One of the participants was a young priest from the Anglican Church in Rwanda. He spoke of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and how most of his own family was brutally slain in that violence. Three of his brothers were killed on the same day. It was painful to talk about those events … But then he found Psalm 137 in the Bible … And ironically, he was able to forgive, because of Psalm 137.

After this young minister from Rwanda spoke, another young minister from Nigeria spoke. He described the unrest and bloodshed which his country has continually experienced over the years. And he spoke of the comfort which believers in that land found in looking to God to bring judgment on the wicked. “We need such Psalms,” he concluded

… Men like these live and serve Jesus in circumstances we, in the West, have not experienced for a long time … But … the Psalter is not a hymnal for the affluent churches of the modern West. It is the hymnal for all God’s church, in all times and places.(69)

Along with their universality, the staying power of the Psalms is well known. Gordon thus speaks about good hymnody. “I have suggested to my students, for instance, that one of the tests of a hymn is whether it would exist as Christian verse if it were not put to music.”(70) The English verse of good hymns has staying power. “This poetry would have survived, indeed has survived, apart from musical settings.”(71) Gordon then compares the Psalms. “Totally apart from any musical considerations, both individuals and congregations routinely find the psalms edifying for use in private, family, or corporate worship.”(72) The Psalter has exhibited much more staying power than traditional hymns, not only over centuries but over millennia. The Psalter’s universality, staying power, subjective element, and the power of music may be reasons why Scripture regulates singing more closely than preaching or prayer.

Used by permission from Dr. Dennis Prutow



  1. Coppes, Exclusive Psalmody, 22.
  2. Vern S. Poythress, “Ezra 3, Union with Christ, and Exclusive Psalmody (Concluded),” Westminster Theological Journal 37:2 (Winter 1975): 225.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Gordon, “Provisional Thoughts,” 6.
  5. John Calvin, The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians and the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, trans. T. A. Smail (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), 205.
  6. John Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957), 251. See the complete analysis of Col. 3:16 in chapter 11 under the heading of “Exclusive Psalmody.”
  7. John Calvin, “Calvin’s Preface to the Psalter,” in Charles Garside, The Origin of Calvin’s Theology of Music (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1979), 32.
  8. Ibid., 33.
  9. Gordon, “Provisional Thoughts,” 19. Italics added.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Calvin, “Preface to the Psalter,” 33.
  12. Michael LeFebvre, Singing the Songs of Jesus(Fearn: Christian Focus, 2010), 129-130.
  13. T. David Gordon, Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2010), 130.
  14. Ibid., 131.
  15. Ibid., 132.


Prutow, Dennis. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody. Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.






The Psalms themselves command believers to sing a new song. “Sing to Him a new song; / Play skillfully with a shout of joy” (Ps. 33:3). “Sing to the Lord a new song; / Sing to the Lord, all the earth” (Ps. 96:1). “Praise the Lord! / Sing to the Lord a new song, / And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones” (Ps. 149:1). Coppes invokes Isaiah 42:1, 9, and 10 to make his case.

 Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; / My chosen one in whom My soul delights. / I have put My Spirit upon Him; / He will bring forth justice to the nations … Behold, the former things have come to pass, / Now I declare new things; Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you. / Sing to the Lord a new song, / Sing His praise from the end of the earth! (italics added).

Pointing to verse 9, Coppes says, “This verse defines ‘new’ as something that does not yet exist in the Old Testament period.”(9) He then maintains that the proper exegesis of Isaiah 42:10 is fixed by Revelation 5:9 where God tells us the saints in heaven are singing

“a new song” And they sang a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation …

Thus we see that in heavenly worship, the saints gathered before the throne of God, and hence, within the heavenly holy of holies, are singing a new song as prophesied in Isaiah 42:10 and the words are new words, i.e., words not recorded as one of the Old Testament psalms (cf. Rev. 14:3).(10)

This objection raises three important issues: the Biblical understanding of the term new, the interpretation of Isa. 42:10, and our relationship to the praise of God’s people portrayed in the Book of Revelation.

What is the Biblical understanding of the terms new and newness? George Ladd teaches, “The idea of newness is distinctly eschatological … The idea of newness preserves its eschatological character in the New Testament.”(11) That is, believers live in an era in which the future has dawned. The age to come is pressing into this present age. “Thus,” as Vos puts it, “the other world, hitherto future, has become present.”(12) This is realized eschatology, the already but not yet. R. A. Harrisville adds that, “the ‘new covenant’ is an eschatological concept.”(13) Harrisville then rehearses four characteristics of this concept of newness. The first is that of contrast. “The new covenant exists in contrast to the old by the fact that the community founded upon it is no longer ruled by an external authority from without (i.e., the letter of the law), but is motivated by the Spirit of God from within.”(14) This distinctive of newness, contrast, or discontinuity, presupposes a second characteristic, “the element of continuity. continuity. The new covenant does not replace the old, but rather grows out of it and is related to it as fulfillment to promise.”(15) The new covenant is in essence one with the old; the new is a new administration of the same covenant of grace.

A third “distinctive feature of the idea” of newness “is its dynamic element.”(16) This dynamic element is explained by the power of Jesus Christ and his redemptive activity.(17) Newness is seen and experienced in and through texts such a 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (italics added). The Christian is a new creature or a new creation. Great change has occurred in the newly-converted person. There is discontinuity with the past. The newly-converted person, however, may be readily recognized. There is definite continuity with the past. This tension exists because of the dynamic element of the power of Christ introduced into the life of the Christian.

The fourth distinctive feature of “new” is finality. “The renewal by faith is final; it cannot be repeated because the believer has been placed within the last and final period of God’s redemptive activity which hastens to its goal.”(18) There is finality to newness because as has been observed in the previous chapter, God’s eschatological plan will come to fruition. This fourfold distinctiveness of newness in Scripture—contrast, continuity, dynamic, and finality—fits well with both the subjective element and the eschatology of the Psalter.

From this perspective, it is simplistic to hold that new refers to something that does not already exist. John 13:34 is a helpful  example: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Harrisville comments, “The new commandment is thus the rule of the new eschatological community. It is an eschatological commandment … Thus though the commandment is not new from a purely historical point of view, it is new as given by Jesus.”(19)

What is the proper interpretation of Isaiah 42:10? The text reads, “Sing to the Lord a new song, / Sing His praise from the end of the earth!” Isaiah’s words are a simple command. He exhorts God’s people to sing God’s praise. They must sing a new song. “New is here contrasted with what is Ordinary, and thus he extols the infinite mercy of God, which was to be revealed in Christ, and which ought therefore to be celebrated and sung with the highest praises.”(20) The new song is the song of future glory and blessing, sung as though that future glory and blessing were then present. How could believers sing such a song? Calvin answers, “It ought to be observed that this song cannot be sung but by renewed men; for it ought to proceed from the deepest feeling of the heart, and therefore[,] we need the direction of the Spirit, that we may sing those praises in a proper manner.”(21) Calvin refers to the subjective element, which has been discussed above. Calvin goes on to say, “Besides, he does not exhort one or a few nations to do this, but all nations in the world; for to all them Christ was sent.”(22) The eschatological element comes through strongly in Calvin’s exposition. In the case of Isaiah 42:10, the new song may be old songs sung from a new heart. If so, and if guided by the Spirit, the prophetic songs of David and Asaph, with their eschatological thrust and prominent subjective element, comport well with the command of God through Isaiah. Isaiah 42:10 does not command new and different songs with new and different words.

What about the believer’s connection with the praise portrayed in Revelation? A more complete discussion of this question awaits analysis of the heavenly worship portrayed in the Book of Revelation and the use of musical instruments in worship. The basic premise is that God commands believers to hold to the principles of worship He sets forth for the age in which they live. When God commands the building of the tabernacle and institutes sacrifices in this specific location, He changes worship in Israel. The people are not permitted to use the standards of worship previously followed by Abraham. When David adds singing of the Psalms and additional musical instruments to worship in the tabernacle and in the temple by the command of God, the people are not permitted to revert to the more simplified worship under Moses. Similarly, the people living in the time of David and Solomon could not look ahead and adjust their worship to conform to the new age ushered in by Messiah. They were not permitted to forsake principles of worship ordained by God for their time. In like manner, believers today are required to maintain the standards of worship God gives them for this present age. It is not their prerogative to appropriate into the worship of today aspects of worship from another age, whether earlier or later. This argument is another way of stating the regulative principle of worship.

9. Coppes, Exclusive Psalmody, 6.

  1. Ibid., 7.
  2. George Eldon Ladd, A New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 521-522.
  3. Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 38.
  4. R. A. Harrisville, “The Concept of Newness in the New Testament,” Journal of Biblical Literature 74:2 (June, 1955): 73.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., 74.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., 75.
  9. Ibid., 76-77.
  10. Ibid, 79.
  11. John Calvin, Commentary on the Prophet Isaiah, trans. William Pringle (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 299.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.


Used by permission from Dr. Dennis Prutow

Prutow, Dennis. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody.  Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.



Objections to Exclusive Psalmody pt 1

Worship 101

I moderate a confessional theological discussion forum on the internet called the Puritanboard.com.  I have been doing it for about 10 years now.

From time to time things really stretch me to have to learn about stuff I think I already know about.  Well, I aint always as smart as I think I am.  Right now we are having a discussion about Singing the Book of Psalms as worship in Church.  Some Churches only sing songs that are from the 150 songs in the book of Psalms from the Bible.  I am a member of one of those Churches.  It is a historical position that has been lost.  Someone asked me for a reason why most people now today do not do that.  I noted that the practice has gone away because of men redefining words, adding unlikely historical context, allowing cultural preference to real facts, and seeking to add things not required and regulated by God in the scriptures.  It may be a difference of eisegesis compared to exegesis, personal feelings covering the truth, an uninspired unregulated addition to things that have been regulated and commanded (the Normative Principle being mistaken for the Regulative Principle of Worship).  That was my answer to this person’s question.

I believe in something called the Regulative Principle of Worship.  What God commands is what should be done.  We shouldn’t add to it or take away from it as Aaron’s sons did in the Old Testament.  I took this off of Wiki-pedia because it was correct, Leviticus 10:1–2 shares this sobering account, stating, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” (wikipedia)  Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book by the name ‘Gospel Worship’ which defines the worship God commands and accepts from his people.   If you have a chance it explains the Regulative Principle of Worship in an excellent way.

I want to share another thing.  I posted this during the discussion.

I am not trying to be argumentative. Just informative. This is a hard topic. There is a lot of emotion concerning the topic because it has to do with our affections and desiring to please the God we Love.Look, I understand that emotion. It is hurtful and hard to understand. The first murder took place because God didn’t accept Cain’s offering. That had to do with Worship. This was a hard topic for me to understand and listen to for many years as was the topic concerning pictures of Christ. I understand the frustration. I have no condemnation for anyone here. I just want to help be informative and encouraging.

I have been recommending a book for others to get.  Dr. Dennis Prutow’s book Worship 101 which discusses a lot of these things and is edifying to all despite their position concerning Exclusive Psalmody. There is a lot of ignorance about this topic.  At one time the Church mainly sung the book of Psalms in meter.  That was all they sang.  The Early Church sang the Psalms mostly exclusively.  The early Reformed Church did also.  One reason was that the book of Psalms is made up of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs.  Those are three distinctions of songs found in the Old Testament book of Psalms.  Paul commanded the Church to sing these songs in Ephesians and Colossians and called them the Word of Christ.  It was what the Hebrew Church Sang.  It was fully what the New Covenant Church sang as it was commanded to.

A wonderful woman, Jeri Tanner, on the Puritanboard posted this.
“Paul uses “Psalms” as the rest of the NT uses it, to refer to the canonical book of Psalms. The word “hymn” in the NT is also used in reference to the canonical book of Psalms: see Matthew 26:30, where Christ and the apostles’ singing of the Hallel Psalms is referred to as “hymning”; and Acts 16:25, where Paul and Silas’s praise in jail is referred to as “hymning.” (There is absolutely no reason to think that Paul and Silas sang anything other than the canonical Psalms.)
Another consideration re: your last sentence: the Hebrew name for the book of Psalms is “Tehilliam,” “praise.” It was “the Book of Praises.” Yes, the church before David always sang the praises of God and they were always and only prophetically inspired songs. The Holy Spirit guided the process of canonizing the final songbook for the church in the book of Tehilliam (or Psalms as the Greek translates it).”

This has been a very confusing situation for many who are first learning of this.  What do we do with our Hymn books?   Aren’t we commanded to sing these Hymns from the Bible?  It is hard for many to hear or learn from.

I made the following plea to those in the discussion.   https://puritanboard.com/threads/singing-uninspired-songs.93520/page-3#post-1141442  Get Denny’s book.  Read it.  It will inform you.  It will encourage you no matter what you think about Exclusive Psalmody.  This book is a book about Worship.  It will cover topics like what Worship is,  why is worship important, and what is the Regulative Principle and why should we care about it.  A small portion of the book is given to answering objections to Singing the book of Psalms Exclusively.  Since that is the topic we are discussing right now I will post that small portion of Dr.Prutow’s book to help others understand things I needed to have answers to as a young man.

Anyways, Here is the first installment to my blog on this topic.  One thing that is found as an objection is We can’t sing about Jesus.  Just be patient and learn if you have the time.



O sing to the LORD a new song, For He has done wonderful things Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth …. ~ PS. 96:1; 98:1


THE OBJECTIONS TO EXCLUSIVE PSALMODY boil down to one basic complaint: The Psalter is insufficient for New Testament praise. When people exclaim, “But I want to sing about Jesus,” they mean, “Psalms are insufficient for my praise.” Some also take the position that the Psalms often speak about the Father, but have little reference to the Son. Others point out that the Psalms themselves teach that believers are to sing new songs, and therefore, instruct them not to confine their singing to those old songs. Then too, who wants to sing about Old Testament Types? It is of course far better to sing about the New Testament realities. There are many Scripture songs outside the Psalter, including hymn fragments imbedded in the New Testament. The presence of these hymn fragments shows that New Testament believers ought to sings songs outside the Psalter.

Add to these objections, the fact that Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 have nothing to do with public corporate worship. Then too, texts like 1 Corinthians 14:15 and 26 speak about newly-inspired songs sung in the New Testament Church.

Professor Scott Sanborn insists exclusive Psalmody is insufficient for New Testament praise. He writes that the mystery of Gentile inclusion in the church, specifically revealed to the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3:4-6), is not present in the Psalms. Dr. Vern Poythress and Dr. Leonard Coppes insist that the regulative principle is fulfilled in Christ along with other aspects of the ceremonial law. Confining praise to the Psalter is, therefore, outmoded and contrary to Scripture. Dr. T. David Gordon goes a step further. The Psalms themselves command believers to sing about all the deeds of God, which presumably includes the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. Confining worship song to the Psalter is, therefore, positively sinful to Dr. Gordon.

Each of these objections will be answered, seeking to show that the Psalter is sufficient for New Testament praise. Along the way, it will also be shown that these objections fail to appreciate the real beauty of Psalmody, that is, its subjective element meshed with its eschatology.

This objection means, “I want to sing about Jesus like modern hymns and choruses do.” Of course, the implication is that Psalmody is insufficient. Furthermore, Dr. Leonard Coppes asserts, “The Old Testament psalms focus preeminently on the Father. While it is true that they also speak of the Son, they do not speak of him as pointedly and clearly as does the New Testament.”(1) The response is twofold.

Note how the Apostle Paul speaks about Christ. “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:9-11). Paul quotes Isaiah 45:23. In context, Yahweh declares every knee will bow to Him and every tongue will confess Him.

Is it not I, the LORD [Yahweh]? / And there is no other God besides Me, / A righteous God and a Savior; / There is none except Me. / Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; / For I am God, and there is no other. / I have sworn by Myself, / The word hasgone forth from My mouth in righteousness / And will not turn back, / That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance [LXX confess] (Isa. 45:21-23).

From the apostle’s perspective, Jesus is Yahweh; Jesus is Jehovah. He is God Incarnate. Paul brings out this truth with the confession that Jesus Christ is LORD. He also connects Jesus and Jehovah in Romans 10:9 and context, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” He goes on in verse 11, quoting from Isaiah 28:16, “For the Scripture says, ‘WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’” Paul then quotes Joel 2:32, “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED” (Rom. 10:13). The LORD to whom Paul points in Joel 2:32 is Yahweh. Paul calls his readers to confess that Jesus is Yahweh, that Jesus is Jehovah.

From this perspective, when believers sing, “The Lord is King! Let all the earth be joyful,”(2) they follow the Apostle Paul and make the confession that Jesus Christ is Lord. When Christians sing, “The Lord is my Shepherd,”(3) they confess Jesus Christ to be the great and good Shepherd of the sheep (John 10:11, 14, 16). They sing to Him! In doing so, they follow the teaching of the New Testament. They follow the teaching of the Apostle Paul.

Note that the New Testament frequently uses the Psalms to preach Christ. The New Testament quotes the Psalter 82 times.(4) Consider Romans. To accentuate the depth of human depravity in Romans 3, Paul quotes from Psalm 51:4 and Psalm 14:1-3. He adds quotes from Psalms 5:9; 10:7; 36:1; and140:3. In chapter 4, Paul turns to the subject of justification by grace through faith in Christ and quotes Psalm 32:1-2. He also uses Psalm 117 as part of his rationale for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles (Rom. 15:11).

Elsewhere in the New Testament, Psalm 22 is used to present the details of Christ’s crucifixion (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34; John 19:24). Psalm 16 is used to preach His resurrection (Acts 2:24-28, 31; 13:35). Psalm 2 is used to explain the opposition of Rome and Israel to Christ and His Kingdom (Acts 4:25-26). Psalm 110 is used to preach Christ’s ascension and heavenly reign (Acts 2:34-35). Psalm 68 is also used to proclaim Christ’s ascension (Eph. 4:7-8). Psalm 118:26 is used by our Lord to predict His coming again (Matt. 23:39). Hebrews 1 uses Psalms 2:7; 45:6-7; 102:25-27; and 110:1 to present Christ as God and Creator. Hebrews 10 uses Psalm 40:6-8 to present Christ as the once for all sacrifice saving us from our sins.

When believers sing, “Therefore kings now heed this word: Earthly judges, come and hear. Rev’rent worship give the Lord,”(5) they exhort earthly rulers to bow before King Jesus. When Christians sing, “The earth you founded long ago; Your mighty hand the heavens made,”(6) they confess Christ as the Creator (Heb. 1:10). In singing the Psalms, believers do sing about Jesus. The Psalter is quite sufficient for the New Testament age.

Granted, the traditional language of Western hymns is not used in singing the Psalms, nor is the popular language of modern gospel songs and choruses used. The language of Scripture is used, language said to be outmoded and designed for an earlier age. By what standard? A standard designed by those objecting to Psalmody, a standard foreign to Scripture. This objection argues that words “made by an act of human will” are superior to, or at least equal with, words not “made by an act of human will, but [by] men moved by the Holy Spirit [who] spoke from God” (2 Pet. 2:21). Words, it must be added, specifically set forth by the Spirit for singing the public praises of God. On this count, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America stands with the venerable Geerhardus Vos with regard to the Psalms and recognizes that “a more perfect language for communion with God cannot be framed.”(7)

This objection, settling, as it does, on the objective standard of a form of words or language, appears to ignore the subjective principle imbedded so deeply in the language of the Psalms. Vos again rightly states “that the Psalms reflect the experimental religion of the heart, which is unvarying at all times and under all circumstances …(8) The Psalter is, therefore, sufficient for New Testament praise.


Used by permission from Dr. Dennis Prutow



. 1. Leonard J. Coppes, Exclusive Psalmody and Doing God’s Will as It Is Fulfilled in Christ (NP: The Author, n.d.), 23.

  1. The Book of Psalms for Worship (Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant, 2009), 97A.
  2. Ibid., 23D.
  3. The Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1983), 897-898.
  4. The Book of Psalms for Worship, 2C.
  5. Ibid., 102D.
  6. Geerhardus Vos, “Songs from the Soul,” Grace and Glory (Carlisle: Banner of Truth, 1994), 170, italics added.
  7. Ibid., 171.


Prutow, Dennis. Public Worship 101: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Worship, the Elements of Worship, Exclusive Psalmody, and A Cappella Psalmody (Kindle Locations 6383-6393). Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Press. Kindle Edition.

The Love of God



Taken from Mark Jones Chapter 6 Antinomianism.

Thank You for allowing me to post this Mark Jones.  Get this book.  It is so important for our generation to understand these things.  Especially when we have been called legalistic or other vile things tagged to us for loving the Law of God as it is to be understood.







A PARTICULARLY COMPLICATED and emotionally charged aspect of the seventeenth-century debate over antinomianism concerned God’s love for his people. The issue may be stated rather sharply: does God love all of his people identically, or with the same intensity? Reformed and antinomian theologians agree that God does not love all mankind in the same way, otherwise election, predestination, and Christ’s works of impetration would make little sense. The precise issue in view is whether the elect are all loved equally. In other words, does God love us more because of our obedience or less because of our disobedience? During the antinomian controversy in New England, it was considered unsafe to say, “If I be holy, I am never the better accepted by God; if I be unholy, I am never the worse.”(234)  This statement shows that the debate over antinomianism was not simply about whether the moral law should be kept or not. While that particular issue was debated, various related issues also arose, such as whether the holiness of the saints has any influence on God’s love for them.(235) Another related issue was whether God is pleased or displeased with his saints when they obey or disobey his law. How does God’s pleasure or displeasure relate, then, to his love for his people?


The answer to these questions depends on a correct understanding of God’s attributes and affections, as well as—and this is an area that has not received enough attention among theologians—the fact that our relationship to God is in and through Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully man in one person. The antinomian view that God sees no sin in the elect means that God could not possibly love his people more or less based on their obedience or disobedience; nor is he displeased with the elect at any time in their life, even before they become believers! But by and large, from the time of the Reformation, Reformed theologians have resisted this type of thinking, and thus have held to the position that in one sense God and Christ love their people equally, and in another sense differently, and thus can be pleased or displeased with the saints.




The idea that God does not see any sin in the justified was a hallmark of antinomian thinking in England during the seventeenth century, especially in the 1630s and 1640s. According to Como, this assertion “was the central pillar in the doctrinal monolith of imputative antinomianism.”(236) The antinomian theologian John Eaton explains this doctrine from his “imputative” perspective by arguing that Christ’s righteousness clothes believers in such a way that the weaknesses in their faith and sanctification are “covered and utterly abolished from before God.”(237) Eaton adds that Christ’s imputed righteousness means that believers stand “perfectly holy and righteous from all spot of sin in the sight of God freely.”(238) There was no shortage of responses to this view from orthodox Reformed theologians. Not only the polemical Rutherford, but the irenic Sibbes, wrote against this error.(239) The issue is not whether, in justification, God declares us to be as righteous as his own Son. The imputation of the active and passive obedience of Christ, affirmed by almost all Reformed Puritan divines, and, of course, by antinomian theologians, was not debated between them. Rather, the conclusions drawn from this doctrine by antinomian theologians caused a firestorm of debate. For example, because of his view that God sees no sin in the elect, John Saltmarsh reasoned that no sin “can make God who loves forever and unchangeably, love us less.”(240) Again, the problem was not that this statement was completely untrue. But such comments were unguarded and failed to account for the whole truth, which explains why Reformed theologians took issue with the antinomians. In order to formulate a biblically compelling account of how God’s love for his people is both the same and different, the nature of his love must be clarified.


There are different ways of understanding God’s love. In the first place, one must distinguish between the intra-Trinitarian love of God and the love God has for his creatures in relation to the affections of his ad extra will. God’s intra-Trinitarian (i.e., ad intra) love is eternal and therefore natural (amor naturalis). For this reason, this love is necessary. However, the love of God in relation to his creatures is not necessary, but rather voluntary (amor voluntarius). Among Reformed theologians, the voluntary love of God has received the most attention. According to this outward, voluntary love, there is a threefold distinction: (1) God’s universal love for all things, (2) God’s love for all human beings, both elect and reprobate, and (3) God’s special love for his people.(241) This third aspect of God’s love—for the elect—“belongs to the category of affection, arising inwardly and extending outward, and is not to be understood as a passion, arising because of some outward good that it apprehends and desires.”(242)


God’s voluntary love, understood as an affection, has three major components. Reformed divines have not always expressed these distinctions in the same way; but the following three categories relate to God’s love for the elect: (1) God’s love of benevolence (amor benevolentiae), understood in terms of God’s election and predestination, (2) God’s love of beneficence (amor beneficentiae), whereby he wills to redeem his people,(243) and (3) God’s love of delight or friendship (amor complacentiae vel amicitiae), whereby he rewards his people according to their holiness.(244) Staying consistent with their view that God sees no sin in the elect, the antinomians denied this distinction.(245) Rutherford responded to the antinomian denial of a distinction between God’s amor benevolentiae and his amor complacentiae by arguing that “it has an evident ground in Scripture.”(246) The antinomians’ denial of God’s complacent love is “without ground.”(247) After providing a thorough explanation of this twofold love of God, Rutherford says that the idea that when a justified person “whores, swears, kills the innocent, denies the Lord Jesus, as did Peter, and David, God loves us as much as when they believe, pray, . . . and God is not a whit displeased with the Saints, . . . is to us abominable.”(248) Incidentally, John Gill (1697–1771) rejected this distinction as fiercely as Rutherford affirmed it,(249) though one may question whether Gill accurately understood how orthodox Reformed theologians used it—which is not entirely uncommon in Gill’s interpretation of the Reformed tradition.(250) Gill’s hyper-Calvinism and avowal of justification from eternity certainly contributed to his distaste for this doctrine. This also shows how similar antinomian theology is to hyper-Calvinism. In the end, the distinction between God’s benevolent love and his complacent love has a rich Reformed pedigree.(251)


Regarding God’s love of delight or friendship, Benedict Pictet (1655–1724) argues that this is the love whereby God rewards us for being holy (John 14:21).(252) Besides Pictet, literally dozens of highly regarded Reformed theologians from the Reformation and post-Reformation period made use of this distinction. For example, Melchior Leydekker (1642–1721), a prominent Reformed theologian and professor of theology at Utrecht from 1678 to 1721, also distinguishes between God’s benevolent love and his complacent love:


God’s love is either of benevolence or of complacency. The first is the love by which God shall do well to the elect, before there is anything in them that could give Him complacency, John 3:16, Rom. 5:8. And therefore, it can be regarded either as predetermining in God’s decrees, or as actually effecting in time. The second, the love of complacency, is the case where God approves the good which is in the elect, especially as being commanded by him and caused, Heb. 11:5–6; John 14:21; 16:26–27.(253)


God’s benevolent love is logically prior to his complacent love. It could hardly be otherwise, because God’s love of benevolence is the fountain of election and all blessings the elect receive. The love of complacency delights in the good that is in his elect—but that good is only there because of his benevolent love.


A clear statement of God’s complacent love comes from Stephen Charnock. He speaks about the implications of believers being more holy, and argues that the more we are like God, the more love we shall have from him. He writes:


If God loves holiness in a lower measure, much more will he love it in a higher degree, because then his image is more illustrious and beautiful, and comes nearer to the lively lineaments of his own infinite purity . . . (John xiv 21). . . . He loves a holy man for some resemblance to him in his nature; but when there is an abounding in sanctified dispositions suitable to it, there is an increase of favor; the more we resemble the original, the more shall we enjoy the blessedness of that original: as any partake more of the Divine likeness, they partake more of the Divine happiness.(254)


Charnock is not merely arguing that God’s “increased love” is subjective from our perspective. Rather, he argues that God in fact loves in “higher degrees.” In other words, God cannot help but love us more and more if we become more and more like him. Christians will receive “an increase of favor,” the more we become like Christ. This view is by far the majority position among Reformed divines from the time of the Reformation onward, but today it is hardly ever discussed or preached on in Reformed circles.


In discussing the doctrine of justification, Francis Turretin notes the language of John 14:23, where Christ promises the love of the Father to those who love Christ, “not affectively and as to its beginning (as if the love of the Father then begins, since he loved us before, 1 John 4:10), but effectively and as to continuance and increase because he will prove his love by distinguished blessings and console them by a new manifestation of himself” (emphasis added).2(55) The threefold distinction in God’s love for his people means that justice can be done not only to texts that speak of God’s election of his people (Eph. 1:4–5) and his justifying acts (Rom. 4:5), but also to texts that speak of love in the context of ongoing communion with God and Christ (John 14:21–23; John 15:10; Jude 21).


God’s love of benevolence is the ground for his love of complacency. Furthermore, God’s love for us must be in Christ. The twofold love of benevolence and complacency is only possible in Christ and our threefold union with the Mediator.(256) God’s unconditional love is called his amor benevolentiae; his conditional love is called his amor complacentiae. Samuel Hopkins (1721–1803) addresses this point by noting that God’s benevolent love necessarily includes his complacent love. “Therefore,” says Hopkins, “a complacency and delight in holiness, or moral excellence, is always implied in holiness. God is therefore represented in the Scriptures as delighting and taking pleasure in the upright, in them that fear him and are truly holy, and delighting in the exercise of loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness.”(257) With this in mind, Hopkins makes plain that amor complacentiae is not the chief or primary part of God’s love, “for holiness must exist as the object of complacency, in order to the existence of the latter.”(258) Christians are surely correct, then, to emphasize and glory in God’s unconditional, eternal, infinite love of his people. But we are surely correct also to understand that God’s complacent love for us has a direct correlation to our godliness. This principle is nowhere more evident than in the person of Jesus Christ.




The love of God for the elect cannot be properly understood except in relation to Jesus Christ. As noted in the introduction, antinomian theologians do not have a robust Christology. God’s people cannot relate to him apart from a Mediator. His love for us and our love for God pass through the Son, so that if we love God, we must necessarily love his Son, and if God loves our Mediator, he must necessarily love us. Axiomatic to any understanding of God’s love for his people is the fact that the Son, as the eternally begotten of the Father, is, according to John Owen, the “first, necessary, adequate, complete object of the whole love of the Father.”(259) Owen adds that in the Son was the “ineffable, eternal, unchangeable delight and complacency of the Father, as the full object of his love.”(260) On this point there can be no dispute. But there is more to say about God’s love for his Son.


As the God-man, seated in glory, Christ is still the “peculiar object of the love of the Father.”(261) The person of Christ, in his divine nature, is necessarily loved by the Father (i.e., ad intra love). However, the love that the Father has for Christ, “as clothed with human nature, is the first and full object of the love of the Father in those acts of it which are ‘ad extra,’ or are towards anything without himself” (Isa. 42:1).(262) In relation to the church, God “loves him for us all, and us no otherwise but as in him.”(263) But there is something else to be considered that more narrowly focuses the discussion of this chapter, namely, whether God’s love for Christ is only eternal (and thus necessary) and unchangeable, or whether there is a sense in which God’s love for his Son increases in relation to Christ’s obedience. In other words, how does God’s love of complacency relate to his Son, the God-man, Jesus Christ?


In John 10:17, Jesus says, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.” As Thomas Goodwin notes, “It is spoken in relation unto his fulfilling this . . . command formerly mentioned, so withal imports, as if God should love Christ the better for the love he should show to us” (emphasis added).(264) Then, referencing John 15:10 (“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love”), Goodwin also shows how Christ was commanded by the Father to lay down his life, among other reasons, in order to remain in his Father’s love, and that Christ’s sheep are mutual pledges of love between the Father and the Son.(265) Again, this love has to do with the ad extra will of God with respect to the God-man in his role as Mediator. God delights in his Son, not only necessarily, because he is his Son, but also voluntarily, because Christ obeys the Father perfectly and this brings delight to the Father. It is little wonder, then, that Luke records how Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52, emphasis added).(266) If this was true before his baptism, how much more true was it afterward, as Christ continued in his Father’s love by obeying him, even to the point of death!


Thus, the Father has a twofold love for Christ: (1) a natural, infinite, and eternal love of his person, for he is the divine Son, and (2) the love of the God-man, in his mediatorial role, as he obeyed the Father perfectly and learned obedience as he suffered (Heb. 5:8). The former was not subject to increase, but the latter was. This point, not often emphasized when this subject is discussed, has certain implications for our understanding of God’s love for his people, which will be addressed below.


Perhaps the fact that nothing in God can be said to be subject to increase—just as there are no attributes in God, but his simple, undivided essence—because there is nothing accidental in him, explains why pastors and theologians do not often speak of God’s love increasing. Yet Scripture calls us to speak of God’s good pleasure increasing. God had a greater complacency in the completed creation than in the individual parts (i.e., “very good” versus “good” in Gen. 1). God did not change himself, but in the completion of creation there was perfection and harmony of the whole, which indicates that he was more pleased at the end of his creating activity than in the isolated parts before everything was done. God was always pleased with Christ while he ministered on earth, but there is a completeness to Christ’s work on the cross—“it is finished” (John 19:30)—that provided the basis for God’s new work of creation, whereby he could say it is “very good.”




The question whether God loves his people in different ways and degrees should never be considered apart from whether Christ loves his people in different ways and degrees. Christ is not only divine, but also human. In his human nature, Christ’s love for other humans is subject to increase. Reformed Christology maintains that the finite cannot comprehend the infinite. Christ’s gifts and graces (e.g., knowledge, faith, hope, love) increased from the incarnation to his heavenly enthronement and beyond. Indeed, Christ has gained greater knowledge in his human nature in heaven than he had on earth. Moreover, because he received the Holy Spirit afresh in heaven, to the greatest degree possible for a human being, Christ’s love for his people increased and did not lessen in any way.(267)


While on earth, Christ apparently did not love all people equally. His choice of disciples was a matter of election, though obviously not in a soteric way in the case of Judas. There is no doubt that Jesus loved all of his true disciples (John 13:1; 14:21; 15:9; 17:9, 12). But there was one special disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 21:7, 20). This disciple was, I believe, John. As William Hendriksen comments, this name (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”) “had been given to this one disciple, to him alone. Is it not possible that the others had bestowed this honorable title upon him when they noticed the intimate character of the fellowship between him and the Master?”(268) In his human nature, Christ desired fellowship with other human beings. Just as we experience different levels of intimacy in our relationships, it should come as no surprise to us that Christ experienced differing degrees of intimacy with his disciples. In the case of John, Christ seems to have had a special relationship. The other examples of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus also confirm this point.


Christ’s teaching in John 14:21,23 (269) confirms the point about varying degrees of communion. The distinction between God’s love of benevolence and his love of complacency enables us to understand the plain teaching of this text, so that the glorious truth of God’s unconditional love is not jettisoned for a love that is only conditional. Arminians and Roman Catholics seize upon texts like these and come to numerous unsound conclusions. But, as Turretin noted above, the love promised by the Father and Christ to those who keep Christ’s commandments refers not to God’s “affective” love (its beginning), but his “effective” love (its continuance and increase). Tullian Tchividjian’s book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything, lacks the theological framework to deal with Christ’s words in John 14:21, 23 (and 15:10).(270) Tchividjian repeatedly argues that our obedience, or lack thereof, does not affect our relationship with God. His book fails to distinguish between God’s love of benevolence and his love of complacency. Moreover, he often states things as either-or, when, in fact, the doctrine in question is more both-and. This approach goes back to the seventeenth century, when antinomian theologians never quite seemed to balance the both-and concept in their theology. Of course, one hyperbolic statement here or there, to emphasize a point more strongly, should not evoke harsh criticism from readers. But his whole book is one lengthy antinomian diatribe, and it bears a striking resemblance to the content and rhetoric of various seventeenth-century antinomian writings.(271)




Christ loves his bride, and because he has a true human nature, he has real passions for his church. But because God is simple and without passions (WCF 2.1), he is, as Edward Leigh (1603–71) correctly notes, “neither pleased nor displeased.”(272) The Scriptures do, however, speak plainly of God’s pleasure and displeasure. Leigh affirms that “God by an external and constant act of his will approves obedience and the purity of the creature, and witnesses that by some sign of his favour, but abhors the iniquity and sin of the same creature, and shows the same by inflicting a punishment” (Ex. 32:10).(273) According to William Ames (1576–1633), when Scripture attributes affections, such as hatred, to God, this must be understood “either as designate acts of the will” or else they “apply to God only figuratively.”(274) Simply put, God’s anger is an expression of his ad extra will, not his essential being. But Christ’s anger may be an expression of his person, because he is a complex person (the God-man, who has two natures). Indeed, even in his exalted human nature, as evidenced by some of his remarks to the churches in Revelation (e.g., chaps. 2–3), Christ expresses anger. This constant reminder about the person of Christ cannot be relegated to the background. God reveals himself principally in the person of his Son, who is the God-man.


When discussing whether God is angry or displeased, there must be recourse not only to the attributes of God, particularly his simplicity, but also to the person of Christ. Appropriately, Christians may speak about God’s anger toward the sins of the regenerate, as well as his delight in their obedience. But in this discussion there must also be a decided focus on Christ’s truly human passions as he relates to his church, both in anger and in delight.




Since God’s ad extra will includes anger toward his creatures, he can in fact be angry at the sins of the elect. The antinomian idea that God sees no sin in the elect had, as noted above, a number of far-reaching pastoral implications, most of which were not very good. One of those was the idea that God could not be angry with the justified.(275) Hebrews 12:5–6, according to “their principles,” has in view not the godly, but ungodly persons that need to be chastised in order to be driven to Christ.(276) But orthodox Reformed theologians, such as Rutherford, insisted that God “is really angry at his own children’s sins” because he punishes them for their sins.(277) The Westminster Confession likewise makes clear that the elect can be subject to God’s fatherly displeasure. Those who are justified can never lose their justification; “yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance” (WCF 11.5).(278)


In his response to antinomianism, John Flavel deals with the view that God cannot be angry with the elect. He notes that the antinomians are led into this view in part by their fear of popery, and also by the idea that Christ’s satisfaction for our sins is inconsistent with the idea that God chastises and gets angry with his people. In response, Flavel argues that God must necessarily hate sin, even in light of Christ’s satisfaction. For the Christian, however, God loves the person. “His hatred to their sins, and love to their persons are not inconsistent.”(279) Moreover, the antinomians fail to make a crucial distinction between “vindictive punishments from God,” which are the effects of his wrath toward the non-elect, and his “paternal castigations,” which are the “pure issues of the care and love of a displeased Father.”(280)


The differences between the two types of punishments are far-reaching: one is legal, the other evangelical; one is out of wrath and hatred, the other out of love; one leads to destruction, the other leads to sanctification and salvation. Not content with these qualifications, Flavel makes three important concessions: (1) Christ’s satisfaction has entirely erased God’s vindictive wrath toward the justified. (2) The sufferings of believers are not always for their sins, but sometimes to prevent sin. Sufferings are sometimes for the trial of our graces, and some sufferings confirm God’s truths (Acts 5:41). These types of trials “have much heavenly comfort concomitant with them.”(281) (3) God’s displeasure toward his people, “evidenced in the sharpest rebukes of the rod,” does not mean that God’s love has turned to hatred. Rather, God’s love is unchangeable.(282) In other words, there can be no change in God’s amor benevolentiae, but God’s pleasure, understood also as his amor complacentiae, may change. Thus, after the litany of David’s sins against Bathsheba and Uriah, we read: “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Sam. 11:27). For believers today, with the incarnation of the Son of God, promise has become fulfillment. There is a heightened indicative in the new covenant and therefore a heightened obligation to love and obey God.


Because of the heightened new covenant indicatives, believers today, when they consciously sin against God’s law, not only displease their heavenly Father, but also displease Christ, who reigns in heaven. Christ’s displeasure and frustration with his own disciples during his ministry on earth cannot be denied, even with a cursory glance at the Gospels, but in his exalted state the Lord Jesus shows displeasure with, for example, the church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:15–16). Christians need to be warned that they risk grieving the triune God when they willfully sin against his law. While there were and are theoretical antinomians, who deny that God can be angry with those who are justified, perhaps the more pressing problem is that of practical antinomianism, whereby ministers fail to warn their people that they can displease God and Christ or that God can be angry with his people, as he often has been (Ezra 9; 2 Kings 17:18). Equally, there is the other side, namely, that Christians are also able to please God and Christ by obeying their commands and enjoying communion with the three persons of the Trinity.




Christians are able to please their Father in heaven only because Christ pleased his Father by perfectly obeying him during his earthly ministry (Mark 1:11; Matt. 17:5). As noted above, God loved Christ not only with a benevolent love, but also with a complacent love, far above all men and angels combined. The Father delighted in Jesus, his servant: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights” (Isa. 42:1). Because of our union with the risen Savior, Christians are frequently urged to please God and Christ. Sometimes Paul speaks of pleasing God, as in Philippians 4:18 (see also Heb. 13:21; Rom. 14:18; 1 Thess. 4:1). At other times, Paul speaks of pleasing Christ (2 Cor. 5:9). Our conduct may result in being described as “fully pleasing” to Christ (Col. 1:10).


The language of pleasing the Lord helps us to understand the nature of God’s complacent love. Speaking of the necessity of good works, Anthony Burgess notes that just as Leah said, “Now my husband will love me” (Gen. 29:32), “so may Faith say, Now God will love me, when it abounds in the fruits of righteousness; for, our godly actions please God, though imperfect; only the ground is, because our persons were first reconciled with God [according to God’s amor benevolentiae].”(283)


The Christian, living by faith, continually asks, How may I please the Lord? We make it our aim to please God and Christ and thus bring glory to Jesus, which is his reward for having cleansed us by his sacrificial death. The more we please Christ, the more he comes to delight in his people and rejoice that his work for us is being realized by his work in us. The sanctification of the church is an important part of Christ’s glory. It would be incorrect to affirm that we can add to or diminish God’s essential glory. But, again, we may or may not bring glory to the God-man, depending on our obedience or sin. Our desire that in all things Christ should have the preeminence should cause us to seek to please him more and more (Col. 1:18).




The glorious truth that God loves us unconditionally is a Reformed commonplace that gives wonderful assurance to the Christian. But if this is all that is ever said about God’s love, then there is a significant problem, for, as J. I. Packer once quipped in his remarkable introduction to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, “a half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.”(284) God’s benevolent love, which is the highest love that he expresses toward his elect, has not only a logical priority in his twofold love for his people, but also a causal priority. Yet to speak only of God’s benevolent love is dangerous, because it ignores the important truth that God loves and delights in the goodness that is in his people, and also the fact that Christ, according to both natures, communes in love with his people, but to varying degrees. The distinction between God’s unconditional love, understood as his amor benevolentiae, and his conditional love, understood as his amor complacentiae, enables Christians not only to make sense of the passages cited above (e.g., John 14:21, 23), but also to rejoice that God is pleased and delighted in the obedience that we offer to him. More than that, the Christological element that has been highlighted in this chapter serves to ground discussions of God’s love, pleasure, and displeasure in the person of Christ. As Mediator, Christ was the object of God’s twofold love, as well as his displeasure. God was never happier with his Son than when he was angry with him—at the cross.


From our perspective, we relate to God in and through Jesus Christ, which means that when we discuss the pleasure and displeasure of God, we must never divorce that affection from the person of Christ, who, according to his human nature, is necessarily pleased and displeased with his people because of their obedience and sin. To deny that truth would be to rob Christ of his humanity. But his humanity is, for us, as important as his divinity. According to both natures, in the unity of his person, Christ loves his people with benevolence and complacency.




  1. Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton (London: J. Nisbet, 1870–75), 13:140–41
  2. Joseph B. Felt, The Ecclesiastical History of New England (Boston: Congregational Library Association, 1855–62), 1:318.
  3. Of course, in keeping with the idea that our good works are prepared in advance by God, we could also look at the issue in terms of whether those who do more good works than others have been recipients of God’s love and grace on a greater level.
  4. David Como, Blown by the Spirit: Puritanism and the Emergence of an Antinomian Underground in Pre-Civil-War England (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), 394.
  5. John Eaton, The honey-combe of free justification by Christ alone (London, 1642), 127.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Samuel Rutherford, A survey of the spirituall antichrist (London, 1647), 2:26–27; Richard Sibbes, The Returning Backslider (London, 1639), 170.
  8. John Saltmarsh, Free Grace (London, 1645), 130.
  9. See Benedict Pictet, Theologia Christiana Benedicti Picteti (Londini: R. Baynes, 1820), 71. “Tres vulgò gradus amoris Dei solent distingui.”
  10. Richard A. Muller, Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics (Grand Rapids, Baker, 2003), 3:567.
  11. God’s love of beneficence is subsumed under his love of benevolence in many Reformed authors, and that is the pattern followed in this chapter.
  12. See ibid.
  13. See, for example, Samuel Richardson, Divine consolations (London, 1649), 207; Henry Denne, Grace, mercy, and peace (London, 1645), 32–35.
  14. Rutherford, Spirituall antichrist, 2:20.
  15. Ibid., 2:21.
  16. Ibid., 2:22.
  17. “It is high time that these distinctions about the love of God, with that of an antecedent and consequent one, were laid aside, which so greatly obscure the glory of God’s unchangeable love and grace.” John Gill, A Collection of Sermons and Tracts (London: George Keith, 1773–78), 3:210.
  18. See Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012), 141, 147.
  19. This distinction is used in the Acta of the Synod of Dort: Acta Synodi Nationalis: in nomine Domini nostri Jesu Christi (Dordrechti: Isaaci Joannidis Canini, 1620), 49. Thomas Goodwin refers to it as an “old distinction” (i.e., going back to the Medieval theologians). The Works of Thomas Goodwin, D.D. (1861–66; repr., Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2006), 1:109.
  20. “Primo amore Deus nos eligit, secundo nos redimit et sanctificat, tertio nos sanctos remuneratur. Deo isto ultimo loquitur Christus Joh. xiv.21.” Pictet, Theologia Christiana, 71–72.
  21. “De liefde Gods is of van gunst en welwillentheid; of van welbehagen en genoegen. De eerste is/ waardoor God de uitverkorene wil wel doen, eer dat in dezelve yts in haar is, dat als een zedelijk goed hem kon welgevallen, Joan. 3:16 . . . Rom. 5:8. En zo kan ze of als voorschikkende in Gods besluiten/ of als dadelijk uitwerkende in der tijd werden aangemerkt. De tweede, van welbehagen, is/ waar door God het goed, dat in de uitverkorenen is, byzonder als van hem geboden en uitgewrogt met welgevallen goed keurt. Heb. 11:5/6 . . . Joa. 14:21; 16:26/27.” Melchior Leydekker, De verborgentheid des geloofs eenmaal den heiligen overgelevert, of het kort begryp der ware godsgeleerdheid beleden in de Gereformeerde Kerk (Rotterdam, 1700), 74–75.
  22. Stephen Charnock, Discourses upon the Existence and Attributes of God (London: Thomas Tegg, 1840), 206–7. Herman Witsius refers to Charnock in reference to God’s complacent love. Conciliatory, or Irenical Animadversions, on the Controversies Agitated in Britain, under the unhappy names of Antinomians and Neonomians, trans. Thomas Bell (Glasgow: W. Lang, 1807), 177.
  23. Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, ed. James T. Dennison Jr., trans. George Musgrave Giger (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992), 16.8.17.
  24. By “threefold union,” I mean the (1) eternal/immanent union, (2) redemptive-historical  /transient union, and (3) existential/applicatory/mutual union. Various terms have been used for each category over the centuries.
  25. Samuel Hopkins, The Works of Samuel Hopkins (Boston: Doctrinal Tract and Book Society, 1854), 1:50.
  26. Ibid.
  27. John Owen, The Works of John Owen, D.D., ed. William H. Goold (Edinburgh: Johnstone & Hunter, 1850–55), 1:144.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid., 1:145.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid., 1:146.
  32. Goodwin, Works, 4:114.
  33. Ibid., 4:115.
  34. Note also the language in 1 Samuel 2:26 that describes Samuel growing in “stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.”
  35. On Reformed Christology, see Mark Jones, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Jesus Christ: An Introduction to Christology (Fearn, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 2012); Beeke and Jones, A Puritan Theology, chap. 31.
  36. William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 245–46.
  37. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. . . . If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
  38. Tullian Tchividjian, Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), e.g., 98, 140, 142–43.
  39. Readers may be interested to know that the impetus for writing this book on antinomianism came after I had received a startling number of communications from professors, pastors, and laypersons in varied theological traditions who had read my online review of Jesus + Nothing = Everything. See http://www.meetthepuritans.com/2011/12/16/jesus-nothing-everything-an-analysis.
  40. Edward Leigh, A Treatise of Divinity (London: William Lee, 1646), 2:75.
  41. Ibid.
  42. William Ames, The Marrow of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997), 87.
  43. See Eaton, Honey-combe of free justification, 120ff.
  44. Ibid., 133.
  45. Samuel Rutherford, The Tryal and Triumph of Faith (London, 1645), 37.
  46. Note also answer 48 in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “These words [before me] in the first commandment teach us, That God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god” (emphasis added).
  47. John Flavel, The Works of the Rev. Mr. John Flavel (1820; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1997), 3:574. Incidentally, the idea that God hates the sin but loves the sinner, which is mocked by many Christians, has a strong Reformed pedigree. God loves the justified person, but hates the sin remaining in the justified person. However, that distinction cannot be made of the non-elect. God hates evildoers, not just evil deeds (Ps. 5:5).
  48. Ibid., 3:575.
  49. Ibid.
  50. Ibid. See also Rutherford, The Tryal and Triumph of Faith, 30–43.
  51. Anthony Burgess, Vindiciae legis: or, A vindication of the morall law and the covenants, from the Errours of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially Antinomians (London: T. Underhill, 1646), 44.
  52. J. I. Packer, “Introductory Essay,” in The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, by John Owen (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999), 2.