The Law turned into Gospel / Gospel Obedience

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

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

Thomas Goodwin (Works, 6:261)

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

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

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

Westminster Confession of Faith 19.6

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

Westminster Larger Catechism

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Creative Arts for the Persecuted Church

One of the most loveliest souls I know, whose life God has graciously loved me through, has been given a platform for a wonderful venture on behalf of the persecuted Church. Thank You Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. RMS

“Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals”

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Interview taken from here:
Creative Arts for the Persecuted Church [The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals]

Creative Arts for the Persecuted Church
The following is an interview with Heidi Zartman who has recently started an internet business selling beautiful greeting cards. The unique feature of this business is that the profits are raised to help the persecuted church. The interview was conducted by Carolynne Waddington. We are encouraged by this kind of outreach and wanted a larger audience to know about it.

1.Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a stay at home wife, married twelve plus years to my increasingly dear husband Ruben. I’m a member of the Free Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis, which I’ve been attending since I was 13 years old — I was married in this church by our present minister. I grew up in a Christian family, for which I am deeply thankful, but did not really come to know and love the Lord until I was a teenager; and it was very evident in the circumstances by which He drew me again after I rebelled against Him, that He loved and knew me first.

2. What is the persecuted church?

When we speak of the persecuted church, we are generally referring to the body of Christ in circumstances where it is dangerous to confess His name. This is what I mean when I use that term on my website. Christians in many countries face serious consequences for their profession of faith — social ostracism, fines, loss of employment, loss of their homes, their well being, their freedom, their dignity, their loved ones, their lives. They often do not have the same freedoms we do to meet and encourage one another in worship.

My profession of faith unites me to these Christians, in uniting me to Christ. We are one body in the Lord. He is our tie. I cannot be part of His body without becoming a partaker of their witness and of their sufferings.

John Calvin said that God designs not to deal with his church ‘too delicately’ in her earthly condition. All of us, as we are in Christ, will experience tribulation in some form; and we are always to be seeking to love and minister to one another’s need — this is one of the ways the world identifies us as belonging to Christ (John 13:35). But we are called to especially consider and support those suffering hostility for their faith (Hebrews 13:3).

3.How did you become interested in helping the persecuted church?

My earliest encounter with the persecuted church was as a little girl, reading a book written by a former member of the KGB who had been converted to Christ. I remember a section in which they disrupted a baptism and stripped the women, extinguishing their cigarettes in these womens’ bodies. I felt so ill I could scarcely function for some time. I couldn’t understand why God would allow this to happen to those who were calling on Him to save them, who were identifying with His name.

As I have grown older, my consciousness of the suffering of my family in Christ has not diminished, but it has been contextualised in various ways. One is that the world is full of suffering, it has always been full of suffering since the fall of Adam, and God’s people are not called to be a witness by being spared this devastating experience. Another thing I have become aware of is the beautiful progression of Hebrews 11. It begins with the examples of people who altered their circumstances by faith, and without any warning it suddenly transitions at the height of its eloquence to people whose circumstances were not altered, and who seem to have been, in earthly terms, destroyed by their circumstances. The focus is changed from the miracles that were performed by believing to the miracle of belief itself in the face of everything. This is the victory Christ gives His own. This is the witness the world really needs.

The most important change in my context for the suffering of believers is an increasing consciousness of the earthly suffering of Christ, and how sharing His experience is the only life worth living here.

My husband and I experienced, in a small way, the loss of a home due to violence last year. We were advised by the police to immediately vacate our first home after a break-in in which a knife was left in our wall. We’ve been able to stay with my wonderful family while our own lives have been disrupted. We need our families for practical support when our circumstances fall apart. And we in free countries and more prosperous circumstances are the family for the persecuted church.

4.Tell us about your cards and your website.

The cards sold through October Wednesday are handmade. Most of the pictures are of the beautiful back yard of the home we lost; and that seems appropriate. Some of them are from other travels. The texts are from figures throughout church history. I hope the images of God’s work in creation and the texts will serve to cheer and comfort other people, as they have me.

The store website is: http://www.octoberwednesday.com

5.How do your cards help our brothers and sisters in the persecuted church?

Net profits (minus the cost of materials, postage, transaction and website fees, and taxes) from the cards go to the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Every time a card is purchased through October Wednesday, at least half the purchase price will go directly to donation. Presently the cards are priced at 3.00 each with free shipping included, and 1.50 of that will go directly to donation. Whatever profits remain when I do taxes and come up with a statement will then be donated.

But this effort would not be possible without ministries like that of the Middle East Reformed Fellowship. The Middle East Reformed Fellowship provides literature and radio broadcasts, training, and diaconal aid to believers and churches throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. I am not officially affiliated with them, but I did contact one of their representatives when starting the business, and he verified that all funds could be donated through their diaconal aid program, earmarked for the needs of those suffering for their faith.

The Middle East Reformed Fellowship’s website is: http://www.merf.org/ There is a link as you scroll down on the left to sign up to receive MERF news. This helps us to know better how to pray for the work they are engaged in and the Christians they are ministering to, and I am also very grateful for that aspect of their ministry.

1965 Paul Harvey broadcast is scary shocking.

I heard this for the first time a few weeks ago.  Then I had my kids listen to it. Of course they had to ask me when Paul Harvey broadcast this. I didn’t know. I figured it was in the 80’s. I was shocked when I found out that this was originally broadcast April 3rd, 1965. I was just over two years old.  It evolved some with a few changes through the years but it amazingly called things as they were.

Paul Harvey sure knew how the Devil was going to make a conquest. All he had to do was keep his eyes, ears, and mouth open and proclaim the truth. God does give us wisdom. May he give us wisdom on how to repent and overcome the deeds of darkness for our Grandchildren and future generations. Repentance brings a Nation back into right thinking and blessing.

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived for whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.

Pro 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

 

The Gospel Requires More Than Natural Light Does From the Law of God and Demands More

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The following comments are made by the Reformed Divine Jeremiah Burroughs as he discussed the Gospel and the Decalogue.  The light of nature from the Law is tied together with the Gospel.  The Gospel requires more from us than Natural Light might reveal from the Law as the fullness of God’s will is revealed by Christ’s Preaching and Word. It would do us all well to read the Divines who participated in the great Westminster Assembly that we might gain from their gifts and understanding.  This kind of teaching seems to be a far cry from the antinomian spirit of the age.  Especially in light of how some Reformed teachers want to truncate what the Gospel is by defining it as only a proclamation or herald of good news.  More on that topic is to come on this blog.

Anyways….

The word conversation in the following quotes should be understood as one’s conduct. It is the word the divines used to mean how one conducted their life.
RMS

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” We shall likewise speak further of this when we open that of the law, that our conversations must be higher than the conversations of those who lived under the law, or else it does not become the gospel of Christ.
p.52

Here Christ is a great preacher of the gospel, and shows that there is more strictness in the gospel than there is by the light of nature or by the law, or by that which they understand by the law. The light of nature dictates that men should not kill, nor commit adultery, but now, if your conversation is such as becomes the gospel, then you must make conscious of anger and tremble at that as a natural man would tremble at murder, for that becomes the gospel.
p.53

Our conversations must be such as is beyond such as live under the law. For the law of God goes higher than the light of nature, for there is more revealed there than the light of nature…
p.56

Now this gives you a little hint of the difference between the law and the gospel, between the conversations of men that were merely legal, and the conversation that is evangelical. But the opening of it is to show the difference between the law and the gospel in reference to this, and to show how low the conversation was that was merely legal, and how high raised the conversation of a Christian ought to be if he would make it evangelical, such as becomes the gospel of Christ,
p.57

Those who live under the gospel must live in a higher way of holiness than those who lived under the law.
p.59

portions of Gospel Conversations pp.52-59

I heartily recommend people buy and read Gospel Conversations by Jeremiah Burroughs. It is a life changing exposition by one of the Westminster Divines. This book did a good work in this older mans heart and life.

I am so saddened for my Children at this time.

In light of the 2012 political elections in the United (not really in heart) States of America…

I miss my Commander and Chief who recognized evil, Ronald Reagan. Atheism, Communism, and Socialism are creeping into our country. My President Ronald Reagan believed in the Ten Commandments and saw the Blessing and common grace God pours upon those who seek to keep His Law.

At the same time I have not put my hope in man. It is solidly upon the Lord. He is the Mediatorial King over all and He has all authority.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,… (1 Timothy 2:1-5)

I appreciated this counsel from Pastor Steve Bradley who posted this quote from Charles Spurgeon.
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“Do not watch the clouds or consult the wind; in season and out of season witness for the Savior, and if it transpires that for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s you must endure suffering in any shape, do not shrink, but rejoice in the honor conferred upon you, that you are counted worthy to suffer with your Lord. And find joy also in this—that your sufferings, your losses, and persecutions shall make you a platform from which with more vigor and with greater power you will witness for Christ Jesus. Study your great example, and be filled with His Spirit. Remember that you need much teaching, much upholding, much grace, and much humility if your witnessing is to be to your Master’s glory.”- Charles Spurgeon

(1Ti 4:13-16) Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

We have sinned as a Nation. Including Me. We have become like sinful Israel. Now we will reap what we have sown. We are becoming forsaken by God and going down the path of Romans Chapter 1:18-32 and we will be cut off from Grace and Mercy if we don’t repent and call Evil what it is.
‎”They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off” (Hos. 8:4).

(Gal 6:7-10) Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

(Pro 14:34) Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

(2Ch 7:13-14) If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

I am in tears over the condition of our people and how we are voting for murdering unborn children, recreational marijuana usage, and sexual sin to be accepted norms. We are so fallen from grace and mercy.  The thing that bothers me most is that my Children are going to reap what we have sown and our Grandchildren are going to pay a really big price of debt for our sin.  We have forsaken God who is our lover.  How can we keep forsaking TRUE LOVE and not reap what we sow?  Christ paid a big price to bring us to Himself.  Why are we forsaking Him and His Law?

Please hear me. Repent. There is no goodness in man when he forsakes God. He is cutting himself off from the very image he was created in.

In the Covenant of Grace

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Why would anyone want to read my thoughts when they could read Herman Bavinck?  Enjoy this tidbit.  It is very, very, very good.

RMS.

The universal reality of misery evokes in all people a need for deliverance, a deliverance from above. Pagans who construe misery as basically physical know neither the essential character of sin nor the deliverance of grace. Scripture, however, sees our misery as sin, as an ethical violation of communion with God, who alone can restore it. This requires grace, which in biblical revelation assumes the form of a covenant.

This covenant begins immediately after the fall as evidenced by Adam and Eve’s shame in their nakedness, a sign of lost innocence. Guilt and shame reveal both God’s wrath and his grace, but the latter is shown especially when God seeks out Adam and Eve and interrogates them. In his punishment on the serpent and on humanity, God’s mercy triumphs over judgment as he annuls the covenant made with evil and puts enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Now the path of glory must pass through suffering for man and woman. In the promise of Genesis 3, we find the gospel in a nutshell and, in principle, the entire history of the human race.

The word “covenant” is not found in Genesis 3, but the reality is. Modern critics judge that covenant ideas arose late in Israel’s history but need circular arguments for their case. A history of Israel is constructed by alleging that certain biblical sources are inauthentic, which history is then used to demonstrate the inauthenticity of documents that witness against it. It is better scholarship to see the latter prophets as standing on the foundation of a real covenant made with the patriarchs.

Covenant (ברית) is characterized by three factors: an oath or promise including stipulations, a curse for violation, and a cultic ceremony that represents the curse symbolically. Covenant making is a religious and social act. The covenant of grace is unilateral, indissolubly grounded in the merciful promises of the sovereign God. God cannot break his promise; he has sworn himself to uphold it. The unilateral divine origin and character attributed to the covenant in Hebrew is likely the reason why the Septuagint translates ברית by διαθηκη, or “testament,” rather than συνθηκη.

The doctrine of the covenant achieved dogmatic significance in the Christian church because the Christian religion had to understand its relation to and distinction from Judaism. Over against Gnosticism and Marcion, the church had to maintain the unity of and, over against Judaism, the distinction between the two covenants. Law and gospel, Old Testament and New Testament, are to be distinguished but never separated. During the Reformation this issue became crucial as Anabaptists and others (Arminians, Socinians) devalued the Old Testament. Key differences also arose between the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. It is in the latter, beginning with Zwingli and Calvin, that the doctrine of the covenant is most fully developed, notably in the German Reformed theology of Olevianus and Ursinus, English Puritanism, and the Westminster Confession.

Among the Dutch Reformed, Cloppenburg and Cocceius made the covenant the fundamental premise and controlling principle of dogmatics as a whole. Cocceius had an eccentric view of the covenant, notably the notion of successive covenantal abrogations, which in fact undermined the key element of grace, making it uncertain. After Cocceius, a more general disparagement of the Old Testament took place among modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher. Judaism was then seen as no better than paganism as preparation for Christianity.

In the Reformed church and theology, covenant became a very important practical encouragement for Christian living. Here the basis of all covenants was found in the eternal counsel of God, in a covenant between the very persons of the Trinity, the pactum salutis (counsel of peace). The work of salvation is an undertaking of the one God in three persons in which all cooperate and each one performs a special task. It is the triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit—who together conceive, determine, carry out, and complete the entire work of salvation. The benefit to the believer is in knowing that the covenant of grace executed and revealed in time and history nevertheless rests on an eternal, unchanging foundation, the counsel of the triune God. The Father is the eternal Father, the Son the eternal Mediator, the Holy Spirit the eternal Paraclete.

Care must be taken in considering the execution of the pact of salvation in time and history. Though God elects Abraham and Israel as his chosen people, his salvific purpose is universal, with all peoples. In the fullness of time, humanity as a whole, Jew and Gentile, is reconciled in the one man, Jesus Christ, at the cross. After the fall, grace and judgment alike are extended to the whole human race. In the beginnings of human history, we see great blessing in remarkable longevity and the great judgment of the flood. After the flood, God makes a covenant with nature not to destroy the world with water again, reduces human life span, and spreads humanity across the world, preventing humans from reaching heaven itself with their ambition. Despite letting the Gentiles walk in their own ways, God providentially grants them significant cultural and social development. He did not leave them without witnesses to himself through the works of his hands. In this way God is present to all people, and they are in some sense “prepared” for the message of salvation.

The universal scope of God’s intention for all peoples—Jew and Gentile—must never obscure the special favor of God to Israel. While Israel is drawn from the nations and there are analogies between Israel’s religious practices and those of the nations, the essential difference is that special grace is reserved for Israel and is not known among the pagans. Pagan religion is self-willed and legalistic. The covenant made with Abraham is new and comes from God alone. Through his covenant with Abraham and Israel, the Creator proves himself to also be the Re-creator and Savior. Elohim, Creator of heaven and earth, is Yahweh, the God of the covenant.

The old covenant with Israel is the necessary preparation for the new covenant in Christ. Though the covenant is one, there are two dispensations. In God’s own time, the promise of the old covenant was fulfilled in the new. The shadow and particularity of the letter became the substance, universality, and freedom of the Spirit. Nothing of the Old Testament is lost in the New, but everything is fulfilled, matured, has reached its full growth, and now, out of the temporary husk, produces the eternal core.

The covenant of grace, fulfilled in the New Testament, was and is surrounded and sustained by God’s covenant with nature, with all creatures. Unlike what Cocceius taught, the covenant of grace is not the successive abolition of the covenant of works but its fulfillment and restoration. “Grace repairs and perfects nature.” God’s demand of obedience remains as the only way to eternal life. The difference between the covenant of works and grace is that God now approaches us not in Adam but in Christ, who fulfilled all the obedience required of Adam. Christ is the second and last Adam who restores what the first Adam had corrupted; he is the head of a new humanity.

The covenant of grace is also integrally united with the counsel of peace, though it should be distinguished from it. In the counsel of peace, Christ is the guarantor and head; in the covenant of grace, he is the mediator. In this way the doctrine of the covenant maintains God’s sovereignty in the entire work of salvation. It is the Father who conceives, plans, and wills the work of salvation; it is the Son who guarantees it and effectively acquires it; it is the Spirit who implements and applies it.

At the same time, the covenant of grace also allows the rational and moral nature of human beings to come into their own. Here it differs from election, in which humans are strictly passive. The covenant of grace describes the road by which elect people attain their destiny; it is the channel by which the stream of election flows toward eternity. Christ sends his Spirit to instruct and enable his own so that they consciously and voluntarily consent to this covenant. The covenant of grace comes with the demand of faith and repentance, which may in some sense be said to be its “conditions.” Yet, this must not be misunderstood. God himself supplies what he demands; the covenant of grace is thus truly unilateral—it comes from God, who designed, defines, maintains, and implements it. It is, however, designed to become bilateral, to be consciously and voluntarily accepted by believers in the power of God. In the covenant of grace, God’s honor is not at the expense of but for the benefit of human persons by renewing the whole person and restoring personal freedom and dignity.

The covenant of grace, with Christ as the new head of humanity, reminds us of the organic unity of the church. The covenant of grace reminds us that election is about not only individual persons but also organic wholes, including families and generations. Therefore, some who remain inwardly unbelieving will for a time, in the earthly administration and dispensation of the covenant of grace, be part of the covenant people. The final judgment belongs to God alone, and in this life the church must regard such with the judgment of charity.*

*Bavinck, H., Bolt, J., & Vriend, J. (2006). Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (193–196). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Gospel Influenced Living. Becoming the Gospel we profess.

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I have been greatly challenged about Loving others and being like Christ by Jeremiah Burroughs. He has stretched my thinking greatly concerning my conduct and attitude towards others. I pray my soul is not just gaining knowledge but that it will actually spill forth the truths and life of the Gospel of Christ by His Spirit.

Yea, and when you are reconciled to your brother, be so reconciled as to be firm in your reconciliation. Not as some; there is a peace made between them, but how? So as they are ready to take advantage against one another upon any miscarriage afterwards. God does not do this with you. The Gospel does not hold for such a peace as this, that God shall be at peace with you for the moment, but look to yourselves afterwards; as though God will take all advantages against you as He can. If there had been such a peace made between God and you as that, you would have been in hell long before this time. And therefore, let your peace be a firm, settled, and constant peace.
p.95

Gospel Conversations

What’s that but as Christ Himself said, “Be ye merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.” Oh, have a merciful heart one towards another; look with a merciful eye upon those who are in great misery! This is that which becomes the gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, a harsh rugged, and cruel disposition is infinitely unbecoming the gospel of Christ! To see a Christian, one who professes the gospel, who makes more profession of the knowledge of God and of the free grace of God in Christ than others, and yet, when it comes to dealing with such as are in misery he has a hard heart? Oh, a hard-hearted Christian is a monster! I say a hard-hearted Christian is a monster in the world, not to be ready to forgive others, and to do anything for others who are in misery is devilish; but to rejoice that they may have any object to show pity and compassion unto, Oh, this is that which becomes the gospel of Christ! Though they are strangers to you in that misery, yet be merciful to them, for you were strangers to God.

Yea, be merciful to your enemies, not only be willing to be at peace, but be merciful. Do not let them perish, but let the bowels of compassion even work towards them. Oh, that our hearts yearned towards all! Christ, when He came near to Jerusalem, wept over it. Oh, that the same spirit were in us as was in Jesus Christ!

p.99

Gospel Conversations
Jeremiah Burroughs

Thank God for all of those who have lived the life of the Gospel being breathed out through them by the Spirit of God. For the Gospel is the Power of God unto salvation to those who believe. We are living by the fruit of Christ’s working in and through many forefathers who shed their lives sacrificially that we might obtain an incorruptible inheritance given to us in the Person and Work of Christ.

Every Christian should make it appear that he is so set upon peace that, if the laying down of his life could procure peace, he should be willing to do it, that if we may make up breaches by standing in the gap and offering up ourselves as a sacrifice of atonement and pacification, let us thus prove ourselves to be the true followers of Christ our Lord and Master, who has left us His own example here in for our imitation. This would be an excellent thing, becoming the gospel that we profess. Yea, we should not only be willing to admit peace, but seek it. Seek it for our inferiors. Do not say that such a man has wronged me and, therefore, let him seek me. Oh no! It becomes you who make profession of the gospel of Christ not to stay until he who has wronged you comes to you, but for you who are wronged by another to seek those who have wronged you so that they would be at peace with you.

Gospel Conversation
Jeremiah Burroughs
p. 93

(Rom 1:16) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
(Rom 1:17) For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

(Gal 2:20) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

(Php 1:27) Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Covenant, Testament, Works, Grace, Love, and Communion.

This little portion is so good I just have to put it somewhere for others to read.  So please just bare with me and tolerate my love for things simply put down in a simple matter.  I am a bear of very little braiin as A. A. Milne’s Edward Bear.  (Winnie ther Pooh)   Please enjoy this little tidbit.

THE FAITHFUL COVENANTER

 Richard Sibbes

Works

Volume 6 pp. 3,4.

I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to thee, and to thy seed after thee. — Gen. XVII. 7.

God having framed man an understanding creature, hath made him fit to have communion and intercourse with himself; because he can by his understanding discern that there is a better good out of himself, in communion and fellowship with which, happiness consists. Other creatures wanting understanding to discern a better good out of than in themselves, their life being their good desire only the continuance of their own being, without society and fellowship with others. But man, having the knowledge of God, the Creator of heaven and earth, but especially of God the Redeemer, providing for him a second being better than his first, understandeth that his best and chiefest good dependeth more in him than in himself; and because his happiness standeth in acquaintance and fellowship with this God, which is the chief good, he desireth a communion with him, that he may partake of his good.

This communion and fellowship of man with God, was first founded on a covenant of works made with Adam in paradise. If he did obey, and did not eat of the forbidden fruit, he should have life both for himself and his posterity; the which covenant, because God would not have forgotten, he afterward renewed in the delivery of the ten commandments, requiring from man obedience to them in his own person, exactly, at all times, perpetually: promising life on the obedience, and threatening death and cursing if he continued not in everything the law required to do. But this fellowship being placed in man’s own freedom, and having so weak a foundation, he lost both himself and it, so that now by the first covenant of works, Adam and all his posterity are under a curse; for we cannot fulfil the law that requireth personal obedience, perfect obedience, and exact obedience. He that continueth not in all is cursed, Gal. iii. 10. The law then findeth us dead and killeth us. It findeth us dead before, and not only leaves us dead still, but makes us more dead.

Now after this fall, man’s happiness was to recover again his communion and fellowship with God; and therefore we must have a new covenant before we can have life and comfort. God must enter into new conditions with us before we can have any communion with him.

God therefore, loving man, doth after the breach of the first agreement and covenant, when Adam had lost himself by his sin, and was in a most miserable plight as ever creature was in the world, falling from so great a happiness into wondrous misery; he raised him up and comforted him by establishing a second, a new and better covenant, laying the foundation of it in the blessed seed of the woman, Christ the Messiah, who is the ground of this new covenant, and so of our communion and fellowship with God, without whom there can be no intercourse between God and us in love. And because this covenant was almost forgotten, therefore now in Abraham’s time God renewed it to Abraham in this place:  I will be thy God, and the God of thy seed after thee,’ &c.

There are four periods of time of renewing this covenant: first, from Adam to Abraham; and in those first times of the world, those that were under the covenant were called the ‘sons and daughters of God, ‘the children of the promise,’ and the covenant of grace was called a promise of the blessed seed.

Secondly, From Abraham to Moses; and then it was called a covenant, and they the children of the covenant. ‘I will establish my covenant. ‘A covenant is more than a promise, and a more solemn thing, because there be ceremonies.

The third period of renewing the covenant of grace was from Moses to Christ; and then it was more clear, whenas to the covenant made with Abraham, who was sealed with the sacrament of circumcision, the sacrament of the paschal lamb was added, and all the sacrifices Levitical; and then it was called a testament. That differeth a little from a covenant; for a testament is established by blood, it is established by death. So was that; but it was only with the blood and death of cattle sacrificed as a type.

But now, to Christ’s time to the end of the world, the covenant of grace is most clear of all; and it is now usually called the New Testament, being established by the death of Christ himself; and it differs from a covenant in these respects:

First, A testament indeed is a covenant, and something more. It is a covenant sealed by death. The testator must die before it can be of force. So all the good that is conveyed to us by the testament it is by the death of the testator, Christ. God’s covenant with us now, is such a covenant as is a testament, sealed with the death of the testator, Christ; for ‘without blood there is no redemption’ Heb. ix. 22; without the death of Christ there could be no satisfaction, and without satisfaction there could be no peace with God.

Secondly, A testament bequeatheth good things merely of love. It giveth gifts freely. A covenant requireth something to be done. In a testament, there is nothing but receiving the legacies given. In covenants, ofttimes it is for the mutual good one of another, but a testament is merely for their good for whom the testament is made, to whom the legacies are bequeathed; for when they are dead, what can they receive from them? God’s covenant now is such a testament, sealed with the death of Christ, made out of love merely for our good; for what can God receive of us? All is legacies from him; and though he requireth conditions, requireth faith and obedience, yet he himself fulfilleth what he asketh, giveth what he requireth, giveth it as a legacy, as we shall see afterward.

Thus you see that the communion and fellowship of man with God, must either be by a covenant of works or by a covenant of grace. And we must distinguish exactly between these two covenants and the periods of them.

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Truth, Intolerance, and Motive. Is Doctrinal Truth more Important than Motive?

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Certainly with regard to Paul himself there should be no debate; Paul certainly was not indifferent to doctrine; on the contrary, doctrine was the very basis of his life. His devotion to doctrine did not, it is true, make him incapable of a magnificent tolerance. One notable example of such tolerance is to be found during his imprisonment at Rome, as attested by the Epistle to the Philippians. Apparently certain Christian teachers at Rome had been jealous of Paul’s greatness. As long as he had been at liberty they had been obliged to take a secondary place; but now that he was in prison, they seized the supremacy. They sought to raise up affliction for Paul in his bonds; they preached Christ even of envy and strife. In short, the rival preachers made of the preaching of the gospel a means to the gratification of low personal ambition; it seems to have been about as mean a piece of business as could well be conceived. But Paul was not disturbed. “Whether in presence, or in truth,” he said, “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (Phil. 1. 18). The way in which the preaching was being carried on was wrong, but the message itself was true; and Paul was far more interested in the content of the message than in the manner of its presentation. It is impossible to conceive a finer piece of broadminded tolerance.

But the tolerance of Paul was not indiscriminate. He displayed no tolerance, for example, in Galatia. There, too, there were rival preachers.  But Paul had no tolerance for them. “But though we,” he said, “or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1. 8). What is the reason for the difference in the apostle’s attitude in the two cases? What is the reason for the broad tolerance in Rome, and the fierce anathemas in Galatia? The answer is perfectly plain. In Rome, Paul was tolerant, because there the content of the message that was being proclaimed by the rival teachers was true; in Galatia he was intolerant, because there the content of the rival message was false. In neither case did personalities have anything to do with Paul’s attitude. No doubt the motives of the Judaizers in Galatia were far from pure, and in an incidental way Paul does point out their impurity. But that was not the ground of his opposition. The Judaizers no doubt were morally far from perfect, but Paul’s opposition to them would have been exactly the same if they had all been angels from heaven. His opposition was based altogether upon the falsity of their teaching; they were substituting for the one true gospel a false gospel which was no gospel at all. It never occurred to Paul that a gospel might be true for one man and not for another; the blight of pragmatism had never fallen upon his soul. Paul was convinced of the objective truth of the gospel message, and devotion to that truth was the great passion of his life. Christianity for Paul was not only a life, but also a doctrine, and logically the doctrine came first.

But what was the difference between the teaching of Paul and the teaching of the Judaizers? What was it that gave rise to the stupendous polemic of the Epistle to the Galatians? To the modern Church the difference would have seemed to be a mere theological subtlety. About many things the Judaizers were in perfect agreement with Paul. The Judaizers believed that Jesus was the Messiah; there is not a shadow of evidence that they objected to Paul’s lofty view of the person of Christ. Without the slightest doubt, they believed that Jesus had really risen from the dead. They believed, moreover, that faith in Christ was necessary to salvation. But the trouble was, they believed that something else was also necessary; they believed that what Christ had done needed to be pieced out by the believer’s own effort to keep the Law. From the modern point of view the difference would have seemed to be very slight. Paul as well as the Judaizers believed that the keeping of the law of God, in its deepest import, is inseparably connected with faith. The difference concerned only the logical—not even, perhaps, the temporal—order of three steps. Paul said that a man (1) first believes on Christ, (2) then is justified before God, (3) then immediately proceeds to keep God’s law. The Judaizers said that a man (1) believes on Christ and (2) keeps the law of God the best he can, and then (3) is justified. The difference would seem to modern “practical” Christians to be a highly subtle and intangible matter, hardly worthy of consideration at all in view of the large measure of agreement in the practical realm. What a splendid cleaning up of the Gentile cities it would have been if the Judaizers had succeeded in extending to those cities the observance of the Mosaic law, even including the unfortunate ceremonial observances! Surely Paul ought to have made common cause with teachers who were so nearly in agreement with him; surely he ought to have applied to them the great principle of Christian unity.

As a matter of fact, however, Paul did nothing of the kind; and only because he (and others) did nothing of the kind does the Christian Church exist today. Paul saw very clearly that the differences between the Judaizers and himself was the differences between two entirely distinct types of religion; it was the differences between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. The guilty soul enters again into the hopeless reckoning with God, to determine whether we have really done our part. And thus we groan again under the old bondage of the law. Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all.

Paul certainly was right. The differences which divided him from the Judaizers was no mere theological subtlety, but concerned the very heart and core of the religion of Christ.

“Just as I am without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me”

—that was what Paul was contending for in Galatia; that hymn would never have been written if the Judaizers had won. And without the thing which that hymn expresses there is no Christianity at all.

J. Gresham Machen.
Christianaity and Liberalsim.
pp. 16-18

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From Samuel Rutherford’s letters concerning the passing of children.

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I know the language is tough but it is from the 17th Century Scottish Pastor Samuel Rutherford who bore the burdens of his parish deeply in his heart. I take comfort in his insight. His ability to comfort came at a cost.  He knew what it was to suffer loss and experience much pain and sorrow.  He also knew that our Children are not ours fully as they are God’s.

You can read a biography that I wrote about him here.

https://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/samuel-rutherford/

Here are a few small portions of The Letters of Samuel Rutherford to comfort the afflicted upon the loss of life on this side….

‘Take no heavier lift of your children, than your Lord alloweth; give them room beside your heart, but not in the yolk of your heart, where Christ should be; for then they are your idols, not your *bairns. If your Lord take any of them home to his house before the storm come on, take it well, the owner of the orchard may take down two or three apples off his own trees, before midsummer, and *ere they get the harvest sun; and it would not be seemly that his servant, the gardener, should chide him for it. Let our Lord pluck his own fruit at any season he pleaseth; they are not lost to you, they are laid up so well, as that they are coffered in heaven, where our Lord’s best jewels lie.’

‘The child hath but changed a bed in the garden, and is planted up higher, nearer the sun, where he shall thrive better than in this out-field moor ground’

‘Go on and faint not, something of yours is in heaven, beside the flesh of your exalted Saviour, and ye go on after your own.’

‘He (she) is not lost to you who is found to Christ. If he (she) hath casten his bloom and flower, the bloom is fallen in heaven in Christ’s lap; and as he (she) was lent awhile to time, so is he now given to eternity, which will take yourself; and the difference of your shipping and his (hers) to heaven and Christ’s shore, the land of life, is only in some few years, which weareth every day shorter, and some short and soon reckoned summers will give you a meeting with him.’

*bairn [bɛən (Scot) bern]
n
Scot and northern English a child
[Old English bearn; related to bearm lap, Old Norse, Old High German barn child]

*ere [ɛə]
conj & prep
a poetic word for before
[Old English ǣr; related to Old Norse ār early, Gothic airis earlier, Old High German ēr earlier, Greek eri early]

(2Co 1:2) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2Co 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,

(2Co 1:4) who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

(2Co 1:5) For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

(2Co 1:6) If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

(2Co 1:7) Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.